Flying to USA and cruising in the Eastern Caribbean, part 1.

The heat wave we are now in (34 ° at 11pm) reminds me of the cruise that I did 4 years ago …

Birthday present to myself.

One of my dreams was to go on a cruise to a nice warm country, with a bit of culture.

After asking around in my circle of friends, my friend Lia turned out to be the one who wanted to come along and from then on, vague plans suddenly became concrete.
First we talked to a couple whose man is also in a wheelchair, they had already taken several cruises and if someone could give me tips and information they were. I had known for a while what I wanted: to warm up in the winter, to see some interesting things, and above all: enjoy.


Via a travel agency we decided to go for the Eastern Caribbean. This cruise left at the beginning of February and would last 11 days. 7 days seemed too short for me, 14 days or more seemed too long for the first time.

A toast to our journey!

With Elke from the travel agency I discussed very clearly what I could and could not do. I wanted a wheelchair-adapted cabin, because I can walk about twenty meters, but cannot climb or descend stairs. The shower, for example, really had to be without any step up, and space was needed for my (small manual) wheelchair in the room. Transfers to and from my wheelchair can be done independently, and the fact that I am relatively small and light also plays to my advantage. I also told her that I have no problem if someone had to lift me up to get rid of something, for example.

Take off!

And so it was arranged that on Thursday 12 February we would leave at 5 am by taxi from here, towards the airport in Düsseldorf. From there we would fly to Fort Lauderdale with Air Berlin, with a flight of 10.5 am. With a modified taxi we would drive to our hotel Hyatt Regency Pier 66 where we would stay 1 night with breakfast.

The next day, we would drive to the port with an adapted taxi, just 10 minutes away from the hotel. And there our great adventure would begin …

Our taxi (very) early in the morning was on time. The van did not have a lift, but the driver had no problem lifting me up for a moment and crashing onto the seat ☺.
Wheelchair and all luggage were placed in the trunk in a flash.

An hour and a half later we were at the airport and there too we got help from the taxi driver with our suitcases. He bought us a luggage carrier on which we could put all our belongings, wished us a very good trip and he was gone. However, we were able to check in fairly quickly, which meant that we quickly lost our large luggage. That was less dragging, because it took some getting used to for Lia. She wanted to push me, but also had her own hands full of luggage ☺.
We’ve known each other for years, but it was the first time that we really left together for a longer period. So it was a bit of ‘scanning’ from both sides.

Airport assistance was ready, so checking in and all the steps we had to follow before we were on the plane itself, went without saying. The big advantage of this is that you don’t have to wait anywhere. Traveling with a wheelchair also has its advantages ☺.

Landed safely.

10.5h later we landed safely and well in Fort Lauderdale after a good flight. Time passed pretty well because there are all kinds of things that distract you. You are regularly offered something to drink, twice a (very tasty!) Meal, you have a TV screen on which you can watch all kinds of films, play games, listen to music, follow your flight, etc … You get earplugs from the hostesses so that you do not disturb anyone. The only small drawback: I expected that the seats / legroom would be a bit more spacious, certainly for such a long flight. This was not a problem for myself, but for people who are more corpulent this is quite difficult.

Relax! You’re on holiday! 😀

We landed around 2.30 p.m. American time in Fort Lauderdale, and assistance was already there. From then on we immediately experienced how friendly and very helpful people there are, and how the staff puts you at ease at all times. I can no longer count on two hands how often we have heard during our trip: “Relax! Take it easy! You’re on holiday! ’Just great! We also needed these words in the first half hour, because in the crowd! we didn’t find my suitcase … Lia had immediately seen her suitcase, but mine seemed to be missing. Imagine, just landed … tired … very warm because you are still wearing your warm clothes from home, while it ‘s over 25° there … and your journey has yet to begin … But very soon we received help from a ‘suitcase man’ who diligently helped with the search and also came to the assistance! Phew! ☺

With the assistance, the customs process also went smoothly. We heard afterwards that this turned out to be no laughing matter for “normal” people. American customs is apparently very strict, and a punctuality campaign was underway, causing waiting times of up to 3-4 hours …

Sunny and warm Miami!

Outside, in the radiant blue sky and oh so nice and warm, our taxi driver was already waiting. How easy can it be … A chic larger family car, where my wheelchair fit into the suitcase without a problem, and with which we arrived at our hotel “Hyatt Regency Pier 66” a 45-minute drive away.

The “hotel boys” were already waiting for us there. We only had to get out (wheelchair and suitcases were already removed in a quicky) and follow them. This luxury … it took some getting used to 🙂 .

I reserved an adapted room and upon entering two things struck me: the enormous space and the bed … enormously wide … and high … giggly laughter conditions already started there … For heaven’s sake why did I have to run out of my short legs … Thanks to Lia’s inventiveness, this has succeeded anyway :).
The bathroom was also very spacious. A walk-in shower, raised toilet, wheelchair accessible sink … ok, maybe not all according to the norm, but certainly doable! We didn’t do much anymore that late afternoon, we were pretty tired of our trip so far. A light evening snack could barely get in and we fell asleep in our huge bed like two roses.

The breakfast (payable separately) the next day was also more than worth the effort. Plenty of choice, impossible to leave hungry.
Because we still had a few hours left, we went to explore the facilities of our hotel.
At that time, 12 February at 10 a.m., thick 24 °, how blissful it can be … The outdoor swimming pools had a hoist, the various eateries next to the swimming pool easily accessible terraces … I could live here!

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