Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Catching The Cruise Ship

I solemnly swear I will never go through this again.

My first cruise experience got off to a rocky start, to say the least. We booked a direct flight from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport to Miami so that we would arrive several hours before departing on the Celebrity Century cruise ship. We awoke to a beautiful Saturday morning and the weather would not be an issue. Saturday morning traffic through Cincinnati would also not be an issue. We could taste the salt air and the rum drinks already. Then the first text arrived, early in the morning.

Our flight was delayed.

We looked online and every other plane in the whole airport was making an on time departure, except ours. Just our luck. But not a problem, we still have plenty of buffer, and now we have time from breakfast at First Watch. We loaded our luggage in the Jeep and left for the week. During breakfast the second text came through.

Our flight was further delayed.

This delay was going to make getting to the ship tight. And what are the chances that this wasn’t the last delay. We headed to AAA, our travel agency, for assistance in finding alternate flights. There was a flight from Dayton connecting through Atlanta that would arrive about the same time as the twice delayed original choice. We rebooked, not wanting the maintenance issue the first flight was having to bite us a third time. We also starting some contingency planning, which included stopping at home to pick up two carry-on bags in the event our luggage was delayed in baggage claim.

We headed to the Dayton airport talking about what we should put in the carry on luggage. Swimsuits, some dressy clothes and makeup made the list. Anything we thought we could buy on board was left in the large suitcases. We parked at our usual Park-N-Go and packed the critical twenty percent in the carry on’s, in a wicked, blustery 34 degrees, and sat our near-frozen bodies in the shuttle van. Our new flight was on time and we had no issues getting to Atlanta.

Getting to Miami was a different story.

The plane was late leaving Atlanta and now the stress was building. It would be close, and we had to be the first people off the plane, abandon the large luggage, sprint through the airport and find the first available taxi. We were first off, really upsetting the flight attendants by getting out off seats way before were at the gate. We ran, dragging our little luggages, and found a cab. “$20 tip if you get us to the port really fast”. He didn’t disappoint and literally flew down the Interstate to the dock. We arrived with just under a half hour to spare. We started calming down, until the dock agent told us the boat was already closed.

That’s when panic set in and the stress level shot through the roof.

One of us called the Travel Agent and the other her sister who was already on board. What the hell was going on? We have to be on board by 4pm we were told and we still had time. Her sister ran down the boarding plank looking, but couldn’t spot us. But we were at the correct dock, we had checked and double-checked that. Finally another dock agent came out and asked what ship we were on. The Celebrity Century we said. The agent pointed across the parking lot to another gate told us to run there as fast as we could. While we would have been in the proper place three hours before, when the lines were long, we were out of place now. The first agent thought we were on the boat directly behind her, and didn’t think to ask. God bless agent number two!

We ran across the parking lot, dripping sweat in the hot Miami sun, and finally made it to the proper gate.

With nine minutes to spare.

The stress, the shaking and the trembling called for immediate medical attention, in other words, the first alcoholic drink to be found. We dumped our little luggages in our room, found the family and banged a beer. And another. And watched as the boat pulled away from the dock, more ready than ever to enjoy the cruise.

And I solemnly swore, from that day forward, to fly in the day before.

So help me God.

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