Day 1: Flight on-time leaving city. Arrived in Fort Lauderdale (the Saturday before embarkation as planned), followed instructions to call hotel for courtesy van to hotel, only to find out that I had no reservation for Jan. 15th (even though I was holding reservation numbers for January 15th and 23rd e-mailed to me from the Smooth Jazz Cruise travel agent). That snafu was handled well. I was relocated to another hotel (Hilton at the same price as the Hampton Inn). Thank you
Day 2: Transported on courtesy bus from Hilton to the Hampton where I boarded the bus to the pier. The trip/transfer of luggage to the pier went smoothly. Embarkation went quickly, even though there was a line it moved quickly. Boarded the ship, had lunch/drinks met great people, immediately. Room was ready (with luggage delivered) in an hour. THIS IS GOING TO BE A GREAT VACATION!!
Info regarding which artists will be appearing in each of the many music venues also left in the stateroom so I can plan what I'm going to do tonight!
Stateroom and veranda were smaller than I had anticipated, but enough room for 2 had it been necessary (remember, I'm traveling solo).
There was plenty of closet space for 2 and the bathroom was more than adequate and very clean. No complaints about the cleanliness of stateroom throughout the cruise. Stewards (Mohammad and Bah)were great.
Enjoyed a great concert, took a picture with Jeff Goelub and Phillipe Saisse. I am on my way to a Smooth Jazz lover's heaven. Had dinner in the Vista Dining Room after the show where I shared a table with another solo traveler. We pretty much hung together for the remainder of the trip.
Great variety on the menu, although the food could have been a tad warmer. Did the Crow's Nest Lounge until about 3 A.M. OH, MY GOODNESS!
Day 3-6: More of the same - meeting and hanging out with great people, enjoying awesome (I mean breathtaking) concerts, mixing/mingling with the Smooth Jazz artists (many of whom I was photographed with) and fantastic food. Enjoyed the Italian restaurant one evening(the name escapes me, now). Delicious food, also. The barbecues were awesome, as well.
This entire cruise was everything I anticipated. It was truly an ageless, international gathering which in itself speaks to the power of music.
Thank you Smooth Jazz Cruise sponsors and participating artists, stewards, cooks, Chef Roy (who prepared a special dish for me daily and had it delivered to my table in the Lido buffet), bartenders, front desk personnel, and Amy Grove my Smooth Jazz travel rep.
This was truly the vacation of a lifetime for me. I will do it, again!Day 7: I chose the independent disembarkation (my flight out of Fort Lauderdale was an early one). Disembarkation went smoothly. I placed my luggage outside the door the night before and it was waiting for me in a color-coded area outside the ship Sunday morning.
I was met by a very friendly, knowledgeable baggage handler who retrieved my luggage, walked me through customs outside to where he hailed me a taxi and off to the airport I went (about a 15 minute drive).
My Southwest flight(s) were on-time and even though I had to change planes in Nashville, Tenn., the gate for the plane I was boarding in Nashville, was right next to the gate of the plane that I got off of.
Arrived on-time to my final destination.
If you're a Smooth Jazz lover, you owe this to yourself!
I decided to enjoy breakfast at Anthony's, a local restaurant across the street from Comfort Suites, where I've eaten more than a few times. We did some shopping - quickly, as we had to return to the ship by noon. Wish I'd had more time, there are a couple of clothing stores (with beautiful print dresses)I usually shop in when I go to Nassau. Somehow, I got turned around and instead of going towards the Strawmarket and the shops that I wanted to go to - I was walking in the opposite direction! I think the construction everywhere may have thrown me off.
Furthermore, I like to buy anklets and bracelets from the 'beach vendors' at Atlantis Resort but due to the brevity of our stay, this was not possible. I have been hearing about safety concerns regarding tourists, perhaps this is why we were only allowed about 5 hours on Nassau. So, I had to settle for lots of T-shirts, bracelets, etc. from shops along the pier. Since I'm in Nassau on the average of every other year, I'll have plenty of time - next time.
I really like that tent area where all of the 'shops' are right there where you can explore them all without doing too much walking. I also enjoyed a Rum Raisin ice cream cone from a lady's food cart. Delicious! St. Thomas is truly a shopping venture. You get hungry, you go back to the ship.