Written by two cruisers on 22 Jul, 2012
Our cruise of the Caribbean was the middle 8 days of a 28 day vacation. We drove into Fort Lauderdale and needed to find a place to leave our car where it would be safe. The parking stalls at Port Everglades would have cost a…Read More
Our cruise of the Caribbean was the middle 8 days of a 28 day vacation. We drove into Fort Lauderdale and needed to find a place to leave our car where it would be safe. The parking stalls at Port Everglades would have cost a minimum of $150. Online I found a company that caters to people that have that same problem. It is called Stay123. By booking through them we chose a lovely Hampton Inn hotel room in Plantation, Florida (7801 SW 6th St). Besides the usual amenities of comfortable room, guest laundry and good continental breakfast; we were allowed to park our car at the back of their parking lot until we returned from the cruise. In addition to that they had airport or cruiseport FREE transportation. Transport was well organized and we ended up at the correct terminal in plenty of time for first boarding. Upon our return I called the motel front desk and the extended window van hauling an enclosed luggage trailer picked us up in a matter of minutes. The best $80 plus tips we have spent in a long time.Fort Lauderdale has a lot to offer in addition to overnight lodging. Unfortunately we only extended our sight-seeing to the restaurant next door to the hotel. We had lunch at Jay's Cafe. This very new restaurant shared a building with a spa, salon and bridal boutique. Bill ordered a fish dish and I had an Italian sub. It was a fairly diverse for such a small place. But they need to work the kinks out of the ordering system.For supper we ordered in pizza from Pizzaloft (3514 S. University Drive, Davie, FL). This was a recommendation from the front desk clerk. She knows her pizza. Our choices were excellant.In the morning, when we arrived at Port Everglades, the rainstorm formerly known as Tropical Storm Alberto also arrived. (In another review I mentioned how our suitcases were drenched.) But my observation here is how bleak the port and city skyline look. Florida in this area is remarkably flat. I'm surprised the explorers of the 15th century didn't just plow into the land by accident. This port is easy for large ships to enter and depart, but we always enjoy watching the little pilot boats escorting us. Our first port of the trip was exciting for the sheer size and amount of activity. And when we returned here we took pride in America's impressive highway system and services available. And it was sunny that day. Close
Written by vampirefan on 06 Apr, 2012
Anyone who has been writing for IGO for a while knows that at one time there was an actual overview that included an overall look at what you did on the trip as well suggestions and ways to get around. Since my overview took up…Read More
Anyone who has been writing for IGO for a while knows that at one time there was an actual overview that included an overall look at what you did on the trip as well suggestions and ways to get around. Since my overview took up all 1500 words to tell you all about the fun things I did, this is the follow up. Enjoy! Suggestions. No matter where my travels take us, my first suggestion is take a look at the visitor’s websites. They are a wealth of information. You can get the 411 on everything the city and surrounding areas have to offer, take advantage of discounts and hotel packages, and check out itineries You can either get an on line version or have an actual guide sent to your home. I use both. But I still love my glossy guides in my hands. I can flip back and forth with ease and I found them easier to read. And I can scan it and find a picture of something I like it. When I opened up my Orlando guide for a fall trip, I immediately saw a picture of something I want to try. I am also a scrapbooker so I save everything. What doesn’t go in my scrapbook goes in my memory box. And I love having my visitors guide in there and often use them for multiple trips. The websites I used were: www.sunny.org Ft. Lauderdalewww.miamibeaches.com Miamiwww.visittampa.com TampaAnd don’t forget apps and social media. All three cities have their own free apps for smart phones and have Facebook pages. One of my favorite websites for organizing my travel plans is Trip It. You can have all your plans in one neat place. It is a free site and if you’re plans are emailed to you; it will go ahead and go to your Trip It plans. Just go to www.tripit.com. They even have a phone app. Got a smart phone? Then use your apps. I use my CVB apps. Then I have apps for travel journals, travel planning, finding resturants..parking..wifi and more. With the exception of a few apps..all mine were free. Make use of social media as well. I found out about this trip from my friend David who I met on Facebook and then got the information on Facebook. I was able to keep up with updates and everything that was going on through the cruises website. Someone set up a page for people going on the cruise and we vented our frustrations there. I also got to meet lots of great people on the page before the cruise. Were still staying in touch for next years cruise and an upcoming concert that allot of MOR people will be attending. Here is a great idea for my favorite souviner. It is the squished or elongated (its technical term) penny. It is cheap (generally 51 cents), doesn’t take up luggage space (I keep mine in the change area of my wallet until I get home), and you can add them to your scrap pages. Not a scrapper or digital scrapper? They actually have a collector’s book for them. They are found at state parks, museums, malls, theme parks, restaurants (all the BBQ restaurants in Lexington NC for example have them), events, and just about anywhere else. And they can be found all over the world. It is a great hobby for the whole family. Here are some links you might find helpful:www.Pennycollector.com includes a machine locator. I always use this page for my trip planning. www.presscoins.com just for Disney coins (they have a butt load of them)www.Parkpennies.com for theme park pennieswww.pressedpenny.com all about collecting pressed pennies. In addition to having my travel plans stored in varies apps and websites..I also like to keep manual copies just in case my computer crashes or something. There are plenty of travel planners out there. I found a great one on Amazon (www.amazon.com) that is beautiful and found it for 82 cents..used. It looks like brand new and doesn’t have a mark in it (except mine..of course). Also I went to my local Hobby Lobby and found an adorable box that is a bit bigger than an index card. It was decorated and was a blue color. On sale for $2.50! Then I went next door to Office Max and got index cards in the same color and got a pen in a darker blue. I record all my information in there as well and have it as a souvenir when I am done! As soon as you book your plans, grab the travel documents you will need and put them somewhere safe. As soon as I came back from this trip and unpacked my luggage, I put our documents for the next cruise right back in my jewelry box even though it is more than a year away. Then I went to my calendar app and my cruise planning folder and made a note after the first of the year to renew my passport. And check the expiration dates on visas and passports. One young lady was denied boarding because her visa expired. They make no exceptions these days. Not a frequent traveler and not sure what you need to travel and what you can bring with you? Then check BEFORE you go. Here are some websites you might find helpful: www.tsa.gov Tells you rule and regulations for flightswww.state.gov passport info, travel warnings, and travel requirements for US citizens. If you are a non USA citizens then you with your countries embassy for travel requirements.Also check with your cruise line for what you are allowed to bring on the ship. Cruise lines generally do not have a luggage requirement. But it will tell you what is accepted and what isn’t. And use your common sense. While waiting to board we saw a woman crying and pitching a fit because she was not allowed to wear her $200 bullet belt!! Well DUH!!!!!! Bullets are not allowed on a ship..even on a belt. When planning a road trip like we did, give your self plenty of time to plan. Make your plans in advanced. Book your hotel as soon as possible. And check deposit and cancelation requirements before you book. Next years cruise will be in March, and Florida is a prime spring break destination. In some cases you may have to pay a nights deposit or cancelations may be longer (a week vs. the day of before 6). I planned this for about 9 months and already make plans for next year’s trip. And get a folder and keep all your information together so that you can take it with you. When Walmart has their folders on sale in the fall for 10 cents, I stock up. I use one for each trip and make copies of all my confirmations and itins and then bring them with me on each trip. Getting around. If you are cruising from Ft. Lauderdale (also known as Port Everglades), Ft. Lauderdale airport (FLL..www.fll.net) is about 2 miles away. Most of the hotels near the airport offered free airport shuttles. Our hotel also had the park and play hotel. If you stayed at the hotel then you could leave your car parked at the hotel and take the shuttle to the cruise port. So check with your hotel to see if that is offered. You can pick up rental cars at the airport. If you are planning to be here for a few days, you will want to get out and enjoy all the area has to offer and remember you are less than an hour away from Miami and Palm Beach. You are also 2 hours from Tampa and 3 from Orlando. In the days of GPS systems and using your phone for directions, I still like my AAA trip ticket. They are great when your battery dies, bad weather interferes with your cell signal, or something goes wrong with your nav system. Nick uses the nav system while my job is to keep up with my trip tkt and I get to see what’s ahead. If there is something ..like say lighthouses..that I want to plot along my travels..I can do that. Can’t do that with gps. It also makes a great souvenir for my memory box. Again smartphone users..there is an app for that. Speaking of AAA. I suggest joining them especially if you have a major trip coming. AAA offers a variety of services as well travel services. I booked my hotel with AAA and then I used my AAA card for savings for all my Hard Rock purchases. AAA towing is for the person, not your car. This is different than the towing services that come with new cars. They also offer discounted attraction tickets. They have several phone apps and you can go to www.aaa.com to find your local AAA. Close
What started out as a major rock concert decade ago would give us the fist voyage of the Monsters of Rock cruise. And Nick and I got to be a part of it. In 1980 the first Monsters of Rock cruise was organized at Castle…Read More
What started out as a major rock concert decade ago would give us the fist voyage of the Monsters of Rock cruise. And Nick and I got to be a part of it. In 1980 the first Monsters of Rock cruise was organized at Castle Donnington in Leicestershire England. That concert would have 7 major heavy metal rock bands and perform before thousand of metal fans. This past February would be the first Monsters of Rock cruise with 21 heavy metal/hair bands from the 80’s. There are several other rock and roll cruises (Legends of Rock, ShipRocked, Barge from Hell, and 70,000 tons of metal). And there are even rock bands out there with their own cruise (Bret Michaels, Kiss, and Kid Rock). But this was the first one I found with all 80’s hair bands on it. This years voyage included Cinderella, Tesla, DC, Odin, Black and Blue, Eric Martin, Ted Poly, Kix, Keel, Helix, Faster Pussycat, Stryper, Lynch Mob, UFO, Y&T, Firehouse, Bang Tango, XYZ, Rhino Bucket, John Coribi, and Night Ranger. It also featured Eddie Trunk of that Metal Show. It would also feature a pre concert the night before at Exit 66 in Ft. Lauderdale with Van Halen tribute band, Atomic Punks and Kix. This was a chartered cruise meaning that it was only booked for Monsters of Rock. This gave hair band fans a way to connect with their favorite bands and other fans and get totally emerged into the whole rock and roll experience. For me it was a chance to hang out with some of my favorite bands. Concerts were going on from generally mid day (after all rockers need their sleep from late night partying the night before) until about midnight. The headlining acts were Cinderella and Tesla. They both performed for over an hour. While neither band is playing at major concert venues like bands like Kiss, they do play moderate sized venues. While the remaining acts averaged about 45 minutes and most of these bands play the club circuit now or rock festivals like Rocklahoma and M3. And it is kinds like one of the major rock festivals with rock concerts going all day. But then you can be sitting pool side when your favorite singer walks past and comes and sits down with you for a few minutes. Or sit down in the dining room and the table next to you had your favorite singer sitting there. That is why I was here! Concerts were held both outside mid deck and inside the clubs. I liked the outdoor concerts since it gave more fans a chance to see the concert. Guests could see from all over the side of the ship and you could even sink in the hot tub while watching your favorite band perform. The only problem was it could be quite cool deck side in the evening and it could also get quite windy. One show had to be moved inside due to high winds and reduced the audience size. When your favorite band wasn’t performing, they could often be seen attending a concert giving you a chance to see them as fans themselves. Despite the fact the organizers promised no over lapping concerts (more than one band playing at a time) you would have up to 4 bands playing at one time forcing you to chose what you wanted to see. The headlining bands played 3 shows while some of the other bands only played 1-2 shows giving you less of a change to see them. And both Cinderella and Tesla are known for not starting on time and they kept up their reputation here as well. One night Cinderella was over an hour late. That meant that if you stayed for them, you missed another band. In addition to concerts they had an art auction, late night DJ parties, 80s prom, a naughty nighty party hosted by Tamie Down of Faster Pussycat, band meet and greets, and of course time in Key West and Nassau. Despite the fact we were in Key West until 3 pm, the organizers had the first meet and greet at 1 pm meaning we had to cut our time in Key West short. It didn’t set well with fans and band members alike who also wanted to enjoy the islands. When you have a chartered cruise like this it will mean all the guests have a common interest. In this case we all love 80’s metal. There was a Facebook group I joined which had me fearful that this cruise would be filled with mainly single female (and here I would be bringing my long haired fiancé). Turns out there were plenty of others couples and even families on the ship. Everybody was here to have a great time and hang out with their favorite bands. We met some great people on the ship and are still friends and we are looking to next year’s voyage so we can hang out again. We even had some friends from Charlotte on the cruise and it gave us a chance to meet people we had been friends with for a while from Facebook like my friend David from London. We did have a few problems on the final party of the cruise with overly zealous females who seemed to ignore the fact that I was right beside of Nick and still tried to hit up on him!!!!! One of the worst things about this whole thing was the company that organized it. I could not find even the name of the actual company. On my paperwork they were just referred to as Monsters of Rock. Unfortunately they are the most unorganized, unprofessional company I have ever dealt with. And I was a travel professional for 11 years and know how things should be organized. When I contacted my former MSC rep to inquire abut the company I was told this company had been in business for several years and they organized about 30 chartered or theme cruises a year with everything from big band to Donny and Marie. So this wasn’t their first time at the dance and they should have known how to handle such a big group. When we first booked (and even now while pre booking is going on) there is no phone number. You have to email them and then they call you which means you are often playing phone tag. Even after they got a number when you call all you get is voice mail and you have to leave a message and they call you back when ever they have time. I made my initial deposit in May and finally got a receipt from them mid October! We filled out our paperwork for next years cruise and that was a month ago and we have yet to get any confirmation or even know anything other than the dates for next year. But they can gladly post on Facebook all the clubs they are going too!! Maybe they should do less of that and spend time getting things going for next years cruise. They promised to have our edocs to us 3 weeks prior to the cruise and itineraries 2 weeks before the cruise. A week before the cruise there were still no docs or itins and no word on the Facebook page as to why. Now I know it is not necessary to have them in advanced. I have had many clients over the years to loose them or leave them elsewhere rather than on them when they arrive at the port. I know they can be printed there, but many people on Facebook were afraid they would be denied boarding. I finally made a statement on the page to ease any fears. That should have been the job of the booking company. Edocs were issued the week of the cruise and the itin only a few days before the ship was to sail. Several days before the cruise there was a statement on Facebook basically to the effect of we're busy don’t bother us!!! As a travel professional I can’t imagine telling my clients that. And they sailed on the cruise but were not available for any problems. And they offered a drinks package. I ordered one and was never charged or received a confirmation. When I called I was told they forgot to charge me and it was too late to get another one. Next years cruise is March 16-20, 2013 and that is about all I know at this point. But if you are a hair metal band fan then you have to do this cruise. Just know there is a bunk of junk to put up with, but it is all worth it. For more info you can go to www.monstersofrockcruise.com or they have a page on Facebook as well. Close
The Zebra Lounge is much nicer and brighter. It has the Zebra theme going (hence the name Zebra Lounge of course). This is where most of the acoustic acts performed. There are booths in a horseshoe sharp around the stage and then seating at the…Read More
The Zebra Lounge is much nicer and brighter. It has the Zebra theme going (hence the name Zebra Lounge of course). This is where most of the acoustic acts performed. There are booths in a horseshoe sharp around the stage and then seating at the bar in the back. Of all the places we saw shows, I liked this one the best. But we spent most of our time on the deck or at Pigalle in the dark! Monster Café is also pretty nice giving you standing room and then seats around the stage. But if you are at a metal concert, you will only see butts and backs if you are in the seated area. They also have the Sky Bar which is set up with a number of lounge areas. In the back there are clusters of small tables for more intimate conversations. They have a dance floor that can double as a stage. They also have access to the back of the ship. This is where they held meet and greets with the bands during the day and dance parties at night. We went to the VIP party the last night and I liked it much better when it was filled with band members that drunken bimbos!!! All of the clubs and bars with the exception of the Carlo Felice have bars. The rest of the ship. Even the older ships on the major cruise lines have cool waterslides. This ship has 2 pools and 2 hot tubes and no waterslides. When we docked in Nassau, Nick looked across at the Disney Dream and Carnival Fantasy with their fun and funky water slides beckoning and asked where our was. I replied on those ships! For our sailing we had one pool since the other was for an outdoor concert venue. The required lifeboat drill was held at 4 pm despite the fact the ship did not leave until 7 pm and guests did not have to be on the ship until 5 pm. Good thing we didn’t hit an iceberg in the Caribbean (I am being funny of course) since those still in line at 4 pm or enjoying other parts of Florida wouldn’t know what to do. Most of the employees were not very friendly and didn’t interact with guests. The employee in charge of our lifeboat drill was pretty funny and we loved our luggage porter. We never saw a cabin attendant. Some of them didn’t even speak English. When I went down to hand in our paperwork for the next cruise, the hospitality desk was closed. So I asked guests services if they were closed and was told yes. I asked if they could take my paperwork and had to ask twice before it was taken. Because this was a ship full of metal fans who like to smoke the smoking policy was changed to where there was only no smoking in the cabins and at the Carlo Felice Theater. Smoking was allowed everywhere else. So if you are on a chartered sailing, smoking may be allowed. I found every time I went to the ladies rooms, there was no toilet paper and I got used to bringing Kleenex with my when I ventured out of my room. The last night the door handle broke off the ladies room outside the Sky Bar and I had to go down a flight of stairs to go to the bathroom. The only pictures they took were when we boarded the ship. The do have kids programs and a teen club but the only thing I saw for kids was a small slide and again no waterslides! Check ins and outs/excursions/etc. It took us about 2 hours to get thought the check in process. Our roommates had stayed with us so we were all together when we checked in. Everyone in the cabin needs to check in together especially if you are using separate credit/debit cards. No matter what cruise line you go with, you can be prepared for a wait. And thankfully they are thorough. We saw one girl who was not allowed to wear her bullet belt (imagine that) and we saw one girl was not allowed to board because her travel visa was expired (and her stupid husband left her behind!!!). Debarkation was not a pleasant process (not that embarkation was). The night before Nick and I received 2 NAVY BLUE tags for our luggage (we had 5 pieces and could not find anyone to get any additional ones). The next morning we started listening for them to call for blue tags. We got tired of waiting and went down and sat in one of the public areas. After waiting some more an employee came over and asked us what color our tags were. We told him navy blue and he told us to go on down. When we got to the luggage area we notice a luggage area right in front and notice one piece right in front which was ours. Then we were once again asked what color our tags were. Once again I said navy blue. The employee snapped that that was what color was used for embarkation and then starts to tell me the difference between embarkation and deembarkation. I snapped that I was a travel agent for 11 years and knew the difference and knew the difference between NAVY blue and LIGHT blue. We finally found 2 pieces with the tags on them in the light blue line and the others in the pink line. When I showed Miss, Snappy she told me I used the wrong tags. I used the ones I was given!!! If you go to Carnival for example and look at the excursions in Nassau…you will find pages of them. Here they offered less than a dozen and most of them were connected to Atlantis. Nick and I just explored the islands on our own. One of the reasons MSC cruises is not a preferred vendor is they do not allow passengers to set up an account. Now you can do on line check in up to 24 hours before sailing but you must have all the information on all the guests. Since I didn’t for my roommates, I skipped it. But we were told by the MOR people that we would receive our e-docs 3 weeks before sailing. The week of the cruise is when we finally received them. Now having been a travel professional I know it is not necessary and they can be printed at the dock, it just makes things easier than 2500 people trying to print boarding passes the same day. And it didn’t help that the MOR didn’t address anyone’s fears by explaining to them that you will not be denied boarding just because you don’t have a boarding pass in advanced. The other major cruise lines allow you to set up your own on line account and print your own boarding passes thusly eliminating panic when passes are not sent out when promised!!! After talking to the many friends we made on this cruise it seemed to be those of us who had been on a cruise were not that impressed with the cruise ship while cruise virgins like Nick seemed to like it better. OK, it certainly wasn’t the worst travel experience I have ever had. The cruise was certainly fine especially given the fact I was surrounded by some of the finest men on the planet and it is hard to have a bad cruise experience unless maybe you’re on the Titanic. I made lots of new friends, seen some great concerts, got to hang out with some of my favorite band members, and was on a trip with the love of my life. Chances are that I wouldn’t be booking a cruise on this ship unless I was doing a charter. But I am already booked for Monsters of Rock 2013! Close
MSC Cruises and the MSC Poesia. Nick and I cruised on the MSC Poesia. We did a chartered cruise instead of a regular cruise. The cruise was booked exclusively for the Monsters of Rock cruise. The cruise featured several dozen 80’s metal bands in concert.…Read More
MSC Cruises and the MSC Poesia. Nick and I cruised on the MSC Poesia. We did a chartered cruise instead of a regular cruise. The cruise was booked exclusively for the Monsters of Rock cruise. The cruise featured several dozen 80’s metal bands in concert. So some of the traditional offerings of this cruise, such as High Tea were not offered on the sailing. I am doing separate entries on the cruise itself and the Monsters of Rock experience. This is an overview of the cruise. Let me start out by saying that some of the things I didn’t like about this cruise may have something to do with the fact that I was doing a charter.MSC Cruise Line. MSC Cruise line is a lesser known cruise line in the US, and are more well known in the Mediterranean. They have 11 ships in their fleet and have the newest ships of all the cruise line. Their ships are more mid sized and smaller ships. They are more along the lines of tradition cruising that the mega ships such as NCL’s Epic or RCCL’s Oasis of the Seas. Think Titanic! Not that is necessarily a bad thing. But let’s just face it; if the Titanic were sailing today it would the kind of ship that does the year round 3 and 4 day Caribbean cruises. They do not offer many of the big trappings of the major cruise lines. This is the second year they have been award Porthole Magazines for the best Onboard International Experience. They were the only cruise line to be awarded the Golden Pearls for their quality management and environmental practices. I was a travel professional for 11 years. Travel agencies have their preferred vendors. To get to be a preferred vendor there were many things to consider other than commission structure. Concerns such as how issues are handled when they arise, what clients say about the cruise line, and how well the cruise line makes the experience easy for clients (boarding passes, check ins, excursions, etc). In 11 years I have never worked with an agency or know an agency that has MSC cruises as a preferred. After cruising with them, I know why. MSC Poesia. Facts: *maiden voyage..2008..godmother Sophie Loren*89,600 tons*2550 passenger capacity*987 crew*13 passenger decks*Panamian registered*3rd of the Musica lineJust to give you an idea of how that compares to the Oasis of the Seas….that ship carries 6296 passengers, with 16 passenger decks, 225,282 tons, and 2165 crew members (the Poesia passengers is about the same as the Oasis crew!)Our cabin. In order to make our rate cheaper, we decided to have roommates. So we had a quad cabin with an ocean view. We had 2 single beds on the bottom and 2 on top. Our room mates gained access by ladders. We had asked twice to have our beds put together. But finally figured it was better since there were 4 in a cabin not to have that configuration. Our ocean view was obstructed by the back end of a lifeboat. We could still see the ocean but most of their ocean view cabins are obstructed. The cabins are very small at about 157 square feet. That is in par with most cruise lines for inside and ocean view cabins. If you have never cruised and you have visions of the large cabins on the Love Boat…it was a TV show. You are there to shower and sleep. We have a shower with a small vanity. There is an in room safe. I didn’t bring my blow dryer since cruise ships always have them. It wasn’t until the second day that we found the dryer. It was in the vanity drawer in the bedroom..just where I would look for it. There is a mini fridge, and you are charged for any items taken. There was a wet spot in front of the door the whole time. There are two outlets in the room. When you have 4 people with laptop and phone chargers, it is quite a mess. There is a TV in the room and for this cruise all we will got was heavy metal videos and constant reminder of what was going on, on the cruise, and next years upcoming cruise. We were on the 8th deck, and it is quite despite the fact the ship had been taken over by a bunch of head bangers. They do not have towel animals like most other cruise lines. Dining. Again just for comparison..the NCL Epic has 22 resturants..the Poesia has 3. They have Kaito sushi and L’Obelisco which is French alcarte. The only free dining is Villa Pompeiona, which is buffet. OK….this arrangement worked well for our cruise since we grabbed dinner in-between concerts and concerts were going all day. But lunch and dinner consisted of hotdogs, hamburgers, and pizza and a salad bar. That was it. Nothing really healthy except for a salad. Oh, they did offer a garden burger which I ordered the first night and it took 20 minutes to get it. Dessert was only offered in the evening. And the food was just not that good. Breakfast did better offering more of a variety including pancakes, French toast, waffles, eggs, omelets, etc. There are no midnight buffets of chocolate..Italian..or Asian..like most other cruise lines. Except for the buffet of hotdogs, hamburgers, and pizza! They do have room service. They have very small glasses for tea and juice. They do have a soft serve machine going at all times. Bars/lounges/entertainment. They have 16 bars on this ship including one in the buffet restaurant which wasn’t quite as busy as the others. The bar by the pool was always busy and there was always a wait. They did not have anyone coming around to collect drink orders anywhere. Oh and if you have cruised on a real cruise ship, you know how other cruise lines have a soda card for those who drink lots of soda? Not these guys. A soda will cost you $4.50 just like a beer or mixed drink! Since this was a group we did have the option to order a drink package, but the idiots who ran the cruise messed ours up and we never got it. They have 5 bars and clubs. The main theater is the 1240 seat Carlo Felice Theater. It is a two level theater and quite beautiful. The have an open floor and seats and you can get a great view of the stage no matter where you’re sitting. For our cruise it is where the two headlining acts, Cinderella and Tesla performed. For a regular cruise it would be where the main show would be offered. Drinks and food are not allowed in this venue. Pigalle is absolutely the worst bar. It is like the place they send you to punish you. The ceiling is very low. When we saw Faster Pussycat perform, the lead singer, Tamie Down was holding onto the ceiling and bass player, Danny, who is quite tall, kept bumping his head. The lighting here is very low. When trying to make our way to the stage I kept running into chairs which given the fact I was in 6" stiletto heels on a moving ship..wasn’t a fun time! Apparently even the Monsters of Rock (MOR) people thought it was the worst place to be since our friend Danny told us Faster Pussycat was asked to be back on the ship next year and would be upgraded so they didn’t have top play in the Pigalle. You’re pretty much standing at this venue or sitting at the bar except for the few seats that I was tripping over. Close
Written by vampirefan on 05 Apr, 2012
Nick and I set off for a road trip that would take us over 1500 miles, driving through 4 states (NC, SC, GA,FL), visiting 10 cities ..2 states (FL. And SC)..and 1 country (Nassau, Bahamas) in 10 days! This was our first major trip since…Read More
Nick and I set off for a road trip that would take us over 1500 miles, driving through 4 states (NC, SC, GA,FL), visiting 10 cities ..2 states (FL. And SC)..and 1 country (Nassau, Bahamas) in 10 days! This was our first major trip since becoming a couple almost a year ago and only our second trip total since we have been together. As I have mentioned we are major heavy metal fans and consider ourselves, The Rocker Couple, so when we saw many of our favorite bands would be on a rock and roll cruise we knew we had to go. After months of planning, we were finally Florida bound this past February. We would spend a few days exploring Fort Lauderdale and Miami, have our 3 day cruise, and then spend a few days in the Tampa area with Nick’s family. We ended up extended our vacation an extra day so we could go to Spartanburg SC to see one of our favorite bands.We left in the wee hours of the morning on February 23rd for our big adventure and 700 miles headed to Ft. Lauderdale Fl. After an exhausting 12 hour drive we arrived at our hotel mid afternoon. We quickly checked into the Sheraton Airport and crashed out and took a much need extended nap. The hotel grounds were beautiful and the room was nice, but not quite I expect from a Sheraton. The only thing we did after waking from our nap was head for the Hard Rock Casino Plaza. In addition to the Hard Rock Cafe..casino..and live venue, they have several other restaurants and boutiques. We had a dinner at Johnny Rockets restaurant. Then Nick headed for the poker room while I just walked around and took photos. The next morning we would venture out to the stunning 1916 winter home of John Deering. Vizcaya is a stunning example of the homes the umber wealthy built during the gilded age. The mansions and gardens are open to the public and are a must see in the Coral Gables area. After strolling around the mansion, we were starving. This area is lacking for fast food and we were about to give up and go into a store and get cheese and crackers when we spotted, KB Burgers. These burgers are thick, delish, and much better than fast food burgers. After getting some much needed food in our tummies, we next headed to the Key Biscayne state park to climb the Key Biscayne Lighthouse. I managed to convince Nick, who is not a fan of heights, to climb the 119 steps to the top for some unparallel views. After that adventure, we headed towards the airport to pick up our roommate John from Ohio. Our roomie Paul from Tennessee was already waiting for us at the hotel. The cruise included a pre cruise party for us at Exit 66 Nightclub. This massive nightclub even has a pool! The party featured the Van Halen tribute band, Atomic Punks, and 80’s metal band Kix. Several of the bands on the cruise would also be at the party giving us meet and greet opportunities. The next morning we would wake up and head for the Ft. Lauderdale port for our cruise adventure. After passing several real cruise ships, including the Oasis of the Seas, we boarded our ship the MSC, Poisea. Having been on several of the major cruise lines, I really was not impressed with this ship and certainly not impressed with the company that chartered the cruise, but since it was a charter we didn’t have much of a choice. We were here for the Monsters of Rock cruise which featured a number of 80’s hair bands. It was 3 days of fun, concerts, and partying. And we are already booked for 2013. When we arose the next morning, we were already in the fun and funky city of Key West Fl. Since the idiots who organized the cruise decided to do a meet and great while we were in port, we had to cut our day short. But we did manage to have our picture taken at the Southern Most Point. We got to walk around and enjoy this fun island. While here, we climbed the 60 stairs to the top of the Key West Lighthouse for some amazing views and finally got a full picture of our cruise ship. And we had lunch at my favorite restaurant, The Hard Rock Key West. The next morning we woke up and went to breakfast while the ship was pulling into port and when I got to the dining room, I was greeted with an incredible lighthouse!!! I knew I would have a good day. We disembarked the ship and ventured into the capital city of the Bahams..Nassau. We decided to take a taxi tour of the island and had 2 hours enjoying this lovely island including about 45 minutes enjoying the scrumptious Atlantis resort and casino. Upon returning we stopped into a bar so Nick could get a Bahamian beer and I could get a label for my collection. Then we headed for my choice of activity, the beautiful Ardastra Gardens..home of the world famous marching flamingos. Yours truly even got to participate in the show. Once we returned from our rockin’ cruise, we headed to Tampa to visit Nick’s family for a few days. On the way we stopped at Florida Southern College. The college has the distention of having the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in one place. Before we headed to Tampa we stopped and visited with a friend of mine for a while. We all went out to Jimbos for some amazing BBQ ribs. The next morning before keeping our afternoon appointment, we stopped into the Manatee Viewing Station. While we didn’t spot any manatees, we did see some pretty amazing sights and lovely gardens. One of my favorite activities is Segway tours. Anytime there is one in town, I have to take it. Nick and I took a ride with the Magic Carpet Glide Segway tours of Tampa. The bonus was I got Nick to take his first ride and now he likes them too! That night Nick and I would join his parents at the Sunset Lounge and Tiki Bar. Since it was Wednesday..it was Whacky Burger Wednesday. Everyone else took advantage of that but I had enough of burgers on my cruise so I opted for salad instead. Our last day in Florida would take us to the lovely and historic, Ybor City. We had a scrumptious meal at Acropolis Greek Restaurant and even got a bit of a show before we left. Filled up and happy, we strolled thought the streets and stepped in at several bars before our destination of the night, the Orpheum where we would see one of our favorite bands. We had just seen Faster Pussycat several times on the cruise. But we love these guys and I have a huge crush on lead singer Taime Down and the bass player for the band, Danny, is a good friend of ours. The bonus was we seen quite a few people that we had seen on the cruise and got to hang out with them again. Then came time to leave the Sunshine State and head back home. Before we left we had to have some lunch, so we headed to the Tampa Hard Rock Café and Casino. Nick and I had a great lunch at the Hard Rock Café and then he went and played Blackjack while I once again went and took pictures. We decided to stop along the FL/GA border to get dinner and I asked Nick if Jacksonville would be OK. Using one of my new favorite apps, I located a restaurant that had been frequented by one of my favorite TV personalities, Guy Ferrier on Dinners, Drive Ins, and Dives. I had wanted to try a Tapas restaurant, and luckily I would be able to try one here and it was quite delightful. 13 Gypsies was to die for. With just one more day on our vacation, we would once again spent it at a concert. This time we would see Faster Pussycat at Bailey’s Sports Bar in Spartanburg SC. Despite all the technical problems, the show was awesome as always. Nick and I always enjoy a meal out before a show so this time we stopped at my choice some good ole BBQ. As soon as we turned off the exit and stop for gas we see the sign for Southern BBQ. We had plenty of time before the show so we went in and much to surprise this BBQ restaurant in SC would several Lexington NC style BBQ. Which is my favorite and I walked away full and quite happy. Close
Written by abababbey on 26 Aug, 2004
We took our first SWAMP trip! To the Everglades Swamp here in Florida. It is a habitat for all kinds of wonderful wildlife like, Florida cougars, alligators, panthers, razorback hogs, deer and many, many species of reptiles, fish and insects.
We began our trip driving halfway…Read More
We took our first SWAMP trip! To the Everglades Swamp here in Florida. It is a habitat for all kinds of wonderful wildlife like, Florida cougars, alligators, panthers, razorback hogs, deer and many, many species of reptiles, fish and insects.
We began our trip driving halfway across the state, directly west of Fort Lauderdale.
You drive up and arrive at an authentic Seminole Indian reservation (the first settlers of Florida) called The Big Cypress Reservation. You are greeted with a Che-hun-ta-mo which is Seminole for Welcome. You are then escorted into a Chickee, which is a Seminole thatched hut, to enjoy a tour showing off beautiful Seminole arts and crafts (and a gift shop). This is where they inform you of all the different types of tours you can take. They have guided hiking tours through hardwood hammocks, pine and cypress forests. Where you marvel at the works of Mother Nature. You can take a tour by airboat (which is a fan powered boat that glides above the water and swamp sawgrass). You also have a choice of going on a swamp-buggy tour (which is sort of like a very large three- or four-wheeled carriage, with balloon-like wheels which also glide above the water).
They have a wonderful herpetarium which exhibits native reptiles and amphibians. There is a huge alligator pit filled with 8-14 foot alligators that a Seminole actually goes into and wrestles with the alligators. This Seminole has been doing this for many years and has actually lost four fingers to hungry alligator jaws!
There is also an Indian camping village where you can (at your own risk!) camp out in your tent for the night or rent an Indian Chickee hut, to hear the sounds of the wildlife through the night.
There is a lovely Seminole Indian restaurant where you can taste unique Seminole fare (alligator meat, bison stew, wild pig, etc.), all at reasonable prices (dinner at about $10.00 per person).
You can experience thousands and thousands of years of natural wonders that the Seminole Indians will share with all. At night, you sit around large bonfires and hear the natives tell folklore and legends of their forefathers. It is a wonderful and educational experience for all ages.
As you are leaving the reservation you can hear the natives saying Sho-na-bish, which is thank you for visiting us!
Today I'd like to take you along on a day trip approximately 200 miles north of my home in Fort Lauderdale to Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a trip to explore our past, present and future in space travel.
When you arrive at…Read More
Today I'd like to take you along on a day trip approximately 200 miles north of my home in Fort Lauderdale to Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a trip to explore our past, present and future in space travel.
When you arrive at the space center, which is open 364 days a year (closed only for Christmas Day) you enter into a large parking lot, and the first thing you notice is…parking is free! You then go to the admission gate and find fairly short lines and an admission price of under $20.00!. (Public admission is from 9A.M. until dark.)
Once inside you go to the Apollo/Saturn V center, where you see recreations (through multimedia shows and hands on attractions) of actual Apollo/Saturn flights. On display is a true to life replica of a Saturn rocket, measuring 365 feet in length and weighing over 6 million pounds.
At the spaceport you can check out early space exploration going as far back as the 1950s. That is when Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral was used to test and launch military rockets. You can check out the Gemini and Mercury programs of the 1960s when we had our first manned spacecrafts.
After that, you can actually board and explore a replica space shuttle and hear what our astronauts heard on their missions, through actual sound recordings. You then stroll through the rocket garden and memorial, where there are 12-15 rockets displayed, with plaques explaining the mission they were used for, who manned them and the outcome of the mission.
You are then led into the actual facility, where you get a guided tour and recreation of a rocket launch.
There is also an IMAX theatre, which is a giant (five stories high) movie screen, showing a journey in space, with booming sound and 3D vision.
It is a wonderful experience for both children and adults. We’ve been there twice and plan to return again. There is always a sense of awe and amazement and pride when we do go.
Written by Mary Dickinson on 22 Dec, 2003
We were staying at The Sunterra Resort Fort Lauderdale Beach and not too far from Stop 3 on the All Day Water Bus. Stop 1 is at Shooters on Oakland Boulevard and the last stop, Stop 20, is at The Broward Performing Arts Center.…Read More
We were staying at The Sunterra Resort Fort Lauderdale Beach and not too far from Stop 3 on the All Day Water Bus. Stop 1 is at Shooters on Oakland Boulevard and the last stop, Stop 20, is at The Broward Performing Arts Center. The bus travels on the Intracoastal Waterway and the New River. It is open to the air on warm sunny days and can lower its windows on rainy days. It runs from 9:00am to 12:30am seven days a week. Some buses can hold as many as 72 people. Your $5 ticket will allow you to get on and off all day at scheduled stops. If you plan on using it all week or all month there are special rates available.
The "captians" love to give an unofficial tour as t he bus travels along. In fact it’s a cheaper tour and more fun than if you pay a lot more for a water tour and you can get off and on when and where you want. Stop 2 is a whistle stop. We were told not to whistle to attract the water bus because no one will hear. You have to make a dramatic signal. Stop 3 is at the Double Tree Suites. You have to cut through the lobby. The bus stops behind that hotel. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, The Bonnet House and the Galleria are at Stop 3. Stop 4 is near Shula’s On The Beach and The Sheraton Yankee Clipper Resort.
The "captains" take great pleasure knowing who owns what yacht or mansion along the waterway and how much they paid for it. Barbara Striesand bought her mother a house near Stop 4 and Nick Nolte owns the house next to it. One house in that area opens the entire east side of the house with garage doors. What a way to enjoy the waterfront.
At Stop 4 there’s a great ocean front restaurant, Casablanca Café. They offer a two for the price of one lunch M-F. Stop 5 is where the action is. Big yachts come in here. John Forsythe’s house is nearby. You know, Charlie’s Angels. Stop 6 is temporarily closed. Stop 7 is the base stop for the water bus. Here you can switch to the southern route. This is also the location of the Bahia Mar Marina, one of the biggest marinas in southeast Florida. The captain’s love to explain who owns what yacht, who used to own it, how they got their money, what they paid for the yacht and why (one owner buys yachts as a tax write off), where the yacht was made, how big it is and lots more great information. The Radisson Bahia Mar is at this stop also.
Stops 8, 9, 10 and 11 are on the southbound route. More yachts and mansions if you can handle it.
At this point the water bus starts up the New River. It's hard to distinguish one river or channel from the next because there are a lot of canals and rivers off from the Intracoastal Waterway. In fact there are around 180 miles of waterways in Fort Lauderdale. It is known as the Venice of Florida. The former home of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez is near the mouth of the New River. It is now owned by the daughter of Oscar Meyers. A gorgeous pink mansion is nearby. It is owned by Miss Cleo, the psychic, and of course we heard about what she's getting sued for now and why. I used to enjoy hearing her advice when every other ad on television belonged to her, but I would never think of calling her. Then there’s the former home of Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors. He got the house when they split and it's on the market but it won’t sell. When our captain told us why, everyone booed: You can’t sell a house without a faucet.
Money is all important if you’re planning on living on the New River. One resident, the third richest man in Fort Lauderdale, is Wayne Huiznga. The captains are intimately familiar with everything he owns, everything he ever owned, including businesses, houses, yachts, sport teams, ETC, and they loved to recite the list for us.
Stop 12 is convenient to the Shops on Las Olas Boulevard. See my write up under Birds in Flight. Stop 13 is near the Stranahan House, the oldest house in Fort Lauderdale.. More about that in Birds in Flight, also. Stop 17 is at the Downtowner Saloon. Stop 18 is at the Las Olas Riverfront. There are lots of great restaurants here and some shopping. It is on the beautifully landscaped Riverwalk and convenient to The Discovery and Science Museum. If you want to go to Shirttail Charlie’s, Stop 19 or Stop 20, beware of the fact the captains don’t like to go west of the draw bridge because it stays down too long and puts them behind schedule.
Written by Mary Dickinson on 04 May, 2003
From our 15th floor balcony a spectacular view of the sun rising over the ocean greeted us every morning. Color variations occur as it climbed up from the sea. Clouds interfered and hid part of the sun, causing it to split into various…Read More
From our 15th floor balcony a spectacular view of the sun rising over the ocean greeted us every morning. Color variations occur as it climbed up from the sea. Clouds interfered and hid part of the sun, causing it to split into various rays of light and even melting it into globby shapes. As it ascended into the sky the golden colors slowly became more silvery. Finally, it climbed over the clouds and shone bright and clear, and it became another glorious day in Ft. Lauderdale. Close