As I pondered the fate of my Library Cat blog with the demise of Blogstream, I realized there were certain posts I would want to save in a blog form. So over the few weeks, some of those posts dear to my heart are going to be transferred to blogger. Do you remember my cuise experience???
I've always have heard that there is a Chinese curse that states: "May you live in interesting times". If so, there is one curse worse than that...May you have an "interesting" vacation. After all, when you're on vacation you enter a perfect state of unawareness that there's anything bad that could diminish your joy or expectations. Over the next week, I'll be giving you a play by play of some of the highs and lows...I invite you to give me your impressions...Was it an interesting vacation curse or am I being over dramatic. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between the two.
Our journey began on Nov. 29th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We knew the airport was going to be a nightmare and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at St. Louis Lambert Airport. It was almost a ghost town. Granted Southwest Airlines have the East Terminal to themselves, but we expected a crowd of some kind. We had no problem with security or the E Check-in...and soon we were winging our way to Fort Lauderdale.
When we arrived at Fort Lauderdale, we entered airport Hell. All the crowds we had expected in St Louis caught up to us in Fort Lauderdale. There were people all over the place...Families looked liked they had been camped out for awhile in the terminal and as we made our way to the baggage carousel, we had to step over or around several fols who were sleeping on the floor.
Finally after what seemed like a trek of 100 miles, we reached the carousel. Since we followed the airport guidelines to arrive 2 hours before the flight, naturally our luggage was the last to come out. Thanks to the way Chris had marked our luggage with neon blue duct tape; the luggage was retrieved. A porter loaded the luggage on his cart and took us to the point where we'd catch the shuttle to our hotel for the night. Yes, as you might have guessed, it was another hundred miles away. After tipping the porter, we boarded the shuttle for the Sleep Inn.
We were pleasntly surprised to have the shuttle to ourselves. The driver was friendly. He pointed out things we might have missed like cocunut trees, He also gave a pretty good impression of Palm Trees falling flat in hurricanes. So far so good and no walking.
We arrived at the hotel, our luggage was unloaded, and the driver was tipped (do you begin to detect a pattern here?), and we walked inside. The desk clerk was an Oriental gentleman of about our age(mid 50s). The word gentleman is used here very loosely because he was talking on his cell phone. (BTW< I hate cell phones except in emergencies). He never greeted us and just reached out and took our I.D. and credit car and checked us in still talking on his cell phone. He finally finished the call and gave us our room key.
We inquired if Chris' brothers had checked in and in a very short...abrupt manner he told us their room numbers. When we asked about the shuttle to the Carnival Freedom, he said 1 pm. Keep in mind that checkout was listed as 12. When we arrived in our room, we had to call down to the desk to ask the clerk something else...He answered with a "What do you want?" He then answered the question, but we were beginning to feel like an inconvenience.
We went to give Chris' brothers some documents that their oldest sister insisted we print for them. Since we hadn't eaten since morning, we asked them if they were going out, They said they had eaten a late lunch. We went back to the room and looked over a map of the area and found an Italian Restaurant. It was bad food, worse service, and a bit pricier than the food or ambience warranted...but everything is a little more expensive when on vacation...right???
As we walked back to the hotel, lo and behold; there were Chris' brothers...sitting at a restaurant bar in the same plaza. Hmmm...is this a harbinger on how this family cruise was going to play out?
After getting back to the hotel, we discovered the soda machine on our floor wasn't fully stocked. Worst than that, the ice machine was out of order...there was water all over it and the floor...discovered when Chris stepped into the water in her stocking feet. There was no way we were going to call the desk again so we turned in early.
The next morning I went to the first floor to get ice. I was accosted by a housekeeping employee who informed me there was an ice machine on each floor. By this time, my patience was fraying and I told her "Not one that works." Our unfriendly desk clerk snapped at her and she directed me toward the ice machine.
When we came down for breakfast, we saw the shift chnge and a new clerk was at the desk. We inquired with the others in our group if they had problems with the desk clerk...and as you might have guessed we were the only ones he treated this way.
But our excitement began to build, we boarded the shuttle and headed for our Embarkation Point for our Carnival Freedom Cruise. Details on embarkation will come tomorrow.