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Avalon River Cruises has a sale on select European River cruises through 2/20/2018. Save up to $3000 on air inclusive sailings. Contact me directly to help you book your next river cruise.
Cruising is more popular than ever and for good reasons. It is flexible and has something for everyone. Even if you're prone to getting sea-sick, patches worn behind the ear will prevent you from getting sick. Cruise lines are catering to everyone. Here are the latest trends.
1. Skip-Gens – “Skip-Gen” travel are vacations where grandparents take the grand-kids on a special adventure, leaving the parents behind to enjoy their own time off. Vacations are the perfect time to make lasting memories while taking the time to learn from each other.
Grandparents might figure out how to take the perfect selfie while grand-kids hear about life *gasp!* before cell phones.
2. Experiences of a Lifetime – Whether it only happens once or only happens once a year, travel agents are sending their clients to events offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience that also give their clients serious bragging rights when they return back home. Travelers are already planning trips for 2020’s Tokyo Olympic Games and the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany. Annual celebrations such as Germany’s beer festival, Oktoberfest, or India’s color festival, Holi, take cultural immersion to a new level for travelers looking to not only see a destination, but experience it at its height of celebration.
3. Solo Travel – Traveling solo doesn’t have to mean traveling alone as cruise lines and tour operators make it easier and more comforting for those looking to explore the world with like-minded travelers. For retirees, Millennials and everyone in between, solo travel could be as complex as wanting to find oneself or as simple as being the only family member on the trip not sharing a room with a significant other.
Cruise lines such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Holland America Line feature single cabins on select ships while other cruise lines, including AmaWaterways, offer waived single-supplement fees on select sailings so solo travelers only pay one cruise fare. Tour operators, including Contiki, offer roommate-matching programs where solo travelers are assigned a roommate of the same sex.
4. Intuitive Tech – Technology is elevating the entire travel process, starting with trip planning. Virtual reality is giving travelers a 360-degree peek at what their destination may be like.
5. River Cruising for All – Just as ocean cruising has seen major shifts over the past two decades, river cruising is coming out of its shell, diversifying its offerings and targeting more than just Baby Boomers.
U by Uniworld is designed exclusively for travelers aged 21-45, offering the allure of backpacking through Europe, but without the backpacking, hostel stays or uncertainty. Families are finding river cruising to be an appealing multi-generational trip with children’s programming including AmaWaterways’s Adventures by Disney sailings and Tauck Bridges itineraries.
The variety of on-shore experiences are expanding with more active excursions, such as the Avalon Active Discovery itineraries and more culturally immersive opportunities such as cooking in a local’s home.
Source: Cruise Planners 12/19/2017
Now is a good time to book cruises to New England and Eastern Canada, especially departures New York and Boston. It is a great way to cruise as English is the first language of most regions and it is very safe. All regions have diverse cultural heritages and nature options.
Bar Harbor, ME, is a cute town with lots of shops and eateries, plus Acadia National Park is nearby. Halifax is another walking city with interesting history and wineries. Quebec City is a quaint, yet romantic, port with delicious food and breathtaking vistas.
Fall foliage is not only for retirees, many families enjoy them. Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas is a great option for a family reunion.
The five- to seven-night foliage cruises are great for families who don’t wish to buy air tickets. Canada / New England itineraries as more affordable and “hip” than an Alaska cruise. A pre- or post-cruise New York City stay is also a lot of fun to add to the trip.
Book Early, Don’t Expect Deals: Balcony staterooms on fall foliage voyages sell out fast, so book early to get the accommodations you want. That may even mean booking for the following year. Balconies are especially prized, and they can really be enjoyed on itineraries that include the St. Lawrence River. Sitting on a private balcony on a crisp fall evening with the moon reflecting off the water is evocative. Pricing rarely goes down for these cruises. No looking for last-minute sales and deals here.
Royal Caribbean, Princess and Disney are offering a few shorter itineraries for busy families. Carnival and Norwegian also provide family-friendly options. Holland America does some lovely 14-night roundtrips from Boston that go all the way to Montreal. And then luxury small ships such as Silversea’s Silver Whisper and Seabourn’s Seabourn Quest create an upscale cruise experience.
American Cruise Lines has launched a new 11-day “Grand New England” itinerary roundtrip from Boston on the latest 165-passenger American Constellation. New ports of call are Provincetown, MA, and Kennebunkport, ME. Highlights include a lobster bake luncheon at Penobscot Bay, a tour of Newport and the Breakers Mansion, Captain Jack’s Lobster boat adventure and an Acadia National Park tour.
Looking ahead to 2018, Quebec City will become a new port for Disney Cruise Line on two new Disney Magic sailings between New York and Quebec. Departing September 20 and September 27, both cruises feature two full days in Quebec City as well as maiden calls at Saguenay and Baie-Comeau, Canada.
For more information call Peterson Travel Pros: 612-559-6545
Susan Young 7/10/2017 Travel Central
I just got back from an Norwegian Cruise Line ocean cruise leaving from Barcelona. It was a 10 day cruise starting from Barcelona and included stops in Casablanca, Las Palmas, Tenerife, Funchal, Malaga, and Alicante. It was one of the best cruises I've been on because of the itinerary. We first flew to Madrid for 2 days before the cruise and then flew to Barcelona the day before the cruise and also stayed an extra day in Barcelona. However, many of the cruisers spent an extra week in Barcelona in order to see all the sites. Barcelona is a robust city with many scenic cities nearby including Stiges and Tarragona. The price of the trip was very reasonable and the exchange rate is great. .I'd highly recommend it. See more blogs about it in the next few days.
Christmas Markets typically operate between November 25 and December 24. These Christmas Markets river cruises are identical to their summertime counterparts, with one notable exception: Excursions are designed to coincide with the historic Christmas Markets that pop up in outdoor squares in the smallest of towns and the largest of cities all over Europe. It may be too late to plan a trip this year, but it is the perfect time to book your cruise for 2017. You'll be able to get an early booking discount and have something great to look forward to for next year.
This is Christmas as it rarely exists in North America. Throughout much of Germany, Austria, France, Hungary, and other European countries, wooden stalls are erected in the town’s historic squares. Some towns have but one market; we fondly remember visiting tiny Breisach, Germany, with its market that consisted of perhaps a dozen stalls and held plenty of warm, friendly holiday spirit.
Big cities, on the other hand, can have more than one. Vienna is one of the most amazing in this regard, with nearly a dozen different markets in any given year – most of which are clustered around the famous Ringstrasse (ring road) that encircles the city’s historic core.
Markets vary wildly in terms of souvenirs. Some are hand-made; others are mass-produced. One thing that doesn’t vary, though, are the amazing local specialties you can indulge in, like hot mulled wine known as Gluhwein. This is frequently offered as either red or white wine (though red is far more common), and locals will quite often take it mit schuss – or with a shot of something else. We did that once, on one memorably cold day in Vienna. Let’s just say adding a shot of brandy to our mulled wine really hit the throttle on our day.
Food plays a huge part in these markets, and is authentic, local and regional. Don’t expect to get the same kind of food in every market. In Hungary, spicy sausages and goulash soups are the order of the day, while Germany is all about the bratwurst and warm soups like kartoffelsuppe, or potato soup. Often, this is served in an edible bread bowl. In Slovakia, we indulged in the most amazing shaved potato wedges we’ve ever had; while in Strasbourg, French and German-influence combined in a bowl of spätzle topped with heavy cream from Alsace.
The Christmas Markets river cruises are also an ideal time for families to cruise together. In fact, we’ve seen more multigenerational families on our various Christmas Markets sailings over the years than at almost any other time of the year. It’s also popular with couples in their thirties, forties and fifties looking to escape the frantic rush of the month of December in North America.
These sailings are also addicting. Many of the guests we’ve talked to have admitted that these sailings have become a new holiday tradition for them. We can relate: We try to get onto the rivers of Europe as much as we can during the holiday season to experience these festive Christmas Markets.
So which lines are offering Christmas Markets sailings this year? Here’s a rundown of some of the major lines. Note that we’re only including actual Christmas Markets sailings and not Christmas or New Year’s cruises which, although fun, often do not have the added benefit of the markets, which typically all shut down by December 24.
AmaWaterways offers two primary Christmas Markets itineraries this year: http://www.amawaterways.com/christmas-markets-on-the-danube-2016
Christmas Markets on The Danube River Cruises | AmaWaterways™
AmaWaterways™ offers Luxury 10 Days Christmas Markets on The Danube River Cruises, packages, riverboats and city tours in Germany Austria Hungary with highest ...
Avalon Waterways http://www.avalonwaterways.com/River-Cruises/Christmastime-Cruises/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=glob34%20%7C%20avalon%20waterways%202017%20-%20brand&utm_term=avalon%20christmas%20market%20cruise&utm_content=brand%20-%20christmas%20(phrase%2Fexact)
Christmas River Cruises - Avalon Waterways®
Avalon Waterways® Christmas river cruises celebrate the festive season with cruises from Frankfurt to Basel, Prague to Vienna & more. See itineraries.Take in the Christmas Markets from one of Avalon’s Panorama Suites.
Avalon Waterways offers seven different Christmas Markets river cruises this year, ranging in length from five to 17 days. That’s the good news. Now for the bad news: All but two are completely sold out for 2016 (though Avalon will let you book right now for the 2017 Christmas Markets season).
The two itineraries with availability are the eight-day Christmas in the Heart of Germany itinerary (with suites open) that sails between Frankfurt and Nuremberg, with an overland extension to Prague. This sailing departs on December 6, 2016 aboard Avalon Artistry II.
The other 2016 itinerary with availability (as of right now) is the nine-day Christmastime on the Danube (Eastbound) voyage that operates as a cruisetour between Prague and Vienna. Category A, B, P staterooms are still available on this voyage, which departs aboard Avalon Impression on either November 27 or December 9, 2016.
Crystal River Cruises http://www.crystalcruises.com/voyage/details/christmas-markets-along-the-danube-8m24r
Crystal’s newly refurbished Crystal Mozart will sail three Christmas Markets sailings this December; 10-day voyages operating roundtrip from Vienna, Austria. Departing on November 22, December 2, or December 12, 2016, these voyages cruise from Vienna to Melk, Linz, Passau, Vilshofen, Passau, and Bratislava, with a day of scenic cruising on the Danube and an overnight call in Vienna prior to disembarkation.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection https://www.uniworld.com/en/river-cruise/europe/rhine/classic-christmas-markets/2016-nuremberg-to-frankfurt/
Classic Christmas Markets 2016 - Uniworld River Cruises
Europe’s famous Christmas markets have changed little over the past five centuries, and the childlike wonder they instill is yours to enjoy on this magical cruise ...
Cruise the Christmas Markets of Europe aboard Uniworld’s S.S. Maria Theresa. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Uniworld is offering six different Christmas Markets itineraries this year, including:
Viking River Cruises: http://www.vikingrivercruises.com/holiday-cruises/2016/cruises/index.htmlHoliday Cruises in Europe - Viking River Cruises
Visit Christmas markets on European holiday cruises with Viking River Cruises. Shop for local items with a feast of tasty treats and handcrafted gifts.
Last but not least, Viking River Cruises easily offers the most Christmas Markets departure dates this year, thanks largely to its massive fleet of Viking Longships. In fact, the line offers an astonishing 19 different itineraries that operate during the Christmas Markets, clustered throughout France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and other countries. There are so many itineraries that it’s absolutely impossible to list them all here.
Book with Peterson Travel Pros: 612-559-6545
It's easy to spend a lot of money on a cruise ship even though meals and shows are included.
Whether you're interested in dining, drinking, the spa or something else entirely, here are some recommendations of the best ways to save a little money.
If You're a Foodie
Want to get to more than one specialty restaurant? On Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships, you can pay less for dinner if you dine on embarkation day. Another option is to do lunch at a specialty restaurant that typically costs more for dinner. Two restaurants at which this is an option are Jamie's Italian and Giovanni's Table, both found on select Royal Caribbean ships. Lunch at Jamie's is $20 per person (a $5 per person savings); the savings are even greater at Giovanni's where lunch is a mere $10 per person, compared to $25 pp for dinner.
Casual a la carte eateries are also a good choice for making the most of your money. You can make a full meal of smaller items from places like Bonsai Sushi (on select Carnival ships) or Johnny Rockets and Sabor (on select Royal Caribbean ships). Another option is to spend the money in a bar where you get a drink and food for the price of just your drink. On select Princess ships, the Vines wine bar offers sushi and tapas with any wine purchase.
If Libations Are Critical
Finding ways to get drinks for less is a holy grail mission for many cruisers. Cocktail lovers should look for drink of the day specials, while beer fans should take advantage of buckets, which cost less than ordering one bottle at a time. Princess doesn't have a bucket per se, but does have a five-for-four beer package priced from $22 to $27, depending on which brand you want. If you want to try a specialty restaurant and get a bottle of wine, head to Carnival's steakhouse on the first night of your cruise as you'll get a free bottle of wine with dinner. (Dinner is $35 per person, so it'll cost you a tad more than your OBC.)
If You Love the Spa
Make a spa appointment on port day. Just about every cruise line offers port day specials or packages that can save you money or get you three or four mini-treatments for the price of one full treatment.
There are lots of shopping opportunities on cruise ships, but if you want to make your money go farther, shop in the "everything for less than $10" areas of the onboard stores (if available) and keep your eyes open for special sales. Common promotions are the $10 and BOGO sales; they're best for items like scarves, clutches and costume jewelry. Another option is to look for a cruise line or cruise ship-branded item to take home as a souvenir. A printed photo of you and your travel party in your formal night finest also makes a nice souvenir; you can usually get two for about $50.
As with the spa, $50 won't get you too far when it comes to buying excursions, but every cruise line does typically offer at least one excursion under $50 in most ports. A second option would be to use the cruise line-sponsored shuttle (only available in select ports, typically in Europe) and then explore on your own.
If You Need Your Specialty Coffee
Plain coffee or tea is free on a ship, but if you want a specialty drink, you'll need to pay extra. Fifty dollars will get you one specialty coffee each day or maybe two. On Princess you can get two drinks a day for a week under $50. Purchase the line's coffee card and for just under $37 you get 15 espresso-based drinks with unlimited brewed coffee and premium teas for the duration of your trip.
--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor Cruise Critic 7/26/2016
AmaWaterways has announced that it will improve its line-up of biking and hiking tours for travelers in 2016.
AmaWaterways carries a fleet of complimentary bicycles onboard its European ships, which will continue to be available to guests for individual or escorted bike tours. In 2015, the company introduced a partnership with Backroads for more adventurous bicycling tourists, with those sailings beginning this year.
AmaWaterways’ 2016 new escorted bike tours will include:
In the past most cruise line charged extra for a single. Now there are at least five ships that have made accommodations for a single. They may even build some comradery for singles.
Holland America Line
Individuals are not only welcomed to book with Holland America, but are encouraged to with their Single Partners Program. The offer includes mixers and cocktail parties, various activities including wine tastings, exercise classes, and line dancing lessons, and dinner seating with other singles requested in advance. And to make the trip more convenient, the cruise line provides same-sex stateroom pairings for the duration of the trip, so each only pays the per-person double occupancy rate.
AmaWaterways river cruises rolled out their Solo Traveler Program giving passengers a single supplement break. Although space is limited, the choice of trip isn’t; solo travelers are able to pick from any weeklong river cruise. Sail on Melodies of the Danube cruise that takes you from Budapest to Vilshofen, or book a round-trip Amsterdam journey on the Tulip Time Cruise. No matter what destination you choose, additional fees for flying solo won’t be in your future.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Studio staterooms are currently offered on five of the Norwegian cruises, specifically designed to sleep parties of one. Each of these 100-square-foot spaces are equipped with a single-styled shower, personal TV, and other guestroom essentials, plus room service for those nights of staying in. Solos have access to the Studio Lounge, a private hangout shared exclusively by Studio guests, where solo travelers can easily meet one another.
American Queen Steamboat Company
Steamboat Company finished renovations to two paddle wheelers, including the American Queen a huge steamboat that keeps all party sizes in mind. Eight inside cabins and four outside staterooms (with open verandas) accommodate single travelers, positioned near each other for easy meet-and-greets. Not to mention the intimate size of riverboats allows a natural openness among passengers, whether they’re with a group or alone.
Grand Circle Cruise Line
They have an entire website page dedicated to solo travelers. They especially have the services to back it up, such as free to low-cost single supplements, a free roommate matching service, and even program directors specifically catering to single passengers. And for those still wary about going alone, Grand Circle has a Travel Companions online community that connects voyagers before departure.
Solos are being catered to more and more. Try one of these options or let me know if you've experienced another travel program that has catered to singles.
Afar Nicolette Richardson 3-31-16
The average cruise base price per day in 1985 was $367 (in 2016 dollars) for a cruise in the Caribbean. Today the average base price per day is only $77. Keep in mind, you can spend a lot more if you want a suite, and this does not include port charges or taxes.
Cruises are just a small fraction (about 21%) of what they cost 30 years ago.
Part of the price difference is because the ships have become huge and there is a large economic scale. Another part is that the cruise lines make ALL their money on what they manage to sell you once you’re on board, and the fare is a loss-leader to get you on the ship.
Regardless of the reason, there is no doubt that cruising represents great vacation value.
One of the best deals is the re-positioning cruises that a cruise line may have once or twice a year. For example, the ship may leave Florida for the Caribbean for our Spring and Summer and move to Italy for November through March. Sailing from Florida to Europe, they may stop at a couple of ports. Since there are a lot of days at sea, the cruise is very reasonable.
Let us help you find the perfect cruise. www.PetersonTravelPros.com
Klfhngr missed the cruise ship in the Bahamas. It was a frightening experience for this man. Here is his story.
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