In the few days leading up to our call to Key West I became quite unwell and although I was feeling better by the time we reached Florida, I had no energy to do anything. I’d hardly slept and barely eaten for 3 days and my legs just couldn’t hold my weight. I did go ashore and I had a look around Mallory Square, but I couldn’t enjoy the day in full, I just wanted to go back to bed and catch up on some sleep. It was a shame as I feel like I missed out on that port, but I wanted to conserve my energy for Miami the following day.
Millionaires’ Miami and the Everglades
We arrived in Port Everglades and I boarded my tour bus for the ‘Millionaires Miami and Everglades’ tour. I was incredibly excited and the tour was one of the best of the cruise. We left the port and drove to Bayside in Miami to begin our boat tour. The weather was glorious and the skyline viewed from the boat was stunning. We also had the opportunity to see some impressive houses, most of which were owned by the rich and famous: P Diddy, Will Smith, David and Victoria Beckham, Nancy Sinatra and more – it was superb, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Once we left the boat, we re-joined our coach and drove to South Beach, this was another treat and an area I had been very much looking forward to seeing. We didn’t leave the coach, however, we only drove through, so that was a little disappointing, but I did see Gianni Versace’s house and the Everglades airboat ride which followed made up for not stopping in South Beach. We didn’t even make it to the boat before we spotted a huge alligator. It was a wonderful experience and nice to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wildlife. In all, the day was absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend the tour if it is your first time in Port Everglades.
Port Canaveral was our next stop and I had another full day tour booked: the up-close experience at Kennedy Space Center. I’m not a massive space enthusiast, but I really wanted to visit KSC and I am so glad that I did. I now have a whole new appreciation for space! There was so much to see and do, but our up-close pass allowed us to venture further out and see some of the launch pads, the iconic NASA building and the SpaceX building. We even spotted alligators, pink flamingo, racoons and wild pigs during the drive around. It is certainly worth paying the extra to do this, but I would recommend you do it as an organised excursion through your cruise line. The entire tour was absolutely fantastic, but the highlight for me was seeing the space shuttle Atlantis – to be standing just a few feet away from a craft that had been in space was just incredible. It was such an interesting place and there were several interactive exhibits. We ended our tour with a visit to the Imax cinema where we watched a video about what is to come in the future and how they are advancing everything from suit design to astronaut living quarters for the next mission – Mars! The space shuttle Orion is currently under construction and they are hoping that she will be ready to visit the red planet sometime in the 2030’s.
Charleston, the end of the journey
As we left Florida behind, we sailed for South Carolina and the historic port town of Charleston. I spent the day exploring on foot and doing some shopping, it was a lovely place and very picturesque – there were some stunning properties. Eventually, my feet told me it was time to take a break and off-load the shopping, so I returned to the ship, left my shopping bags and started on hike number 2. By the time I was back in sight of the ship for the second time it was after 5PM and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so dinner was on the cards! I visited Fleet Landing, which is quite literally a 2-minute walk away from the port gate, and I ordered the Lowcountry Boil. It was absolutely delicious and the shrimps were huge! I highly recommend Fleet Landing if you are ever in Charleston, superb food and great service. In the evening (we were in port until 11:30PM) I went to Molly Darcy’s Irish Pub for a few drinks – another place I would recommend – before getting absolutely drenched on the walk back to the ship.
Charleston marked the end of our Caribbean and USA adventure and we started the journey back across the Atlantic, with a stop in Ponta Delgada before arriving in Southampton.
Overall, it was a brilliant cruise and I can’t wait to (hopefully) do it all again! We did have a few hiccups, including a technical issue on the way back which delayed our arrival into Southampton by 4 hours, but these things happen. Was it ideal? Definitely not, but you can’t predict these things.
Oceana will sail the same itinerary in January 2017.
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