Phew! Fourteen days of very little internet! Frustrating at times, exhilarating at others, but we survived this crossing at sea and gave ourselves a true break from reality. Enjoy these tidbits I have compiled about the beginning of this Spring Fling 2018 and continue to travel with me!
Fort Lauderdale Airport Super 8 is where we settled to easily set ourselves up for ship boarding at Port Everglades. This is the 4th Super 8 we stayed at in this season of travel. We have found this brand to be reliable in providing the basics of comfort, cleanliness, room amenities such as lotions and soaps as well as in-room coffee and continental breakfast included. The standard in these franchise locations meets our basic needs and allows us frugality in places where it’s “not about the room”.
There is not a lot to do in easy access from this particular hotel, yet we found everything we wanted within three miles which allowed us some of the walking we are requiring of ourselves to stay fit in this extended time away from a regular routine. Walking to the Dania Beach Pier and along the adjoining waterways was a great way to spend a day. Tarks Oyster Bar, just a few blocks down the street, proved itself a worthy enough spot that we ended up eating there both nights of our stay. This hole in the wall seafood bar is definitely not fancy. It boasts about twenty counter seats surrounding the open kitchen and five tables for four outside. Orders are taken at the cash register and the service staff are also cooks. One mans the steam pots, one the fryers and one specializes in oyster shucking while they all share in delivery. The staff and the clientele were all up beat making for a lively atmosphere. We enjoyed steamed buffalo shrimp, fried calamari, fried shrimp, fresh oysters, fish and chips and an order of wings which was the daily special on one visit. Crab, clams, gator and more were available in a variety of preparations. All was tasty and fresh and the prices were quite reasonable. The first visit we enjoyed buckets of Corona but on the second day while out doing our last minute pre board shopping and walk to Dania Beach we grabbed a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc to complement the oysters. The only disappointment came when they were closing early on the second night. We only had two dozen oysters and we would have had a third, they were simply sold out of things. This did not turn us off. Awesome to eat seafood at a place that turns out that much daily and keeps it that fresh. We will dine here again on a future pre-cruise visit!
The hotel offered shuttle service to the Port and provided us late check out as well as printing of our boarding passes and luggage tags, including the loan of a stapler so we could attach them and have all our t’s crossed prior to arrival at the Holland America pier. This boarding was extremely easy. We literally got out of the van, our bags were whisked away for loading and we were off to get our onboard ID’s made. Embarkation was a breeze and before we knew it, in under forty five minutes, we were in our stateroom.
4120 was labeled an obstructed view balcony and therefore garnered the value price my honey found it for us at. He had also meticulously combed the diagram of the ship and figured out the last tender (used for transporting cruisers to shore in some ports) that was the culprit of the “obstructed view” status actually fell just before our balcony leaving us a prime view and extended space because of the curve of the ship. We were thrilled with our location. Expedia booking and VIP status allowed us $100 onboard credit and a welcome bottle of bubbly which we enjoyed one evening pre dinner. The stateroom was comfortable with ample storage and we were able to settle in quite nicely for this fourteen day Transatlantic cruise beginning with six days at sea. Our stateroom attendants took nice care of us with daily cleanings, ice delivery requests and nightly turndowns offering creative towel art.
Lido Market beckoned us for our first bite to eat aboard ship (before we even sailed ;-). Prime rib with Yorkshire pudding. Indeed this buffet area, open for all meals and consisting of many stations such as carvery, sandwich board, Italian station, stir fry, salad and dessert as well as sushi, ice cream and other western fare, could fulfill our one days expenditures let alone the food we found in The Dining Room, in The Dutch Cafe, at the Pizza and Deli bar, at the poolside grill, simply anywhere we ate that was included in our daily ticket price of under $100 each. We could consume our justification easily and then we still had the free entertainment, seminars, our private room and the beautiful sun decks and incredible exercise areas and more at our disposal for this “rental fee”. We felt good about the value of our indulging in the best that life has to offer. New York Steak, short ribs, rack of lamb, shrimp and scallop salad, herring salad, Gravlox, French Onion Au Gratin, Vegetable with tortellini soup, cauliflower gratin, creme brulee, chocolate hazelnut torte, tropical fruit cheesecake, berry crisp with French vanilla ice cream, these are on