Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Westbound Panama Canal Cruise – Celebrity Century – Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego – December 19, 2012 – January 3, 2013

December 18, 2012 – Travel Day

Our cab was right on time at 8:00 AM (in fact, the cab arrived much earlier and parked down the street in the complex).

UA238 (Airbus A320) is due to depart gate C17 at 10:16 AM – we received four phone calls and four voice mails indicating gate changes for this flight – talk about information overkill.  We arrived at the airport about 8:40 AM and zipped right through security.  For a holiday travel week, Terminal 1 was not crowded and we walked right up to security.  Through the tunnel to Concourse C and soon we were at C17 (the first gate from the escalator). Our plane was there.

 A320 ready to go (Small)

UAL238 (A320) ready to go

When I printed out my boarding passes in the morning, I noticed that the passes said “Priority Boarding” and wasn’t sure what that meant since we are not UA Elite.  I asked the agent at the desk and she did say we would indeed board ahead of the other passengers.  We boarded and got to our seats – 10B and 10C – and I realized we were in Economy Plus.  These seats are extra cost and I know I didn’t pay for them.  I then figured it out – a few weeks ago, United changed our itinerary (later departure from ORD and earlier departure from FLL).  The early departure would require a dash to the airport from the ship so I complained to United.  In addition, we were not sitting together on the outbound flight.  I was in an Economy Plus seat and Ellen was elsewhere in a sardine seat.  The agent told me my seat was a mistake and wanted to charge me but I wanted to keep my seat and have Ellen sit next to me.  I requested a manager insisting that this was all United’s fault.  The agent disappeared for a few minutes and said the manager had given the OK for us to sit in Economy Plus – good legroom and early boarding.  Thanks, UAL for your scheduling snafu and seat assignment error.

Over Florida (Small)

Over Florida

On Approach to FLL (Small)

Initial Approach into FLL

Final Approach (Small)

Final Approach over the Atlantic Ocean

Final Gllide into FLL (Small)

Final Approach to FLL

The shuttle to the La Quinta in Hollywood, FL was waiting for us at the pickup point and in a few minutes we were at the hotel and checked in.  The grounds are very nice and the hotel is set against a beautiful lake or lagoon.  The temperature was in the mid to high 80s and sunny.  Couldn’t be better weather.

At the La Quinta (Small)

20121218_Poolside at La Quinta (Small)

Top: Ellen and hotel grounds; Bottom: Poolside

Diane and Larry picked us up for dinner at around 6:45 PM and we had dinner at the same Italian Restaurant we went to three years ago when we did another Panama Canal sailing out of Ft Lauderdale (on the Pacific Princess).  It was a great evening – good food –especially the combination cheese cake and brownie dessert - and wine and good conversation.  Very enjoyable.

We got back to the hotel around 9:45 PM.  We read a little to get on local time and then lights out.

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