Monday, August 17, 2009

the journey

Remember when Matthew and I went on a vacation, all by ourselves, to the beach? Remember?

Well, guess what, we don't live beside the beach. It requires travel to get there.

And since our plan was to go on a cruise to the Bahamas, leaving out of Miami, it required a great deal of travel.

Our flight was scheduled to depart our little airport on Monday morning at 6:15am.

I had spent the weekend before in Texas, helping move my grandmother into an assisted living residence...working like a DOG (can I get an AMEN Julie and Marty?).

I arrived back in town on Sunday morning, just in time to finish packing the girls suitcases, hug on them for a little while and help Matthew load their stuff into the car and drive them to his mom's house.

We got back home Sunday night and started packing our bags. Matthew decided he wanted to carry all of our bags on the plane because he didn't want to pay the $15 per bag fee. I was a little annoyed because this meant I was having to stuff my carry-on bag and search for little bottles to carry our toiletries in.

In bed...11:30pm.

We set our alarms for 4:15 am and hardly reached the REM stage before we were up again.

We made to the airport in plenty of time and started to FINALLY get excited about our trip...we were on our way!

We made it to Memphis, no problem at all. We stopped to have a bite of breakfast, walked over to our gate, sat down to chat for a few minutes and I decided to make a visit to the ladies' room before we boarded our flight.

I walked out of the restroom and found Matthew waiting for me. "Our flight has been canceled."


We rush over to the ticketing agent and stand in a mile long line.

I pull out my phone and dial Northwest Airlines to see if a voice on the phone can get us a flight before the actual person can.

Matthew talked to the guy on the phone...who I'm pretty sure it was his very first day...and was having no luck. NONE of the flights were going to arrive in Miami in time for us to board the ship. Grrrrrrrrrrr...

I got on the phone to Norwegian Cruise Line to explain our dilemma and they said if we could get to our first port of call (Grand Bahama Island) then it would not be an issue at all for us to board.

FINALLY, we got to talk to a ticketing agent.

Let me back up and say that there were several families on our flight that were also trying to get to their cruise ships on time. Every single family unit was very frustrated...and some were very sad because their trips were about to be over.

For example, a single-mom and her three kids were going on a Carnival cruise, stopping for the first time in Cozumel (or Cancun). She called Carnival and asked them if Northwest Airlines flew them to Cozumel (or Cancun) would they be able to board the ship. Well, they could, but only if they paid $300.00 a person. I was heartbroken for the mom, because by the time we caught up with them and heard the whole story, they were catching a flight home. She was very teary-eyed (but trying to hold it together for her teenagers) and told me she has been saving for over a year and couldn't afford to pay the $1200. AWFUL!

Okay, back to our ticketing agent...we went up to him and waited (very quietly, mind you) while he tried to do his magic and get us to our cruise ship on time (we already knew it wasn't possible). He looked, for about 10 minutes, and then glanced at us and said, "It doesn't look like we can do anything...your done."


(Do you feel like you have taken this journey with us? I know this post is a teensy bit on the lengthy side...don't worry, it gets longer.)

At this point, I was done-DONE. I was absolutely exhausted, overly emotional and carrying my bags around the airport. I went off to the side, sat down and pulled out my phone.

Guess who I called? Oh you know, all you women, you know...

my Mom...and I started crying. Like I couldn't breathe kind of crying.

And guess what she said, "Don't worry, let me get on the internet and see how we can get you there." She's a saint! One day, I hope I'm a mom like that.
Meanwhile, back at the counter, Matthew was smoldering. It is VERY difficult to get him to the point of being upset...I know, I've tried. But, he was UP-SET. And not walking away until they figured out something for us.

And they did.

At first, they told us that they would not fly us to Freeport (Grand Bahamas Island) because we were not originally flying international and that would break some sort of rule.

Matthew kept standing there, smoldering, but being kind. Finally, they called the supervisor to see what he could do.

He changed our tickets to fly into Freeport the next morning. (Thank you very much.)

We were very irritated that we were missing the first 1/2 day of our cruise and the first morning and wanted to know what else they could do for us.

They gave us food vouchers (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and a hotel voucher for the evening in Miami. We were supposed to arrive in Miami at 6pm and I thought, Great! We can explore Miami...we'll still make the most of this vacation.

We head over to American Airlines (because Northwest Airlines decided to just wash their hands of us...don't worry, we have washed our hands of them too...FOREVER!) and caught a flight to Dallas.

Easy flight to Dallas. And we have plenty of time to use our first food voucher! Yea!!!!
And we are so excited to head to Miami!!!!!
But sadly...we were not that lucky. The traveling gods were not smiling upon us this day.

We board our flight, buckle up, pull out our books and settle in. Moments later, we hear the captain tell us that there is an issue with the brakes and is going to take a little while to fix. He will keep us updated every step of the way.

It is 2:15pm at this point.

Two and a half hours later, one nap and a few visits to the bathroom, we have still not moved.

They get us all off of the plane and have us stand in line to rebook our tickets to Miami. Ugh!

Deja vu.

We get back on the phone, this time to AA and figure out if there are any other flights heading to Miami that night. The lady says to me, there is a flight leaving in 15 minutes...if you hurry you just might make it to the gate...and we take off (carrying all of our luggage).

Two very-near heart attacks later, we get to the gate 2-3 minutes too late. Awesome.

We slowly walk back to our original gate (begging the oxygen to quickly re-enter our lungs) and wait for plane #2 to take us to Miami.

On our final flight...we don't believe it is really about to happen.
Guess what time we get to Miami? 11:30pm. No nightlife happened that night.

We found someone who worked for Northwest Airlines (not easy) and got our hotel voucher. We went to our hotel (which, surprisingly, was VERY nice) and crashed!!!!!

The next morning, we drug our tired, useless bodies out of the bed and headed for the airport again. After checking in, we used the last of our food vouchers and sat down to wait for our plane.
You can tell, by this picture, that the travels from the day before were so hard on us that we both had mini-strokes, making it possible to really only smile out of one side of our face.
Seriously, if we don't board that ship TODAY, I'm going to lose my freaking mind!
Good news though! Our little propeller plane took us on a 30-minute journey and touched down in Freeport at 11:00am. YEA!

Going through "customs" was a piece of cake since there was only 15 people on our flight. And the lady checking our passports even knew we were headed to board our ship. Small town, I guess.

And if you think our trip up to this point was brutal, I think you will agree that things immediately began looking up for us.
A limo, circa 1985, was waiting to take us to our ship. We are pretty fancy. The good people of Freeport spare no expense when it comes to the rich Americans.
It was classy.
The first view of our ship...the vacation was about to start!
Remember how we had to carry all of our belongings with us?

Well, thank goodness for my thrifty husband. Had we checked our bags, who knows were they would have ended up due to all the flight craziness.
So there you have it...our journey to our vacation. If you made it this far, well, you are probably family. I promise the vacation was not nearly as eventful and will not require me to write a novel to tell you about it. I'll post about it some day...hopefully in the near future.


Holly Aytes said...

Dallas, that sounds horrible! I am so sorry you had to endure all that just for a little R&R. Glad it all worked out and you were able to enjoy your cruise after all :)

Sandi said...

Oh, goodness -- how stressful!

On the upside, imagine having done all of this with two little ones!!!!!

Whitney said...

Wow- when it rains, it pours, huh? I'm so sorry that it was such a fiasco getting there! But I'm sure that fancy limo made up for it :) Love it! ha ha! Can't wait to see pic of the cruise!

Amy said...

NWA is the pits! When I traveled a lot, I tried my best to avoid them. And as I was reading I thought several times, "Thank goodness they hadn't checked bags."
Hey, you look really thin in all the photos though, even the mad ones!

Julie said...

AMEN to the moving!!! i enjoyed reading about the vacation turmoil even though i had heard it from your mom. i would have been in a horrible mood!!!

Sean B. Halliday said...

First off, I have to say that I LOVE cruise ships.
I spent over 12 years working on them as a Scuba Instructor,
Shore Excursion Manager and an IT Officer.

For 2 years I also worked shoreside in Miami as a database IT guy.

During my years on ships, I have to stay that many things happened
and that life is definately stranger than fiction on cruise ships.

Many people have asked me to share the stories I have collected over
the years, so I am complying with their request.

My site is:

If you had any stories of your own to add, please
send them to me and I will be happy to add them.

Sean B. Halliday

Supabloggasuprememama said...

oh wow. that is SOOOO frustrating! You have the prettiest eyes, btw. I'm sure you've been told that allyour life, but you really do! those pics were cracking me up!

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