Nightmare on the Southhampton Pier

Beautiful St. Andrews Place, London

Beautiful St. Andrews Place, London

Our sixteen day tour of Europe was over and today we are heading down to Southhampton to board the Oasis of the Seas for the return transatlantic cruise home to the United States.


The morning skies were filled with dark clouds and once in a while raindrops would fall as we made our way through London to pick up several passengers that had been staying in a downtown hotel.


We made one more stop at a restaurant along the road to have a bite of lunch and then proceeded to the pier.

Our bus driver Rob and tour guide Mary

Our bus driver Rob and tour guide Mary (This picture was taken in Paris)

At the pier, we said our goodbyes to our wonderful bus driver, Rob and great tour guide, Mary and then made our way to the terminal.  I will miss Rob’s wonderful smile and sense of humor and Mary’s quick wit and encyclopedic knowledge of Europe.  Outside the terminal was very crowded and there was no discernable line so, we lined ourselves up behind the crowd in line with the front door.

Doug, Sue, Tom, Barbara, Randy and I were together talking happily and anxious to get on the ship and get settled.

We were so far back from the door it was hard to hear the announcements that were being made. Doug and Sue heard an announcement that pinnacle and diamond plus Crown and Anchor members were invited to enter the terminal.  We waved goodbye and said we would see them on the ship and patiently waited for our turn.

Time seemed to be going by very slowly as our hand luggage, purses and cameras became heavy in our hands.  Every so often we would move mere inches ahead and felt confident that we would soon be inside.

Unfortunately, what actually happened was just the opposite.  Imagine, if you will, a 180° circle of human mass all trying to move from all sides at the same time.  All we were actually doing was getting closer and closer to those around us.

What became very apparent as we inched a little closer to the terminal is that there was only one door being used to accommodate thousands of travelers.

No longer were we in the back of the pack but now sandwiched between those in front of us and those that had amassed in back and we were slowly being crushed by the weight of those around us.

With each inch of property we covered, the mass became tighter and tighter.  It was not only uncomfortable but it was actually becoming somewhat frightening.

Every so often someone would come along leading a wheelchair and the crowd would part like the red sea to allow entry to the terminal but, as quickly as a path had been opened, it closed like a rubber band snapping back into place.

I was becoming quite concerned because there was a husband, wife and toddler in a stroller next to us when we started.  But each time the crowd moved the wife became more and more separated and eventually was pushed through the terminal doors.  She was safe, but what concerned me was the safety of the toddler sleeping soundly in the stroller.

Finally, a few people in front of the stroller started to yell at the man in charge of the doors alerting him to the fact that the family had become separated and that there was a baby in a stroller in the crowd.  Once again, the mass parted and allowed the father and baby to pass.  And, like before, the crowd snapped back together and actually became tighter.

By now, Barbara and I were being pushed further away from our husbands.  Suddenly there was a rush towards the door and I found myself tangled in Barbara’s bag, twisted around so that I was facing the oncoming crowd and quite literally floated through the doors.

I do not remember moving, my feet were not on the ground.  The crowd was so thick and moving so quickly that I literally floated backwards through the air.

I suddenly found myself inside the terminal stunned, confused and looking at Randy and Tom still lodged in the crowd outside.

I stood there for a moment trying to get my bearings, untangling my foot from Barbara’s bag and trying to understand what just happened.  Once the realization took hold I was very angry.  I did not know whether I should scream or just find a quiet place and gather myself.

Randy and Tom were able to get the attention of the man at the door and pointed to Barbara and I inside the terminal and he let them pass.

We have cruised a great deal over the years and have been to many terminals but, without a doubt this was the most mismanaged, disorganized, chaotic and uncontrolled check in at a terminal I have ever had the misfortune experience.

By the time we got onto the ship, we were both exhausted.  We went directly to our cabin and settled down for a while before getting ready for dinner.


American Icon Grill, formerly the Opus Dining room on Deck 3

Before we left the ship for our European tour, Sue had asked to have a table set up for our group.  We arrived at the dining room that was now called the American Icon Grill and were escorted to a table for four.

We were very disappointed but thought perhaps it just did not work out.  As it turned out Sue and Doug were sitting at the table we had on the last cruise.  When she saw us sitting alone, she spoke to the head waiter about moving us over.

The head waiter came over and asked us if we would like to move to Doug and Sue’s table and said he would make arrangements for us to move the next evening.  This cruise we would be sharing a table with Doug, Sue, Tom, Barbara and two couples, Joe and Carol and Jerry and Janet, from the Villages.

We ate our dinner, took a short walk along the Promenade and retired for the evening.

As we turned the lights off we looked at each other and said in a whisper, “Tomorrow will be a better day”.

Tomorrow we are at sea and we will start our search for the changes that were made to the ship while in dry dock.



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9 Responses to Nightmare on the Southhampton Pier

  1. Randy Chartier says:

    I have never experienced such an uncoordinated, chaotic check-in procedure. So glad to be on board safely. There were times when I was not sure we would get through the check-in safely!!!

  2. Genny says:

    I was getting claustrophobic just reading about your “adventure”! And what was going through my mind was the possibility of pick-pockets, and you wouldn’t even know that you’d been picked!!

    • Genny–The only time we worried about pick pockets was in Italy and France. We were always wary about our surroundings. Randy wore a waist wallet and I had on a cross-chest purse. We were also warned not to participate in any surveys in some of the attraction areas. Evidently, one keeps you busy while another picks away. We were very careful. Trust me, I don’t think even a pick pocket wanted to be in that crush of people. There were two very aggressive men to my right. They pushed so hard my hip was bruised for days. It was an interesting afternoon to say the least. Thanks for stopping by and leaving some words. Mary

  3. Dee Manin says:

    Just reading about this was very scary….unbelievable

  4. Connie says:

    I would not want to go through this experience. It is always good to hear about cruise terminals and safety or lack there of. San Francisco also has a problematic situation for boarding cruise passengers. Pier 39 has no skywalks and actually uses a very steep boarding ramp that sits on the pier and elevates at a steep decline for boarding. This is not only for able but disabled passengers who must be wheeled backward up the ramp that has stop plates every foot to keep them from rolling back down. Forget wheeling hand luggage or carry on cases when boarding. It sounds like your situation was worse than this due to uncontrolled chaos. So glad you finally got on board with a degree of safety and made it back home. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Barbara Spivey says:

    Hello. My name is Barbara. I lived that nightmare with Mary. The worst embarkation ever. I am so thankful that Tom and I were with. Mary, Randy, Sue, and Doug. The only difference was our bus driver was Rolley and our tour guide was Julia. What a terrific pair.
    Anyway, I am thankful we all became friends.

  6. Bob and Sandy Kessler says:

    This sounds like it could be the making of a very scary book by Stephen King. Hope you never encounter anything like that again. Glad you got back home safely.

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