Wednesday, March 13, 2024

March 2, 2024 – Tampa, FL – Cloudy and Rain – 60sF

Constellation arrived pre-dawn in Tampa.  

I was up in the Oceanview Café at 6:00 AM and had my usual pancakes plus cottage cheese (no sour cream today, my choice) and jams.  Cereal and scrambled eggs (mini portions) completed the breakfast. The place was crowded but I did get a window table right at the entrance so I was close to all of the food.  I didn’t stay up there very long.  I put together breakfast including hot tea for Ellen (no room service today).  We were both ready by 8:00 AM and we headed for the Concierge Departure Lounge in the San Marco Dining Room (Deck 5).  Tampa was waking up.

We are in the last group (#28) scheduled to disembark at 9:15 AM – while we waited, we were treated to coffee and sweet rolls.  We are going to do this on the next Celebrity cruise.  I also like the gold Sea Pass cards that go with Concierge Class.

We were finally the last people in the room and were told that all numbers were called. We said goodbye to Sue (I wasn’t sure she remembered me) as we scanned out.  We found our bags and Facial Recognition made immigration a snap.  We headed outside to call an Uber.

We were given conflicting information on where Ubers pick up so we did a lot of extra walking to get to the eventual correct location (our first driver gave up the ride).  Our second driver, Felix, met us at the end of Terminal 3 at the numbered poles.  The ride to our hotel was only 7 miles and took 19 minutes.  We got a $6.81 discount for using Uber “Comfort” (bigger cars) and the total fare including at $5.44 tip came to $26.44. 

We are staying at the Country Inn and Suites by Radisson, Tampa RJ Stadium.  RJ Stadium is the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The room rate was $182.86 including taxes – about $60 less than he hotel we stayed at coming into Tampa.  The hotel is down the street from Bucs Stadium and George Steinbrenner Stadium (Yankees Spring Training Stadium).  Aside from that, there is not much near the hotel (there’s a Potbelly Sandwich shop a few hundred feet away) – there are also a lot of adult businesses near the hotel so maybe not the best neighborhood.  The hotel itself looks OK and the front desk staff was incredibly friendly. 

There is a nice pond adjacent to the Hotel (separated by a fence from the pool area) with all sorts of waterfowl – Ibises, Muscovy Ducks, and an occasional Herron along with a lot other bird, inhabit the pond.  

Our room wasn’t ready so we stayed out in the pool area until we could get into our room, which was sooner than the 3 PM time quoted.  Our room on the highest (fourth) floor – Room 435 – is huge, maybe the biggest room in a hotel we’ve ever seen. 

We had sweets from the ship for lunch and stayed either outside (Ellen) or inside (me).  The couch had a lounger section, which was very comfortable for my back issues. 

Dinner was, as might have predicted, problematic.  The hotel told us that there were no real pizza deliveries coming to this place.  Our options were limited as we needed to take Ubers to anyplace we were going to eat.  We settled on Applebee’s because it was close and it offered fish and chips along with a free appetizer (if you sign into their e-club).  We hired an Uber to take us to the Applebee’s and took the strangest route to the restaurant (favoring alleys to streets).  The restaurant was in a shopping center without a market and only a couple of other restaurants – Mexican and Chinese.  The restaurant itself was pretty uninviting and the hostess told us that they were short on servers and it might take a while to get our orders in.  As we waited and watched, it became clear that this restaurant was not our type of place.  We walked out and also decided that the other two restaurants were also not desirable.  Our final option was Pizza Hut, at the other end of the mall, for takeout. 

We ordered a hand tossed pizza with extra sauce ($13 approximately) and waited 10 minutes for it to be baked.  I then called an Uber to get us home.  Uber costs: $9.82 going and $9.92 coming home.  Turns out that the pizza was excellent – better than I remember Pizza Hut being.  We also had one of the Mexican Diet Cokes and that made for a perfect meal.

We watched “Titanic” on HBO until the iceberg hit and then it got to be too intense to watch. The movie has stood the test of time since it was launched in 1997.  Everyone looked so young and watching after researching my own Titanic saga also verified that the movie was accurate about almost everything about the disaster.

Earlier in the day, I had checked us both in and paid for a checked bag ($30 – a $10 discount for early purchase).  We were on different reservations so I couldn’t take advantage of Ellen’s credit card purchase which allows two bags. 

We are all set for tomorrow.

As we sat in the room, we started to hear music and party sounds coming from the Event Room at the hotel.  Ellen immediately called the front desk and told them that the noise was too much.  She convinced them to change our room to one on the other side of the hotel (still top floor).  We moved all of our stuff to Room 402, which was quieter.  It did have a noise coming from the pipes but earplugs would take of that. 

It was a tense evening overall but eventually, things worked out.

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