April 14, 2024

April 13, 2024 35 Days on The Odyssey of the Seas

8 or 10 months ago I looked at doing a transatlantic cruise followed by the Greek Isles. I was greatly disappointed to find it alread sold out. Periodically I would run accross the listing again, and then suddenly there was space available. I suspect a large group had been booked and then cancelled to open up some cabins. We only hesitated a few days before booking The Odyssey of the Seas first to Curacao and Aruba,  then Transatlantic to Rome, followed by 12 days to the Greek Isles ending back in Rome.

The portion of the trip that I am not looking forward to is the flight from Rome back to the US. I looked at multiple alternatives in an  attempt to cut down plane time, but ultimately settled on a nonstop flight from Rome to Miami on ITA Airlines.

I'm not sure but I think ITA has the most restrictive carry on baggage rules in the  airline industry. My trusty carry on that has served me well for years is a couple inches too big, even though it is accceptable on most US airlines. Amazon to the rescue.

After an extensive search I order a new carry on. It arrives in a couple of days. The advertising and description indicate the measurements are within ITA requirements. I guess they use a special tape measure. It is really is too large.

Return and try again with a different product. Same result. Finally on the third attempt I find one that actually measures as advertised.

We spend hours working on the logistics for the rest of the trip now that the decision is to fly back to Miami.  Brightline, drive and park, shuttle bus, all are considered. Ultimately it is decided to rent a car, leaving it at Ft Lauderdale airport and taking a taxi to the port. On the return trip we will rent a car at Miami to drive home.

Excursions are researched and decided upon. A hotel is found in Rome near the Vatican and sights we want to see. My children have talked me into sharing pictures on facebook, an impossible task when I started writing this blog years ago as the internet service was just too slow and too sporadic.

April 12 arrives and we pick up the rental car. The luggage is packed and we are on our way.  A 37 day trip calls for a few more items than I would take on a 7 or 8 day cruise. I use my large suitcase for the first time. I think it is 20% empty, but that is OK as I hear something about space to pack purchases.

Boarding the ship is a breeze. No lines, no holdups. Just a long walk through security, boarding pass check, and the long ramp up to the ship. Our cabin is ready at 1:00, our luggage arrives about 4:00. and everything is stashed somewhere. Unfortunately even though we remain on the ship for 35 days, we will change cabins for each leg. We had no choice.

On the pier below there are no less than 8 semi loads of provisions being loaded aboard. The logistics of running a cruise ship is a monumental challenge. As long as they remember the gin and limes.

Many of the staff is the same as when we were here a few months ago. We are able to secure reservations in the coastal kitchen for the next 8 nights at 5:00 pm. The coastal kitchen is restricted to full suites guests, not junior suites, and some Pinnacle guests depending on availability. We will see what happens on the next leg when there are 4 times as many passengers that may want to be in the coastal kitchen.  Being honest, I don't do well dining late, and also realize that 5:00 is the least busy for the venue, improving my chances of being able to secure a reservation.

We appear to be ready to sail at 5:00, but don't. We head to dinner and have a perfectly prepared filet of beef tenderloin. About 10 after six the ship begins to move. We learn the delay was caused by a passenger that had to be removed from the ship with the help of local police authorities. Fiurther details are not shared, but I expect the passenger is now having a bad day.

The welcome aboard show is good. The usual introductions of the cruise director, some of his staff, the captain and the band. followed with a comedy routine by a guest performer. 

A long walk back to the cabin and it is lights out.  The skies are clear, the winds light, and seas slight. For the next two days we be at sea headed to Curacao.