Saturday, May 13, 2023

Celebrity Beyond - Transatlantic and Europe - Ft Lauderdale to Civitavecchia, Italy - April 23 - May 10, 2023

April 21, 2023 – Travel Day

After reviewing the travel options offered by Celebrity (Jet Blue, JFK, Aer Lingus), we decided to decline those offers and set up our own travel arrangements.  That resulted in a non-stop flight (AA1424) departing ORD at 10:00 AM and arriving in FLL around 2:15 PM.  No getting up at dawn for this trip (even though I still got up at dawn).  The American Taxicab arrived right on time at 8:15 AM and although he took a different route, we still got to ORD at around 8:45 AM.

All the kiosks were not in service at the entrance we used so we took our bags to an agent (there was no one in line) who checked us in took care of our bags.  We walked a bit to the TSA PreChek line, got through security relatively quickly.  One first rodeo guy had to drink the rest of his bottled water before going through.  It’s probably been more than a decade since the liquids thing, and he still brought a bottle of water to security.

We walked a half mile to gate H17 (the end of the H Concourse) where our plane, a B-737-8 was waiting.  

We wore our masks in the terminal because there was a crowd waiting to board their planes at the end of the Concourse and on the plane (because the trip is just starting).  That's Ellen photobombing my selfie.

We boarded in an orderly fashion right on time at 9:25 AM and pushed right on time.  We did wait about 15 minutes at the active runway before being cleared to go.  The pilot told us that we would be flying through bumpy air for about 45 minutes and everyone including the flight attendants would have to stay seated.

The pilot was correct – our plane was flying straight through a line of storms before turning East toward Florida.  

Take Off ORD

Flying through the bumpy shmoo

Blue Skies but still bumpy

The flight attendants got up briefly at about the 30-minute mark and then had to put away the carts and sit back down as the bumps returned.  When they got up again (about 45 minutes from FLL), they only served cold drinks (hot drinks and a bouncing plane are not a good combination). So I had two orange juices with my bagels and smoked salmon.  We are in Cabin Extra seats – Exit row – 16 E and F so we also got two bottles of Bailey’s.

It was one of our bumpiest flights – the turbulence became manageable when the plane descended under the cloud tops and we landed in FLL about 20 minutes late. After another long walk to baggage claim we were pleased that our bags were one of the first to come out.

I called the Hotel – Hampton Inn and Suites, Plantation FL (no idea where that was) and told them we needed a ride from FLL.  The wait would be 20 minutes at Location E (our usual waiting area).  The van came within a half hour so that made spec and we were the only people going to Plantation.  The hotel seemed like a long way from the airport, but it was in a very nice area – big homes and lot of greenery.  The Hampton Inn Plantation is a huge hotel with a nice pool but in need of sprucing up (a good cleaning and repairs). 

There was only one person at the desk checking people in a manning the phones, so it took a little while to get our room.  We are in Room 407, away from elevators and ice machines and, as it turned out, away from animals.  It’s an accessible room (assigned and not requested) but with the exception of handles in the bathroom, it looks like an ordinary room. It also had a decent view of the area around the hotel.

We looked up restaurants in the area and found a restaurant within walking distance called Brios Italian Grille.  The restaurant was about three blocks away and we decided to eat outside.  There were a lot of people in the place already.  We decided to share a couple of dishes – a chopped salad and a pasta dish consisting of portabella mushroom filled ravioli along with roasted tomatoes. The chopped salad came with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, but I asked for creamy ranch as well.  The salad was very good.  I liked the pasta dish.  The restaurant was clearly upscale, and the service was great.

We checked out the nearby Broward Mall (there’s a JC Penney and a Macy’s) and then went back to the hotel.  We spent a few minutes out by the pool until the mosquitoes decided to join us.

According to our boarding instructions, we were supposed to self-test for COVID-19 before boarding.  Our tests came back negative.  At least, we didn't have to spend the next five days in isolation and miss our ship.

I took pictures to show the people at the cruise terminal.

The A/C is so loud that we have to cool down the room and then turn it off.

Hoping the room will be quiet.

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