You might know that Amy isn’t in the best of moods.
I’ve been sulking for the best part of the summer (what summer?) and it’s all down to my holiday blues, that turned into holiday blacks as they ate up what was left of my summer… and my bank account. A sinking black hole of anger we’ll call it. After 2 months I think it’s the right time to really talk about it.
As with all good stories, it started once upon a time…
June – Booking the holiday.
Booking the holiday was a breeze. I’m a bargain hunter and did a brief stint in travel and tourism, fresh out of school. So when it comes to booking the best holiday deals I’m fairly confident in my skills as a travel-entrepreneur.
£2,600 for a Royal Caribbean cruise, flights and transfers included along with 3 excursions and a life-time of memories!
I was pretty chuffed with myself and spent the next few weeks bragging about how you can book the best last minute holiday if you follow my advice, which still stands as sound advice.
The one thing I wasn’t happy with was the Airline, It’s one small part of the holiday but for me I knew the issues that come with flying with Air France.
Like I said I’m fairly confident in booking holidays, which basically means I spend weeks and weeks researching everything I can that could go wrong. Which meant research on the airline and apparently they have very poor customer service and are well known for losing baggage (normally for a few days). So of course, I didn’t want to book with them, that risk was just too high for me.
“Royal Carribbean offer the lowest prices for the best quality cruises – this means we find the cheapest flights to offer you the best prices. We understand that you have concerns over this airline and hope to reassure you that we only deal with reputable airlines to give our customers the premium service they’re used to. We regret to inform you that we are unable to transfer your flights to a seperate airline at this time and wish you all the best on the way to your destination.”
Ah, that’s fine. If they can’t do anything about it and I can’t cancel the holiday without losing the money, I’ll go for it. After all they know what they’re doing – don’t they?
July – The Airport.
After spending weeks of preparing, days of packing (and unpacking) and plastic-bagging several liquids. I mean really, I put all of my makeup into 100’s of bags-inside-bags. I had emptied my entire summer wardrobe and even bought more, prepared to feel lavish on the cruise and now was the time. We were ready.
Getting to the airport at 4.30 was not my cup of tea.
Groggy and blurry eyed, I got myself into the holiday mood with a bit of chocolate concrete a banana and a mug of coffee in the airport. After tentatively speaking the woman at baggage check we were reassured the bags would hop flights safely, she even smirked at our worries. We do transfers every second of the day, they’ll be fine.
(Thor was also there to protect them so I was pretty reassured)
Our first flight was as smooth as butter.
We landed on time but waited 10 minutes to taxi the plane back to the port. Dashing off the plane we had 20 minutes to make it through passport control and find out next flight. Dashing through a french airport at 10.05 am wasn’t the best feeling and arrived at the check-in 5 minutes after they started boarding, sweaty and relieved to make it. We spotted an elderly couple from our previous flight doing the same, at least we weren’t the only ones feeling lost and clueless.
Even though we were late, they didn’t start checking us in for another 10 minutes, 15-minutes later than planned. Which was fine for us as we knew it gave our luggage that extra time to make it to us. We got into a tight stuffy aeroplane sat away from each other – we waited 20 minutes. Watching the luggage being boarded was reassuring that if we made it on time and still had 35 minutes spare no doubt our luggage did too. Reassuring but not comforting in such rough conditions (28 degrees and no air!)
We’re 600 words in and not even at the pinnacle of the story yet.
After finally landing in Barcelona we were excited to be almost on holiday. You know that ‘weight off the shoulder’ feeling. That was this feeling, we took a huge sigh of relief after such airport drama was all behind us now. Stepping into Barcelona airport was really something special, the warmth of the air as the aeroplane opened was just what I needed to get into the holiday mood.
Everything smelt different and people looked happier, it really is a beautiful airport. If we had the chance we would have browsed around but we didn’t have any time for that we had transfers to get to!
We were already 35 minutes behind schedule (giving us only 25 minutes until they left without us), I contacted the RC line whilst waiting for baggage to come round and they advised speaking to our transfer director, who we couldn’t reach due to security being between us. I was assured by the information desk that we could rebook and they would be understanding of our issues.
An hour and a half later…
At this point we were so distracted and upset with our baggage not turning up that we had no idea of the time (not to mention the time change) so we assumed we’d only been there for 40 minutes. Me and Tom had already tucked into our packed lunch whilst waiting at the carousel, round and round it went. New passengers came and went and we were still there. Oddly enough so were that elderly couple from our first flight, assuming they were having the same issues as us.
Enough was enough, we went to the baggage department and tried our best to explain our issues. We were told we would not be receiving it today “but we will locate it and send it to the ship as soon as we can – typically same-day”. We were handed a PIR (Property Irregulation Report) for lost luggage which basically explains what your bag looks like what’s inside it who you are and where you’re holidaying. We only received one form from the desk so had to write all of Toms information on one side and all of mine on the other. It looked a mess and I was sure it would have been more beneficial to write two. Alas, we did as we were told and went to the transfers location.
We had paid £20 each to go privately from the airport, they’d pick us up and go straight there. No waiting around for other passengers, we could grab our bags and be on holiday straight away! Royal Caribbean representatives pointed us to the transfer and we were set!
“No no, you’re late – your driver left” – Abrupt. No, No I rang a head and explained? We were told they would contact you and we’d be able to sort it all out.
“No, You’re an hour and a half past the cut off. Two and a half hours since the time on your sheet. Nothing we can do now he’s gone, you’ll have to go with Royal Caribbean or pay for a taxi yourself.”
It was another kick in the teeth, One we weren’t prepared for.
Until then, we hadn’t realised we had been in the airport for so long. We went back to the ‘helpful’ Royal Caribbean staff member to explain what was happening, thinking that we were customers of Royal Caribbean and that they’d offer us some support. At this point I think he wanted nothing to do with us and just said;
“You can either pay $40PP for RC to take you or pay $32 for a taxi to take you, you can ask for it back on the ship but, It’s up to you.”
We had put all our money into this holiday and only brought $100 each with us, we had no choice but to take a taxi, but it’s fine they said they would reimburse us. At least we would still have that money to spend when we get there. Let’s just get there first and try to sort this all out.
The taxi ride there was painful.
I know when Tom is upset. He goes really quiet, completely switches everything off. We both were, trying to try to hold on to our emotions, to keep each other strong and not show how scared we were. To be in a foreign country with nothing but the clothes on our back and the promise of our belongings returning to us. I must’ve spent the entire journey looking out of the window – but I wasn’t seeing the sights. I was seeing all my hard work and planning going to waste.
I blamed myself, I had ruined this holiday, it was my fault. I had forced Tom to take his annual leave for me, use his savings on me and spend this ‘magical’ experience with me. There were moments where I was shaking my head at myself, tricking myself into thinking it’ll all be fine. I’ve not heard of people losing their luggage on a cruise, it’ll probably already be there!
I don’t remember much of the journey at all, I just remember turning up to the dock yard and remembering my mum tell me to plant my feet. “The ship will just blow you away, it’s so incredible – honestly, you’ll be jumping up and down when you see it”.
When we arrived, being in awe and excitement for the holiday was the furthest thing from our minds. I just wanted it all sorted, some proper food, a shower from the sweat of our 12-hour hell and I needed a god-damn rest. We tried to take some photos on day one but we were just exhausted.
Rest was the last thing we could do…
End of part 1
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 1.
(Part two Is of the holiday itself, what happened to our luggage? what were they telling us? what were they hiding? what we couldn’t do on the ship and the little support we had. Injuries & vomiting galore!)