A Family Emergency During Our Cruise Caused us to Disembark at Another Port

D Centeno

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Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas- image by the author

Travel or Cruises?

My husband and I enjoy traveling, but we did not enjoy cruises. The first time we went on a cruise, our experience was not good. Therefore, we opted to not do any more cruises in the future; until our daughter and her fiancé convinced us otherwise. They booked the cruise in late October 2021. Though we did not like cruises, the Alaska cruise was one we definitely wanted to do.

The Cruise Itinerary was Great

It was a 7-night Alaska Glacier cruise through Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas. The cruise was leaving on August 19, 2022, from the Seattle, Washington port with stops in Juneau and Skagway in Alaska, afterward sailing through the Endicott Arms and Daws Glacier followed by a stop at Victoria, British Columbia in Canada and back to Seattle, Washington. We flew to Seattle the day before we were to embark on the ship and planned on staying a few days after the cruise was over to explore Seattle. We flew through Alaska Airlines. I’ll leave our experience on this airline for another story.

Planning our Days on Board

The day finally arrived, and I have to admit, we were worried. We were not cruising fans and to know we were sailing for 8 days was daunting. The embarkation process was straightforward, and the Royal Caribbean crew was polite and patient. We were on that ship in no time. Thankfully, our daughter was way ahead of us and since she and her fiancé have gone on a few cruises, was familiar with what to do and where to go on the ship. We sat down at a table at the promenade and began making our reservations for the various entertainment venues.

What We Did and Didn’t Expect

The Ovation of the Seas ship is massive. It holds 4,905 passengers and 1,500 crew members. It’s a beautiful ship with something for everyone, from children to 100+ years young. We looked forward to all the amenities to enjoy and hoped this cruise would change our minds regarding cruises.

One thing I looked forward to was enjoying the food. I mean, with all that food included, who wouldn’t enjoy it? Since we had read so many excellent reviews regarding cruise ship meals and had friends and family rave about the food, we opted to eat in the main dining room instead of upgrading to specialty restaurants. That was our first mistake. The food was terrible - the salmon and fish tasted of freezer burn, the rice and potatoes were bland, and seriously, how do you mess up bacon? It was plastic bacon or recooked a few times. These are just a few examples. The only thing I found good - not delicious - just good, was the pumpkin soup. Even the bread was stale.

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Dinner Entrée- image by the author

The shows were spectacular, and their comedies were hilarious and downright entertaining. The live music was upbeat and just swayed your feet to the sound of the music. The first trivia we went to was so much fun that we ended up reserving spots for many others. It was all great and then it happened.

The News that Shook Us

Once we began sailing on Friday, we received a text message from our son. Our 10-year-old Dachshund/Chihuahua mix, Chewy, was sick. The vet was suggesting that we decide about his life. The news put a damper on our evening. We were already at sea and felt helpless. We needed to return home soon. But the earliest we could return was Sunday when we arrived in Juneau, Alaska (AK).

It was a restless night for us. Though we went to sleep at around midnight, it was impossible to get a good night’s sleep. We tossed and turned, praying for our little guy, Chewy. By 4 am I could no longer stay in bed, therefore, I got up and researched the flights leaving from Juneau, AK and after confirming our arrival time in Juneau with Royal Caribbean’s guest service, I booked it. Now it was time to enjoy this day (Saturday) before disembarking the next day.

Disembarkment Process

We arrived in Juneau at 12 noon and were to be at the guest service arrive no later than 1:30 pm to disembark. It was surprising to hear that since we were disembarking at a different port, Royal Caribbean charged us a port authority fee of $853 per person ($1,706 for both). According to Royal Caribbean’s website, guests cannot pre-plan or purposely embark or debark a ship in a U.S. port that will violate the Jones Act. Any guest who insists on debarking the ship in a port that violates the Jones Act will accept responsibility for any resulting penalties ($762. USD per person). I’m still waiting to hear from Royal Caribbean because they charged us $91 more per person than what their website states. Royal Caribbean owes me $182.

Once we disembarked in Juneau, AK, we were driven to the not-so-friendly customs building, and after reviewing our documents; we were on our own. Therefore, we called for a taxi and were off to the Juneau International Airport for our flights home. We boarded our plane at 6:30 pm on Sunday, August 21. After three flights, two layovers, two time zones, and I don’t remember how many hours we were finally home.

Home Sweet Home

We arrived on Monday, August 22, at 12 noon. Our arrival was a true blessing. With all the flight cancellations and delays, our flights were all on time, our luggage was among the first ones to come through, and we caught no traffic driving home.

Did our short 2-day cruise change our minds about cruises? Yes, it did. We will take another one to Alaska. Will it be Royal Caribbean? I’m not sure. I at least expect them to refund me the difference for the port authority fee, therefore, I’m still waiting for their response to all 3 emails sent.

Though we did not get to enjoy the entire cruise, we did enjoy what little time we spent with our friends, our daughter, her fiancé, and the activities we participated in. I am happy we were able to be with Chewy upon our arrival. As for our fur baby, he died on Saturday, August 27, leaving us devastated and heartbroken. We do not regret returning home early because Chewy was not only our pet, but he was also family and we loved him so much.

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My writing journey began as a way to cope with grief. I realized I enjoyed writing and began a blog, Debbie’s Reflection (https://debbiesreflection.com). I also enjoy traveling. Therefore, as a traveler, I began another blog, Traveler Wows (https://travelerwows.com), in which I share tips on places, landmarks, and reviews on airlines, hotels, and restaurants. Thank you for joining me on my writing journey.

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