The morning of December 9th found us docked in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
We got up to the pre-dawn view of the port. Below is a freighter being nudged by a couple of tugboats slowly maneuvering it into dock.
These are photos from the phone’s camera. We were doing last minute preparations for our transfer to the other cabin, the one we would occupy for the 10 days cruise portion of our Caribbean adventure. The crew would see to transferring any luggage and any hanging clothes.
This ship was also docked near us. Understand that it’s a lot darker than the photo suggests, and I was not sure what type of ship it was.
I knew it was a ship that partially submerged to take on other ships, and I thought it perhaps served as a floating repair station. It turns out it transports yachts . . . you got to be rich and a lazy bastard to buy a boat, and then hire someone to lug it around.
We were ready to leave our room, and I said goodbye to our spacious balcony.
Even if you are staying aboard for the next leg of the journey, you still have to get off the boat, go through an immigration check, and then get back on.
People who were continuing on the 10-day cruise eventually gathered in the theater (somewhere more than fifty, and less than a hundred), were then marched off the boat, an immigration official checked our passports, and once they zeroed the boat (made sure all passengers were off) we got marched right back on, well before official boarding. Of course, there are elites, premium, or otherwise privileged members that get early boarding, so we were not alone on the boat.
Don’t get me wrong; despite the 3,000 passengers (max. capacity is 3,600) and 1,350 crew members we never felt crowded. But, before general boarding starts it does feel like you are living in a palace that is all yours.
I felt bad about one incident during the process . . . a very nice elderly couple, yes, even more elderly than we are, chatted us up. Reluctantly, I turned on my civil self. It comes natural for Melisa, as people are very comfortable talking with her, but I have to put on my “yes, I too am member of human race, and don’t mind talking to you; not at all; not even one bit” hat, and act all civilized-like. People say I’m pretty good, and that they hardly notice the hat.
Anyway, as we got back on the boat after Immigration certified that, yes, the people who got off are the same people who are now getting back on, the couple asked if we wanted to get together for a meal and whatnot.
Now, I ain’t got nothing against socializing (I can almost say that with a straight face; I’ve had lots of practice), and I’m even partial to giving older folks face-time; most of them love to talk; FSM, do they love to talk, and many have led interesting lives. However, my immediate response was to defuse the potential obligation with “Sorry; I rather not make any plans, but if we bump into each other, sure!” I even said it with enthusiasm, and with what I’ve been told passes for a smile when on my face.
These guys were loaded, or at least appeared so as they took special care to tell us of their 365+ days of cumulative cruising, countless cruises (they no longer remembered the exact number), and what they owned and where they lived.
When I replied to their invite you could almost see the shock at being dismissed with a “maybe; we’ll see, but don’t call us; we’ll call you”. Not shocked because they were loaded, but because, you know, most people don’t reply like I just had.
As we walked away, Melisa asked me if I had been too harsh. I didn’t think so; I didn’t use any swear words, and I did not append “off” to the noise an insect makes.
Mind you, we missed out on a tremendous opportunity; they too had no kids. We could have befriended them, and eventually have been included in their will . . . but I saw the immediate value of our privacy as surpassing the potential millions of dollars we might or might not have inherited.
. . . I know; I should latch onto these kind of opportunities, but I never got the hang of taking advantage of other people.
Still, even now, I feel a bit bad about it. On the other hand, we did not miss fraternizing with other cruisers, other than, you know, the occasional “ain’t this a nice railing? Wonder how often they varnish it?”
In the end, I think it was for the best; they probably found some of their own kind to bond with . . . and who now are in line to get our would-be inheritance.
This was our new room . . .
The room had a larger sitting area, more spacious closet, and a larger bathroom. However, the balcony was small . . .
All our stuff was in the room, and we opted to get something from the International Café and stay in our room during embarkation. A couple of lattes and some doughnuts, some other desserts, and odds and ends snacks of bread, cookies, and fruit would do nice while we took advantage of having 4LTE service on our phones, and caught up with e-mails and stuff.
At this point I should mention the crew . . . first, there are the cabin stewards. They clean the room twice a day (between 9 and noon in the morning, and between 6 and 9 in the evening), and in the evening you get chocolate on your pillow.
Both Alein, the cabin steward for the five days cruise, and Bayu (pronounced bayou) the cabin steward for our second leg of the journey, were great. In fact, it’s difficult to find people on the crew who are not helpful; they go out of their way to make sure whatever you need is taken care of, and do so with a smile.
Funny thing . . . we watched some old Love Boat shows on the in-cabin on-demand system, and those crew members on the show were also friendly . . . very friendly, as they continuously hit on the passengers, and generally slept with whatever passenger agreed to it. Even the Captain. Thankfully, that was not the case with this crew.
I don’t know how other cruise ships are, but the two Princess boats we’ve cruised on impressed us both with the amenities, and with the service.
All the above photos are from the phone. The rest are a mix of phone and Nikon shots, all from the balcony.
Anyway . . . our balcony. One of the thing I did not like (did not like even on the previous cruise to Alaska) is that if you lean on the banister and turn your head, you are likely to be staring at another passenger (not so in these pictures because people were not on board yet).
You then have to quickly look away and feign talking to someone so as to not have to engage in yet another pointless conversation.
“Aint this a wonderful ship?”
“Yes. Nice railing, isn’t it?”
“Why, yes; I wonder how often they varnish it?”
As much as we liked the front balcony, you do get to see a lot more from the side when in port. Provided, of course, you are on the good side, which in this instance we were.. . .
Notice the rear and side of that yacht . . . got himself a spare boat.
I love the idea of sailing . . . except, you know, the actual sailing part, which I know nothing about despite coming from a family of sailors. Also, being prone to motion sickness, not being a strong swimmer, and not having a sailboat . . . were it not for all that, I would love to sail.
Eventually, the ship moved . . . ever so slowly, it moved laterally away from the pier, then begans the slow journey toward the channel exit. We stayed on the balcony because Melisa’s sister was going to try and catch a glimpse of us on the Port Everglade WebCam.
The webcam is fairly popular, especially when the cruise ships leave (starting around 4 pm on most days – you can check out what cruise ships are in port, and when they leave). The webcam itself is located on the lower floors of the building closes to the channel near the harbor exit (the right-most building in the above photo). The little map under the live feed has clickable icons that tell you the ships in port, if they are moving, and where they are destined.
The webcam often zooms to people waving as the cruise ships go by, and people are certainly recognizable. Alas, we did not catch the attention of the camera operator, and Melisa’s sister did not see us.
We waved goodbye to Ft. Lauderdale (the far left shows the pier we were moored to) . . .
. . . as the harbor sheriff kept boats from getting too close . . .
. . . and as the Harbor Pilot led us out . . .
Honest, I don’t know the value of the Pilot Boat. The cruise ships have state of the art navigation, directional propellers, and are fully capable to leave on their own. Now, I suppose someone will educate me on the “why”, but to me a Pilot Boat makes as little sense as having a Pilot Plane lead the take-off of a jetliner as it leaves the airport.
I suspect Pilots have a strong Union who list lots of reasons why this boat has to ‘lead’ the cruiseship out (I read they are mostly self-employed, but I’m sure there’s a Union involved somewhere).
As far as I know, Pilots are supposed to come on board and actually pilot the ship in and out of port . . . there was one port where the captain mentioned they were going to let the pilot off. One. The rest of the time we got into or left a port, the Pilot Boat stayed well away from the ship and they might as well have been playing canasta in that boat as the cruise ship cut its own path through the seascape.
We watched the Pilot Boat pace the ship, and eventually veer off as we cleared the channel and turned to open sea.
We cleared the balcony, and headed to the buffet.
Note: you can click on the photos to open them in a new window or tab, but there is no SmugMug gallery as these are pretty mundane photos.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.