Our adventure began at JFK on JetBlue with the oddest bunch of passengers and flight attendants I have ever seen. As we were walking to our seats, I could see most of the overhead bins were full. Except one place that someone who thought she was special had put her coat. I said to my husband "Let me move this coat and you can put the carry on in here". The owner of the coat jumped up screaming "That's a $500 coat!!" My response - "it doesn't belong in the overhead anyway". "I know but it's a $500 coat!" She suddenly sat down and I later found out my husband had whispered to her to sit down and be quiet. Just not that politely.
Then a woman with a four year old sat behind us dressed in the most daring dress I had ever seen a traveler wearing. It was held together with straps of fabric at the sides and how the front stayed pinned to her chest was beyond me. Of course she had brought nothing for her four year old to do on the plane so he kicked the back of the seat of the woman seated next to me for much of the flight.
The woman in the window seat in my aisle quickly took off her shoes and put her feet on the wall of the seat in front of her while asking the flight attendant when he'd be serving liquor before the plane even took off. (It was 9 AM). And the flight attendant had absolutely no system whatsoever in distributing drinks. Some people got their beverages, some didn't, some had to keep reminding him he forgot them - except for booze woman who he happily served several times while people waiting for a bottle of water were ready to pounce on him. He finished serving drinks a half hour before we landed.
One of my friends was traveling with us and listened to a man preaching to his seatmate right behind her the entire flight.
When we landed, Mom and four year old were the talk of the airport. We were amused watching men walk around her back and forth to catch a look. My husband warned me not to take pictures but of course I had to. I did cut her head off so I can't be sued.
Unfortunately, at the same time as our conference, there was a huge boat show in Ft. Lauderdale. Big enough to have nearly every hotel in the area booked solid at top dollar.
In order to make our conference affordable, a hotel outside the immediate downtown area of Ft. Lauderdale was used. To say it was in Ft. Lauderdale was a bit of a stretch, since it was more than a $45 cab ride from the airport.
We arrived at a lovely looking hotel- pretty much in the middle of nowhere directly off I-95. We checked in but our room wasn't ready yet (it was 1:45) so we had to find something to do.
We decided to eat at the only restaurant in the hotel because we didn't see anything nearby. Lunch was a little costly - $19.99 per person for the lunch buffet. The manager of the restaurant asked if we'd like the buffet or to order off the menu. We decided to try the buffet since he made it sound so enticing. As were were looking at the food, our server told us that we had 15 minutes to serve ourselves before the restaurant closed! As we were rushing trying to figure out how to fill plates and eat in 15 minutes, the manager came over and told us we could take our time and sit. When I told him what the server said, he apologized and told us he'd comp our lunch because it was his error not telling us the buffet was closing. That would end up being the best part of the hotel stay.
We decided to take a walk to see if we could find somewhere else nearby for dinner. After walking almost two miles in 88 degree heat and finding a BBQ restaurant that had cookers outside and a diner that was only open for breakfast and lunch, we ended up having dinner in the restaurant.( We found out the next day that the hotel offered a shuttle that will drive guests to other restaurants within a three mile radius. The only problem is that the first three restaurants on the list we were given were out of business so the shuttle was of little use). On our walk we discovered that when they say "no parking" they mean no parking in this little hamlet.
It's too bad the pool wasn't heated because the water was so cold no one dared go in. We were kept company by Godzilla and his family of amazing large lizards that live on the property and thankfully were our entertainment for the morning. We especially enjoyed him when two people we knew stole two boxed lunches that were meant for a different conference that was departing the hotel that day. When this woman and her husband brought the lunches out to the patio, Godzilla knew there was food and kept coming to where she was sitting. We sat with our feet in the water laughing as the woman panicked trying to make him go away. She finally had to bring her lunch inside.
Elevators? What elevators? With two conferences the elevators were slow and at one time broke down, trapping about 15 people in it and requiring the fire department to come and free them. I was happy when my Fitbit buzzed on my arm as I walked six flights of steps for the second time that day, indicating I had met a goal of 13 flights in a day.
The hotel was just too small for a conference of a few hundred people at once and was under construction so we could only suck it up and deal with it. Due to the boat show we could either stay there at an affordable rate or stay elsewhere and pay $400 a night. So - we made the best of it and looked forward to getting to the cruise ship the next day.
That didn't go so well either. The bus driver that took our group from the hotel to the cruise port got lost and drove right out of the port as we were waving goodbye to our ship at the dock. Once he found his way back, he stopped at the wrong place and began offloading us, only to be reprimanded by the port agents and sent somewhere else - without us - to drop all the luggage. We hoped our luggage would find it's way to our cabins.(It did).
When the cabins were opened up, we found an older ship that needed some updating but the cabins were clean. We were supposed to go to Nassau and Coco Cay, Celebrity's private island. On the second day, as we were nearing Nassau, my husband, who was sitting on the balcony said "something is going on in the port. I don't think we are getting in". Sure enough, an hour later an announcement was made that it was too windy for the ship to dock in Nassau and we were going to have an extra day at sea. Unfortunately, the crew didn't come up with alternative arrangements for activities so there was not much to do on the ship. Suffice it to say we both read all the books we brought.
This was my fourth cruise that was supposed to go to Coco Cay. I have never made it because every time we sailed, it was too windy to tender to the island. This ended up being no different. The next morning, another announcement - no Coco Cay. We were having a three day cruise to nowhere.
Again - not enough activities for the passengers in lieu of going to the beach. There was a bright spot - it was the only time I've been able to find seats around the pool without going out a 6 AM and putting down a towel because the water was so cold no one was swimming.
Later during the day, the Captain made an announcement that we were going to make a stop in Freeport the next day. "Woo hoo" we all thought. Until we paid $10 for a round trip cab ride per person to go to the "shopping and casino area". When the cab driver told us that Freeport has been closed since the hurricane three weeks before, we looked at each other, knowing this wasn't going to end well. On arriving at the casino, we found is was closed, as were the beaches behind it and the majority of the stores in the "shopping area".
People were furious that they were told there was a casino but not told it was closed. We spent 15 minutes walking around the shopping area and got a ride back to the ship. It was nearly a cruise to nowhere.
So what did we do? We rolled with the punches and tried to look at the positive.
-We didn't gain an ounce on the ship because the food wasn't very good. (I had the fattiest lamb in my life for dinner one night).
- We found Floridians have a great sense of humor as far as signs go.
- I did more exercise in six days than I did in the last year.
- We learned lizards are entertaining.
- I designed a shirt for my next Royal Caribbean or Celebrity cruise.