CruiseWorld 2014, November 5th, 2014, DAY ONE

So, Day One begins at midnite aboard an airplane at 40,000 feet. I am liking JetBlue. Between the extra legroom of Even More Space, and the wave thru at security, they appear to be making flying less miserable. They even have attendants that can smile and talk and stuff!

I landed at 7am, in Fort Lauderdale. FLL continues to be a nice airport, with minimal lines and efficient baggage handling etc. I took my first UBER ride from FLL to the hotel. In the next couple days, I took several more. I officially love UBER. For those of you who don't know, Uber is a ride sharing service. Instead of ugly yellow cars, Uber drivers use their own personal vehicles. It's an app-based service, where you put in your pick up and drop off location, the request goes out to all the drivers in the area, and the nearest or quickest driver grabs it and heads to your location. You get a picture of the driver, a description of his car, and sometimes a call from the driver to verify your exact location. During 3 Uber rides in as many days, all the vehicles were clean, the drivers friendly and helpful (most of them, despite Uber's start as an "anti-taxi" operation, are former cabbies who say they make more money with more flexible hours with Uber than they did working for traditional taxi companies). Anyway, so Prosper picked up my agent, Nancy, and myself, took us to the Hilton Ft  Lauderdale Marina, along with our luggage, for $8.80, which included a 20% tip (you can adjust the general tip rate on the app, or increase or decrease it for specific rides). As your Uber account is linked to a credit/debit card, or Google Wallet, the entire transaction is cashless. And awesomely convenient. And cheap. Roughly half the price of a taxi in Fort Lauderdale.

Upon arriving to the hotel, of course no rooms were ready before 8am, but I checked in and the front desk took my cell number and said they would call me when the room was ready. Dropped my bags with the bell desk, and headed over to the Westin to meet another of my agents, and help her get checked in there. We then proceeded to the Broward County Convention Center to register for CruiseWorld. I dilly-dallied and shilly-shallied around the speakers lounge setup there, getting my caffeine/blood ratio where it needed to be, talked to a few friends and such until 10 when I got the call, ran back to the Hilton and checked in. Then back over for more meeting and greeting until lunch, which was a self-service affair in the lobby. Amongst the several choices I picked a turkey/mozzarella panini that was, in it's defense, free to me. 'nuff said.

After lunch my friend Gretchen arrived from San Antonio, and I went over to get her settled in and unpacked, at which time the Opening General Session was almost upon me. So, one more hike to the convention center and some speechifying/networking/etc.

The point of all this is just to say...Wednesday was a busy damn day of running around accomplishing little, but in a very focused way. So, finally, it was time to go back to the hotel, take a deep breath, change and go to the Party At The Quarterdeck.

The Party At The Quarterdeck is one of those things that happen from time to time...from a casual comment about "hey, are we getting together at the QD again this year?", referring to some prior years when a few people met there for dinner during a trade show or before a cruise, to turning it into a semi-official event, with it's own Facebook Event page and everything, to getting 80ish RSVP's from people I'd never heard of, to seeing at least 50 actually show up and jam in to an area meant for 30 was quite delightful. I managed to show up just a few minutes after the official 8pm start time (due to the fact I had to stop and pick up a new laptop, the result of a whole different story I am not going to tell here, because A: I don't want to sound all whingy and complainy, and B: It's mostly my own fault and who really needs to be reminded of their inadequacies like that?) and the place was already packed. It took a little doing, but we managed to wedge ourselves in to a booth. It was already full, and people just kept showing up. Awesome. Our poor servers were run ragged for the next couple hours as both dinner and an excess of alcohol was delivered and mostly consumed (some was used to keep the floors and tables lubricated).

As the Party At The Quarterdeck wound down, 5 of us started walking home. As we got close to the hotel, there were several loud thuds, which I first thought was an accident on the causeway. Then I saw the flashes and sparkles, and we realized it was a fireworks show for the brand new Regal Princess which was docked nearby, having just been christened that morning. So we ran under the causeway to the other side and stood and watched the show for a while. It was a lovely and unexpected way to end a busy and fun day.

And with that, we were off to bed. 7am Thursday was looming.

Which I shall tell you about, soon!

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