By the inimitable, laugh-a-minute Geoff Edwards
A band welcomed us to Pier 4.
More than a few ships were in port,
which surprised me as it was Monday. Turns out that there are more airline seats available on Mondays, and the cruise lines have adjusted.
Debarking Sojourn was a breeze. I was first off the ship, bags were organized on the pier, and immigration was simple and speedy.
I had a car reserved to take me from Port Everglades, to the Miami Cruise Terminal. My instruction sheet issued to me by the car service instructed me to dial a specific 800 number to dispatch the limo from the holding area to the pick up lanes.
As you may remember, my cell phone was resting comfortably at home. I had to use a payphone to make the call. I had two, and only two, precious quarters in my pocket. Leaving the terminal building, there were two phones, on my immediate left; one pay, and one a free courtesy phone.
Yay for Pier 4. The quarters stayed in my pocket and I followed the phone instructions; dial 9, then the number. I did. Beep, beep, you’ve dialed a non functioning number, or words to that effect. I tried again; same recording.
Quarters out and into the pay phone. I got the same recording, AND the phone kept one quarter, while spitting the other out. Now what? The number to get my car didn’t work, and I had no idea how to make any of this happen.
I sought out a Celebrity official who was there to help departing passengers. He took out his cell to try the mystery number. Oh, but wait a minute, he didn’t have his glasses. I helped him press the buttons, and hallelujah, a voice answered. My now partner, besides not being able to see, couldn’t hear. I was handed the phone, and indeed it was dispatch. I told ‘dispatch” that I was ready to go.
“Where are you?”
“I can’t hear you.”
“What is on your left?’
“What are you standing next to?”
“A sign that says ‘pick up area’.”
“Look to your right.”
I actually thought I was hallucinating, but grudgingly looked to my right. And there, my friends, was my limo driver waving a sign that was too far away to read. He, being thoughtful, hadn’t bothered to wait in the holding area.
Off to Miami. Driver Reuben had a nearly indecipherable accent, and was giving me a tour as we went South. I did a lot of um humming.
We arrived at the Eclipse terminal. Since this was a two day trip, no baggage handlers were available. I was rolling a big suitcase and a carry on. When I got to security, I showed my passport plus my invitation to board. The invitation, for some reason wasn’t enough to get me in. They passed me on to a special desk. The lady there needed my cabin number. Well, I didn’t have that, so she looked for my name on a list. There were well over a thousand names on the list, not in alphabetical order, but listed by cabin number. I know you’re, way ahead of me, but I’ll say it anyway. My name was on the last page.
I was cleared and headed up to the boarding area. A “sentry” was in charge of the early boarding. I explained to him that I was to attend the press conference. He pointed to his lapel and said you need a purple button. After back and forth about my missing purple button, some Celebrity officials came by and said that there is no problem, but we had to wait until 10:30 to board. I put my luggage in a corner and sat to wait. After a bit, I needed to use the mens’ room. To get there, I had to pass through final security where bags and people are x-rayed. The mens’ room was down a hall that led to final check in.
When I came back and tried to go through reverse security, they called a port of Miami officer to deal with me. Apparently while I was, well you know, boarding had started. Suddenly my bags were all alone. Alert! Alert! The unaccompanied baggage alarmed all, and it was put through the screener without me.
I left the shaking heads and went to media check in. Standing next to me was someone who seemed to know me, and I vented a bit to him about how much better I thought Port Everglades was for cruise passengers. He didn’t agree.
All being in order, I received my room card. Next, to the escalator to board. Nope.
“We are not yet boarding, but you can sit here.”
As I sat the man I spoke to earlier about the difference between Port Everglades and Miami, came by on his way up the escalator and said that I needed a “Guest” sticker. Back to check in. Sticker now pasted on my shirt, it was up the escalator I went. At last, I thought, all hurdles have been jumped, and I’m on the ship.
Talking about hurdles, I ran the low hurdles in high school and in a meet brushed the top of the 4th hurdle. It had been set up backwards and didn’t fold as it should have. I ended up face first in the gravel track.
I went up the ramp and presented my room card to on-deck security. They inserted it. It didn’t work. The machine hummed then burped. Second try, same result. The two security guards then opened the machine and pulled on some connections. Machine closed, card inserted, humming and burping. The 4th hurdle?
They let me on, but said to go to Guest Services. Not a chance! I was on and headed to the press conference.
And there, ladies and gentlemen, I saw the man I had talked to about my preference for Port Everglades. He was on the panel representing the Port of Miami.
Coming up, a look at Celebrity Eclipse.