Of course, I had expected this to be an account of my travels to ten countries and my experiences along the way. Unfortunately it has just been an account of a dream trip gone horribly wrong. I feel like such a fool to have been sucked into this situation and for allowing myself to have such high hopes and expectations for a trip over which I had very little control. I arrived back home last night and I would be unpacking right now except that my luggage is either still on the ship, or is on it’s way to me. I don’t know which, because no one has seen fit to tell me.
I will finish this with an account of what happened after we got kicked off the ship. A tiny little ray of light managed to peek out between watching the ship sail away without me and getting back home safe and sound, and for that I am grateful.
After we left the ship we went back to the Holiday Inn Express and got our room back. It was Saturday so we weren’t able to get a hold of anybody at Sixth Star (the lecture company that Bel contracted with) or Celebrity to find out what would, or could happen next. So, of course we had to stay there that night and Sunday night as well. Bel stayed always in the room, always on the computer or sleeping. She had become very withdrawn, quiet and uncommunicative. All she would say was something about maybe going to Italy where she has family. Unable to get anything out of her as to a plan of action, I decided to make my way back to Heathrow and see if I could get my ticket changed. The next morning I left the Holiday Inn and took a bus to the airport, stopping off in Winchester for a few hours to shoot the cathedral.
When I got to the airport, Miranda, Bel’s boss at Sixth Star Inc, called and said that Celebrity was going to put us in a hotel for the night and then fly us to meet the ship in Iceland. But she needed to get in touch with Bel to make the arrangements, and did I know where she was? I said maybe Italy and she said that if I heard from her I should tell her the new plan, but in the mean time they would put me in a Holiday Inn at the airport, which they did. Once there, I had reliable internet and started trying to get in touch with Bel and the only way was by email or on facebook. And that raises another point. What kind of experienced world traveler DOES NOT CARRY A PHONE??!!
Anyway, the next day Miranda called again and asked if I had talked to her and I said no, but I had emailed her saying all was ok, we could still cruise and that she needed to get a hold of Miranda. Miranda had said that she had emailed Bel and also sent her a message on fb while BEL WAS ON FB and that Bel was seemingly ignoring her. By that point Bel was ignoring me as well, though she was busily posting pictures of Italy on fb. So, not only did she lose us the initial trip, she refused (by ignoring everybody) to have anything to do with us rejoining the ship when it was offered. Unbelievable!!
Of course, the deadline for which we could re-join the ship came and went and still no word from Bel. So, I went ahead and got the next available flight back to Minneapolis to the tune of ANOTHER $250, and for me the die was cast. This trip, and any hope of salvaging it was over.
Two people who WERE very helpful and professional were Miranda with Sixth Star Inc. and Kevin with Celebrity. It was Kevin who kept me from sleeping in the airport for the three nights while I waited for the next available flight home. He arranged for me to stay at the Heathrow Hilton until Wed. when my new flight was. I think there must have been some realization on someone’s part that Celebrity had screwed up by throwing us off the ship.
The best way to describe this whole experience is a roller coaster ride from hell. Waay up when I stepped onto the ship, waaay down when I stepped off of the ship, up again at being told we could catch up with the ship, down again when it didn’t happen, a smaller up at arriving home safe and sound, and the last “down” at coming home with no luggage.
What have I learned from all this? If you travel with someone, KNOW that you can trust them, that they are reliable and responsible and honest. If you’re only travel companion option is someone who does not possess these qualities, then travel alone, because they can let you down and leave your best laid plans and preparations in ruins, and turn a dream into a nightmare.
P.S. Not once so far have I heard anything along the lines of, “Rick, I am sorry for what happened.” Nothing, not one word. Instead I was blamed for not reminding her to bring her insulin.