Nearly Abandoned in Russia


This nondescript building was nearly the ruination of our cruise in the Baltic. I took this photo from the ship when we first docked in St. Petersburg, never dreaming that it would be a negative. No pun intended.

On our last day in St. Petersburg, we had some rubles left and my friend really didn’t want to bring them back. My bank wouldn’t even exchange them for me (“We don’t deal in Russian rubles.” Like they were illegal drugs or something.) Bills would be OK, but we had a lot of coins, which are useless in the States. Oh, a random cruise tip: ship employees don’t care what kind of currency you use for tipping. If only we’d known that sooner.

Anyway, we were browsing in the duty-free shop when a guy who looked like a ship captain dryly asked if I’d care to get on board? I looked at him blankly, then at my friend, and we both shrieked (silently) and looked at our watches. We were 15 minutes past boarding time! We had been fully aware of boarding time, but somehow the minutes just got away from us. We’d heard horror stories about people being left behind and how they had to spend a fortune on a flight to the next port, so were very careful. Of all the places to be left behind, Russia wasn’t the best one.

So we raced to the boarding area where the employees were packing up and felt like minor criminals, ha ha. They actually pulled up the gangplank behind us! We vowed right then and there to not tell anyone, but that didn’t last long. I did wait until I got home to tell my husband, however. Didn’t want him to worry. My friend and I are actually really responsible people. šŸ™‚

If you’re wondering how the employee knew we were in the duty-free shop, we had to go through passport control before boarding the ship, and the tour guides counted passengers on each bus. We also had our IDs scanned whenever we left or boarded the ship. So they knew we’d made it to the port and gone through passport check near the duty-free shop. Thank heaven he took it upon himself to find us. Maybe this happens a lot?

Later on–I think it was a port in Germany–we heard over the loudspeaker that they were waiting for a few passengers to return before the ship left. My friend and I looked at each other and ran to the balcony to look below. There were three or four employees standing on the dock waiting with their ears to phones. Suddenly, one of them called out, “We’ve got a runner.” He wasn’t kidding. A young guy was tearing down the pier like rabid dogs were chasing him. We couldn’t help laughing when a young woman came around the corner next. They were half an hour late, so we felt a little better about our slip-up.

This was the Holland America line, so I don’t know how late arrivals are handled by other cruise companies. Better be on time, just in case. šŸ˜‰


About pearlsandprose

Photography. With a little life thrown in.
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10 Responses to Nearly Abandoned in Russia

  1. Susan says:

    A friend and her hubby missed their tour bus departure after lunching in Rome and spent a rather harried 24 hours finding various modes of transportation to catch up with it!

    • Wow, scary. Even worse if you don’t speak the language. We were told that if we lost our passport in St. Petersburg, we had to take a train to Moscow and we were on our own. šŸ˜¦

  2. Randy Fields says:

    I suspect your friend will wear her watch, next time she leaves a ship! šŸ˜‰

  3. Caroline says:

    It would have been pretty awful to be left stranded in Russia – or anywhere for that matter. How lucky you made it. I only once almost missed a plane and they called me. I had miscalculated the length of the corridors. People looked at me so angrily when I boarded.

    • I wouldn’t have minded being stranded in Stockholm or Copenhagen. šŸ™‚
      Some of those airports are huuuuge. It can take forever to get to your gate.
      One time I fell asleep in an airport waiting for my flight. Luckily I had told the woman next to me that I was on the same flight and she woke me.

  4. Could you imagine returning to the port to find that the ship had left? This is actually my secret fear about cruising. I’d either miss the ship or be so worried about missing the ship, I’d never go into town. šŸ™‚

    • It would have been so awful, Jackie. Very few people spoke English in St. Petersburg, and the people in passport control were really unfriendly.
      We stuck to cruise-sponsored excursions, so didn’t have to worry for the most part. Was tempted to go off on my own a couple of times, but decided not to risk it. If I’d been more familiar with the territory, maybe.

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