Sunday, January 21, 2024

Independence of the Seas – Caribbean Cruise – December 23 – 28, 2023 – RT Miami, FL

December 22, 2023 - Hotel Stay - Miami FL - Cloudy - 70F

We are going ship to ship – From Azamara Onward to the Independence of the Seas and disembarking from Port Everglades and embarking at the Port of Miami. This is the first time we are going from a working cruise to a pleasure cruise, back to back, sort of.  This cruise is really in lieu of staying in a hotel for few days until we are ready to embark MSC Divina for our family cruise.  Considering meals, hotel, and transportation, a cruise seemed like the best option for the in-between days.

Once outside the terminal in Port Everglades, I called for an Uber (I picked the less expensive option where you might need to wait 10 minutes).  Well, the Uber came in five minutes once they found someone in the area. Jorge picked us up in a red Sentra, that was roomier than some of the other cars we’ve ridden in.  Jorge did not speak a word of English and only knew our destination from his orders and the GPS.  The ride was 33 miles and took 46 minutes – Jorge was a safe driver and did not speed – he made good time because he was in the car pool lane the whole time.  The ride, with all of the add-on charges, came to $62.06 including an $8 tip (the ship shuttle cost $35 pp so we still saved some money and the shuttle would only take us to the airport so we would have to get the shuttle to the hotel).  We got to the Springhill Suites by Marriott Miami Airport South Blue Lagoon Area at 10:11 AM.  It was way too early to check in so we spent time out on the couches overlooking the lagoon.

There were iguanas on the shore and we got a picture of a small lizard.  No gators, luckily.

The hotel provided a free shuttle to the Airpark Plaza shopping center – about five minutes away.  The mall has a Publix Market and a Burlington Store and several smaller stores. There were quite a few Miami police in the mall.  It looked like someone was getting their car repossessed and there were two cops watching.  We walked around the mall for a few minutes and decided we would try the spa in the mall – Oriental MA Massage.  Ellen opted for the combo – 30 minutes massage and 30 minutes foot massage for $65; I got the 60 minute standard massage for $75 (both were more expensive than back home).  The sessions were both good – my person did not understand any English so that was a little strange – and the front desk staff was very nice.  The place was clean and did not have a smell. 

We called the Hotel to get a ride back and to summarize – it took three calls and a wait of about 90 minutes to get back to the hotel.  In the meantime, I ordered and finished a “Mama Mia” gourmet salad from Giardino’s Gourmet Salads (this is the second time we have been at one of these – I learned that they are now a franchise in Florida).  The salad, “The Mama Mia” consisted of romaine lettuce, goat cheese, shaved almonds, sundried tomatoes and the best ever croutons, was very good and cost $12.36. That seemed like a lot for a salad – even one this good - but this price was similar to that quoted by the Subway next door to Giardino’s. 

While we were waiting for the shuttle two Miami police (man and woman) walked by.  Ellen went over to them and asked them why there were so many police at this mall and they said this was not out of the ordinary and cops like to visit some of the stores. 

Because of our negative experience with the shuttle, the hotel upgraded our room and gave us a $10 voucher to be used in the hotel.  Room 606 is a huge suite that overlooks the beautiful lagoon, after which this entire area is named. 

The room also comes with bottled water (the standard rooms do not).  It’s comfortable and seems quiet.  It was still early so we went down to the patio area, which was deserted except for one lone vaper, who stayed and vaped the entire time we were there. 

I was thinking that ordering in a pizza would be the best option for dinner. That turned out to be more difficult than I thought since all of the nearby pizza places posted their online menus in Spanish.  It’s not that easy to know which pizza is which once you get past “tomate”.  As an alternative, we decided to use our voucher to buy a mozzarella flat bread from the bar.  That turned out to be a very tasty flatbread and eliminated the need to order in a pizza.

The room and much of the hotel has a distinctive disinfectant smell – I guess they are trying to keep everyone safe.  I ran the bathroom fan while we were downstairs and that helped a bit.  The room was cold and had to be heated up to 80F (not really 80) to make it comfortable.  That was strange because it was 69F outside. 

Hoping for a quiet night.

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