And we are off to go cruising for Hubby’s 50th! First Stop: Chicago to Ft. Lauderdale

We started out on our first travel leg of our eastern Caribbean cruise after hubby got off work driving five hours to Chicago.  Why drive five hours?  Well, after scanning all the airline flights out of Des Moines, I decided to save around $100 and just use a website called “ParkSleepFly” and drive to an airport near O’Hare where we could spend the night and then fly out of O’Hare the next morning, leaving our vehicle in the hotel parking lot for free.  In the past we have always gone to Crowne Plaza, but their shuttle never seems to drive by the transportation pick-up point very often, so this time I made our reservation for the Renaissance which is a Marriott hotel.  I have used the ParkSleepFly web site three or four times now so can say that it is a legit website.  I was leery the first time I booked through them since I had never heard of it and only found it through a search engine.

I was able to get a direct flight out of O’Hare to Ft. Lauderdale so by driving we not only saved around $100, but we didn’t have to fly off course to grab connecting flights with huge layovers and a ton more air-flying time.  I hate the drive, but I can stretch out in our vehicle and relax (when not driving of course) with a nice night in the hotel and only have to fly three hours total.   I fell in love with the Renaissance because it is a suite hotel so the bedroom door shut and hubby could stay up all night watching his TV and reading his book.  Everything worked out perfectly travel-wise for us the entire trip.

We landed in Ft. Lauderdale and checked in at another Marriott Hotel — the Fairfield Inn — conveniently by the port (where we would board our ship, the Eurodam) and the airport.  We had another couple from Arizona going with us so we met them for dinner that night at the Rustic Inn Restaurant.
This was quite an experience, and if you ever get near Ft. Lauderdale, you should go here.  It is not a chain and has been around since 1955.  They definitely could cut down on their portion size, but, wow, was it good and just plain fun.  You get the mallets to hammer away at your crab and everything.  It was a real treat for us!
The next morning we took a cab to the port and stood in line to board our Holland America’s ship, the Eurodam.  Since this was our first time cruising, I was worried about all the paperwork to get on board.  However ,we got there an hour earlier than when they said they would even open the doors, so everything worked out really smooth with very little waiting.  Felt sorry for the ones in line way back!  They took our luggage before we even got inside so got through all the lines and onto the ship.  Stay tuned for more on the ship and our cruise….
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