Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ft Lauderdale, after our cruise! 2/15/15

Here we are....docked and ready to leave the Allure. Not my favorite picture, but we're on our balcony, and saying hello Ft. Lauderdale, bye bye Allure!  




Now, when we booked the cruise, you may get the impression from me that I love to vacation right? So for whatever reason, I decided to book a flight home at 9:20 PM! Sure, extend that vacation as long as possible! We get an extra day in Ft. Lauderdale without having to pay for a hotel for another night! Fantastic! But what in the world were we going to do in Ft. Lauderdale??? No beach, we didn't want sandy clothes, wet bathing suits and all that mess if we had to get on a plane later that night! 

We could do a Segway Tour! That sounds fun! But Megan had her doubts...would she run off the sidewalk, crashing into traffic and cause a major accident in Ft. Lauderdale? Seriously...this is her issue. 

We couldn't use the luggage express because our flight was too late....no hotels in the area worked for a day pass....it was looking grim. 

So, we decided we'd rent a car and go to the Everglades! Now, Megan was petrified! In 4th grade she had a teacher that showed them some movie about snakes - pythons in particular and how they could get loose and kill people. Well, apparently when people got tired of their pythons, they let them loose in the Everglades. I suppose? And so, she was picturing the Everglades OVERRUN with giant pythons suffocating and eating people left and right! Now, she's been to Florida many times. I'm pretty sure she's been through the Everglades before! But she insisted NO WAY would she go to the Everglades! Well....guess what...she was going! 

Anyway....since we were renting the car, for some reason, I thought we'd just check the luggage off and let Royal Caribbean take care of it. So we had our assigned time to disembark. Of the entire trip, the was the only time I had a complaint. It was the most disorganized mess ever!

First our number was called....we go to the Main Dining Room area to wait. 



I can't even tell you how long we waited, but given the fact that our number was called to go there, we should have had a pretty short wait. Well, we probably waited at least an hour there. Finally we asked if we could just leave. They told us we could, but our luggage may not be ready. Really?

So then we walk down to the customs area...the line to even get to the luggage, another 40 minutes or so. Then there was our luggage, right in our section. Then line to go through customs...oh, another 40 minutes! It probably took 3 hours to get off the ship and out the door. Never again....we will do self disembark and walk off before the masses! We've done that on our past cruises and never had to wait like that!

Now, you'd think we were home free right? No.....we're renting a car! So, I picked National I think. They have a bus that comes into the port to pick you up. No organization whatsoever in the line. Someone needed to be there to let people know that they could NOT just go up to the front of the line and think they could walk right onto the bus! What is a line? I don't get that. So, we waited probably another 40 minutes for the bus!

It was then that I thought my 9:20 flight might not have been all that late in the long run! We may barely make it! 

We finally got our car and were on the road to our Everglades adventure! Whew.......

After looking through all of the different Everglade Airboat tours we could do, we decided to go to Billie Swamp Safari. It may have been one of the farthest ones, but we did have quite a bit of time...well, we should have anyway! But we figured they had a lot there and got good reviews. So, why not! Off we went out into the Seminole Indian Reservation.....I'd say it was probably after 2:30 by the time we got to the Indian Reservation



On the way there were some areas of the everglades that were on fire, and we saw a helicopter dropping water to try to put the fires out, and there were some firetrucks on the ground as well. 



And we finally arrived! We scheduled both the air boat ride and the Swamp Buggy Ride.....




And are they finally starting to look tired? Or is it Megan's fear of pythons and Alex's total annoyance at her fear of pythons showing in this picture? You be the judge of this one? Here we're waiting for our ride on the airboat!




Not sure what that face is by Alex, but we're on board! And it was a really fun ride! Even Megan finally realized she probably wasn't going to die by the end!





During part of the ride we'd go fast and the water would spray, and it was like being in a movie! And then we'd go slow and look for wildlife, including alligators....and then we went into the more jungley area (yes, I made that word up) and our guide told us about the park area and the wildlife there and we spent about 5 minutes just sitting there looking around, asking questions. It was very cool!









Little turtle here on a log!





It was really beautiful there







Another airboat coming up behind us!





There is also a Florida Panther, which they say has the largest enclosure in South Florida....





They have a reptile show and bird show as well, but since we got there so late, we didn't do those things. We walked around a bit until our time for the buggy tour. They also have these cabins that I suppose people camp in. Some looked like they may have been in use, others looked like they haven't been used for years. It's hard to tell though with cabins! The ones by the swamp looked more recently used! They're listed on the website with pricing though!



We did see some alligators while on the airboat, but not close enough to see with the camera, so they do have some in an enclosure!



And then it was time for our Swamp Buggy Tour! 



This would be a Swamp Buggy! So, instead of going through the water, we go over land! And yes, quite a few deep puddles!






Our view as we drive through the swampy jungle! It was quite a bumpy ride!



Some orange trees!



They had a little display of a Seminole Village set up!





How cute is this?








This guy was pretty cute wandering around!



After our buggy tour, we got changed into our "at home winter long pants, YUCK" in the bathroom....

and took one last vacation selfie.....



it was time to head back to reality...

We left and back to the airport we went. We made it back in plenty of time. Ate dinner at the airport and felt the timing was just fine. Our flight home was uneventful, as we all hope it should be!

So that about sums up our last day! I will come back with another post on our thoughts about the Allure....I know I pretty much covered most of it during the actual trip report, but I do have some final thoughts to share!

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