Buenos días Buenos Aires

Trip Start Feb 18, 2008
Trip End Mar 07, 2008

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feb 19, 2008
What is worse than a mediocre one night stand? Well I must say that a flight from Panama to Buenos Aires on Copa Air is just that. It is cheap, you stay up all night, you end up looking like hell, feeling fat and they kick you out before even serving you breakfast.
We didn't realize until we started to board that the seats that I had reserved on the internet had been changed. This was the first time that I have ever checked in at an airline counter that they didn't ask if your entire party wanted to sit together. I didn't even think to check that we were sitting together since I had reserved the seats on the internet. They say never assume and you really don't want to do that with Copa. We had been split up on both flights, the one to Panama and the one to Buenos Aires. Cory and I got to sit together on both flights but only because the boys gave us their seats to Buenos Aires. I can't believe that they split up a husband and wife. It was evident that they had done it to many families even splitting up mothers from their small children. 
It wasn't a bad flight and it left on time which is huge in the world of airlines. I have flown a lot of airlines and Copa isn't going to rank at either the top or the bottom of those airlines, pretty mediocre in my judgment. The price was right. They flew on time so the rest is just cake. The things that were missing were good service. A mother wanted to switch seats with Jeremiah since she had been split up with her young son. Jeremiah asked the stewardess to make sure it was okay and she was pretty short and rude.
Then poor Jeremiah was berated by the stewardess. He was seated with his seat belt fastened and the flight attendant kept asking him loudly if he needed a seatbelt extender which she waved around. It isn't bad enough that everyone around heard her but the bag was bright yellow.  Thank god Jeremiah has such a great since of humor and was laughing about it by the time that we got to Panama, but at the time he was embarrassed as hell.
On the 7 hour flight to Buenos Aires they served a meal but that was it. They didn't bring drinks around during the flight at all. By the time that we landed I could have used my tongue as a cotton swab. When one of the boys asked a flight attendant for a sprite she told him to go to the back of the plane and get it himself.
What is sad is that I was just happy to get going on time!!!! Truthfully what I was paying for was transportation and we got that.
We were flying to Buenos Aires and we were excited when we landed. Finally we made it to Buenos Aires... Not quite. There was an announcement made on the plane but it was in Spanish. People got up and went to the back of the plane. We weren't sure if we were going to disembark from the back of the plane. We have done that in China, Thailand and Egypt.
We started taxing to what we thought was the terminal. The seat belt sign had been turned off. People were sitting in their seats without the belts on when suddenly we were looking down a run way and taking off again. We still don't know why we landed at another airport. Maybe low fuel but we found ourselves frantically looking for our seatbelts.
We arrived in Buenos Aires a little late due to the unexpected landing and take off. We made it through customs, got our luggage, all of it and preceded into the terminal to find our Princess Representative. After a little chaos, we were instructed to leave our luggage and follow a woman to a bus.
It looks as if we are going to be the youngest ones on this cruise. The bus was full of people over 60.
The bus drove about 30 minutes through Buenos Aires. We have spent time in some of the most developing countries in the world. Buenos Aires seems to be the dirtiest city that I have ever seen. That is measuring it against Istanbul, Cairo, Bangkok, Shanghai, New York and others. I am hoping that after spending some quality time in Buenos Aires that we will feel differently. We drove through town on the way to the hospitality room at the Claridge hotel. Driving through the city we saw what seemed to be a young man on the side of the highway with something thrown over his head, laying on the ground shaking. I don't know if he was homeless, drugged out or had just been mugged.
At the hotel we followed the signs to check in. Behind a desk with 5 computers were young people checking everyone in. The girl that was checking me in seemed to be having a little trouble. Cory ended up going to the person next to mine to check in individually while she tried to help me out. Everyone was finished before me and waiting for my check in to complete. As we were waiting the girl that checked in Jeremiah confirmed our thoughts and said "I think you guys are the youngest on this cruise."
After checking in we went to a hospitality room and went through another line where they gave us our bus "tickets". There was coffee and pastries. We were all parched after our flight and the food hit the spot. We didn't have much of a wait until we were called to get on our bus. Upon boarding they asked if we all had a yellow card. The boys had a card that listed both of their names but the card that Cory had only listed his. I wasn't given a card. since my name wasn't on any of the cards I asked about it. They told me that I had to get off of the bus and check in. I explained that I had checked in. They still made me get off of the bus in fact they hurried me along splitting our group. Cory and were separated from the boys with no ability to tell each other to wait or anything else.
We went back to the first room where we went through the check in and the girl there moved us along pretty fast. A quick check of the computer and a new yellow card that said JuricasX2 and now we were allowed on the bus.
The bus took us to the port. I don't know if it is transitional but we had to navigate through all sorts of crates that were used for shipping. Finally we made it to a tent set up in a parking lot where we were to take our card through another line to get our room keys and then board another bus to get to the ship to wait in line to get on the ship.
I guess it is the Disney in me but we are already looking at things thinking that Princess should make some process changes... or maybe just some processes at all. There was a lack of communication at many of the points along the day and they were very inefficient. Communication and some sort of queue would have been very helpful to both the staff and the guests.
We are trying to figure out if the chaos is a location thing, different parts of the world operate differently, or if it is a poorly managed hospitality thing. 

Our rooms are C711 and C717. They are at the aft of the ship 10th floor. The rooms are about half the size of the Disney Cruise Line rooms but are about the size of most of the rooms that we have had in Europe. The rooms are very well designed with lots of storage place for clothing. That is very nice on a Cruise this length.

We opted to buy the unlimited soda for the cruise. It was $72.00 for the entire length of the cruise. I am glad that we did it. It could add up quickly. Plus it will go so well with the Listerine that we brought. Yes Listerine. I know it makes us cheap but this has been an expensive vacation for us so before we left home each of us filled a liter bottle of Listerine with alcohol, added a couple of drops of food coloring and brought it along for our liquor supplement. It can cost a fortune to drink on board so with the unlimited soda we are drinking for 16 days for about $72.00. I guess that art degree has come in handy more than once. Spectacular color match on the Listerine!
We didn't think that we would have luggage right at the beginning but the ship was supposed to take off at 5 and at 4:30 when we were all ordered to go to our muster stations for the lifeboat drill we were all still waiting on luggage. I must say we were starting to get a little nervous. We even wondered if our liquor stash had been discovered. We were hoping that we would find our Listerine when we unpacked. 

They made an announcement that we wouldn't be taking off on time due to the local officials and some legalities that had to be processed. They also announced that they were still delivering luggage. 350 bags were still being put on the ship. We were a little more relieved but wished that we could switch into our swimsuits. It was pretty hot on deck.
We left Buenos Aires about 7. The water in Buenos Aires is about the color and consistency of the Mississippi River, brown, brown and browner. I don't think that I would want to swim in it or even wade in it.
Until our luggage arrived we entertained ourselves exploring the boat. We took a short tour of the spa. The people in the spa are very friendly and nice and the facilities are great. They have a gym and lots of classes that are offered.
After getting our luggage we went to the one pool that we found that was out of the main area. It was the pool down by the spa. We had it all to ourselves. The water was heated and the area was in a very quiet section of the ship. The pool is adults only not that it matters because so far we have only seen one child on this ship.
We had dinner in the Portifino restaurant. Delicious food and we were about the last ones out of the restaurant. It was a lovely way to end the day.
Here is my little video intro for our vacation video. Since cruise ships are known for feeding you constantly we decided to title it Planet Girth  a bit of a spoof of the Discovery Channel Series Planet Earth

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