"" Writer's Wanderings: The Cruise FInish Line

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

The Cruise FInish Line

The Symphony anchored off Bimini

 Well, we made it home and just in time for a major snow storm but I'm getting ahead of my story. We arrived in Bimini at about eleven in the morning and saw a sad and lonely looking sister ship, Symphony, anchored off shore. You may recall that ship avoiding Miami because of a maritime arrest warrant for nonpaid fuel bills. 

Immigration officials boarded oue ship and we all had to check in with our passports since this would be the port of disembarkation. While services were reduced onboard, there were still opportunities to enjoy some good music, the violinist for one played for an hour in the Crystal Cove. 

We walked around the deck several times and thought about going ashore just long enough to walk down the length of dock and back but an announcement came that no one was allowed to go ashore. As we stopped and looked over the side, we could see why. They were unloading our luggage from the ship to a large white van that was running back and forth on the dock to load from the ship and then unload where the ferry docks. It was being packed in shipping containers and wrapped in plastic.

A light lunch and an early dinner (we were scheduled to start disembarkation at 5) and finally the announcement came that they would begin calling group numbers to disembark. Many of the entertainment crew were standing at the steps to the gangway and helping people with carry on luggage. Those that had suites with butlers often had a butler accompanying them all the way to the ferry to board. 

The ferry was not bad. Mostly enclosed there were a couple of places where you could step out for a breath of fresh air. There was a snack bar and a duty free shop as well as an excursion desk. I'm sure that was important for the usual ferry passengers. The seats were comfortable--thank goodness, because we were going to spend over four hours in them.

We boarded the ferry at 5:30 but loading passengers was painstakingly slow and the ferry was definitely not handicap accessible. One fellow said it took four men to carry him in his wheel aboard the ferry. Lots of steep steps for some of our older folks to tackle. At seven, we finally left the dock. By that time, the Serenity was away and headed for the anchorage where Symphony was. 

The ferry is fast. Bob clocked it at 31K but they advertise that it can get up to 38K. The sun had set and so our trip to Fort Lauderdale was in the dark. Thankfully it was a smoother ride than we heard the passengers from Symphony had when they disembarked in Bimini. 

By nine o'clock we were pulling into the dock at Fort Lauderdale. An announcement was made that it would take an hour to offload the luggage and we would have to wait on the ferry. Needless to say we were all a bit restless by now.

We exited the ferry into a large warehouse where they had dumped our luggage with no type of organization whatsoever. All the luggage had colored tags with numbers. It could have been grouped by colored tags at least. We spent a good twenty minutes scouring the luggage and with over 300 people milling about also looking for theirs it was not fun. I thought it was a lot like that game they play sometimes where everyone throws their shoes into a pile, someone mixes them up and then everyone scrambles to find their own.

Once we had all seven pieces of our luggage (we packed for 128 days and two seasons) we got in line for customs and immigration. The lines were some of the slowest we've experienced. Finally we made it to the outside and fresh air. It was 11:30 PM. 

Behind us people were still waiting in line and after clearing customs, they would be boarded on buses to make a forty-five minute drive to hotels in Miami where the cruise line offered to put them up for the night and then give them transportation to an airport. One quick cab ride later, we were in a hotel that Bob had booked for us in Fort Lauderdale since that was where we were flying out of. I was so grateful. We were in bed before those buses ever arrived in Miami.

Our trip home was thankfully uneventful. We found lots of help to get the luggage moved and it went smoothly--smoothly that is until I couldn't find where I'd put the house key in my carry on. I traipsed through over a foot of snow all around the house to the back where we have a spare key. But the sun was shining the whole way. It won't tomorrow--guaranteed. BIG snowstorm coming. Welcome home.

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