There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being late for the ship, you return to the pier to find the gangways GONE and only two ropes left holding the ship in place. I dread to think what it must be like for those that make it back to the pier and the ship has actually sailed without them. I said for years ‘that would never be me, I would never and could never EVER be late back to the ship’ and then in October, it happened!
I touched on it briefly in a previous blog but today I will give you the full story…………..I was travelling with a group of journalists aboard the lovely little Marco Polo and our first port of call was Ghent (Gent) in Belgium. We had an amazing day, but we were starting to become a little pressed for time by the end of it. Our last stop was a beer factory where during a 45-minute talk we would also get to sample the goods! I think we managed about 20 minutes of it and half a drink before we decided that the time was now to start heading back to the ship.
One mini-cab turned up and I think 6 or 7 people jumped in which left 8 of us waiting for the next one. Five or so minutes later another mini cab turned up so 7 of us jumped in that then the last soul hopped in a normal taxi. We were making good progress, we had enough time to get back, maybe 15-minutes or so before the back onboard time.
Our journey started off comfortably until we hit a monster traffic jam. We sat, sat and sat a bit more until some of us started to become increasingly aware that time was ticking away from us – we needed to do something and quick.
Our cab driver was superb, he tried everything he could to get us back to the ship, but every way we went there was more traffic! We finally came to realise that there was a railway crossing ahead and police had stopped traffic further down, this was causing the tailback. Eventually panic set in, by now we were 15 minutes beyond the back on board time and I personally was starting to get a little apprehensive. Our driver decided enough was enough and he raced us back to the ship on a route I am sure he should not have taken. I’ve never gone over speed bumps so fast in all of my life. It was make or break and he was going to break it. We raced along the road and upon finally entering the port area screeched to a halt quite literally at the ships side. The gangways were gone, they were about 10-seconds away from closing the door and letting go her lines – we had made it by the skin of our teeth.
Crew pushed across what I can only describe as a plank of wood that would be our pathway from the dock side onto the ship. It was no wider than both of your feet side by side but I leaned across to grab the hand of one crew member and he literally pulled me onboard. My heart was beating out of my chest, I couldn’t believe how lucky we had been. It was certainly an experience I never EVER want to encounter again! I don’t like being late for things or rushed, I like to leave ample time to do whatever it is I need to do and that goes for daily life too, it’s much less stressful!
The ship was due to sail at 6.15pm we finally made it onboard by 6.40pm. If they had sailed without us the plan would have been to embark via the Pilot boat. If I hadn’t been trying to keep my heart inside my body at the time I would have thought that sounded like a great idea! 😉
I have said in the past that I like to experience most things when it comes to cruising so that I can relay it back to you, but that one was one I didn’t plan nor will I ever do again, I hope!
The moral of today’s story is DON’T BE LATE!!! The ship will NOT wait for you!