Picking up straight from where we left off on The holiday from hell – Getting to Barcelona. (Part 1 of 3)
Previously I have spoken about the nightmare getting to the holiday and the trouble in the airport, this article is purely about my holiday. The holiday itself wasn’t a nightmare but the experiences leading to and from it were so it seemed valuable to include this as part of the story.
Bare in mind my issues are with airfrance and not so much royal Caribbean. However royal Caribbean didn’t do much to support us, no clothing, no moral support, there was smoking in places where there shouldn’t be and our room had chocolate and chewing gum speared around it and under the bed, throughout our stay.
We arrived at the ship
Like I said in part 1, it wasn’t the amazing feeling I had expected. Understandably I was miserable from the journey and the hassle in the airport but I had expected to be knocked off my feet by the size and beauty of the ship. Rest assured it was a beautiful ship but we just weren’t in the right frame of minds so kept our heads down and huddled over to the welcome meeting.
We were introduced to the staff and were welcomed into our ‘holiday’, crowds were howling and singing and being jolly – Something I had imagined doing but feeling cold and exhausted cheering wasn’t something in my mind at that point.
After the safety talk we headed to guest services, It was 4.20pm and the first day so there was a rather large queue to wait in. Understandably, people have things to book, a holiday to plan and they don’t want to be back and forth to guest services during their holiday when they could get it out of the way on day 1, right?
Guest services management was called to assist us once we had mentioned we had lost our baggage. His face dropped when we told him who we had travelled with, it was it was not reassuring!
“I tell them, every time. Not to fly with airfrance! They always have someone with baggage problems.”
Confused and hopeful – We explained what had happened with our transfer. If he had experience with them before, perhaps he knows how to our luggage back quicker!
We filled in our onboard Baggage claim forms and he reassured us that we’ll be fine, it really felt as though he understood our worries and we felt instantly better. At 5.45 we had now been awake for 36 hours (since not sleeping the night before) and we were just getting relaxed and ready to leave guest services. We were told to come back later and use their phones to contact Air France and Royal Caribbean. So that’s what we did.
We had a strong cocktail after our first time at guest services. Honestly? After 36 hours awake it really relaxed us. I popped my phone out of my pocket and took a snap ( I had planned on blogging the whole trip so I was trying to get into the holiday mood) We were able to get some food in our bellies and as you can tell…We’re still wearing our travel clothes.
We had some food in our bellies and our paperwork from AirFrance. It took two hours. From not hearing the operators to explaining repeatedly, we were getting nowhere. They had little understanding of our complaint or how they could help us. We were told our luggage will be stationed in Cannes.
“All I want is to know what I can do about clothes, will you send us some (I had no idea) or will you give us money for something?”
“All we can do is tell you you’re covered for this. Buy anything you need whilst you’re away and keep recipts. You can spend up to $100 per person per day that your luggage is missing, but keep recipts!”
We’d been at guest services on and off for six hours and nothing had changed. There was no offer of money being sent over, I thought perhaps they would transfer some, for emergency funding. We had only brought $100 euros each for souveniers and trinkets whilst we were away.I had nothing left in my bank so there was nothing I could do. Luckily Tom was able to withdraw an extra $300 for us both.
Everything was supposed to be included why would we bring more than £100?
The Cruise & Photos
I kept a diary whilst on board this ship as it was all I could do to keep my mind focused at that time. I won’t go into too much detail about the holiday as it really wasn’t really Royal Caribbeans fault that their airline had lost our baggage (although they wouldn’t allow us to swap it) .
Day 2 Cannes
After a violent night of waves and vomiting, I’m not sure whether it was stress or motion sickness. We tethered out to Cannes, wanting just to get a message to our parents about our baggage (It didn’t go down well) they all started panicking but we told them we were fine. We spent 4 hours looking around shops to find some clothes in our size but of course everything was in foreign sizes and was expensive, for the tourists!
We eventually bought some suncream, a long dress for me, some swim shorts (because I had a swimming top) and some long-awaited foundation & eyeliner! Tom bought some swimming shorts – we were desperate to get into the pool!
We spent several hours browsing the shops, not finding much but our luggage was on it’s way to the ship so we were fine with just buying something for today. We were walking along the beachfront and enjoying our day until 3pm and we headed back to the ship for a few hours by the pool and awaited our luggage arrival.
Back on the ship we heard that something had happened a few miles away. Something to do with gun shots but we couldn’t find out much more information. Eventually (in guest services) we heard that there’d been a terrorist attack in Cannes whilst we were there. A man had been running people down in a van and several people had died just a few roads away from us.
We were told that our luggage will skip Pisa and now go straight to Rome.
Day 3 Pisa
We were now on day 4 with just one swap of clothes, obviously thinking back on it we should have followed our gut and ignored the advice. Spent any money we had on a taxi to a shopping center near cannes and gotten all our necessities. Of course, we didn’t know the area and were told our luggage would be arriving so just bought an outfit for day 2 and that’s all. Tom still had nothing but he didn’t complain, bless him!
Pisa really wasn’t as expected, I was imagining some 1000ft building that was slanted and shocking to look at but really it was just like a bell tower. Not particularly big at all, I love the history behind it but for a day out it wasn’t really that well put together. The tour guide led us to the tower and we only had an hour there. not enough time to get tickets and wait in line. We spent most of our time try to look for more clothing as we were struggling to wash and dry underwear in our little cabin on the ship.
Day 4 Rome
The colosseum & museum! We spent 2 and a half hours around the colosseum so snook away from the group to find some hidden treasures! The walk up to the museum was amazing, places are being excavated everywhere and you’ll often spot uncovered pieces of history as you’re walking along the high street! After the beautiful history at the colosseum, we were guided over to the Basicilla (trevi fountain and some amazing pieces of history). This was our big chance for clothing we had to skip everything on the tour and run through the city centre, we were given an hour and a half and aimed straight for where our guide had told us the clothing shops were.
I was fortunate to find some trousers, dresses tops and a sports bra (finally!) I didn’t manage to find any comfortable shoes, they were all flip flops or expensive trainers! – No photos of that part! We were just in time and the coach was waiting for us as we got through. I was devastated to have missed the fountain & spanish steps but our clothes were essential and it’s all we had time for!
After the high street we went up to Vatican City! We were starving after no managing to find time for food all morning and nustled into a pizzeria for a slice next to the Vatican high street, it was amazing. People were protesting and carrying crosses on their back (huge things!).
Sadly we weren’t able to spend too much time enjoying the sites as we were still desperate to get clothes (notice I’m still wearing my travelling clothes and tom is now sporting a RoyalCaribbean t-shirt) We had to beg for that shirt too! We will definitely be going back to Rome to actually see rome, sadly we didn’t get to see anything other than vatican city.
Day 5 & 6.
Cruising Our first-day cruising was just understanding the layout of the ship a bit better, we joined in with the events, ring toss, darts, ‘killer pool’ and two quizzes a day! We won medals for the events, I won a gold for pool & ring toss and a silver for pool and something else (oops – I’ve forgotten!).
Day 7 Athens (Our anniversary)
We left at 8am and traveled around 45 minutes to Athens, starting at the Olympic arena for a few photographs until we arrived at the Parthenon 15 minutes later.
I was unable to really focus at the Parthenon, my life long dream of standing under Athena’s temple. Standing next to the Grecian statues. I just couldn’t relax or take in the beauty of these historical sites, being uncomfortable with my shoes and clothing and not having everything I wanted to have (including sunglasses).
I was devastated. Since I was 8 years old and my supply teacher for the week had planned out ‘ancient greeks’ I was just hooked, after studying ancient greeks for a term. I became obsessed with it. I wanted to learn everything that books could offer and to be standing at the base of Athena’s temple and not feel that rush. To not feel overwhelmed by the sites, I think my mind was just cluttered still. I know, I should’ve switched off but It was all I could do not to cry.
I don’t know about you but with the amount of crap we had already been through, we kind of expected something, anything! from the staff to showed their valued our custom. It was our anniversary and they didn’t even say congratulations whilst we were at the desk (bare in mind I had hinted the evening before). I’m just kind of irked that they didn’t make any effort to make us feel better. We had given up that our luggage was coming. We visited Guest services and they explained, at this point in the journey it would be too much to keep the luggage moving ports. They had told us that they would send it to Barcelona for collection on the way back so to spend the next few days collecting any remaining clothes we would need. RC had now offered us a laundry voucher.
By 7pm we had a phone call that my luggage was officially lost but Tom’s was on his way to our cabin.
Day 8 Crete
Such a love of this beautiful place, nothing new there though is there?
So many people visit Crete each year and say the same thing, time and time again. It’s a beautiful city. I wish I’d had taken some time out to snap some photos for you, I was too overwhelmed by it all and we had already taken a 35-minute bus into the city. From there we explored the old markets, leading to the open tombs from the under ground city and then we walked back through to the modern shops and the harbour front.
It was amazing, plants and flowers were growing up the sides of buildings, restaurants and pop-up shops which must’ve been there for years. The harbor was home to the hustle and bustle of tourism on one side and calm and relaxing cafe’s on the other, all of which would get splashed by the on come of high tide. The shop keeps were rushing to sweep away the water as quickly as it came flooding in.
Day 9 Santorini
I don’t know what to say about Santorini. Well, I do. but I really think it’s best saved for a full post, a bad one.. full of emotion and angst. I will update this page once I’m ready to talk about it.
They had found my luggage! – It was heading to barcelona!
Day 10 Malta
Where do I begin with this beautiful country?
It’s not lush and green and idyllic like the villages of France, it’s not historically bursting like Rome. It was just, amazing as an ordinary place. The streets were wide and clear, very modern architecture flooding the scenery.
The shops were just opening and the further we moved from the tourist spots the more locals we’d meeet and they were, normal. No one was pushing, shoving or shouting it just seemed like a home away from home.
The only strange thing we noticed was the colour of the water, it was a crystal clear blue, something I’d expect from a fake brochure. The water was teeming with fish. Tiny little fish that would swarm around your toes and swim around your ankles, waves of larger fish would come and chase them away and then another smaller wave of larger fish would chase them!
This was just the port, it wasn’t a tourist hot spot. Just an insight into the natural beauty that Malta could hold.
Day 10 Cruising
They filled this day with activities, everyone on the ship was getting involved. There was an open barbecue by the pool and live music all day. Paella was being made in a huge pan and there were demos and fashion shows going on throughout the halls.
An ice sculpture was made on the ship after the pool had been drained slightly. For crew vs holiday makers water polo tournament, apparently the crew hadn’t been beaten in 3 years!! We tried out best and out of 7 matches we won 3, I’m pretty sure the crew were cheating ! We had prime seats for the swan taking shape too and even popped into the gym for half an hour whilst Tom played basket ball.
Again, 7pm. I was told my luggage was definitely ‘found’ and being sent over to Barcelona or I could request it go to Birmingham, so that’s what I asked for!
Day 12 Barcelona & The return.
Debarkation was still emotional,we had bonded with the cruise staff in such a short amount of time. Perhaps because we were the couple that stood out. You know, the ones without clothes? It was such an emotional day to leave the ship.
I felt like I’d slept through my holiday and I was just waking up at the end. We spent the morning waiting for Tom’s luggage at the cruise station off the boat, watching our new friends grab their luggage and return to normality. All the while knowing that I still had the battle of reimbursement to come.
Simply said. The return journey was, simple.Tom now had his bag. We were both fed up and happy to get home to clear this all up and get back to our friends and family. It was such a tough two weeks that by the time we had landed in Birmingham airport I had felt a huge relief to be back on home soil.
I cried- Alot on day one and it didn’t end there, I cried randomly for 3 days after I returned home. If you know me then you’ll know that my emotions run high, I cry at bake off for goodness sake! But for the entire length of the holiday I couldn’t shed a tear, anger was more dominant… To be continued.
Can you really call it a holiday?
The term ‘holiday’ is defined as “an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling”. If for one was not in a period of leisure or recreation. It was hell for me.
So, what would you call this?
I know most of you reading this are here for the resolution but I really wanted to put all of my emotion into this, it’s raw. Losing your belongings, everything you’ve ever worked for! No matter the circumstances, it’s painful. It’s one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had.
It might sound silly or unimportant but for someone who has volunteered or been on apprenticeships her whole life what little money I have goes on replacing clothes with holes in them. Goes on putting food in my mouth and my belongings are all I have. I don’t have a house or a car, I don’t have anything. It was a painful experience and I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone ever again, but if it does. You’re not alone. You will get through it but it’s a tough journey and one that doesn’t end in part 2.