On the January 2-9, 2010 cruise, we had a wonderful time despite some inclement weather. It was very relaxing and we had some fun adventures as well. Our family consists of DH, DS - 19, DS - 13 (autistic) and myself. We reserved 2 cabins: one inside and one minisuite. It was our autistic son's choice to do a cruise vacation this year instead of Disney World. We ate most anytime meals in the DaVinci Dining room because the Horizon Court was a little too chaotic and crowded for our younger son. For a couple of morning breakfasts, I ordered our tea, juice and fruit from room service and I went up very early to the HC and brought back some waffles and bagels for us. Normally, at home, we limit soda to one per day for our younger son. However, for this trip we purchased the ultimate soda card for him and he definitely enjoyed his soda, mocktails and many milkshakes during the week. We ate at the Crown Grill twice that week, really enjoying the food and experience. Service was wonderful throughout the cruise. Our cabin steward, Grenny, sometimes needed to come in while we were in the cabin only because we spent most of our time relaxing there.
Hotel: We Pricelined two rooms at the Hyatt Place hotel which was full that night. It wasn't ready when we first arrived, but the very busy desk person took our number and promised to call when they were ready, which she did at about 2:30 pm. We ate lunch at a local strip mall sports bar, the Grumpy Gator - not great food, but we were so hungry that we ate it all anyway. After checking in, we took our rental car and drove around, getting a feel of Ft. Lauderdale, which we had never been to before. We did a little shopping for last minute items (sunscreen, bubble bath, etc.) Since it was New Year's Day, some of the restaurants we thought we'd eat dinner at were closed. So we ate some excellent Five Guys burgers and fries at the nearby strip mall. We were kind of excited about the cruise in the morning and had a little trouble settling down for the night. Our biggest surprise was the fire alarm that woke us up at 4 am! Along with the other hotel guests, we exited the hotel while waiting for the fire trucks. Luckily, there was no fire, just someone who smoked in the hotel room. We couldn't get back to sleep, so we decided to drive over to the beach and watch the sunrise. Imagine our luck that we also saw the Crown Princess coming into port!
Embarkation: We took the hotel shuttle to the ship and arrived at Port Everglades around 11:30am. We were in group 5 and were on the ship and in our cabins by 12:15pm. Very uncomplicated! We wanted to eat in the dining room rather than the Horizon Court and it took a little while to find a crew member who would tell us were to go, as they were directing everyone to the Horizon Court. Once we found the DaVinci Dining Room, we were treated to a wonderful lunch at a table that was next to a window overlooking Ft. Lauderdale. Preparing for the cruise, I was concerned about how the muster would be for my son. He doesn't do well in crowds or loud noises. I didn't need to worry so much - it was a smooth operation with designated muster stations where we could stake out a less crowded spot since we went down just a few minutes early. Another worry was how to handle the possibility of balloons ruining our cruise since our son is very phobic about them. For this, fellow CC members advice has been very valuable. On the Crown, balloons are put outside cabins for birthdays, anniversaries and weddings. Also, there is a balloon drop on the second formal night, which starts being filled in the afternoon. We double-checked this information with the Purser's desk when we stopped by the first day to get room cards for the second rooms. The only balloons that caught us off-guard were those used in the pool games on the first sea day (relay teams blew up balloons and then sat on them to make them pop) and some decorative balloons were in one of the boutiques on a sale day.