We wake up early on Sunday morning and get ready to check out and grab the shuttle back to the airport. From there the plan was to take the train or another shuttle to Port Everglades. We wanted to arrive by 11 a.m. to check in because that is the earliest the cruise line queue opens.
As I walk out the front door to the lobby of the hotel I see a man asleep in a lounge chair. It appears he's been there all night.
Several other people are waiting for the shuttle back and then someone from the hotel comes out and says the shuttle driver isn't coming. He doesn't give a reason. He says that maybe he'll arrive at 10 a.m. Maybe...
This does not happen where we are from, but it seems par for the course in a place were anything goes. Since there are many cabs Matt flags one down. I think we are going back to the airport, but Matt tells the driver to take us all the way to Port Everglades.
"How much is that?" I ask Matt.
I don't really argue because I don't really want to deal with it. Sometimes the simplest way to solve a problem is to throw some money at it. If my mother is reading this right now she is probably having a stroke. Or some kind of conniption fit. BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T RAISE ME THAT WAY. Which way is that, you ask? The way that results in the type of person willing to pay sixty bucks for a cab ride because they are too lazy to figure out the least inexpensive way of doing things.
I decide in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter if I paid sixty bucks or I paid twenty.
We are riding along and I tell Matt I'm hungry. I'm a breakfast eater. I'm one of those people who needs to eat when I get up in the morning. I'm worried there won't be anything to eat at the pier but Matt assures me that there will be "something there".
He is utterly wrong.
Port Everglades is a city unto itself. It is like entering a no-man's zone. Or Tijuana. There is a large checkpoint and gates and beyond that it appears to be a city made of shipping containers and warehouses. It's mildly weird and creepy.
We arrive at Pier 18, where our ship is going out. It's freakishly early and I'm starving. There is nothing to eat. Not even vending machines. Actually, there is one vending machine that sells water.
Matt sheepishly buys a water and I look at him while I drink it. "Why doesn't anyone ever listen to me?" I ask the sky.
No one answers.
We still have two hours to wait to get on the ship, so I turn to Matt. "I'm gonna EAT you!"
Eventually the queue line opens. Here I have to say something about security: It is easier to get on a plane that it is to board a cruise ship. Not only do they do the same scanning as the airport, with all the dectectors, there are a series of checks. At least five. They check you when you enter Port Everglades. They check you when you check in. They check you when they issue your ship card. They herd you into another corral and check you again. Then you go up an escalator where they, you got it, check you again. Then they take your picture. AND CHECK YOU AGAIN.
Then you can board the gangplank and walk on.
We got on the ship at noon. It was huge. It was sparkling. It was so damn clean I would feel comfortable eating spaghetti off the public bathroom floor. Without out plate. That's how spotless it was. They give you champagne when you walk on, exactly how I imagine it must be like when you die and go to heaven. Boom! You walk through the gates and everyone gets a glass of champagne.
Up next, a rundown of the ship...