Thursday, November 11, 2010
Why are rental cars so expensive? The price doesn't sound too bad when you rent it, but after airport facility fees and six or seven types of taxes are added, the prices for a compact car without power windows and door locks is horrendous! We have decided to drive our own car on our next vacation within the US - even paying two or three nights in a hotel room is much cheaper than renting a car at an airport. And we are not bound by airline reservations, so if we want to come home early, we can do so without paying the airlines a change fee. And the best reasons to drive yet -- no damaged luggage and no weight restrictions.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
On Saturday, October 30, as we were preparing to go ashore at Martinique on our southern Caribbean cruise on the Sea Princess, our captain came over the intercom in the cabins. We knew it was serious as the cabin intercoms were never used unless there was an emergency or something vital that the passengers needed to know. He told us that the stop at Martinique had been canceled because a hurricane had developed and was already threatening the eastern side of the island. The captain explained that he did not want the ship to be stationery during a threat of a hurricane. Instead, he headed the ship north as fast as it would go to escape potential high winds, heavy rains, and rough seas. The photo on the left shows the wake left as the ship headed north and we could see by the water that the ship was really traveling fast.
From our balcony on the back of the ship (we were upgraded to a suite two days before we left home) we could see the threatening skies and rain clouds behind us. The captain indicated that we might be able to stop at the island of Dominica, north of Martinique, but the port was closed. He continued north past the island of Guadeloupe where it was safe. The water had been quite rough near Martinique and Dominica but got smoother as the ship sailed north. Bill and I sat on our balcony and watched the water and the clouds.
That night the captain again spoke to us through our room intercoms. He told us about the damage in St. Lucia and let us know that we would not make our scheduled stop there on Sunday, October 31st. Instead, he would try to make a stop at Dominica and even had the shore excursion office schedule tours for Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, as the ship approached Dominica, there was such a swell that the port was not letting the pilot boats guide the Sea Princess into the port. The harbormaster said that the ship could try to dock without a pilot boat at the northern pier, but the captain decided that with the swells, he did not want to take a chance of damaging either the ship or the pier. He had even asked about going ahead to Barbados and getting there early so we could spent an afternoon there, but both the Princess home office and the Barbados authorities didn't think that was a good idea, so we spent another day at sea.
Saturday morning , I had removed my seasickness patch because the heat and the sweat had irritated the skin. Unfortunately on Saturday night, I had a horrible case of seasickness and ended up going to the ship's store to get Dramamine. I decided that I would rather have irritated skin than seasickness. At one point Saturday evening, the water was so rough that the flowers fell off the table in the living room of the suite. Fortunately they landed right side up.
We spent most of Sunday circling from the north to the south of the sea near Dominica. We were not even sure at that point that we would be able to sail to Barbados where we would leave the ship and fly back to Miami. Finally around 1:00 p.m., we started south and were able to continue and docked at Barbados early on Monday, November 1st.
Upon arriving at the Barbados airport, we discovered that, because of the storm, the American Airlines computers were down. They finally came back up, but we stood in line for almost two hours before we could get checked in. Unfortunately, the ticket counters in the Barbados airport are not in an air-conditioned area but rather in a big, open-air, shed-type facility, and it was extremely hot. We did make our flight to Miami, but I'm not sure that all of the people in the very long line got checked in in time to make the flight. The van driver who took us to the airport said that there was roof damage and power outages in Barbados, but St. Lucia got the worst of the damage.
When we booked this cruise over a year ago, we did not even think about hurricanes happening the last week of October. Of course this has been a very crazy weather year. We do appreciate the captain's watching out for the safety of his passengers.