Our First “Solo” Trip
Halloween ’09 was our very first cruise. We had our wonderful friends Penny, Bill, and Carolyn with us to guide the way and educate us in the ways of cruising. We learned how to tip, where to go for a relaxing bit of sun, casino ins-and-outs, and I personally learned how not to get lost trying to find the dining room (and that, in fact, there are TWO dining rooms on the Inspiration). They are not able to go with us on this cruise and we are trying it solo, but I think we’ll do okay.
Before the cruise I joined the Cruise Critic roll call page for our cruise and began to meet others who would be with us. There are so very many different people on the roll call – some young, some older, retired, working, different nationalities, from many different states, military, teachers, lawyers, everything you can image. John and I became Internet friends with Ron and Jean, Dorcie and Lou, and some others. One of the commonalities for us was previous military service. representing three branches of service. Ron and I somehow got “volunteered” to organize the Meet n’ Greet for our group. You would have thought we would have learned by now — when they call for volunteers, take one step back! We know so little about doing a M&G, but we said that we would just read everything we could on CC and we’d figure it out. As it turned out, we received a lot of compliments later, so we must have done something right. There will be a small group of us from New York on the cruise; each couple has such different interests. Donna (a colleague) and Chris (her friend) will be traveling with us and the others will join us later- should be fun!!
Friday, Jan. 14, 2011
We’re on our way (I think)!!! Chris and Donna picked us up at the house and we went to breakfast before heading to the airport in Syracuse. Seems funny to be sitting in a restaurant in upstate NY wearing funny vacation hats and tropical clothing – you get strange looks.
Our bags are so heavy, I’m amazed we were able to check them. Donna got stopped because her bag was over 50 lbs. She took out two bottles of wine and a beach towel and put them in Chris’ bag. At this stage you’ll do anything, just let us on the plane so we can go. Has snowed here in Syracuse, but I’m hoping it’s nice in Tampa – we shall see!
We are going to Tampa just a bit early before the cruise because we want to visit our daughter and her family who live in St. Petersburg. Our grandson is turning 4 next month and we don’t get to see him that often.
Not a bad trip at all. It’s the typical airline travel and all the discomfort, but we arrived safely. It’s a first for me, but we were among the first to get off the plane, and our luggage came out on the turnstile first. So we happily grabbed them and went off to the Ground Transportation area. We asked the ticket lady about going to the Embassy Suites on Westshore and she said that we were welcome to buy a ticket, but that if we called the hotel directly they have a shuttle that will pick us up. That was very nice of her. So I called the hotel and they said it would be about 10 minutes. Well to fill in the gaps quickly…..1 hour and 3 telephone calls later, the hotel shuttle bus finally showed up. The driver told us that he hadn’t heard anything about a pick-up at the airport and he had been standing around in front of the hotel. Advice: Don’t let it go too long before you call again and again and again.
The only thing we were thankful for by the time we got to the Embassy Suites is that we were still in time for the Manager’s Reception and free cocktails. The hors d’oeuveres were GREAT! Must be a great place because the flight crew from our plane were there also and we talked for awhile. But all of us were really dragging by this time.
Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
Woke at usual time (7 am) and went down for the free breakfast. I must admit that’s part of the appeal for staying at the Embassy – Free breakfast, eat a big lunch out, and then free hors d’oeuvres at night. Unfortunately for us, today was a day when there was a young people’s choral activity in Tampa and kids were everywhere. Also there was a very large meeting of handicapped people in wheelchairs (I got the impression it was either young veterans or perhaps handicapped athletes). We waited awhile until everyone had their breakfast and had run off to their activities. They were a nice group. We had our coffee while we waited and it was very, very good and much needed!
Today was the day we went to the Tampa aquarium with E.J. (our grandson) and Hope (our daughter). What a fabulous place that is. It is HUGE and has more than just fishes. E.J. was bouncing all over the place and giving Grandpa a run for his money. But he wants to see EVERYTHING – a full 360 degrees at one time. When we were done inside at the exhibits, we went outside to have a bite to eat and a well-deserved drink. The great part was that you could sit outside eating and still have stuff for the kids to play with out there.
The Aquarium is directly next door to the Port and on a good day, there will be a ship in port.
And my favorite part??? — Watching the port and all the people heading on board the Carnival Inspiration. Yes, indeed, there is something that is inspiring about seeing that Whale Tail up there.
There is so much to see and do in this general area, the port, the aquarium, Channelside, Ybor City (if you travel a bit), and more.
But you are not here to read my ramblings, you are here to discover how we enjoyed our cruise and we shall do that right now.