What a relief – my laptop has been returned after going missing somewhere at check-in. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful but it was a worry – apart from anything else I would have had to use the icafe (Deck 7) rather than being able to write from the balcony of our deluxe verandah stateroom, where I can’t get enough of the balmy air and wonderful, soothing expanse of ocean. I met my cruise companion, Kim in the Miami Downtown Hilton after a long flight from Sydney via LA (and long queues at the airport for security), to find out there’d been a triple-shooting at the building next door to the hotel that afternoon. An interesting start to our adventure … The following morning we took a cab ($20) to South Beach (SoBe), where we strolled along Ocean Drive photographing the wonderful Art Deco buildings and relishing being total tourists. You can eat a gargantuan breakfast for just a few bucks (no wonder there’s such an obesity problem – mind you, my own is developing rapidly) – we shared a plate of french toast that was lavishly slathered with the thickest cream and about half a pint of maple syrup. The cruise terminal was a mere $15 taxi ride from the Hilton – and finally we met a cab driver who was friendly. The embarkation process was quick and easy (you do it all online before you go to speed things up) and how delicious to sink a late-afternoon cocktail at the Mast Bar before the crowds gathered for the 5pm sailaway.