adventures abroad, travel, ups and downs

Trek to Singapore & Sail Away

I set up my flights with Princess EZ-Air. I didn’t want to be worried about flights. My local airport is great if you’re flying domestically but it’s lacking options for international carriers. I could fly out of a different airport but that’s a bit of a logistical issue in the coming and going.

So I picked my flights from Princess’ choices. Delta flights, though I’m nervous to trust them to get me to a cruise on time, past experience being what it is. I pick flights with buffer time for connecting – never less than 4 hours for an international connection (less is more, domestically, within reason). Wiggle room for terminal changes, immigration issues, slight delays etc.

I’m supposed to fly BWI to JFK to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore (SIN).

In retrospect I should have been looking at frequency of flights. More options. Though honestly, it turns out even Princess says it’s hard to get people to this port of call if they aren’t already local.

Anyway, I planned in 4+ hour gaps, just planning in potential delays. Then Delta moved my middle connection: Two hours gap for the Korea change.

Then in the small hours before I leave, they move it again. One hour to change in Korea.

And that’s if there are no more delays.

When I get to my local airport, I call the Princess Enroute helpdesk. Yes, that’s tight, they agree, but technically doable.

If it gets delayed further, though, what are my options? Is there a later connection if I miss the one I have now?

They check and confirm what I already know because I started researching at the first change: not really, no. Then I’d be stranded without any way to get to the ship.

What about out of JFK? If they delay me is there another route to Singapore?

Yes. Well, but it leaves earlier, before my current flight, not after it. If Delta delays further, closer to my departure, I’ll have missed that flight by the time I know I need it.

So we act preemptively. They put a hold on a seat on the earlier flight out of JFK, and tell me to call back as soon as I land there.

My flight to JFK is a snap, less than 40 minutes. Could do without the intermittent eggfart smell though. Dear merciful heavens! 😳

There’s a bit of a scramble at JFK. Delays getting to a person at Princess. I don’t know the details of this other flight until I get hold of a person and they firm up the change, so I don’t know where I need to be, and I don’t know how much time I have. A person is reached. Transfer means Airtrain to another terminal, to Emirates Air. Their checkin and ticketing process is a nightmare of long and confusing lines. Then their security waits are 40 minutes. But hooray — I make it to my flight – now through Dubai.

I’m in a middle seat for the interminable 12 hour 30 minute flight – but though tight, the seats aren’t uncomfortable, and the service & crew are nice, the food is reasonably tasty even. I forgo the inflight entertainment – though I love the feature that will let you see with one click the time remaining on the flight as well as the outside cameras. Until we get to Dubai it’s dark though, and I mostly alternate between catnaps and reading. Twelve and a half hours goes by, well, if not quickly then also not unbearably. Fairly easily in fact, though by the 8 hour mark I do have a moment – just a moment while the plane is running hot and I am running stressed – where this was all a terrible mistake, I don’t want another flight after this one, I don’t want to do this all again on return, and maybe I don’t want to travel any more, period.

It passes. Of course it does. Like I said, it was actually a very good flight. 😉 Just long.

Final approach – Dubai morning

The connection in Dubai is also tight, and the airport is huge, but my gate isn’t FAR, and while I wait for the gate staff to come get me off standby status (oy!) I can brush my teeth and make a sweep of the shopping near my gate. All high end brands, and a pharmacy.

No time to find a Dubai gift shop for cards, alas. Sorry Mom!

Then we’re boarding and off again. Smoother still. Seven odd hours later I am in Singapore. Three hours earlier than I would have been, and 12 hours until my transfer from Princess.

My ship isn’t in dock yet until morning.

Singapore airport is large, loud. I stop in a shop where Shake It Off is playing, though it’s not Taylor Swift singing it.

There’s a couple of hotels in the airports that do hourly rates (min 6 hours) but when I get in they are booked (I can try back at 2am to see if they had any cancellations) and the free sleep lounges are full as well. I find the premium lounge. It’s almost as expensive as the hotel would have been for 6 hours, to stay there for 10 or so. But it’s quiet, and has seating and a bar and buffet until midnight (not that I avail of either) and restrooms, and showers (though they don’t seem to be as private as I’d expect based on a quick drive by, and based on the man arguing with the desk during the night, they say the showers are included but don’t seem to include towels in the price).

Mostly though I want to sit and sleep. I find a cubby to wedge my bags in and catnap some more. It’s not a sound sleep, ever, but it’s repeated snippets, enough to hold me together. In a safe environment. All good things to be thankful for.

New travel pillow for this trip and fleece hooded wrap / travel blanket. More things to be thankful for today

By 4:30 am (3:30 pm back home – daylight savings) I’m figuring out the coffee machine.

By 7 am I’ve cleaned up, changed, and headed out to go through immigration. By 7:30 I’ve found my transfer person and it’s a waiting game for the rest of the passengers on the 9am transfer. But it’s not stressful waiting, because I know I’m where I need to be.

By 10:30am I’m checked in and assigned to boarding group 1. Boarding begins at noon.

First stop is the guest services desk to try to get into the Behind the Scenes tour (limited availability, sign up right away, I’d been advised) but there isn’t one. Or it’s already full and they don’t want to say. 😉

Then back to my cabin to unpack, freshen up, and then go exploring.

There’s carolers in the promenade atrium. There’s Christmas trees scattered along the halls.

There’s a cloud-covered view of Singapore…

There’s a muster drill at 3:15 and a sailaway at 4pm and so much more today.

New people to meet over dinner (Silvia & Denise from Australia, Liz and Vimi from the US). Raffles to enter and lose (ha). Comedy shows to try to stay awake for. Movies Under the Stars that I’ll wait for another day. Hopefully a dry evening.

Let the fun begin!