I'm awake before my alarm sounds. A shower, pack the last few items in my carry-on, and off to breakfast. I'm scheduled to be one of the first groups off the ship, but my bus isn't scheduled to leave until about 10:00, so I won't hurry.
I say goodby to some fellow passengers and to my cabin steward for the past three weeks, Junior. The line on the ship has thinned out and I am able to just walk into the terminal at my own pace. Then reality hits.
About 30 or 40 passengers find ourselves staring at a blocked escalator. A port employee starts screaming at us to go back. All are confused, the signs very clearly directed us to this escalator. We go back across the upper level of the building, towards the other escalator. Access to that is also blocked, but a reasonable employee removes the barrier so passengers can proceed.
I quickly find my luggage. There is a line marked for "Global Entry" passengers. I confirm with a port worker, yes this is the right line. There are actually three lines today. One for passengers with Global Entry cards, one for passengers that are using a relatively new phone app to collect passport and declaration information, and a third for all other passengers.
My line is short, with maybe 50 passengers in front of me. The other two lines probably have 500 passengers each. The three lines snake around the floor, eventually leading to a couple of workers directing passengers to one of the two Customs agents.
I mange to be out of the building in 30 minutes. Many passengers wait in line for over two hours.
Some days Port Everglades has 6 or 8 ships unloading passengers at the same time. Today the Serenade is the only ship. Only two customs agents available. There appears to be something obviously wrong here.
It is cool but comfortable as I wait for my bus. Eventually it arrives and we board. Then we wait some more. There are still passengers waiting to get thru customs.
The driver left the engine running so there would be AC in the bus. Suddenly it dies. No one was even close to the drivers seat. I have a flash back to my excursion bus of a few days ago. Am I jinxing buses on this trip? The driver gets it started and there is no further issue.
We make up some time by minimizing our lunch stop time in Ft Pierce. I arrive in Orlando at 2:45. Another wait for my daughter to arrive with my van. I'm home by 4:00. though the shuttle bus definitely required more time, it really is an easy and economical way to get to the port and back.
The next cruise I have booked is March 12, 2018 for two months headed to North Africa and a number of ports in the Med. Note that I did not say that would be my next cruise. Three months is a long time to be stuck on land.