Last year, Disney Cruise Line announced an inaugural 12 day British Isles cruise. Mike and I were excited and when the booking window opened, we called Disney to inquire about booking. Well, there was such a demand for the sailing that we ended up on a waiting list. The operator told us that there might be a chance we'd be able to sail because sometimes people book the cruise, but cancel a few days later. Ok then, this put us to the following Monday at the earliest. Monday morning came around and the phone rang. It was Disney, there had been a cancellation on an accessible room and were we still interested in the sailing?
The rest as they say is history.
The ship departed on a Sunday, so we opted to arrive in England the day before. Since we started cruising, we've been careful to always arrive at the embarkation location the day before. One never knows what happens when travelling and the last thing you want when you've spent a great deal of money on a cruise is to miss the sailing because of a delayed flight. (Can you tell where this is going?)
We arrived at the airport on Friday afternoon, completed our check-in process/security, and headed to our gate. We stopped at one of the information screens to double check the gate number when we noticed the departure time read not 9 pm, but 1.30 am. I was sure I was misreading the information because there was another Gatwick flight that night, surely that was the delayed flight! Nope, my phone dinged a few seconds later and it was WestJet informing us of the flight departure time change. We made our way to the gate and inquired with the staff. There was a "problem" with the plane and it was being serviced. At this point, they didn't know if the flight would actually leave on time or at any point between 9pm and 1.30 am, but the latest would be 1.30 am. I presumed if things took a turn, they could bring an alternate plane for us to leave at 1.30 am... at least I hoped. We both received a food voucher so we went to dinner.
By the time we took off, it was around 2 am. The WestJet staff were pleasant and were coming around with the drinks cart soon after take off, but that's the last thing I remember before I dozed off. This was a first for me. I never sleep on planes. I'm too anxious, wound up, and uncomfortable most flights that I sit there like an owl looking around at everyone else asleep. This time, pure exhaustion. I may have slept for 4 or 5 hours, I don't remember. There was still a few hours before we landed so I started in on Stephen King's Dr. Sleep.
The next thing we knew, we had landed and were exiting the plane. We made it to the area just outside of the plane's door where we stood to wait for Mike's wheelchair. A couple strollers came up, but no wheelchair. The head flight attendant came out and spoke to us and when she found out we were waiting for a wheelchair, she went into beast mode. She phoned someone and gave them an earful, spoke to the person bringing up items from the hold, and went down the gangway to the reps at the gate to find out about the wheelchair. Turns out the wheelchair was sent with the luggage and we'd be able to pick it up at baggage claim. They gave us a temporary wheelchair to get from the gangway to the airport where we were to wait further instruction.
We were greeted by an employee driving a glorified golf cart, who squeezed us into the rear compartment, then took us for a ride through the airport and straight to immigration. We got in line behind 3 other golf carts and waited our turn. We, (sorry bad pun), sailed through immigration when the officer found out we were sailing on the Magic. The golf cart delivered us to baggage claim, where we found Mike's wheelchair in good condition for being left on a carousel.
We grabbed our luggage and made our way to the Sofitel hotel, where we were booked for the night. We checked in and freshened up quickly before we headed back out to London.