Sunday April 27/08, Debarkation and Florida Everglades
On this debarkation day, we were up extra early, as the ship was docking in Ft. Lauderdale by 7am.
It was not so pleasant, having breakfast in the Caribe Cafe, overlooking the huge warehouses, highways with traffic, highrises, and all the mini-lifts hauling suitcases off and food pallets on to the ship.
I much preferred the view on sea days!
Princess' debarkation system is such an organized, calm, relaxed procedure, with no crowding, pushing, standing around, waiting in line, nor any loud constant announcements on the PA system. Not even one.
You are given colour-coded luggage tags, and assigned a comfortable lounge to wait in at an appointed time. Our location was the Sterling Steakhouse, and at exactly 8:15, our given time, we were called, and along with all the others in our pre-booked shore excursion group, we headed for the exit and within 15 mins. we were through the luggage area, customs, and outside looking for our tour bus!
We walked a short distance to our huge, air conditioned tour bus, and we were off to the Florida Everglades.
This is the first time we have ever booked a post-cruise shore excursion, because this time, our flight was not until much later in the day.
I'm so glad we did the excursion because it sure beat sitting in the airport for hours, and prolonged our enjoyment of the lovely Florida weather and sights.
We booked the Everglades/ Alligator/Flamingo Gardens tour, and the first stop was the Everglades for an airboat ride through the lily-pad and sawgrass covered river in search of alligators.
After much searching, and seeing nothing more than plants, trees, insects, birds and fish, we finally spotted one lone alligator, who disappeared almost as fast as we'd spotted him!
Nevertheless, the airboat ride was fun, and it reminded me of the "virtual experience" of being in the X-Wing fighter in a Star Wars movie!
When we returned to dry land, there was an enclosed alligator pen, where we could see several captive alligators, and one crazy man who just waded into their man-made pool in his bare feet, and dragged one out by the tail!
He then proceeded to stand and taunt the beast into hissing at him (I didn't know alligators could hiss!), then he sat astride the thing and forced open it's jaws to show us all it's teeth and inside of it's mouth.
At this point I noticed the guy only had 3 fingers on one hand, and I had to wonder, what this due to a birth defect, or one too many tricks with an alligator?
It was a pretty scary demonstration, and I was relieved to get back on the bus and head to Flamingo Gardens.
Despite it's name, Flamingo Gardens did not have very many flamingos!
The Gardens reminded me a bit of the Botanical Gardens in Montreal, except there were species of trees, plants and flowers I have never seen before. We travelled through the site aboard a little train, with interesting and lively commentary from our driver.
We did see a few flamingos, along with other creatures such as an iguana, peacocks, egrets, and a resident panther.
We had our lunch there too, at a little outdoor kiosk, and thoroughly enjoyed being outdoors in the sun, feeling the warmth, smelling the earth and the flowers, while at the same time, dreading going back home to the cold!
Our tour bus, which had held everyone's luggage all this time, took us all back to the airport by 1pm, and dropped everyone off at their respective terminals. A very pleasant, and well organized excursion, and I recommend it to anyone who is not familiar with Florida, especially if you are returning to a cold climate!
Our flight left on time at 4pm, and we experienced a very turbulent flight home, but we and our luggage arrived safely back in Montreal, and for that I am thankful.
Our cruise on the Caribbean Princess was simply wonderful, and now I can't wait till the next adventure, on the Sapphire Princess in October!
Thank you RD for a fabulous review of CB. I relived our short 4 day, and love all your pictures. Now its back to reality for a few more months, then we all can do another cruise. Mine is November30th, hope the summer passes quickly!!
And the Oscar for best reviewer goes to......rollerdonna!
WOW, you did it again Donna! You definitely have a knack for writing and I find myself so taken in absorbed by the tale that I am just as disappointed as you when it ends. Have you ever thought about writing a book about cruising? Fictional or otherwise?
A few updates on my end. I booked my Amsterdam cruise today with some minor changes with the most notable being that I decided against a suite. $4800 for one person, $6000 by the time I added in the shipboard account and other expenses was just way too much. I really don't have to have a verandah and I don't need the space. I can purchase a lot of little extras for way less and I can still find some way to splurge to make the cruise special like taking a limo to the ship instead of a taxi. The best part is that the savings will now allow me to take a much needed long weekend trip to Palm Springs in September.
I also chose one of only two staterooms that overlooks the bow on this ship and I'm really excited about not only the experience but reporting back in a review, despite searches on these forums and elsewhere I have been unsuccessful in finding any info on these cabins which are rare on Holland America.
In honor of booking my cruise and reading your great review I'm off to the docks shortly to watch the ships head out of Seattle today, dreaming of when it will be my turn again, 51 weeks from today!