Last Saturday, we left Nashville around 3:30 am for New Orleans for another cruise on the Carnival Triumph. Its really not a bad drive, and you can use the money you saved on airfare in the ship’s casino too! To set the mood for the cruise, we always stop in Pearl River, on the outskirts of New Orleans, and visit the “drive-thru dacquiri” joint. Only in Louisiana will you see drive-thru drinks, along with open container laws!
We parked the car at the terminal at 11:45 am and were having our first drink on board the Triumph less than 20 minutes later. This had been the smoothest boarding ever and the afternoon was off to a great start… for a while anyway.
Several hours later, I was on Lido Deck waiting for the “Muster Drill” to start when I heard our names being called over the public address system. This was around 3:15 pm, and the ship was to sail at 4:00. The announcement said to contact guest services immediately on Deck 3, or by dialing 7777. Beth was roaming the ship with others, so I happily skipped down to our cabin to make the call.
Several weeks before, I had hinted on John Heald’s blog (www.johnhealdsblog.com) about the possibility of getting a cabin upgrade for this cruise. I just knew that was what this was about! But what were we getting – suite upgrade perhaps?
When I arrived at the room, Beth had already called guest services, who told her to proceed immediately to Deck 3 with her passport because she would be “exiting the sheep.” I went ahead and called also and was told not to worry, they had already talked to her. They confirmed that she would be “exiting the sheep” so I thought I probably should tag along, just incase it really was about a cabin upgrade.
Thoughts were spinning through my mind like a hamster on a wheel. My buzz-investment, starting at the drive-thru joint, was now gone. We were escorted off the “sheep” and taken to the Homeland Security office. All hopes of the cabin upgrade vanished when they asked Beth if she owned a gun.
I unfairly lashed out at her; “you brought a damn gun? What the hell….” No, she really didn’t. Did someone plant a gun in her bag? I now had gas building up and wasn’t about to “trust a fart.” Pure tension.
We were then informed that scanners picked up what appeared to be a bullet in her travel make up case at 11:59 am. They had been calling our cabin continously and could not use the public address system because of a damn onboard wedding. The ship was ready to leave, and here we are at Homeland Security. Naturally, we gave them permission to open the bag. There it was. A 38 caliber bullet. WTF?
“Maam, why do you have a bullet in your bag?” I then tried to bring some Barney Fife humor into the situation. No one cracked a smile. This really was serious. Beth quickly remembered why the bullet was there.
Two years ago, we went on a river trip with some friends, and having a gun when traveling remote areas on a boat is a must. They had a gun on their boat, but did not have any bullets. We did, and Beth stuck them in her make up bag to take to them. Apparently, there was one leftover and it has been in that bag ever since. Beth pointed out that the same bag had already been on Triumph TWICE since then. (Beth, shut up….don’t make them look bad). They took no offense. Thank God. (It turns out they have brand new equipment, and it works!)
They accepted the explanation and asked her to sign an affidavit. Then, they would have to perform complete background checks with 1) Homeland Security, 2) State of Tennessee, 3) Harbor Police, 4) US Coast Guard. If all clear, she would be released to board the ship. All they needed now was her driver’s license….and it was in the cabin! They escorted her to the cabin and started the background check after she returned. They told me I was free to board the “sheep” but in the interest of world peace, I chose to stay with her.
The Triumph’s Chief Security Officer was waiting patiently, and it was very obvious the ship was being held for us. He was most polite and made certain we got back on board safely after the lengthly background checks proved Beth’s innocence. When we boarded the ship, a few words on the walkie-talkie and the gangway was removed. WHEW!
Down the Mississippi River we go.
We cruise a lot and get asked questions all the time about what you can, and cannot bring aboard. Let me tell you from experience that whatever you have in your luggage will be seen by many experts trained to recognize weaponry. I bet they can even recognize a mouthwash bottle filled with vodka.
This is a very good thing and makes me feel much better that the possibility of terrorism onboard a ship or plane has been greatly reduced. Hats off to Homeland Security! And, thank you Carnival Cruise Lines and Captain Angelo Los for waiting for us! It won’t happen again.
Well…… not until we get to Progreso. Stay tuned for Part 2!
Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019 direct 615.593.6340. Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Spring Hill, Tennessee