Destination Caribbean Islands

Destination Caribbean Islands

Sy @ | 10 minutes | #port-everglades #fort-lauderdale #florida #cruise-ship


So we did. We'd already spotted a taxi rank with a queue of taxis, so it shouldn't be a problem to find an empty one.
Anyway, it was our first taxi ride here in America all in all. We had only ever taken Uber before. There would have been a shuttle bus here, but we didn't think about that (5 years ago we took a shuttle from Miami).

FLL - Fort Lauderdale, FL

It was very civilized: there is a man at the taxi stand, you go to him, and they put your stuff in the taxi at the front of the queue.
The taxi took about 15 minutes to get to the port. At the entrance to the port, they checked the taxi driver and us. They asked for our passports.
And in the taxi you can pay with card and cash. The terminal is on the right rear seat, you insert your card, and you are done. We paid 17 USD including tip. (This will be important/interesting later.)

The cruise line has an app that had to be installed before the trip. We got a lot of information there days before the trip. The day before, you get a questionnaire to fill out, regarding whether you are sick.
Csibi says that he also got numerous emails from them in the weeks before the trip, which was confusing and annoying.
The app looks great, but could do with a few improvements in one or two places to make it work better.

As we booked our seats on the ship relatively late, there was not much choice of cabins, but we booked a stateroom with balcony (Silhouette Veranda). Price: $2533 for the two of us. This included a cabin for 2, meals, basic drinks, taxes, fees and the obligatory tip. Everything else (internet, drink package, excursions, obligatory tip (if you didn't want to pay in advance), etc.) has to be paid separately and of course everything in advance. (You can also book excursions and everything else while sailing, but there are special offers before the trip, so you should take advantage of them because they charge a lot for everything else.)
We think we'll write a separate post on this because these cruises are very different; in many ways.

We got cabin 6302. Of that number, 6 is the floor, 302 is our cabin number. Which was located right on a "corner", so the view to the right was limited, but it was not a tragedy.

5 years ago, we didn't have a drink package, but this time we were smarter and asked for the Zero Proof Drink Package: coffee, water, soft drinks. We found the alcohol included unrealistically expensive and as we don't drink much alcohol anyway, it wasn't hard to give it up.
Oh, and an essential piece of information, in case it might be practical for someone else: you can only book the same type of drink package with the person you're in the same cabin with! The price of this was $403 for the two of us for the cruise, which already includes the obligatory tip.
You can get by without a drink package, you won't die of thirst, and you can even get coffee. But if you sit down in a bar or restaurant, that's where the problems start because there is no free drink without a drink package. More on this in a dedicated post later.

The internet is not particularly cheap either: $168, which is for premium Wi-Fi per device. We did this last time by paying only for me, but if I got off the Wi-Fi and Csibi got on with his phone, he could use it too. This time he couldn't, we tried it. He logged in once as a guest and then couldn't get the phone to ask for the Wi-Fi login credentials. If I logged in on the laptop, I had to log out of Wi-Fi on the phone and log in on the computer.
The company uses Elon Musk's SpaceX Starlink service. Messaging, reading emails, looking at social media is excellent, Skype voice calls were fine, but I have to say uploading/processing pictures is less fast. (5 years ago, the internet on the Royal Caribbean ship was excellent, although they advertised themselves as the fastest.)
The basic Wi-Fi package is cheaper, but after that, I don't know what it would have been good for.

This time we also booked our excursions with the cruise line. 5 years ago, we booked all our trips on Tripadvisor because we thought the trips offered by the cruise line were expensive. Now we were smarter about that too and looked around in advance. As it was not more expensive or not much more expensive and as the cruise line's (there was even a discount) we now thought it would be better to book here. At least that way, we could be sure we wouldn't miss the embarkation. If you do miss it, it's your responsibility. On one trip 5 years ago, we had a very difficult time getting back due to the idiocy of some passengers. So it's okay that we didn't take the risk this time.

Before the trip, we got the luggate tags to put on the suitcase. You have to print it out and somehow pin it to the handle of the suitcase. On our last cruise, we didn't have one, or at least we couldn't put it on the suitcase. You need this because when you arrive at the port, they will take the suitcase and next time you will meet it in your room or outside your room.
The last time we were on a cruise, it looked like we boarded early, and you couldn't go into the room yet. That was not the case here. Once we boarded, we could go to our room. Since we didn't have much experience with that one previous trip, we figured we'd do it again. I only say this because if we had known we could go straight to our room, we could have taken our suitcases with us.
No matter.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

So, you arrive at the port at the designated terminal. (It was also very interesting that we received a million messages via the app and via email, but nowhere did it say which terminal the ship was departing from. We finally found it in the schedule on the Port Everglades website!

Port Everglades - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Once your suitcase has been taken care of, you can go to the terminal building, where you will be greeted very kindly. There are plenty of staff to help you move along smoothly.
You have to go upstairs or use the staircase, and there you will be checked several times. First you are screened in the same way as at the airport, and you have to go through a similar gate. Afterward, the passport is requested. We got stuck here for a bit. Our passports were in okay, but it is obviously unusual to board a ship with a Hungarian passport. The guy asked what we were here on, ESTA or visa. We said visa.
He went to consult someone so that we wouldn't get in trouble on our return and not be allowed in… But of course, everything was fine. They take a photo and assign it to our profile (when we board the ship, a colleague sees it on the monitor).

Port Everglades - Fort Lauderdale, FL

One more place to do some checking (just a “face check”), then you're walking towards the ship. And there you are.

Now, I think it's important to say here that 5 years ago we chose an itinerary and quite accidentally we ended up on what was then the biggest ship in the world (Harmony of the Seas). We talked about how it must be hard to pass because that ship was colossal and had everything on it.
Some comparisons were inevitable, but we can't say anything bad about the Equinox!

Port Everglades - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Celebrity Equinox is an older ship, sailing since 2009. Interestingly, it was captained by a woman until August 2019. Kate McCue was the first American woman to captain an ocean liner.
This ship sails year-round from Fort Lauderdale, FL to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
She currently has a Greek captain. The ship's crew is quite international: three Greeks, I'm sure I remember. There are also Scottish, British, Ukrainian, Filipino and maybe Nicaraguan managers. (This means managers of different departments, for example: hotel manager, ship manager, Food & Beverage, Housekeeping, etc.)

Celebrity Equinox
Some details Equinox Harmony
Length (m) 317 362
Width (beam) (m) 37 66
Height (m) 11 23
Decks 19 18
Max speed (km/h) 44 46
Max number of passengers 2850 5479
Crew 1250 2300
Celebrity Equinox

We boarded the ship relatively early (which you have to enter in advance via the app; you can choose from half-hour time slots) and quickly started to explore what was there and where it was. The ship left at 4 PM. A safety briefing must be attended before departure. On the Harmony, this consisted of everyone being herded into a room (based on the actual stateroom) and had to watch a video. Here, you had to watch a video in the app showing where the life jacket was, what the emergency alarm sounded, etc. Then you had to find your designated place to go in case of danger. Once you checked in, you had completed the safety training.
Many people didn't get it done, so plenty of times you had to be told that the ship wasn't going to leave until all the guests had completed it.
Fortunately, everyone eventually managed to complete it.

Celebrity Equinox

Meanwhile, it was already possible to eat - drink. We had already checked it out and knew that Café al Bacío would be our favorite place. They have excellent coffee and pastries here.

You should always take your room key (Seapass) with you everywhere you go. If you ask for water or anything else, they will ask for it and see if you have to pay for the stuff you ask for or not. If you do, they will charge your Seapass, you can see how you are doing with your spending all the time within the app.

The Oceanview Café has become our other favorite place to eat, with a buffet meal practically all day.

Oceanview Cafe - Celebrity Equinox

In the evenings, we were invited to the fancy restaurant Silhoutte, but we only went on our first night. Due to the late booking we made for this trip, we were scheduled for dinner at 8:30 PM, which was a bit late. The restaurant was nice, but we were seated at a huge table behind some stairs from where we couldn't see anything. We didn't really want to go back because of that.

The Silhouette Dining Room - Celebrity Equinox

There are a bunch of special restaurants. We had been to a pay restaurant on Harmony, we didn't go this time. There was so much variety of food anyway that we didn't feel the need to even go to a specialty restaurant.

Anyway, so we walked around the ship, ate and drank, checked to see if the bags had arrived, and suddenly, it was 4 PM. We're about to embark!!!
We went up to the upper deck. We remembered that they used to wave from the buildings next to the dock. It was the same this time, so we went straight to that side.
It's such a thrilling feeling as the ship starts to leave the harbor. I don't know what the best word for that feeling is, but it was nice to stand there.

Port Everglades - Fort Lauderdale, FL

And when we got out of the harbor into the open water and spotted at least three dolphins jumping alongside the ship, I was teary-eyed.
It was a special moment.

Additional Photos

Map - Port Everglades - Fort Lauderdale, FL