Traveling today is so much different than when I was younger, even only 30 years ago. I’m sure if my parents and grandparents could see it today, they would also be amazed and transfixed by how things have changed.
I remember my dad and my Uncle John speaking about train travel during World War II. Traveling cross-country or from Boston down to Philadelphia to the Navy Yard there and how long it would take. Both would joke about the time they took the train from San Diego and were able to connive their way into convincing a porter to let them occupy a vacant sleeper unit for a good portion of the trip east. Needless to say, some of the remaining WWII and Korean Vets still here with us might have similar stories.
Air travel has also made significant changes over the years, and not all for the better. The days of reasonably spaced seats seem to have gone out the window, no pun intended. A quick snack while onboard is now relegated to a bag of peanuts.
My biggest complaint today lies with the boarding process. I don’t know how anyone with a sound mind came up with the idea to do away with boarding individuals from the back of the plane and moving forward was a good idea. It only made sense, but I guess there must be some Harvard MBA that figured that would make things run smoother.
I started traveling by air for business in the late 70s. I am amazed at the difference in how people dress today to fly. I’m going to leave it at that, for every once in a while I see a photo presentation of some discount store shoppers and compare it to some who fly the friendly skies.
The other thing that must drive the airline personnel crazy is what passengers think they can declare as a service animal, and the fuss that is made when the airline personnel tell them it is not allowed. We, like many of you, have traveled with a small pet who has since left us. A 10lbs. Miniature Schnauzer which fit in her little carry-on bag and never was a problem. Like your small dog or kitten, we had to follow the rules when traveling with them and had to pay the upcharge to stuff them under the seat ahead of us. She was a great little member of the family, and we miss her dearly.
This week, however, I have the opportunity to travel onboard a cruise ship that holds 5,000 passengers and another 1,000 crew members. It is one of the largest ships I’ve ever been on. However, to be perfectly honest I’ve not had much experience compared to many of you cruising so I admit I am quite new at this.
We did have the opportunity to travel to Norway and Denmark this last Spring and did cruise on a ship that had a capacity of just over 100 passengers and a very efficient crew. Our group had 80 passengers and we all enjoyed a very delightful experience, both during the embarkation and debarkation process and throughout the entire adventure.
I understand the differences associated with dealing with 100 passengers and luggage, versus 5,000 and I do give proper credit to those professionals who turn around one of those mammoth vessels and prepare them for the next excursion in such a short time. Refueling, cleaning, restocking, laundry, maintenance as well as the replacement of crew and other assorted requirements such as paperwork.
I will tell you, when I made the turn into the Miami Cruise Port to dump our luggage, I was speechless when I saw the mountains of bags at 1pm that they would be required to check in while more and more were coming right behind me. After checking to ensure our bags were properly tagged and printed we were off to park the car and jump on a shuttle bus to our terminal. The airlines could take a lesson in how to process passengers and luggage through security and check-in for their departures – it was a very pleasant process. It might have helped though that we were two older couples that were seasoned travelers
I was amazed at the efficiency by which the cruise personnel handled the entire process. The only thing I might suggest that they work on is the lifeboat drill requiring passengers to go to their assigned spots should a problem require we stand by those posts in case of an emergency. It was less than efficient.
Well, we are preparing to round the eastern end of Cuba on our way to our first port-of-call as we look forward to being tourists for a day.