Embarkation went very smooth. I loved the ship! We arrived around 2pm. There was another ship in port, I believe it was the the Crystal Symphony, so there were a lot of passengers in the area trying to figure out where to go. Even with a the mild chaos we managed to arrive in our stateroom by 2:30pm. The ship was 3 hours late leaving port, but I still went up to watch us leave the city and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. The city was beautiful at night. It was very brisk (read - COLD!!!) and I was happy that I wore my wool trench coat and gloves to the sun deck for the sail-away!
***NOTE: My GF was a bit worried about bringing 9 bottles of wine, a case of Red Bull & 2 cases of beer in our checked bags, but I assured her that it wouldn't be a problem. Low and behold - it was the first box to arrive in our stateroom. =)
We booked a mini-suite that was located mid-ship. It was nicely appointed and very close to everything, except the laundromat - thankfully! Room More
service was very, very good. Our cabin steward - Tom was the Best! He was very attentive and knew our names from the moment we met him! =)
The first 2 nights/days at sea were very, very rough. There were a lot of people wearing patches and a lot of "Do not disturb" signs" in all of the hallways. Never the less, I at least I was happy to find out that I don't get seasick, ahhh - what a blessing!On a side note, a lady down the hall from us slipped and fell in one of the public restrooms and blew out her knee on the first night. She was confined to a wheelchair and was being removed from the ship in Hilo for an operation! Poor thing.
We had traditional, late seating in the Amalfi dining room. The first couple of nights were really difficult to eat because of the location in the aft of the ship. It was really rough and it felt like we were chasing our plates around the table. Ha ha! Our waiters - Jude & Pegee were the best! They served lobster on 2 occasions and there were 3 formal nights. The first formal night fell on Thanksgiving. Traditional turkey with all the fixings was served as well as several other selections. Unfortunately the GF got food poisoning that haunted her for the next 5 days! =( We also noticed on our last couple of nights that the vibration from the prop/engines was getting louder and you could really feel it!
The Princess Theater was beautiful. We only went to a couple of shows, but we really enjoyed the entertainment and Scholarship and Sea lectures. We tried to go to a couple of shows in the Vista lounge, but if you didn't get there 30 minutes prior to the start of the show it was Standing Room Only in the back by the bar!
The Horizon Buffet was good. Easy to use and to find seating. Great wait staff. The only problem that I encountered was by the end of the cruise everything started to taste the same.
We loved the pools (although they were Arctic cold!). Lounge chairs and other seating was always available. We saw a couple of movies on MUTS. They were good, MIB III, The Avengers and Big...
5 sea days is a long time for a rookie cruiser to be separated from land! On the morning of the 5th day I eagerly waited on the sun deck for the first signs of land. I was so happy when I first spotted the lights of Hilo!!! =)
The weather was FANTASTIC! Better than expected, it ranged from low 70's to mid 80's the entire trip.
Disembarkation was good, it was a little chaotic due to a head on collision on the Golden Gate bridge that caused several of the buses to be late arriving for their pickups. One thing unusual was that we didn't have to go through customs when we got off the ship. We still have our customs cards...
* Would I go on another cruise? YES, definitely...
* Would I go on another 15 day Hawaiian cruise? Probably not!
I grew up in Hawaii, so 10 sea days to and from is a little long to be stuck on the ship. I did enjoy relaxing, but I would have liked to spend a little bit longer in each port to be able to enjoy them more.
***NOTE: Thanks to all the Cruise Critic peeps that made this cruise that much more enjoyable for us! Especially Joan & Paul, Lyle & Sue, John & Raina and Paul & Min we miss you guys and hope we will see you again in the future!!! *** Less
Our last stop was Ensenada, MX. We had to go to Walmart for some supplies and we asked our bus driver where he would go if he was going to eat in town. We didn't want "tourist" food, we wanted authentic Mexican food. He recommended Taqueria Mexico, Lindo (it's literally a few doors down from Papas & Beer). All I can say is OMG!!! What a meal and only $15 US!!!
We didn't really have any plans once we got to the big island of Hawaii, we walked to town and bought some Pepto, then went to L&L drive in for some local "plate lunches" Yum!!! After that we tried walking to Hilo Hattie but it was just TOO far, we ended up calling a taxi after the first 4 miles!
Oahu was by far the best part of the trip. We did the $25 hop on/hop off deal with the Aloha Bus Company(open air double decker buses). The buses went to Wakiki, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor and Aloha Stadium. They picked up every 15 minutes or so and were easy and fun to ride We went to the Swap Meet and bought some gifts for friends and family. We also went to Ono's in Kapahulu for some authentic Hawaiian food. OMG, so good!!! Finally we spent some time on the beach in Wakiki and walked around the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.