Day 1 Saturday Feb 18th: Fits and Starts

Mom is 70, so if you are close to that age you will remember a time long ago and faraway when there were no GPS's . My parents made a lot of road trips over the years and back during the golden age of road travel, everyone had an "auto club that must not be named" (we still do, for breakdowns and booking cruises, which is why it must not be named here) and if you were planning a road trip your first call was to "autoclub that must not be named" for a road map and a trip tik.

For you youngsters, a trip tik is a neato invention whereby someone with no knowledge whatsoever of the state to which you are traveling creates a page by page paper map book showing the exact route you could take and would probably be perfectly fine, if in fact it was not the most traffic filled way to go or the entire road was under construction. Today this process is likely outsourced, so that not only does the person making the trip tik not know the state, they very likely have not even visited the United States. There's an excellent chance their qualifications involve having watched a television show based in the state where you hope to travel with the help of the trip tik. But that is just speculation on my part.

(Photo of triptik) Trip Tik

Now you may ask yourself..." why in this day and age of GPS would any fool use a trip tik from the "Auto club that must not be named "? And I know you would ask yourself this because I asked myself this. I even went so far to ask my mother this very question. The answer did not satisfy me and basically seemed to be a variation of " because we always get a trip tik" .

You might think my mother is a poor, elderly woman (remember, she is not aware of her senior status) on a fixed income and that possibly expensive electronics are just out of reach for her. But no, she has my DH, her beloved son in law, ( don't ask about that, it's a long story and you are already in a long one, but suffice to say that I married him rather than be voted out of my own family Survivor style, because if it came down to choosing one or the other of us, I was going to lose) (and I should add of course, they were not was an excellent decision!)

So this wonderful son in law of hers; whatever electronic gadget comes out, he not only buys it for her, he gets it completely set up and provides technical support at any hour of the day for it. So really there is no excuse whatsoever to not use the perfectly fine GPS we bought for her and my dad several Christmases ago, but for some reason I am sitting in the passenger seat with a trip tik on my lap, which has no relation to the actual roads in Tampa on which we are driving.
For instance, the trip tik insists we are on a "toll road", even tough at no time are we stopped for a toll. Of course the warnings about the "toll road" are a throw back to a time when you would have drive in reverse out of the toll booth if you didn't have any coins (ask your parents about it, kids) and does not belong during a time when nearly every human being has a transponder that deducts the toll from their bank account. In those historic days, the "auto club that cannot be named" was (and still is) very committed to auto safety and it was of utmost importance to warn you in advance so you'd have time to start checking under the seats for change. But remember, we are using navigational techniques from the 70's, and not those used in the 21st century.

We continued on what we thought was the Selman Expressway, until literally, we reached the very end of it. The highway curves around and ends ( conveniently for us at a 7-11 where the very helpful manager gave us excellent directions ( "go down this road, take a left onto Bayshore, and just keep following it till you see the convention center then bear left till you get to port", not only was this an extremely scenic way to go, but it didn't cost me a $45 annual fee with the "Auto club that must not be named".

Upon arrival at the Port of Tampa at 11:30am, we noticed an odd thing. Lots of people rolling carryon bags down Channelside drive...hmmm...why are these people not getting either on a ship embarking or disembarking and heading for a plane? We found out soon enough, as we entered the port we were informed that in fact there was not a ship on which to embark ( oh, oh!) We had noticed quite a bit of fog on our scenic tour of Tampa Bay during the trip tik debacle, and in fact the port of Tampa had been closed and Jewel was forced to sit out in the gulf until the port opened and she would make the 3 hour journey under the bridge and into port. When we arrived the port had just been opened and Jewel was making her way into it, but it would be several hours before she arrived in port, some indeterminate amount of time to get everyone off of the ship, another unspecified period of time to " turn the ship around" and the usual amount of time to board everyone again, ( except imagine they are all there at the exact same time and really po'ed)

Being an Emerald C&A member I was given a big piece of paper photocopied with a giant VIP on it.

(photo of vip notice)
VIP Pass

We were directed to the Channelside shopping center for our entertainment and dining enjoyment and told we would be comped $20 per person in onboard credit for the inconvenience. In the end we lost about 1/2 a day...and I'm thinking I would love to find a cruise for $40 per day! Instead of valet parking, which wasn't open yet...(we would have had to return, which would have required paying to park for a few hours then paying for valet) we decided to drop our bags curbside with the porters and self park across the street at 813 Channelside Drive. The lot is just across the street from the entrance to the port. The valet for 5 nights is $95; self park is $75; you pre pay on the way in and get a coin to put in the machine when you leave. It couldn't be simpler!

Lots of people have asked about the port of Tampa, as far as what to do there or how to kill time, and I have to say, it's an excellent place to kill some time. We ate at a Tina Tapas, and watched our ship literally come in.
(photos Menu of Tapas restaurant)

(cold dishes)

(hot dishes)

(more hot dishes, LOL!)

I am also including a link to a sheet that they gave us that lists all the activities in Tampa, proximity and prices. This doc also has all the boarding docs we got on it for your use...sorry its all in one, but that was easier to do while scanning!

(Planner, Officers, Tampa Activities and Spa menus)