I woke up at about 5am and decided rather than staying in bed, I’d give myself a final tour of the ship. I watched from the balcony as we slowly approached Dodge Island and Port of Miami. I finished up my packing and set out to walk around the ship.
As I walked past the shops on Deck 5, I saw a uniformed security officer who I assume was on her way to prepare the gangway for departure. I shrugged my shoulders and said “I just don’t want it to end.”
“Book another cruise, sir!” Security and Marketing? She should get paid double!
By this point in the cruise, I figured out the best way to get my friend motivated to pack and get to breakfast would be to bring coffee to the room. I stopped by Cafe il Bacio as it was opening to get cappuccino to go. While the barista prepared the cappuccino, the pastry cart arrived and the pasty chef filled the display case. In my cruising experience, I’ve come to expect the options on the disembarkation morning to be reduced service compared to a usual cruise day. Celebrity exceeded my expectations here. I found that all the things I would have wanted to have at full service on my last morning were at full service.
On previous cruises across a few cruise lines, the place where I’m most used to reduced service is the ship’s buffet. On Celebrity Reflection, Chef Singh and his team maintain the level of variety throughout the Oceanview Cafe. Even the labor-intensive stations like eggs Benedict were at full service. I can’t overstate how different this is compared to my previous cruising experience and the consideration of the disembarkation day still being a day of the cruise made a big impact on me.
It had rained a little while we were docking, so no one wanted to sit outside. This worked for us. There were about 15 or so tables that were entirely dry, and only 4 were taken. Plenty of room out back on the aft deck that still kept us and our luggage under cover.
We made our way from the buffet to the gangway. When we got there, the gangway was entirely full and Customs had asked the ship to pause disembarking passengers. We were asked to wait in the Ensemble Lounge until Customs allowed disembarkation to resume. We were told that when disembarkation began again, someone would let us know. I took that to mean that before they began to let passengers off, we would be told to start the line. Perhaps he meant that as we should listen to the announcements.
From this cruise on out, I think I’ll switch from carrying my own bags off the ship to packing my bag the night before and having the cruise line carry my bag down. The bag pickup was right where I would get in line for Customs, so carrying my own bags didn’t save me any walking distance. Also, I feel like I’ve practiced packing for a cruise enough that I could keep the essentials out and in my backpack for the last night of the cruise and disembarkation morning.
Once we passed through Customs, we walked across the street to the garage, loaded up the car, and drove out of the port. Parking was $20 per day times 7 days for $140. There were four of us in the car, so one-fourth of $140 is $35. To me, that is totally worth it to have such an easy trip between the car and the ship and then back again — especially the ship-to-car direction.
The weather was terrible in Miami that morning. The low visibility from the fog that morning caused collisions in both directions on the interstate. Thankfully, we had the express lanes to keep us moving, and so did the emergency vehicles. The lesson here for planning is that you never truly know what the weather will be like at the end of your cruise as you pack at the beginning of your cruise. Also, plan for delays in transportation on both ends of your trip. Arrive within a few hours drive of the port on the day before the cruise. If you have a connecting flight that same day, insurance that covers any kind of delay is a must. Another great reason to use a travel agent.
I did not want my cruise to end and I’m looking at some options for new itineraries or any other kind of new experience in cruising. This is the last of the live blog posts, but there will be more posts in the next few weeks that came out of the experience on the ship including an interview with Hotel Director Niyazi Korkmaz and Event Coordinator Sophia [I still need to find out her last name.] and a recap of the cast production entertainment in Celebrity’s inaugural season of developing all cast productions in-house.
We’ve already started the first of many giveaways featuring Celebrity logo gear with some items in the series of giveaways being personalized to the Celebrity Reflection.
Are you a glutton for punishment? Checkout Billy on episode 175 of the RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com podcast where they talk all about disembarkation day.
Reflection Live Blog Day 0 - Preamble
Reflection Live Blog Day 1 - Embarkation Day
Reflection Live Blog Day 2 - Sea Day
Reflection Live Blog Day 3 - Cozumel, Mexico
Reflection Live Blog Day 4 - George Town, Grand Cayman, CI
Reflection Live Blog Day 5 - Falmouth, Jamaica
Reflection Live Blog Day 6 - Labadee, Haiti
Reflection Live Blog Day 7 - Sea Day
Reflection Live Blog Day 8 - Disembarkation