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Published: March 29th 2018
Today we have arrived at Key West, the last stop of our seven day cruise through the Western Caribbean. There are two other ships in port with us, the Carnival Sensation and a Royal Caribbean ship docked at the main harbor in town so we must use the facilities at the adjacent naval station. Although it's just an extension of the commercial pier, it's on an active military base and access is restricted. Once off the ship passengers will be escorted off the base and no photos are allowed while on the facility.
Our alarm sounds at 7:30am and minutes later the immigration instructions start. Although we will be docking in Ft Lauderdale tomorrow, Key West is the first US port we are arriving at after visiting foreign ports so that is where immigration officials will be checking all passengers. We decide to get this formality over with before breakfast so we report to Deck 2, passports in hand for a face-to-face encounter with government officials. There's a long line but it moves quickly and soon we are on our way up to the Lido for breakfast, our ship cards punched, identifying that we have completed the government
check. I assume we won't be required to repeat the process tomorrow in Ft Lauderdale.
It's just oatmeal and toast for me and Karen follows suit. We sit upstairs until 10, just watching the people and sipping our coffee. I guess it it's time for us to check out Key West. I have booked a tour, a HOHO bus (hop on, hop off) that will take us around town, actually around the island in about one and a half hours. We can get off at any one of 14 stops and reboard another bus. The buses are no more than 30 minutes between them. They're nice open air trolley buses but it's cool today, less than 70F. A cold front in the northeast has pushed cold air down into Florida making it unseasonably cool for March. Mom has decided that this will be a bus today with no HOHO going on as she refuses to disembark at any one of the stops. She's a rider so we just ride the entire route, listening to the driver as he recounts the history and sites of the area. I was concerned about the damage from last year's hurricanes but we saw
only one building. Maybe they just changed the route.
We finish the ride around 1pm and, following the recommendation of our trolley driver for authentic Cuban food, we check out the quaint restaurant El Meson de Pepe. We order a combination plate to share; Lechon Asado, Roma Vieja and Picadillo along with a rum and fruit cocktail. Everything was delicious. Not Mexican. It's different and makes for a great lunch. We do a little shopping here in town before catching the trolley back through the base to the ship. We have a dinner reservation tonight at 5:30 so I take some time to start this blog while Mom starts packing our four bags for tonight's pickup.
Promptly at 5:30pm we arrive at the Tamarind Restaurant, one of four dining venues whose prices are not included in ones cruise fare. This one is $25/pp. and perched high up on the 11th deck with a beautiful view of the sea as we cruise toward Ft Lauderdale. The restaurant features menus evoking the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, China and Japan. It was a great place but this venue is only offered on some of the newer ships.
need to finish packing and organizing our stuff so we won't be going to any shows or music venues but we do need to do one thing. Guest services has left a message informing us that we have a $306.81 credit on our shipboard account that we will lose at close of business tonight if not redeemed. I purchase two $10 t-shirts and I'm done, leaving the rest to Karen. It was a difficult task but she finds two nice necklaces that has now sucked up my credit balance and then some. What a relief!
Back at our stateroom, we thank our cabin staff BangBang and Putu with a "Jackson", finish our chores and set the luggage out for pickup later tonight. I watch a couple of nature shows while finishing this blog before calling it a night. Tomorrow we leave the Nieuw Amsterdam in Ft Lauderdale and board the Westerdam. We have some work to do.
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