Friday was an errand and travel day. Which always seems to be the worst, traveling wears anyone out even if it was a direct flight into my destination. On top of the travel I needed to exchange my peanut jar full of change; I like to have dollars to tip people who handle the luggage, the drivers and basically everyone else that you encounter that needs a tip.
My flight was at 2:30PM non stop into Fort Lauderdale and fortunately my parents agreed to take me and pick me up from my trip. I woke up did my few little errands and then met them for breakfast. From breakfast we came home, let Lola out and gave her her pills and then loaded the truck up to go to CMH. I was expecting long travel lines of people trying to get out of Columbus.
I should note as well that for two weeks leading up to my trip I was religiously checking the weather; both the extended forecast and the hourly forecast. This winter has been exceptionally brutal and I did not want to have my flight cancelled and then try to get to Fort Lauderdale at the very last second.
Fortunately when I arrived at the airport it was seemingly empty. I walked up to the outside baggage drop off; gave them my bags and got my boarding pass and walked through security in less than five minutes. Of course that left me with a little over two hours to kill and the only way to start vacation is to have a drink (or two).
It’s a pomegranate margarita from Chili’s. It’s really quite good so I had to have another.
Of course every time I say one was good, two must be better I have Dr. Beverly Hofstadter’s voice in my mind from the Big Bang Theory.
During my time sitting at the bar I was able to befriend a lawyer who gave a dinner recommendation (that I still need to check out). We chatted then went and stood in line for the Southwest cattle call. All in all the boarding process isn’t terrible and I was fortunate enough to have an open seat next to me.
I used to always want to sit next to the window but lately i’ve enjoyed the aisle. It’s nice to not feel trapped and be able to walk around as needed. On the flight I had a fairly decent bloody mary, it was even better since it was free. Southwest was giving away free drinks on Valentine’s Day.
The flight was good, there was little turbulence, wifi and the above mentioned free drinks made the two hours pass by relatively quickly. Fort Lauderdale airport is bigger than I remember and very busy. The luggage area’s horn to signal your luggage has arrived is the cruise ship horn. It’s cute and better than the horn blast you get at Port Columbus.
The ship wasn’t boarding until Saturday and thanks to Dan Howell Travel we stayed at the Best Western with a large contingent of travelers going on Divina with RSVP. He rents the hotel out yearly for his clients and thanks to our larger group we were able to snag a room (that included airport transfers, transfer to the port of miami and then shuttles out to Wilton Manner the night before). It was a great deal. Plus it was a great way to meet people that you’d continuously see on the ship.
As an aside, Dan was great and even had the bar open with a light dinner on Friday night for all of his guests.
The shuttle from the Airport to the Hotel was slow, but traffic in Fort Lauderdale is shitty. The shuttle was completely full and surprisingly I flew down with two guys from Columbus I didn’t know until after I arrived at the hotel (it’s always funny how small a community can feel, only to meet people you’ve never met who are from the same town).
Wilton Manners is pretty nice; a fairly large gayborhood, good bars and decent shops down the main street. I didn’t stay out very late; I was exhausted from the travel and the bars were packed. Besides, I felt like I’d be going out nightly on the ship and didn’t want to be hungover on the ride to the port.
Saturday morning I woke up, headed to Target with friends to get last minute supplies and do a cash withdrawal and then other last minute shopping. We checked out of the hotel and then waited for the bus to arrive to take us to the port. That was probably the only downside to the prearranged travel, the waiting. Of course, we could either wait with the hotel full of people or wait at the port and it was probably more comfortable to wait at the hotel.
The bus ride to the port was fairly easy (nothing like the shuttle bus ride coming home) and by no time we saw the ships stationed at the Port of Miami.
From here on out it’s all about RSVP and the Divina. I’ll continue in a few days with scans of the Daily Programs and the special notices from RSVP.
Until next time.