A group of us headed to Atlantis on our own. My wife and two boys, 22 and 16 years old. My friend and his 12 year old daughter. Once we arrived at Atlantis, my wife, my 22 year old and myself decided that we would chill at the beach, while my 16 year old would go in the water park. Hence, that's where it all began.
The agreed upon time to meet was 3:30, last call for ship was 4:30. I told my friend this, he tried to say "4:00." I said, "NO, 3:30, we need to make it back!" He agrees. 3:30 comes, nothing, 3:45, nothing. 4:00, nothing! At 4:15 I sent my oldest son and wife back. They did not want to go, but I said that they had too, and that I'll meet them there. 4:30 comes and nothing! Finally, at 4:40 I decided to head back. Keep in mind, I have 3 FULL backpacks, Atlantis is HUGE! No one there is helpful, I even asked for a ride on a golf cart to the front, they said no! I get on a cab, explain my story. The cabbie is FLYING to get me to the ship. Then TRAFFIC!
Someone asked if I had the port authorities number? No, BUT, as soon as I exited the cab, someone in a golf cart SCREAMS, "are you so-and-so"? I say yes. He yells, "run and jump on the cart!" I jump on, he's HAULING to the ship, flying over bumps. I'm excited because the ship is still there, my heart is pumping, I'm excited that I made it. But wait, the ship is moving! I can literally jump off the dock and touch the ship if I wanted to. Alfred says, "it's gone!" I say "no, it can't! My family, my stuff! NO!! NO!!!!" I'm looking up at the bridge, begging them to stop, but no, it kept going. That's when I went numb. Anger, sadness, emotions all going me at one time. I literally felt NUMB, that I was looking down at myself! I wanted to scream, but couldn't. I wanted to cry, but couldn't. I keep looking at the ship thinking that maybe by mind control I could turn the ship back, but obviously that didn't' work. The ship was gone....... As I'm seeing the ship leave, I'm thinking of my wife and two kids on board, wondering what they were going through. I'll touch on that later.
This is when reality kicked in. I'm alone, in a country that I'm not familiar with. What do I do now? Did my son make it back? Why did Captain Johnny leave me?!
First, it's surreal seeing the ship leave without you, almost an out of body experience! No words or emotions to describe the feeling.
Once the boat leaves, then what? The port literally becomes a ghost town after a FEW minutes of the ship leaving! If it wasn't for Alfred, the port authority for Royal Caribbean, I would've broke!
I missed the ship because of member of our group not returning to the agreed upon spot at the agreed upon time. Why did I wait? Because my son was with him and his daughter.
I'll explain in detail later the full story, what exactly happened after the ship left and what suggestions and advise I can offer. The extra costs involved, two extra nights in a foreign port/country with NO contacts, NO friends. Having to fly back to the USA, then back to the next port. Then the trouble boarding the ship again, it's not as easy as they say it is, "just fly to the next port if you miss the ship".
Yes, I did want to knock my friend out! His story is that he periodically kept looking at/for us in Atlantis and would see us, but the last time he looked over the edge of the water park, he didn't see us anymore. We explained to him that we NEVER left! Why would we leave, especially without our son!? Also, we had 3 of their backpacks with clothes, wallets, phones, etc. We knew that they needed this to get back on the ship! I was SO ticked off!
No, I did not have a passport. Why? I've been on many cruises and assumed that nothing would ever happen to me. Wrong!
Did it cause a HUGE problem, not having one, as someone mentioned? No! Reason: The embassy was close. I can imagine it being a HUGE ordeal if it was a larger country or if the embassy was far away.
Did I knock my friend out? No, lol.
What did I have in my belongings? Wallet, old passport, birth certificate and MONEY! In the past I would keep the majority of my cash on board, for some reason I didn't this time. The cash and a credit card that I just purchased really 'saved' me. I prefer to pay cash or use debit, but for this trip I activated a new card that I let expire.
So, ship is leaving, I'm looking up at the bridge, begging, waving my arms, hoping that captain Johnny would turn back. Alfred, the port authority said "it's gone, it's gone." I just thought of my family, waiting for me, expecting me to come around the corner surprising them, but not this time. Reality kicked in, Alfred made a U-turn and ran into another person that worked at the pier. He asked her to take me. She said, "take him where? There's nothing that I can do." He kept gesturing to her to take me and do whatever. She wouldn't budge, and said "I can't, there's nothing I can do!" She rolled away!
Alfred said "I'll drop you off at the gate." I asked him, "what am I going to do?!" I don't know where to go, I don't know what to do. I don't know anyone out here! Again, the port was emptying out, and I know that Alfred sensed that I was really scared, which I was...
Alfred sensed that I was scared. He's an English gentleman, in his 60's. As I mentioned earlier, he was yelling at me to get on the cart. But after the ship left, he was kind, understanding and even apologetic. He said that "we were all calling you! The captain was waiting! They even had the gang plank down for you!" As someone mentioned, he said "once the ship starts rolling out, it's not coming back, it's like a jet! Its not like the old days."
I asked Alfred if he could get me on a boat and catch up to the ship. He said that "this is no longer an option, they don't do this anymore and the Allure is to big." Was I mad at Capt. Johnny? Not at all! It's a business, and time is money, so I don't fault him nor am I angry.
Alfred says, "Ok, go out the gate, wait a block down at the corner. I'll be driving a blue van, when I honk, JUMP IN!" This is when I turn into Jason Bourne, or James Bond! But, as I exited the gate, I realized that I'm the only 'white' person, all eyes are on ME! I have 3 backpacks, I'm trembling (I'm a big guy and can take care of myself, but..). I realize that I can't act weak, I've seen Animal Planet, I know what happens to the weaker animals!
So, I put on my sun glasses, put the one backpack into the other, fling them over my back and start acting like I belong there! I walked back and forth, with confidence! Inside, I was shaking! It wasn't night time yet, but the sun was definitely going down!
I'm pacing, then I hear the honk! I cross the street and jump in! He said, "this IS what you need to do, I'm going to show you three places, remember where to go! First, in Nassau, you have to drive in a circle, it's hard to explain, sorta like a large loop. So he say, the first stop is the hotel, second stop is Mr Photo and the third spot is the embassy."
He drives to the hotel, I'm expecting the Hyatt, or Hilton.. WRONG! It's a 'place' in the middle of town, he says "this is where you are staying tonight!" He drives in a large circle as we go to the next stop, Mr Photo. He says, "be here at 8 am sharp, take two photos. After that, walk 3 blocks to the east." He stops, points down the street. Asks me if I see that picket fence 3 blocks down on the second story, behind McDonalds? I say yes. He says, "that street is where the U.S. Embassy is, walk there, they'll be expecting you!"
He drives back to the motel, I'm trying to recall the streets, which block is which, what time did he say to be at Mr Photo, etc.... After this, again, the reality of me not being on the ship kicked in! I started thinking about my family again, I was hoping that I'd see a familiar face... nope. I was thinking, what are they doing now?
In a bit I'll post the rest of the story, the extra charges involved and the dilemma of getting back on the ship. Oh, and once your back on the ship, it's like you've been 'ERASED'! I'll elaborate.
Why did my friend not come back? He said he didn't see us, I find that hard to believe.
Yes, I did have 3 backpacks, with their sail and signs. They headed to the ship and were able to get on. If I would've told my son to be there at 3:30, he would've. I never relayed that to him.
Why didn't my wife call me? She, my sons, my other 10 or so friends on the ship did. When I'd answer, the phone would disconnect. When I'd call back, it would not go through. Which now reminds me: As your PRE cruise planning, FIND OUT HOW TO DIAL OUTSIDE OF THE U.S.A. WITHIN THAT COUNTRY!
Why did I wait? I don't know, parent instinct. I couldn't leave without my child, period! All the 'what ifs' start going through your mind.
I know that some said that they would've gone to the ship and checked so see if son was on... but think about it, what if my friend left him, and my son was all alone in Atlantis, NO MONEY, no clothes, NO STREET SMARTS?! For those of you that said you would've gone to the ship, I really don't know what to say... just think about it.
Passport: We didn't have one, wife and I had one that expired. We paid for this trip for the 4 of us, spent at least 5k or more, just for the trip. When we learned that only a birth certificate and license was needed, we figured we'd save the 600. Again, over 15 cruises, nothing has ever happened to us. It was a close looped cruise, what the heck, nothing is going to happen.
Up until this point, I still have NOT spoken to anyone. It's close to 2 hours since the ship left. I can imagine how my wife felt, my youngest son especially, and even my oldest. My oldest earlier, before we left Nassau, asked, why do we always wait for people? People never wait for us! Why can't we just go on our own!? This started to race through my mind. Boy was he right!
Alfred opens the door, and walks me in to the motel. As I walk in, ALL eyes are on me. It's not a bad place (OK, sort of bad), but not a place I would ever stay at. It was in a bad part of town, no one was talkative, and they all stared. Alfred explains to the manager of the hotel what happened to me.. They ask me for a credit card, I sign, they give me a key and that's it.
I haven't eaten since morning, I have no desire to do so. I feel like throwing up, and even more so now that Alfred says he's leaving! He tells me to get some rest, do the things he mentioned, and after doing that, he asked that I call him so that we can make flying arrangements. Then, a disclaimer: "IF we can find a plane that fly's out on time!" "WHAT, what do you mean Alfred!?" He says, "there are not too many daily flights that go out of Nassau, especially to Jamaica!" "WHAT? I might miss the boat again?!" "Yes, but let's play it by ear!"
I need to clarify a few things: Alfred was the port authority. He is a nice and good man. The place was not a dump, just something that I am not accustomed to. He didn't deliberately drop me off at the first dive. Obviously he knows this place, feels comfortable and knows that its close to everything.
After paying and getting my keys, Alfred says to keep in touch after I get my passport. I'm escorted to my room upstairs. It was a small, clean room, with a shaking ceiling fan and an AC that blew hot air. No big deal.
I dump the backpacks on the bed, I sit in the chair, and this is when it all sinks in. I'll admit it, this is when I got emotional. I still couldn't believe that this happened to ME. First, I'm never late to anything, I'm always 5 - 10 minutes early to everything. 'Bad' things never happen to me. Yes, I've almost missed ONE flight once, but that was it.
After a few minutes of staring at the bed and feeling sorry for myself, I said, that's it, enough of this. I'm not on the ship, my family is, but I need to make the best out of this. "Snap out of it, get up and do something" is what I told myself....
I got my backpack and flipped it over and dumped everything out to see what I had. I had suntan lotion, wallet, old passport, birth certificate, my cell phone, headphones and RCL stuff. Oh, my swimming trunks and an extra shirt, which I usually do NOT carry or have on me, but for some reason I did
I frantically grab my phone to call my family, it rings then nothing. I tried several times, then finally, my phone DIES!! HOW CAN THIS BE!??? No phone! I have no charger either, now what!? I grab the other backpacks and dump everything out! My friends and his daughters clothes from them changing at Atlantis, my sons clothes, TWO CELL PHONES! A charger for an iPhone, which I do no have. Two wallets, CASH, glasses and a wrinkled up $20 bill!....
I go to use one of the phones, it needs a PASSWORD! OMG, I don't have my friends password. I grab the other phone, which belongs to his daughters. Bingo, no password needed!! I start to call my other friend, which happens to be the phone owners uncle. HE ANSWERS!!! My wife, my sons, are all there! FINALLY, I hear their voices! First thing I hear, "we love you, we miss you!" And my son, saying "Dad, I'm so sorry, I didn't know you told us to be back at 3:30, I would've been there." I said, "it's OK, I know YOU would've, it's OK. As long as you guys are on the boat together, that's all that matters." I was teary eyed, but obviously had to act like I was OK and that I was in control. They asked me "what happened? Where did I go? Where am I? Am I scared?" No, of course I'm not, lol! They didn't need to know.....
After talking to them and my friend, the brother of the one that didn't show up (let me explain, the friend that didn't show up, his brother went also), said it was time to say goodbye. The phone line was bad, I think because they were getting further and further at sea. I did hear him say FACEBOOK! Finally, "good bye, be careful dad" and they were all gone.
I looked at the working phone, I realized that it only had 36% of life left, and the charger was NOT for this phone. I sent a few texts to my boys and wife and one of them answered. I also texted my friend, he replied. So at least I knew I could contact someone if I needed too.
I couldn't rest in the room, it was too hot. So I went downstairs. They had two computers, so I hopped on one. I went straight to Facebook and found my friend, he purchased an internet package just to keep in touch with me. We spoke for a while, trying to make a plan. My wife and boys talked a little, I finally told them to "GO HAVE FUN! You're on the ship, ENJOY IT! I'll be OK! GO!" So go they did.
I didn't want to go back to the room, so I started posting on Facebook. A few friends started replying, they could not believe that I would ever miss a ship! Then next thing you know, my Travel Agent sends me a chat! Can you believe it, my Travel Agent? Which type of Travel Agent would do that? As soon as she hears of my ordeal, she goes into mother hen mode, lol "Where are you? Are you safe? What do you have on you? Etc.." I explained the whole story and she made a few great recommendations. Start looking for flights NOW. I explained to her what Alfred said, she again strongly recommended that I start looking now. So glad I did, I'll explain shortly.
The part that amazes me the most was that my Travel Agent, who happened to be celebrating Thanksgiving, was actually talking to ME, comforting me and actually making plans for ME! I felt so at ease, finally. I actually felt like my life was going back to normal, I spoke to my family, friends, my Travel Agent, lol, and even a few on Facebook.
So, I began to look for flights....
The reason that the recommendation NOT to book was just in case I ran into an issues at the embassy. What if I got a flight, but then I didn't have my passport ready?
But when I started to look for flights, I was shocked. I know a few of you have mentioned that it's easy to get out, it's easy to find flights, etc. I went on Expedia, I could not find a flight from Nassau to Jamaica. I got stuck on land on a Monday, I wanted to fly out on Tuesday and wait for the ship in Jamaica and join it on Wednesday. The only flight was in the morning on Tuesday, but that's when I was going to be at the embassy! So the next option came up. A 7:00 AM flight on Wednesday, lands in Fort Lauderdale at 7:40 AM. Then an 11:00 flight from Fort Lauderdale, landing in Montego Bay at 11:40 AM (time change, just in case the flamers start questioning this).
I decide to do it. The price was $360, I think about it for a few minutes, I start recalling what Alfred said but then think to myself, 'I have two days to get my passport, and what if prices go up or if the flight sells out? So I booked it! By this time it went up $10!! True story!
I go back up to the room, its like an oven now. I try to turn the light on, but it doesn't turn on. I hit the switch on the wall, the air conditioning turns off.. oops, wrong switch! I try to turn back on, no more air conditioning! I'm sitting up on the bed (earlier, when I was sitting on the chair, I noticed tiny bugs crawling across the bed, I think they were tiny ants) but can't sleep. So I head back downstairs. By this time, it's almost 11:00 PM... I can hear loud TV's from the other rooms, I hear sirens outside, no guns though. As I open my door, there's a HUGE cockroach in front of my door, lol! It's OK, I used to be an exterminator years ago, so I just ignored it.
I go downstairs and tell the gentleman that my air conditioning is out. He goes up but can't fix it. He offered me another room, but I decline. He asked again, "are you sure, its going to be hotter later tonight." "No, its ok," I say. HUGE MISTAKE!
I mentioned before that I would explain what was going on 'on the other end'... with my wife and family....
My son and wife left Atlantis, they didn't want to but I said that they had to, I'd meet them there. They left, and as SOON as they walked on the ship, they saw my son, my friend and his daughter! My wife said, "what's wrong with you?! Where were you? Why didn't you come back! We said 3:30, Klfhngr is waiting waiting for you! OMG!!!!"
This is when they all began calling me. I've estimated that by this time, I was already in the van heading their way, so it wouldn't have mattered. My wife stated that Royal Caribbean was being compassionate, telling her that they'll try to wait. Sail time was 5:00 PM and it was already getting close. My wife and kids kept begging them to please wait, "he'll be here any minute."
My wife could hear them and the captain (or his crew) talking. They kept asking, "how many people? Where are they? Have you contacted them?" At one point, she even heard Captain Johnny through the walkie talkie or phone say, "we can't wait for ONE person!" That was it. My wife, sons, friends are begging, but no dice.
My wife starts balling, my son and friend want to get off the ship. They are strongly advised against doing this by Royal and family. Royal tells my wife that I'm in good hands, I'll be OK, we'll take care of him. The gangplank was down, they start to raise it.. the boat begins to move..
And this is where I came into the picture, this is when I drove up in the golf cart.. but as I said, it was to late. On the boat, my wife and kids go to the room. My friend is apologizing over and over and over. Everyone is numb and in shock. They all try to contact me, but to no avail. So they all head to the rooms. The party is officially over.
I received one text during the night from my oldest son, it only said 'Dad'.. I replied and nothing. Kept trying, this drove me crazy not knowing what was going on. There was nothing I could do but hope that everything was OK.
I barely got any sleep, but got up and dressed at 7:30 AM. I recall that I had that spare tee shirt, but I didn't want to wear it yet. I wanted to wear it once I got on the plane, so I wouldn't offend any of those sitting next to me, lol.
I put all of the important stuff into my backpack, put all of the clothes and stuff into the others. I headed downstairs, checked out and sat on the couch until 7:55. I then headed to Mr Photo.
They were open, I took two pics and headed down the street. I felt so much better, now that it was daylight. I still stood out, contrary to what some flamers posted earlier. I don't think they know which part of town I was in. True, I never felt unsafe, but I did stand out.
As I got closer to the street where the embassy was, I noticed a Hilton and many people going out and about. I can see why one of the flamers posted earlier that people come and go, and feel safe. But again, I wasn't in this area the night before.
I arrived at the embassy, there's a long long bench, but only one person in front of me. I headed to the gate and told the soldier that I'm an American citizen and I'm here for a passport. He tells me where to go.
I enter the small office, I explained who I was and what I was doing there. I think they were expecting me or aware that someone missed the ship and would be coming in.
Now here's where I made a huggggeeee mistake!
Security at the embassy ask me to put all my possessions on the table, similar to airport security. They ask what I have in my possession. I tell him what I know I have, then I vaguely describe what's in the others. He asks, "so why don't you know what's in there?" I say, "I do, but this is not mine." He says, "WHAT?!?" AND BACKS AWAY FROM THE BACKPACK! I had to quickly say, "it's my friends and his daughters, I missed the ship and got stuck with it!" The reason he panicked, is because he thought someone gave it to me outside before entering the embassy, and we know what has happened in the past when this happens (terrorist). So huge mistake on my part for not clarifying it at the beginning.
Now they take everything out and I have wallets, cameras, phones, etc. I really do look like a thief or pickpocket, but they understand. I go through the Xray and I'm finally told to enter another building.
Alfred again, was really looking out for me. He called the day before, even though it was a legal holiday in the Bahamas, Columbus day, and told them of my dilemma. They were expecting me and within an hour and a half, I had my passport.
They did ask me many questions to verify that I was who I said I was, so pay close attention if they do this. I totally understand that they need to do this, they have to be 100% certain that those entering the U.S.A. are who they say they are.
I have my passport, its a beautiful day, I purchased my air the night before, I finally feel that everything is going to be OK.
I head over to McDonalds so that I can call Alfred. He answers! Asked how I am, did I do everything, etc. He's happy that I did just so and can't believe how quickly they did everything! I thank him for everything, and explain to him that I already got my air. He's happy, but then gives me a few warnings/heads up. He states to be at the airport early, I MIGHT run into some issues, mostly questioning. Next, he needs to call Royal Caribbean Jamaica to let them know that I'm on my way. He starts looking for numbers but can't find them. He suggest that I call the 800 number to Royal Caribbean and let them know of my plans.
I thank him again for everything. Oh, I failed to mention that after he left me at the motel, a few hours later he came back to check up on me. During that time, he took a few people out to a tanker, cleared the boat and then came back to check up on ME! What a guy, I'll never forget Alfred for the time he took in helping me out.
Honestly, I'm not sure if it is his job to do this or not, I really don't think it was, but I do question why did I never hear or see anyone from Royal Caribbean? Recall that they told my wife on the ship that they would take care of me, and that I'm in good hands. I don't know, but thanks Alfred.
And this reminds me of one more thing: When my wife and kids and friends were begging them to wait, they asked her if I had money? She said "of course." "What about a credit card?" "I think so." "Phone?" "Yes." I think that they were asking these questions so that they could leave, knowing that I had the necessities. This is when my wife heard Capt. Johnny say, "we can't wait for ONE person."
With my docs, I decided to get the heck out of town. The only working phone I had was dying, so I started to look for a radio shack or something similar. I sent texts to my family and they responded. I asked for the password to the other phone with the charger. I finally got a response and now had two phones.
I grabbed a cab and asked them to take me to a hotel close to the airport. We made two stops, one was OK, but $400 a night. Went to another, sold out. These were boutique style, so I asked the driver, "don't you have like a Hyatt, Hilton, etc." He said the Melia is similar. So we head there, stopping at a Radio Shack first to get a charger for my phone.
Room was available, only $185 a night! I have to say, this place is NICE! I check in then decide to call my beloved Travel Agent. I explain to her what Alfred said, that I needed to call Royal Caribbean Jamaica and let them know of my plans. Immediately she asks for all of the details, i.e., flights, times, etc. She says she'll take care of the rest! I can't believe this, one last thing for me to worry about! Advice: Go with a reputable Travel Agent, and not the ones that might offer you the world, but those that offer world class service! Thanks Carol!
FYI, cab cost me $40 CASH obviously, and $20 for the charger (just stating this to show how quick cash can go).
I won't bore you with the details at the Melia, but one thing did bum me out, and I have pics, lol: I'm sitting at the beach, finally was able to fall asleep, it's about 4 or 5 pm. I open my eyes and what do I see, ships leaving Nassau, lol! Two CCL ships and I believe one older RCL ship. My first reaction is to flip them off, lol/jk. But I was imagining what it was like leaving port, but being ON the ship.
I'm thinking, one more day, just one more day, we're almost there.
Just another FYI: I had to spend two nights in Nassau.
Charges: Room service $30 for club sandwich, fries, coke and tip. Drinks at pool bar, $8 for a beer, $10 for a BBC.
I get up early and get to the airport at 5:15 am for my 7:15 AM flight. The gate through security is closed and a long line is forming. It opens, I go through and NO issues. I didn't know this, but Bahamas security works under U.S. laws or agreement. I don't know, but once you go through customs here, you don't have to do it again when you land in the U.S.
We're at the gate waiting for our 737 on Bahamas Air. But there is no plane. Six o'clock, six thirty, six forty-five. A man next to me says, "I hope they don't cancel the flight!" I asked him why they would? He says "if they don't sell enough seats, I've seen this happen with Bahamas Air!" No way, this cant be happening. Next thing you know, they roll up a small prop plane, OUR plane!
We board, we're in the air and arrive in Fort Lauderdale a little before 8:00 AM.
I go straight to Caribbean Air and check in.
Advise: I know I have a great Travel Agent, but I wanted peace of mind. So I called Royal Caribbean. After waiting, they confirm that Jamaica is expecting me, but he says he'll be sending an email to the ship just to be 100% certain.
I'm stopped at security in Fort Lauderdale, they go through my backpacks. Again, the wallets, phones, etc. I did a quick explanation and no more questions from them. But, there was a bottle of water, suntan lotion and something else that they had to confiscate. I was slightly concerned that these items made it through the Bahamas security, what if others attempt this? Anyhow, I'm on my way to Jamaica!
In flight, I met a nice gentleman that used to live in Jamaica. He asked my purpose of visiting, and I explain the story to him. BTW, by this time I spoke to my family at the Melia, and my friend decided to rent a van and pick me up at Montego Bay. I said, "no, it's OK, I'll get a cab. I don't want you guys driving in Jamaica (I've been there before)." He insisted on getting me.. OK. Anyhow, the gentleman on the plane says, "I'm going through Fallmouth, I can have my driver drop you off!" I explain that I already have transportation, and he strongly suggests against my friend driving.. I thank him and we leave the plane.
Jamaican immigration/customs is terrible, but I eventually got out... I step out, and I hear my name being called.......
It was my wife, two boys and my friend (not the one that didn't show up, lol)! Wow, I'm finally here! In no way am I comparing myself to a POW or a soldier returning from war. But wow, I can totally understand how they feel when they come home. My youngest son comes up to me, "I'm so sorry dad, I really am. I didn't know I had to be there at 3:30." Over and over, sorry. I tell him "no need to worry, I'm here now." Hugs all the way around, a quick beer and we're on our way to the rest of the group (at a beach).
We discuss the ordeal, on the ship and off the ship.... Now I start thinking, I'm going to see the person that made me miss the ship! What am I going to say, what am I going to do?!
We get to the beach, he comes straight to me, hugs me and apologizes over and over. What can I do, what can I say? I didn't say it was OK, but just nodded my head. I was just glad to be back!
I told the group that I wanted to head back to the ship early, "JUST IN CASE I RUN INTO ANY ISSUES....."
Get to the ship, we had a drink at the port and decide to get on the ship! Wife goes through, my two boys, then me. ERRRRRRRR sounds the alarm! I cant believe it.. they try again, ERRRR! "Sorry sir, we cant let you board!" "What do you mean you cant let me board?!" "You're no longer on the ship!" "I know, but I am now!" "Sorry sir, you have to go to Jamaican Customs!" "OMG, no! I already did that when I landed via air in Montego Bay, I don't get it! Please, can I just get on?" "NO!"
I tell my family to get on the ship and say "I'll be back shortly." "NO, NO, NO" they all say, "not this again dad!" I say, "I'm going to be OK, I'll be back!"
Good thing that Customs is right there by the ship. I go to Customs, they ask for paperwork. They asked for copies of flight info., passport, etc. I explained to the official that I already landed at Montego Bay and went through Customs. I had to explain my story and he finally says OK, go through.
When I was not allowed to enter the ship the first time, security contacted a gentleman on the ship. He also said to go to customs and we'll take care of this.
So, once I was cleared, I head to the ship. On the way there, a worker comes up to me and says "are you Klfhngr?" "Yes." He says, "my pleasure meeting you. I talked to you earlier, but have also been working on your case since you missed the boat! You should have no more problems!" I thank him, he enters the ship through the employee entrance and I head to main entrance.
I enter, and ERRRRRRRRR, alarm goes off! Security again says "NO." Another one says "YES," other "NO!" OMG, Please let me get on! The one that I'm standing by is the one saying no, the one at the other station is saying yes! I explain to them that I just spoke to someone outside of the ship and he clarified that I'm cleared. After a minute or two, they FINALLY say "get on!"
I go through and head straight to a hiding place, the pub! I call my wife and tell her that I'm on! YEA!!!!!!!!! I'm waiting to hear for any announcements with my name. I hear none, so I head up to the room!
Cabin steward welcomes me back, she's happy to see me. She told my wife the day before that she would never forgive my friend, lol!
She gives me a new key, ship is moving and I'm good!
I head to Guest Services. They give me another key, welcome me back. We had over $300 in on board credit, but there was some confusion as to where it all went.
When I missed the ship, my account was CLOSED! All of my records were wiped out, the only thing that displayed was a credit into my wife's account, that was it. So the credit that I had left was called 'bad credit' and then rolled into my wife's account as 'credit'. It was confusing but at the time seemed to make sense.
During the remaining days, I occasionally ran into issues with my card. In some locations, I didn't exist! They would have to 'freeform' a receipt and have my sign. Not sure why, but this occurred a few times.
1) Meet at an agreed upon time at the agreed upon location, no matter what.
2) If no one arrives, go to the ship. This one is one that I'm not 100% certain with. In hind sight, yes, but again, what if child is left behind on their own?!
3) Carry a phone AND A CHARGER! BTW, the charger I bought in Bahamas did NOT work! $20 down the drain.
4) Know how to use your phone while in port! How to dial out, area code, etc.!
5) Not sure about this one, but maybe one piece of clean clothing. I'm glad I had the shirt, but this is some thing that can be purchased.
6) Which leads to this: CASH, and maybe more than you would like to bring to port! And a Credit Card!
7) Passport, PASSPORT, PASSPORT! No more birth certificate and license! What if the embassy is on the other side of the island or COUNTRY?! then what?!
8) Book with a REPUTABLE Travel Agent TO HELP YOU and that will work for you!
9) If assistance is given to you, FOLLOW IT! Don't second guess it, or decide to go on your own! As Alfred said, this happens, more often than you think! So they know what they are telling you!
10) If carrying others items, make sure you know what you are carrying! Something I never ever thought of! My friend scubas, and I had his backpack, what if his knife was in there!
11) Throw away liquids if your going to fly. Yes common knowledge, but not something you think about.
12) Know exactly what to say when inside the Embassy! They do NOT MESS AROUND!
13) Internet! Stay at a place that has the internet or wifi, it will become your best friend and even keep you sane!
14) Don't assume when they say "meet the ship at the next port" that you'll just be able to walk on! Make the calls, have your Travel Agent call and GET TO THE SHIP EARLY if you missed it at the previous port! Do you think the ship would've waited for me in Jamaica if I showed up a few minutes before cruising? NO WAY!
15) Once you're on the ship and it HAS LEFT PORT, lol, take care of your business at Guest Services. Also, don't assume that your account is ok or fixed!
16) Be on board time means BE ON BOARD! Period! They stated that they waited for me, the truth is that they did not! It left at exactly 5:00 PM. Perhaps the ship could've left earlier since all were on board (maybe this is what they meant by waited). I don't know, but again, I do not blame Royal Caribbean, nor the captain, for leaving.
I'm sure I'm sure I 'll have a few more, but the time, the energy and the money wasted is tremendous. The cruise was not the same once I got on. Yes, it felt good to be back on the ship, but I was EXHAUSTED, drained and no longer viewed it as fun.
We've estimated OUR costs close to $1000, hotel, motel, air, cabs, passport, food. Now that doesn't include our phone bill. Also, the costs that my friend incurred, the internet, the van he rented, HIS phone. Robert, many many thanks to you! He took my family under his wing when I was not there. He organized things, made calls, etc. And then there's my Travel Agent! Thank you for talking to me when you were with your family! And for contacting Royal Caribbean, and for constantly checking up on me!
And finally, my family. Wow, you just don't know how much your loved and missed until something like this happens. and vice versa. I know it sounds over dramatic, but honestly, I felt like I was gone for a long time and just returned from a long mission!
It's good to be in the U.S. of A., with my family and friends.
I too was thinking, what if it was my wife, or another woman? Not that you ladies can't handle your business, I know you can. But IF it were to ever happen to my wife, she'd be a mess! Now, at least she knows what to do.
I failed to list: act CONFIDENT as you stroll the streets. I know that this applies anywhere, but this is something that you might forget to do. When I was escorted out of the dock area, at first I was trembling, I didn't know where to go! Many eyes were on me. But as I stated, I had to act tough and be strong. And that's what it I did.
I'm not acting like I'm some kind of a hero or superstar, I didn't do anything spectacular! I'm just sharing my inner thoughts, the stuff that goes through your head, the 'real' stuff like transportation, hotels, air, fees, etc. Cruise Critic