Last year, travel was truly good to me. Of my 22 flights, only two were delayed with only one arriving after the set departure time. I had the privilege of flying a range of different products – from Qantas business class to Frontier’s economy and everything in between, which is a lot. Although this story is not nearly as significant as some other travel failure stories, it is one that I need to tell so hopefully I will not repeat the same mistake.
Just about one year ago, I boarded my six hour transcontinental flight from Washington-National (DCA) to Los Angeles (LAX) for last year’s amazing winter break. From there, we proceeded to get on a 15 hour flight, in the back of the plane nonetheless, to Sydney Australia. After staying three nights at the amazing Hilton Sydney, we left the hotel and went back to the airport. Just three days before Christmas, it was a mess at the terminal JetStar uses at Sydney. Even though we ended up sprinting to the gate, we made the flight. With crying babies on the flight, we got to Hamilton Island safely. Overall, despite a few speed bumps, everything went as planned (nothing I previously said has been the actual blunder).
After spending a day cruising around the island in a golf cart, chilling by the pool and going to the beach, we went to bed early in order to get up for our wake up call. The next morning we boarded the boat to Whitehaven beach. It was one of the prettiest spots I have ever seen. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the giant swirly things at the other end of the beach, but that was okay. If you do not know what I am referring to, I will put a picture down below. It was an awesome day.
On our final full day of the trip up to the Whitsundays, we boarded yet another boat to take us to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the main reasons for flying halfway around the world. Before boarding, the captain announced to everyone that it was going to be an extremely rocky ride over to the reef and that we would encounter some pretty big waves. He offered anyone who wanted out a full refund or a voucher for another day. After flying that far to see the reef, we were not going to give up.
We boarded the boat and were on our way. The first 30 minutes of the ride had some bumps but was overall okay. Unfortunately, it got worse from there. The waves got bigger and bigger. If you went outside to the back deck, you got soaked, so everyone had moved inside. The rockiness was making a large number of people seasick. We were fortunate not to get sick. That said, the room started to smell pretty bad.
When we were finally just another 30 minutes away, the captain announced over the PA system that for the safety of all we had to turn back. He later informed us that the waves had grown to a swell size of 12 feet, which was getting too big for the boat. The captain said it was the first time in nearly 20 years of repeating that voyage that he had to turn around. Didn’t we go on the perfect dates?
The Great Barrier Reef has been a top travel destination for my family for a long time. We were going to snorkel and scuba dive at the reef, which would have been unbelievable. The next day we had an afternoon flight to catch to Melbourne. We realized that we would never actually make it to the Great Barrier Reef. We were pretty upset.
Unfortunately, we flew close to 10,000 miles around the world, spending nearly 24 hours in the air, just to make it 30 minutes away by boat before turning around. We came so close to seeing the reef, but failed.
If I learned anything from this trip, it’s do not wait until the last day of your trip for your most important destination. At some point, we will need to repeat the journey to the land down under to see the reef before it is gone from bleaching and climate change. Next time, we will go to the reef the first day in order to have a backup of the two days following.
Joyce Turner says