Getting to the Cruise Ship (Vacation Part 1)

It was quite an adventure, and it was even doubtful that we would make it to port on time for much of the first two days of travel.

We left home at about 2:30pm on Thursday. Bruce had his final day of school that day, and we were pretty much packed. We made it to Buffalo in plenty of time and found a diner near the airport for lunch. Jake’s mom dropped us off at the airport and we headed to the United check-in counter.  We had no idea what we were in for.

We checked in and the agent informed us that the plane coming from Dulles (the one we were flying in back to DC) had been delayed due top mechanical issues, so our flight was delayed.  No biggie, right? This happens all the time.  We had a bit of a layover in Dulles so as long as the delay didn’t last too long, we’d be fine.

We headed to the lounge. Only J has status and can get one guest in. If they’re nice and not busy, all three of us can get in. They weren’t too busy, but…well.  So we headed to the gate. I signed in on my laptop to watch the status of the departing flight from Dulles, which was delayed further and further and further. Finally it got to the point that if it was delayed one more time, we were going to miss our connecting flight to London.

Jake headed back out to the ticketing agent and they couldn’t do anything. All fights everywhere were delayed due to a storm. Even in Chicago. By this time, our flight was coming in and we could at least get to Dulles, where we’d have more options for getting to London.  We would be missing our connecting flight and wouldn’t be making it to London on the overnight flight.  We had, fortunately, planned to stay overnight in Dover before heading to port, just in case there were flight issues, so this gave us a bit of time to play with.

We made it to Dulles at about 11pm. We got a room at the Hyatt (courtesy of United, of course, since it was a mechanical delay) and settled in for 6 hours of sleep. We were on standby for the next flight at 9:30am, standby for 5pm, and confirmed for 9:30pm – a full day after our original flight to London.

We weren’t even close to making the standby flight. According to the ticket agent, it and the next flight were oversold by about 30 to 50 seats. Ugh. No one on the standby list made and there were two VERY upset passengers that were confirmed but not allowed on the flight.

While I was waiting at the gate for the first standby flight with Bruce, Jake went to the Red Carpet lounge (for United) and the two agents there were trying to help us.  We spent a couple of hours waiting in the RC lounge before deciding to wander out of the airport for a while. Our next standby was at about 5pm.  There was a British Airways flight that had seats open but we couldn’t talk to anyone from BA until 3pm.

IMG_0591 We took a cab to the Air and Space museum. I manage to get some really cool pics there and Jake got to try out his new medium-format camera. Bruce was thrilled to see the actual space shuttle, but mostly he thought the observation tower was really cool. We got the shuttle back to the airport. We had to go through security for the fourth time (twice in Buffalo, this was the second in Dulles) Bruce said, “We gotta do this again?” He’s a pro now. 🙂

As soon as we stepped into the RC lounge, the agent waved her arms in the air and said, “You guys are here! I’ve got something!”  This lady was amazing. She had kept an eye on the next standby flight and reserved seats as soon as one opened up, eventually she got three.  So all we had to do was wait and she was going to try to get 3 seats together.

So we made it on the flight. Our reservations at the bed and breakfast in Dover were lost. We weren’t going to make it in time – we were going to make it to Dover barely in time to make the ship!  We managed to find a car service and booked it online for relatively the same price as the train to get to Dover.

We got on the flight, got almost to the runway, and the Captain said our flight was delayed due to weather.

GAH!!! You can’t be serious!

He was, but thankfully it only lasted about 5 minutes. 🙂 We were up in the air for the next 7ish hours and made it to London at about 6am London time. Our driver was supposed to meet us at the airport. We breezed through customs but still had to wait nearly an extra hour for him to arrive – he was an hour late.  Thankfully, with all the mishaps making us arrive a day late, we were actually arriving on Saturday and traffic between London and Dover was light. Still couldn’t sleep because our driver was probably the worst driver in the world and kept jerking the car from one lane to the next. Bruce can sleep through anything so he slept for the whole trip between London and Dover.

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We made it to the ship! This was the hardest part, so far, but we made it. All three of us were running on about 6 hours of sleep in the last two days. Bruce was SO good the whole time.

We got on the ship and dropped off what little bags we didn’t check and went to explore the ship while we waited for our rooms to be ready. We signed Bruce up for the Kids Club and  showed Bruce around. When our bags made it to the room, Bruce wanted to go for a swim, so we did. (Thankfully, he got used to the arm floaties at the pool party a few days before.)  We ate and then went back to the room…by then we had been up for almost 3 days with very little sleep. Bruce had wanted to go to the Kids Club before going to sleep, but we all fell asleep instantly.

Today is an at-sea day, which we horribly needed! All three of us slept TWELVE hours last night.

Bruce has enjoyed the Kids Club and the pool, and has already made a couple of friends. Jake and I spent some time at the spa and the casino.

Tomorrow we’ll be in Copenhagen!

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