By Tim O’Keefe
It was smart to rent a car to drive from our home port of near Orlando to Fort Lauderdale, where the Maasdam was docked. At under $100, better than flying and no port parking fees to pay. And since we had a 24-hour rental, I picked up the vehicle the day before sailing so we could do some preliminary luggage loading.
Luckily, when I picked up the car, I mentioned to the Budget Rent-A-Car rep at the Embassy Suites hotel in Orlando why I’d chosen to drive to the Fort Lauderdale Airport: because several people in one of the on-line cruise forums said you could take a free shuttle to the your ship.
He told me, “Then you don’t want to drop your vehicle off at the airport. There’s no shuttle there.” And so he changed my drop-off to a Budget location where a shuttle runs continually from 11-1:30 to Port Everglades.
I filled the gas tank before dropping off the car (otherwise it would be US$7.50 a gallon if the rental car company did it). The shuttle had us aboard the Maasdam by 1:30, in plenty of time for lunch and a relaxing afternoon to unpack.
As we began opening camera bags and suitcases, everything quickly went sour. Where was my Blackberry (enabled for global roaming) that I swear had been in the rental car’s console on the way down? Budget checked but turned up only a spare pair of sunglasses we’d left behind. Told them we’d pick them up Dec. 17.
I called my cell phone number. It rang but no one answered. I kept getting cut off before I could leave a message. Not good! Now need to notify Verizon to suspend my service immediately. Probably going to be getting a new Droid sooner than I thought.
The next morning we discovered our supply of toothpaste and my tooth brush (only!) along with my favorite wide-brimmed hat, essential for me in the Caribbean, had disappeared to join my Blackberry. It turned out more or less important odds and ends also positioned right beside the suitcases somehow never were packed.
Fortunately, the tranquil and scenic departure from Port Everglades was not troubled by next morning’s blame game of he-said/she-said. From the top deck of the Maasdam, the slowly passing coastline view was better than from a low-flying helicopter. No rotor noise, only the sound of the steel band playing to celebrate our departure
Once we entered the Atlantic, reggae quickly was replaced by rock ‘n roll as we encountered apparent wind speeds of a brisk 48 knots. No problem. We always choose a mid-to-low deck cabin toward the stern, where the more muted side-to-side motion is a wonderful way to fall asleep.