Friday, March 20, 2015

From the surprise to Ft. Lauderdale....one step closer to the Allure!

The time had finally come!  February was finally here and it was time to sail! We flew out of BWI the Saturday before the cruise left, stopping for lunch at the airport!



We flew Southwest, and had a bit of time at the gate before boarding. The flight was on time and from BWI to FLL was a quick trip.







We booked the Residence Inn Airport and Cruise Port Hotel. I picked this specifically because they indicated they had rollaway beds available. At this age my kids won't share a bed at all. Not even for one night. So when I can find a rollaway, it works out best for all of us. I also got a really great rate. We left the airport, and took a cab, although I later found out the hotel offered a shuttle, which I didn't see offered on their website. But again, I heard from other guests the shuttle ended up taking them more than an hour due to heavy traffic.

So, we arrived at the hotel only to be told that no they don't have rollaways, they never have and it's not on their website. This made for some cranky people in our group. So, the people at the front desk tried to be very helpful and I offered to show them on their website where I saw this information, and they were shocked to see it there. They said it needed to be removed. They asked if we wanted to go across the street to the Courtyard Marriott, but the rate would be double, and I said no. They offered to see if the Courtyard had a rollaway they could bring over, they didn't. They offered to see if they had a 2 bedroom they could give us, they didn't. So in the end - they gave us a one bedroom and my kids made do with the sectional sofa - which was really just fine! Not what we expected, but it was fine!

Notice, Megan has the double bed, and Alex is on the long part of the sofa, with the cushions wedged between the bed and the sofa. He had a little cubby area. Although he seemed to like it just fine! Kids!




But backing up a bit! The hotel is in Dania Beach, not really Ft. Lauderdale. Nothing is in walking distance....but they have a free shuttle that will take guests to one of maybe 5 restaurants and also to a Publix in the morning. So, we chose the Rendezvous Restaurant for dinner.



It was good enough. We sat outside on the deck, overlooking a canal and there was a band playing. It was actually a bit chilly outside. But it was a decent meal. Typical of bar type food. Afterwards they called the hotel for us and our shuttle came to pick us up.


Then, as only could happen in a 13 year old teen girl's world - her fake thumbnail broke off. She put on fake nails for the cruise but didn't bring nail glue. So the crisis of the trip began - she had to find nail glue. Well, no car, nothing within walking distance....what to do! Would the cruise on the Allure be tarnished because her thumb nail wasn't pretty?

After returning to the hotel after dinner, the kids worked on a bit of schoolwork. They both go to Cyber School, which means that they can do school on the road, so in theory taking them out of school for a week might not be quite as difficult as if they were in a traditional school. However, they still have to turn in assignments to stay current with their work! Would they? Likely not. But they both had their laptops with them, so the thought was there!

We decided to use the hotel shuttle to get to the Port and were scheduled for an 11:30 pick up. And off to bed we all went - nice and cozy! 

Finally, the day to board had arrived!  It was almost time to sail...but first, the nail and the need for nail glue had to be dealt with right?  I had checked with the front desk and they had a 9:00 am shuttle that went to Publix, the local grocery store. So I decided to wake Megan up at 8:00, which to her might as well be the middle of the night! But when I told her that if she got up, got showered and dressed and was totally packed, we'd go to Publix and look for nail glue - that girl moved! 

I was packed, so Keith and Alex just had to pack their stuff up while Megan and I were gone. I told them to go ahead and get breakfast at the hotel. They have a full breakfast included. We probably wouldn't make it back in time.

And off Megan and I went! We were on the little shuttle with about 8 other people, all heading out on various cruises and mainly all were looking for wine. Here we were looking for nail glue, and they were looking for wine! So, hey - I might as well get some wine too right? The Publix was about 5 minutes away and it was tiny! The driver let us out and told us he'd be back in 45 minutes! FORTY FIVE minutes??? It would take about 2 minutes to shop in this store! But look what we got



Crisis averted, we can rest, the teenage beast has been tamed! For now!

So, we swing past the wine aisle and wouldn't you know it, this particular Publix doesn't sell wine until after noon on Sunday! It's only 9:30 am! Well, darn! So what about all of those other people on our shuttle? And what are we going to do for the next 40 minutes? We go outside and they're on the phone with the hotel. They're trying to get them to send a different bus. The shuttle we took is actually a third party company they use as a contractor that shuttles their clients to the restaurants and grocery store. But could they please send the hotel shuttle to pick us up and by the way, is there a different Publix or store that we can get our WINE? They were really pretty funny. Of course, now that Megan got her nail glue, she was in no mood to go racing around Ft. Lauderdale so a bunch of people could get wine....she wanted to get back to the hotel for breakfast. 

Sorry dear, mommy is getting some wine! 

A wonderful driver picked us up and took us to a different Publix. Apparently the other service is contracted with this county, and the hotel could go anywhere. Ok....so, we went to a nice, new store. Huge wine/beer section. We all found what we wanted and this guy even waited for us while we shopped. We got back to the hotel just as breakfast closed. No food for us! Oh well, soon enough we'd be on the ship, right? We found Alex and Keith, finishing up their breakfast. We went up to the room and made sure we had everything, put our Allure luggage tags on and went down to wait for our 11:30 shuttle....with HOLY COW.....about 100 people??? WHAT???

We waited, and waited, and waited.....what was going on? 11:30 came and went. 12:00 came and the 12:00 people came out with the 11:30 people who were also with the 11:00 people. The 12:30 people came out too! We were still there. No one knew what was happening. I looked into Uber and they even had no uber cars....no taxi's. Was anyone moving in Ft. Lauderdale? Well, we found out that no, no one was! Apparently there was a race or a marathon or a bike race or something. I can't exactly remember now. But roads were closed and detoured all over the town! So traffic was diverted everywhere! 


Finally, a bus pulled up with cruisers getting out who just got off their cruise and they said it was a nightmare getting there. Took them forever!

But finally it was our turn to get on the shuttle. I want to say maybe we got on around 12:30 or 12:45. But once we were on, we were moving! Off to the port we went! 

Check in was painless! There were no lines and we breezed right through...this was it! We were finally going to be on the Allure and officially starting our cruise!

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