- Posted August 4, 2008 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Stuck on a cruise? My vacation was worse
I was engaged to be married in September 1994 to my college boyfriend. I planned everything with the wedding and honeymoon meticulously, choosing a beautiful resort in St. Lucia where we could spend a week after the big day.
The wedding itself was fraught with problems, including a septic leak at our ceremony site, a minister who threatened to leave if we ran late, tent and seating mishaps, and of course, seeing the groom before the wedding.
After that day, I couldn't wait to get on our honeymoon. We were married in a bed and breakfast almost two hours from the airport. Since our flight left very early the next morning (something like 6:00 am), we decided to have our limo drive us to a hotel across from the airport to save the drive in the morning.
We got in at midnight and fell dead asleep to be up at four the next day. Dragging ourselves to the airport, we checked in with American Airlines for our flight, which involved a change of planes in Puerto Rico.
The airline representative said, "That's strange, your flight to Puerto Rico is on time, but the 11:00am to St. Lucia has been cancelled. No problem, I'll just put you on the 1:00."
Ok, we said, so what is a little time in Puerto Rico? Our flight was not full, so I was able to lay down in a row and sleep on the plane.
Upon arriving in Puerto Rico, we discovered why our plane was not full and why our flight had been cancelled. Hurricane Georges, Category 4, was heading directly for Puerto Rico and would be there by nightfall. We immediately ran to the American Airlines desk, frantic. The exchange went something like this.
"Get us on the next flight to St. Lucia."
"I'm sorry, there are no more flights to St. Lucia."
"Get us the next flight anywhere."
"I'm sorry, we don't have any more planes. We've flown them to Aruba so they aren't here for the storm. There is a hurricane coming, didn't you know that?"
"We were in the middle of getting married, I wasn't watching the news. That piece of information would have been great coming to us when we were still in Virginia."
No use, we were stuck. Since I had researched nearly every hotel in the Caribbean for our honeymoon, I knew there was a Radisson with a beautiful Art Deco, stained glass roof right on the beach. But since our hotel in St. Lucia was a Hilton, we thought it prudent to pick another Hilton, just incase they gave us any trouble about being late. We checked in, got a room, and did what any normal people do, went to the beach. I grew up in Virginia Beach and was pretty used to hurricanes.
Heading to dinner around 7:00, we were informed the dining room had just closed so the employees could help ready the hotel for the storm. Metal shutters came down over the massive windows; deck chairs were taken inside, all while we did a little sightseeing. In the middle of the night, the guests were all taken to ballrooms, and when the windows started to break, moved to the hallways and kitchens in the main part of the building.
Never having been in this situation, we didn't bring blankets or pillows, or magazines. We sat on the floor and ate the employees' meal of chicken stew (which was really good) for most of the night.
The next morning we discovered that the hotel lost a lot of windows, all the water in the pool and most of its palm trees. Electricity was gone and the hotel was surviving on one generator its own water. By contrast, the Radisson next door lost that lovely stained glass roof, leaving the interior of the hotel totally soaked. We hung out for three more days, calling the airline every chance we could, even heading to the airport twice. American had this lovely policy of telling you your flight was on time, even though they had no planes and they had no electricity to run the airport.
On day three, when the hotel ran out of water, we snagged a flight to St. Lucia. While our vacation got better, I managed heat stroke on a hike and a Portuguese Man-O-War sting while snorkeling, which left scars on my arms and hands.
The coup de grace was on our ride back to the airport. We met a couple from New York who were married and flew down the same days we did. We asked if they hit the hurricane they said, "No, we were rerouted through Miami and totally avoided it."
Way to go American.