Disembarkation, easy style (or so we thought)

When our time on the Explorer of the Seas was over, we had plans to stay in the Pacific Northwest for a few more days before flying home. Our next stop after getting off the ship was the Seattle airport, where we’d pick up a car, so we didn’t need to be in a hurry.

We packed up the rest of our things in the morning and went to breakfast in the Main Dining Room, which is usually served early (and for a short amount of time) on disembarkation day. I was a little surprised to find that the MDR was only serving a limited menu – this was the first time I’d seen this happen on a last day, but I guess it made sense. I was mostly interested in the coffee, anyway, and fortunately they had plenty of that!

We picked up our bags and settled into a set of comfortable chairs to wait for the dreaded “last call” to get off the ship. We had plenty of time and watched a movie while we waited. One by one, we watched the other people sitting nearby pick up their bags and leave. Finally, I could tell it was getting to be about that time, so I decided to make one last bathroom stop before we left the ship to go through immigration, which can sometimes take a while.

Imagine my surprise to find that all of the bathrooms nearby were locked! I was able to, um, hold it until we got off the ship, and things were fine. But it was a good warning not to wait until the last minute for things like these.

Finally, we took our bags and faced the reality – our cruise was over. On to the next adventure!

Port Canaveral: Getting There (And Back)

To be honest, I’d avoided booking cruises from Port Canaveral in the past due to the distance between the airport and the cruise port (about 45 miles, according to Google Maps). I’ve been spoiled by cruising out of Fort Lauderdale (less than 5 miles from the cruise port!) and Miami, and sometimes San Juan.

But I’d been hearing a lot about Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas – some good things, and some bad – which offers 3- and 4-night cruises out of Port Canaveral. Finally, my curiosity was piqued. So I booked my husband and I on a 3-night Bahamas cruise, and off we went.

We flew into Orlando the night before the cruise – something I always recommend, if you can swing it – and stayed at the Hilton Doubletree by the Orlando Airport. A free shuttle (you just need to call the front desk when you arrive) from the airport made this a perfect spot for us, especially since we arrived into Orlando late.

In the morning, we used Uber to get to the cruise port. We left around 11:30 am on a Friday, and with little traffic we made the 45-mile trip in just about 45 minutes. Our fare, adjusted for tolls, was $46.98. This was definitely a quick and convenient option, as taking a standard cruise port shuttle would have required that we go back to the airport in order to pick up the shuttle.

One word of advice about Uber (and its counterpart, Lyft): These companies use a system called dynamic pricing, which means that prices for rides aren’t fixed and may change at any minute. For instance, when I checked the app to determine return fares once we landed in Port Canaveral, I was quoted fares nearly twice as much – probably because the return of two cruise ships increased the local demand for these services dramatically.

Fortunately, we had already booked our return transport on GO Port Canaveral’s shuttle service, which I found through doing some online research before the cruise. Price-wise, this option saved us a little money – we paid a total of $29.90 for two people. The shuttle buses (large tour-style ones) were comfortable and – importantly – well air-conditioned, and the staff made the process nearly painless (well, except for the pain of leaving behind vacation and going back to reality).