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Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to Get from Ft. Myers to St. Thomas in 24 Hours or Less

When I left off Cal, Mom, Angie, and myself were stranded in Ft. Myers, Florida, and Kendra was beginning a seven day cruise to the Caribbean with a bunch of strangers……

Now, we weren’t the only ones on the plane from NKY that missed that cruise.  We met another couple, and a woman who was supposed to meet her daughter in Miami to catch the Glory also.  We contacted Carnival just to see if the ship was still scheduled to leave on time (it was), and what to do since we were apparently going to miss the boat in Miami.  We were told that we wouldn’t be able to meet up with the ship until Wednesday when it would be in St. Thomas.  Just to give a reminder, we’re finding all this information out on Sunday.  So, our seven night cruise had suddenly been cut to a four night cruise…..we would be missing the first Port of Call in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas……oh, and Kendra was on her own.  With that information in hand, we had to put our cruise troubles aside for a moment and figure out how American (Eagle) Airlines was getting us to Miami.

The decision was made by someone who had decision making power at American to bus us to Miami.  So, instead of taking to the air again for a short plane trip to Miami, we were looking at a two and a half our bus ride.  Let me tell you, there is nothing to look at on the road from Ft. Myers to Miami.  The ride was bumpy, and the lane changing by the bus driver was, um, scary…..but we made it to Miami in one piece.  Of course, there was nobody to meet us once we got to the Miami Airport, so we had to go asking around to figure out where we were supposed to go.  After all, by this time it’s almost 8:00p.m., we were tired, hungry, and frustrated.  Those of us who had missed the cruise decided to stick together (I guess we were hoping for power in numbers). 

American (Eagle) sent us to the American Airlines counter instead of taking care of their mess themselves.  All of us had developed the opinion that if they had dealt with whatever problem they had in Chicago more efficiently, we could have taken off in time and made our cruise.  So, we were fully expecting the airline to make sure we got where we were going, like they should have to begin with.  As bad as everything had gotten, American Airlines really came through for us.  We had an amazing agent named Tony.  We love Tony.  In fact, we’re considering building a statue to Tony.  He’s the man.  In a matter of just a few minutes he had printed out new tickets for an 11:50 flight to St. Thomas the next morning.  So, we were beginning to have faith that we’d eventually make it there.  Phew, that’s one load off….but we still had to fix the problem of being stuck in Miami, hungry (we had only had Altoids for dinner so far), and not really wanting to sleep in the American Airlines terminal. 

Well, Tony came through again.  Once he was told which hotel American Airlines decided to put us up in for the night, he printed off the vouchers for the room and dinner either at the airport or the hotel.  We also got vouchers for breakfast the next morning….and lunch….and not once did Tony ever ask for a credit card…..which is a good thing because that request would not have been received well.  So, we hopped on another shuttle, and headed for the Doubletree Hotel somewhere in Miami.  Once we got there, some of us went to the front desk to check in, and the rest of us went to get a table at the hotel restaurant.

Does the phrase, “table for six” sound complicated to you?  No?  Well, we didn’t think it was, but when the hostess at the restaurant heard those words, she looked at us like we were crazy.  She said, “we don’t have tables for six”…..which became obvious as we saw five people crammed in at one little square table.  The fifth person was on the corner, and her chair was so far away from the table that she might as well have been across the room. 

Well, as the hostess left us standing there, we decided to take matters into our own hands.  We moved to of those square tables together, and wouldn’t you know, six people fit there quite nicely.  I bet that table for five was jealous….but you know, we’re from Kentucky, and that’s how we roll.  We take matters into our own hands (especially since it was now 9:00 at night, we were hungry, tired, and MISSED OUR CRUISE!!!).  The service was horrible, but at least the food was good…..and we didn’t have to pay for it…even better.  As we were eating, one of our new friends got out his netbook and found a hotel in St. Thomas….we were booked before the meal came.  The hotel rooms at the Doubletree were nice and big….not that it mattered because we were going to be there for twelve hours….we were just happy we weren’t sleeping in the airport.

When we woke up Monday morning to see dark clouds over Miami, we were skeptical about how the day would go to say the least.  Our expectations didn’t get any better when we found out that the morning airline agents were, well, less than competent…..and there were only two of them.  It took us 45 minutes to get through the line to check our bags…..and we still hadn’t gone through security.  The line for security was twice as long as the line to check bags.  Oddly enough, we got through that line in less than half the time as the baggage check line (yay TSA). 

The best news of the day was that our flight to St. Thomas left the ground on time…..and arrived in St. Thomas on time….and at the end of it all, we still had all our luggage.  We gathered our bags and our group, and went to get a taxi to head to the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa.  At this point, I’ve pretty much decided that all drivers who shuttle people from the airports all have hopes of one day racing NASCAR because the ride from the airport to the resort was the scariest ride I’ve ever been on.  We wound through the hills and tiny streets of St. Thomas and got some spectacular views, but some of those views came while narrowly avoiding oncoming traffic.  I could have kissed the floor of the resort lobby, but that would have looked strange.  Besides, they had fruity water sitting right inside the door, so I went for a drink instead of making out with the linoleum. 

The resort is beautiful, much like the island itself.  We have an ocean view room, which makes it a little easier to accept the fact that we’re not sailing on the Caribbean yet.  We have everything we need here, and all we have to do is wait for our ship to come in.

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