We drove into Tampa on Friday, picked up our friends at the airport, and found out that our Acura can hold 4 large bags, 4 average bags, 2 small bags, several backpacks, computers bags, and purses and still have room for 3 people. OK 4 if one seats on the lap of another. We stayed at the Hampton Inn just down the street from the cruise port. There is something to be said about staying in a hotel the night before the cruise and waking up refreshed and ready to go. It also helps that you can park our car there for half the price the port charges.
Sunday morning, went to church, returned to the hotel, hauled our bags to the shuttle point, and was dropped off at the port before noon. As the shuttle approached the terminal port my blood pressure rose. There were tired, departing passengers trying to get picked up at the same terminal area as us, excited arriving passengers are being dropped off. This has all the ingredients for and made for a lot of confusion, congestion, and all out craziness. The baggage handling was worse than an airport drop off with porters winding in and around the cars, buses, and vans all trying to get in and out. Bags were being unloaded, grabbed, stacked on carts by the porters. In seconds the tips were smashed into their pockets, and they, with our bags disappeared in the general direction of the ship. With hope that you will see them again, you follow the crowd to the single open door guarded over by an grumpy, overworked security person.
Our departure was short lived, no sooner had we pulled away from the dock at 4pm than we were pushed back due to engine problems. Corrections were made delaying our departure until 7pm. We didnít seem to have any other problems for the rest of the cruise, so good job to the chief engineer and his crew. The down side to this delay was that we pasted under the skyway bridge in the cloudy and rainy dark, not able to see much. I was looking forward to seeing this large ship inch its way under that beautiful bridge.