St. George, Bermuda
The final decision was made some time during the night that the Veendam would be dropping anchor off of St. George after-all.
The results of that decision provided me with considerable comic fodder for the day, and most likely a huge demand for headache medication for the officers, shore excursion staff and crew of the Veendam.
I’d booked a Segway Tour in St. George for 1:15 P.M. I’ve never ridden on, operated (or whatever terminology is correct in describing what you do with this device) a Segway, and I’m such a clumsy fellow, I thought it might be safer than walking.
To begin the story about today, I have to set it up by informing you the tender service for St. George is run using large local boats, or as the case was today, a single boat, not the ship’s own tenders.
It was noted on my tour ticket to allow 1 hour for tendering to shore. It’s estimated to be a 45 turnaround from ship to the tender pier. The tender schedule was posted in the “Daily Program”, and I noticed a tender scheduled for 10 A.M. and another departing at 11:30. I made the decision that the 11:30 tender should fit my schedule requirements. That was until their was an announcement that the scheduled 10 A.M. tender would be delayed until 10:30, followed shortly thereafter by another announcement delaying it a further half hour. and then, delayed again, this time until 11:00 A.M., so I decided I’d best catch that tender.
At 11 A.M. an announcement was made that in 5-10 minutes the tender would be ready, and everyone was asked to wait until then to make their way to the gangway. The only problem was almost every passenger still on the Veendam had already filled all the hallways and staircases from the gangway location on Deck 3, up to Deck 6. I just poked my head out the cabin door once in awhile until I saw no bodies filling the hallway, and I did manage to get on the tender just prior to it leaving.
These delays tend to create a bit of havoc, having to get passengers who booked ship’s tours to shore in time for their shore excursions. But several tours did end up getting either cancelled, or joined on to later tours because of it.
Though they no doubt tried their best to deal with the chaotic day, but in this particular situation, in Bermuda, it’s only about a 45 minute bus ride from Hamilton (where the ship can dock) to St. George, and there are also ferries available. Therefore it would seem somewhat wiser to go directly to Hamilton and run all tours from there.
One interesting thing about traveling without Mrs. Kuki, I tend to hear more of what people are saying around me , instead of being involved in conversations with Mrs. Kuki or other travel mates. I enjoy people watching anyway, and today I combined that with eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. Ok… spying. With all the delays today, my “ears were burning”. At least in the sampling of the folks within my ear shot, there were quite a number of unhappy campers… er cruisers.
While wandering about town waiting for my tour I did talk to several people who had taken the morning tours, and everyone who chose a tour out in the country- side seemed to have very positive comments about the tours themselves. But people who had booked 4 and 5 hours spoke of it being 9 hours from the time they left the ship until they stepped back on the ship.
I did run into the ship’s shore excursion Manager and Assistant Manager near the tender pier, and both seemed somewhat harried. However, as I overheard them field various complaints I can tell you both were very focused, and presented themselves in a most professional and apologetic manner. I’m hoping to find out over the next few days who “the ship” feels was most responsible for today’s events.
Eventually my group for the Segway Tour was gathered together (at least those who’d made the tender on time) and we were led on a short walk to the Segway Tour’s offices. There we waited quite some time for the return of the earlier Segway Tour. After some more hurry up and wait, we found out the earlier tour was delayed getting back because someone on the tour had an accident.
As we waited for them to return to the office, the Shore Excursion Manager did graciously offer anyone who didn’t want to wait any longer a full refund, and some sort of credit for another tour later in the week. Everyone chose to wait.
BTW… thankfully the passenger involved in the accident was not seriously hurt, and I saw him walking back to the tender pier under his own power.
When the previous tour did get back, and Segways returned, the operator was now short two Segways. The injured passenger and his wife were transported back to the office by car, and their two Segways had been left on the roadside where the accident had occurred.
By this time I was rolling on the ground laughing. The entire day was really just too totally messed up, to be anything but funny.
I quickly volunteered to give up my spot, as I was a guest of Holland America, and not a paying customer. It was the only right thing to do for the others who had been waiting so patiently to try the Segways.
Unfortunately in just the short time I was walking around in St. George today, I did see several people who fell, twisting ankles, etc. Just one of those very strange days, where nothing seems to unfold as it should for anyone.
At that point I simply caught the tender back to the ship. And as the tender pulled away from the dock, I did see people running and waving for us to stop; no doubt at the point knowing they had a minimum one hour wait for its return.
This was the first time the Veendam has made it to St. George, and that likely had something to do with organizational problems they encountered with tenders and shore tour operators.
Until they smooth the process, they might want to seriously consider going directly to Hamilton, where they can tie up at the dock, and transport tours from there. I don’t believe it would make the process much longer, and it might in fact make the entire process easier on their guests, and translate to happy guests instead of what they were today.
When I returned to my cabin there was an invitation to a cocktail party this evening waiting for me, and apparently, to the invitee, I am still Jillian. I had to run out, wait for another tender, and run around St George, to find a cocktail dress in my size XXL.
From about 4 P.M. on, there were several announcements stating tenders were available to go ashore. About 7 PM, as I was getting dressed for the cocktail party, there was an announcement , and I almost fell over laughing. The announcement “ There is a tender available at the gangway for anyone WILLING to go ashore”. You can’t make this stuff up!