We were booked on the Grand Princess to leave 2/2/08 from Ft. Lauderdale traveling with our adult children and their spouses. The plan was to leave Chicago on Friday, 2/1/08 and stay overnight one night pre-cruise to allow for any weather delays. It started snowing on Thursday and continued for 24 hours, dumping about a foot of snow in Chicago, canceling 600 flights on Thursday and continuing on Friday. Lucky for us, we were flying United which has its hub in Chicago and we not only had an aircraft at our gate but our flight was on time. The anxiety over the weather had overshadowed everything else on our minds.
As we winged our way to Ft. Lauderdale, I turned to my DH and asked if he had brought the passports as they had been sitting on his dresser. The horrified look that he gave me confirmed my fears. We weren't going to land for another 2 hours and we frantically discussed this with the kids.
The girl sitting next to me suggested that we have someone go to the house and FEDEX them to us. The problem was that no one else had a key to the house. She suggested that we get a friend to get a locksmith to open the house and then send the passports. This sounded like a good idea to me but DH felt that there were too many parts to the plan that could go wrong and his plan was to fly immediately back to Chicago and come back the next day.
We called Donna, our trusty travel agent for advice and she called Princess to confirm that we needed passports or a certified copy of your birth certificate which you could get from a national data base here in the States. The fly in the ointment for that idea was that DH was not born in the USA.
She started checking flights from Ft. Lauderdale when I mentioned the locksmith idea. She became very excited and said that she had a good friend who was a locksmith and she would call him and ask if he would do this for her. While we went down to baggage claim, we also talked to the Princess rep who met us for the bus transfer to the hotel and told her that DH might not be coming with us.
Donna called back and said that while the locksmith would open the house, he would not go in it because of the liability. His best friend however was Donna's ex-boyfriend and he agreed to go along and get the documents off DH's dresser and take them to a FEDEX-KINKOS for next day delivery.
We boarded the bus to the hotel and Donna called us about 10 minutes later and conferenced us in with the locksmith who was having trouble opening the lock and he said that he had to make a key and did my key have a number on it. It did and he was able to open the door. We gave Donna the hotel address and she called us later to confirm that the package was on the way and should be delivered by noon, guaranteed.
Our SIL asked us to get the tracking number and he would check it for us the next day. Donna called us back that evening with it and we all breathed a sigh of relief. We were so grateful to her for going above and beyond for us, we could not thank her enough! You would not get someone to do this for you from an online agency. She charged the locksmith fee, about $100 and the FEDEX fee about $44 to our credit card. This was a small price to pay for our stupidity.
The next day, Jeremy checked the tracking number and said it was in Pompano Beach which was the next town away. We went in for breakfast anticipating that it would be there shortly. By eleven it was still not there and I asked him to check it again and it came up with an "exception". I called 1-800-GOFEDEX and they told me that the address was incorrect! But the package was on the truck and I could pick it up at the facility when the driver came back and they were open until 7:00 PM. Small comfort when the ship was sailing @ 5:00! They asked for the correct address and said that they would leave a message for the driver.
The hotel had given us a letter telling us to meet downstairs @ 11:30-12:00 for "pre-check-in". We sent the kids down and checked out of our room and anxiously awaited a call back from FEDEX. Unbeknownst to us, Donna had also noticed the incorrect address that morning and was also calling FEDEX.
I tried again around 12:15 and got the same response, that they would send a message to the driver. In the meantime, we pulled our luggage out of the Princess pile so it wouldn't get on the ship without us and waited while the Holland America reps boarded about 12 buses for their cruise.
We discussed our problem with the hotel manager and he assured us that the FEDEX depot was only 10 minutes away and most Saturday deliveries were over by 1:00 so we should have no problem getting there to get our package and making it to the ship on time. He even said that he would arrange a towncar for us that would be the same cost as a cab and would wait for us. So we had an alternate plan. Meanwhile, DH was waiting outside looking for any FEDEX truck that came by so he could throw his body in its path just in case it was the one with our passports.
We tried to call again @ 12:50 and the FEDEX person noticed a message that said that the driver would be there in 15 minutes! As soon as I hung up, Donna was calling us with the same news. She was feeling responsible since it was her friend who had put down the wrong address!
DH, DS, DIL, SIL all waited outside for the FEDEX truck to make an appearance while DD stayed with me calming my frazzeled nerves. A few minutes later, FEDEX pulled up and DH ran to him to claim our envelope. The driver questioned him because our name was spelled incorrectly but DH pulled out his drivers license to prove it was him and then tipped the guy.
And yes, inside were the passports, the bill for the locksmith and the key he had made to get into the house. Princess was still boarding buses and had not yet called our color. Our luggage went back into the pile and we were finally on our way!
Had we ever discussed our passports before leaving? Yes, a few days earlier I had asked where they were thinking that if they were in the bank vault, I would have to go get them. But DH had assured me that they were on his dresser. And we then promptly forgot about them with all the anxiety over the weather. From now on, they will be the first thing on my list! Donna saved us from having to make another flight back home and saved our vacation with our children.