Last week had us airborne and feeling optimistic about the prospect of a pleasant cruise to Alaska. Upon landing in Seattle we discovered that in spite of ordering wheel chair services twice there was no chair available and wouldn’t be for at least 30 minutes.
We did not have 30 minutes to spare so we decided to walk to Baggage Claim on our own feet. This did not seem a challenge for the first segment of the trip but by the time we arrived on level one, my legs were numb and one kept wanting to go in a different direction than the other and I noticed Bill had a very grim look and when I asked if he was okay he said, ”Nope”. But we soldiered on, slowing down with our bodies assuming different angles at the waist.
What seemed like hours later we spied Baggage Claim and a cute little lady holding a sign with our cruise line name on it. She welcomed us and we collected our bags which were the only ones still going around on the carousel. We placed our bags near our guide with all the others and were told to go to the green bus and we would take off for the dock shortly.
As we were transported across the city of Seattle, the bus driver pointed out many places of interest including the home of Bill Gates which seemed the size of a college campus from my view on the bus.
On arrival at the pier, we checked in along with the 1200 other passengers and snaked along until we reached the gangway and were greeted by smiling stewards. Everyone who works on a cruise ship smiles all the time and we were greeted as if they had been waiting all day for the moment we would arrive. Amazing. One had only to look over the side of the gangway to see all the garbage being hauled off the ship from the previous cruise and all the new boxes of food being stowed aboard for the present cruise. The ship had been at anchor since 7 that morning and would sail away at 5 with another load of people, food and flowers. Which meant seven more days of smiling on the part of the stewards.
Thinking it might be interesting we had opted for assigned seating. As it turned out it was, for our table mates were a diverse, articulate group. We were grateful since we would be sharing our dinner hour with them for the next seven days.
Later that night to our dismay we were told our bags were missing and were not aboard. Then the truth hit us; we are at sea for seven days with only the clothes on our back and we had been in them since the wee hours of that morning. Horrors!
The Concierge was sympathetic and graciously understood our concern. We filled out and signed papers and were told to come down in the morning and she would find some clothes for us.
Back in our stateroom, we contemplated our dismal future. After a time we decided there were options: we can let this ruin our cruise or shrug it off and make it part of the adventure! We opted for the adventure. Suddenly I was no longer ticked off or even distraught. This will indeed be an adventure.
The next morning, we met with the Concierge and went to a rummage event!! Behind her office there was a room that contained numerous garments left behind by previous cruisers. Most were either size 3 or 3XXX. I found a very ample cotton hoodie tunic, in a size 22 and Bill picked out a blue shirt with a sizeable permanent mustard stain on the front pocket and a pair of slacks that with stapling and some scotch tape fit just fine. I found a pair of velveteen exercise pants that I really liked and they went well with my enormous hoodie. The cruise line agreed to pick up our laundry every morning and return it to the room in early afternoon. While our clothes were being cleaned we wore our dorky wardrobe.
The concierge located our luggage which had sailed on the Royal Caribbean and would be deposited in Ketchikan, Alaska and someone from our ship would retrieve our bags when we arrived at Ketchikan three days later.
In the meantime, those sharing our table were having a lot of fun each night when we arrived for dinner in the beautiful main dining room wearing our rummage clothes. It truly got to be quite hilarious. .
In the meantime Bill was bonding with the blue shirt with the mustard stain and I had begun to love my hoodie and blue work out pants. The concierge came up to us in the lobby one day and stated that every time she saw us we were laughing and having a good time. She said usually when people lost their luggage they made her life difficult. She expressed gratitude for our attitude. We told her we had grown fond of our second hand wardrobe and she told us we could keep the clothes.
On the fourth day of the voyage our baggage was rescued from the Royal Caribbean Line and we were presented with a free dinner in the special dining room where it costs $100.00 per person to eat a special chef’s meal. The ship paid all our tips and also gave us a free gift of a tour of Seattle on our return and of course our rummage wardrobe.
During my travels through the years, many unforeseen things have happened and with effort and practice I learned that slipups should never ruin a vacation. This is rule one. Rule two is, “Do not waste your precious travel time shopping”. The reason being almost any item unique to any country on the planet is probably available in the U.S.A. and oftentimes for less money.
We had an enjoyable cruise wearing rummage clothes for four days and the special Chef’s dinner more than made up for missing formal night. Years later, about the only thing I remember about that cruise is wearing rummage clothes and the laughs it provided. Truly a travel adventure. —
Marge Flados is a Texas lifestyles columnist that resides in Harlingen. She can be reached at email@example.com.