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Ft. Lauderdale, USA

Pre Cruise Friday, March 12, 2004
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Ft. Lauderdale
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Ft. Lauderdale

Ticketing Through Travelocity

View From Marriott of Drawbridge and Port

For this trip, I booked my airline tickets online with Northwest Airlines, pre-cruise hotel via Marriott and then Travelocity for the actual cruise tickets. Booking with Northwest was smooth and painless. Even though I'm a Silver Elite member (with free upgrades from Coach Class) I booked First to guarantee a seat. The difference between Coach and First was only about $300, so it was an easy decision. Since I'm flying in a day before the cruise, I elected to stay at the Marriott Marina in Ft. Lauderdale. I prefer Marriott because they have STS high speed internet access in all their rooms. I booked online and was done within minutes. Next I booked the cruise portion through Travelocity. There were not many cabins left on the Navigator since it was during the typical weeks that people travel for spring break. Travelocity and CruisesOnly were about the same in price, with the exception of Travelocity giving you a $250 discount in the form of a credit card sometime after the cruise. CruisesOnly (at least at the time of my booking) was the better option since they give you the credit immediately. Actually getting the tickets from Travelocity was a hassle. While my time on the phone was only about ten minutes to purchase the cruise, it took more than 30 minutes and lots of follow-ups to actually get the tickets overnight mailed to me. They do not have a system of checks and balances to make sure things get done. So always follow-up if you book through Travelocity.

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Departure from Madison

Luxury Homes at Lauderdale

It was a chilly 11 degrees F when I arrived at the airport. Since this was the start of the university spring break I was expecting large crowds, and there were at the Northwest check-in counter. I planned ahead and got on the internet the day before for the on-line check-in and printed out my boarding passes even before I left home. Arriving at the airport, you proceed directly to the security check point and go to the gate. There was a minimal 5 minute wait at the security check, but it was well staffed and the line went quickly. Dane Country Regional Airport is under expansion again, to accommodate additional passenger traffic so there is alot of construction.

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Memphis to Ft. Lauderdale

Riverwalk

The two hour flight to Memphis onboard the RJ-11 was uneventful. The RJ series of aircraft have little overhead storage, and will not accommodate yourRollaboard luggage. I put mine underneath the seat in front of me in First Class. The jet has 2x2 in First Class seating and 2x3 in Economy Class. As soon as I landed in Memphis, I headed directly to the WorldClubs Lounge that Northwest offers it's premium travelers. I purchased my club pass last year for about $400 dollars and it has been one of the best investments, since I have used it in airports all over the USA and abroad in Venice. The WorldClubs are nice refuges for frequent travelers, and offer very comfortable seating, complimentary beverages and some snacks. They also offer ticketing services and private clean bathrooms. My frequent travels on Northwest finally has me on the Silver Elite status which gives me upgrades from Economy to Business Class for no extra cost. I also got the Signature and Business Visa Northwest Miles card which gave me an extra 20,000 mile bonus as well as miles as I charge. The Airbus 320 from Memphis to Lauderdale was comfortable in First Class with plenty of overhead storage. This particular flight was packed, with few, if any empty seats.

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Ft. Lauderdale

Modern Condo in Downtown Lauderdale

The flight arrived on schedule to a sunny 75 degrees F at Ft. Lauderdale. A 15 minute cab ride (lots of traffic) and $13.50 later I was at the Marina Marriott, which is right on the intra coastal waterway. After a quick check-in I go to my room, which was on the eighth floor and overlooked Port Everglades.

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Water Bus

Lauderdale by Water Taxi

What must be the best deal in Lauderdale, I took the Water Bus right in front of the hotel and toured Ft. Lauderdale by water. The palatial homes and luxury yachts fill the various canals and palm lined causeways which have a beauty (albeit new) of Venice. The Water Bus makes a variety of stops, but I chose to depart at the River Front. This area, which is surrounded by high-rise condos, is a beautiful storefront and restaurant district.

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Lunch at Ugly Tuna - Ugly Tuna Saloona

Seared Tuna

I picked the most picturesque second floor river view restaurant for lunch, and had the most wonderful seared Tuna, with mango hot sauce. This open-air bar/eatery has great food. The tuna was $7.95 and the Malibu Coke was about $5.00. The prices were all good for such a touristy area.

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Tour of the River Front Via Segway

Pepe on a Segway

I've always wanted to try a Segway, and for $39.00 you can get a 30 minute tour with training. It was a blast. A bit awkward at first, you get the feel of the balanced Segway in about five minutes. You step on, stand straight up, and actually lean with your toes to make it go forward, and slightly pull back to go reverse. The degree to which you slightly angle forward or reverse, makes you go faster, or slower. The left hand twist grip turns you left or right. This unique marvel is fun, but after 30 minutes, your feet are a bit tired from just standing in one place. It's perfect for crowds, and passersby think your pretty cool when you're riding on one of these techno gadgets. I can't say I'd buy one, since walking or biking seem like pretty good options. Personally, I'd rather ride my bike (it's faster, better exercise, and doesn't tire your feet). Would I try it again ? Sure thing.

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Medusa Luxury Yacht

Medusa

I boarded the Water Bus one more time (the $5.00 daily pass is good until they stop running at midnight) to go back to the Marriott. Docked in front of the Marriott on the Intra coastal was Medusa, Paul Allen's super yacht. They were provisioning out for a cruise.

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Marriott Marina

Picturesque Marina

The Marriott is run down, and it's in need of some attention. The marina, pool and outside venues are in great condition. Just being on the waterway, and amongst so many fine luxury yachts sold me. I love to look at boats, especially in a tropical palm-lined setting. Overlooking the port is great-- you get to see all the cruise ships depart just before sunset.

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Additional Photographs: Pre Cruise

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