Most of my friends dislike me. They make no secret of it, often telling me over a nice coffee “You make me sick”. Travelling all over the world and posting little updates on Facebook (like “On the beach in Tahiti. Too hot.”) is a very effective way to foster envy and resentment in your friends. I can though give them one small measure of comfort. Every day I spend in port, whether scuba diving in Australia or sky diving in Africa, is marred by the constant, nagging fear that I will miss the ship.
I saw it happen once. A crew member got off the ship in Barbados with a guest and her two kids. The guest’s husband had decided to stay on board. The crew member didn’t realise that the ship was scheduled to leave early that day and the guest assumed she was in safe hands. They got to the quayside at 3.30pm but the ship had left at 2pm. Worse still, it was doing a crossing so the next port of call was not for four days. Leaving the husband fretting on board, they had to fly to the Azures to meet the ship. Due to bad weather the captain decided to skip the Azures and go straight to Southampton, so again, the party of four had to fly to London to meet the ship in Southampton. The crew member had to foot the bill and I am sure had some explaining to do to the husband on board. Happy holidays!
Just a few weeks ago I was in New York. Wanting to make the most of my time there I did leave it a little late to get to the ship. I got a cab from Times Square all the way to the cruise terminal at Brooklyn, about 45 minutes away. No ship. I panicked. The security guy had no idea. All I could do was to turnaround and go back to the cruise terminal in Manhattan, four blocks from where I just started. Had I read my documentation I would have known the right port all along, but I did not, I just assumed. I would also have learned that I should have been on the ship by 2pm and it was now 4.20pm when I arrived to find the ship, but an empty terminal. As I was being escorted to the ship I heard a radio announcement to say they were pulling the gangway… but there small secondary gang way would be there for a few more minutes. Fifteen minutes to be exact. I was very relieved to get in to my cabin that day.
You’d think I had learned my lesson, but just the other day, I hailed a cab from the centre of St Petersburg. At the port I see two ships neither of them mine. I thought, “Okay, it’ll be around the corner,” but the driver spoke no English and seemed to be saying, “these are the only two ships here.” We asked a security guy at the gate. I showed them the ship paperwork, “Emerald. The Princess Emerald,” nothing. I showed them the port details in Russian, “Niet.” At that point I figured I must have missed the ship. I had no idea how, but the fact was that I was there and the ship was not. My heart sank and I felt sick. The driver said something else in Russian and decided to drive on to the port anyway.
Then, as we got closer…what’s that? Could be another ship behind one I can see? Oh my Goodness, yes, there’s my ship! I cannot tell you the relief. It took a cup of tea and large piece of chocolate cake to stop me feeling sick.