Posted September 19th, 2013, 03:25 PM
Before reading this review, please have a look at my Live review at http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250
To get started on this review, some blurb about me.
I am from London (aka, from across the pond) and am a solo traveller. My main interests are around photography and IT. This cruise was an opportunity for me to go to the Everglades to see some Alligators. I was hoping to see the Flamingo Gardens as well as part of my pre-cruise entertainment. I will explain what happened later on.
I am a Type 2 Diabetic Vegetarian and am on a number of tablets plus Insulin. Also, I don't drive. I live a restrictive life!!!
I rarely go on holiday, probably once a decade, if I am lucky.....until about 4 years ago when I went on my first cruise on the Largest ship of its time, the Liberty of the Seas (well it was the largest ship until the Oasis of the Seas set sail a week later) to celebrate a friends 40th Birthday. Whilst I was in a group of 28 people, I did my own thing, and only met up with the group at Dinner time, and the occasional social meetup in the on-board pub.... but I still count the experience as a Solo Cruiser.
Since then, I have cruised on the Allure of the Seas Back to Back and the immediate past Allure cruise to the Western Caribbean as a true solo traveller with no friends, no family and <deep Jamaican voice> no worries.
So back to the cruise I am reviewing. The I booked the package... Flights, Transfers, Hotel and Cruise. I don't want the hassle of doing things separate, and wanted the additional protection from ABTA (http://abta.com/
) and ATOL (http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=27
). Yes, I could have saved money and done things separately and done indirect flights, etc. But it is a personal choice.
Originally, I had booked a Balcony (in the same room as I did the B2B on Deck 6 - Near the Vitality Spa). After some gentle persuasion from the Roll Call, I upgraded to JS on Deck 7. (Ok, I wanted the Double Points so that I can get Platinum, rather than be 1 point away from being Platinum before my next cruise... yep... OCD!). I was happy and content with going with a JS, until I was persuaded yet again (by jealousy) by others on the Roll Call who upgraded to GS and above. I had a choice of 3 floors. Deck 9, Deck 14 and one other deck (can't remember which one). This was turning out to be an expensive holiday before I set foot on the Plane!!
I arrived into Miami Airport (From London Heathrow) on the 5th September at around 3:30pm and got through security by around 4:30pm (some quick walking was required to beat most of the queue at immigration). The set sail date was for the 8th September 2013. I wanted to spend a couple of days in Fort Lauderdale doing some sightseeing.
I stayed in the Embassy Suites on 17th Street. (I didn't want to stay in Hilton Marina again. Didn't like the service, and wanted to experience the Embassy that everyone was raving about!).
After I checked in, and put my luggage in my room, I went to the Concierge in main reception to ask about doing some excursions in Fort Lauderdale. I asked about the Flamingo Gardens and some Airboat ride (plus some bird spotting) at the nearby reserve. However, the plans were altered due to the high taxi costs.
I was persuaded to go to the Everglades Safari Park by the hotel. The price quoted was $189. I was too late to book, as it was some time after 5pm before I managed to get a booking. So I decided to go on the Jungle Queen river cruise to see Fort Lauderdale and see some wildlife and Alligators. I will explain what happened on Day 2 in the next post.
As it was too late to do any sightseeing, and as I was a bit hungry, I wanted something to eat. I asked the concierge if there was an Italian restaurant nearby that catered vegetarians. I was directed to Bravos, near Renaissance and Hilton Marina. The food was good and enjoyable. I had a free entre (as a result of the hotel giving me a voucher). The service was good. Only complaint was the restaurant was a little quiet. That can be a good thing, and a bad thing. A good thing in that the service is quick. A bad thing that as not many people were around, I wondered what the reputation was like at the restaurant. However, as it was off season, I will give the restaurant the benefit of doubt. Anyway the food was good, the service was good. I would recommend this location for any pre-cruise dinner (either private or as part of the Roll Call dinner).
That's all for right now. Any questions about the Hotel, Flight, Shuttle, etc. leading up to this point, please let me know. Any cruise related questions, please hold back until I get to the cruise bit of the review.