Mitsugirly needed to ESCAPE from the cold weather
Day 1: Flying to Florida and spending the night before the cruise.
CHRISTMAS CRUISE 2019!!!! ESCAPE TO: Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, & Cozumel.
After going back and forth between various ships on different cruise lines, we decided to give the Escape a try. Sakari had been asking to go on it for awhile and I figured...why not? I didn't realize that it had actually been out for several years now! I'm still thinking it's a new ship...as in over the last year or so. Man time flies when you're having cruising fun! :)
Now, I honestly was not planning on cruising this winter. Anyone who follows my reviews knows why and the ordeal I have been dealing with since August after our Breakaway cruise. For anyone that might not be a "regular" follower of mine...I still lol when I say that and people say I have a "fan base"...you can check out my tab at the top labeled "My foot journey".
The short version of my accident: 2 days after returning from my cruise, I fell, fractured my tibia/fibula in 3 places around my ankle area, chopped off my ankle and broke my fibula up closer to my knee. I had surgery with plates and screws put in on both sides, 2 repairs of ligaments, and 2 screws fusing my fib/tib together. As if that wasn't enough...I developed 3 blood clots by the next week. 2 weeks later, I developed an infection on one side and it required another surgery. I've been in a wheelchair for 3 months and just started PT and learning to walk again. I will have to have a 3rd surgery in the future to remove one of the plates and the screws fusing my bones together. I don't have much range of motion because of that. So...that's the "quick version" of what happened.
So, I just wasn't sure I'd even be able to cruise and if I did, how fun could it possibly be for me? My oldest daughter, Kendra, begged and begged to "go somewhere" for a Christmas getaway. "Land vacation in Aruba, cruise, or even Orlando and go to Disney with the kids" she said. "It'll be fun" she said. 🙄 Ugh...I just wasn't so sure about that! But we started making plans. Then all of a sudden, when I booked, she dropped out. Her fiance said no and to wait for Spring Break. She was crushed but didn't put up much of a fight for some reason like she always does. Now normally she would just go without him. But not this time. I really really wanted her to go because I knew I would need all the help I could get this time around. Sakari promised to help as much as I needed. 🥰
Who's cruising: Me the Hubs and Sakari, who is 11 years old but appears more like a teen at this point. 😮She is almost as tall as me and I'm pretty sure by the next cruise, she'll be as tall as me.
We are on (I think) cruise number 23 since we started cruising "full time" 🤣 in 2010. However, Sakari gets a little confused at times and I'm sure she adds at least 3-4 to that number EACH time we cruise. I used to be able to name, in order, every ship...but I've lost count and have to go back and actually look at my website 😅
OUR ITINERARY: (This is a repeat of what we just did 4 months ago on the Breakaway)
December 14 Saturday: Board the ship
December 15 Sunday: Sea day
December 16 Monday: ROATAN 10-6pm
December 17 Tuesday: HARVEST CAYE BELIZE 8-5pm
December 18 Wednesday: COSTA MAYA 8-5pm
December 19 Thursday: COZUMEL 8-5PM
December 20 Friday: Sea day
December 21 Saturday : Back to port
This time around we decided to go with a balcony. The price was good and cheaper than an OV when we checked. It was also only a few hundred more than an interior. I mean who could pass that up right? Now I honestly don't care what type of room it is. Interior, OV, balcony...doesn't matter to me. I usually don't spend any time in the room other than to sleep, shower, and change. I don't use a balcony like most balcony lovers do. It's nice to wake up and walk out and see where we are, but...that's about it. BUT, with my current situation, I figured I just might get a little more usage out of it and booked.
Also, something new for me this time around....I decided to book a guarantee balcony. 😲 Some people have had good luck with this and others didn't like it. I was going to roll the dice and hope for a good location. They assigned me room 9140. It wasn't too close to the elevators as I usually like to book as close to the elevators as I can. But, I figured I'd be in a wheelchair so it wasn't going to matter to me.
Another thing we decided to do (well hubby decided) was to use the Uplift financing for this cruise. Now we have credit cards for all 3 cruise lines we cruise with. We usually use those to get the points. My rule is they always have to be paid in full by our next cruise or before we go on a cruise (which is usually within 2-3 months time frame). However, the hubby wanted to try out this new financing to see how well it worked and to get some other types of accounts on his credit profile to improve his already mid-high 700+ score. (He's always trying to compete with my fluctuating 819...I told him good luck). 😜We financed the cruise, used my NCL cc for the automatic payments...win-win right? There was only $119 interest charge so not bad at all. THEN...I remembered that my (long-lost-daughter and my sons ex, Courtney, who had cruised with us in the past) still had 2 Cruise Next certificates that needed to be used up ASAP. I had her transfer one over to me and called up NCL and told the to apply that to my booked cruise and they did. They sent a letter over to Uplift and they credited the account. Easy Peasy.
Sakari's Elf (Trixie) and her Reindeer (Cookie, who used to be Starlite but had a name change a few years ago when Sakari started naming everything with some type of "food" product) had an accident and broke her right lower leg (imagine that....) and wasn't able to cruise with us this time (whew...I'm not sure momma could handle it this time around and after all....we booked a 3 person room not a 5 person room).
We booked a "late" flight because I hate having very little sleep and getting up in the early morning to fly out. Our departure time was 4:20pm and arriving in FLL at 7:05pm. I wanted plenty of time to get to the airport and transfer from the parking lot with our "added" luggage...my wheelchair.
My mode of transportation was all strapped in on the shuttle bus to the airport and we arrived in plenty of time. I decided to keep my own wheelchair while we were in the airport and just gate check it. It was easier than I thought and of course I received priority boarding. I wish I would have thought things over a little better because we always purchase "Early Bird Check in" and it wasn't even needed because we board first no matter what with a wheelchair. I wasted a lot of money for nothing. 😞 Lesson learned.
We were on the plane and getting ready for take off.
Sakari was "snapping" her friends and they were wishing her well. One last picture of me and the hubs before take off....
Finding a hotel, around Christmas, pretty much last minute, provided to be a bit challenging. I've stayed at a lot of them, but the prices were high enough for me to take a loan out for that as well. Maybe there's a Downlift program out there for us?
I knew that getting in somewhat late we would need some place within walking distance to a restaurant or fast food. We have stayed across the street at Hilton Garden Inn before but I figured I'd rather just save some money and book Quality Inn. It's only for one night and I just need a place to sleep the night before a cruise. As long as it's clean and bug free, I'm good.
I still think the price was outrageous...especially after I got there.
We arrived at the airport, gathered our luggage and tried to figure out a way to push me in the wheelchair and handle 3 large luggage pieces.
The hubby pushed me with 1 hand and pulled 1 luggage and I used my left leg to guide the wheelchair in the right direction and Sakari pushed 2 of the pieces of luggage. It's a VERY long haul down to the area for off site hotel pick up. Then the hubby and Sakari switched places. Then I tried pushing myself with my hands on the wheels...whew! I've been doing this for months in my house but down a sidewalk that had dips in it, maneuvering around people and luggage, then the dips at cross walks....it provided to be a little too much for me. In the end, it worked best if I held on to 1 luggage, Sakari pushed me with both hands, and the hubby pushed the other 2 luggage. This trip is providing to be challenging right from the start...which I figured. We'll get it together sooner or later I promise.
We finally arrived at the off site hotel pick up area at the airport and called the hotel. The shuttle arrived within 10-15 minutes and then we were on our way to the hotel.
I'm going to direct you to my hotel section that will have everything about this hotel and the room.
You can find it here
The hubby decided he wanted to just walk next door to Taco Bell and that was dinner that night despite all of the other food options we could have had. 🙄
We came back and Sakari told daddy to "chose which bed you want" and this was his choice/reply...
The following day we had our complimentary hot breakfast out on the pool patio, headed back to our rooms to grab our things and back to the lobby to check out.
Now this hotel does offer transportation to the Miami Cruise port. We signed up the night we checked in. Now normally I would just use Uber or Lyft because they are a heck of a lot cheaper than a taxi or even a transportation service. BUT, in my CURRENT condition, we were going to require a LARGER van because of my wheelchair. We couldn't use just any small car. With the 3 of us, we fit nicely in a car with our 3 large luggage. But add a wheelchair to the mix and you have yourself a problem. You have to use the Uber XL or similar.
The hotel offered the shuttle at 2 different times (I believe 9:30 and 11:30). Since you can't rush a sloth, I decided 11:30 would work best for our family. The price was $20pp for adults and $15 for a child. They also offered transportation from the cruise port to FLL airport after the cruise. I decided that we would do both. So for $110 I was assured a ride with my wheelchair.
Now I guess it would have paid to check just how much Uber/Lyft would cost because for the XL it would have been $63 for us. $63 versus $55 with a savings of $8 by using the hotel transportation. Hmmm, if I would have checked, I would have just did the Uber instead. With Uber/Lyft, you are the only one's in the ride, no waiting for a certain time to leave, and no picking up other passengers from various other locations (not with the hotel, but if you use a transportation company, such as SAS, this will happen). But what was done was done and I'm ok with it this time. No worries. I was about to embark on a new ship and it was warm out and although this cruise would be a little different for me, I was going to make the best of it!
As we sat outside waiting for our van/transportation, Sakari was determined to find a lizard and she definitely did.
Sneaking up on it provided no benefits to her because it darted away very quickly. I wish I was a lizard at this point.
Our van pulled up, which had a trailer attached to it for all the luggage, and we all piled in and off to the cruise port we went. The other thing about riding with transportation is that the drivers usually don't seem to talk during the ride. So, it's a long boring ride to the port in silence. But I knew in a matter of an hour, there would be no silence on the ship, so I would just enjoy it for now.
We arrived at the cruise terminal, checked our bags and off to get in line? What line? There was barely a line and in we went. Security took maybe 5 minutes and then on to check in with NCL.
They put me in a wheelchair line and I wasn't exactly sure of the significance of that line because there were no added benefits like a lowered counter so you could see and so on. But, I guess it kept you from winding around in the regular line...which really wasn't much of a line at all.
There were 2 people at the counter being helped. When 1 family was done, the "line director" motioned for me to go up to that counter...but no one was there. I waited and waited and no one ever returned. Meanwhile, the person beside me was done and the line director told the next person in line to go up. Then the next, then the next. HOLD UP!!! Do you not see me still sitting here and no one at the counter??? I pushed my wheelchair in between the pathway to the counter and the wheelchair line. I was not moving until I was the next to be helped. Ms line director apologized and showed me to the next available counter. Once again, I'm not sure what the significance is to the "wheelchair line" because she was directing wheelchair people to other lines, which was actually harder to maneuver around to because there was a large pole/column there. It also put you in the way of going between the counters to exit check-in and get on the ship (such a weird design). I'll be glad when the new terminal is done and interested to see what it looks like and the design.
We were issued our cards and off we went.
Since we had to use the elevators to go up to the next floor, we somehow missed the photographers taking the photos. As we were about to swipe our cards, I noticed this and turned around and headed back.
We went into the large open waiting room (not being used) and tried to get over to the photographers. They had the waiting chairs blocking every way you went and wanting you to weave in and out of everything. Both several workers "directing traffic" with their closed palm hand "this way" "this way" "this way" and also the photographers that were waiting around for people to come their way...just watched as this crippled wheelchair sloth tried to find a way out of the sea of linked chairs. I finally got frustrated again and just took my good foot and started pushing them back. Think plow truck moving everything in its way. That was me. If no one was going to help, I was about to reek havoc in the area and leave the mess for them to clean up. (Honestly it was a couple of rows...but still)
Finally we reached the photographers (maybe 10' away from the area I just moved all the chairs) and I hobbled up to get our family pictures done.
Then we about faced and did the same thing back and got stuck in another area that had been blocked with chairs. Did someone actually go behind me and block the area I had just went through 2 minutes ago? Or was I so frustrated that I managed to turn down a different row? Either way...same story...those chairs were moving!
Time to "ding" in and make our way up to the ship in the winding green sea of a gangway.
And here we go....
When you don't have a mobility problem, you really don't think about all the little things in life that we take for granted, like even walking/rolling up the gangway. There were some BIG bumps and hills to go up and over to continue to keep rolling. There are a lot of obstacles on a ship as well. For the most part the passengers were helpful in making room and holding the doors for me while I was in the wheelchair and even when I wasn't.
And then we were on the ship and exploring.
Then I spotted something coming across the pool deck area. She was walking with her foot turned out (a no-no when wearing a boot but a lot of people do in order to keep their balance and it feels more comfortable) and she was really waddling (I waddle but not like this). She looked like she was struggling. It's a boot twinsie!!!
As the cruise went on, I would discover at least another 5 twinsies and on the last day, even a boy twinsie. Does this mean girls are clumsy and more prone to falls since all of the others were girls? I would also meet several people who had a close relative that recently fell and was in a boot as well. (I had a lot of people throughout the cruise interested in knowing if I did this on the ship and it definitely made for a moment to strike up a conversation with me lol)
As always, the ship was very festive with Christmas cheer.
There were a lot of places around the ship that was decorated and also a lot of scenes like that above. That's one of the reasons I like cruising at Christmas. It just feels so different.
It was time for a quick stop for lunch. We headed to the buffet. Even though it was the first day of the cruise and people were getting on and eating, it didn't feel too overly crowded and we didn't have a problem finding a seat.
I can't pass up a good pretzel roll. I also found some egg salad and multiple types of rolls. The only issue is, the rolls were so hard that every time I took a bite, my egg salad squished out. LOL
More Christmas decor. There was actually moving water here and the crystal ball at the top was spinning.
This Santa and Reindeer display was MASSIVE. It took up the entire side of the bar area.
The new and improved cool and hip Santa.
Remove the ears and you have yourself some llama's.
After eating, we decided to head to our room. I was tired of carrying my overly large bag that was so heavy. Even though I was being pushed around in a wheelchair and I had it on my lap, sometimes my pilot that controlled my wheelchair would wonder off and when I would try to hand roll myself, my bag kept wanting to fall.
ROOM 9140. It was a ways down the hall for sure. But, still manageable.
Now being Platinum, I receive the following benefits. I was so excited to become Platinum, then I believe they revamped the program to add 2 more levels...1 of which is hard to obtain of course. Blah
One of my benefits was waiting in the room, one that Sakari loves. LOL
Then it was time for the safety drill. Out the door we went to find this....
Um, ok. How are handicapped people in a wheelchair supposed to get through here? Like I said, they don't take those in wheelchairs into consideration when they build these ships. This hallway was so narrow. Also, just in case anyone brings it up about being so far down the hall and maybe getting an accessible room instead...the accessible room was a few doors down from my room and in the side hallway. Sooooo, they had to maneuver their side hallway and down this hallway as well. This wouldn't be the first or last time that it was impossible to get down the hall with a wheelchair. I ended up having to fold up the wheelchair, hold on to the handles and push it down the hallway and it was time to morph into a rally car driver.
Our safety drill was in the theater and it lasted maybe 15 minutes before we were released. So glad it wasn't much longer. I should have put more thought into this. I KNOW that if you don't go to the safety drill then they have ANOTHER the following day for those that are "naughty". You will get something telling you were to meet and that would have been a lot easier for me to go to than trying to get down a crowded hallway AND trying to get out of the theater when we were released. Everyone knows the massive herd of people trying to get somewhere after this. We ended up just going somewhere and sitting until the crowds died down and we could make it back to our room.
Sakari wanted to go swimming so we found 2 of our luggage down by our room and 1 luggage about 4 doors down. The hubby grabbed that luggage as I pushed my folded wheelchair back to the room for Sakari to change. Then out we went again.
Let the fun begin!!!
And even more fun. I had seen videos of this slide and how it appears to have lights flashing as you go by. I REALLY wanted to try this at some point of the cruise. You go down on a tube. I brought my ankle brace and my scuba socks and figured I'd put both of them on and give it a shot. If not, I'd have Sakari hide the gopro in her top and go down it and record it for me. (Although I did see someone else at some point during the cruise that had a gopro on a stick and was standing in line). I don't know if they allow them or not.
Sakari let me know that they had taken her picture when she was headed up the stairs and thank goodness she had already learned her room number.
Then she wanted to do the drop slide, but they were closed at the time. Maybe tomorrow since it was a sea day.
I decided it was time to go back and get ready for some dinner. I really didn't eat much for lunch and was a little hungry at that point. We ended up at Taste Restaurant.
ON THE MENU TONIGHT: For Appetizers, Sakari ordered the Stilton Cheese Soup. I thought about ordering it but wasn't sure what it would be like and decided I would just try hers. IT WAS AMAZING!
I ordered the French Onion Soup. Last time, on the Breakaway, I felt that it was just a little too strong. But, I thought I would give it a shot again. Same thing...a little too strong. Next time, I'll go for the cheese soup instead. I also ordered the Bruschetta because the hubby got that last cruise and it looked good.
The hubby ordered the Bruschetta this time again.
I waited and waited, but mine did not come out. I flagged down our waiter and inquired about mine. They quickly brought it out. It was pretty good and tasty.
It took awhile for our drinks to come out. I'm not sure what was going on.
For our main course, I ordered the Fettucini Alfredo because I knew for sure I would like that.
When my food finally came (which took quite some time), I thought to myself..."now why did I order that? We are going to be going to La Cucina tomorrow and that's usually what I get there". Ugh! Oh well, it was good.
The hubby got the Herb-rubbed Rotisserie Chicken. This was supposed to come with broccoli and mashed potatoes. Hmmm
Now that doesn't look like what came out. There was a bed of rice, chicken, a piece of zucchini and a bunch of weeds. 😉
Sakari ordered the steak with fries and peppercorn sauce.
Now I hate that I don't take notes anymore. I seriously probably should have done it this cruise. We had several issues during meal time at several different venues. All I can remember about this place was that they were slow and also when they cleared my plate from the appetizers, they left me with no fork and said they would bring another. They brought my meal, just not any utensils to eat it with. I was waiting for awhile.
I picked the pound cake & vanilla pudding and it was yummy!
The hubby decided to have the Nutella Creme Brûlée and said it was good.
Sakari just wanted something simple and she LOVES fruit.
After dinner, Sakari wanted to have a little hot tub time. She's in the left hand upper corner just chillin and people watching as they walk by. lol
We kinda hung out for awhile and then Sakari wanted to head back to the room. She was tired and wanted to work on some of her drawings.
We decided it was time for a little action...wasn't sure if it was going to be positive or negative action but we were gonna try. I decided I wanted to try to walk in my boot instead of taking my wheelchair. I figured it would be pretty hard to maneuver in a crowded casino.
Off to the casino we went...armed with $100 each.
I was off to a good start...
I absolutely love the Black Widow game. I seem to have luck at any casino I go to when I play this either on a cruise ship or at home. It will keep me busy for awhile.
Of course I don't play with big money or high bets, but it's really fun to be able to keep going and play for awhile.
I played for quite some time. The hubby got on the card table and his $100 was gone within the hour.
He was forced to stand around and watch the big dog players play until I was ready to go. LOL
So, I came armed with $100 to donate to NCL. I left, after about 2 hours later, cashing out with $86 still. I had a lot of fun and didn't donate but $14. Not a win but not bad for having some fun. 😆
We returned to the room and my foot was paying the price for being up on it for awhile today...a tad bit swollen and reddened.
We watched a little tv and off to bed we went. Sakari was already sleeping. All that stair climbing for the water rides must have worn her out. 😂
So time for my cabin review/picture portion.
We were in 9140 balcony toward the front of the ship. As I mentioned in the beginning of the review, this would be the first time I tried out the "guarantee room" and let NCL pick it for me. I honestly didn't care where I was put at that point and had planned on being in my wheelchair when needed.
It seemed to be a 4 person room. There was the regular bed, the sofa bed and a pull down bed as well.
We discovered, on the last day of the cruise, there is a drawer located under the sofa with extra towels and sheets. Good to know if you ever need more towels or anything prior to the room steward coming.
Now there are 2 control switches in the room: Make Up Room, which will display a green light letting the room steward know that you want your room made up and Do Not Disturb, which will display a red light if you don't want them to come in.
HOWEVER...there's another white light that says "At Home". I seriously want to know how it knows if you are "home"???? I figure it has something to do with the usage of your keycard, but what if a family comes home, then a few leave? How does it know that someone is still there? Because I can assure you that we'd come home and the hubby and I would leave but it would still say Sakari is home. Hmmm....weird how it knows these things.
Now...here was a bit of an irritating issue with this room (or any rooms on that end of the ship)...
You would hear people clanging the pucks together all the time and it was LOUD for some reason. Like super annoying if you tried to sit out on the balcony. It's all you ever heard.
Our free bottles of water and wine with our platinum status.
Everyone on the boards always inquire about the hair dryers in the staterooms. Well, here it is...
This dryer was just as powerful as the one I have at home and did a good job of drying both mine and Sakari's hair. 1500-1800W
So that is the room picture review.
Up next you will find the ship picture review. Located on the tab below.