deac Posted July 18, 2005 #1 Share Posted July 18, 2005 With Hurricane Dennis, getting to the ship and out to sea was half the battle! So that’s what I thought I’d share. (I tried to post this once already, but appear to have failed, so I apologize if this ends up posted twice!) My friend Robin and I were headed to the Inspiration in Tampa. We drove from NC along with a friend who was going to stay in Tampa while we cruised. We started calling Carnival on Friday to see if we were still on schedule, and were usually told to call back later. The message finally changed in the evening. We’d be boarding on time, but might have itinerary changes. We started driving Friday with the intention of staying overnight in Valdosta, but got a late start and ended up ready to quit driving before then. Of course we knew Dennis was coming and we started to realize that Southern Georgia is awfully close to the Florida panhandle. So even as we drove, we began calling hotels in Ashburn, GA and the first two we called were completely booked. The third one was the charm, but at the full flat rate, no discounts, and as long as we only needed to stay the one night. The weekend was already completely booked! By the time we checked in, the poor hassled looking desk clerk said we were lucky to have called when we did because he only had two smoking rooms remaining for the night. We gratefully moved into our room, cranked up the AC and called it a night. On Saturday morning we got moving again and had no problems til we were about 100 miles from tampa, at which point I’m guessing we hit the first of our outer bands of Dennis. Serious (!) rainfall and wind. I was driving and just gripped the steering wheel, slowed the heck down, and drove on. I remember thinking, I cannot take 100 miles of this. Fortunately, it only lasted for what felt like 20 minutes. We hit another band as we came into tampa, but knowing how close we were, we didn’t really mind. We finally made it to the terminal and loved the fact that we got to drive up under this huge overhang without getting wet at all. (First cruise for me, everything I knew to expect I learned on this board.) Our friend took the car and into the terminal we went. Check-in was orderly. They accepted my birth certificate without any problems. The sail and sign computers were broken down for a bit, so people had to wait a little while, but nothing serious or frustrating. I think we arrived around 1:30 and were on the ship by 2:30 at the latest, probably sooner. The muster drill was apparently abbreviated. We went to our area and put on life jackets. They said how we’d move orderly to the life boats in an emergency and that yes, women and children would still get on the boats first. (I thought that was kind of interesting.) But then they dismissed us. I’m guessing the off and on rain outside meant that they decided not to have us go out to our boat areas. The announcements began shortly thereafter I believe. We heard that we’d be spending the night on the ship in tampa, with hopes of leaving in the morning. This plan was fine with me, because I’d rather be on the ship than just staying at a hotel in tampa and figuring out how to get my trip insurance to cover it. At our 8pm dinner seating we started out with two table mates at our window table, a mother and daughter who were not happy. The hurricane was apparently headed near the mom’s house (tropical storm warning for her area) and she really wanted to be there in case anything happened, but carnival wouldn’t let her off the boat (I guess without keeping her money). We enjoyed talking with them, but Robin and I both noted later that we really hoped their mood would improve. We wanted to have fun! The other two women at the table were quiet, but seemed nice. That night we checked out the karaoke lounge, which was hosted by a hilarious British woman named Chloe. I loved it, because the whole thing was a bit like watching American Idol. I might be off on times here, but in the morning, they began announcing again that we might leave by 11. We ran into the daughter from our dinner table, who said they’d tried to get off the ship again that morning and had been denied. The captain added a new port, costa maya, instead of grand cayman. The time came and went, they announced again, that it would be the early evening. Then costa maya was canceled. Around this time they gave us a CCL offer: We could choose to disembark and get a full refund. We could choose to stay. We’d go to cozumel only, get a $50pp credit, and a 40% discount on a future cruise (taken by Dec 2006). We chose to stay. We asked many different crew members about how many left and the estimates were always between 400-700 people (including all of our table mates.) The crew understandably were bummed about the loss of income, and repeatedly thanked us for choosing to stay for the remainder of the cruise. Things that were holding us up now that the storm was passing to the north included… the coast guard needing to check all the markers in the channel, our gas tanker needing to get in to the port to top us off fuel wise, and other poor ships who were shut outside the port (including the miracle, whom our CD told us had endured 20 foot swells :eek: while we stayed in port) who needed to get in. And apparently parts of the channel are only wide enough for one ship at a time. So around 6 pm we finally got to move away from the port and then hung out at a side area to let other ships in. We finally got moving while Robin and I were watching one of the vegas style shows. As the show ended I went outside, just in time to see us passing under the skyway bridge, lit up beautifully at night… and off we went to sea! :D Does anyone have any experience with using a Carnival issued discount like the one we all get? Do they mail us something? What did other hurricane effected cruisers get? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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