Friday, February 7, 2020

Pacific Princess - Ft Lauderdale to Dover UK - June 12 - 30, 2019

Two years ago or so, we were on a Princess Cruise and decided to look at one of the future cruise brochures.  One cruise in particular, caught our attention:  "Fire and Ice Explorer" from Ft Lauderdale to Dover UK and stopping in Iceland.  Well, that cruise finally came up as an option and I got the booking.  Sometime, patience pays off.

June 11, 2019 – Travel Day

Our original flight to Ft. Lauderdale departed at 11:45 AM giving us a chance to get up at a reasonable hour.  A few weeks before flight time, United changed our departure to 8:35 AM, which meant a taxi pickup at 6:30 AM and a wake up time of 5:00 AM or so for me. 

The cab did come on time complete with a sick driver – wiping his nose the whole time (the first chance I had, I disinfected my credit card used to pay the fare). 

We got to the airport before 7 AM and used the kiosk to check our bags – I got half way through the process when the kiosk died.  A United rep saw what happened and pulled over to a monitor and checked us in right away.  From there we got into a humongous TSA Pre-Check line to go through security.  The line moved right along and we only had a short walk to Gate B7 to catch United 2319.  The plane arrived at the gate a few minutes after we did.  The forecast last night was thunderstorms in South Florida but the forecast at the gate was partly cloudy. 

We boarded on time at 7:58 AM.  This flight is on a B737-900 Seats and we upgraded to Economy Plus Seats, 9C/9D.  The flight pushed right on the nose and departed soon after.  The pilot was unintelligible over the PA system but the head flight attendant repeated some of his comments.  I thought he said it would be smooth for most of the flight but closer to FLL it would get choppy.  Our seats were comfortable enough but they were too close to the coach washroom (in this plane, there is a washroom right before the First Class Cabin).  The problem is that people gather in the aisles and stand next to your seats (I will need to note that for next time).   

The entertainment system was so- so.  The plane had DirecTV (not On Demand) and my Kindle UAL App did not work with United WiFi so I could not access any movies.
As I thought I heard the Captain say, the flight would be generally smooth until we got close to Florida – attendants were told to sit and buckle up but the turbulence was never really an issue – better to be cautious than not.  The plane dodged cumulus clouds the whole way in but the chop was nothing.  Out bags were some of the first to come out.

The complimentary hotel shuttle picked us up on the same level as baggage claim (look for blue sign) within a half hour.  The hotel – Hyatt House, Dania Beach - is right across the street from our usual hotel but this one is much nicer (except no free shuttle to cruise port).  Our room, 531, is a suite set up complete with kitchenette. The place looked brand new and had the biggest shower we’ve yet seen in a hotel.  The beds were comfortable but there was a nice couch complete with an ottoman set to sit on.  There were plenty of plugs for our devices.

We went down to the pool area to get some air and rest.  The pool had very comfortable couches to sit on and I had my computer.  Our late lunch consisted of what we didn’t eat for breakfast on the plane.  We stayed down by the pool for a couple of hours and went back to our air conditioned room (it was 87F and muggy).

Our plan was to walk to the mall across the street for dinner – there was a Sweet Tomatoes there and the Humus Factory was there as well.  We wound up stopping at the Burger King right across the street for an “Impossible Whopper” (these burgers are being test marketed around the country). I subbed a salad for fries for no charge along with my diet Coke.  The burger was good – not meat and not a garden burger – not the best I’ve had – the one on Oceania was better but this one was still pretty tasty.  

I was just about to refill my diet Coke when the power went out – there were thunderstorms in the area (we could hear the thunder but no lightning).  Apparently, there was lightning because a strike took out a large portion of the Dania Beach area.  We went back to the hotel and sat in the hot and humid lobby (the Burger King locked up and didn’t let any more customers in).  One good thing was that the emergency lights in the washrooms were on so the bathroom issue was solved.
The power outage lasted about 90 minutes – the hotel manager said it would be restored in that time and she was right.

Back to our wonderful air conditioned room for the rest of the evening.

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