By Chris Goff
Alas, it happens. On the tails of Lisa’s travel tips, I thought I would share my insight on how to deal with vacation mishaps. We’ve all had them.
Refuse to engage.
Family issues top the list. Let’s face it, as much as we love family, it can be stressful getting the whole gang together. Everyone has expectations based on years of protocol. It doesn’t matter how old you are, at your mom’s house, you’re always the kid. If you’re the youngest, you’re always the baby. If you’re the oldest, more is expected of you. And if you’re new to the fold, you’re in the hot seat.
My first Christmas with my in-laws, my husband volunteered us to bake the turkey. No problem, I thought. We’ve got this. We stuffed the bird, buttered it and popped it in the oven. It was set to come out exactly at 5 PM. That was important. My father-in-law was diabetic and needed to eat on schedule. Plus my husband’s two brothers and their families were set to arrive at 4PM. Then, two hours in, we realized, there was no smell of turkey in the air. WTF. You guessed it, one of us had forgotten to turn the oven on. Whose fault it was doesn’t matter. I was a newcomer, creative (synonymous with emotional). Wes was the middle son with a reputation of being steady and calm, reliable. I caught the blame. Regardless, it was always the daughter-in-laws who caused any problems. Just ask my mother-in-law.
Then my dear friend Sarah gave me some advice that I still use to this day. She told me, “Whenever someone tries punching your buttons, just smile at them and think to yourself I don’t want to play.” I told Wes. The following Christmas, when one of my sister-in-laws jabbed me for something, my husband grinned over her head and mouthed at me, “We don’t want to play.” Instead of rising to the bait, I burst out laughing. Not only did it confuse her, but it shifted the balance of power. Soon it became our mantra. Repeat after me, I don’t want to play! Instead, look for the positive.
Look for the Silver Lining.
Things don’t always go the way you expect them. Your flight is delayed, you miss your connection, and—shit—the boat has sailed. What do you do when things happen that are out of your control? After you rant and rave and dress down the poor sot at the customer service desk whose only part in all of this is to try and reschedule your departure, try and figure out what you can do to salvage your plans. Surely something will come to you.
On our recent trip to the Arctic, the cruise ship lost a woman’s luggage. Somehow in transit, her bag wasn’t transferred from the flight in Oslo to the charter plane headed to Svalbard. She had everything in that bag—all her clothes, all her medications—everything! And there was absolutely nothing that could be done about it. There was one flight to Svalbard a day. The commercial flight had already come and gone, the ship was leaving in mere hours, and there was no way even the best insurance policy could get her luggage from Svalbard to a cruise ship in the middle of the Arctic Ocean headed to the North Pole.
A lesser man would have cried and gone home. But not this woman. In true Rogue-fashion, she simply checked into her stateroom and set sail. Fortunately, the cruise provided the parkas, puffer jacket and boots needed for landings, but what to do about the waterproof pants and long underwear? The onboard gift shop, of course. In the end, the cruise line allowed her to outfit herself at their expense. She arranged to get her medicine through the Medical Center. And, the silver lining, the crew and passengers stepped up. Everyone offered to lend her things—from jewelry to wear to dinner to wool socks to long underwear. Her misfortune actually helped forge a bond of friendship and camaraderie among all the passengers and crew. Friendliest cruise ever!
The cruise line did eventually locate her bag. It had initially reached Svalbard, but had been sent back to Oslo. Once located, it was sent back to Longyearbyen, and on our return from the northern waters before heading to Greenland, our ship diverted to Svalbard to pick it up. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, a well-meaning airport worker, thinking the bag had been left behind, placed it back on the last commercial flight to Oslo.
More recently there have been reports of rogue waves and rough seas. And it’s hard to say how those quarantined on the Arctic cruise because of Covid managed to find a bright spot. Red dots were placed on their door, food and fresh towels were dropped off on trays set up in the hall. They did have verandas to venture out on to see the ice and watch the polar bears, if they were on the right side of the ship. Still…
When the silver is tarnished, you get out the polish.
We are currently on a cruise ship in the middle of the Tasman Sea. We had booked our adventure to New Zealand and Australia in 2020 for the winter of 2021. Unfortunately, Covid still ran rampant and the cruise lines still weren’t sailing. As luck would have it, we ended up with two cruises in 2022. The one to the Arctic (mentioned above) and this one. To say we were excited is an understatement. We didn’t mind the 24 hours of traveling it took to get from our house to the Auckland, NZ airport. Sure, we were tired, but it was worth the trip to log our 7th continent. The multiple queues between the airport and the ship were more trying. There was one for arriving too early to board the ship, then one for visas, one for check-in, one for biosecurity, one for immigration, one for ship security. And we even joked about the the snafu on the room we had booked. What we didn’t see coming were the red mussels.
We are on the Viking Orion, a cruise ship that came through Bali and Indonesia before arriving in Sydney to pick up passengers for a fifteen day cruise to Auckland. They had rain every day. We brought the sunshine with us, and boarded for the return trip, Auckland to Sydney. We visited with friends who live in Auckland, then the boat set sail for Tauranga. It was while we were visiting the Geothermal region of Rotorua and dining with the Māori that New Zealand BioHazard scoured the hull of our boat and discovered the red mussels. That meant that the boat’s hull would have to be cleaned by a special mitigation team, and, according to the captain, the only place this could be done was in Adelaide, Australia. Instant change of plans. It meant, after a stop in Wellington (no one is sure why that was allowed), we would give up sailing to the south island and Tasmania, or anywhere in Australia but Adelaide, and spend the next four days at sea. The silver lining?
We are still polishing!
This unfortunate development meant we missed the three most important stops on our tour as far as we were concerned—Christchurch, Dunedin and Hobart, Tasmania. We can’t get back the high-country and alps in Christchurch. BUT we can get back some of the animals. A reserve in Adelaide has Tasmanian Devils, Wombats and Koalas in their native habitat, roaming free on a large reserve. We’ve made reservations for “Breakfast with the Birds” (sounds perfect for a birdwatcher) and a close encounter with the Koalas. Now, we just have to pray that the boat will dock and that they will let us disembark in time to make it to the park. It’s a gamble on our part.
The Melbourne tour is a bust, but Viking will have to reschedule something. All our efforts to find tours to book in the time we’re allotted has been for naught.
Sydney is still a go, and we are looking forward to that.
So what shines?
I’ve had the pleasure of beating my husband at Backgammon and cribbage multiple times. And it is a luxury cruise. We’ve visited the shipboard planetarium. We’ve taken in the nightly entertainment, listened to the onboard musicians, and taken in more of the onboard lectures than usual. We’ve taken advantage of high tea in the Wintergarden every day, consumed ice cream twice a day, watched a couple of movies, napped, gone to the spa, enjoyed the onboard pools (a bit of a challenge considering the sea has been rough). Perhaps the bright spot is, we’ve made some friends. After all, we’re all in the same boat.
Have any of you searched for the silver lining in trips gone bad? Please share.
Update-the boat made it to Adelaide, but we were denied entrance. Instead, with the boat dead in the water, the hill was cleaned. Timing meant a late arrival in Melbourne. We got to get out on the dock to clear customs, but are being denied shore leave. They are still hoping to get us to Sydney in time to do scheduled tours. AND, the rumors were true, we had to stop and replenish supplies. The ship was running out of alcohol! No rum. No whiskey. Scotch is running very low, as well as vodka. Makes sense. We’ve been at sea 7 days. Not much else to do but drink!
My word, Chris, you and Wes certainly are the chief travelers in our group!!! Question — about that first Thanksgiving turkey not being done by 5:00 – what did you feed your father-in-law at that time and when WAS the turkey done for everyone else? Also, as to other travel mishaps – I recall checking out of a hotel and racing to a dock to get on a ship when I realized I had forgotten to empty a drawer in my hotel room that contained all of my underwear, jewelry and more. What to do? I called the hotel, got hold of a wonderful bellboy who went to the room, retrieved my things and drove to the dock just in time. Needless to say, that young man got a huge tip. Thanks, Chris, for a most interesting blog — and now SAFE TRAVELS onward!…..Karna Small Bodman
You are our #1 adventurer, Chris! What stories you have to tell! Despite the mishaps, it sure sounds like a wonderful trip, and no doubt there will be more to write about!
Sounds like with adventure, luxury, and your awareness of how wonderful it is–all of it–you can’t go wrong! Even when becalmed. Safe travels, Chris.
No vodka?? Agony!