Miami and Boarding on RCL Cruise
First night’s Show and Tina Fey’s BossyPants
Running on a Cruise Ship
Cococay Island, Viking Lounge and the second night’s shows
Nassau Cruise Port and Atlantis Resort
Back in Miami and to the airport
Unfortunately we didn’t take a lot of pictures in Miami. There wasn’t much there to see but we did enjoy the food.
Once we landed, we went to the Avis counter. The rental car complex was in a large parking structure a few miles from the airport. The structure makes it a bit easier to drop off your car and then take a shuttle to the airport as everything is in one structure. No driving around finding the entrance to the lot. It did make it hard to find transportation to the cruise terminal.
We drove down to South Beach and then back north along the shore up to Newport Beachside hotel. As we went on the Thursday before Memorial day, most of the prices were high so we had to stay a few miles north of downtown Miami. The hotel/resort itself was pretty nice. They have a shallow pool right behind the hotel with some lounge chairs. The beach itself was pretty nice and it’s shared by the towering neighboring condo high-rises.
The common package at the time was about $200 but it came with a massage, which was nice. I figured that she definitely needed one and it would be a great way to start the vacation so I didn’t mind paying the slightly higher package rate for it. The spa was in the basement but she still had a great massage. I took the time to explore the surrounding area.
We went in May 2011 so the housing crisis was still in full swing. There were many high rises that probably had condos available. Unfortunately, it looked as if most of them were empty and it created this creepy deserted neighborhood, given that high-rises stretch most of the beachfront. The surrounding neighborhood was decent with many small shops by the main road and a good place to stock up before our cruise. For us, this was just a place to spend the night. It was quite far from many attractions.
The next morning, we went searching for some distinctly local cuisine. Not sure if this counts as local, but we found a popular cuban restaurant, Versailles. It was a great restaurant and I would definitely go again to try the entrees. I almost missed it the first time I drove by. We went for a late breakfast/early lunch. There are a few parts of the restaurant: the main restaurant, the cafe that serves cuban coffee among other things, and then the bakery or dessert section. We sat down in the restaurant and ordered two entrees. We didn’t get any cuban sandwiches.
We left for the airport to return the car and then find a shuttle to the cruise port. We didn’t prepay for one but found signs for the cruise shuttle. A bus driver asked us where we were going and agreed to take us. I didn’t really know what was going on but what we later found out was that a bus driver was going there anyway and wanted some cash on the side to take us there. In hindsight, I guess the whole situation was a bit sketchy.
Next time we go back, we would book with a car agency that provides a free round-trip shuttle to the cruise port if you book the rental car with them. From the reviews, it seems as if all the major car rental services provide it, except Avis.
On the way to the cruise port, I realized I forgot to bring the luggage tags and also the RCL reservation. I freaked out and called RCL. They assured me that it was fine and all we needed was an ID or passport at check-in. I felt a bit better but was still nervous until we got there. We hit minimal traffic on our way to the cruise port. When we got to the port, it seemed pretty empty, probably because most people were arriving at different times onto the ship. It also hit us how big these ships were. I am very aware that we are going on the smallest ship RCL has and I couldn’t imagine that there are bigger ships, especially if you look up at the ship from ground level.
We got there about 2pm so a few hours before the ship leaves. Next time, I would get there closer to noon so i would have some extra time to check out the ship and use some of the amenities.
We had to fill out some forms before checking in. The RCL agents found our reservation and soon enough, we were walking onto the ship. They searched our bags before stepping onto the ship.
We found our rooms without much difficulty. We picked an interior room to see how bad it would be. For a short cruise, it was more than enough. The crew did a good job turning it down a few times a day. They would clean it during the day, and then turned it down after dinner. There was a main point of contact that was in charge of a block of rooms. He/She handled your requests for your room and makes sure the staff carries out the requests.
We participated in the safety drill. We both did not know how to swim so we took it as if our lives depended on it. They went through all the instructions. What stood out for me is that they tell parents not to run around the ship looking for their children. It makes a lot of sense as the crew is already running around finding people and they just didn’t want more people getting in the way. How that works in practice is probably not the best and nerve-racking for the parents, but in the big scheme of things its probably better for everyone. As they went through the instructions, I instantly thought back on the book my wife and I were reading, BossyPants by Tina Fey. I will elaborate more in my next post, but the book freaked me out and amazed me at the same time.
After the drill, we went upstairs to check out the view on the deck and also see the surrounding area as the ship set sail.
I saw the Carnival ship and instantly regretted not booking with Carnival. They had a slide! I mean a ship without a slide is automatically not as fun with a ship with a slide.
We then went downstairs to walk around the ship for a few minutes before getting ready for dinner at 6:30. We got there a bit early but there was already a line forming. This didn’t matter as much. Everyone was assigned a table. They try to pair you up with similar people. We were paired with a pair of women who are very close friends and cruise regularly. They were very interesting to talk with for the next two days. We also saw each other from time to time on the excursions.
All meals are included in the price of the cruise, including lunch on the ship. However, with such a short itinerary and many ports of call, we weren’t on-board for lunch. For all meals, its pretty much all you can eat. For dinner, you can pick between a few appetizers, entrees and desserts. However, our server kept asking us if we wanted more or all of the entrees. By the last night, the server did give us all the entrees and desserts.
Many other topics about cruising are covered in other blogs so I am trying to keep common observations about cruises at a minimum. Also, it doesn’t help as much as I don’t have many photos to back them up.