We have cruised lots of times but this cruise was the most “memorable”! Yes, we will not forget this one! It began innocently enough – we booked in June and got our cabins together on the Upper Deck of Carnival Glory: one for the 3 kids, one for us and one for my parents, Nana and Poppy. We read the packing lists, packed our bags, checked in for both the cruise and the airlines, found people to watch the dogs (yes, our dog sitter backed out 5 days before the cruise leaving me frantically searching but fortunately a kind friend said she would love to watch my sweet girl) and found rides to and from the airport (again, thanks wonderful friends!).
So, on January 6, the day before our cruise (we like to go the day before so we have a day to “acclimatize” to vacation and warm weather), we eagerly set off for the airport! On our arrival, we found out that our plane had been delayed by 2 hours but no problem – we would go and wait at the lovely, tiny, located-miles-from-most-gates-USO lounge Reagan airport has. But wait, an hour after being there we discover that no, our flight is no longer delayed but on time so we rush off to get through security and get to our flight! As we are walking on the gangway to our plane, our daughter calls us. She flew a different airlines and arrived at Fort Lauderdale a few hours before us. She has just left the airport and is calling to say that our flight might be delayed because there has just been a shooting at the airport and it is currently closed. However, our flight continues as scheduled and we watch the disturbing newscasts as we fly to Fort Lauderdale. About halfway through our flight, now over South Carolina, the pilot announces that we cannot land at Fort Lauderdale so we are returning to DC. What?? No!! We have a cruise to get on! (Don’t get me wrong – we are horrified for the people at Fort Lauderdale and so grateful our daughter called so we know she is safe – but we need to get to her and our ship!)
We arrive in DC and like the other 100 plus people on the flight try to contact JetBlue to make new flight arrangements. After a good 30 minutes we are set! We have all 6 of us on the 8pm flight to Fort Lauderdale! Whew! We just need to get our bags and recheck them. Unfortunately, the bags have already come through the carousel and have now been put back in the back as “unclaimed luggage” so we need our claim tags to get our luggage. But, mine has disappeared and the lady only thinks they might be able to find it. As we wait for the bags to show, I get a text from JetBlue – our flight has been cancelled! So, back to customer service again! Only now ALL flights to FLORIDA for that night and the next day have been FILLED! There is nothing left but they will refund our money for that flight!!! Yes, I confess – I had a meltdown! What would we do??? Another airline had flights for the next day at double the price and, with a layover and the chance of snow, the possibility of still missing the cruise. We called Carnival and found out that although we had requested travel insurance, it had only gone through for the 3 kids, not us the parents! ACK!
At this point daughter Rachel had an idea – a train is out because it took too long (24 hours so we’d still miss the boat!) but we could rent a van and drive – 15 hours would get us there in time. So HERTZ to the rescue! We rented a minivan for the 6 of us and piled in. Mind you, it is cold outside – a snow storm is coming – and we have no coats, gloves, blankets, pillows, – you know, the things you pack for a LONG drive. But we have our phones with Google maps and we set off for Miami or Bust – 1054 miles! Actually we do have 1 blanket that Rachel travels with and since the Nana is cold, we put her in the back, wrap a blanket and a hammock around her and hope she doesn’t get sick! After an hour and a half, the driver is feeling the caffeine we have pumped him with so he needs a potty break. As soon as he stops, he leaps out of the car and runs for the restroom. The rest of us, feeling the cold air, decide to follow. When John comes out of the bathroom he asks me if I have the van key – oops! The key is still in the van and the van is running – even with no one in it. Fortunately, it is still there and all is well! John continues driving until 1 when he needs a break so I started driving at that point and drive until we need gas at 4am. (This is about the 4th stop – all of which have been very quick!) John takes over the driving again, Rachel and David switch places so now David navigates and keeps the driver alert, and I lie down on the floor and get some sleep. (Yes, on the floor – I lowered myself down, slid my legs under my Dad’s legs and put my head where my feet should go and turned sideways – During the night my family would turn to look at me and wonder where’d I’d gone or if I’d been left at the last pitstop – but I was exhausted enough to really sleep!)
After 16 hours and 20 minutes we arrive at the Miami airport and turn in our Joshua – our minivan who got us to the Promised Land (just in case you want to know, even with our breaks we averaged 64mph through the snow and pouring rain). We change into cruise clothes, (ironically, at this point we discover that Nana had a sweater in her carryon bag but never thought to get it out and put it on!) and grab a taxi to get to the Port of Miami! We arrive there just before Kate does so we are all able to check in together. The nightmare is behind us as we board the ship! Or is it?
Yes, it really is – but there are still some more glitches to be endured! The first is the letter we get upon walking into the check in – Our first port, Half Moon Cay, has been cancelled due to the weather. Oh, well, we still have 3 more ports!
That evening we go to dinner in the dining room – only to realize that Nana and Poppy’s table is upstairs and ours is downstairs! The maître d’ tries to fix it but says we’ll have to wait until the next night. The next night we discover we are now at a table for 12 in the middle of the dining room so we can’t hear each other speak – so that doesn’t work. The maître d’ says we’ll have to go to the other dining room, show up 15 minutes early, and hope they can seat us each night. Not exactly what we requested, but we are still together and having fun!
Our first port is St. Thomas – we go to the beach and swim and have a wonderful day!
The next day finds us in San Juan, Puerto Rico where we have a friend who graciously picks us up and takes us to El Yunque, the only US rainforest! There is almost no one there when we arrive – maybe it’s because it is going to pour rain in just a few minutes and the fun-to-swim-in waterfall is now raging dangerously! No swimming in the falls – but are glad we had our swimsuits on because we got soaked! But the day is awesome because we hiked in the rainforest and then wandered around Old San Juan and caught up with longtime friends and again, we are together and having fun!
The next morning we all watched from the deck as the ship prepared to dock. We could see the beach and couldn’t wait to get on it as the day was beautiful! But, alas, the wind was too strong and the captain just could not safely dock the massive ship. We got closer and closer to the dock and then started going backwards. When the horn sounded we knew the port had been cancelled! What a disappointment! Yes, a disappointment to not go on the beautiful beaches but grateful that the ship was not harmed – others on the ship did not feel the same way. They began to protest and riot and got quite nasty towards the ship personnel. We think some of them might have needed some time to cool down in a quiet place below, otherwise known as the Brig!
The rest of our trip was uneventful – we didn’t even need to go through customs when we arrived in Miami since we’d never left the US! And our flight was on time, the ice storm didn’t come and our friend had no problems picking us up at the airport!
So, to wrap up – we had a wonderful cruise! We love spending time together and that was great! Our food was fabulous – lobster, prime rib, pizza, chocolate melting cake and ice cream were some favorites. We even got little birthday cakes for John and Kate who celebrate their birthdays at the end of this month. The Carnival crew was friendly, professional and entertaining – even when they were losing their day off! Our cruise Director Eric even had a military appreciation event!
Will we cruise with Carnival again – ABSOLUTELY!
Will we fly the day before – ALWAYS!
Will we make sure we have cruise insurance – DEFINITELY!
And we can’t wait to cruise again!