Cruise is Over, But Spending the Day in Miami
Miami Travel Blog› entry 9 of 9 › view all entries
Saying goodbye to our floating "home away from home" is bittersweet. You've just had the time of your life and garnered lifelong memories, and now it is back to the everyday routine. Disembarkation began in early as the ship docked before dawn. Our flight plans weren't until the evening hours, so our color group was one of the last to be called to disembark. The process entails waiting until your tag color was called (you receive that the day you pack), proceeding to the gangway, punching your sea pass one last time registering you off the ship, finding the baggage color area, claiming your luggage, getting in line for customs, and after finally clearing customs, locating the rental car company shuttle. The whole ordeal took about two hours! Getting 4000 people off and getting ready for 4000 more was a little hectic.
For some unknown reason, our flight wasn't until 9:00 pm, so we had several hours before we needed to be at the airport in Miami. What to do? I had arranged for a rental car in Fort Lauderdale, and we decided to "wing" it on our way to Miami. I had a desire to see alligators! After a little delay at the car rental counter, we were finally off to explore (or get lost). Armed with maps, we made our way out to Alligator Alley (I-75) thinking we would see the creatures there. Nope! Flamingoes, some kind of heron, and a lot of white birds were found, but no gators.
The route took us into Seminole Indian country. We happened upon a small town, and stopped at a gift shop alongside the road. The proprietor was friendly and listened patiently to our gator stories which I'm sure amused her.
Back in Miami, we had some time to get dinner and head to the airport. We arrived in time to watch the cruise go out on another voyage full of vacationers. Not knowing much about the city, we went back to Bayside to eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. After our fill of shrimp, we started off for the airport. We should have checked the Miami Heat's schedule because we were smack in the middle of traffic after a game. This slowed us up a bit, and we got a little confused over signs directing us to the airport.
By midnight, we were back in Ohio where the temperature was significantly cooler and snowy. Our daughter and son-in-law met us at the airport, and after an hour and a half we were back at home. Glad to be home, tired, and already beginning to plan our next adventure!
A couple notes -
2. Car rental return at Miami is horrible! We drove around the airport 3 times before stopping to ask an officer where to drop off the car. They chuckled and guided us to the off site location. Apparently several have had the same experience. There was one sign in an odd place that we missed. If you miss that sign, you will end up on the highway around the airport! Instead of ending our vacation on a relaxed note, we were stressed about being on time to catch our flight.
3. Now that we have experienced a cruise on one of the very large ships, we probably will look at adventures on smaller ones. The ship was beautiful and offers so much to do, but the large number of people made for long lines and impatient tempers. For families with children, the large ship is great! The kids really can't complain about nothing to do. There is always something going on for them. For couples looking for a nice quiet cruise vacation, I would recommend a smaller ship.
Our cruise vacation of 2009 on Independence of the Seas was wonderful. Great ports of call, good food, and lasting memories! We are already thinking about the next cruise!