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The Trip Home

Posted on February 12, 2016 by under Babies, Travel, Zumba.    

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The ship looked so empty on debarkation day.

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No more Zumba banners and window clings.

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Even thought Brian and I didn’t have a flight until 3:45 PM that day, we got up early anyway. We had a nice leisurely breakfast and then went down to Café Promenade so I can have one more Creamice Mocha.

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This drink is so delicious. I wish that I would have discovered it sooner than halfway through the cruise.

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Anyway, the valets picked up our bags the night before and we were pretty much all set so we went ahead and got ready to disembark the ship at eight o’clock. We thought it would take a few hours to get off the boat and go through customs. Little did we know that our stateroom attendant hooked us up with these special, VIP tags that worked like magic. There were tags numbered 1 to 45 – the higher the number the later it would be before your bags would be delivered to the baggage claim/staging area. I think we were supposed to be number 15 according to Guest Services. Somehow, we ended up with these “Suites/Pinnacle” tags in our stateroom which we were grateful for because that mean our bags would be ready at the baggage claim area by 8 AM. “Suites/Pinnacle” had priority over all the numbered tags.

You basically had two options, you let the valets take your bags the night before and then they put it in the baggage area for you or you lug your bags with you. The downside of letting them valet your bag is that you’re at the mercy of their schedule, which meant the higher numbers would be ready last. Some people don’t want to wait to they decide to cart their bags with them. Brian and I only had carry-ons but I remembered that the elevators only go down to a certain floor on debarkation day and you have to take the stairs all the way down. I told Brian that I didn’t want to lug my bag around so if he insisted on taking our bags ourselves then he would be carting both carry-ons. Plus, I told him that we should use our ultra-special bag tags.

Brian was really glad that he listened to me as went down the stairs from Deck 3 to Deck 1. Since we went down early, the line moved pretty quickly and we were off the ship in no time. When we got to the place where they line up everyone’s luggage, there were only a dozen bags or so there but we easily spotted our bags. We used our red luggage for this very reason.

Several people got off the ship before us, and I think there were seven other ships disembarking that same day, so the line through customs had already started snaking. After grabbing our bags, we asked one of the port staff where we should go and she told us to stand by the red pole. It just happened to be the end of the long line. There were a handful of people getting in line so we let them get ahead of us and then fell in line behind them. We started to follow the line as it started moving but then the lady walked toward us and asked us to follow her. She then lifted one of the barricades and told us to go through and wait right there right in front of one of the customs officers’ stations. We were called up to next so we effectively bypassed the customs line altogether. I’m convinced we got special treatment because of our special “Suites/Pinnacle” bag tags.

It only took about 30 minutes from the time we got in line for debarkation to get off the ship, completely through customs, and out to the shuttle pick up area. It was amazing. I’d never gotten off a cruise ship that quickly before. And then, as luck would have it, our ride to the airport showed up within a couple of minutes and then we were at the airport by quarter till nine. The crazy part is that our flight wasn’t even until later that afternoon.

Anyway, they’re a lot stricter at the Fort Lauderdale airport than in Wichita. They had this Delta attendant there who did nothing but point people to the security line and/or make them check the size of their carry-on against the metal carry-on measurement stand. Brian’s duffel was just a tad too long. We tried to explain to the lady that we carried both of our bags on during our arrival flights and they fit with no problems but she was not having it. She wanted Brian to take items out of his duffel until the bag would fit. There was no amount of stuff we could take out that would make it work because it was the shape of the bag that was the problem and we didn’t want to hassle with trying. Since we were early, we decided to just go to the desk and pay to check our bags. We figured that while we were doing that we could see if we could get on earlier flights home.

The lady at the Delta desk was a lot more helpful and pleasant than the first woman we encountered. She punched some keys on her computer and broke the news to us.

“If I type fast enough,” she told us, “I can get you on the 9:45 AM flight.” It would cost $50 each to change our flights, plus $25 for each of the bags, so we’d have to play $150 total; and we only had a split second to think about it.

Brian and I looked at each other and were like, “Let’s do it!”

She quickly took our payment, printed our new boarding passes, tagged our bags, and placed them on the conveyor belt behind her. I was a little worried that our bags wouldn’t make it on our new flights since we were cutting it so close but she reassured us that our bags would make it.

At the end of our transaction she was like, “It’s 9:08 now so you better hurry because your flight is boarding.” With that, we quickly said our thanks and skedaddled to security.

Security was long and cumbersome per usual but, lucky for us, our gate was close by. When we got to the gate, they were boarding Zone 2, which just happened to be our zone so we fell in line with everyone and got on the plane. We didn’t have to wait around at the gate, which is just the way I like it.

This plane wasn’t as nice as the plane that we flew in going to Florida. There were no free inflight games but the flight seemed to go fairly quick and we were in Atlanta in no time. I think we were 10 minutes early actually. We had a decent layover length before getting on our flight to Wichita. That flight went smoothly as well. We were either early or right on time. We landed shortly after 2 PM. Our bags safely made it and were one of the first few to hit the baggage claim carousel. Our ride home was already waiting for us so we got in the van and were home by 2:30 PM or so.

Brian and I were completely amazed because our original flights wouldn’t have put us back in Wichita until after 9 PM. We got on the flights that, just the night before, Brian told Missy and Todd they wouldn’t be able to make. Crazy!

Things seemed to be going perfectly our way until we got home and found Molly had been badly hurt. She and Saki got in a fight the day before that resulted in Molly getting staples on her head. I guess the reason why things worked out for us and we were able to get home early is that the universe wanted us to quickly get back so we could take care of our poor baby.

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It wasn’t fun coming home to a $175 vet bill but we were grateful to be back early to be with our beloved dogs.

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