Archive for April, 2005

[This is the introductory blog post for a trip we took on the Regent Seven Seas Navigator in March 2005.  The rest of the blog for this trip is collected in a Kindle eBook called Travel With Us on the RSSC Navigator.  See our Travel With Us page for more information.]

Link to Sleep Inn photos

3-25-05

Yesterday we flew from Portland to Ft. Lauderdale. We got up at 4 am PST for a 6:45 am flight and arrived at out hotel at 6:30 pm EST. We had a free Frequent Flyer flight on Southwest which involved 2 stops before we got to Ft. Lauderdale. Last month we flew to New York non-stop on Continental and even though Southwest had more stops (2) and hassles, ultimately it was a more comfortable flight than Continental. My back started hurting the minute I sat down on Continental. The Southwest seats were slightly wider and had lumbar support. To entertain ourselves we brought our laptop computer and some dvds (Harvey and Shattered Glass) and that really helped to pass the time.

We had chosen to stay at the Sleep Inn & Suites, Ft. Lauderdale International Airport . We were able to use Choice Privileges points for a free night. (This is an excellent reward program. We also converted some Choice Privileges points to Southwest in order to get our free flights.) The Sleep Inn had a free shuttle which picked us up at the airport within about 15 minutes after we called. The hotel is very attractive and our room is quite comfortable – looks a bit like some of the new Holiday Inn Expresses we have seen in our frequent activity of me dragging Mary to look at hotels. Free high-speed internet is included (thus this post). I had to give them a $5 deposit for a cable. The wireless up in the room is completely useless.

We ordered dinner from Hunan Wok, a Chinese restaurant across the street, and they delivered it to us in less than 15 minutes. It was inexpensive and good. Mary said her chicken egg foo yung was the best she’d ever had. I don’t know if it really was or if things just taste better when you’re as exhausted as we were. I ordered something called Triple Delight which was prawns, chicken, beef, and vegetables and it was quite good also. There is also an Italian restaurant within walking distance.

After a night’s sleep (we went to bed at 10 pm quite easily even though that was only 7 pm in Portland) we can report that the bed and pillows were quite comfortable. Mary woke up this morning at 5 am and went down to the lobby to read. She says the chairs down there were very comfortable also. When I woke up, there was a Miami Herald outside our door and they had a free breakfast downstairs. Though there wasn’t really anything I wanted at the buffet, it included waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, cold cereal in cute little boxes, sweet rolls, toast, bagels, apples, and three juices (two sugary tropical drinks and orange juice.) Mary reports that the gravy was good but lukewarm; the oatmeal was good.I went to Walgreen’s (which is very conveniently located across the parking lot) and bought myself some apple juice.

It is hot and humid here. I think it’s kind of neat – Mary not so much.

My three complaints about the Sleep Inn:

1. the windows don’t open – I don’t like having to sleep all night with the air conditioner on.

2. there was some construction nearby and when I was falling asleep I kept hearing a beeping noise that sounded like a truck backing up (Mary couldn’t hear it and wished I would stop waking her up.) There’s a slight possibility that the beeping noise was my laptop battery dying.

3. Though we’re on a non-smoking floor, people are clearly smoking down the hall from us. We can’t tell in the room, but it really smells in the hallway. I don’t know how much hotels can do about that. Personally, if I ran a hotel, there would be some hefty fines for smoking in a non-smoking room.

Overall, this is a great place to stay for the night before a cruise when all you need is some food and a bed. They have a free shuttle to the cruiseport. They’ll take us there at noon, and we will begin our cruise!

Link to Sleep Inn photos

[This is a sample blog post for a trip we took on the Regent Seven Seas Navigator in March 2005.  The rest of the blog for this trip is collected in a Kindle eBook called Travel With Us on the RSSC Navigator.  See our Travel With Us page for more information.]
3-25-05

After a lovely relaxing morning, we went down to the Sleep Inn lobby at noon to catch the free shuttle to the cruiseport. I had two days worth of the Miami Herald, 1 USA Today, and somehow I had talked Mary into carrying my bags of carrots and turkey which I planned to eat on the shuttle. However, the shuttle driver enjoyed driving fast and then making very abrupt stops (he would make a perfect Tri-Met bus driver) so I did not eat, and we were both probably more carsick on the way to the cruiseport than we would ever be seasick on the cruise itself.

It took a while to get to the cruiseport, as we had to first drive around the airport twice – once to drop off some passengers, then to pick up some others. At the cruiseport we were met at the curb by very friendly Radisson representatives and a baggage handler who surprised us by hitting us up for a tip after taking our bags. (This was in front of huge signs that said, “Workers are salaried. Tipping not required.” It was also quite surprising given Radisson’s no-tipping policy.) We tipped him a dollar a bag.

Inside the large cruise port as we were trying to figure out where to go, a Radisson representative approached us and said, “May I help you? Are you in transit? Are you working on the ship?” I must say, that given our tendency to be concerned that we don’t fit into these classy settings in the first place, this was not the best way to begin the cruise. However, Mary was dressed a little more casually than I was, and was, unfortunately, still carrying my bags of carrots and turkey. This probably did not help us in our hopes to look like we fit in. Next time, we will definitely avoid carrying little bags of food onto the ship.

That woman was the ONLY Radisson employee who ever treated us as if we didn’t belong. The woman who checked us in was very nice and acted as if it was nothing when the carrots leaked on the counter as we were being photographed and given our plastic room cards. These cards were in lovely leatherette cases and also functioned as credit cards during the cruise, as well as serving as our identification for getting on and off the ship. There was no photo on them, but when the security person swiped the card, she would see a photo of us on her screen.

We boarded the ship to extremely welcoming Radisson representatives, were each given a glass of champagne, and directed to Deck 10 where there was a buffet at the Portofino Grill and hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, salad, etc, poolside.

I spent the first few hours looking at the other passengers and saying things like, “They don’t look any better than us. I wonder if THEY were asked if they were working on the ship!” (Mary has just interrupted me to say that she wonders if there’s something a little classist about being offended because they thought we were working on the ship. I suppose there could be, but mostly I was offended because we were clearly heading towards the line to check in, and the woman made an assumption that we didn’t belong there. ) I tend to get very sensitive about these things, while Mary just thought it was funny. It probably took me about two days to realize that we basically fit in just fine. Later when I saw Patrick Swayze (more about that later – I just thought I’d begin with some name-dropping) he looked more casual than we did. Was HE asked if he was working on the ship?

Anyway, we sat down to eat, and by now I was making a big effort to hide the turkey and carrots inside the newspapers. (Mary had thrust them back at me immediately after the carrot leaking incident at check-in.)

I forced Mary to move tables when I came back from selecting my food inside and found that a woman was smoking right next to us and the smoke was coming directly at us. I’ll talk more later about Radisson’s smoking policy, which I think could be improved. For now, I’ll say that now I was all worked up about the smoking AND the fact that in my mind we clearly didn’t fit in on this ship, and poor Mary had to suffer as she always does when we begin our vacations and I worry about every little thing for the first day or so.

For lunch, I had, from the buffet inside: fresh roasted turkey, salmon, salad with virgin olive oil and lime dressing, roast potatoes, and potato salad. Mary ate from the pool grill — hamburger (no bun), french fries, caesar salad from salad bar, fresh fruit, potato salad, and “exotic cold fruit soup” Mary loved her fruit soup.

After lunch, Mary wanted to explore and begin photographing the ship. I wanted to do all the things I had read one must do when first boarding the ship, so I forced Mary to go to various places, all the time exhorting her to hurry, hurry, hurry. We went up to the spa and stood in line for about 15 minutes or so to get spa appointments. We made our appointments for Tuesday afternoon. The cost was $110 for a 5o minute massage, certainly higher than we would pay on land, but we thought it would be lovely. If you made the reservation for a morning when the ship was in port, you would get an additional 15 minutes for the same price. However, we wanted our massages right before dinner.

After we booked the massages, Mary said to me, “Come here, I want to show you something.” I knew she didn’t want to show me something, but someone as she had been whispering to me earlier and I had no idea what she was saying. She asked me to look at the man who had been behind us in line and said, “Could that be Elaine’s boyfriend from Seinfeld?” It couldn’t be Elaine’s boyfriend, but it did look very much like the actor who played Elaine’s boss, J. Peterman. She said his voice sounded like the actor’s voice also. We would encounter him quite a bit in the next few days, and if we had known the actor’s name, John O’Hurley, I might have asked him if that was who he was. But for now, we would just have to wonder.

Next we went to the library. I was not overly impressed with the selection of books. They were mostly older best-sellers, very little literary fiction, a few old magazines, but there were a lot of books, and I’m sure if I hadn’t brought books to read, I would have found something to interest me. There was a very impressive selection of travel books, and a very large number of videotapes. We never borrowed any of those as there were several good movies playing on the tv channels in the cabin.

Finally, we went to the Portofino Grill, the alternative restaurant and made reservations for dinner that night at 6:30. After that we toured the entire ship and Mary began her photographic documentary.