Early in the morning on the last day of the western Caribbean cruise the Carnival Liberty glided slowly down the narrow channel into the Port of Miami under the rising sun. Chris and Liza’s cruise had come to an end, but John and I had another week to go.
Chris and Liza had a fairly late flight, so they stayed on the boat as long as they could. They had looked into the luggage service the ship offered where they would deliver bags to the airport so people with later flights could venture out on their own unencumbered. They decided that the cost of the luggage service, plus a cab somewhere, plus the cost of doing something and another cab to the airport was more than they wanted to spend so they ended up just hanging out at the airport for the day.
It’s too bad we didn’t look into the shore excursions offered for Miami. Book one of those and it takes care of delivering luggage, rides to the tour and to the airport, and something to do besides. For less than it would have cost them to do something on their own. In some cases they could have got the whole tour for about what the luggage service would have cost them. Just goes to show it pays to investigate all options in advance.
Miami has a lot to do for anyone who cares to stay long enough to experience it. Besides the famous South Beach, Art Deco District, restaurants and shopping, Miami has numerous tourist attractions including air boat rides, seaquarium, zoo and other animal exhibits, parks and beaches, museums, and mansion or estate tours. Miami includes a variety of different neighborhoods such as Little Havana and Little Haiti. The temperature in Miami averages in the 80’s year round.
We took a one-week cruise last year and totally did not want to get off the boat when it ended so this year we wanted to take a longer one. We also wanted to cruise with Chris and Liza, who could just do one week. So we tried the back-to-back Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises on the Carnival Liberty.
All the people leaving the ship had to vacate their rooms by 8:30am. Some left earlier, getting off the boat as soon as they could to catch early flights. We had the same room for the next week, so Chris and Liza moved any luggage they hadn’t left out for the crew to remove the night before to our room as they were in no hurry to leave. This gave us a bit of time to prowl the halls looking for open doors so I could take pictures of a variety of rooms for a blog about choosing a cabin.
I envisioned having lots of time on the ship with almost no passengers on it, but it did not turn out that way. The people that stayed for the next cruise had to meet in the atrium lobby to go through customs as a group. We said good-bye to Chris and Liza and they left the ship while we settled in on a couch to wait with the other back-to-backers. Meanwhile a few passengers who couldn’t be bothered to get off the boat on schedule delayed our passage as we sat in the lobby for about half an hour past the time they planned to take us through customs while the crew made announcements calling their names over the loudspeakers and searched the ship for them until the last pair finally left. By then new passengers had already started making their way through customs, as well as folks coming aboard just for a few hours for a wedding to take place before the ship set sail.
Other than the slight delay caused by the passengers who wouldn’t leave the ship, the process went smoothly. Ship’s crew handed out new sail and sign cards (which serve as room key, boarding pass and credit card for onboard shopping) while we waited in the lobby. Once the other passengers finally left, a Carnival crew escort took us as a group to the customs line. Customs cleared several lines for us and took care of our group nearly right away. We did not have to wait for the people already in line to go through. Then we all returned to the ship appreciating our speedy passage through customs.
Although the rooms were closed to passengers just coming aboard until all rooms got cleaned, we had access to ours as it did not need changing over for new passengers. The public areas of the ship filled quickly as more and more people came on board who would not have access to their rooms until shortly after the official boarding time. Many gathered on the Lido Deck to enjoy the welcome aboard lunch served there.
We also had to go down to guest services and scan the credit card for our sail & sign account again, as they did not carry it over from one cruise to the next. And, of course, had to go through the mandatory life boat safety drill again before the ship left port. Every cruise I have ever taken has done the safety drill before leaving the dock, a very good thing in light of what happened on the Costa Concordia where they did not.
Booking one longer cruise rather than two short ones would remove these minor inconveniences, but also would remove the option for family or friends to travel on only part of the trip.
When the second week ended, we still wished we could stay on the ship longer, and decided that no matter how long a cruise lasts, it is never long enough.