Trip Report, Fit The First

The setup: we try to go someplace warm during the dead of winter. This is K’s thing, and I just transparently pretend that it’s a hardship to leave Detroit when it’s all grey and cold and crappy to go somewhere sunny and warm.

Usually, this trip involves a cruise ship, and this year was no exception. The ship: Celebrity’s GTS Constellation. The trip: 11 night Southern Caribbean cruise. The itinerary:

Ft. Lauderdale (embarkation)
Sea Day
Grand Cayman
Sea Day
Aruba
Sea Day
Colo’n, Panama
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Sea Day
Cozumel, Mexico
Sea Day
Ft. Lauderdale (disembarkation)

Since the ship left on Monday, January 29th, we decided to get things started right by flying to Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday the 27th. And since we had a relatively early flight, we further decided to get to the airport Friday afternoon, check into the very nice Westin hotel attached to the Northwest World Gateway terminal at Detroit Metro, and thus not have to get up well before dawn in order to get to the airport, park the truck, check the bags, etc.

So Friday, K dropped Scooterbird off at the vet where we board him, and got her brows, paws, and claws done up for the trip, while I worked a half-day and then came home and loaded the luggage into the truck and got the house ready for us to be gone for a while. Then we were off to the airport.

The bellman takes the bags at the curb, K goes inside to check in while I take the truck to the parking lot and shuttle back to the terminal/hotel. K meets me in the lobby — we’re on the card-access 8th floor, overlooking the terminal building and ramp. We watch the planes for a while, then down to the very good restaurant for dinner.

Up the next morning, call the bell desk, and… how cool is this? They load up the bags, and follow us with them all the way to the Northwest check-in desk, and we didn’t have to *touch* them at all. Well worth the tip, that was, considering we were schlepping purt near 180 pounds worth of stuff. Check in for our flight, make our way through security, grab some breakfast (the Northwest terminal — Delta, Continental, and several international airlines also use it — is quite possibly the best airport in the world to be stuck in as far as dining options are concerned), find the gate, take the flight, collect the bags in Ft. Lauderdale, rent the car, and we’re off to the hotel that will be our home for the next couple nights.

It’s a Hampton Inn that we’ve stayed in before. But this time, the rates are jacked up SEVERELY, and… first, the room they checked us into already had people in it, then the 2nd room was two queen beds instead of the one king bed we’d reserved, then they didn’t have a room ready for us… soooo… store the luggage, and we’re off to find a late lunch and do some shopping.

Shopping? Already? Yep. We decided that we’d buy shampoo, etc. in Florida instead of taking up space (and weight) in our luggage, which was dangerously close to the airline limits as it was.

Skulking around Hollywood, Florida, in search of food that meets our “not something we can get at home” criteria when traveling, we find Firehouse Subs, a, well, sub shop founded by firemen. Good subs. Two thumbs up from K and me.

Wandered around back to the hotel, where they finally came up with a room on the third try.

This hotel is pretty much on a direct path between the airport and cruise port, and thus does a brisk business with cruise passengers. Like most Hamptons, it’s a decent, consistent hotel. The free shuttle service is an added bonus, but we had a rental car (’07 Pontiac Grand Prix. It’s okay, and I was amused by the remote starter function) ’cause we were being tourists. 🙂

Anyway, the room was good. We went over to the tony Las Olas Blvd. riverfront area for dinner at the Ugly Tuna, which I can thoroughly recommend, and topped it off with cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory (despite the founders of said chain coming from Detroit, we don’t have one around here :(). Then back to the room for the night, a bit tired after all the traveling.

Next post: Birds Birds Birds Birds Birds and a great whonking HUGE outlet shopping mall.

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7 thoughts on “Trip Report, Fit The First

  1. maryosmanski

    We’ve also discovered that a motel room on the airport perimeter for the night before the trip is the way to go. Given how far we live from the airports we usually use (2-hour drive), it makes early morning flights possible — really nice around the holidays when crowds or weather can start delaying flights more and more as the day goes on. And it’s amazing how much difference in tolerance for any minor discomforts a full night’s sleep and the lack of a 2-hour drive before a flight can make.

    Reply
    1. autojim Post author

      When we can get a direct flight out of Flint’s Bishop International airport, we do ’cause it’s actually 2 miles closer driving than Detroit Metro, but even quicker than that ’cause of which way you’re driving, plus it’s a much smaller airport and as such, check in, security, etc. are less of a hassle. And parking is cheaper. But most of the time, flying out of Bishop means first puddle-jumping to Detroit Metro and changing planes, which adds enough cost and time that it’s cheaper to fly direct out of Metro. Plus, Bishop doesn’t have a Westin attached to it. 🙂 Where you and Steve live is, yeah, a good two hours or so from any sort of major airport (I’d guess BWI, Reagan, or Dulles are your closest options, yes?), so the go-the-day-before-and-R.O.N. option is certainly a good one. Wonder how Mack Truck gets people in and out of Hagerstown? This is curious ’cause one of my former customers (a diesel engine and truck manufacturer) has a plant in Huntsville, Alabama, and the quickest way to get there from here is to fly into Nashville, TN, and drive 3 hours to Huntsville.

      Reply
      1. maryosmanski

        There’s a regional airport in Hagerstown. USAir commuter flights go to BWI and Pittsburgh, and folks connect from there. When I was single, I used those all the time because it was worth it to me to have only a half hour drive on at the end of my trip, when I would be all alone in the car and it was often later at night. For two people, the cost of the commuter flights crosses the line into “let’s just drive to Dulles and save the money” territory. And Steve is more comfortable in one of our cars for two hours than squeezed into the typical commuter jet seat for 25 minutes. BWI and Dulles are the airports of choice. Reagan is too close in. When the Dulles toll road was extended out to Leesburg, VA, it meant we could get to within half a mile of the airport before really encountering Washington traffic.

      2. autojim Post author

        Yeah, Steve’s bigger than I am, and I don’t fit in regional jets very well at all. Worst flight in an RJ: Atlanta to Monterrey, Mexico. 4 hours. 2 and 2 seating instead of the usual 1 and 2, so we were in there pretty tight. I was in the last row. At least I had the aisle, ’cause I spent most of the flight leaning into it so I wouldn’t compress the shoulders of the guy in the window seat into the side of the fuselage. 🙂 Later, when I was going to Saltillo regularly, I started flying into Monterrey (from Houston) instead of directly into Saltillo so I could have a 737 instead of an RJ. It was soooo worth the hour drive from Monterrey to Saltillo.

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