Friday, May 21, 2010

Cruise to the Bahamas: Preparation

Okay, so the majority of the time, I try to make the posts on this blog interesting to most of our readers. Really, I do. However, the next few might be boring to some of you. Why? Because they're about a recent cruise we took to the Bahamas. I know, it sounds exciting, right? However, I tend to be verbose about vacations, and since cruises are (beyond a shadow of a doubt) my favorite type of vacation, I got wordy. Sometimes really wordy. I could cut it down... but I don't really want to... I kinda want to have as much documentation as possible so I can remember the trip, LoL. So.... my apologies. Feel free to scroll through and just look at photos if you want.

Okay, the background on this trip: This was our fourth cruise. It's our second one on the Carnival Sensation, our second one out of Port Canaveral, and our second one to Nassau. Why the repeat? A good friend of ours, Ebad, has finally finished his time at Florida Tech. He came here ten years ago, and a group of us wanted to give him a fun send-off. Five of us took a cruise just before Jonathan and I moved to California (out of Miami to Key West and Cozumel), so we knew it would be a good time. However, shortly before sailing, one had to drop out, so it was just Jonathan, Ebad, Bryan, and myself.

Now, the pre-trip: It was a typical flight for us - Philly to Orlando, this time on US Aiways (which we've flown many times before). We were good as far as getting out of the house on time, filling the rental with gas, and getting to the airport. However, as soon as we got to the security lines, we were stopped. Apparently US Airways has decided to take advantage of its customers by forcing them to check bags WITHOUT measuring them. The rules on their website suggest a maximum size of 14x11x20, or a total of 45 inches, lxwxh. Well, the only thing they were using to enforce this at security was that box-ish metal thing that is already 14x11x20. So, if you have a bag that exceed one dimension (say, 22 instead of 20) but is shorter on another dimension (say, 12 instead of 14), you had no way to argue that your bag was indeed within limitations. If your bag exceeded ANY of the dimensions, you were sent back downstairs with a "fast pass" to check your bag. They were being very consistent, and dozens of us were turned away, some with backpacks the size of the ones we used in high school.

The people downstairs have no idea what to do with the "fast pass" flyer we each have. We check our bags (at $25 a pop), go back up, and go through security. We inform the woman that the people downstairs didn't know what the "fast pass" things were, and she said, "I know. we just started using them." After security, we head to the gate, keeping an eye out for a courtesy desk. At the gate, we're informed that the nearest desk is rather far, but we head for it anyway. When we get there (it took us 8 minutes to get there, walking fast), we run into a man who is of little help. He has no idea what the policies are, and notes that there's no way he can help us (in addition for seeking reimbursement, we were more concerned about the enforcement of their true policy, as we didn't want to shell out another $50 on the way back). The best he could do was give us a WEBSITE where we could file a complaint. He refused to give us even a phone number, which is ridiculous customer service.

We get on the plane and move on with our plans. Well, we're 50 minutes late taking off, but manage to get in only about 10 minutes late. HOWEVER, we now have to wait for baggage, so we make our friend wait extra long as he circles the airport. This also causes us to be late to Ebad's going-away party in Melbourne, at Broken Barrel.

But, we get through it, get to Melbourne, and I get things together to leave. We head up to Port Canaveral with Joe and another friend, with Bryan and Ebad to meet us when they're ready to go. We spend a couple hours hanging out at Milliken's Reef, which is a restaurant/bar on the beach. The dance floor is literally the sand, and it's really a neat setup. Their chicken tenders and french fries are pretty good, and the guys enjoyed the chicken sandwiches (the parmigiana and buffalo varieties, respectively). Our server was rather new and had issues ringing up the checks, but that's not the end of the world. It was also Ladies' Night, so I got a couple free drinks which was a fun surprise. The music just kept getting louder and louder, and we were already the farthest table away, so we left.

Around midnight we headed over to the hotel where we were staying, while the guys left to head back to Melbourne. Soon after we got up to the room, Bryan and Ebad arrived. We all hung out a little bit, did some planning, talked about how the morning would go, and then went to sleep. The beds and pillows were fantastically comfortable, and the bathroom was well-stocked for four people, offering two sinks and plenty of towels.

The next morning we wandered around the property a little bit, and came across the magnificent pools at the Radisson. If we were there longer, we definitely would have made use of them! We ran a few quick errands to Wal*mart and the bank, and we were ready to go for the 11:30am shuttle I booked us on. This worked out great, since we were able to avoid the parking fee at the cruise terminal. Stay tuned, I'm going to pick up when we arrive to get on the ship!

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