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Old March 13th, 2010, 07:47 PM
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Rivilian Rivilian is offline
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Many people said it's very quick to get out of Oasis and FLL is not too far away from the port, in addition it's on Saturday therefore I guess not much of traffict in morning
We were booked on the HAL Eurodam 2/20-2/27, putting us into Ft. Lauderdale Saturday morning. Our TA strongly advised us not to book a flight any earlier than 1:00 PM. So that's what we did.

Looking back, I can see that (1) his advice included what the lawyers call "an abundance of caution," and (2) that there are specific places along the route where you might easily need the wiggle room that such caution provides.

HAL asked us when our flight departed the night before disembarkation. Accordingly, we were asked to disembark between 9:30 and 9:45. I noticed that other folks were disembarking as early as 7:45-8:00. So, there's the first place where things could go wrong -- for whatever reason, you might be wrongly assigned a disembarkation time late in the que. I'm not saying it does happen, I just notice that it is the first point at which something can go wrong.

In order, here are the next choke points you will pass through:

1. Finding your bags: this is no problem, of course, if you've ponied up the bucks for the valet service. And, this assumes the valet service works as promised. Which set of dice to roll? :razz: We opted for getting our own bags and moving them through customs. It worked fine, though we can all think of very conceivable problems that might occur.

2. Moving through customs: You're in a que, of course, and at one point things came to a dead stop for about ten minutes. I've no idea why, and in the press of the crowd (plus I'm short!) I couldn't see where the knot had developed. If I were trying to make an early flight, this could have added several points to myh blook pressure!

3. Securing a cab: While waiting in our cabin for our disembarkation time to roll around, I stood on the verandah and observed the street where passengers were to grab a cab. I noticed a fascinating phenomenon -- the cabs came in waves. For a while there would be 20 to 30 cabs along the road, inching their way around a sloping curve to the curbs where the passengers waited with their bags. Then, within minutes, they would be almost all of them gone! About ten or more minutes later, here they'd come again -- piling up in a long line after returning to the port from the nearby airport at FLL.

When it was our turn down at the cab curb I noticed that some cabbies were cruising the crowd offering rides to Miami. One fellow declined to take us (FLL is a very short ride; Miami a longer one and, therefore, carrying a higher fare). it torqued me a tad for him to do that. A few minutes later, here he came from the opposite direction, offering a cab ride. I said to him (as if he were a dull child) "I'm not going to Miami." "Neither is anyone else!" he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Being the gracious forgiving fellow I am , I said, "Let's do it," at which he returned to his cab down the line and attempted to bring it up to where people were loading. But, as soon as he cut in line to the curb, some other fellow -- imagine an NFL linebacker with a purposeful set to his face -- picked up several very large bags at once and hurled them into "my" cab. Of course "my" cabbie didn't care.

We got our cab; there were simply too many of them at that point not to secure one. But, if this trolling and cab stealing had occurred at the end of one of those cab-waves, I'd have been looking for the blood pressure meds again!

4. FLL curbside checkin: Someone above noted that the airport can be swamped by the disembarkation of several ships at once. Many cruises begin and end on Saturday, so it's not just the Oasis you're dealing with, but four or five other ships at the same time.

Driving through the airport complex, we noted long lines at the curbside check-ins. It was Really Long at Southwest Airlines, the bags fly free folks (our airline). Southwest did their best, sending agents along the line asking for folks with flight times that were getting perilously near. Other customers were patient about having these folks move around them.

I looked at my wristwatch to note the time, intending to learn how long we would be in line. Turns out, it was only 15 minutes. Those baggage handlers know what they're doing!

5. Airport security: There was another very long line inside the terminal for entry into airport security! We waited 20 minutes in that one.

I must be sounding like an advertisement for the valet service! But, we had a 1:00 PM flight, so there was never any real danger we encountered that would have threatened our making it. And, the flight was late in departing! It did not depart until 1:40 PM.

All this to say that if you're looking at only $60 more for a later flight time, you might as well do your own bags and enjoy the scenery along the way. But, if you're planning on the valet service, thinking this will speed things along, ... well, it might save you some time at certain choke points, but it will not eliminate other choke points.

So, pick up whichever pair of dice that fancies you, roll 'em, and see what you get. I honestly don't think you'd have a problem IF Oasis lets you off the ship early. But, if your karma is in the toilet that morning, a later flight time could save you a lot of money for the cost of Tums.
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Last edited by Rivilian; March 13th, 2010 at 08:08 PM.
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