Monday, March 23, 2020

Getting Away From the Cold Double Caribbean Cruise – Celebrity Edge – 12/1-12/15/19

It is starting to get cold in the Chicago area so we are going to spend the next two weeks in Florida and the Caribbean.  Earlier in the year, I put in a proposal for a back to back Caribbean cruise (Eastern and Western) on Celebrity’s newest ship – the Celebrity Edge.  The proposal came through and so today we are off to warmer weather and a ship, with a configuration that is totally new to us and to Celebrity.

11/29/19 – Travel Day

Celebrity set up my flight and it turned out to be on UA2335 - a 9:01 AM departure to FLL.  That meant getting up at 5:00 AM so that we could get everything ready (triple checked and all) for our taxi pickup at 6:45 AM.  We did get everything squared away and our taxi came a little early.  We had absolutely no traffic going to ORD even though it had been sleeting and, for the most part, our driver was OK (took some of the curves near the airport a little fast).  We arrived at ORD at around 7:15 AM and took our one bag (since I bought Ellen’s ticket separately, she could not check a bag for free – so we used our larger suitcase for everything – it came in at 43 pounds) over to the kiosk to get our boarding passes and tags for the bag.  I had checked earlier that my bag was free but the kiosk said I owed $40 dollars.  I called over one of the folks helping people (was not a United Employee) and he told me that the kiosk is always right.  I showed him the United App which indicated my back was free.

Seeing that I would not get anywhere with him, we went over to another agent and explained the story to him.  He said the card I used was a different card ending in 118.  I said I only had one United Explorer card and the 118 was my Mileage Plus frequent flyer number.  He brought another person over and, even though I showed him the app and my actual card, he said it was a different card.  Finally, a woman came over and listened to all of the chatter and told him to tag my bag for free.  He did and checked it through to Ft. Lauderdale.

The saga continued at TSA pre-check – I set off the metal detector with my travel wallet.  But, then another TSA agent came by and said she wanted to check the electronics in my bag.  She said it was routine and I concluded that it had nothing to do with the metal detector.  She also told me that it was a random check but she did swab all my stuff in my carryon before letting me go.  On the plus side, she did wipe my Kindle screen clean.

Our gate was very close to security – Gate B2.  The plane was already there and we boarded on time.  

I was in 20D (Ellen in 20C across the aisle) and the doors closed and no one was in the middle seat in my row.  OK – a bright moment in an otherwise weird morning.

Our plane – a B737-900 (about 90 percent full) took off about 10 minutes early – no line on the runway – there and gone.

The flight was smooth as we went straight down to Florida before turning East to FLL.  We landed about 14 minutes ahead of schedule and waited just a minute or two for the gate to clear.

We picked up our bag right away and I called for a pickup from our hotel.  We are staying at the Home2 Suites by Hilton in Dania Beach.  The shuttle picked us up in about 30 minutes and without a second call.  The ride to the hotel was very familiar. This is our third time in a row in one of these Hilton alternate hotels.  They are all in the same general area between I95 and Stirling Avenue.  The hotel is amazing – it looks pretty new and the room – 323 – is huge – the room has a big fridge, microwave, dishwasher, and coffee maker plus a whole set of dishes and silverware.

Ellen needed something from the K Mart down the street so we walked there.  When we got there, there was no K Mart – it was now a BJ’s Membership Store. We talked to the Service desk and were told we could buy five items.  Looking at our dinner options in the area (Burger King, McDonalds, Chipotle) we checked out the Deli in the store.  Probably because of the demographic in this part of Ft Lauderdale, the deli had an assortment of kosher foods.  We bought a package of Stuffed Chicken (stuff with rice) and a tub of Cole Slaw.  The tab came to $18 – not bad for two kosher items.  We stopped at the McDonalds on the way back to pick up two huge cokes and finally made it back lugging a few pounds of food and two big drinks.

We went down to the pool area, which is nice except for the somewhat uncomfortable lounge chairs. The pool has this unique waterfall that provides a soothing background sound (you can see the waterfall in the picture above). It was also a bit warm so I went to a seating area off to the side.  The area was shaded and had more of a breeze.  Ellen liked the lounge chairs and stayed at the pool.  However, we decided to leave when the pool started filling up with kids.  We went back to the room for dinner.

Ellen microwaved the chicken and it turned out to be quite good – we save two of the four pieces for tomorrow.  A nice surprise.

After dinner, we went down to the outside fire pit located near the front entrance to the hotel.  it was 80F earlier but it had cooled off to something in the low 70s.  The chairs had cushions and were comfortable and there was no smoking allowed in this area. 

The rest of the day was spent in our very nice air conditioned room reading and relaxing.  By the way, my pedometer has 7500 steps on it - a lot of steps for the two of us on a day when we got up really early.

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