A Postscript to our French River Cruise

Photo ©Jean Janssen Viviers, France

Our last night on board, we had to do our packing.  Luckily breakfast started at 6:15 am, so we were able to enjoy one last scrumptious meal before our 6:45 am disembarkation from the ship.  If you arrive and depart the same day as the cruise, Uniworld provides free transfers to the airport even if you are a city or two away.

Photo ©Jean Janssen Taken inside the mirrored elevator on Uniworld’s SS Catherine.

We had a really long wait at check-in, but fortunately with Gold status on Star Alliance we had a shorter line and our early arrival meant we were at the front of the line.  Uniworld gave us additional paperwork with a QR code related to our COVID testing and with that document and what I had uploaded, we had no problem checking into our flight at the airport.  The lines were rather ridiculous by the time they finally started checking in luggage for our flight.  There are lots of passengers making connections.  Although boarding started on time, we sat and sat on the plane while people kept coming on long after our departure time.  We left 40 minutes late.  Again, we only had a 1 hour and 10-minute layover in Frankfurt.

Photo ©Jean Janssen Chateau de Rully, France

This time in Frankfurt it was not to be.  We had to cross three terminals to get to our second flight and were near the back of the passport line.  Time was ticking away.  One ridiculous man was trying to cut the line saying “I am going to miss my flight”.  We were all going to miss our flights and we were not going to have it.  All along the line passengers refused to let him cut.  He had to wait like everyone else.  We arrived at the gate 7 minutes before the flight was set to take off, but they had already closed the flight.  Since we came in on Lufthansa and were connecting to a United flight, they didn’t hold the plane for us even though we booked everything through United.

Photo ©Jean Janssen At an olive farm in Provence

Boris was furious and let them know it.  The gate agent booked us for the same flight on the next day.  There were no other connections to the states that day even though it was just after noon.  Because the fault was with Lufthansa, we then had to go stand in a long line at their service center for compensation.  Luckily our negative COVID tests will still be within the appropriate window for entry and we can use those tests on the rebooked flight tomorrow.

Photo ©Jean Janssen Lyon, France

We were given two meal vouchers and a hotel stay at an airport hotel.  There was another long wait for the hotel shuttle-about an hour.  The hotel appears to serve all the Lufthansa passengers who miss connections.  Frankfurt is their hub, but something is wrong if you need a whole hotel to house passengers you displaced.

Photo ©Jean Janssen Viviers, France

We were given a room with a double bed, a duvet cover which wasn’t wide enough to cover the double bed, a single bath towel, and a single hand towel.  We turned the duvet the opposite direction so at least we could cover our complete upper bodies.   There were no toiletries except for a hand soap dispenser attached to the wall.  Our bags had been retained at the airport.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. We did see a nice sunset from our hotel window, but if you look closely you’ll see its a runway and planes beyond the tree line.

Don’t get me started on the food.  It was barely edible.  I broke into the olive oil cookies I bought yesterday as a backup.

Photo ©Jean Janssen Lyon, France

The next morning, I dried off as best I could and put back on my dirty clothes.  I never thought to bring extra for the way home.   With shuttle reservations, we went back to the airport as early as we could.  We hit the lounge there for the wait.  Of course, we both had a lot of rescheduling to do since we missed a day.  Fortunately, the plane took off on time.

Photo ©Jean Janssen Tournon, France

We arrived in Houston late because bad weather in the area meant we had to circle.  There were super long lines at immigration.  Unfortunately, at some point during COVID my global entry had expired, so I ended up standing in two lines.  The customs officer asked a lot of questions, but mostly seemed interested in what the health conditions were in France and what measures they were taking.

Photo ©Jean Janssen Beaune, France

Since so many flights were held in the air due to weather, everyone landed at the same time.  I have never seen the international luggage claim area so crowded.  We waited 45 minutes after clearing immigration (which had already taken a while) for the luggage to start coming down.  Finally, Boris’ bag showed up; the dirty clothes duffle showed up; and of course, my bag did not.  We filed the luggage claim and was told it would come in the next day.  The bag was in Frankfurt.  This was the same bag that spent an extra 36 hours in Frankfurt on the way to France.  I am beginning to think the bag just likes it better there.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. A French Truffle Dog’s success

Just when we thought we were through the worst, we went outside. The weather had also delayed traffic and airport construction had compounded the problem.  It took Rocky forever to reach us.  In the end, we didn’t leave the airport until 2 hours and 35 minutes after our plane had landed.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Tournon, France as seen from the metal and wooden suspension bridge connecting Tain L’ Hermitage with Tournon

My bag did arrive in Houston the next day, but wasn’t delivered until the day after that.  Luckily, there were no dirty clothes inside.  One of our Uniworld perks was free laundry service on board the ship so I had come home with mostly clean clothes.  Our to and from travel on this trip was the pits.  Fortunately, the cruise was fabulous.

Photo ©Jean Janssen Avignon, France

Hope you enjoy these additional pictures from our French river cruise.  I am off on some domestic travel to Michigan in 4 days so stayed tuned for more adventures. 

–Natasha

About travelbynatasha

I am a retired attorney who loves to travel. Several years ago I began working on a Century Club membership achieved by traveling to 100 "foreign" countries. Today, at 49 years of age the count is at 82. Many were visited on land based trips. Some were cruise ports. Some were dive sites. Most have been fascinating.
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