This is a recap, and not a highly detailed live blog. If you have questions, please let me know in the replies
October 31 & November 1 — Pre-Embarkation
We flew from our home near Nashville to Miami on a late flight and were one of the last arrivals of the day.
This presented a problem with getting a ride share to take us to the Mercury Hotel in South Beach as it is quite a distance.
One Uber and two Lyft drivers bailed on us. While annoying, it is understandable. We ended up taking a taxi and ran into construction traffic on I-95 delaying our arrival. We entered our hotel room at about 12:30 am.
We stayed at a quirky Art Deco hotel a block west of Ocean Drive near 1st Street.
for brunch, we at at a Popular Cuban restaurant called Puerto Sagua. I highly recommend it. It was an easy walk to Collins and 7th where it is located.
After brunch, we walked along the shoreline to the southernmost ended of South Beach and watched Navigator sail away. You can see a time lapse on my Instagram at:
I got my dunkel bier fix for dinner at the Bavaria Bier Haus in Bayside Marketplace right on the water by the marina next to Port Miami. See the first attached pic for an incredible sunset effect by the surrounding skyscrapers.
November 2 — Embarkation
We had breakfast at a local eatery called Big Pink, checked out and took a Lyft to Port Miami. MacArthur Causeway was closed and traffic was being routed to the Venetian Causeway and to I-195 to the north. Our Lyft driver was astute and chose the latter. While I missed driving opposite cruise ship row that morning, our driver did a great job with the circumstance. When we made it to Dodge Island, we dealt with the effects of getting to Terminal A caused by the construction of the Norwegian terminal next door.
Soon, were we curbside at the terminal and entering the building. A couple of months ago, I cancelled the Key due to reviews. I didn’t realize that the icon was still on my SeaPass in the app, and when I showed it, we were ushered into the Key line and found ourselves bypassing waiting guests and were on board immediately it took five minutes when I realized what happened, that somehow we still had the Key, I chose not to take advantage of the other perks it offered for the duration of the cruise.
We ate lunch at El Loco Fresh, and were set up for the rest of the day our CP balcony room was ready right at 1:00 pm, and we were unpacked by 1:30 pm my wife had a manicure in the spa scheduled for 1:45, so I did the slides on board starting with the Ultimate Abyss.
We chose My Time dining, during sail away. We watched Hairspray in the theater that evening. The cast was incredible.
November 3rd & 4th — Sea Days 2 & 3
Readers of these boards will have varying styles of cruising on sea days. I love sea days because of the relaxation available.
-we purchased a thermal suite package and started using it — very nice, however, the weight room in the fitness center is above the spa, so there are related sounds and bangs
-we ate dinner at Chops on Day 2. It was execellent
-Day 3 was the same with dinner at Izumi Hibachi — it was fun as always
November 5th — Day 4 — Sint Maarten
We chose to make this an easy beach day and took the water taxis from the port to the middle of Philipsburg for $7 round trip. We got off the water taxi after a five minute ride into the middle of the town. We turned right, headed toward the Lazy Lizard and rented two beach chairs and an umbrella for $20. It included a bucket of six beers or two cocktails. Lunch was extra for about $13 a plate. I had the curry chicken with voodoo shrimp appetizer. It was...BY FAR...the best meal I have had on a cruise vacation anywhere. We chose the Lazy Lizard because of reviews on Trip Advisor. Photos attached.
That evening, we watched 1977 in Studio B. The drones and the skating did not disappoint.
November 6th — Day 5 – San Juan, PR
I have been dying to get to this port for a while. We did the standard walk up the hill to Castillo del Morro and walked around absorbing some of the history of the magnificent place. We chose not to go to the other fort, and instead walked down the hill on the west side and and toured Casa Blanca where Ponca de Leon lived. The grounds were beautiful and the house was incredible considering how people of that time lived.
We ate at the famous Barrachina restaurant near Cristo Street. I tried the mofongo combination with chicken, beef and shrimp along with a piña colada. It’s a little touristy, so it won’t be my choice for my next visit to San Juan. We did some shopping and headed back to the ship for a thermal suite session.
We watched Hiro in the Aqua Theater and were mesmerized.
Flowing Hiro, dinner was at Wonderland, an experience Royal Caribbean cruisers should experience once in a lifetime.
November 7th — Day 6 — Sea Day
- we lazed around and ended the evening watching Flight in the Main Theater
November 8th — Day 7 — Perfect Day at Coco Cay
Seas were as smooth as a glass before sunrise. It was a beautiful and surreal experience walking onto deck 15 to see a Carival ship lit up as she passed by our starboard. A little later, a Norwegian ship sailed across our wake. They looked close enough to touch and were beautifully lit up.Sadly, I was dealing with condensation on my camera lenses, and didn’t have time to get a really cool photo.
-we found loungers behind the swim up bar on Coco Cay and lazed around until lunch at the Snack Shack where we had the popular crispy chicken sandwich with fried mozzarella and marinara. It is a big step up from the standard fare from the old Coco Cay. The transformation of the island is mind blowing.
November 6th — Disembarkation
-I booked a late flight out of FLL, so we took our time getting off the ship
-we had breakfast in the main dining room and left the ship by 9:00 am
-we took a cab from the terminal to Miami Brightline on NW 1st in downtown Miami for $15. We bought Select tickets which gave us lounge access in the very nice, new train station
- the ride from Miami was about 30 minutes and included beverages and snacks served by an attendant in our carriage. The train experience on this line is as a good as any I have had in Europe. It was excellent. I was sad to have to get off in Fort Lauderdale.
-tickets may be pre-purchased online or at the station — the process is pretty seamless
-FLL is 3.5 miles from the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station, so a quick ride share will get you to/from the station and airport
-overall —> this short experience far surpassed dealing with a cab or ride share up I-95 — if you are flying out of FLL on a later flight, or if you are coming from a location near a Brightline station elsewhere in Florida, Orlando (future station planned) for example...THIS is how I would get to Port Miami, or Port Everglades — it is well worth it, especially considering the net cost was about the same as a cab would have been and a little higher than a ride share. I will be figuring other ways to use this service while in Florida in the future — included are pics of the Fort Lauderdale Brightline Terminal and the inside of a carriage