Delta Dawn

And I’m back, firmly seated in the office chair here in Mississauga and driving right into the grind as I have an event to pull off on Wednesday. Lots to talk about as far as vacation went, but I shall say that it was great, times were fun, the company was excellent, and I do miss it now that I’m back. Unfortunately I dragged a bug of some kind back with me and I’m well under the weather, so much so I’m actually considering a clinic visit on the way home tonight. So, as I will be posting things in stages, let’s start with the tale of heading there.

Mary and I had sourced out a great hotel on Priceline for the Saturday night before the cruise, the Gallery ONE Doubletree for only $125. We were flying out of Buffalo, but not until 4:00PM, so we took our time getting the bags ready and putting our ducks in a row. We were off with plenty of time to spare and got ourselves to the airport shortly after 2:00PM where we found out about the snow issues in Atlanta, home to our connecting Delta flight. Having not seen snow in 10 years they were unaware how to handle it, and as just about every Delta flight that doesn’t originate there stops off there, it was wreaking havoc. As we “weren’t allowed to land” they held us up almost two hours in Buffalo before we finally got off, hoping our connection would suffer the same fate as our initial lift-off.

I should note that we had asked about other flights and told there were none. We asked about other airlines and were told that they didn’t have relationships with them and couldn’t. We asked about driving back to Toronto and perhaps flying direct and were told that Toronto was “overseas”, and thus they couldn’t do that. I noted that Ontario was actually quite close, and connected by land, and it shouldn’t be an issue but I was told, again, that to Delta, Toronto was overseas.

Once in the air I asked the stewardess if she’d check with the ground on the status of our connection, and if it was on time, to inform them we were scheduled to arrive 20 minutes late and perhaps hold it. I knew there were others on the same flight looking to catch that connector but was told “we don’t do that”. I said other airlines we’d flown with not only did that but did it without being asked; US Airways will, in my experience, take the time as descent begins to announce all connecting flights, times of departure, and gates so you can plan your exit. But, as was becoming clear, this wasn’t US Airways – it was Delta.

We landed and Mary ran ahead while I hit a ticket counter to ask them if we were too late – apparently we were, they were loading the plane but had given our tickets away. This was obviously pleasing to me and they quickly rebooked us on a 7:00AM flight, making sure my wife and I weren’t seated together for it, of course. By the time I caught Mary we were at the gate and, wonder of wonders, the plane wasn’t being boarded – it was being cancelled. From pure ineptitude to outright lying, Delta continues to establish their reputation for me. We headed down to grab our bags only to discover they wouldn’t be offloaded, they were already ready for the next day and we couldn’t have them. So now we were in Atlanta, stranded, with no jackets in sub-freezing weather with no hotel.

I hit the ticket counter and politely requested a hotel, which to my shock they actually offered up. They made sure to mention more than once they usually don’t give them out for “weather”, but they’d make an exception. So we waited out in the sub-freezing weather with no jackets for transportation for over an hour before being shipped off to a seedy HoJo near the airport and checked in, it now being 11:30PM.

Surprise! $50 for our free hotel room, as Delta apparently only “negotiated a better rate”, not a free room as we’d been told.

So, in the interest of ending this we got up after three hours sleep, made it to the airport, flew to Lauderdale, got to the pier early and found the Royal Caribbean folks very friendly and helpful, even letting us carry our bags on (typically not allowed) so we could change our clothes for the first time in over a day. All’s well that ends well – we were on the ship quickly and enjoying some food before the rest of our party, and the vacation began.

Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!

I haven’t had time to put together a little review yet, and I’m waiting for the pictures to get “developed” (ie. Rob to take them off the camera) before I really do, but in the meantime there is an interesting story to share. To start it off, our waiter ended up being a bit talkative near the end of the week and started filling us in on what the secret codes meant that we would hear over the ship. We had heard “Alpha!” repeated three times, and we found out that meant there was a medical emergency. There was no indication of what kind of emergency had taken place, although I can tell you that I’ve heard more than once that an average of two deaths take place per ship, per week. Before you get bent out of shape they’re usually natural causes and older travelers, although two years ago I was on a cruise with an obese man who drowned on snorkeling excursion.

Anyways, the fun warning you want to hear is “Oscar!” three times, which means “man overboard”. While we didn’t hear it ourselves we were treated to a few stories of times it had happened. What we didn’t know is that it was happening on another Royal Caribbean ship elsewhere on the seas:

Royal Caribbean Undertakes Two Sea Rescues