I am sitting on the balcony of our gorgeous suite aboard The Adventure of The Seas watching the shoreline of St Croix, US Virgin Islands slowly receding. I wipe my brow, turned my face toward the gentle tropical breeze and spared a thought for my friends and family back in a snowy UK. Pahahahaha like hell I do. I am enjoying this Mai Tai far too much to sympathise for long.
So, let’s start from the very beginning. We left our house on Friday night to stay in the Holiday Inn at Heathrow in preparation for our flight on Saturday. As excited as we were, we didn’t really expect the journey to be a problem but long haul flights with connections have been an issue for me in the past. (Read Costa Rica Tales for my first hellish journey this way). We were flying to Miami and connecting to Puerto Rico. Simple? No!
To be honest, the ten hour flight into Miami was fairly pleasant, long but not too painful. The real problem started when we arrived at the gate to disembark. The seat belt sign flicked off and everyone stood up and struggled to get their hand luggage* out of the overhead lockers elbowing people in the head in their rush. Then we waited and waited and waited a little more. By now people had sat back down and grumbles about missing connecting flights could be heard. After about 20 minutes the captain’s voice came over the tannoy informing us that the ground staff were having trouble connecting the walkway to the door of the plane. I’ve since thought about how that could possibly be. Had our plane shrunk in height during the flight? Were the ground staff incompetent enough to be trying to attach the wrong end? I’ll never know and frankly 45 minutes later no one much cared as we were all making noises about missing our next flights. As we still had two hours before our plane left I reassured Trevor that all would be fine. Of course I had forgotten about the joy that is immigration. Eventually the pilot gave up waiting on the ground staff to secure the walkway and moved our plane one gate over where we disembarked 50 minutes after landing.
Lots of the passengers started running to collect their suitcases and continue on their journey but of course we still had plenty of time until our flight…. Yeah, scratch that, we quickly came to a huge long snakelike queue that seemed to be at least two miles long, to get through immigration and our hearts sank. Like all the other sheep we joined the end and slowly shuffled along, left and right through the lanes until we reached a tiny little female security officer who directed us to stand in another queue to get to the immigration officer. Trevor was geting increasingly agitated, Sam was becoming bored and I tried to keep smiling and reassuring everyone that it would all be fine. However, I nearly had to physically restrain Trevor, when, just as we got to the head of the queue a man came and stood in front of us without explanation. It turned out that he hadn’t filled in his forms correctly and had been sent away to do this and then rejoin the queue at the front. Of course it would have to be our queue. Luckily for this guy’s health he didn’t take long and we were soon through the other side. Now even I had admitted defeat and we began running to pick up our cases with less than half and hour to take off. I now knew that Miami is my nemesis. The last time I was here it claimed me for the night (and then charged me for the priviledge) and now it looked like it was happening again.
Ten minutes later, cases claimed and dropped off again, boarding passes at the ready we hit security again. I wouldn’t mind but we were not even leaving the damn airport but still were subjected to these rigorous searches. So belts, shoes, watches and all manner of other items came off and half naked and clutching our trousers at the waists we sprinted the final hurdle to Gate 48, the farthest gate in Miami Airport, of course. As we hurtled along I contemplated grabbing the mobile defibrilator that was conveniently placed along the concourse for other victims of Miami’s missed connection marathon. Gate 48 finally appeared and as we reached our goal with two, yes TWO minutes to spare the information board flashed up “Flight 1299 to San Juan delayed 1 and half hours” We had no words, just where the hell was that defibrilator? You can’t make this stuff up.
So, the rest of the journey to our hotel in San Juan was fairly uneventful but I don’t think any of us had ever been so glad to see a bed.
Next time, we board the boat and find out what it is like being VIP’s.
Ahoy there mateys til next time
*What the hell is this thing that people have about hand luggage? They seem to take mini suitcases into the cabin now and then spend ages trying to stuff them into the overhead lockers along with all their duty free. I wouldn’t mind but no one ever seems to need what they have in there during a flight.