I've been a Camper/RV-er all my life. I had ZERO interest in taking a cruise, whatsoever. I was an Adirondack 46'er before my 18th birthday, and I had also backpacked parts of the Great Smokies, Cumberland Gap, and the Rockies. Then, my wife came home 1 day in June 2011, and told me her parents were taking us, and her brother and his girlfriend on Allure of the Seas the following May. I was not pleased. I tried my damnedest to fight it. Finally, by Christmas, i succumbed and agreed to go.
Finally May 12, 2012 rolled around, and we left Buffalo for Ft Lauderdale. Being my wife's first time on a plane, I had to push her through the door, where she stopped like a cat trying to not go into the bathtub. Still not amused with the fact I was missing the 2nd week of Spring Turkey season, We arrived in Ft Lauderdale, and took a taxi to the Lago Mar resort, where they had screwed up our reservations. I was certain this was a sign that this family of 6 vacation was going to be a NIGHTMARE. We had dinner at Bubba Gump's, and returned to our hotel, dreading the next 7 days.
We awoke early, about 430am to all fight for a shower, and get dressed for boarding day. I brought my best Magnum PI Hawaiian Shirt, Detroit Tigers hat, and grew a beautiful salty mustache to try to make the best of it. Standing on the ocean facing balcony I looked out to sea, and I saw it in all of it's Mammoth glory, pulling into port - Allure of the Seas. At the time, it was the largest Cruise Ship in the world, as Harmony of the Seas would not be laid down for another almost 2 years. Just her Physical presence in the early morning hours pulling into the port impressed me.
We gathered our baggage in the lobby at around 830am. My mother-in-law had be told the hotel had a shuttle...which was an outright lie. Standing in the lobby of the resort, i was the only one who didnt lose their temper, with the picture of my mind of the massive ship pulling into the port. This was the first point I had started to turn around. I pulled out my Blackberry Curve(that'll take ya back a few years) and furiously started scouring the internet for a transportation company in the area, when an elderly gentleman tapped me on the shoulder, and asked if we'd like to share the Hummer(H1) limo he had booked for he and his wife, to go to the port. After a quick conference with the family, and a symphony of thanks, we agreed.
Having been the only one to see the Allure, and in the dark at that, we began our short trek to the port, IN A FREAKING H1 LIMO! As we came to the crest of the A1A Drawbridge, the ship came into view...it absolutely DWARFED all of the other ships in the port, INCLUDING THE CONTAINER SHIPS! Everyone in the limo was glued to the windows as we crossed the bridge, and made the left into Port Everglades.
We pulled up to Pier 18, and the Limo driver assisted us removing our bags, we bid farewell to our new friends who shared their limo with us(they were taking a different ship, whose name escapes me, for their 60th wedding anniversary) All 6 of us stood infront of the porters, eyes skyward at the mammoth ship, towering over the building
Check-in was fairly simple, as my in-laws were experienced cruisers, and we made our way to the gold boarding lounge, where we had about an hours wait. We waited our turn to board, which was fairly fast, since we had arrived so early. Unable to see the ship, as there are no windows in the Terminal 18 boarding lounge, we talked about what we had already seen. Finally, it was our turn.
We walked through the door, and all we could see through the windows was the side of the ship, and the ground crew working in high gear to load provisions and luggage. We made our way up the gangway, and finally stepped on board, in the middle of the Promenade deck. We swiftly made our way to the Aft elevators, which we took to Deck 16 and the Windjammer. we stepped off, and into the Windammer to the sound of no less than 6 RCI employes exclaiming "WASHY WASHY" We proceeded into the 'Jammer, after washy washy-ing, and I began to fall in love. the vistas from the windjammer were absolutely amazing. As I hadnt eaten yet, the food was outstanding.
After eating (a little too much) we ventured down to Deck 11, where we had an interior room, which was available by 1200! we dumped our bags off, and decided to explore a bit. At this point, RCI had not converted the rear balconies of decks 11 and 12 to 1 bedroom Aquatheater suites, so they were actually PUBLIC smoking balconies! once we realized this, we explored a bit more, until it was time for the dreaded Muster Drill.
Again, never having been on a cruise ship, our muster station in the Amber Theater was an absolute shock! The sheer size, and complexity absolutely dumbfounded me. After the Muster Drill, we proceeded to the bar, and obtained drinks, and proceeded to the deck 11 Aquatheater balcony to watch the sail-away show.
Dinner in the MDR was the final straw. Just being on the bottom deck of the MDR, and looking up, and then the food! it was at this point that I finally conceded. I was in love with cruising. We were barely 3 hours clear of the port, and I was already trying to plan our next cruise!
Meanwhile, we are still major RV-ers, having purchased a 24' Travel Trailer in 2017, but 1 time per year, for 5 days or more, we live the wonderful cruise life
What is everyone else's story? I'd love to hear!