Sunday, September 18, 2016

Voyage of the Vikings Cruise - Debarkation and Train to Chicago

Today we were up early as the ship arrived in Boston at 7:00 and we were scheduled to be one of the first groups off.  We had our last breakfast in the Neptune Lounge and said good-bye to concierges, Mervin and Celeste, and went back to the room to await the departure announcements.  There seemed to be a delay in clearing the ship so things were running behind schedule, but finally our number was called and we were off to the showroom to get a quick customs screening before departing the ship.

Whether it was the delay in clearing the ship, the terminal or some other circumstance, the debarkation was a bit chaotic as there were a lot of people getting off and the customs lines were winding through the baggage pickup area making it very difficult to claim our luggage.  I finally located our luggage and got in the customs lines which is usually a quick process, but because we had bought some cheese and tulip bulbs in Holland we had to get those cleared.  I thought they would just look at the cheese and bulbs, but they searched through all of our bags, which was very frustrating and time consuming.  The cheese and bulbs were declared OK, but they found some popcorn Val had bought in Canada and said it wasn’t allowed; who would have thought that popcorn was a problem?

After finally getting through customs, we got out of the terminal and found the Luggage Forward people who would be taking our two large bags and shipping them back to California.  We were very glad to give our bags to them and very grateful we wouldn’t have to be dragging them with us all the way home.  We headed for the cab line, which was pretty long by this time, but after a 20 minute wait we were on our way to Boston’s South Station where we would pick up our train to Chicago.  I should actually say we picked up our bus, as they are still doing track work so the train from Boston to Albany, New York was cancelled and we were bused instead.  We found out later that today was the last day for the bus so weren’t we lucky.

Boston has a very nice lounge for sleeper car passengers and we had an almost four hour wait until our bus left so we made ourselves comfortable.  They had water, juices, soft drinks and snacks with wi-fi, computer stations, work desks and printers making it a very easy wait.  I got my computer out and sat down at one of the desks and updated the blog while Val relaxed and read.  We wouldn’t be getting on the bus until around 1:00 so Val went out into the station food court and got us some sandwiches for lunch.  By the time we finished lunch it was time to board the bus and we were soon on our way.  We had noticed several couples from the ship in the lounge who were also taking the train and found one couple who was taking the same route we were to Los Angeles.

We did learn something today about tipping the Red Caps in the station.  When we arrived at the station we were looking for the lounge when a Red Cap asked us if we could use some help.  We told him we were looking for the passenger lounge and he led us right to it and helped us with our luggage.  I gave him a nice tip and thought nothing more about it, but when it was time for the bus to load he comes right back into the lounge and right to us.  He grabbed our luggage and escorted us to the bus, which was very helpful and needless to say we tipped him again as the walk to the bus had include a long set of stairs.

Not much to say about a five hour bus trip except to say we were very glad when it was over.  We pulled into the Albany train station around 6:00 and waited for about half an hour until it was time to board the Lake Shore Limited for our trip to Chicago.  This time we had reserved a full bedroom instead of the roomette like on our trip east, and we were very glad we did as it had much more room.  As soon as we got settled we headed to the dining car and ended up eating with one of the couples from the ship.  They live in Illinois so they were only going as far as Chicago, but we had a very nice conversation with them before heading back to our room.  We were both tired so we had our attendant make up the beds around 9:00 and called it a night.  After being on the ship for 35 days, our train dinner and bedroom were a far cry from what we were used to on the cruise, but I guess it’s time to get back in the real world.

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