Friday, August 8, 2014

Disembarkation: Lessons Learned

And now our Adriatic Idyll is over.  When we wake up this morning, we're already moored at Rome's port. We'll disembark and then we'll board a bus for the longish ride to the Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport where we'll catch our flight back to the United States.

The Azamara Quest gives us a lovely breakfast, but it's very clear they want us off the ship.  In just a few hours, hundreds of new passengers will be boarding. It's like being in a restaurant after you've paid the bill and left the tip. They're glad you came, and they're glad you had a good time. Now, they just want you to leave.

Unfortunately, Xingxing refuses to use his box when he can smell land. But of course, he still needs to do what dogs do.  The understanding Azamara Quest staff let us get off the ship early, but once we're ashore there's no place to go.  The port is a concrete vastness. Not a tree, not a plant, not even a weed growing through the cracks in the concrete. Xingxing sniffs hopefully, but he can't find a spot. And if you've got a dog, you know how important it is to find the right spot. Xingxing walks and walks and sniffs and sniffs.  Time passes. I'm try not to hurry him. But he's going to have to do something. And people are starting to board the buses.

Finally, Xingxing manages a half-hearted poop. Afterwards, he gives me a reproachful look. I feel terrible. It hasn't been a proper walk, I know that.  He needs a proper walk. But what can I do?  We've got to get on the bus, I tell him, because it'll take us at least an hour to get to the airport and our flight leaves before noon.  I'm hoping there'll be a spot outside the airport where we can walk, but no such luck.  And it's a nine-hour flight.

I've put a puppy pad in my purse, just in case.  And just as well.  Halfway through the flight, Xingxing needs it.  He's unhappy and embarrassed. And I feel terrible, because this is my fault. I didn't mean to, but I've let him down.

We're both relieved when we land in Philadelphia.  And just so you know, the Trusted Traveler Scheme works a treat. You put your passport into a machine, it reads your fingerprints and asks a couple of questions, and that's it. No waiting. No lines. Brilliant.

We go straight outside, even before we get our luggage. What a relief! We stay overnight at the Aloft again. Xingxing has his dinner, another long walk and all is forgiven.  (Dogs don't hold grudges) We both get a good night's sleep and are refreshed and ready for the flight home the next morning.

Lesson learned. Next time we take a cruise, when we disembark we'll check  into a hotel instead of straight to the airport. And then we'll stay overnight and leave the following day. Xingxing needs that bit of extra time. And you know what? So do I.

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