This is my fourth cruise, all on Carnival, and my mom’s first time on Carnival but her second cruise (first one was on Disney about 9 years ago). I’m a single 30 year old flight attendant and she’s a retired school teacher that busies herself with church work. I began working on a family cruise for everyone that could come earlier this year. Lots of extended family was initially interested. Gradually people that said they were in started backing out. Then out of nowhere we had a death in the family in June followed by another one 6 weeks later. I suggested that we wait until later this year to take a cruise, but she seemed so disappointed when I said that. She was really looking forward to taking a cruise, so I got on carnival.com and found a nice 4 day itinerary to Key West & Cozumel at a very reasonable price. I booked it about a month in advance and she paid for it. Who would turn down a free cruise?
Pre-cruise time in Miami
We flew into Miami on Saturday night. I booked us at the airport Comfort Inn for at a discounted airline employee rate of $57 a night. The room was very basic with 2 double beds. This seems to be an older hotel. I’ve stayed at nicer Comfort Inns elsewhere, but we didn’t need anything fancy.
On Sunday, we took the hotel shuttle back to the airport to pick up our rental car for the day. My mom has never been to Miami and I wanted to get her out and show her the city. I booked directly through Alamo.com for an economy car for $16 with a gps for $12. The total reservation came to about $40 with taxes. Much to my luck, Alamo was completely out of compact, economy, midsize, basically all of the smaller cars. I got upgraded to a Jeep Liberty! Woo-hoo!
We found what looked to be an interesting place in a brochure called Jungle Island. It sure didn’t disappoint! It’s only a few miles from the airport area, and literally across the street from the port of Miami. We spotted the Carnival Valor and Liberty of the Seas in port. Beautiful ships! In 24 hours I’ll be on one of those beauties!
It was $8 to park at Jungle Island. Admission for the two of us was $61 after a small discount with a coupon. Jungle island is a decent size animal park, much smaller than a zoo. They have some pretty good exhibits- flamingo, alligators, all kinds of birds, bamboons, tortoises, kangaroos, etc. The tiger exhibit was temporarily shut down so we didn’t see them, but they did bring them out for one of the stage shows. I got the inside scoop from an employee that they’re renovating the tiger area because one escaped during business hours a few weeks back. He said he and other employees and guests in the area took refuge in the close by petting zoo area. I bet that smell was lovely.
Next we grabbed something to eat, stopped by the store to pick up some bottled water, and headed back to the hotel. Time to get ready for the cruise!