September 04, 2018

September 3 - Return to Miami and Home

We arrive in Miami with a greeting of heavy rain and strong winds. For some reason we are diverted  to a different pier and things continue to go downhill from there. There are problems getting the ship cleared, and problems getting the luggage ashore. Those passengers that carry their own luggage begin disembarkation almost a hour late.

Disembarkation is by order of the tags that you are given for your your luggage. Luggage with tag #10 usually can disembark as soon as luggage with tag #10 is ready, and preceding passengers have cleared the way to the luggage area. I have luggage tags 39, numbers go as high as 79.

By 9:15 or so, the time last week when all passengers were ashore they have called #18! This does not look good. I need to get to the airport and catch the only bus headed to Orlando.

About 9:40 Hester tells us that all the baggage is ashore, but there is a big backlog of passengers. They are giving up on calling numbers and we can wait here or wait in the terminal.  I elect the terminal, at least I will make some progress and be ahead of those that wait on the ship.

The line moves slowly, but at least moves.

As I have my Sea Pass card scanned for the last time I encounter one more surprise. Captain Kate is personally thanking each passenger as we head to the gangway. When I first met her last week I told her that she was raising the bar for all her peers in the industry. I had no idea how much. 

I quickly find my bag and head to the line for Customs. One advantage of the limited facilities in Miami, there is no room for a long line of passengers and I am soon out the door.

Earlier I had called Red Coach to get my reservation number for the Super Shuttle to the airport. Super shuttle is no where to be seen. The porters consistantly tell me where Super Shuttle stops. I go there and call Super Shuttle. I am told they will be there in 10 to 15 minutes. 20 then 25 goes by without a single super shuttle van sighted. I call again, he is on the pier somewhere. I ask where would they like me to wait. I am told he will find me. Considering the thousands of people and tons of luggage cramming the 10 foot wide sidewalk, I am doubtful.

I plan an alternative, at 11:00 just take a cab to the airport if I have to. Soon I see my shuttle # 538 slowly moving thru traffic. He gives no indication of stopping, I wave my arms and yell. He stops in the middle of the street as does everyone else. The passengers relate that they thought I was trying to get the drivers attention and they told him to stop. I thank them.

30 minutes later or so I arrive at the airport. I still have almost 30 minutes before the bus to Orlando. Time to get a snack and a beverage. Wrong! I find a terminal directory, and all food and restrooms are on the other side of the security checkpoints. I get it, most people are here for a flight.

The rain continues to fall and the wind blow. I will remain inside until the last minute when I need to venture out in the rain to cross the street to the designated bus stop. My first break of the morning. The driver illegally parks in a handicap space so we can board without getting soaked.

I settle into my seat for the 4  hour drive North.  Soon I realize water is dripping on me from above. The roof must leak. I switch to another seat to only find it worse. Now I realize why there appears to be mold on the bottom of the luggage racks, water will cause that in Florida's heat.

We are headed towards the Turnpike. Southbound traffic is very heavy, Northbound not too bad.  A few minutes later I realize we are driving on city streets. Strange. We do so for about 45 minutes. As nearly I can guess, the driver missed the entrance ramp to the turnpike.

A little later are slowed for a bit by an accident. By this time many passengers are following our progress on Google maps or some other similar app. I amuse my daughter at work with a steady stream of useless texts. She plans to use me as a excuse to leave work a few minutes early today.

As we get closer to Orlando I can more accurately predict my arrival time. It will not be early, and it will not be on time, but about 45 minutes late. I think that is the same amount of time we spent on the city streets of Miami.

While on the bus I get some great news. My grand daughter, now just over a week home from NICU has booked her first cruise with me in March. Were she full term, she would have been too young. There has to be some advantage to arriving in this world early. Maybe Eliza's first cruise will inspire her to become a Captain like Kate McCue's first cruise on The Big Red Boat.

I'm home for two weeks then head to The Mariner of The Seas.

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