Thursday, January 18, 2024

December 12, 2023 – Ft Lauderdale, Fl – Cool – 60s – Mostly Cloudy

Embarkation Day 

The room was quiet and we both got some sleep.  Looking out the window, I was able to shoot an airplane taking off from FLL.

I went down to the lobby area for breakfast around 7 AM.  I had some cornflakes and milk, instant pancakes, some scrambled eggs (reconstituted), a buttermilk biscuit (the best item on the menu), and part of a sticky bun. After I got back to the room, Ellen went down for her breakfast.  The breakfast was pretty decent and, when I was there, not that crowded.

Checkout was 11 AM and I could not get late checkout from the desk.

I called an Uber from the lobby and he was there in less than five minutes.  The ride to Port Everglades was short (4.19 miles and 14 minutes) and cost $9.03 versus the $30 the hotel was charging for their shuttle.

It took a little while for the driver to find the right road to the terminal.  We handed out bags to the porter – tipped her $5 – and entered the terminal. There weren’t a lot of people there yet so after a quick pass through security, we checked in.  The health check was crazy brief and the check in process pretty quick. 

The wait to get on board the ship was long – we arrived around 11:45 AM and were put into Group 8 for boarding.  Boarding didn’t begin until 1:45 PM (the suite guests were Groups 1-7). 

We are in Room 4050 (changed from 4066). 

Cabin 4050 is Midships Deck 4 two cabins away from the lobby containing Guest Relations – it is also very convenient for breakfast as the elevators there take you right to the Windows Café.  It's also a little bigger than the cabins down in the dedicated Deck 3 - so that's a plus.

We dropped our backpacks in our cabin and went up to Deck 9 for a late lunch.  I had a Cesar Salad and some overcooked pizza. 

When we got back to the room, we met Chang, our room steward.  We told him we only needed one cleaning a day (in the morning) and that everything else in the room was OK. 

The letter in the room said that I would be filming a promo video at 6 PM outside of Guest Relations.  I got my schedule of talks – four talks on the sea days – some in the afternoon and some in the morning.  There is also a “campfire story telling” evening show that I know nothing about.

We went down to Guest Relations to set up my Wi-Fi and to put my drink package on my account.  When you order drinks here, the waiter checks your room number on a little i-Pad device to see which package you have. 

Our suitcases arrived so I could get into the right clothes for the shoot.   

The sail away was in the gloaming (a rare occurrence) and we had police boat escorts.  Just as we were about to go into open waters, a huge yacht appeared in our path and the police boat used his megaphone to order him to move.  It was a near miss and the police boat circled the yacht and few times.  Hopefully, the yacht got ticketed or at least warned.

Ellen and I went to the lobby at a little before 6 PM but there was no one there and no video equipment set up.  I looked for Eric and Astrid but no one was in their office.  I met the other entertainers:  Eric Ball (Destination Speaker); Valerie Rose Hoste (Art Instructor).  Also on this ship is the Bridge Instructor, Debra Pride, and the Hanukkah Rabbi, Shlomo Geva (we last saw him on one of the Edge Class Ships). 

Eric showed up at 6:45 PM and we filmed our promo.  Even though I have sailed with Eric several times, I’m pretty sure he forgot who I was (in his defense, he does sail with a lot of people).  It came back to him just before we did our filming.  The video went OK. 

A Note About Dining:  Unless a meal is really outstanding, there won’t be any detail about the dinners and lunches.  There are new “plant based” options, which generally are not that appetizing.  There are theme nights in the evening in the buffet – so far German Night and Greek Night had nothing for us to eat.  The Patio is a good option but it was only open one night – maybe the rain closed it down.  Lunch items that are still good include the tuna salad, Beyond Burger (tasted more like an Impossible Burger), and the grilled Tuna Wrap (well done).  It is still nice to eat out on the Sunset Veranda, when it is not raining. 

The Welcome Aboard Show was at 9 PM in the Cabaret Theater.  Eric introduced the speakers and his staff and we all said a few words (I never liked this improv part of the program but it went OK). 

Here’s the staff of the Azamara Onward:

Cruise Director Eric De Gray

Assistant CD Astrid Alsphonso (her first assignment)

Captain Carl Smith (funny guy from UK)

Staff Captain Daniella Epuras

Signature Singers and Dancers

Elise Hills (Specialty Dancer)

Adam Dearman (Specialty Dancer)

Amanda Reyngoudt

Annie Wolfert

Nathaniel Given

Antonio Russo

Piano Entertainer Bob Style

The lounge entertainers and the singers did numbers - 

Amanda Reyngoudt

Annie Wolfert

East Pearl Party Band 

The lead singer can really burn off calories.

The Azamara Onward Dancers and Singers


and Eric finished it off with a “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel”.

The seas are very rocky with 9 foot swells and strong winds – there is a ticking noise outside our cabin that require earplugs.  The beds are comfortable and the HVAC system seems to be working.

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