Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Trip Part One

 I wanted to do this last year, but the little giardia incident over shadowed everything! Not to mention I think we still had the old computer then. So, let's go to the start. In the summer, I got to thinking that for our anniversary, it would be nice to totally surprise Rob with another cruise. I was going to do all the planning--including getting him the time off and that was, I thought, my biggest hurdle--and most of the paying, LOL. On Labour Day weekend, I asked my first choice if they could/would consider babysitting for a week. The answer was a definitive no. I was quite disenheartened. So much so, that I actually told Rob what I had been wanting to do and the unfortunate roadblock. We didn't want to ask his parents again, but it was the only option. A little reluctantly, they agreed, depending on when we could get the cruise.

We picked out a couple options and consulted our travel agent--about 8 weeks before the cruise. We made the decision to book a western Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas leaving Nov. 9 from Miami. Last year, we booked about 5 weeks in advance and got great flights (although very early!) and a good room. This time, we could either pay more and get a room on deck 9, or go in a 'lottery' and get a room on decks 2-6. Now....deck 3 had only 6 inside cabins, there are no cabins on decks 4 or 5, so our odds were really on deck 6 or 2. We were hoping for deck 6, but got deck 2.

In the course of a week of making final decisions, our choices of flights went from decent to almost non-existent at a reasonable price. We ended up having to fly out late afternoon of November 8 and go to Chicago, wait a bit and change planes to Miami, and come back very late on Nov. 16 (the day the cruise ended). Rob was extremely unhappy about going to Chicago, he says nothing good ever comes out of O'Hare Int'l Airport, LOL. He says it's big, busy, a long way between terminals...We had been able to go standby last year on the return flight and got home earlier than expected, and hoped to do that this time. We got a hotel booked with a free shuttle from the airport.

So, the planning of the cruise did not go too well. We hoped that things would get better! On Nov. 8, Rob's parents arrived, and shortly after Meg melted down for quite awhile. But then she was suddenly better and when it was time for us to leave, she calmly waved bye and went back to playing! Before leaving town we had to make a stop at the drug store for a forgotten tooth brush, but we were off! It's a slow trip down Airport Rd on a Saturday afternoon---making for Rob's anxiety to skyrocket! We had a long wait in the cold for the parking shuttle---guess who got more anxious.....No problem checking in though (a worker mentioned that Saturdays are always very empty at the airport) and before long we were through security and hunting down Tim Horton's. While waiting in the security line, we had a brief chat with an older lady holding a bra in her hand who said she had been married three times and the man going through the booth was her boyfriend, and a cute, even older couple who had been married for almost 57 years. We ran into that lady later, and found out she had 'married late' because she was in the Army (she sounded German or Dutch), then met her husband and came to Canada, and she was 86!

(Our plane to Chicago--turned out to be the smallest commercial plane I've been in!)

Our flight got delayed (bad weather in Chicago) and guess who got more anxious....(esp. since he didn't realize Chicago's local time--the time on the ticket--is an hour earlier than our time). We got in our seats and I got out my knitting. The attendant came by, reached over and took my knitting and said she "Had to check the tips" "For what?" I said. "Some are really sharp and pointy and long". I said, according to the TSA website, there is no qualifiers---it just says knitting needles are allowed. She "approved" the needles and I said that last year I was using tiny, pointy, sharp needles to make socks while we flied! Then, we got out our vintage Canada 3000 earphones and plugged them in--nothing coming over the headsets yet. That same attendant came by and said we had to take them off for take off---"TSA rules". Uh---your plane's onboard entertainment system does not broadcast during take off, so what was the problem? LOL. I just wanted to dim the noise of the plane--I knew I couldn't use the MP3, and I thought maybe the safety lecture would be on the headset system.
Made it to Chicago in great time, and even got to see this Lego display that I had read about on Knitspot (Scroll down to Oct. 28). She hadn't said what terminal it was in, so I was happy when it just happened to be on our route. The airport was practically empty and our terminals were next to each other; it was an easy walk, and we didn't even have to get our luggage (Rob wouldn't let me take more pictures because he was a little...anxious).

The second part of the flight was a "Ted" by United Airlines flight. We weren't sitting next to each other at all, and it was hilarious to hear all the things "Ted" wanted to tell us, mainly to keep us safe and happy (Ted is my brother's name!). We got to Miami on time. But couldn't find where to get the shuttle. We found 50cents US and phoned the hotel, but they didn't have much to say. Finally we found where to get the shuttle (it was amazing how well we remembered the Miami airport!) and got to the hotel, checked in, and asked where to get food (it was 1AM).

The desk clerk recommended IHOP. Rob was not familiar with this great American institution so we wondered down the two blocks and enjoyed a very early breakfast. In the morning we enjoyed the hotel's (free) was okay....then took the ($$) hotel shuttle to the port of Miami.

Despite the airports being empty, there were FIVE cruise ships at the port! We were chatting with a couple in front of us, who were also big Royal Caribbean fans, and had previously had a bad experience with Norwegian Cruise Line (we have not met anyone yet who has had a good NCL trip).
We were the last drop off at the port, and there she was! We did have quite a bit of a wait for going through security, but finally, we were on our ship!!!!

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