Tales of the High Seas

Travel Day for a Norwegian Prima and MSC Seashore Voyage

Hello everyone.  I’m here to say that something will go wrong with your trip.  I don’t know what it is, but you will encounter obstacles.  This trip was no exception.  This included a tropical storm, a hurricane, a phone going kablooey, conducting a slot pull done the wrong way, a seizure during a tour, embarkation and debarkation needing traffic cops taking far too long than it should, and a plane stuck out on the tarmac.  All of that said, I am in one piece, safe, and fine and it still was a journey worth living.  Let’s start at the very beginning and give you some background on what was supposed to happen.

I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was departing there on October 30, 2022 to land in Houston Texas.  I had a choice of two different airports.  William P. Hobby Airport is closer to where my Norwegian cruise ship would be departing at the cruise port of Galveston, Texas.  The other airport is George Bush Intercontinental Airport is the larger of the two and a bit further away from Galveston, Texas, resulting in greater charges in a transfer.  At first, I planned this trip in my usual fashion.  I thought I would only need to arrive one day ahead of my sailing.  The ship will sail with or without me and I wanted to be sure that despite travel issues I would be on that ship.  However, the summer progressed and more and more instances of flight cancelations and delays were occurring including a ton of lost luggage.  I knew of too many guests missing their plans because they did not arrive in time to start their plans.  Prior to this vacation, all of the flights going to my airport of choice, Hobby, included a layover.  A layover means that additional problems may ensue.  You could have a cancelation of a leg.  You could have a delay of a leg.  You could have your luggage not travel with you.  You could have your luggage lost and just not arrive.  Bush airport had flights that were direct and that means less potential problems.  I used my AmEx points and booked a direct flight to Bush airport.  As summer progressed, more and more reports of mishaps were being reported so I switched the time to leaving Philadelphia on October 29.  I had already booked one night in a hotel in Galveston.  I decided to book a hotel very close to the airport in Houston for the night before that was safe, clean and cost as little as possible.  Good news my flight to Houston was uneventful. 

Part of that was because I packed only a carry-on bag that fit in the overhead compartment and a personal bag that fit under the seat in front of me.  After having done this whole trip, I would have taken even less clothing.  No one cares what I’m wearing except me.  I have a friend and colleague, Heather, that does not live too far from the Bush airport.  We made plans to have lunch together.  As soon as I made it down to the area to be picked up, I let her know that I was all good to go.  Since I was traveling light, I did not have to wait for the luggage carousel.  Before you know it, there she was!  Off we sped to our lunch destination in the Woodlands of Texas at Hearsay by the Waterway which I had chosen back a few months prior.  The best way I could describe the place is to say it was like a gastropub. It was very pleasant place to enjoy a good meal.  What I do remember was that Heather and I both wanted the bread pudding for dessert and the kitchen delivered on that day.  It was quite yummy.  In fact, the entire meal was quite good.

My hotel was over at Humble and after we enjoyed our lunch, Heather drove me over to my modest hotel, America’s Best Value Inn and Suites IAH Airport.  The hotel was modest and clean and super inexpensive.  I spent $55 total for the one night.  That’s all I could say about it.  Part of why I chose this hotel was because it was supposed to include a continental breakfast.  However, I went down to the breakfast area on two different occasions the next morning and there was no sign of a breakfast or staff to speak of.  Additionally, this hotel had a shuttle bus that ran to the airport.  As soon as I checked in, I arranged for the shuttle the following morning.  I was told to arrive in the lobby 15 minutes before I wanted to depart.  That’s when I showed up.  A husband and wife ran the hotel, and I heard them talk and the wife realized she had never called to arrange for my shuttle and she remembered me making the request.  So, they called the shuttle driver and asked him to come over as quickly as possible.  He had traffic and was busy and might not get there for 40 minutes more.  For me, that was fine because I had purposely arranged for this shuttle hours before I needed it.  I had arranged for a shared shuttle via Galveston Express to depart the airport at 11:00 to take me to Galveston.  My shuttle from Humble was originally scheduled to pick me up at 9:30. He eventually picked me up at the hotel at 10:00 am.  Turns out it was a shared shuttle and we made additional hotel stops along the way to the airport.  No big deal for me since I planned for plenty of time for all sorts of eventualities that did take place.  The driver was super friendly, and we talked about different things, and he was familiar with the next shuttle I was taking and pointed out where the shuttle would take me.  Turns out he dropped me off right at the place where Heather picked me up the previous day.  I was early so I popped into the airport, found a chair, and listened to some music as I waited for the next shuttle. 

While waiting, I got a phone call from the shuttle driver.  He was already at the parking lot and could take me over to Galveston.  The shuttle was full and a whole bunch of us were whisked off to Galveston about 20 minutes early.  It took some time to load all of the luggage and people onto the van.  The shuttle ride was uneventful.  I was the first person dropped off.  I asked to be let out at the pier where the cruise ship was going to be anchored.  The rest of the gang had arranged for drop off at their various hotels in Galveston.  My hotel was a very small, boutique, independent operation.  I doubt any driver would know of it, but the pier they would know about it.  Galveston was incredible to visit.  What a wonderful Gulf coast seaside town.  Such a wonderful place to visit to have a vacation or start your vacation.  It reminded me a little of the Jersey shore of my youth combined with the charm of New Orleans.  I planned to go to a local CVS to pick up some spreadables/liquids that I didn’t have to worry about on my flight and get sizable amounts.  Off I walked to get my sunblock, shampoo, conditioner, and other necessary needs.  While walking I loved seeing the sights of Galveston, Texas.

Each installment I would like to mention a handy item that I brought along on my trip.  This week, I had an inexpensive watch designed for underwater use.  On a cruise you will likely be visiting a variety of time zones back and forth.  Watches that are linked to your phone will not be set to the correct time zone.  A ship will have its own time.  Always set your watch to ship time.  Your destination port may have a different time than ship time.  Several people I ran into had an issue with the time that was all aboard time because they had an apple watch or a google watch and they showed the incorrect time.  I had a simple Timex Ironman watch to use in pools and to go snorkeling with.  It was a bit of a pain changing for the time zones on multiple occasions.  But it never led me astray.  It is still ticking today!

My stay in Galveston was at a place called Domum de Vence.  It is a bit of a hybrid establishment.  There is no front desk.  The doors are controlled digitally.  I received a code that gives me access to the front door and to my room via email.  Thankfully, I have a similar “Ring” system at home so it wasn’t completely foreign to me.  Domum de Vence is not for everyone, but it was exactly what I needed.  If you have traveled through Europe you would be familiar with the type of room I received.  It was perfect for a person traveling solo.  It had an en suite bathroom.  It was a very small room with just enough room for the full bed.  All I needed was a place to fall asleep and store my things and a bathroom available to me.  I needed it to be clean.  This room was exactly that.  It was quite tidy.  The bathroom floor sloped a little so that the water of the shower could drain properly. 

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the bath was outfitted with Beekman 1802 toiletries.  I don’t know if you are familiar, but they are a couple that took over the Beekman 1802 farm in rural, upstate New York along with over 100 goats.  They now produce a whole line of skin care products based on goat milk which is supposedly awesome for your skin, especially during those harsh, NY winters.  I also had access to their Netflix subscription while at the place.

Just down the street from Domum de Vence was an eatery called, the Original Mexican Café.  This is where I chose to have my dinner.  Such a great choice.  It is a Tex-Mex restaurant operating since 1916 with spot on service.  I was dining alone and they were wonderfully attentive.  Sometimes, I veer towards the basic.  Today was one of those days.  I ordered a Taco plate which was two shredded chicken or seasoned beef tacos served on crispy corn tortilla, soft corn or soft flour tortilla w/lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.  I chose the soft corn tortilla.

 The food was quite yummy and I enjoyed myself immensely.  Plus, I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable it all was.  I recall that my meal was a little over $10.  Once I arrived there were only a few people dining there but by the time I finished, tables started to fill up.  There were signs throughout stating to please be patient since they were short staffed.  I think I timed it just right and they were adequately staffed for the few tables that were occupied.  Next time I find myself in Galveston I will definitely be back.  NEXT: EMBARKATION DAY  

Published by destinationdouglas

Independent Travel Advisor Extraordinaire! Enhance your travel dreams with concierge service. Specializing in cruising with Virgin Voyages, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Sojourn, Princess, MSC, Cunard, and AmaWaterways with Reach for the Magic Destinations. Adventure Awaits!

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