Saturday, 21 March 2015
21.03.2015 - 21.03.2015
Today promised to be a bit chaotic and lived up to expectation. There was no time for my regular visit with the sunrise and the camera had been packed away to reduce the number of 'attachments' I had to carry off. A quick breakfast, hugs from some of the wait-staff and we were off to the Medical Centre for Jenny's final visit. Then on to Disembarkation.
There were lots of people to process, a complex procedure, lots of luggage, delays at lifts - many mutterings of doom and gloom. This is how it panned out for us. After the visit with the Doctor on Deck 4 Midship, carrying only our passports and immigration documents, we proceeded to the Casino on Deck 6 where we were directed to the Conference Room on Deck 6 Forward. No delay, didn't even stop. The US officials were set up at tables and the line moved very quickly, we were out of there in under 5 minutes. Back to the cabin on Deck 11, last time up those stairs. Crowds of people and cases on each landing as we went up. Collected our two large cases, a duffel bag and out carry-on bags and negotiated our way to the Deck 11 Forward lifts to join dozens of likewise encumbered passengers.
The four lifts were fully loaded each time they stopped on our floor. Finally managed to squeeze into a lift going up to Deck 16 along with another couple who had come up from Deck 8, so were still on when it started down. It filled up at Deck 15 and stopped at each deck on the way down to Deck 6 passing a lot of frustrated people on the way.
Now the easy bit. The 'Elite' Lounge was set up in the Da Vinci Dining room where we parked our luggage and enjoyed a fruit juice, iced water and some pastries. Very comfortable and nothing to do until we wanted to get off. There were many others in the room not in the same state of mind !!
One couple, with a number of carry-on plastic bags had misunderstood the directions and had fought their way to the Immigration lounge only to be sent back because they were at least two hours ahead of their 'scheduled' appointment time. At the correct time they had to lug their plastic bags all the way forward to Immigration, process through there and then come back to the Da Vinci to await the call for 'Disembarkation'. They were not permitted off the ship until their 'checked' luggage had been unloaded and assembled for collection.
While we may have had the inconvenience of our heavy luggage we had a much simpler route. With the shuttle booked for 10:00 we dragged our bags out to the lifts outside the dining room and used the staff controlled lift to Deck 7 and rolled off along a long but easy walkway. Walked straight past the luggage hall and out the door. Next Finding the Shuttle.
The scene outside the terminal building was extremely busy aggravated by the presence of another Princess in the port. In the space of just eight hours they have to unload 7,000 people and bring in 7,000 new passengers. Think about it and add the trucks that are delivering food and supplies and carting away refuse from both ships. And we have to connect with a driver.
Found one of the most helpful people in the area, 'Bob' wore a straw hat and the livery of Princess shore staff. He answered question and directed people with no fuss and he explained that the shuttle would drive past that area near the palm trees and would meet us there. The car would have our name in the window. Were early by about 45 minutes so we practised our car spotting technique for some of the others waiting in the same spot.
We also observed one of the 'Porters' going well beyond her job description. She'd transported the luggage for an ancient old fellow, found him a seat and helped him find the details of his booked car. It transpired that his Travel Agent had booked a car for 07:00 !! We were not due to dock until 08:00. She then spent time with 'Bob' who organised a seat on an airport bus for him. All this time the 'porter' guided him along and took care of his luggage.
Meanwhile time passes and we've seen nothing of our car. Allowing for traffic delays, not uncommon, we waited until 10:30 and still no sign. Call on Mr Fixit, good old 'Bob'. Had we called the company he asked, can't, had my phone stolen in Brazil. What's the number, show him the sheet of paper, two to three minutes on the phone and he assures me it will be there soon. Walked back to where Jenny was minding the bags and soon after our car arrived. He's been waiting near the other ship, it wasn't clear on the booking form, certainly not his fault.
As we climbed into the cute little car I observed the line waiting for a taxi, even with the delay I think we were away quicker than they were. The little car is a Ford but looks like nothing we've ever seen. Sliding doors on both sides for the passengers, plenty of luggage space, huge picture windows and a roof so high Jenny could almost stand up inside. Guided by his GPS the driver whisked us out of the port area and into a web of freeways, overpasses and exits. He's doing at least 115 KPH and in just over 30 minutes we're pulled up outside the Howard Johnson Plaza.
Their web address is hojoanaheim.com seems appropriate therefor for me to use the abbreviation when referring to our hotel. Howard Johnson (HoJo) is not just a building, it is a complex of structures requiring a map to locate your room. Our room is on the ground floor of building 6, it has two double beds and all the essential facilities. The free WiFi is phenomenal !! There are gardens, water slides, two swimming pools, a small 'Market' for snacks, sundries and souvenirs and just a short walk to Disneyland.
With the availability of the high speed WiFi I checked the credit card and bank accounts. All appear to be in good shape. I also checked the Global Currency Card intending to use it to withdraw some US$ cash. To my surprise the balance is more than $1000 lower than expected. Checking the transaction history I find a number of 'pending' transactions which have reduced my available balance. Using HoJo's fine WiFi and the magic of Skype I ring the contact number in Australia. Twice the line drops out but on the third attempt I get connected to the help-desk for 'on-line banking', not the Global Currency desk. I gave the young lady my details and she promised to have the correct people ring me back within 30 minutes. An hour later I decided they weren't going to call so we went for a walk. The primary aim was to find somewhere to eat. All of the popular fast-food outlets were represented and even some upmarket eateries.
We also found a Discount Tours and Tickets store. They also had a good range of brochures and the most helpful young ladies we've met in along time. They spent the best part of 15 minutes explaining the available options to fill in our three days. We settled for a Disneyland visit on Monday and a visit to the Medieval Times show on Tuesday evening. I'm sure we can find things to keep us occupied for any time between.
On our way back to HoJo we settled on Mimis Café for dinner. We should have known that American meals are HUGE. I ordered 'fish and chips' and Jenny a 'Chicken Pot Pie'. We both gasped when the meal was delivered. Excellent food but a challenge to get through it. We staggered back to the HoJo and I decided to leave the write-up to the next morning. I laid down about 20:00 and apart from waking briefly for the Disney Fire Works - sound only - slept until about 6 this morning. Jenny didn't sleep well at all and obviously still not 100%.
Nothing much planned for Sunday, perhaps a decent walk to get the circulation moving.
If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony