It wasn't easy getting off the ship...in Boca Raton, Florida now...

When we arrive in Belize on January 29th and get situated in our little beach house,  we'll be very relieved.  Tom is having angst about the "tender" coming to pick us up in Belize and the maneuvering of our luggage.

Most passengers will be disembarking for an excursion, not like us with the intent of staying off the ship, not to return for the remaining two night journey back to Florida.  As a result, we'll most likely be the only passengers loading luggage onto the tender.

The reason the Celebrity Equinox (or other cruise ships) cannot dock at the pier in Belize is its size...too big.  Its too shallow at the pier for huge ships. 

As much as I try to reassure Tom that the ship's staff will assist us as well as the tender's staff, hired by Celebrity to assist passengers on and off, he remains steadfast in his concern. 

Determined to allay his fear, I will prepare for this scenario with guest services aboard ship days in advance to ensure staff is on hand and ready to take over. Yes, it will cost us in tips, as it did yesterday disembarking the Celebrity Century.

Oh.  Disembarking in Fort Lauderdale yesterday was a little challenging. Yes, we know we have too many bags.  Yes, we know as time marches on we'll end up reducing the amount of our luggage.  But if we'd only had two large bags, two carry on bags and two computer bags, it still was challenging.  We stayed calm.

A kind older man, a porter of small stature, seeing our abundant orange luggage as we fumbled grabbing it among the piles of black bags, approached asking if we'd could use his services.  We looked at each other, wildly shaking our heads, "YES!"  This porter was strong as a horse immediately loading our copious bags onto his large cart.  The line to go through customs was several hundred deep.

Our friend, with whom we are staying until Monday was standing by for our text with instructions as to where to pick us up.  At this point, there was no way to determine how long it would take.  The kind porter waited in line with us for the 20 or so minutes it took to get through customs.  How much to tip him

Getting through customs was a breeze in itself. When we saw how fast the line was moving I contacted our friend who was 35 minutes away in Boca Raton giving her our exact location. We were asked if we purchased anything, which we had not, asked to show our passports and scooted on through without opening a single bag.  That took less than two minutes.

Then, the fun began.  We were escorted to the massive parking lots with fast moving cars and trucks were dropping off and picking up passengers and dropping off supplies for the ships, several of which surrounded us.  Traffic cops in orange vests were directing traffic, annoyed by our need to find a spot to unload our luggage and wait for our friend. 

Actually, standing in a curved lane of traffic with our bags neatly lined up next to us, the porter on his way with our $50 tip  (he'd been with us for over a half hour), we watched every white SUV whizzing by, hoping it was our friend.  Dressed in short sleeves, I was cold.  Who knew it would be only 60 degrees when weather reports indicated high 70's?  I should have worn a jacket or sweater.  Tom, as usual was comfortable.  My guy, so sturdy.  Me, a wimp.

Twenty five minutes later our friend arrived to our smiling faces, anxious to get on the road. The kind porter suddenly reappeared to assist once again. Apparently, the $50 tip had been adequate and we were pleased to let him help Tom.

Forty minutes later we unloaded the bags, leaving most of the bags in her garage, bringing in only our two duffel bags filled with dirty clothes, our laptop bags, my handbag and a doctor bag of toiletries.  Surely, this would suffice for the weekend with us leaving to sail away again on Monday, January 21st on the Celebrity Expedition for our trip to Belize.

Walking into our friend's gorgeous Boca Raton home was comforting, our accommodations ideal.  Unpacking our six loads of dirty clothes form 15 days aboard the Celebrity Century, the washer is still going non-stop today.  Paying special attention to drying cycles hoping to avoid wrinkles has kept me running back and forth.

Its raining today.  We'd hoped to sit by her inviting pool, soaking up our 45 minutes of sun, swimming in the pool, relaxing.  Instead, we'll busy ourselves inside today, calling family, completing the laundry and helping to cook a big meal for more company coming tonight.  We're good.  We're content.

We're living our new life.

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