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Day 15 - Disembarkation
Saturday, August 4, 2018   Related topics:
Aug 4, 2018 - We meet in the Atrium at 5:15am this morning, and we have already been up since 3am to get ready for disembarkation. Our flight is scheduled to take off at 12:25pm and Viking has given us a disembarkation time of 5:15am. Some claim that it can take two hours to get from Greenwich to Heathrow. However, this is a Saturday morning, so we wonder if it will actually take that long. When we arrive at the Atrium (Deck 1), the crew has set up pots of coffee, a selection of sweet rolls and fruit.

At 5:15, we are asked to proceed to Deck A for disembarkation. As we swipe our stateroom key for the last time, we exit the ship to find Captain Gustaffson and General Manager, Sujith Mohan, at the gangway wishing everyone a safe trip home. We say our goodbyes and board the local tender with our carryon luggage for the short ride to shore. Once we arrive at the Greenwich pier, we walk to a large tent where our luggage has been stored overnight. Viking requests that large checked luggage be placed outside the stateroom by 10pm the night before disembarkation. Each guest is provided with colored luggage tags with numbers to indicate the "disembarkation group" and time.

After we locate and retrieve our luggage, we make our way to the motorcoach. Viking intelligently divides the group transfers based on the airport departure terminal.

As you can see in the photo above, our coach will drop us off at Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 3. This is a much better system than having guests departing from different terminals on the same coach. The drive to Heathrow only takes one hour. In fact, we arrived at 6:45am, almost six hours before our flight is scheduled to depart!

We probably should have requested to change to a 7:15am departure from the ship and slept in a little longer. Viking assigns these early departures for a couple of reasons. First, there are times when, due to traffic, it can take two hours to get to/from the airport, and second, many guests are not seasoned travelers and can get confused at a large airport like Heathrow. We fly in/out of Heathrow two or three times a year and are familiar with the airport, so we would have been fine with a later disembarkation time. Nevertheless, we get checked in for our flight, make it through security and are relaxing in the Admirals Club by 7:20. The Admirals Club in Terminal 3 is quite large and has a nice hot breakfast set up, so we enjoy breakfast and find a quiet place to relax until our flight.

Unfortunately, we are not able to secure an upgrade to Premium Economy or Business Class for the flight home. We are "stuck" in Main Cabin Extra (a little more legroom than Economy and free drinks) with Rickee seated behind me (Row 31 and 32). The rest of the story is pretty typical American Airlines. We stopped by Pret-A-Manger in Terminal 3 on our way to the gate to get a couple of sandwiches to enjoy on the flight so as to avoid the miserable "chicken or pasta" offered by AA.

The flight home took about 10 hours and once we arrived at DFW, we gathered our checked bags and caught an Uber home. We are tired and ready for bed, but cannot help reflecting on what a great experience our second sailing with Viking Ocean has been. Tomorrow, we will start work on our final review. Watch for it on soon.

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