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Lovebirds

Potential disaster Turns Out OK

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I had mentioned in another thread, where Sail7Seas had posted about a horrible cruise experience, that I had one that had all of the potential to be terrible but turned out OK in the end. A few people said they would like to hear the story, so I guess I'll hunt and peck my way through and post it.

 

This isn't a HAL story or any of their related lines so I'm not sure if someone is going to decide that it belongs on RCCL or if it can stay here. The thread that prompted this was on this forum so I'll post it here in a new thread instead of taking the old thread in a new direction. Well, anyway, here goes.

 

In 1998 my late wife and I decided that an Alaska Inside Passage cruise would be a nice vacation. Since my business committments did not allow me to plan vacations very far in advance, we only had about a month to put it all together. A friend that sails quite often said I should contact "Steve" at a well known national agency. He was supposed to be very knowledgeable about all aspects of cruising and a stickler for details.

 

After talking with Steve, we came up with a plan:

 

Fly from Cleveland to Seattle, overnight stay in a downtown hotel, dinner reservations at the Space Needle, bus to Vancouver, RCCL Rhapsody (inaugural season) to Alaska and return, fly back to Cleveland. We wanted a balcony cabin, mid ship. Steve called back and said everything was arranged, he had gotten the last balcony cabin available and everything was well within the budget. He said to expect the documents about two weeks before sailing.

 

Well, about ten days before sailing I still had not received anything. Called Steve, he seemed to be very surprised. "Don't you hava a tickler file to follow up on these things, Steve?" "Well no, but it's never been a problem." So much for stickler for details. After a while Steve called back, "not to worry" the documents for that sailing were slow being sent out but we should have them express in about 3 or 4 days. Four days go by, nothing. Called Steve again. Well, there is still a little delay, but nothing to worry about. Three days befor our flight, I'm starting to get a bit concerned. Steve called me back, said he had just spoken with RCCL and the documents were going out that afternoon. Since there was a rumor of a UPS strike that night, I asked how they would be shipped. He assured me that they were going out by Airborne, not UPS. Next day, no documents. Seems they did go UPS and UPS was shut down with a strike. For the next twentyfour hours, I was on the phone with Steve almost every hour. He was having a difficult time getting through to RCCL, but kept assuring me that we would have our documents in time.

 

Finally, on the morning of our flight, he called and said that we would not have our documents, but we were "in the computer" for our flight, and our hotel and that we would be met at SeaTac by a RCCL rep with our documents. Off to the airport we go. I'm really sure that things are going to be fouled up, but, yes, they had our reservation and we flew to Chicago, changed planes, flew a jam packed DC-10 cattle car (we couldn't even get seats together) to SeaTac. I spent an hour trying to find the rep from RCCL that was supposed to meet us. No RCCL presence anywhere and of course no transfer to get to the hotel, so I paid for the shuttle and got to the hotel. Now, I'm really concerned,as it's getting late and we have no way to get to Vancuver the next morning. We were in the computer at the hotel and they did show that it was prepaid, so no problem there. The concierge found a phone number for a RCCL contact and I was finally able to talk with someone that seemed to know what was going on. All of the other cruisers that were taking the shuttle to Vancouver were staying at a hotel near the airport and we were downtown. They didn't want to bring the bus into downtown (there was some big event going on that was going to close several streets the next morning) so they said we would have a private limo to take us to the airport.

 

Dinner at the space needle was fabulous. I know it's very dicey to get a time in Seattle when you see anything but clouds, but we hit an evening that was absolutely clear! The sunset was as beuatiful as any I had ever seen. A really nice end to what had been a very nerve-wracking day.

 

The next morning, the limo was right on time and took us to the airport area to catch the bus. An RCCL rep met us, still no documents, but at least provided us with luggage tags and got us on the bus. We had a nice ride to Vancouver, got to the ship and checked in. Yes, you're in the computer, everything is OK, just fill out a couple of forms, you'll get the rest of your documents on board. All of the while I just had this feeling that somewhere we were going to "hit a wall" that we would not get past without that document book. At least they issued our little blue "whale cards" when we boarded, so we were able to make onboard charges and get on and off ship. We hadn't prebooked any excursions, so that wasn't a problem.

 

When we went to register for our dinner table, we hit the first snag. Although we were supposed to be confirmed for a large table, second seating, they couldn't find any record of us. After about an hour wait they finally called us and gave us our table assignment. That couldn't have been better if we had planned it that way. We had a table for ten and some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. One of the couples was on the ship to provide the public address commentary about the things we were seeing as we sailed along the coast and to conduct seminars on the various things that we could see and do in port. They also new a lot about the ship and the problems that it had encountered so it made for very interesting dinner conversations. The ships engineer joined us for dinner on two of the nights, bought all of the drinks for our table, and filled me in on what had been happening. It seems that because of motor problems on the previous trip, they came within a day or so of having to cancel the cruise! That's why they didn't send out documents until the last minute. Everyone else had theirs, ours seemed to be the only ones that had gotte stuck in the UPS strike.

 

We enjoyed fabulous shore excursions. We flew in a helicopter up on the glaciers, landed and walked around, and peered down into a crevass that was hundreds of feet deep. We took a catamaran wildlife cruise and had mother and baby humpback whales playing along side the boat. We saw humpbacks bubble-netting to concetrate a school of fish for their dinner. We rode the narrow guage railroad from Skagway up to Lake Bennett. The weather (mid-July) just could not have been better. We saw so many wonderful sights and did so many interesting things. I finally quit worrying about those stupid documents and we just enjoyed the cruise. I guess I should have followed up more at the front desk, but after bugging them a couple of times I just forgot about it.

 

When we disembarked we retrieved our bags and got in line for the shuttle to the airport. When I saw everyone pulling a coupon from the document book and handing them to the driver, I thought, uh-oh, here's that brick wall! I explained to the driver that we never got our document books, he asked if we still had our "whale cards." Fortunately we did and he said that he would accept that as proof we belonged on the shuttle. He wrote down the numbers so that they would get their money from the cruise line and off we went.

 

I'll finish this in another post as it's getting a bit long.

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Getting on the flight to Detroit was a breeze, going through customs was no problem. I figure I can finally relax, there aren't anymore problems to encounter. Right? WRONG!! Air traffic into Detroit was backed up because of thunderstorms around O'hare. We sat on the tarmac for over an hour before we could get to a gate. Hustle down to the gate for the flight to Cleveland, it's been cancelled! There are no more flights scheduled that day, we will be put on the first (or maybe second) flight the next morning. No, we can't get your luggage for you. Call this number to get the best price on a nearby hotel. Now, I know that this part isn't the fault of RCCL or the TA, but it just shows that you never know how the adventure will turn out until it's over. I called the 800 number and found out that there were no rooms available within 30 miles of the airport. Nascar had an event in town that weekend! Rental car companies were so swamped they weren't answering their phones, but I finally decided to take a chance, got on the Hertz shuttle and was able to rent a car that I could drop off in Cleveland. We only live 10 miles from Hopkins airport. We got home at 2am and the next morning turned in the rental, retrieved our bags from the airport (that was before the days of having to match passengers and bags) and all turned out OK in the end. Looking back, it did make the whole vacation more of an adventure than it would have been otherwise. My blood pressure was probably up a few points most of the time though.

 

We never did get reimbursed for the shuttle in Seattle, but it was only 30 bucks and I really didn't pursue it. We were just so glad that all was well in the end that I just didn't do anything more than let the TA know about the extra expenses. He didn't offfer to do anything except to say he would make it up to us on our next cruise. By the time I was ready to book another cruise, he was no longer with the agency, so tough luck. I have never done business with that agency since then and with the advent of the internet, I think I'm a bit more savvy now. I always start following up much earlier now and have all sorts of contact numbers with me. I hate to think how much different things could have turned out if our hotel concierge had not been able to find a way to contact RCCL. I really think RCCL should have been more forthcoming about their problems, but that seems to be the norm. Keep everyone in the dark and hope all of the problems go away. They did have to cancel their repo cruise at the end of the season, put the ship in drydock, cut a huge hole in the side of the ship, replace the partially defective 8' tall electric drive and weld the side back together. At least that decision was made a few weeks before the scheduled repo cruise, but it probably messed up a lot of vacation plans anyway.

 

At least we didn't go through the cruise that didn't sail that Sail7Seas went through. Now it's time to start planning our shore excursions for the World Cruise on the Prinsendam.

 

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Thanks for sharing!!!! Sounds like our airplane ride from hell out of Barcelona!! To make a long story short, passengers were so angered at a change in airplanes which didn't allow them to smoke, that they had to call the Spanish authorities who entered our plane after an emergency landing in Madrid. While they sorted it all out, the airplane attendants left the airplane and left us sitting on the tarmac for over 6 hours with no air conditioning, food drink or explanation!!!!!!:eek: Needless to say, by the time we made it to JFK, our connecting plane was long gone, and we ended up sleeping in the airport!! Someday I figured I'd laugh about it, but that day has not come yet!!:rolleyes:

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Thank you for sharing that story. It just goes to show that *hit happens, and we have to learn the difference between "tourist " and 'traveler". There's always an adventure to be had!

 

It was good to read that there was no attempt to defraud, on the part of RCCL or the TA.

Once upon a time my (late) husband and I couldn't get our RCCL documents, no matter how much we persued it with the TA. Eventually we were told we'd get them "pier pick-up". (We did.)

But a week or two after we returned the TA went out of business. Seems she was taking deposit money for her own use, then paying for customers trips out of new deposits at the last minute. It all came crashing down on her right after we got lucky.

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As a person who must have all my "i"s dotted and my "t"s crossed, and having every single duck lined up in a row, this experience would have driven me nuts.

 

But on the other hand, it sounds to me that except for a couple of minor glitches, it all turned out really a bit better than all right so your memories are good ones. And you have stories to tell.

Life would be such a bore, wouldn't it, without a few bumps in the road. Sounds like a fabulous trip filled with new friends and good times. Thanks so much for sharing!

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Thanks for sharing!!!! Sounds like our airplane ride from hell out of Barcelona!! To make a long story short, passengers were so angered at a change in airplanes which didn't allow them to smoke, that they had to call the Spanish authorities who entered our plane after an emergency landing in Madrid. While they sorted it all out, the airplane attendants left the airplane and left us sitting on the tarmac for over 6 hours with no air conditioning, food drink or explanation!!!!!!:eek: Needless to say, by the time we made it to JFK, our connecting plane was long gone, and we ended up sleeping in the airport!! Someday I figured I'd laugh about it, but that day has not come yet!!:rolleyes:

When we flew out of Barcelona after our cruise, the plan was overbooked. they were asking for volunteers to stay overnight at there expense, plus some cash and fly out a day later. We volunteered and REALLY wanted a night in Barcelona, but they never called us.:( Aw, you mean sleeping in airports isn't on your list of favorite things????:)

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RuthC I like your signature although DW wouldn't agree. She has other redeeming qualities, though....:D

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As a person who must have all my "i"s dotted and my "t"s crossed, and having every single duck lined up in a row, this experience would have driven me nuts.

 

But on the other hand, it sounds to me that except for a couple of minor glitches, it all turned out really a bit better than all right so your memories are good ones. And you have stories to tell.

 

Life would be such a bore, wouldn't it, without a few bumps in the road. Sounds like a fabulous trip filled with new friends and good times. Thanks so much for sharing!

Actually encountering unexpected problems and finding a solution has long been my forte in business. I really would rather not have to do that on vacation, though:)

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Actually encountering unexpected problems and finding a solution has long been my forte in business. I really would rather not have to do that on vacation, though:)

Ouch! I meant no disrespect! I couldn't agree more. It's the last thing you need on vacation. All I meant was (and obviously from your response it didn't come through right) was that it could have been so much worse!

Sorry if the printed page did not reflect my true meaning.:(

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Oh, Heather, I didn't take it as disrespect in any way. I agree with everything you said. Looks like you "dodged the bullet" Friday. We did too, in Naples. It was a bit nerve-wracking for a while until the threat of a storm surge had passed and power was back on. Alls well that ends well:)

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Lovebirds - thanks so much for telling us this story! I really envy you on your HAL World Cruise...want to pack me in one of your bags?

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Phew. Good. I sometimes worry when I post ... I try to be cautious how I put things but they can so easily be taken the wrong way:) .

 

Yup! Missed it this time! Glad to hear you did, too ... I thought you got it a bit, but I guessed it brushed by you. In fact my stepson and wife were to come to Naples Friday to close on a condo in Bonita Springs for her Dad, but wisely cancelled.

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Lovebirds - thanks so much for telling us this story! I really envy you on your HAL World Cruise...want to pack me in one of your bags?

well...... it's really hard to say no to such a cute little kitty...... and DW raised champion orientals for 30 years.......BUT........yeah, I know, there's always that "but" to squash the fun.......I think our bags are going to be very full when we pack for 112 days.:D That will have to do until i think of a better excuse.:rolleyes:

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Livebirds....Thank you so much for sharing your story. I would have been a nervous wreck absolutely sure that all would be a nightmare.

 

 

I learned a lesson reading your story.....Don't always epect the worst. Sometimes there is a pleasant surprise that along the way things work out well, for the most part.

 

Thank you again for sharing. I very much enjoyed reading your story. Hope none of us have such a nerve wracking experience.

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Livebirds....Thank you so much for sharing your story. I would have been a nervous wreck absolutely sure that all would be a nightmare.

 

 

I learned a lesson reading your story.....Don't always epect the worst. Sometimes there is a pleasant surprise that along the way things work out well, for the most part.

 

Thank you again for sharing. I very much enjoyed reading your story. Hope none of us have such a nerve wracking experience.

Sail, don't be mad, but "Livebirds"???? Is that a typo or something psychological? :D Hehehehe....really struck my funnybone.

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Sail, don't be mad, but "Livebirds"???? Is that a typo or something psychological? :D Hehehehe....really struck my funnybone.

ROTFLMAO!!!!

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The mind is a fabulous machine. Over time it forgets the bad aspects of an event and only remembers the good aspects.

 

Don't know is you read the thread about our Alaska trip but the airplane rides were not good. The only memoroes we have of the vacation are good ones now.

 

Jim & Ruth

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S7S, I really like the bold blue typeface you are using. Very readable.

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LOVEBIRDS...

 

Thank you for sharing your story, glad that everything ended up turning up okay and that your trip wasn't ruined ..

I too would have been crazy over not having documents. I just know I would have gotten to that ship and they would have said "Who are you? We never heard of you? *LOL*

 

I have had a few vacation mishaps , more airline screw ups than anything else, annoying at the time, but can laugh about them now.

 

But its good you were able to have a good attitude about it, and were still able to enjoy

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LoveBirds,

 

Thank you for sharing your experience! Sounds like it worked out in the end and you had a great cruise.

 

We too, have encountered a missed flight - from FLL to St Louis - we missed our connection to Denver when we had to divert to Memphis due to weather.

 

Luckily it was on the way home - we had a wonderful cruise, it was just the 14 hours that it took to get home that made me wish we had never left FLL!

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