New York city is now in the past and although it was an opportunity to visit and be part of the city bustle for a few days, am pleased it's over, it's way too busy a place, noisy, dirty and everyone in a hurry! Oh to be back on my patch of dirt overlooking the golf course with a drink in hand.
Our flight down to Fort Lauderdale was 2 ½ hours flying time so a little like Brisbane to Melbourne I guess time and distance wise - further than I thought - it's hard to know distances when you're in another big country.
Fort Lauderdale is in Florida and only about 20kms north of Miami, which once on board our ship and cruising down the east coast of Florida, looked, from the water, like another Gold Coast strip, only longer. From what we heard chatting to someone the other day, the greater area of Miami will in a few years overtake the population base of New York City so what we even saw would only have been a fraction of yet another huge city.
We were collected by shuttle bus at 10.30 am for the short trip out to the cruise port - boarding queues didn't exist - it was a case of stamp, tick, flick, thank you, check this, check that, follow this path and were were on board! Fastest boarding of any ship or aircraft ever! As such we were in our cabin by about 11.15am, much sooner than we had predicted.
Previous cruisers are invited to a 'Mariners' lunch onboard in the main dining room, last cruise we went on the place was full. This time round as Fort Lauderdale was only a port of call with only 300 people boarding, there were fewer people at lunch but always interesting chatting to others as to how many cruises they had been on and where to. The mandatory safety drill on deck before departure, requires all embarking passengers to turn up to a roll-call at your designated lifeboat station and be instructed on emergency procedures and of course how to put on the life-vest.
The ship then departed Fort Lauderdale at 4.30pm on time, and heading for our first stop at Key West, the southernmost tip of the United States. Arrived there early the next morning as did another cruise ship, into a typically over-priced, junky souvenir port of call but this one also full of bars and sex shops. It was a dull day weather wise so the watersports tours and supposed beach outings were not partaken of well, most people opting to just stooge around the town and pick up the odd souvenir (and bag of lollies as required!). ONe image of Key West is the open-air 'trolley buses' we could have chosen to tour the town ship and surrounds but the place is so small that walking was our chased outing for the day!
We were back on board for lunch shortly after, no sense in buying food in town when it's all paid for on board! :) The 'Lido Deck' on the Holland America cruise ships basically has the buffet restaurant in the centre with pool areas either end. The buffet is usually open for about 3 hours over each meal period and has food of all persuasions and way too much of it available! Salads, pasta, lasagne, pizza, fish, chicken chips, roast meats, roast vegies, steamed veggies, bread varieties, desserts, ice-creams and loads of fruit. The early diners of an evening also have available plates of cheese and bikkies so I have been grabbing one of those and heading to the room to sit on our balcony and consume - with a couple of drinks of course! Had pre-ordered a large bottle of bourbon and some coke which was ready and waiting when we boarded so we're up to our old habits of course!
Pre-ordered also a 5 bottle pack of wine - lots of options to pre-order items, all with a bulk discount of course (yeah right!) so come a meal time or sitting by the pool, we just tell them what we need from our ordered items and room number and a few minutes later it turns up!
Left Key West at 4pm and now onboard for a full day at sea as we head to our next port of call at Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Had a bit of a win on the roulette table in the casino last night but started to feel a little intimidated when a French guy sat down beside me and starting putting chips all over the table in $5 chips, but stacked on god knows how many numbers and a quick count of what he was putting down was about $500 - $600 per roll!!!! Shit! Not my cup of tea, my 4 or 5 $1 chips got lost in there!
Ho hum - it's onward and forward - until next time!