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New York City and Going Home
May 29, 2015 23:59
The last day of the vacation has arrived. We awaken about 5am, shower, get dressed, and finish up the packing. Looking out the window, we can see lights as we approach land. We work our way up to the top deck and pretty much the entire population of the ship is up there to witness the arrival. We pass under the Verrazano-Narrows bridge with about 11 ft to spare (by design) and take a slow jaunt around the bay, escorted by numerous news helicopters, fire barges, and other smaller boats. We do a full turn around so both sides of the ship are able to view the Statue of Liberty, and then slowly make our way toward the Cape Liberty Cruise port in New Jersey. After taking a sufficient quantity of pictures, we head inside to hit the Windjammer for breakfast before it gets too crowded, as we need to be ready to depart by 7:30am.
Once we're done eating, we head back to our room, gather up our luggage, make one final check of the room to be sure we got everything, and then make our way up to deck 5 and get in the longest, nastiest, line that ever existed while we attempt to find the proper place to gather for our shore excursion (Manhattan Highlights). There are multiple busses for all of us, and we're separated into two groups: Those of us with flights leaving from Newark airport, and the rest of us who have flights out of either LGA or JFK airports. We were in the latter group. We're given nametags to idenfity which group we belong in so we can once again gather after getting through immigration.
When they finally open the doors, the whole crowd just sorta moves toward it and we make our way off the ship, down an enclosed ramp, and into a very large cruise terminal, dragging our luggage with us. The line is very long but at least it's moving, and we wind our way past a football stadium sized staging area where everyone's luggage is being gathered (for those who are leaving the ship in groups later). Eventually we reach a point where the line is split between US citizens and everyone else. Things progress pretty quickly after this and we walk at a normal pace until we're once again in a small line waiting to get throgh customs, but there's only 4 or 5 people in front of us at this point, and within a couple minutes, we're chatting with the immigration officer who doesn't seem too concerned about us and after checking our passports for a few seconds each, gives us our stamps and hands them back and welcomes us home.
We then venture out of the terminal and up to an area we were told to wait to board the busses. We manage to get there fairly early, but we now have to wait about 30-40 minutes for everyone else to make it out. Finally we're assigned a bus number and we get the larger bags loaded underneath and carry our smaller ones onboard with us. Finally we're seated and ready to go.
We spend the next several hours on a bus tour of Manhattan and the surrounding neighborhoods. We stop twice. Once for a bathroom break, and once to go see the WTC memorial. After several hours of driving around, we get dropped off at the airport. We have a pretty late flight, since we didn't know how much time we would need during the day at the time we booked it, so we don't get in a huge hurry at this point. We just check our luggage, get through security, and get something to eat for lunch.
We didn't have lounge access for this leg of our trip, so we had to sit at the gate, but it wasn't a big deal and cleared out shortly after we arrived. However, at this point, I started really getting sick. I popped several advil and felt better for the time being, but it was probably a good thing we were getting on home.
As with all of our flights on this adventure, the final flight home was also First class, and for the first time in my life, I was the first passenger to board the plane. At least I found it exciting anyway. :)
The First Class cabin filled up first, nothing shocking there. However, the seat across the aisle from me was missing its cushion. We heard the gate attendants muttering about it earlier before we boarded, and were concerned at first that there was something wrong with our seats, but after hearing it was on the other side of the aircraft, I lost interest. Now I saw what the problem was, and turns out someone had spilled something on the seat on the earlier flight, and they were working on replacing the seat cushion. No big deal, but that passenger wasn't able to board until after they got it fixed, and as all of the economy passengers boarded, I was cracking jokes to them about that seat being the "discount first class seat." I was amused anyway.
The flight took off on time. It was announced that the movie playing for us was Guardians of the Galaxy. I was hopeful when I booked the flight and picked this specific aircraft that each seat would have its own IFE system instead of having a shared screen for every 2 rows. The screen was a bit far away and difficult to make out, so not really the experience I was hoping for. Dinner, however, was really good, and for dessert we were offered tiramisu, which is about the last thing I was expecting, but was absolutely awesome. Definitely the best $5 I ever spent. :)
When we begin to descend, however, my sickness started to annoy me again. The change of air pressure caused my ears to hurt, but due to the congestion, I wasn't able to pop them, so I spent the whole landing procedure in quite a bit of pain, and mostly deaf. I was pretty glad to get off the plane once it landed.
Finally home in DFW, we waited for our bags to show up. Well, two of them showed up immediately, but the third was missing. After waiting until all the checked baggage had arrived and the belt had shut down, we started pestering the attendant. After a couple rounds she made some calls and tracked the bag to another gate at the same airport. Turns out, one of our bags caught an earlier flight, so I had to run down about 10 gates to another claim area to find it. Our car was waiting for us when we got out and our driver took us back to my mom's house, where we reunited with my mom and the cats, and after chatting for a bit, decided we were really ready to get home, so we gathered up the cats, loaded all the luggage into our car, and drove home.