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.
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.
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.