Archive for February 28th, 2008

The road to the ship was underwhelming

Day 2. I think it is Feb 19. The Star Princess, or Someones´ star is not shining. So after a rocket start to our trip, courtesy of Un-United Airlines we arrived, very fatigued at Buenos Aires Airport. Bags were very quickly located, money exchangedOur vessel and a Princess Cruises sign spotted. But then all the momentum was lost.
A harried individual located our names and we were
instructed to drop our bags right there and they ẅould be taken care of. We boarded the bus in the hot steamy afternoon heat. Then the guide girl explained that since the ship was not ready to receive us we were going to a hotel to wait, where we could use the facilities, have a drink, and something to eat.
The bus rocketed off away along toll roads, bridges and then turned into the City. There all progress stopped, We were funnelled into very narrow one way streets, behind other buses, often blocked by parked cars. Finally we pulled up to the hotel, where a single file parade of travelers was inching their way in and out of the door. After much palaver,, we climbed off the bus, into the hotel and eventually were directed to a hot crowed room, The guide asked us to fill in a form very like what we had already done, online. We were handed blue bus tickets and then told that we were to leave for the ship. No sign of food, drink or servicios. Another queue snaked out the door to the bus. And eventually we found ourselves back on a bus.
This one snaked around more narrow streets, while we were given little indication of what horror was ahead of us. Eventually we found ourselves at a port facility. The bus went in and had to negotiate its way amongst containers, lifts, and container cranes, until we spied the ship. Then we saw a line as long as the ship waiting to board in the baking heat. We stopped, several exchnages were made between the guide , the bus driver, and a few people on the dock. Then the bus moved off to take us further away from the ship toward several large tents. We desembarked the coaches and filed into a sweltering, airless tent. Then a scene resembling Dante’s version of chaos unfolded. There were no queues, just masses of tired middle-aged and older well seasoned cruise passengers, very much at the end of their tether.

Through observation, we noted that the young people serving the throng, were collecting passports and passing out the on-board cruise cards. Finally in about another hour, we reached the front of a constantly changing throng. I gave up our passports, yet did not receive a card- there was a problem and I would ned to wait. After some scurrying around and two more people looking, the cards appeared. Then we were directed to queue for a different bus that would take us to the ship. Although we were about 500 ft from the ship, it was obvious that with all the port vehicle traffic and crane movement, it would be worth our life to venture on foot. This queue went better, only 20 minutes kept in the still sweltering heat until we boarded an overcrowded bus. Then after another circuitous route back to the ship, we were allowed to queue to board.
This last leg went reasonably well, we were only on the dock for 25 more minutes in the direct sun. We staggered to our rooms, hoping that our bags were there, since we had now been in these same clothes 23 hrs.
No luck, our bags were among those were there was another problem. Eventually by that evening our bags turned up, we could shower and change and head off to at least a civilized dinner. We were soon to be Antarctica bound (well the Falklands first). Well that was delayed as there were 400 bags still missing, but a few hours later, that was sorted out.
Leaving me now in the Southern seas, watching a lazy albatross surf the wind off the ship.