Saturday, December 24, 2011
Virtual Cruise; Day 9, Friday, December 10
Today is the day we arrive back into New Orleans and disembark.
Up and at it. Pretty cool to see the ship make it's final turn on the Mississippi River before reaching the dock.
Up stairs to the Windjammer Cafe for the buffet one last time. Normally you have the option of the buffet in the Windjammer, room service or the main dining room for breakfast. However on the last morning both room service and the main dining room are closed and everyone uses the buffet. Don't worry about a limited selection of food today. It is a full spread of food just as it was any other day this week. Since the main dining room is closed, seats are a little more scarce but not real bad still since we are very early.
As a side note, we have never really felt crowded on this trip. The ship sailed with a near capacity crowd close to 3,000 passengers. I expected to have to fight crowds for deck chairs, on the steps, at the buffet, etc. but the opposite was actually true. I had told Horse that the buffet would be packed on the very first day as people boarded the ship. To my surprise there was plenty of seats and it did not feel crowded at all. By the pool, there was always an abundance of deck chairs available.
Back to breakfast...I probably don't have to tel you that I enjoyed scrambled eggs, corned beef hash and french toast. Mmmm, again! Not one food item could be complained about on this trip. Just amazing food in both selection and taste.
Time to grab our bags and go to our meeting point for disembarkation, La Scala Theater on deck #4. Again, normally you put your bags outside your stateroom on the last night and they are collected to be removed from the ship. Once you disembark the ship, you proceed to your designated color coded area and pick up your bags. There is a newer process that we used called Unassisted Walk-off where we keep our bags with us and carry off our own bags. You have to have only 1 suitcase (I had a backpack as a carry-on too) to use this service and you have to be able to carry the bag a pretty good distance.
This process went very smooth. We were supposed to meet at 7:00 am but we got there about 6:55 am and just as we meet the rest of our group, the ship's personnel started us walking off the ship. We had our customs forms all filled out last night and handed them to the officer with our passport. Then we went right outside to grab a taxi to the airport.
We arrive at the New Orleans Airport and get in line for Airtran Airways to check-in. We did the Unassisted Walk-off process because we had an 11:30 am flight and I had heard that traffic has been horrible around the pier. I was afraid with an 8 or 8:30 am departure off the ship that we would miss our flight if traffic was really bad. The whole process of disembarking and getting to the airport took about 35 minutes and 25 minutes of that was driving to the airport!
Airtran opens their counter and we get checked in just fine. Security is pretty long but still not real bad and we are through and at our gate by 8:15 am. Our flight is for 11:30 am so we have 3 hours yet so we watch a few planes leave and arrive.
Boarding begins for the flight at 9:30 am. After all passengers are on board, the Airtran staff member asks us if we are on the 11:30 am flight. He says that they believe that flight might be delayed and they have space for us on this flight if we would like. We jump on it as we don't want to be late getting in to Atlanta and miss our flight to Canton.
We get into Atlanta just fine. We get of f the plane and instead of going straight to our next gate and waiting for 4 hours, I checked the board for the next earlier flight to Canton. It turns out that the plane we just took from New Orleans is actually going on to Canton.
I ask if there is space available for us to get on the earlier flight at 1:15 pm to Canton. After a couple minutes of checking to see if they can catch our bags before they are moved off the flight, we are issued boarding passes and seats for the 1:15 pm flight!!
On our way home to Canton Akron Airport!!
We arrive and make our way to baggage claim. We are met by our families there and it was so good to see Jackie and the kids again. It was a very fun trip but hard to be away from them. The kids were very excited to see us but they may have been more excited to see the luggage come in on the belt.
It was a wonderful trip and Royal Caribbean did an awesome job in every aspect on this trip. This was the first cruise for Horse and I am happy to report that he is now addicted to cruising. He just cannot wait to go again and have another wonderful cruise vacation. A lot was learned on this trip and a lot of great experiences were enjoyed.
I hope you all have enjoyed reading this and experiencing the cruise right along with us. I hope this blog provided some insight as to what it is like to cruise on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and cruising in general. Thanks for coming along with us and we hope to see you on the high seas soon.