|Kuki's daily accounts aboard the Explorer of the Seas.|
|Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Days 4 & 5 | Days 6 & 7 | Day 8|
This morning the wake up call came, and it was time to get back to real life, instead of the fantasy life at sea. And it didn't take long for reality to bite. We were in the first group scheduled for debarkation, and were called to leave the ship just after 8 a.m.
The luggage terminal for Royal Caribbean passengers has three areas, each with a large set of carousels like those in airports. This was my first experience with this relatively new system that RCI uses, and it proved to be less than satisfactory.
We were directed to an area where luggage with wWhite tags was supposed to be waiting on the carousel. After 15 minutes of waiting and watching, three of our four pieces showed up. I waited another half-hour without seeing our last bag, and then spoke to someone wearing an RCI Staff ID. I was told my choices were to wait and keep checking all three carousels, or file a missing luggage report.
This all seemed rather odd, because the luggage only had to be delivered about 40 feet from the ship to the luggage terminal. I also found it odd that no staff members were there to offer any real assistance. The standard answer was, "Keep looking, it should show up eventually." So Mrs. Kuki and I, and a very pleasant porter we had enlisted to assist us, took turns checking out all the carousels.
As we waited, we noticed we were not the only people living this experience. Fortunately, we didn't have an early flight to catch. Our luggage is ugly, green, hard-sided stuff, wrapped in Crime Scene tape, so I knew it was highly unlikely someone had taken our bag by mistake. We therefore assumed it would show up eventually. To keep my temper in check, I decided to view this experience as "research." I vowed to stay at the terminal until our bag showed up, or every other piece of luggage had been taken off and claimed.
After a two-hour and twenty-five minute wait, Mrs. Kuki won the luggage lottery, finding our orphaned bag on the wrong carousel, mixed in with bags bearing many different colored luggage tags. Obviously, this is not how the system is designed to work. And obviously the staffers who brought the luggage off the ship were about as interested in doing a good job as the customer service people were in assisting people looking for lost luggage -- i.e., not at all!
Once Mrs. Kuki found our luggage, I asked to speak to a supervisor. I wanted to know if it was company policy for the staff to offer so little assistance to people hunting for lost bags. I was interested in knowing if this was a regular occurrence when the Explorer or Voyager docked.
Not surprisingly, I didn't get many of my questions answered. Instead I was given a business card listing phone numbers for RCI Customer Service.
We had just left a wonderful cruise experience, only to have our first taste of life on land go astray. And RCI had provided both these experiences.
I've never had a similar situation on any previous cruises, where the luggage had always been placed stationary in a warehouse. I can't tell you how many bags I had to watch going around and around on the carousels. Seems to me the least they could do is remove the unclaimed luggage after a period of time, just so those in my situation could at least tell when a new batch of luggage was sliding by.
Our poor porter, Jorge Ruiz, stuck with us the entire time. Even though almost all the other passengers had departed, and he was likely losing substantial tip money from other people, this fellow stayed with us and tried to help. I tried to make sure that his service to us was rewarded enough to cover his losses.
Fortunately, all the positive memories of the cruise will far outweigh the hassle of this morning. And now I'm back to being landlocked temporarily, and will have to start a new countdown to my next cruise.