Fort Lauderdale is a major port in Florida where you will embark on your cruise of a lifetime. If you are new to cruising, like we were, Fort Lauderdale will have you mesmerised with the number of cruise ships docked in one port.
Whether you are looking for cruises to the Caribbean from Florida or cruises to Mexico from Florida, Fort Lauderdale port is the place to start your cruising adventure.
Last Minute Cruise Deals from Florida to Mexico
Our first ever cruise with Eurodam arrived at Fort Lauderdale Port the day of our departure with Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas.
Related Post: 7 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise
So Why another cruise?
Well, we weren’t planning on a back-to-back cruise when we first started planning our trip around Florida.
It was only because when we calculated the combined cost of accommodation, rental car and food costs onshore for five nights, it added up to more than the cost of a cruise. It was partly due to weekend accommodation costs skyrocketing in places like the Florida Keys.
Taking a tip from our good friends Louise and Kerry of Wellington, who enjoy cruising, we searched the last-minute cruise deals leaving on the same day we arrived back in port.
Well, a long weekend as this was a 5-day cruise to Mexico with Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas.
So, when we disembarked from the Eurodam at 10 am, we only had to walk 750 metres to our next all-inclusive cruise to Mexico.
Getting to Fort Lauderdale Port
You have a few options to reach your ship:
- Shuttle Bus
- Airport Bus
If you are arriving at Fort Lauderdale airport, there is a free airport bus to the port.
This is an easy option as the bus is direct and runs to a timetable.
A taxi or shuttle taxi for a short distance from the airport is an expensive option.
Depending on where you are staying the night before your cruise departure, the Motor Lodge or Motel you choose may provide a free shuttle bus. But, you may want to check how many guests are expecting the free shuttle. If a large number, you may have to wait for the shuttle.
Sometimes a taxi is the best option to get you to the cruise ship terminal from your accommodation.
Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas
Independence of the Seas is a very large ship with 15 decks, a capacity for 4,300 passengers and a 1,360 crew.
On board when you arrive, you can purchase drink packages and wifi packages.
The Royal Caribbean cruise was popular for lots of couples, young families and family groups. Compared to the Eurodam of mainly older clients.
Cruise packages make it an ideal way for Mum, Dad, the kids and Grandparents to travel together for a holiday vacation. No hassle with who is doing the cooking or washing up, or even with having to come up with suggestions of what to do.
Cruising is a hassle-free vacation.
What to Expect on Your 5-Day Cruise to Mexico
The sun was shining and the sea calm, so we went up on deck with views of Cuba in the distance. We were on our way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Cruising to Mexico had two planned stops to experience the flavours of Mexico:
- Costa Maya
So what can you do on board?
- Several swimming pools
- A circuit for running or walking
- An ice skating rink
- A rock climbing wall
- Several theatres
- An outdoor cinema
- A gym
The list of daily cruise activities is numerous and, at times, felt like the English “hi di hi” camp resorts.
Take a Stroll along the Royal Promenade
The indoor Royal Promenade of the Independence of the Seas was impressive.
The height alone of four levels with beautiful chandeliers is a wow factor, as also the boutique shops for browsing and buying.
But, one of the best things to do, and it’s free, is to stop by the cafe for a coffee and cake or grab a slice of pizza.
How cool is that?
You’ll also find a range of bars for a drink or restaurants to enjoy.
On Board Evening Entertainment
One of the evening ship events had the promenade abuzz with two singers providing entertainment on the bridge crossing the Royal Promenade.
The cruise staff provided endless champagne for the Gala Night.
With another evening of fine dining, we took in a late show. Just one of the many shows provided each evening.
Fine Dining aboard Independence of the Seas
On board, you do have an option of fine dining as part of your cruise package.
We found Fine Dining was a welcomed change from the standard dining room. For one thing, the menu is superb and the dining experience more enjoyable.
While they recommend making a reservation, especially for the evening dining, we found there was only a short wait for breakfast and lunch dining.
We had our own table for breakfast, while at lunch, we sat at a group table of 10 people and enjoyed good conversation.
And when the chef asked about our accent, we replied New Zealand. “Do you get many Kiwis on board,” and he replied, “Oh yeah, heaps.” He was referring to Kiwifruit, and we were referring to the nickname for New Zealanders. Classic!
Snorkelling in Cozumel, Mexico
Cozumel is Mexico’s largest island, mainly undeveloped and once home to the Mayan people. It was our first stop on our 5-day Mexico Cruise.
We disembarked at 8.30 am onto the pier built for the cruise ships. The pier catered to tourists with shops offering the usual souvenirs, duty-free items, diamonds, jewellery and the local brew, Tequila.
No shopping for us, we instead chose a local company for snorkelling.
The snorkelling offered two dive spots in the morning close by, so we knew we wouldn’t be late back to the ship.
With a happy Captain, two crew and a diver, we were on our way to the first snorkel for 40 minutes. There was plenty of fish and coral, with Maura finding a large Spotted Eagle Ray showing a cape of silver on black. We nicknamed him Dracula.
The group then followed the Spotted Eagle Ray for a while as he skimmed the bottom, flipping up sand as he went.
The second site for snorkelling was a little disappointing, with fewer fish and dead coral.
What was more interesting was when the diver dove to the bottom to retrieve a conch shell. His diving technique to gently ascend back to the top was slow and graceful.
Getting back on board the boat, Terry felt a stinging sensation on his back. One look at his back to realise stingers had selected a large area to attack.
Where’s the vinegar?
The crew on the boat were quick with the request to soothe the area and help ease the pain.
Party Time on Board
Snorkelling completed, and the onboard party began.
Margaritas and Rum Punch were an endless supply, along with a sandwich to soak up the alcohol.
And with an array of music and the first officer providing the dance moves, we enjoyed an hour of Mexican fun before returning to shore.
History of the Mayans in Costa Maya, Mexico
Costa Maya on the Yucatan Penninsula was our second stop on our 5-day Florida to Mexico cruise.
Mahahual is the actual name of the town of 1,500 people. The Yucatan Penninsula is in the wetlands of one million-acre rainforest, the second largest in the Americas after the Amazon.
The people who live here are descendants of the Mayans who first settled on the Yucatan Penninsula in 300-400BC which became part of Mexico in 1974.
Book an Excursion with a Local Company
We booked an excursion to visit one of the ceremonial sites of Chacchoben (City of Red Corn) with The Native Choice. A locally owned company with an office near the port.
You can book directly at their website, The Native Choice.
The drive from the port took about 45mins, with the whole tour lasting four hours. We were treated to a history lesson from our tour guide, a descendant of the Mayan people.
We even stopped at her village on the return trip to buy some delicious pineapples, one of the benefits of using a friendly local company.
The ceremonial site we visited was once owned by a family and had been excavated to reveal the ruins.
The Mayan population grew to over 150,000 in many of its cities, and this ruin would have been the centre of one of many small villages.
Mayans used astrology to determine their 365-year calendar and equinoxes to align planting and harvesting to their endless summer.
Unfortunately, overcrowding and farming the same plots of land, as well as clearing important rainforests, saw the decimation of the Mayans in 1200AD during a 6-8 year drought.
Costa Maya Port
Returning to the Costa Maya Port, specifically built for the cruise ships, we found the shops and restaurants are a tourist haven.
It was sad to see dolphins enclosed in small pools as part of the tourist attractions.
For us, we wanted to try the local food, rather than the tourist food offered here.
We walked back towards the Native Choice office, where a couple of local vans offered pita wraps with pulled pork or beans of local flavour. Delicious.
At Sea from Mexico to Florida
Calm seas and blues skies for our last full day aboard the ship.
Independence of the Seas provided plenty of activities for the day, even a Grease stage show for the evening.
A game of shuffleboard in the afternoon proved to be dependent on the sway of the ship at times. A lot of fun, though, even with our competitive nature.
The security detail was out in force when it got a bit windy in the afternoon. Luckily, the guys are only fitted with cameras, not guns, to ensure everyone stays onboard.
The final evening of Onboard Cruise Entertainment
Chatting to different couples at dinner, cruising is a way they can take a holiday from work. Everything is done for them. Others booked as it’s a chance to holiday with extended family or party with friends.
Tonight one of the evening entertainment was dancing from the 70s to Salsa. If you are looking for a quieter evening, then the Piano Bar or Casino is the best place.
And something we will miss.
Is our lovely room service that decorates the room with folded towels. We returned to find our towel sitting there reading the shore excursions for Florida.
Tomorrow we would disembark and head to the Florida Keys and Tampa for the Gasparilla Festival.