Day 9- Boarding the ship.

I got up this morning at my usual time of somewhere between 5:30-6am. I decided I would shower and get dressed right away so that my bathroom products would dry out more before I packed them, while I typed up the day before’s blog post. The morning was pretty laid back even though I had a bunch of packing to do and I didn’t know what was ahead of me with lugging all this baggage around all day- the suitcases, not Matt. Speaking of Matt, he got up about an hour after me, made some phone calls and then helped in the best way he can these days- delegating. Awesome. I do joke a lot about Matt’s general uselessness this trip but that’s only because he is normally so far from that. He hates feeling useless and watching me have to do everything. I, however, love to bust his chops and he can’t get me back on the blog, soooo onward with the Matt jabs! Love you, honey.

Our plan was to leave the hotel at 10am, then we changed it to 9:30am and we did it right on time. I packed up all the luggage and while Matt went with the bell serves guy, he was such a help, I walked one block over to the post office to buy some stamps. I had to walk because they were having a parade so a lot of the streets were closed this morning. As if Waikiki streets aren’t difficult enough to navigate- let’s throw a parade in the mix on the busiest day of the week. I still don’t even know what the parade is all about, I just suddenly could hear and then see a marching band from my balcony. Speaking of sounds at the resort. I forgot to whine about the construction next door to our hotel. Normally, I am a pretty heavy sleeper and sounds don’t affect my sleep but they have been JACKHAMMERING throughout the entire night, every night of our stay. The first & last night it was in the distance and I barely noticed it, the second night, however, oh my God! It sounded as though they were jackhammering right next to our room and I’m not talking the typical “hotel jackhammering” sounds you may hear from the room next door, I’m talking construction jackhammering. It was unbelievable. All that said, we didn’t not get a single cent off our stay. Not even due to an entire evening without water. Can’t wait to write that TripAdvisor review. 

Once I had made my marathon walk for stamps, and received my change in all dimes- yeah, thanks, we were on our way to return our rental car and shuttle over to the cruise ship. The drive to the airport was pretty short, but the traffic lights make it a little slow- still better than being on the traffic of H1. The GPS said it would take about 25 minutes and that’s exactly what it took us. Once there, thankfully, an Enterprise employee helped us get our bags out of the car and even pushed the cart of luggage for me, while I pushed Matt in the wheelchair. While he’s unloading our bags I tell him we need the shuttle to the cruise pier. He then proceeds to tell me that they don’t do that, that their shuttles only go to the airport. That is NOT what all of my research had said. Everywhere I read told me the shuttle goes to the airport or cruise port. I don’t know if this was a new change or what, but snafu number one, complete. They guy was real apologetic and ran in to call us a cab. As he’s inside calling us a cab, I see a minivan cab dropping people off, so I figure I’d wave him down. I’m walking to the cab and he’s not seeing or hearing me. So I start my run, but it’s not a normal run, it’s more of a “I don’t want to fully commit to run after you because I feel like a fool and everyone’s watching me” type of run which turns out to look a lot like a really girly pathetic “run”. The man must have been deaf and blind because how he didn’t see me or hear me is amazing. Luckily, or maybe not as you’ll see, I got his attention just in time and asked him if he could talk us to the pier. The man didn’t seem to speak very much english, because it took every adjective my little mind could  think of to describe the pier for him to finally understand where I wanted to be going. Once I felt secure that this guy was not going to drive off, I went back to get Matt and the Enterprise guy pushed our luggage cart and even loaded the taxi for us- yes, he got a nice tip which he was very grateful for. I asked him to check with the cab driver to be sure he knew where he was taking us and then we were all set. 

The taxi was all packed and ready so we headed out. Before leaving I asked what this trip would cost like my dad taught me. He didn’t give us a price, but said, “It’s metered.”. We should have gotten out. Now, you have to understand. We had just made the drive. The cruise ship was exactly at the halfway point between Waikiki and the airport. We past the ship on our way to return the car at the airport, so we knew the drive ahead of us. We knew that the best way was the Nimitz highway and NOT the H1, like our GPS and everyone else on the planet suggests. This scam artist took us on the the parking lot of a highway, H1, then drove thru the packed Chinatown to get us to the cruise ship. By the time we got there the meter was at $27. We were so mad. He barely spoke any English, but that didn’t stop Matt & I from having a conversation for him to hear about the way we should have been going rather than the way we were. I was irritated to say the least. As soon as I saw him turn for the H1 ramp I knew what was going on so I texted Matt, “He’s ripping us off!” as if Matt was unaware of the drive he just made. He gave me an “Oh, I know!” but it wasn’t via text. Ha!

We made it to the pier at 11:05, the pier opens at 11am. We start unloading our bags and I’m noticing my biggest fear. Everyone who’s arriving are wheeling their own bags into the pier and I don’t see a single porter. So I leave Matt with the taxi and I walk over to a security guard to ask about the porter situation. He told me that they should by out here by now, it’s 11:10am, and then points me in the direction of where they would be hanging out- about a quarter of a mile down the long pier. Awesome. So I start my walk and on the way I pass the NCL employees that direct you for check-in. Perfect. So I go over to the man and say, “My husband is in a wheelchair so I can’t manage our luggage, can you get me a porter?” to which he states to another guy, “This girl needs a wheelchair.”. “No! I have a wheelchair, I need help with my luggage since my husband’s IN the wheelchair.” his response, “Oh. The porters aren’t on duty yet.” and walks away. I was dumbfounded. He just walked away and left me! Not to mention, the pier opens at 11am, it’s 11:15am, shouldn’t you have a porter or two available??? So I turn around and start to head back to the taxi stand a couple of streets over, and I’ll be honest, I was holding back a tear or two. On my walk of shame I passed the security guard and I tell him what I was told, and he was upset, but I kept walking. So I get back there and tell Matt the situation and decided that I’m just going to have to make trips. What else could I do? So I have Matt stand with his crutches and I try to load up the wheelchair with our suitcases- we have 4. As I’m doing that the security guard comes over and tells me that he’s going to help me. So we’re getting the luggage situated and just as we start to make our first trip, the security guard sees an “off-duty” porter and yells to him. The porter, who I saw as my knight, puts on his NCL issued Hula Shirt, that I saw as shining armor, and comes to help. I was so grateful to the porter and the security guard. The NCL employee, however. Never mind.

The porter directed us on where to go and the line inside for security wasn’t too bad. A security employee came and took Matt into a different area for screening and it all went very smoothly, for us at least. I don’t know what it is about security lines that brings out all the deep-rooted, dumb in people, but my God. Didn’t you all fly here? This shouldn’t be your first go at the rodeo. The guy two people in front of my left his bag on the table. He left his bag. He forgot to slide the thing with him the 3 feet and place it on the belt and worse yet, he didn’t even notice he was missing his bag until we tracked him down. It was hysterical to watch because he turns to his wife and says, “I think I forgot my bag.” Uhhh? You either have it or you don’t big guy. I digress.

After security we made our way thru to the check-in desk, but not before our pictures with a male and female hula dancers. Alooooooooo-HA! I tried to keep the drool to a minimum for Matt’s sake, but I’m sure he was doing the same for me. I tried not to giggle like a school girl as we “squeezed in close” for our picture. Hubba, hubba. We’ll be buying THAT picture, because that’s my tradition, of course. I always buy the embarkation photo. *wink* Once checked in, we headed to some seats where we waited for boarding to begin. They had musicians and hula dancers, drinks, shaved coconut and other things to keep you preoccupied. We just sat and enjoyed the moment. 

At 12:25 they were finally ready to board. We skipped the line since we had to take the elevator up. Once up there, it was just a few more steps until we were on board, if only it were that simple. We walk up to the gangway and oh my God. That thing was long and steep! As I’m about to say to Matt that he’s gonna have to walk, he says to me, “There’s no way I can walk that.”. Oh, my God. So in my head I’m thinking someone will help me, there got to be someone here for this type of thing, so the employee at the top of the gangway of death sees the panic and moves the line of people to the side and tells them to wait for me to go- the gangway is only one and a half persons wide, so I don’t really know what that was about so I assume he’s the one going to help me. He turns to me and says, “Most people find it easier to go backwards.”. That’s it?! You’re really going to send this 120 pound girl down this ramp, in flip flops, trying to hold back 170 pounds on wheels?! Yup, he was. So I take a deep breath, turn Matt around and start my journey. The first step wasn’t too bad and I got comfortable at the idea. After the fifth step, I realize there is no way I can do this and I’m now stuck on this gangway just struggling to hold Matt in place. My feet were sliding out of my flip flops and all I could envision is Matt running me over and then making a grand entrance into the ship. So I see over my shoulder this NCL employee headed up this ramp. He’s about 6’4” and huge. I’m doing my happy dance because finally someone has realized that this ship is a sinkin’. He gets to us pretty quickly and then squeezes by us just as quickly. I think my jaw literally dropped open. He left us, he didn’t help or anything. Just squeezed by. Didn’t care that we were nearly about to die or that I was backing up the entire line of passengers from getting on board. Didn’t matter to this guy. So I realized that I was going to have to do this. I struggle to take another step and I just didn’t see how this was going to end well and I’m really freaking out in my mind- I was oddly silent through this so after, I find out that Matt didn’t realize the gravity of the situation. He knew I was struggling and was surprised that that man just walked by us, but he didn’t know the level of my panic and how close he was to a sudden drop into the ship. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, which was probably only 5 minutes, I hear a voice behind me saying, ”Please let me help you with that.”. I didn’t even turn to look, I just belted out a “thank you” and moved out of the way, then I look up to realize that it’s the cruise director! How embarrassing. He was really nice and chatted with us once we were at the bottom. All I could think is now at every evening event we go to, this guys gonna call us out or something. I think I would have rather get run over by the wheelchair!          

Once on board we headed to the buffet where the nicest guy took Matt around for his food so that I could get my own. Lunch was great- how can you not enjoy a buffet? After lunch we walked around a bit and then found a spot by the pool where we relaxed until about 2:30pm and then we headed for our room. I’m reminded just how spoiled I am being a faithful Disney Cruiser almost immediately. First off, there’s no way any Disney employee would have not been there to offer help from the moment we stepped out of the taxi, let alone walk past me in my time of need. Second, the size of the cabins. I forgot how small NCL’s cabins are in compared to DCL. It doesn’t help that we now have a wheelchair and crutches. The room is nice enough though. We have a balcony, port side, so we’ll enjoy that and really, we won’t be in our room very long. After being in our room for a bit we headed to the Muster Drill and then up to the pool for the sail-away BBQ and some time in the hot tub. We spent most of the evening there until we headed to “watch a movie”- we were asleep almost immediately. 

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