Liz and John's South American Grand Cruise 2014 travel blog

Dolphin and orca show


Sea lion looking Sam-like

Nile crocs

Endangered manatee eating lettuce for lunch

Flamingos bringing colour into our day - same colour as my nose!

Saturday 4 January

Day 4 - Fort Lauderdale

The one thing i love about being married to John is the way we share everything! I woke with his cold so I'm going to be coughing and spluttering for the five days that he did! We had been going to drive South to Key Largo but I must admit that seemed so we decided to drive into Miami and go to Key Biscayne on the Miami Peninsula. It was meant to be about 35 miles so that seemed a reasonable distance to drive. However the weather was pretty ordinary, cool, windy and drizzly. It looked as though beach walking, swimming and sight seeing was going to be limited.

We skipped breakfast and decided to drive South and find a diner somewhere for brunch. We didn't get organised until ten so got in the car, put Key Biscayne in the GPS and started driving. We needed to avoid the toll roads because we didn't have a toll card. We thought it looked pretty simple but that was far from the truth. We both had to concentrate on driving on the right and working out which lane to drive on in an 8-10 lane highway. The GPS kept on saying keep far right then go far left and you had to keep an eye on all the traffic going at different speeds in the different lanes. I must admit John got the hang of it pretty quickly but we missed one important turn off and ended up on a tollway. However they are what are called partial tollways so you can elect to go express in which you pay the toll, or go slow and fight with all the traffic. We chose the latter because going slow gave you time to think!

We eventually found ourselves at Biscayne Key but the weather was miserable that walking along the beach front was out. It was very quiet so there was plenty of room to park and the loo was easy to get too. How is it that when you get older the whereabouts of the loos becomes so important in our lives?! We then saw a sign for the Miami Seaquarium. We'd read that it was the oldest Aquarium in the world so we decided to give it a go. We were given free parking because we had an invalid parking sticker and I got in free saving us $44. They do look after their handicapped people in many ways. We like to see the advantages in using a scooter!

The Seaquarium was smaller than Sea World at the Gold Coast but it was easy to navigate and there were ramps everywhere so seeing everything was no problem for me. We first had our brunch but that was a mistake. We had turkey wraps which were truly horrible so we picked out the contents and left the inedible wraps! We accompanied the wraps with pretty bad coffee. We are really spoiled in Australia with the quality of our coffee in the majority of our caf├ęs. Most of the places in US seem to get their coffee out of instant machines and it still costs $3-4 plus taxes.

However we then had a chance to look around and the reef aquarium was quite good but the one on the Sunshine Coast was so much better. We mustn't keep comparing I suppose. However we also saw a really good show with four girls who were swimming and doing tricks with dolphins and a beautiful orca. I know the Miami orcas have had some bad press in the past few years with a damning documentary made recently about the conditions orcas are kept in most aquariums around the world. But I must admit it was all quite impressive and quite funny as well. We enjoyed it although neither of us really like the idea of keeping such beautiful animals in captivity. However most are either rescued animals after being hurt, or actually bred in captivity so I suppose one can feel a bit better about that. Like Sea World on the Gold Coast they do a really important job of saving and treating injured and sick marine animals, and the Seaquarium funds those programs.

We also had the opportunity to see the seriously endangered Manatees which are the same family as our dugongs. They are herbaceous and feed on see grasses, but the ones at Miami live well on a vast supply of lettuce. They were being fed while we were there. There was one really large one called Juliet which had been in the Seaquarium since 1956 and had given birth to over 30 calves. Her mate was called Romeo! There were several others which were either born in captivity or had been rescued. They are such docile creatures and we watched them for ages. We also looked at the sea lions and they reminded us of Sam and Pal without the flop ears. They looked straight at you with that affectionate doggy expression. We saw turtles; sharks; Nile crocodiles (which are darker and more squat than the Aussie variety); beautiful bids including colourful Macaws, different large parrots including sulphur crested cockatoos, and flamingos; sting rays; and several different types of dolphins. The weather wasn't the greatest with on off drizzle but it wasn't that cold so we didn't really mind. We stayed there several hours before departing on our journey home. John was quite expert driving in the conditions by this time and we got back to the hotel without incident.

We then had a chance to put our feet up for a few hours before going out to dinner. We chose the Pier 66 Restaurant at the hotel since they are going to pay the bill! We have a night of packing up because tomorrow our real adventure starts when we join the MV Prinsendam.

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