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We were so so so excited for our trip! This was our first time flying in a plane together and traveling farther away on our first Caribbean cruise vacation! Justin and I woke up very early since our flight from Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) was so early in the morning. We were flying to Fort Lauderdale, FL to stay in a hotel the night before our cruise. I managed to have a nap at 8:00pm the night before, but Justin couldn’t sleep as he was to excited for the trip. We woke up at 2:00am (ouch!). The airport taxi picked us up at the apartment at 3:00am, which brought us to the airport at around 3:30am. The photo above marks our very first picture of the trip – waiting in our apartment lobby for the taxi to arrive!
It was a little bit confusing when we got to the airport. We went to the Air Canada flight check-in area, and we saw the computers where people are able to print their tickets and check in. We had already checked in on our computer at home in advance and printed out our tickets. There wasn’t any sort of line up and a bunch of people were standing off to the side awkwardly with their luggage in tow. I asked a fellow passenger and found out that we had to print our luggage tags from the check-in computers. After that, I saw that there was an Air Canada employee at the desk, and she said that we were able to drop off our luggage at the counter. The people standing awkwardly at the side had half formed a line-up, and were being allowed to drop their luggage off. More than half of the people that were standing aside didn’t have their luggage tags printed off, so we quickly moved to the front of the “line” and left our two suitcases. It was strange because our luggage was never weighed, but we had the tags placed on them and had to take them with us. I guess we had to go through US customs with our luggage and drop them off afterwards. It was so early in the morning that there weren’t any employees to direct anyone, and none of the passengers seemed to know what to do. As many people were instructed to show up 3 hours in advance for international flights, it would have been helpful to have an employee to direct people that early in the morning. Oh well!
We wheeled our luggage across the room and got in the line-up for US customs. Customs didn’t actually open until 4:30am, but we were glad to be near the front of this line. A huge line-up quickly formed and stretched really far back within moments. We sat on the floor and used our phones for what might have been one of the last times, as we won’t be able to use them much on the cruise (well, we didn’t want to pay the expensive Wifi rates there!). It ended up being a breeze getting through customs. We used computers to register at US customs and then had to see a border agent. It took only seconds to get through, although I was yelled at by a border guard for waiting nearby for Justin to get through. We might have been able to go through customs together, but we filled out separate forms since we aren’t married. I was waiting for Justin nearby and an agent yelled at me to leave the area! Well, the US border agents don’t exactly have a reputation for being the nicest guys around. Anyway, when we went through security afterwards,which included the huge machine that whips around to detect anything suspicious, I was joking around quite a bit with that security guard…so he balanced everything out for me in terms of guard-related friendliness!
We waited at gate F61 for our flight in a rather nice and comfortable lounge area that had a bar nearby. We were seated at a table that had Ipads attached on either side of the table so we could play games or read newspapers online. I was a happy camper with a Starbucks coffee in my hand! There was a Starbucks just down the hallway where I picked up some beverages and bagels for us before the flight. Soon enough, we boarded the plane – we chose our seats in advance and were able to secure seats 26A and 26B, which were amongst the only places on the plane that had two seats side by side instead of three. We were able to sit just the two of us together without having one of us stuck in a middle seat!
Our plane was a little bit late taking off since it had to be de-iced. It was quite snowy and very chilly outside on the runway. We couldn’t wait to be in sunny Florida! Justin was able to sleep for a little bit during the flight. I was wide awake and watched the sun rise over the clouds. Our little window to the outside world was a little bit fuzzy from the plane de-icing, but we still had some pretty spectacular views. I took plenty of photos out the window. It was very bright and sunny outside, hopefully a sign of the weather to come.
The in-flight service didn’t offer much that was free to the passengers – we were offered a small beverage, but everything else we had to pay for (all snacks, food, etc.). I took advantage of the opportunity to have another little coffee. Justin continued to try to get some rest, although he didn’t get nearly enough on the plane – it is tough sleeping on an airplane!
Our flight was about three hours long. In what seemed like no time at all, we landed in Fort Lauderdale, FL at the Hollywood Airport (FLL).
We had a scary moment at the baggage claim area. We waited at the designated area for our flight and waited for the bags to come out. As you may have noticed from the above photos, our luggage was decorated very uniquely. I had purchased penguin “Duck Tape” that was baby blue with penguins all over the place. I also sewed brightly colored fabric around the handles, and we had very vibrant luggage tags. Our luggage could be spotted a mile away! So, when we didn’t see our luggage come down the conveyor belt, we knew something was wrong. An employee at the airport announced, “That’s it! All of the luggage is here!” and about thirty people were left without their bags. We all formed a line at the desk and knew something had to be wrong – there was no way that many people could be without their luggage! After a very stressful twenty minutes, our luggage was finally located in an additional truck and was unloaded to the conveyor belt. Our bags were amongst the last to come out from behind the curtains and we were so happy to see that they had arrived! I used a public phone to call our hotel to arrange a shuttle to come and pick us up. We were advised to wait outside in a designated area for the shuttle to arrive. The van for Cambria Suites Fort Lauderdale showed up after about 45 minutes of waiting – at least we were soaking up the sunshine and enjoying our first view of the palm trees!