The day started at 1:15. We set alarms on both of our cell phones and also called the front desk and had them do a wake up call for us. We got up and got ready. At 2am, we called the operator and asked them to send us someone to take our luggage (we had not put out any pieces the night before). They arrived in five minutes and grabbed our bags. We collected our carry-ons and headed downstairs. The guy who had our bags was waiting by the exit from the ship. We got our cards scanned for the last time, and headed down the gangway. The porter ended up manhandling the one of our three bags down by hand and then pushed his cart down the stairs with the other two. We then went with the porter across the wide open space to the terminal. There was one person in the terminal and we just walked by. Outside there was maybe two dozen cabs in a line. As we looked to our left over in the marina area, there were two bars/night clubs going full bore with loud music, dancing, etc. Clearly finding a cab was no big deal (we were quite worried). We walked to the front of the cab line, stuffed our bags into the trunk, tipped the porter and headed to the airport.
It didn’t take us very long to get to the airport, around 20 minutes. The fare was 12 Euros including the extra for the bags. We gave him 15 Euros. The ship was charging $45 each , so this was significantly less money and very efficient. We went inside and pretty much everything was shut down. Anyway, we figured out where we were supposed to go and waited in the general area. We were there easily by 2:30 am. They opened the check-in at 3am. We went in the sky priority line and gave them our bags and then went through passport and security. All very efficient and hardly anyone around. After going through security, we found our gate, and tried to “sleep/rest” until it was time. There were only a few people there, but eventually it started to fill up. Everyone lined up at about 4:20 and we began boarding. We were flying to Amsterdam and left on time at 5am.
We tried to sleep on the plane and ended up arriving at AMS at about 9am (we lost another hour). We had a four-hour layover (although it turned out that it was significantly less than that as the boarding time was 11:20 for the 1pm flight. We found the lounge and hung out for several hours. We sampled the interesting Scandinavian lounge food and tried to charge our devices (it didn’t work because we didn’t have the right connectors).
Anyway, we ended up going to the gate, being screened, interviewed, and scanned again. Julie wanted some water, so Bob went to the only venue, the vending machine (note, they confiscated our water before going through the scanners). Once being scanned and entered the gate area you cannot leave. Bob put in 3 Euro coins and the machine refused to give out anything. He pushed the return the money button and it just ate them. Oh well. It turns out that this became a bit of a running gag with the group waiting to board. Lots of people tried, some random number of people got what they wanted, and some large percentage did not. It was all very strange and somewhat comical. Not being able to leave the gate area for the last 90 minutes is a pain.
Eventually we boarded the flight (we sat in Economy Comfort, which was actually not too bad given that we weren’t going to try and sleep very much since we were going west). The flight was about 10 hours long to Minneapolis. We watched some movies, ate, slept and basically did what you do on a plane.
We arrived safely and then went to the sky club to wait for our final leg. We had another multi-hour layover. By this time, we were completely exhausted. Very little sleep the night before and limited sleep on the plane. Plus two weeks of 23 hour days every other day. It was rough. Eventually it was time to board. But it was delayed about 45 minutes, so we hung out some more.
Finally we got to the plane and began boarding. We got on the plane and were settling in. We found out that we didn’t have any pilots. Ok, this is going to be tricky. Neither of us knew how to fly, but we did see a pilot in the Delta lounge. Maybe we could go and recruit him. Anyway, we waited about half an hour and they eventually showed up. The explanation was that they changed the plane from an Airbus to a Boeing plane and thus we had to get a different crew. They got someone off duty (probably on call) and got them to the plane. They did their systems check and we left. We got out to the tarmac and just sat there. Oh no. We waited and waited and waited. Eventually we learned that some anti-skid thing had failed. We had to go back and get it repaired. Everyone on the plane with connections was panicking. The pilot said that it was a relatively easy fix (a change of a box in the belly of the plane). So, we waited to get a gate, eventually got one and then waited some more. They wouldn’t let us deplane because that would have delayed things a ton (with people leaving, and luggage and everything). So, we sat tight. They didn’t hand out water or anything because they only had a limited amount and didn’t want to run out (right?). Anyway…..
Eventually they fixed it and then we waited for the paperwork. Wait wait wait. Finally we got it all, the plane checked out and we left the gate for the second time. We got out to the tarmac to the exact same place and we sat there. Everyone started mumbling. Is something else broken? We found out that the storm that was around us had delayed our take off a bit, but the plane was working great. So, we finally left and made it to Salt Lake. We were about 3 hours late. So, in total, we were up/flying/waiting around for almost 30 hours. That was a really long journey.
So, the whole experience ended. It was a truly great cruise. This was our second trip on Serenity and we found that we liked it a lot more than the last time. The quirks that are different from the Symphony didn’t bother us as much. The theme cruise was wonderful. All of the days at sea were wonderful. Most of the speakers were terrific. We probably pushed too hard, and the 23 hour days kind of sucked. But everything else was amazing. We would go on it again in a heartbeat.
According to the last day reflections, we sailed a total of 3,774 nautical miles, or 4,340.1 land miles. We had two stops and a zillion days at sea. What a wonderful trip. Oh yeah, how many steps and miles did we go? Well, adding up each day, we ended up with about 196,000 steps and 92 miles. Not too bad. As for weight, we each was up a few pounds, but after getting rid of the travel weight, we ended up about even. The two meals a day and being reasonably careful paid off.
The most interesting part of the trip was when we got home, it took us nearly a week to get rid of the jet lag. We were thinking that maybe we had caught a bug or something, but whatever, it took us a week before we really felt like we were running at 100%. Bob thought that because he had flown to China and back the previous week and then 2 weeks traveling to Lisbon, he ended up traversing about ¾ of the world. Maybe that affected him, but Julie was just about the same.
The bottom line, we wouldn’t have traded it for the world. It was a wonderful trip and thank Crystal and its wonderful crew and staff for making it a magical vacation.