Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Pre Cruise Hotel Fort Lauderdale: Holiday Inn Express Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel

 Are you looking for a pre cruise hotel in Fort Lauderdale for our cruise out of Port Everglades. In this post, I share my review of the Holiday Inn Express Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel. 

The pros:

The location is terrific. Lots of restaurants, grocery stores, and shops nearby plus you are one stop light away from Port Everglades.

The hotel provides a free airport shuttle. Parking is only $5 per night during your stay. You can sign up for an extra charge cruise port shuttle.

The rooms were clean and well- equipped.

The free breakfast has several options: pancakes, hard boiled eggs, cereal, oatmeal, biscuits and gravy, eggs, sausage, toast and cinnamon rolls.

The pool is small, but clean. I like that it's on the 4th floor so you aren't right next to the street


The con:

Check in / Check out is a zoo. It's not hotel's fault. This is cruise hotel. That means hundreds of people are checking in and out the same day. You have the people disembarking from their cruise arriving between 8 am - 10am. No rooms for them so some just hang around in the lobby. You have a mass check out at 11 am as everyone heads to their cruise. Then, you have people arriving the night before their cruise. They arrive anytime throughout the day.


Tip: If you will arrive at the hotel before 4 pm - make a plan outside of the hotel. Book an excursion. Head to the beach. Grab a barstool at Duffy's Sport Bar.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

My Trips: Dubrovnik, Croatia


In October 2022, we spent five days in Dubrovnik, Croatia.  Here's our must do list: 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Must See Dubrovnik: Lokrum Island

Lokrum Island is a must do if you are visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia. It's a great mix of historic sites, cafes, swimming spots and Games of Thrones filming locations.

You can book a water taxi or rent a kayak to get to the island. You'll need to pay admission upon arrival. 

I found it easier to book the transfer and tickets through the Reserve so it's all together.

You can buy tickets online or at the harbor. The East Gate is closest to the harbor. Walk forward from the east Gate. You'll reach a dead end with an arched doorway to the left. The ticket office will be on your right just after the restaurant.

Tip: Buy tickets online to save 10%. 

The transfer to the island departs on the hour and half hour. The returning boats depart at :15 and :45 after the hour. Last transfer back is 5:45 pm. The sailing takes about 15 minutes.  Be sure to double check the schedule because these times can and do change based on the season. 

Tip: Boarding starts about 20-30 minutes before departure at the harbor. Grab a spot on the back (aft) of the boat either downstairs or upstairs for great views and pictures of the harbor as you sail toward Lokum. 

The pink building is the visitor center. Head in to pick up a printed map or to buy the audio tour. 

Be sure to bring your swimsuit and a towel to enjoy the several swimming areas. (Or just a towel if you are headed to the nude swimming area.)

Tip: Bring water shoes and/or walking sticks if you aren't surefooted. 

I recommend heading to Fort Royal first since that's the highest climb. 

The Monastery is where you'll find the Games of Thrones exhibit and Iron throne. 

On the way back, the boat arrives 5 minutes prior to departure.  People queue up so you may want to arrive a little earlier. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Swiss Air Business Class Review

We traveled in business class on Swiss Air Flight 9 from Chicago O'Hare to Zurich. We booked discounted cruise fares because we were taking a Rhine river cruise.

One perk of flying International Business Class on a United partner is access to the United Polaris at Chicago O'Hare. The lounge is located near C18.  Take a peek: https://youtube.com/shorts/sGSUVQ1PGZA?feature=share

Overall the lounge is very nice. I appreciate how they try to protect personal space. All the bathrooms are individual. The seating is spread out. Showers are availability. A large bar offers many premium cocktails, wine, and spirits. 
The Dining Room is a small space that seems to be an after thought. You can order from a menu. The food was decent. The service was friendly, but a tad slow. My only other experience with this type of lounge is the Maple Leaf Lounge in Toronto. That is far superior. The Maple Leaf Lounge included restaurant was an intentional space with a coat and luggage storage room. The menu was larger and the service was impeccable. 

The United Polaris Lounge offers a buffet with soup, salad, hot entree items, and cold appetizers. The buffet had servers available making sure the food area was clean and well stocked. I appreciated that.

One big issue with flying with a partner airline is Terminal 5 (imagine ominous music here).  To get to Terminal 5, you have to exit the secured area, board a tram, and then pass through security again. United recommends leaving an hour and a half for that process. 

We met my parents at gate C3. We left gate C3 at 4:47 pm. We were at Terminal 5 and through security by 5:30 pm. 

Swiss Air Business Class also includes access to the Swissport lounge. Outside the lounge, a sign stated the lounge was at capacity. In small print under it, it said space was reserved for airline guests. We entered. It's a simple lounge with packaged snacks, pre-made sandwiches, and a serve yourself bar with beer, wine and spirits. Terminal 5 is crowded so it was nice to have a place to sit. 

We left the lounge around 6 pm for out 7:10 pm flight. It was a bit of a walk to M25. We had to go to the desk for a passport check. We waited about 15 minutes until boarding. 

The flight left on time. Take a quick tour of my experience: https://youtu.be/nZOE0FXjlME

We chose 4K and 5K. These are the first seats in the Business section. They are solo seats. A warning about A and B: A does not have easy aisle access. You'd have to crawl over the person in seat B. 

Prior to take off, the flight attendant collected our dinner and breakfast orders. For dinner, we had a choice of appetizer and main. 

7:49 pm Dinner service began. The tray table is a little tricky. Don't worry about asking for help. 

8 pm Dinner was served. I compare it to domestic first class. I liked the gnocchi. I liked all the vegetables. I also liked the cheese plate.  Two types of white wine and three types of red wine were available. 

A wine and water refill was offered. 

8:24 pm Dinner was clearer for those who were finished. 

8:32 pm Dessert was offered. It was cheesecake. I passed. I ordered a mint tea. The flight attendant ordered it via a tablet. It came quickly and freshly made to order. 

8:45 pm Dessert was cleared for those finished. 

I moved the seat to lie flat. It was very comfortable. The seat came with a pillow and a blanket. I'm 6 feet tall and the bed was long enough. I was also able to sleep comfortably on my side. 

About 120 minutes before landing, a blue light came on overhead. 

80 minutes prior to landing - My pre-ordered breakfast was served. I love that I could pre-order espresso. 

Everything was cleared by 40 minutes before landing. 

It's a very scenic landing. 

We landed at 10:33 am local time. 

We reached passport control at 11:00 am with a brief stop at the bathroom.

We were through passport control by 11:25 am. We picked the slow line. We could have been through about 12 minutes faster in at least two other lines.

Our luggage was off the carousel and waiting for us. 

Our transfer was waiting. We were on the way to the hotel by 11:29 am. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Things to Do in Cape Cod : Provincetown


After our time in Vermont and Boston, we headed to Provincetown on Cape Cad. The only thing I knew about Cape Cod was from the movie Splash so I was excited to check it out. The easiest way to get there from Boston is the fast ferry. 

Click here for a map of the places we visited. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Things to Do in Boston


This post may include affiliate links. 

After a great week and a half in Vermont, we joined my family Boston. 

Our hotel: We chose Hilton Boston Downtown because it's close to everything we have scheduled and you could book connecting rooms. This was really important to my sister's family.   My family arrived. We chose Mr. Dooley's for dinner right next door to get the Boston Irish Pub experience.


Monday, July 25, 2022

Things to Do in Vermont


The video is a summary of our trip. You can see a Google Map highlighting all the locations by clicking here. 

Some of the links may be affiliate links. 

To begin our Vermont trip, we flew into Boston, Massachusetts. We decided to fly into Boston because it offered a nonstop flight from Tampa and we had more rental car options.