MITSUGIRLYS EPIC CRUISE--2nd time around-1st from Port Canaveral
Day 9: Going home
Our last day on our beloved Epic and it was bittersweet.
I had set the alarm for 7am and knew we would have plenty of time to get ready and breakfast and kind of hang out for a little bit before getting off the ship.
Of course I was the first one up and I headed out on the balcony to see if we had docked and we had. This was our view.
I looked down and started seeing the most amazing site...
Do you see them? (There's two in this picture)
Dolphins were everywhere and I mean everywhere.
To the left, to the right, out further, real close. They were just everywhere swimming. Wow, what a site.
I yelled for Sakari to get up and she was so excited.
I texted Kendra and Courtney to let them know and they were standing outside my door in less than a minute.
One of the dolphins had a baby and Sakari yells "Mommy, it's a calf". The baby was a really light gray in color and almost a pale white. Sakari said the babies are lighter, but I don't know if that was true or not. It was so fun to watch the mother and the baby. I tried over and over to get pictures of them both, but it just didn't happen.
It was so hard to get pictures of the dolphins because there were so many and we just kept going back and forth with the cameras because you didn't know when they were going to pop up and where. They were just everywhere and so many of them.
My dolphin video...
Kolin was busy being goofy.
At one point, Kolin goes, "Why are they not jumping up out of the water high like you see in the movies?" I told him you usually only see them jumping if they are playing, like in the wake of the ship or a boat or just playing with each other and we would probably never see them do that. I figured they were there to eat since the ships are coming in and stirring up everything. About that time, one of them jumped up out of the water! Kolin was able to catch it on video on his phone, but it was on snapchat and of course that is only on there for 1 day and I didn't get a copy of it. Darnit.
Then there was another video that Kolin did that a dolphin came up out of the water and had a fish in its mouth and it would throw the fish and then go get it, throw it, go get it...over and over. It was fun to watch. I can't seen to locate it either. Ugh.
We gathered our things and headed up to the buffet for some breakfast and then we would just sit and wait for them to start calling colors.
They were really late on calling the priority tags and it was well after 8 and I know usually they start calling way earlier than what they say the will.
We waited and waited and would hear them call tags or self assist every so often. It was around 9am and they were just now starting to call the regular luggage tags. There was a real back up and they told everyone not to come down to deck 7 and clog up the area until you were called.
We waited and waited and it was now really super late. We were starting to get worried now. Kendra had an early flight at 1:15 or something like that and I was beginning to wonder if she'd make it in time. Our flight wasn't until 4:35pm and knew we had plenty of time.
A little after 10 (I believe it was) we decided we were going to head on down and see what was going on. Well, we soon found out that they were on a color that was past Kendra's 9am colors and they had stopped making announcements outside on the pool deck. YIKES! Why would they do this? There was still people up there waiting.
We grabbed our things to ding out and then Kolin was stopped. They said he owed money on his bill still and pulled him aside. He owed $12.85 and he needed to pay to get off. How can this be???? He used his credit card for the room. I don't understand. His entire bill was less than $500 and his card limit is $15k with a 0 balance on it when he left the house. They just said that there was a balance and he needed to pay in cash. So, that's what he did, frustrated, and then we headed off the ship.
Once we got outside, we headed to the left to figure out where we catch our shuttle we had booked. It was a MAD HOUSE! There was no direction, no signs, no nothing. I approached an officer and he pointed and said that private shuttles where "this" way. I found a shuttle that had "Stylus" on it and approached them. The driver said there was a lady running around with a clipboard and we were to give her our names. We found her, gave her our names and the amount in our party. She didn't look us up on a list, she just jotted on a paper, real lightly, our last name and an "8" beside it. Um ok...this didn't look very professional to me and how did she know we had actually booked with her? She didn't ask for any confirmation or look us up.
She motioned for us to stand "right here", which was where we were standing. She said there was a huge charter bus coming and that's what we would get on. We would wait and wait and wait. I would see a huge Stylus charter bus pull out on down from us and the Stylus van in front of us was still just sitting there. We booked with GOPORTCANAVERAL and their directions said that it was Stylus, so that's where I'm getting this info from.
I decided to ask the driver in front of us what was going on and he said that he was a "local" driver and didn't go to the airport. He also told me "see that huge group down there at the end? They are also waiting on the bus, but I don't know if you are supposed to go there or not". Say what??? Seriously? All those people were waiting??? Yikes. I walked down there to inquire and the guy down there said, "Yes, that's what they are waiting on but if she told you to wait down there, I would do that".
I was SO CONFUSED and aggravated at this point. Kendra was going to miss her plane...I was just sure of it.
I found the lady again and ask where to be and how long and she said "Just stay here and I don't know what those people down there are doing because I didn't tell them to wait down there and they are probably standing there because that's where the last charter bus pulled out of."
Ok then...wait we would...then we would see the charter bus start to pull into the pick up area. It was a very LONG wait. One by one they pulled in and would have to wait for someone to leave to get a spot.
Once again, getting nervous if we were standing in the right place, I ask the lady about where to be. She told me she was going to see if they could have the bus pull around to the other side and load. I ask if we should move and she said "no".
Well, once that charter bus passed the huge waiting group at the end, there was a sudden tornado of people running toward the other side and down where we were. It was a mad house. I was pissed. If she didn't tell those people to wait down there, did they even check in with her? Are they even supposed to be on this bus?
The bus pulled up and I told Kendra "I don't care if we get on this bus or not, but I'm going to make d*amn sure you guys are on it. Give me your luggage" and I managed to squeeze my way through the hoard of people with their luggage and present it to the person stacking the luggage under the bus. Well heck, I'm in a good position where I was at and I wasn't about to give it up and at that point, we had an assembly line going with all 8 of us rolling the luggage down to each other and ending with me. Remember we had 8 people and lots of luggage and at one point he said "Were you living on the ship?" I told him we have 8 people and I was giving him all of our luggage (he could only see me).
Once that was done, I got out of the way (people were getting pissed that he was only taking ours and we had filled up a big portion of that side) and we headed for the stairs to the bus only to be stopped. They said "We have to check to make sure that we have enough room" SERIOUSLY? This was such a cluster fluck! I told them "If you don't have enough room, then you might want to stop the guys from putting more luggage under there and our luggage is in there so either we are getting on this bus or you are going to take the time to pull out all the luggage until you find ours and return it to us and I can guarantee that they are buried under everyone else's. You are NOT pulling away with our luggage on the bus if we are not on it."
She got on the bus, did a seat count and let us on.
There were a few more seats and then the bus was full. Once again, no one took our names or anything. It was the biggest mess I have ever witnessed.
We pulled away and left a huge crowd still standing at the port and they were very unhappy.
Our driver apologized for the wait and then proceeded to be funny with his commentary. He also stated "This bus has a maximum speed of 72 and that's exactly what we will be going...72!" Everyone cheered and we were off.
We arrived at the airport and once I seen Kendra's luggage I rolled it over to them and told them "run" and run they did. They were out of site in no time. We took our time.
I WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER, NEVER use goportcanaveral for transportation again. I will not use them, I will not recommend them, I will tell everyone I know if I have to. Terrible company. It was the most unorganized chaos I had ever seen or been a part of. No direction, late on the way to the cruise, super late at the pier, not enough buses, no direction or organization, and I'm still left scratching my head on how they actually knew that all the people on that charter was actually supposed to be on it with no verification from anyone, no checking names off a list...nothing. Why did they take our name or the amount of people we had? What good did that do? They weren't calling off names for people to board the bus. They weren't checking off of a list of people who checked in with her. WHY WHY WHY? Terrible company. Don't ever use them!
We checked our luggage in and caught a glimpse of Kendra and the family headed toward security. They really wasn't much further along than we were and I was super worried.
We headed outside for awhile and just sat around waiting to hear from her and the status of whether or not they made their flight.
Snapchat passes the time away and Sakari and I was playing. It was hot outside and I was receiving word that it was snowing back home. Yikes Not here, it's a hot 78 degree day in sunny Florida.
I would take this picture to save and post as we were ready for take off.
We were getting hungry and decided to head in and find something to eat. We would discover that all of the good food places were inside the terminal so we went through security and ....I had forgotten that you had to catch the monorail thingy to get over to the terminal. Oh gosh...I'm still worrying because that's added extra time that Kendra would need to make it to her flight.
I had messaged Kendra with her status with no response. I was hoping that was a good sign that she had made it.
Once at the terminal, we immediately knew we wanted Chipotle. I'm addicted to this rice!
We found a pretty cool table and took over. It had built in charging stations.
This airport in Orlando is so pretty!! They even have a hotel in it and the balcony rooms go out to part of the inside of the terminal. They are pretty neat.
We still had a few hours and Sakari decided to pass the time away doing her favorite thing...
FINALLY...I got word that Kendra had made it, was on the plane, and she teased that she would be home before we ever even left the airport for our flight. But that was ok...as long as she made it. I didn't mind hanging out for a few more hours.
When we got to our terminal, it was nothing but families and kids and loud as can be. Now remember how I paid the extra $$ ($15pp) to get early bird check in? Well that early bird check-in got Courtney and Kolin in the A section and us in the B section. Crap. So what does this mean you might ask? Well, that means that after everyone from the A section boards, they ask everyone WITH CHILDREN ages 5 and UNDER to get on BEFORE the B and C boards. (And just so you know, this was a completely full flight and there were so many people that the sections never even made it to "C"...it only went B35!!!!!!!!!!!!! Does that tell you anything? We were B 6, 7, and 8...meaning that there were only 27 people behind us at this point.)
Well.......that meant the ENTIRE PLANE! Oh geesh. I have never in my entire life seen such a long line of families to board after the A people. We were doomed. Seriously doomed. This line went from the entrance to the hallway to the plane, down that hall, then circled down the regular hall. It was crazy.
It's hard to tell in the picture, but if you see the "109" in the picture, the line is below that and to the right (a small ways) is the hall to the plane. Then it goes out and down and to the (left in the picture) and down that hallway and out of the site of the picture.
At that moment, I vowed to NEVER fly into Orlando again. There has to be another way to get to PC other than Orlando or driving. Otherwise, I was never cruising from there again. Mickey has me emotional at this point.
After calling all the families to board, it was finally our turn. I felt like I was walking the walk of shame, with my head hung low, not very hopeful at all.
Once on the plane we headed to the very back and spotted Kolin and Courtney. We managed to snag 3 seats together (thank goodness) a few seats back from them and 3 seats from the very back of the plane. Hey, I'm not complaining and I really don't care where we sit as long as it's together.
Ok...ready for take off...
Up we went for our 2 hour + flight home and we would arrive around 6pm.
The sun was interesting, as always, but these huge puffy, "snow" clouds probably, made things appear super cool.
We landed with no problem...well, maybe one problem and that was that it is freezing in Ohio and we had packed our coats.
We headed down to grab our luggage, but for some reason the hubby's luggage never came. Kolin spotted it sitting in the security area and we walked over to see what was going on. We would learn that his luggage decided to hitch a ride on Kendra's plane earlier and came in with her. LOL Oh well. At least we got it.
We headed to the airport shuttle, made it to the truck....and we were soon home and getting back to normal.
~~~~~.....the end.....~~~~~ (well unless I end up finding something else that I might have missed...or that dolphin video).
I hope you enjoyed the review. I will do a follow up on my thoughts...
SO I GUESS FINAL THOUGHTS:
Epic the second time around...it brought back a lot of nice memories for us and familiar places. Although there have been a lot of changes with the remodel, we liked some of the new and missed some of the old.
It was kind of neat to almost know our way around the ship already, but yet that took the mystery out of discovering what the ship had to offer.
The "wave" rooms did not bother me one bit. The shower and toilet, yea, it was a little "weird" at first, but with the curtain pulled, it was fine and didn't bother us. I actually felt when the curtain was pulled and that whole area became the "dressing room", there was more room than if you would have been in the bathroom. So, no problems for us. I did miss having a studio room with the super cool lighting though. ;)
This time around, the ship was PACKED, the venues were FULL, we missed a lot of things (such as comedy and so on) because of it. We were shut out of the art canvas drawing, which I really wanted to do. I wasn't able to fulfill one of my Platinum dinners because everything was completely booked upped throughout the entire cruise. That means I missed out on the meal AND the bottle of wine.
The one thing I was super disappointed in this time around is that everything seem to be closed or not working most of the time. They didn't have the "toilet bowl" slide open most of the time. The other slides were sporadic. We never found the spider climber or the trampoline bounce open. The rock climbing wall seemed closed a lot as well. (Of course, we were not checking 24/7 every day, so they could have well been open, but the times posted versus they times we went up there, they were not). Bowling was a hit or miss and we were glad when they did open that we were able to snag a lane with not much of a wait. The water fountains were barely on at the pools and I did notice that they seem to close the pools earlier on this cruise than any other cruise I have been on.
So yes, this cruise was definitely different than the last time we were on the Epic. I didn't connect with the people on the roll call or get to hang out with them. I was engulfed with my family and activities and trying to "show them around" because it was all so familiar to me.
But...I'm happy to say that she's still my favorite NCL ship of all the big ships. No, she doesn't have the new drop water slides or the ropes course (which are SUPER FUN), but there's just something about her that I love. I love the design and how you get around. I love the decor. I love the way the outside looks. This is the most controversial ship out there and maybe that's why I love her. She's so unique and I like unique. I like something that stands out from the rest. I like her "hat" that people hate and say it's ugly. I can spot her a mile away and know it's the Epic. I can be in any port and KNOW which ship is mine. Some people hate NCL's hull art. I absolutely LOVE it. It's unique and stands out from any other ships out there. You can tell by the hull art which ship it is instantly. I'm always excited to see what they will come up each time. Other ships look plain to me. Carnival is unique by their "whale tail"...you know a Carnival when you see it, but you don't always know "which" ship it is. RCL all look the same to me, with the exception of the mega ships Oasis and Allure (and the new one). If you can't tell those ships, then you are more blind than I am. :p Disney is unique to me in a way and I always love to see what they have special on them...Dumbo painting the ship, Donald hanging off the back, and Mickey from Fantasia with the brooms, you know a Disney ship when you see it. You know NCL when you see it.
So yes, I still love the Epic, but I would probably be lying to myself if I said that I didn't like the Carnival Breeze more. Just saying...:D
I am basing my opinion on the SHIP and not the experience. If I had to go by the experience, the Epic would have definitely fell off the face of the earth (or list) this time around. But ship-wise, I still love her.
I can say that cruising this time around, with the crowd, I came to realize that I probably have enjoyed the smaller cruise ships a little more. They seem so less crowded and even though they don't have as much to do, I still like them. I will continue to cruise both small and big because I like diversity in my cruises...just hopefully not any with only 3 days in port from now on...unless I REALLY want something that is offered as a port on that cruise.
So, there you have it. My final thoughts on the Epic. :)