Thursday, January 18, 2024

Caribbean Sunsets Cruise – Azamara Onward – Round Trip Fort Lauderdale – December 12 – 22, 2023

December 11, 2023 – Travel Day

Our flight today to FLL is at a reasonable time – 10:35 AM on United 1775 – and I’m not expecting much traffic on the highway so I scheduled the cab for 8:45 AM.  He arrived right on time and we were the lucky recipients of an upgrade to American Taxi Black (a fancy car).  The ride started off in a strange way as the driver tuned right out of the complex heading for Willow Road and the tollway.  I told him that he was taking the long way and he started back on the correct route.  He was doing OK until he MISSED the turnoff for ORD and had to maneuver back on highways and streets to get back to the hotel – I am thinking that this was his first solo flight to the airport.  We lost valuable time but we still got to Terminal 1 around 9:30 AM (about 25 minutes until boarding).  A little added pre-flight excitement.  

I checked in our bags at a kiosk and we then went through the TSA PreChek line (not too long) before heading to Gate B9, which was just a couple of gates from the security exit.  Our plane, a B737-800, was already there.  

We are in Priority Group 2 for boarding and people started lining up pretty much right away.  Boarding was orderly this time and even though we were at the end of the Group 2 line, we still had an open overhead bin to stow my backpack.  We paid a fortune to get Economy Plus seats, 14E and 14F (middle and window) which compared to the last time we flew UAL had gotten a whole lot tighter.  My knees were touching the service tray.  I made a note to mention that on the post flight survey (even though it won't do any good).

American’s Cabin Extra seats are much less expensive and give you a lot more room. And they come with alcoholic drinks.

We pushed on time and 

took off on time and the climb out afforded some nice shots.

The flight was a little bumpy over Atlanta, Georgia

but relatively smooth overall - we passed over the West Coast of Florida

and then across the state. 

The approach to FLL was different this time as the plane flew out over the Atlantic 

and then make a series of right turns to come back to the airport.  It was neat because we flew right over Port Everglades where a big Celebrity Ship and small unidentified ship were docked. 

I didn’t have to make a restroom stop on this three-hour flight (so proud of myself) and we touched down in FLL about 2:50 PM local time (a little behind schedule).  

The walk to the baggage claim wasn’t cross country this time and our bags came out quickly.  I called the hotel, the Holiday Inn Express and Suites on Federal Highway in Dania Beach to arrange for a pickup.  The hotel said they had an emergency but would send another van to pick us up.  This van actually came about 10 minutes later and our ride to the property was short (less than 10 minutes).  We checked in and went to our room, 601.  This room is at the end of the hall on the top floor so I expect it will be a quiet room.  We have views of the airport from the room (it’s really close) as well as some small homes camouflaged with lots of greenery.  

It was now around 4:15 PM or so. 

I had arranged to meet Jennifer, my agent at Compass Speakers, at her office for a tour and then we would all go to dinner at Cooper’s Hawk across the street from her office.  

Our Uber ride cost $21.99 (including a $3 tip).  It was a pretty long ride, 7.47 miles and 27 minutes including a stretch of pretty heavy street traffic and mistimed lights. 

Compass Speakers is on the 8th floor of a commercial building (sign in required).  Everyone had left for the day except the late working Jennifer.  She gave us a nice tour of the very large office area.  The office is all fitted out with aircraft models and other travel tchatkes.  It was great seeing her again.  

We walked across the street to a mall which held several restaurants – Cooper’s Hawk is on the second floor and is a huge place.  It was pretty early so it was not crowded.  We got a nice table with a view of the street.  Ellen ordered the light salmon (it had tomato sauce on the side).  I ordered a Cesar Salad (big and wonderful) and the Fish and Chips (recommended by the waiter but the fish was a little overdone but still good even though I did not like the sauces).  We chatted about all sorts of thing for about an hour and half or longer and then we said our goodbyes and took another Uber back to the hotel ($19.97 plus a tip). 

That was it for the night.  I had checked with the desk and they had a shuttle to Port Everglades for $15/person – I was sure I could get an Uber for less than that.

The room was still quiet when lights went out at 10:45 PM.

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