I don’t remember what time I woke up but it had to have been 6:30 or earlier. On the TV, with the bow camera channel on, I could see the lights and outline of the city. Taking advantage of the timing, I wanted to watch our return to Miami from the outer decks. My Nikon had been put away for the trip home so I just grabbed my phone and headed out.
It was a peaceful morning in Miami. Some clouds, but mostly clear. As we entered the channel and pulled closer in, I could see that we had arrived behind a couple other ships. I couldn’t make them out very well at first, but the closer we got, the easier it became. Arriving in front of us was Carnival Splendor. The ship I had sailed prior. Already in port were Norwegian Epic and USNS Comfort, the Naval hospital ship. It was cool to see the Comfort because I had seen many different ships before but not yet a hospital ship. You could easily tell it was a converted cargo ship. It’s bridge was at the front of the ship instead of closer aft and it had a superstructure. On top of the ship a Navy helicopter sat on the helipad. Some officers and staff on the ship watched as we passed.
As we entered the basin to turn around, Splendor was exiting. It seemed like it was going to be super close but there was actually a good amount of room as we passed each other. Seeing the ship brought back some cool memories. Breeze then took its turn in the basin, slowly spinning 180. Then the ship headed for its terminal.
Right after the ship’s spin, I walked down to Lido to grab a small breakfast. It wasn’t too hectic when I was there, and I was happy to beat the rush. People can get ugly on debarkation day. I had a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and called it breakfast.
I returned to the cabin after finishing my Cereal. As I walked into the hallway, I could smell that the neighbors were enjoying another round of bud. I just rolled my eyes and stepped into my cabin. Andrew was up and getting his stuff together. I showered and got dressed for the last time on the ship, then eyeballed the whole cabin to make sure I had grabbed everything. Since Andrew was Platinum status, we could bring our luggage down to Deck 3 and wait in the Sapphire Dining Room for priority debarkation. We joined them with our luggage. On a table they had some water, orange juice, tea, and pastries for guests to have while waiting. The good pastries had just about vanished and this soured the mood of some who were already unhappy about having to leave. One particular woman started getting really huffy about everything and was making others around her antsy. I was ready to get off the ship, but now that people were starting to get ugly, I was really ready. Fortunately the wait wasn’t terribly long before we were allowed to access the gangways and leave the ship. We followed the line to exit the ship and that’s when it happened (and the morning went to crap)…
The card scanner made the dreaded sound of rejection upon being fed my Sail & Sign card. What could it be?! I was good with my account and hadn’t left anything unpaid. Perhaps because Andrew was a last-minute guest, it was additional screening upon return as well. I was ushered inside a roped area in-between the doors where people were debarking on Deck 3. Andrew stood to the side for a couple before he tried his card and it was rejected as well. Once there, we stood feeling anxious. There was an officer who had a list of people who needed to be detained. Nowhere on the list were our names, so he wrote them down. I didn’t really ask what was going on as I figured I’d find out soon enough. There were a couple calls back and forth over radios. A couple more guests had their cards rejected as well and joined us. After a short while and some blank staring, we were ushered off the ship by port a port employee. We made our way through the terminal to the exit where customs was. Still going on speculation that we were on the radar because of the booking, I just went along with it. Not too much I could have done otherwise, though. At one point we lost the person guiding us but were then taken into a large room by two Customs officers. Thankfully the lady that had been leading us came through a separate door with our documents. The room had stainless steel tables and benches. The large tables obviously for luggage. It was then a pretty good guess, because we were both instructed to place all our luggage on the tables for inspection. “Great” I thought to myself. All that jamming of everything into my suitcase was about to be undone. On top of that I was sure there would be a million questions about the medication I had brought. Without introduction and a continuously stern expression a Customs agent began going through my luggage. Out it all came onto the table. He was joined by another agent shortly into digging through all my stuff. The second agent was fairly clumsy and dropped some of my stuff on the floor, not (thankfully) damaging anything though. The first agent did indeed inquire about all the medicine I had brought. I explained my predicament with the sinus procedure that had been done and that I liked traveling with various medicines just in case I became ill. The agent going through all of Andrew’s belongings was finished and had instructed Andrew to sit and wait. While my stuff was still being torn apart, I witnessed one of the ship’s officers report about a 17-year-old who had a small amount of weed on them, and something about charges. When that conversation had finished so had the rifling of my stuff. I was not yet done though. After I was allowed to re-pack my luggage, I was then asked to go into another room. Now I was getting worried. When I stepped into an interrogation room, my heart skipped a beat. There was a bench along the wall with handcuffs bolted to it. My mind raced and I thought “What the F…!”. The agent who unpacked my luggage stepped inside with another agent. I was then asked “Have you ever been arrested?”. My heart skipped another beat as I was eagerly trying to figure out what was going on and why I was in the predicament. “No.” I answered. “What’s going on?” I followed. The agent then told me “Upon inspection of the ship, there was a heavy smell of marijuana in the hallway of your cabin. When we entered your cabin with a sniffing dog, the dog sat.” It then hit me. In my mind I was screaming “THOSE F$&#ING A$$H0L3$ ACROSS THE HALL!”. I cut right to the chase with the agent about the people in the cabin across the hall. I was not getting in trouble for their recklessness! The agents looked at each other and said “The girl with the red-ish hair.” I knew then that they knew who I was talking about. They told me that the dog might have detected some of the medication I had brought. I was then allowed to leave the room and have a seat. They called in Andrew and within a couple of minutes he reemerged. Shortly after that, we were given our documents and told we were free to go.
Andrew and I could not get out of there fast enough without running. We headed right for the parking deck and the car. Andrew had realized though that he had misplaced his card for parking. Fortunately there was a random one laying on the pavement. Not wanting to stay and deal with parking we were cool with accepting whatever charges were on it. Sure enough, it was $20. I gave him cash and we dipped out of there.
Andrew was giving me a ride to Ft. Lauderdale airport. Traffic was lighter than our conversation. We both were talking about what had just happened and how unpleasant it was. I told him that when they isolated me in the room I thought I had done something really bad and was going to be arrested, but I didn’t know why. He told me he was nearly having an anxiety attack. Boy, was I glad he was able to chill though because we would both have been there longer if not. I then called my mom to tell her I was back and what I had gone through. Afterwards we talked about it a little more before arriving at the airport. I thanked Andrew for the ride, wished him well, and then set off for check-in.
The terminal was buzzing with passengers returning from their cruises. I didn’t have to wait too long to check-in thankfully. In the process I also upgraded to JetBlue’s Even More Space seat. I wanted a shorter security line, I wanted more space, I didn’t want to deal with people and just wanted to take it easy. The line for TSA was fairly long, but with Even More Space, I was able to join the shorter line and I breezed right through security. That was that. All I had to do was wait for my flight.
I chose to sit in a less congested area of the terminal. At first it was quiet and then some additional people started to move in. I had my backpack on a seat. A person approached me and with an unfriendly tone asked me if the seat was taken. “No” I said, equally unfriendly, and placed my backpack on the floor in front of me. A short time later, a group of older people arrived who were on a flight to San Juan to catch their cruise. I had a hard time telling if they really wanted to go though because one woman was incessantly nagging. This made me even more cranky. Her husband commented on her comments, giving her a big hint she was being inconsiderate of those around her. This stopped her for a short while before she began again. Not wanting to be around her, I got up and decided to visit the pizza stand in the terminal. There was a line that was longer than I expected, but it moved fairly well. While in line I was eyeballing the only slice of hawaiian pizza that was available. It was love at first sight and I wanted it. Just as I was getting ready to order it, the lady in front of me gets it. That was the last straw. From there on out, I was in D-mode. I let her have the slice I was lusting over and asked when the next hawaiian would be ready. I was told 40 minutes. Still pissed, I just ordered a cheese and a bottled water. I sat down between some people and ate my pizza, daring them to say something about eating around them. Fortunately not a peep was heard.
Boarding was about to commence for the flight home. With my upgrade, I was able to board early. Standing at the entrance to the jetway was a heavyset woman. Handicap and Priority boarding was called. 2 disabled squeezed by her. A family took their small dog in a carrier on with them. She talked shit about them bringing their dog within their earshot. They then called for boarding for my group. She didn’t move initially so II made my way past her. While they scanned my ticket, I heard huffing, and then she said “This asshole cut in front of me!” as I stepped into the jetway. I turned and shouted “CAN IT!!!”. When on the plane I did and didn’t want there to be confrontation. I wanted to tell her that “Even More Space is for leg room, not width”. Sat behind me was the nice family who had brought on the dog in the carrier. They let me know not to place my feet under my chair or the dog might bark, otherwise it would be quiet. Fair enough I thought. A man sat next to me and kept to himself. I then wished for a quiet flight home. Thankfully, it was exactly what I got.
Arriving into DC was nice that afternoon. We flew in from the north following the river so I got another nice look at all the cool features of the city before landing. It didn’t take long to get off the plane, too. When I got to the bag claim, I saw the hippopotamus that called me an asshole. She was right at the conveyor system went through the wall in an apparent effort to get her stuff quickly. I laughed inside because she was on the opposite end, where it goes back into the wall. The luggage arrived a short time later. My bag beat hers out (haha) and I set off for the Metro.
The Metro station at Reagan Airport is nice on nice days. It’s a covered, elevated platform giving you a decent view. I could see that the cherry blossoms were in bloom and the sunny weather was nice, though cooler than where I had come from.
After catching a train, it was a short ride back with few people taking trains at that time. Before I knew it, I was at my local station and hugging my mom who was there picking me up. An even shorter while later I was greeted by my ecstatic dog. I unpacked my stuff (for the last time) and took it easy the rest of the day. I was happy to be home.