Oct 21, 2018 - This morning we had some time to explore the pool and beach areas of Acqualina Resort before departing for Port Everglades. Acqualina has three beautiful swimming pools: one for families, an "activities" pool, and one for adults only. Luxurious loungers surround each pool as do semi-private cabanas.
There is plenty of shade from large palm trees for those who prefer to stay out of direct sunlight and, of course, more than enough sun for those who are working on the perfect tan. The beach is just steps away from the pool and is perhaps the nicest beach we have seen in Miami.
We only wish we had more time to spend here and enjoy this beautiful property. Acqualina Resort is definitely at the top of our list of favorite places to stay in Miami. If you are looking for a luxury getaway for a few days prior to boarding your cruise, or after disembarking your cruise, Acqualina Resort & Spa is the place.
At around 11:30, we arranged for an Uber to pick us up at the resort for the 30-minute drive to Port Everglades. Our driver delivered us to Terminal 2 at 12:15 where we turned our large luggage over to the porters for delivery to our stateroom.
Princess begins embarkation at noon and lines were alredy beginning to form. We were surprised at how fast the lines were moving. Within a few minutes, we were sending our carry-on luggage through the x-ray scanners and checking in. Check-in is simple. Just hand over the Princess Boarding Passes (printed out from the Cruise Personalizer website) and your passports. Passports are scanned and returned to you along with your stateroom key. The stateroom key serves as your boarding pass for getting on or off the ship during the cruise and as your charge card for any onboard purchases.
It literally took us less than 10 minutes from the time we dropped our luggage until we were walking onto Deck 5 of Island Princess. We wasted no time getting to Deck 8 (Emerald) Forward and dropping our hand luggage in our stateroom (E211). Our first impression of our balcony stateroom was one of familiarity. The stateroom was virtually identical to the one we had on Royal Princess a few years ago. The modest 225 sq. ft. stateroom is compact, yet functional. Of course, we will go into great detail about the stateroom in our final review.
After dropping our luggage, we wanted to make sure we got on the waiting list for The Chef's Table dining experience. We stopped at Bordeaux Restaurant on Deck 5 and spoke to Head Waiter, George, who wrote down our name and stateroom number and promised to give our request to the Maitre'd. Our next stop was a visit to The Sanctuary (Deck 15 aft) to see about reserving a spot on a sea day. We met with Ali who was very responsive and assured us that we would have a spot!
Once we took care of our Chef's Table and The Sanctuary requests, it was time for lunch! But, first things first: we must start the cruise with a welcome aboard cocktail. A stop at the Lido Bar produced a Mojito for Rickee and a Piña Colada for me.
We decided to have lunch in Horizon Court, Island Princess' Lido buffet. The crowds were already beginning to form there by the time we arrived. We enjoyed a quick lunch, then headed back to our stateroom to unpack.
We met our stateroom attendant, Dario, as we entered our stateroom and he was very nice. We were pleased to learn that our large luggage had been delivered while we were at lunch. Rickee, as usual, asked for more hangers for her steamer trunk full of clothes. Within minutes, Dario returned with a handful of hangers. We also noticed that the bottled water we had pre-ordered online had been delivered as promised.
After unpacking, it was time to attend the mandatory muster drill. Our muster station is the Princess Theater located just one deck below our stateroom. Thankfully, Princess no longer requires guests to bring their life vests to the muster drill. Instead, crew members demonstrate how to properly put on the life vest and other safety information is delivered.
After the muster drill, we walked around the ship to better familiarize ourselves with the layout. Island Princess would have been considered a mega-ship 15 years ago. By today's standards, she is a mid-size ship carrying a maximum of 2,200 guests.
We requested Anytime Dining instead of the traditional assigned seating dining option. We arrived at the dining room just as guests were lining up for the second seating. We met the Maitre'd, Silvio, who greeted us and escorted us to a nice table for two. We each enjoyed a delicious shrimp appetizer and a prime rib main course for dinner.
After dinner, we headed to the Princess Theater for the 9:45pm Welcome Aboard Show featuring comedian Scott Wyler. After a welcome from Cruise Director, Kevin Tugwell, we enjoyed a hilarious comedy show by Wyler. Hopefully, we will have a chance to see his next show a couple of days from now.
Tomorrow is a relaxing day at sea. Perhaps a visit to The Sanctuary is in order?