Pre-Cruise: We drove to Ft. Lauderdale the day before the cruise and stayed at the Residence Inn in Dania Beach ($229/night). The hotel was clean and well maintained and was very convenient to the airport and cruise port (10 minutes). We had a wonderful seafood dinner (grouper and shrimp) at the Rustic Inn Crab House on Angler’s Way near the hotel.
Embarkation: This was our second Celebrity cruise since the COVID shutdown. Celebrity had assigned us an 11:30 a.m. terminal arrival time, so we left the hotel at 9:45 am and drove to the port (10 minutes). It took about 30 minutes to clear the security at the port entrance, drop our bags curbside, and to park the car in the adjacent parking garage ($15/day). We walked to the terminal around 10:30 and found a series of lines outside the terminal designated by arrival times. Masks are required for all guests during the embarkation process. A number of people were already in line, and around 10:30 a.m. they began letting a few people into the terminal from each line on a rotational basis. While in line we were repeatedly told to have your boarding pass, passport, COVID vaccination record, and COVID test results in hand as each would be checked as you enter the terminal. The embarkation process was well managed and after a short wait in the terminal, we were on the ship by 11:30 a.m. We went directly to our room to pick up our sea pass card and drop off our carryon luggage.
Challenging Times: When you think about it, these must be very difficult times for the cruise industry. While restarting operations post COVID at reduced passenger capacity, the industry now faces rising fuel and food costs. For example, on the first night of this cruise we had an emergency evacuation requiring a deviation of course toward Key West so the Coast Guard could take the passenger away; we also had a strong head wind while sailing two-days toward Curacao; and, port changes prior and during the cruise necessitating greater sailing distance; all resulted in an addition $400,000 in fuel costs. This information along with an excellent summary of the challenges the cruise industry has faced was shared by the Captain during his Navigation talk.