From the ship’s brochure about Isafjordur, Iceland:“Isafjordur is all about nature, and the largest town in the Westfjords peninsula is known for its breathtaking landscapes. Here guests can enjoy various outdoor activities, from biking, hiking, kayaking, and horseback riding to whale watching. They can explore the history of the town that started as a trading post in the 16th century, with growth triggered in the 19th century with salt fish production, which is still the most important industry for the town.”
Yeah! We can post photos now with Celebrity’s good WiFi. Our photos from the Azamara cruise will be added once we settle in Nevada in a few weeks. Thanks for your patience!
It’s agonizing to recall the events after we arrived in Reykjavik, let alone the experience we had at the disorganized and overly busy Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, described in our last post here. Honestly, I’d like to put it behind us, but I somehow feel compelled to share it with all of our worldwide readers. After all, you didn’t see a post yesterday, and as our loyal readers, you deserve to read the story.
Here goes, folks, crazy as this story is.
Shortly before the plane from Amsterdam landed, flight attendants came around, offering “cheap” fares and tickets to hotels in Reykjavik. Taxis would cost anywhere from US $200 to $300. I’d cringed at the cost of this 45-minute drive from Reykjavik’s Keflavik International Airport.
When they explained the fare would be under US $80, I jumped all over it, especially when they explained we’d be dropped off a small bus directly in front of our booked hotel. It sounded easy. As it turned out, a large bus picked us up with about 30 passengers. Tom loaded our bags into the luggage hold outside the bus, and we got situated for the drive, not worried about a thing. So far, so good.
When we arrived in the city limits of Reykjavik, the bus drove into the bus terminal, where we had to move our bags off the one bus to a smaller bus using our “green” tickets, indicating the general area we’d be heading to. This only took 15 minutes, and we were on our way.
After driving for another 20 minutes, we arrived at our drop-off spot, which wasn’t in front of our hotel as described. We checked the location on GPS on “Maps,” and it appeared our hotel was nowhere nearby. It was unclear as to where the hotel was located. We had no choice but to hike up a very steep hill with Tom wheeling the three heavy 23k bags and me only wheeling my carry-on bag and handbag.
The horrifying part was the steep hill in front of us. We thought about calling a taxi but thought it would be pointless when the hotel might be within a few meters of us, according to GPS. Up the hill, we went. With my inability to walk far with my painful legs, it was pure torture for me, walking up the ultra-steep hill. It’s not as if I get out of breath. It’s purely due to the nerve damage in my legs from the two surgeries in 2019, after infections from the cardiac bypass surgery.
Once we reached the top of the first hill, the GPS indicated the hotel was somewhere down the main tourist attraction street, many blocks away. The road was bumpy and uneven. I don’t know how Tom wheeled those bags during the next hike, nor how I could walk on more steep hills in the next 40 minutes until we reached the hotel.
Once we arrived at the hotel and confirmed the name, address, and location, I told Tom I’d head up the two flights of stairs to let the receptionist know we’d arrived and ask for help with our bags. I could barely make my way up the flights of stairs. Once at the check-in desk, I was told we didn’t have a reservation and that the hotel was full. I showed the rep the reservation information on my phone, including the confirmation number. I pressed him to look harder, to no avail.
He told me there was another hotel owned by the same company further down the road that must have our reservation. I asked him to check on it. He said they have a different system, and there was nothing he could do, no matter how hard I pressed him. He said there was a similarly named hotel further down the road, pointing in the direction.
Disheartened, I gingerly lumbered back down the stairs, my legs feeling like lead weights. I told Tom the bad news. Once we were back out on the street, we found a bench and sat down to call the number of the hotel in the reservation. It rang back to the guy I’d just spoken to, and once again, he stated he couldn’t help.
We were on the road for foot traffic only, and no taxis were allowed. The only way we could get a taxi was to go back down the steep hill, which was impossible. There was no way Tom could maneuver the three bags down that steep hill. Nor could I walk down that hill with my legs hurting so much.
We stopped in several businesses and talked to several locals. No one knew where the hotel was except three people, who each said it was in a different direction. GPS didn’t help at all. On the way to what we thought was the location, a local told us GSP hadn’t been updated In Reykjavik since 2012. The hotel didn’t exist or was miles away for all we knew.
We walked further and further until we reached an intersection with road signs and called for a taxi. At this point, 2½ hours had passed. Tom’s arm was bruised and injured from the bags. I could barely take another step. Luckily, the taxi arrived 15 minutes later. The driver had no clue where the hotel would be, even after carefully checking his GPS system. At this point, it was already 6:30 pm. We’d had no food since breakfast on the ship and only one shared water bottle.
We were at a loss. We had no choice but to book another hotel and deal with this later. The taxi driver explained that with several cruise ships arriving and preparing, few hotel rooms were left in Reykjavik. He suggested a Radisson Blu and called for us. They had two rooms left. We were in the vicinity, and the rep said she secured a room for us and we could pay when we got inside the hotel. She agreed to a price for us for one of the two remaining rooms in the huge hotel, which was outrageous, but we had no choice. We were parked outside the hotel. She agreed to hold the room until we walked inside the hotel.
We were too exhausted to think straight and didn’t get her name which was a huge mistake on our part. But we only needed to exit the taxi and walk indoors. When we arrived at the check-in desk, they didn’t know who we were, and we had no choice but to pay whatever they wanted to charge us. We were desperate and had no other options at that point. There was no way we tried to find and book another hotel after hours of this hell.
The room rate, with taxes, was US $721.18! We were shocked but needed to rest and get some food. Tom hauled the bags to the room (there was no bellperson!), and the cart didn’t fit in the tiny elevator. Our frustration level at this point was palpable. Somehow we managed to get to the room with high expectations. We were sorely disappointed.
The room was no big deal for that kind of money and had several steps between the bedroom and bathroom. I could barely walk, let alone walk up and down steps in the room. We fell onto the bed, exhausted. After getting situated and off our feet for a while, I headed down to the restaurant to check out the menu and see if there was anything I could eat or that Tom would eat.
There wasn’t a thing that worked for either of us, and after looking at the plates being served to dinner guests, tiny portions at outrageously high prices, we decided to forego dinner and wait until we boarded the ship to have a nice meal the next day. Neither of us was hungry after our awful day.
But this wasn’t the end of the disaster. The room wasn’t clean, the bathroom sink was plugged, and there was no aircon. Apparently, in Iceland, they don’t have aircon. But the room was stifling, as if the heat had been turned on. We were miserable. We drank the water provided in the room and headed off to bed.
Within 10 minutes of lying down, I detected my pulse was fast. I checked my Fitbit, and it read 150 beats per minute. I was in Afib once again. Nothing I could do could get it down. I never slept all night, and it never went down below 135, fluctuating back and forth. I just had to wait it out.
It was still that high when we boarded the Celebrity Summit around noon. Hoping food and water might help, as soon as we made our way through the 45-minute check-in process and to our cabin, we dropped off our few carry-on items and headed to the buffet. We hadn’t eaten anything in over 30 hours (considering the time change), but neither of us was that hungry.
I ate a healthy light lunch, but the Afib continued all day until we went to dinner and beyond. I was well aware of it during dinner and ate very little. After dinner, we went to bed, and all I could do was try a few maneuvers that could help with AAfib. But nothing helped. I’d been trying all day and the previous night to no avail.
Finally, exhausted, I drifted off, slept through the night, and awoke this morning to a resting pulse of 60 beats per minute, feeling like a new person. I have no doubt the excess walking, stress, and lack of food and water played a role in going into Afib. It was frightening, but now I feel much better, albeit weak from the entire ordeal. Soon, we’ll head to the buffet, where I’ll have a healthy meal again.
We have met some lovely people so far while I maintained a stiff upper lip while going through the Afib, not mentioning my issue to anyone. We can begin enjoying ourselves, although I will take it easy on this cruise. Today’s port of call has a few things to see, and I don’t feel like walking a lot today.
Our cabin is lovely, actually bigger, with more storage than on the last Azamara cruise, and we feel pretty comfortable on yet another Celebrity ship. This ship has four times more passengers, but it doesn’t feel crowded, and staff and passengers are equally friendly.
So there it is, folks, our harrowing story.
Photo from ten years ago today, August 19, 2013: