December 4/5, 2012: Arrival and Boarding

Nan and I originally planned to drive into Winnipeg on Monday, December 3 and stay overnight with Melissa before catching an early Tuesday morning flight from Winnipeg to Minneapolis to Miami. However, the weather forecast for Monday was bad and so we drove in to Winnipeg on Sunday and stayed with Melissa for two nights. Very early Tuesday morning we were picked up and driven to the airport in a long, black, stretch limo. The flights went off without a hitch.

Flying over the everglades Flying over the everglades The suburbs of Miami

As our plane approached Miami we flew over miles and miles of trackless everglades. As we came closer to Miami we began to see drainage canals and roads. Finally we came to the areas had been drained so houses could be built.

Our 2012 Toyota Camry rental Extended Stay Deluxe Motel Catching a ride to the port on the Dollar shuttle

After landing we headed over to the rental center and picked up our rental car from Hertz (bad move as we found out later). We drove around a bit and found our motel, the Extended Stay Deluxe near the Miami Airport. It was a nice room with cooking facilities and wi-fi. My cousin, Mary Ann Goerzen, from Salmon Arm was flying down separately. She was scheduled to fly from Kamloops to Calgary to Los Angeles to Miami. Since she hadn’t flown alone recently, we were concerned that she made all the connections. So, I set up my laptop and checked the incoming flights from LAX. Her flight was supposed to arrive at 10:30 PM but wasn’t going to arrive until midnight. Just then we got an email and then a phone call from her daughter saying that she had missed her connection in Calgary and was being re-booked through Toronto and would be arriving on a morning flight. After a bit of searching I tracked down her flight – it would arrive at 9:30 AM. In the morning we loaded our luggage in the car and drove to the airport. I dropped Nancy and Melissa off at the American Airlines arrivals section and found a place to park until they found her. Eventually they found her and called me on my cell phone. I drove in and picked them all up and drove them out to the cruise ship port. I dropped them off at the Norwegian Sun’s berth and drove the car back to the rental center near the airport. This is when I found out that Hertz does not provide a shuttle service to the port. Alamo, Thrifty, National, and Dollar all do but Hertz doesn’t. They expected me to go the half mile to the airport and spend $25 to get a shuttle out to the port. Yea, right. I went to the shuttle area and tipped the Dollar shuttle bus driver and he took me out to the Norwegian Sun. That’s the last time I’ll rent from Hertz!

The long line to check in. First look at the ship Mary Ann and Melissa get their ID cards

When the Dollar shuttle dropped me at the berth, I walked up and down the line looking for Mary Ann, Melissa and Nancy. Eventually I found them. They were waiting where I had left then and hadn’t gotten into line. So, we joined the long line and made our way through the passport and security checks to the final check-in by Norwegian Cruise Lines.

We were not the last passengers on board! View of Miami from Deck 10 Pool and hot tubs on Deck 10

When we did get on board, we headed up to Deck 10. From that vantage point it was obvious that we were not the last passengers to board. There was still a long line of people waiting to check-in. The Garden Cafe, the buffet where we often ate breakfast and lunch, a pool and several hot tubs are all located on Deck 10. At the stern on this deck is an open area that provided excellent views of Miami.

Leaving Miami in late afternoon Sailing off into the Caribbean. Map showing our Caribbean cruise

After our mandatory lifeboat drill the ship got underway. We pulled away from Miami and headed South East into the Caribbean. The last photo is a map that shows where our cruise ship is heading.