It is always nice to be in Fort Lauderdale as the only ship in port. It somehow harks back to the days when one ship in port was standard and everything revolved around it. Now we have some sort of shock when we want out if we are the only ones and have to adjust to the luxury. And not only us, a lot of people in the port as well. I heard this morning from our shore side people that there was even a lack of taxi’s in the beginning as a lot of cabbie’s had taken the day off or had focused on something else, “because there was only one small ship in port”. That of course corrected itself but it shows what I mean. But for the rest it has a lot of advantages. There is no traffic jam at the entry security point of the port and even the bunkering of fuel goes faster as there is a higher pressure in the shore piping system as only one ship is taking fuel.
Even immigration and customs was easier and faster today. The Veendam is a smaller ship, so you cannot compare the dis-embarkation times with larger ships but last week I was called to join the CVG (Collector Voyages Guests or Continued Voyages Guests) to help achieve the famous “zero count” and I was back on board by 10.30. Now I was back on board by 10.17 hrs. as disembarkation had gone faster as more CBP officers were available to help with the clearance and thus the “march of the CVG’s” could start earlier as well. Tonight on departure we will have the same advantage as we will not have to wait for any other cruise ship that might be leaving earlier or is holding up the departure cycle for whatever reason. When we are ready we just go.
Because we left from Pier 19 last week, those who make the planning had decided that we should return to pier 19 as well. It does make it easier for those who are being picked up by family or friends and those who had the car in the parking area next to the pier. One gentleman got himself completely in a muddle, as he had been advised before the ship sailed last week, that we would return to pier 26, being the HAL terminal. So he had made arrangements for today to be picked up there and now he was at the wrong terminal. It took shore –Ops quite some time to convince him that 26 was just across the road, and not like an airport where all the numbers are in a row. Thus with all the smoothness of today’s operation we still had some excitement in the terminal.
Being the only cruise ship in port is not completely true as the Jaime II was in as well. This is a “Fast Cat” catamaran cruise ferry which runs a daily service to the Bahama’s. It started about two years ago I think and uses a fast ferry which was originally in service in the Balearic Islands in Spain. Hence the name Jaime II which is a Spanish King. Then Balearic ferries in conjunction with the Bahamian Government started this service, and to keep things simple the service was named Balearia Caribbean and the name remained the same as well. Sort of appropriate as many Spanish ships have been roaming around the Bahamas for many years. Including our friend Cristopher Columbus although officially he was a Portuguese, born in Italy and working for the Spanish. Prices are about a $100 a person one way and I know that guests have been using this option to go to the Bahamas at the end of the cruise. Normally I see the ferry leaving between 9 and 10 am. So if you have an early disembark you can just do it. Last week it embarked passengers at Pier 20, so you could even roll your own suitcase just around the corner.
We are now starting a new cruise, same as the one of a week before, calling at Cockburn Town / Grand Turk Island, San Juan / Puerto Rico and Charlotte Amalie / St Thomas. According to my cabin steward we have a full house this cruise, so I am quite happy that there was still a cabin left for me. Although there were guests scheduled for my cabin and thus they must have gotten an upgrade. So I hope they will be happy with the fact that I bumped them upwards. We will use the same route as last week, sailing north of the Grand Bahama bank as the weather is good, just a bit windy but we also had that last week.