July 21, 2005
Cruise Critic Coverage
RSSC First Line To Offer London Bypass Option
London Bombings & Travel Impact
London Bound: Some Hotels & Airlines Waive Fees
Members Speak Out: London -- Will You Still Go?
In response to today's latest explosions in London, Cruise Critic contributor Candyce Stapen, who headed to London earlier this week for a pre-cruise visit before boarding Golden Princess in Southampton today, reports in. Here's her story.
"As soon as we heard the news on CNN about today's four attempted bombings in London (three at underground subway stations and one on a bus), we phoned our kids in New York City to tell them we were fine. We had just boarded Golden Princess at Southampton after a 2.5-hour bus ride from London.
"So far, we've seen obvious signs of a security presence in some places and virtually no visual patrolling in others. Although Victoria Coach Station, where we caught our motorcoach, was crowded with people and luggage, my husband and I didn't see any security personnel. No one was checking bags. We thought about the bombings on July 7, but decided not to worry despite what we encountered when we arrived the day before at Heathrow Airport.
"Since the July 7 bombings, at Heathrow policemen armed with machine guns now patrol the stations and a security camera mounted to a wall checks both track and platform. While waiting for the Heathrow Express from the airport to Paddington Station, I walked away from my bags to talk to my husband (who was dragging the rest of our luggage toward the platform). Immediately a security guard loudly asked to whom the luggage belonged. Later, when the train pulled in, everyone on the platform was ordered not to board the train. It was being swept by guards as part of the security crackdown.
"We were told to take another train on a different platform. This made us feel alternately anxious and relieved -- anxious because it reminded us that terrorism is a threat and relieved since security measures were obvious and authorities were being cautious.
"When we arrived at Paddington Station, the line for taxis was unusually long. It took us about 20 minutes to get a cab instead of the usual five minutes. Our cab driver said that since July 7, his business is up about 10 percent, and he speculates that the reason is because more and more people are jittery about taking the tube so they are riding in taxis.
"Wednesday, July 20 was a beautiful sunny day in London. As we walked around, locals and tourists seemed to be in a holiday mood. There were crowds as usual at the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and at Covent Garden. The scene in London really did feel as if everything was back to normal.
"Until today, alas. Like other passengers aboard the Golden Princess, we were shocked to learn of today's attempted bombings. Passengers are breathing a collective sigh of relief that they are onboard safely, and everyone is looking forward to a wonderful cruise. The people I talked with don't expect to face any terrorist issues in the ports ahead -- Dublin, Glasgow, Bergen, Rotterdam, Bruges and Le Havre (Paris).
"At the cruise terminal, no extra security was visible aside from the fact that our hand luggage, as always, needed to go through a metal detector and our photos were taken to create picture ID's for our shipboard cards."
Ultimately, Stapen reports, the only sign of conflict she's seen so far onboard is that the Internet Cafe, full of passengers trying to let folks at home know they're okay, has been packed to the proverbial gills.