Saturday, April 29, 2006

May 2006, Caribbean Princess Cruise -- Day 1


Caribbean PrincessA few weeks ago we went on a cruise. It was a first time for us and we really wondered if we would like the experience. After a lot of research, mostly online, and after getting countless brochures in the mail we decided to take a seven-night cruise on the Caribbean Princess.

It was a round trip out of Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades, Saturday to Saturday. We could have parked at the cruise terminal but chose to park at a nearby long-term parking lot at the airport. Port Everglades is about 25 miles north of the Port of Miami and it serves almost 20 cruise lines.

Port EvergladesThe parking lot's van took us to the ship where there were huge lines at 12:15 P.M. We had disregarded instructions from Princess Cruises that told us to arrive at 2:00 P.M. for the shortest lines. However, the embarkation process was so efficient (and well staffed) that in less than an hour we were in our cabin -- meeting our steward, Cris. He kept our cabin ship-shape for the whole trip.

We had a room with balcony on Deck 11, the Baja Deck -- that's the 11th floor -- in what is essentially a huge, 19-story high, self-contained floating hotel. The Caribbean Princess was launched in 2004 as the largest passenger ship afloat, with room for 3,110 passengers and 1,200 crew.

Caribbean Princess off shoreWe took off at 5:00 P.M. and slowly left the port. We watched from our, surprisingly roomy, balcony as the resort hotels and condos of North Miami Beach faded away. Our cabin was on the starboard side so we looked south as we departed. Below us were the balconies of passengers who had suites and mini-suites.

We had originally booked a mini-suite for a little more room and a larger balcony, but we heard there was little privacy on the balconies on these decks. The folks online at Cruise Critic were right, although we had great privacy on our balcony, we could look right down into all the balconies below us and to the right and left.

Soon we were in the open ocean and put on some speed. The TV in the cabin said we were going 18 knots. That's almost 21 miles per hour. It seemed quite fast, especially if you looked down at the water rushing past the side of the ship.

All you could see was sky and ocean. The sun was setting and it was time for cocktails on our balcony.

NOTE -- NAUTICAL MILE is a unit of length used in marine navigation that is equal to a minute of arc of a great circle on a sphere. One international nautical mile is equivalent to 1852 meters, 6077 feet or 1.151 statute miles.

A KNOT is a unit of measure for speed. If you are traveling at a speed of 1 nautical mile per hour, you are traveling at a speed of 1 knot. During this account I will sometimes convert nautical miles to statute miles but as we are Americans you will have to figure the meters out for yourself. We don't do metric.

No comments: