Sunday, May 14, 2023

April 23, 2023 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – 87F – Partly Cloudy

I guess we slept OK.  I had pretty much the same breakfast this morning – I also had some dry cereal (frosted flakes, I think).  The breakfast again was just OK.  They also had waffles, but the makers were occupied. Still, the biscuits were really good.

We had plenty of time this morning, so it was very relaxing.

We were in the lobby at 11:45 AM and in the shuttle on time at Noon.  We were the only people in the shuttle and the ride took about 15 minutes – there were only two ships in the port today, Celebrity Beyond and Celebrity Reflection according to the shuttle driver.  

We passed our suitcases off to a porter and then proceeded through Security and then to Check in – we went into a short line for Guest Entertainers. Per instructions from Celebrity, we ran a COVID self-test the night before but no one asked about it and no one wanted to see our VAX cards (even though the Celebrity website said we would have to show them).  I thought the whole COVID screening process was lacking and less than thorough. 

The check in agent took our photos and gave us a boarding pass (our SeaPass Cards would be outside our room).  We are in Cabin 3098 – Starboard far forward – under the Celebrity Theater.  I am concerned that noise from the theater will be a problem, but we shall see.  We went to the room, which was ready for us, and dropped our backpacks. The cabin is nice, but it seems a bit smaller than I remember Edge-Class cabins being.  It did have a nice bathroom and a large window.


We had lunch up in the Oceanview Café – salad bar and pizza along with some tuna salad.  The Café was a zoo – don’t know how full the ship is but everyone seemed to be getting lunch at the same time.  The food was OK.

NOTE - I found out later that the ship was sailing just under 70 percent capacity (2250 vs 3260) - and yet, the ship seemed crowded at times.  

Ellen took a picture of the Reflection in the port.

I had a letter waiting for me from Alexa Helsby-Lue, the Activity Manager from England (she and I had actually been communicating via email prior to the cruise).  The Cruise Director is Luigi de la Cruz (from the Dominican Republic).  Alexa and I met at the theater at 3 PM to do a tech check – everything looked great on the huge screen.  

She told me that the talks would be in the theater with those at the end possibly being in The Club.  They would be at 9 or 10 AM and that time would alternate between me and the other speakers, a whale biologist named Eloise Cartner, who is young, Scottish, enthusiastic and completely unintelligible to me, and an astronomer, who surprised the ship by showing up – Jim Teslow. As was the case on our last cruise on Edge, the ship did not have any of Jim's information. Jim said we had met previously on an Azamara Cruise, but I couldn't recall, and I couldn't find him in my cruise logs. 

Leaving the theater I took a picture of a chair in the shape of a bejeweled mask - this item is also on Apex and Edge, but I hadn't yet documented it.  Here it is.

Back at the cabin, our bags showed up and we met our Cabin Steward, Carmen.  We have plenty of hangars. 

We walked around the ship to see what was different.  Again, the amount of seating was a major change.  The Grand Plaza now had two swinging couches and the Cafe Al Baccio had more seating (and more comfortable seating at that).  

There was a group - Jazz Quartet Cappuccinos - playing in the Plaza that sounded good - 

The tunnel leading to Eden was different in that it was populated by brass structures - called "Odyssey" - that required some maneuvering to avoid a collision.  The tunnel again was dark which made it a difficult transit. Ellen sat in one of the brass seats (I wouldn't be able to get out of that seat).

We captured the sail away from the cabin.

We had dinner at the Normandie Restaurant because Ellen likes the Brie appetizer. We both had the broiled Salmon, which was good and shared the Pappardelle Funghi, which was very good.  No dessert just coffee and tea finished off the meal.

The restaurant area had some new statues, like this one.

We went to the 7 PM show in the theater for the sort of Welcome Aboard Show.  Luigi, the Cruise Director (never sailed with him before)

previewed the upcoming entertainment on board including a small nod to the BTP Speakers.  Luigi has a cute entrance shtick/dance that he does, and he is funny in his own way.  The headliner tonight was comedian Darrell Joyce.  I took a shot of the theater before the show and the screen is even more vivid than on Edge or Apex - there are 16 million pixels (or mini LED lights) making up this high-tech screen.  It's simply fantastic.

Darrell was both funny and potentially borderline offensive to some demographics.  

I like a comedian on the first night of a cruise instead of an entertainer or Production Show. 

We went to Eden to see the acoustic act. Eden is a little different on this ship – different seats and murals. In fact, this ship not only has an extra deck but tons of seating here in Eden.  Outside of Eden, we found this statue of two deer that had no plaque or description.

The Acoustic Duo (their actual name - two women) was pretty good and we stayed for a while before heading to the cabin.  I had to do some work on my first talk because Alexa wanted it to be about 45 minutes.  

The cabin does have some noise – clanging, which seems to be outside our window but could be coming from the theater through the walls.  There are earplugs for that.

NOTE- because we are at the farthest point forward and the restaurants are at the farthest point aft, I am registering about 6000 – 7000 steps just getting back and forth.  The calories burned (about 500) neutralize some of the food.  Forced exercise.

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