We were so excited when we found out that my husband's business cruise was going to be aboard the largest cruise ship in the world, Allure of the Seas.
We started out our trip under the most terrible road conditions. The forecast had called for light snow the evening before, and we woke up to a winter storm, like none I can remember. Our street didn't seem too bad so we did not account for any bad weather when leaving for the airport. As soon as we got on the Highway, we knew we were in for trouble. The lanes on the highway were no longer visible as they were completely snow covered.
Traffic was moving at no more than 40km / hour. Some areas were covered in a gray haze with very little visibility. I kept looking at the clock, thinking "we are not gonna make the flight". Thank god, we did not encounter any accidents along the way. We finally made it to the airport parking, with very little time to spare, only to have to wait for the "Shuttle bus" for over 25 minutes. My husband was just about to get the car as the bus pulled in. Once at the airport, we ran to the check in counter. We got to the gate just in the nick of time, only to find out that our plane had been delayed. Well, we should have figured that out with the weather being so bad. Our flight ended up being 4 hours delayed. The flight to Ft. Lauderdale was only about 3 hours, so it went by in a flash.
We all stayed at The Westin Hotel, a bit on the outskirts of Ft. Lauderdale. As the weather was absolutely beautiful, we went for a walk in the vicinity and then had a quiet dinner at the hotel. The next morning, I managed to squeeze in a 30 minute run in the Florida sun before our bus picked us up to take us to the cruise ship. It was a very quick and smooth process to check in and receive our room key. As we were part of a large group, we boarded the ship earlier than most and pretty much had the ship at our own leisure for a few hours. We explored this monster of a ship...It even smelled like a new vessel. After settling into our rooms, we headed to deck to take in some sun. We enjoyed a meal in the main dining room. Bedtime was early after an exhausting day.. The ship was en route to Nassau, Bahamas.
I woke up just in time to get out on the balcony and take in the first sight of the Nassau harbor. We planned to do a bit of window shopping in Nassau, as the stop over was only 5 hours. We waked into downtown Nassau and browsed the trendy stores along Bay Street.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
We booked an excursion to Magen Bay Beach, listed as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world by National Geographic. The process of getting off the ship and finding our tour guide was extremely smooth and quick. The trip began with a scenic drive, by open-air safari bus, up Raphune Hill where we took in the breathtaking view of Charlotte Amalie Harbor. Then we made a quick stop at Drake's Seat to take in the spectacular view of Magen's Bay before heading to the beach. The beach was very busy, as it was open to the general public as well and it somewhat reminded me of Wasaga Beach. A bit to busy for my liking, but it was nice to spend a few hours swimming and relaxing in the sun. The rain decided to make a quick visit, but it only lasted a few minutes. There was a lone Canadian sailboat anchored in the bay, and we we certainly took note of it, and both agreed that "that will be us one day". We got dropped off in downtown Charlotte Amalie on the way back. We were all in need of some lunch so we went to Cousins where local foods is prepared by locals. The place was so busy that the six of us had to eat at the bar. We had the best of time, with the funniest bar tender I've ever come across. Mind you, he had the most starry-eyed look, I've ever seen and and he kept talking non-stop while he he kept refilling his glass behind the bar.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
My favorite destination on this trip. I'd love to go back there again. Philipsburg, the capital city of Dutch St. Maarten, is only a short water taxi ride across the bay, from the cruise-ship dock. $6 gives you unlimited travel between the ship and the beach-front boardwalk, which runs along Phillipsburg's world famous shopping district and the beautiful white sand beaches of Great Bay. The boardwalk is full of life; Caribbean music playing at the quaint open air bars; strollers, skaters, and Segway tours cruising the boardwalk. There are beach chairs and umbrellas for rent on the beach and plenty of service should you need a cold drink. The many cruise ships docked in the bay can be seen in the background. I'd love to go back here again, as one day only gets you a taste of the island, and I definitely felt like some more.
Allure of Seas turned out to be an amazing ship. Our stateroom was more than ample, with the most comfortable bed.. I made sure to use the running track, to try to burn off some calories from all the eating, and it is about 800 m around the ship. This ship has something to offer for everyone; rock climbing, ping pong, basket ball, mini put, surfing, zip lining, dancing, entertainment and amazing shows to mention a few. It truly was an amazing ship and words cannot really describe how great it was. It has to be experienced!