Day 1: We were supposed to leave the house by 10:30 to drive to Chicago. But, I really procrastinated and didn't even start packing until 1:30pm. It's really bad to not plan your wardrobe ahead of time. Because you bring too much or not everything that you mean to bring. But, by 4:00, I'm done and starting to bring the suitcases downstairs to pack in the car. My crown fell out of my mouth. A quick call to the dentist who told me to come right into the office. Now I am in panic mode, so I just throw things into the car including Rod and all of the dog's things and head out. The dentist does his thing and we get started on the road to Chicago. It's much later than I wanted to leave so I called our daughter and asked her to meet me at an exit on I94 so save me some time. Then, I discover that I don't have the key to Rod's scooter. It's at home on the dinette table. So, I called my sister and asked if she would find a locksmith even though it's going to cost me a mint to have one come to her house to make a key. After trying, she informs me that no locksmith is able to make a key for a scooter. Now, I call the company and they agree to overnight a key to us at the Marriott in San Diego. Good news: Going through Chicago at 8:00pm is much faster than going through it earlier in the afternoon.
Day 2: We get up early and my sister drives us to the airport. Oops, I have this scooter that doesn't work and will need to be pushed through O'Hare airport. It really wasn't as bad as a porter pushed Rod in a wheelchair while I pushed the dead scooter with the carryon stuff to the gate. We made arrangements for the scooter to be taken directly to San Diego so I wouldn't have to push it through Phoenix's airport too. It was returned to us at the baggage station in SD. The flights from Chicago to SD were just fine. Too close seats on US Air though. We saw the smoke from the fires flying into SD. We even went through smoke so thick that you might have thought that it was a dirty cloud. So sad. We arrived at the Marriott Hotel and Marina and, (par for the course for us), our room wasn't ready. Of course, we were about 8 minutes early. So, we went to have a drink. I really don't drink that much but I felt that we needed it. We finally got to our room minus the scooter which we left with the bellman and it was a lovely room overlooking the pool and marina. It was somewhat cloudy due to the fires. It was such a grueling two days that we decided to call for room service and just relax in our room.
Day 3: I woke up early and found a book to read. I made us some coffee and began calling to see if the key to the scooter had arrived. I figured that touring was probably out for the day, but maybe a dip in the pool could be arranged. Oh dear, I found that I needed some things from a drugstore. I was online and asked Jon from the Cruise Critic roll call board where a drugstore might be found. He replied right away and said to call him. He said the he and Carol were going out and would pick us up and take us to get what we needed. What Sweethearts!!! After we shopped, they took us for a drive to give us a mini excursion of San Diego's waterfront area and islands. When we arrived back to the hotel, I checked and, sure enough, the key had arrived. A bellman took the key and went to bring up the scooter. Have you ever had a sinking feeling that something was wrong? Well, I started getting one when it seemed to be taking an especially long time to bring up the scooter. Then, I saw the bellman with it. He was pushing it! Oh no, was it the wrong key? No, the darn, almost brand new scooter would not work. It just went beep, beep, beep, beep 16 times when you turned on the key. So, I called Michigan where the tech person said that it sounded like there was something loose but we couldn't find anything loose. By now, I should tell you that we have several people trying to help us out, including security. Every time someone turns on the key, the darn thing beeps and everyone looks at us. So, I call someone in the SD area who didn't really seem to want to help us. Finally, I tried another company and the man, Gino, was very helpful. Since he does business with Celebrity Cruises, he said that he would come and pick up our scooter and let us rent, for a very reasonable charge, a scooter to take on the cruise. He would then drop ours off at the pier when we return. Thank you, Gino. We decided to have some lunch which was enjoyed but really close to the time that we were meeting people from the roll call at Anthony's restaurant. Oh what the heck, we'll just have soup and a dessert and meet our new friends and get acquainted. This we did! It was great meeting everyone who showed up. There were 21 of us. Thanks Jon for making these arrangements.
Day 4 (precruise) Day 1 (cruise): We were up early repacking everything and putting on the luggage tags for the ship. We talked about getting there early (11:00am). We took our cab and they wouldn't let him go into the gates. They were only letting in people and taxis that were picking up people. So, here I am, stuck outside of the gates with Rod on his scooter guarding 6 pieces of luggage. (I told you that I overpacked, right????) I tried to bargain, etc. but no luck getting someone from the inside to come outside the gates to help me get the luggage in. The man inside the gates told me to get a pedibicycle to help me with the luggage. But, security wouldn't allow them to bring in luggage for the Summit. So, I finally brought in 2 of the bags. By that time, they did allow the bikes to help out so the entire luggage was in Celebrity's hands. And, Rod and I got in line to be checked in. This was handled very efficiently and it wasn't long until we stopped by to see our room. Since this was to be a truly special vacation, we decided to stay in a Royal Suite. We were really impressed. Our room steward, Antonio, introduced himself but didn't know who would be our butler. We decided to eat some lunch and then check out our table location for the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. We were at table 555 which is next to the railing on deck five. A table for 8. We also changed our dinner in the Normandie from the second night to the third so we wouldn't miss the first formal night. About 3:30, our butler came to introduce himself to us. His name is Rikki and he is very famous on the Celebrity boards. I was thrilled to meet him and know that he will be excellent. Now, I'm feeling pretty lucky. Our bags arrived and I put everything in its place. After the muster, we met several more people from the Roll Call board during sail away from San Diego. It became quite chilly so we left for dinner. For our dinner, Rod and I had the prime rib. I thought that it was good. And, of course, the infamous, crème Brule` for dessert. The ship is rocking and rolling like people said it would when we left San Diego.
Day 2: The time change has me waking up early as did the hard bed. This was resolved by the egg crate foam mattress and I'm very comfortable now. Rikki brought us our breakfast right at 8:00 as requested. We went to the Cruise Connections party which was held in the Bar at the Edge because we had 122 people signed up. There were around 70 or 80 people there and it was nice to put names and faces together. Alan King, the cruise director said that he would arrange for another get together later in the cruise. I'm looking forward to that one too. It's still a little too cool to sit out on the verandah so we're watching TV news and other interesting things on TV and relaxing. We had lunch from room service. Good soup and sandwich. Tonight is Informal dress for dinner. I asked Rikki if he would please tie Rod's tie for him. Wow, it was outstanding. Rod looked so good. For dinner, Rod and I both ordered the strip steak. I checked with our waiter, Singh, if the meat was tough (as I read on the Celebrity board) and he said that he hadn't had any complaints. Well, friends, the steak was tough. Even Singh had to admit that it was tough as he cut up Rod's steak for him. And, as the desserts didn't appeal to me, I just had sherbet. Of course, Rod had his chocolate which he enjoyed. We went to bed early as we had to set our clocks back one hour and I was tired. Relaxing takes a lot out of you, LOL
Day 3: I slept well but still was up around 6:00am. Rikki asked me to call him if I wanted some coffee early. I did and also had some of the fruit that's in our room. It doesn't seem as rocky or as cool today, but Rod still doesn't want to sit outdoors. I made lei today. Sat with Karen from the roll call board and both made beautiful leis. Later, I went to an Excel computer class. For lunch, we ate at the outdoor area at the aft of the ship. It felt good having the sun shine on us. Turned back our clocks one more time. Dinner was Formal and our table is full again. We lost 2 couples after the first night as they requested a table for 4. We added a couple on day 2 and then another couple on day 3. We are a complete table once more. For dinner, Rod and I both had medallions and they were okay. Up until now, I wouldn't say that anything was outstanding. After dinner, we went to the show. I felt that the singers and dancers did a good job and I enjoyed it very much.
Day 4: Up early again but that's okay. I enjoy the quiet time. I'm reading again. I used to read all of the time but that stopped with Rod's stroke. Now, with the sea days, I find that reading is relaxing and I'm getting into the books again. Rod and I went up to deck 11 to be in the sun for a little while. Well, we fell asleep for 2 hours and even though I wasn't facing the sun, I was sunburned. So was Rod, but not to the extent that I was. We ate again and went down to our room where I read out on the verandah. Yes, it's getting quite comfortable for me and I love hearing the sounds of the waves in the background. Tonight was an Informal night in the Cosmopolitan restaurant, but we're eating in the Normandie with Barb and Paul Conway from the roll call board. Let me tell you about our meal. It was delicious and we all enjoyed what we ate. The goat cheese soufflE was outstanding as was our Steak Diane. Barb had Dover Sole and she said that it was delicious also. During dinner, an announcement was made that the port authority in Lahaina did not want us to tender there on Wednesday. They said that with the large number of people coming for the Halloween parade, they felt that it was unsafe to add another 2,000 people to the island area. So, we're going to Honolulu on Wednesday and will now be in Lahaina on Thursday and Friday. Oh no! This means that we'll have to cancel our privately made reservations for the laua at the Feast at Lela. It was late so we decided to do it the next day. We tried to go to the magician/comedian show but it was too full so, tried my hand at slots and left with a loss. Turned our clocks back another hour. Now, we're 6 hours earlier than Michigan.
Day 5: Again, was up at 6:00 and this time I went out on the deck, in the warm weather to read. How relaxing. I went to the Concierge to call the Feast at Lele to cancel. They understood but said that they were filled for Thursday evening. They later called to say that they had an opening and would be expecting us. I'm writing this review on the table on the verandah. It is warm and comfortable. The sun is shining on the other side of the ship. The sky is partly cloudy. I'm in heaven. Rod is sitting in the chair next to me sleeping. Tonight is an Informal Dress night. Back to the Cosmopolitan. We told everyone about our delicious dinner and ordered the prime rib as our entrEe` for this evening's meal. After dinner, we decided to go back to the room and go to bed early. I need a nap during the day so I can stay up later at night.
Day 6: I was up at 5:30. I guess that I'm excited about being in port. We are going on a small circle island tour. It was very nice and our bus driver, Ralph, was very good. I only wish that the tour company provided us with a list of stops so I could coordinate my pictures with each stop. I'm sorry but my memory isn't as good as it used to be. I have some really good pictures of the island of Oahu. It did rain on and off and, I guess, some people were caught in the rain and got pretty soaked. We observed it from our verandah and room. Let's talk about food. I've found that the beef has been okay, not great, but okay. People, at our table say that the fish has been from flavorless to very good. Tonight's meal was so salty (the vegetables) that I just didn't eat it. The desserts, with the exception of a few things, have been okay but I preferred the sherbet. There doesn't seem to be the variety that we had, even in February.
Day 7: Slept in a little but was still up about 7:00am. I looked out the verandah and saw the island of Molokai with a cloud covering the top. We cannot see Lahaina from our vantage point. But, that's okay, we'll see it later on our tour. We can see the tenders as they leave the ship bringing passengers to shore. Our tour driver was Duane. He was good. He's a retired policeman on the island of Maui so is quite knowledgeable and gave us some ins and outs. I guess that it was a good thing that we did not go on the island on Halloween as he said that they had to hire 100 extra police to control the situation and that most of the businesses close with the exception of the bars. On our tour, we went to the Maui Ocean Center. Although we were there for 1 ½ hours, it wasn't enough time. It is a very fascinating place. We also went to the rain forest where it...RAINED! Then, we went to the Tropical Plantation where we shopped and had a tour and saw all kinds of plants and flowers. I shipped home a dozen pineapples to be distributed to family and friends. Since Rod and I were going to a Luau, we decided to stay in town and shop a little and then walk down to the shopping area where the Feast at Lele is held. As we started out, it rained and, even though we looked for shelter under trees, we did get wet. We were very early and had to stand around and wait for the luau to begin, but it was worth it. Now, you must know that my husband is a very picky eater but we decided that we would, at least, try everything so we can say that we did it. Even the poi! Maybe it was because it was dark and we were hungry, and the mai tai was really good, but we did try everything including the poi. As a matter of fact, Rod ate a heck of a lot more than I ever thought he would. It is a 4 course meal and all of the drinks, with the exception of some of the more expensive liquors are covered by the price. It is a sit down dinner and you are served at your table. The entertainment is fantastic and I would definitely recommend it. I totally enjoyed seeing the ship anchored from our vantage point at the luau. It was nice to see it at night, all lit up. We met another couple from the ship and they walked home with us. It was a long day as we were off of the ship for over 12 hours. I figured that we would sleep in the next day.
Day 8: I did wake up about 8:00am and saw the island again. No breakfast in the room this morning, but I called Rikki and he brought me some coffee so I could sit on the balcony and type this review. The ship turns with the current and I now see the Pacific Princess which is also anchored and a part of Lahaina. It is very relaxing. Later today, I plan to go into town to Hilo Hatties to get a muumuu, I hope. Back from Hilo Hatties with a more formal muumuu than I really wanted but they have no shapeless things for a gal my size and even mom's had to be an x-large. Crazy. Bought other things and had everything shipped home. Went back to the ship where we spent the rest of the day relaxing. We did have a late lunch which then did not make us hungry for dinner at 6:00, so we decided to have pizza for dinner in the room. Just perfect.
Day 9: Today, we're in Hilo. I was up early so watched us coming into port. We had a 9:00 excursion scheduled so it was up, dressed and eating early to get to the cruise terminal. We were going on an accessible tour of Hilo that was to last until after 4:00 in the afternoon. We had a "short" bus and the bus was full. It had a lift which enabled a couple of people to leave the ship and go on an excursion. Cruise ships should make arrangement with tour companies to provide this service at every port. As long as I'm talking about this, there was a man, at the end of the tour, who was displeased because his handicapped person had to go up and down the steps of the bus. I understand his concern and perhaps some suggestions could be made to the company to arrange for all who need wheelchairs to be lifted onto the bus and then assisted to their seat. The tour bus was rented from a touring bus company and there was a man onboard who assisted the lift passengers on and off and even pushed one person who was alone and in a wheelchair. We went to the Macadamia Nut Factory and I had some things shipped home. We went to Volcano National Park and looked at huge craters where steam was still rising. We saw the cracks from when the last large earthquake hit the Big Island of Hawaii. They gave us a bag lunch which was filling. Then we went to an orchid farm. There were so many different kinds of orchids - so beautiful and different. I didn't ship anything home because Michigan's weather and my "red" thumb would kill them quickly. Better that they stay where they can be appreciated. We also stopped at the rainbow falls but it was too cloudy for a rainbow and finally, to the Candy factory. We didn't get off of the bus. Security at the port was very strict and included someone getting on the bus before allowing the bus into the terminal area who checked our picture id and seapass. Rod and I were both tired and decided not to get dressed up for dinner. So, we made a reservation at the casual restaurant. This is on the 10 floor on the port aft side of the buffet area. We had a nice dinner. We also saw another couple from our table who said that we were missed. Since it's a formal night tomorrow, we'll be back or normal at table 555. Passing by the Volcano: Since we were on the starboard side of the ship, we were excited to be able to see the volcano. We were told, during our excursion, that we probably would only be able to see red reflected off of the clouds. He said that the lava flow had turned inward from the water now. He was right and we did see some red reflections. It was a little disappointing but we did see something.
Day 10: Today we're in Kona which we understand is the "luxury" town on the island. I was going to tender in to look at some clothes or something, but decided not to go after all. So, I took a leisurely shower and air dried my hair on the verandah so I could continue typing my thoughts on this cruise. Rod is sleeping on a lounge chair. It started raining about 12:30 and we watched the tenders bringing back people to the ship. We were supposed to leave at 1:00 but the last tender didn't arrive until after 1:30. We finally started moving about 2:00. And then, the rain really came down. Tonight was the Captain's Club Cocktail party. It was very nice and we had our picture taken with him. Then, we joined our tablemates for a nice dinner. Afterward, we went to the casino where I contributed to the ship. Rod ended up even for the night which I consider a win. The ship is really moving out to get us home on time.
Day 11: Well, we've been rocking and rolling all night. Today, the sky is pretty cloudy and it seems quite windy out. It is also cool. I really didn't expect this kind of coolness until we approached the San Diego area. Actually, I originally planned to put on the old bathing suit today so I could make it look like I'd been in Hawaii. Oh well,…………plans are made to be broken. The sun came out from behind the clouds so it became quite nice on the deck. We spent most of the afternoon reading and enjoying the warmth and slight breeze. Now, I have to tell you something funny. I wanted to order some pizza slices for lunch so I went on the TV and ordered 4 slices, or so I thought. What arrived were 4 individual pizzas with 4 slices in each pizza. Obviously, not what I thought I ordered. So if you're going to order pizza off of the TV menu, know that they're little individual pizzas, not slices. LOL. Tonight for dinner was pretty good. However, we think that our waiter might be new because he is very slow and our table is usually the last one to leave the dining room. I finally told the asst. maître about our concerns and he indicated that things would be better. Entertainment tonight was a variety show and we enjoyed it. Afterward, Rod and I went to the casino. I contributed and Rod won. Tonight, we turn our clocks ahead one hour so we're only 4 hours behind Michigan time (EST).
Day 12: Now I'm starting to wake up later than on the way to Hawaii. Tonight will be casual night in the dining room. It's a really cloudy day and cool. Rod tried to go out on the deck but came in shortly as it was too cool for him. I may get a manicure this afternoon or tomorrow. We'll see. No manicure. Rod and I slept for awhile and then got ready for dinner. Tonight was a casual night so I wore the lei that I made on the way to Hawaii. It was fun to wear it to dinner. After dinner, on the way to the theater, we stopped in the casino and contributed to their profit fund. We have to turn our clocks ahead one hour tonight so we're back on Pacific Time. Tomorrow is the last formal night and the midnight buffet. Everything is coming to an end.
Day 13: We awoke to a beautifully sunny day with hardly any clouds. Rod and I had a late breakfast in our room and while he sunned on the verandah, I went for a tour of the galley with the pastry chef. I took many pictures. When I returned, Rod decided that he'd had enough sun and came in and I put on my bathing suit and went out. At noon, the captain announced that the temperature was 66 and that we were sailing at 22.5 knots. I went back out to bask in the sun which lasted about 2 more minutes and then the sky clouded up and it became quite cool so I came inside to write. We watched the Newly Wed, Not so Newly Wed Game from the previous evening and enjoyed it. Then it was time to dress for dinner. This was our last formal night also Lobster and Baked Alaska night. Our table had a good time. Afterwards, we went to the final show with the Celebrity singers, dancers and band. I really enjoyed the show. We will buy one or two pictures tomorrow. Then, we went to the casino. Rod did very well and I contributed again. I finally won a little bit on the nickel machine.
Day 14: Well, this is it! Our last sea day and cruise day. Tomorrow morning, we disembark, but let's enjoy today. Oh no, it's cloudy and cool out today. We can't spend the day outside. Figures! Rod and I enjoyed a leisurely morning. We did go and pickup a couple of photos. We did get a copy of our cruise critic photo. What a gang we were. I won't forget any of them. Decided to get a head start, for me, on packing. But, as usual, I procrastinated and didn't finish until 10:00pm. Typical!! We did relax during the day and even went to the Cova Cafe for awhile . While rod enjoyed an afternoon nap, I went to the passenger talent show. There were some good and some not so good, but I think that everyone had fun and the very packed theater applauded everyone. Dinner was very nice and we continued our discussions way beyond 8:00. It was a very enjoyable evening. I think that I forgot to mention earlier that our tablemates were Isabelle and Dean from the San Diego area, Nora and Bud from Oregon, and Marion and Roger from California. Following dinner, I finished packing and eventually we were ready to go to bed. About 11:oo I noticed that there were lights outside and realized that we were pulling into Ensenada, Mexico, so I went out on the balcony to watch our approach. As we passed a small island you could hear seals barking about our intrusion or just plain welcoming us. In any case, it made me chuckle to hear them. We were in port less than an hour and we headed home to San Diego.
San Diego: We arrived early and, it was another cloudy cool day. Rod and I went for breakfast in the dining room. This was the first time for us ---ever. We were seated at a table for 6 and met new people to us. After a very nice breakfast, we went back to our room and said our goodbyes to Rikki and Antonio. We then proceeded to the Normandie Restaurant to wait for our luggage color and number to be called. FYI: Noro Virus/Sanitizing. There was no sanitizing before going into the buffet or Cosmopolitan restaurant. And, I only heard of one slight case of noro and they were only confined to their room for one day. Announcements: Only twice were there any announcements during the day except for the captain's update at noon.
We were a little later but that was okay as I was desperately trying to get hold of Gino to make plans to meet to exchange scooters. Well, we found our luggage but didn't find Gino. He didn't answer our phone calls but did tell Celebrity staff that he would meet us at the taxi stand. We waited and waited but no Gino. The bottom line is that he didn't come until after 11:30 when new passengers were beginning to arrive at the cruise terminal. And, when he did, the scooter wasn't fixed!!!!!!! He said that if he fixed it, it would have negated our warranty and we would have to give him $600.00 out of our own pockets. So, we're now bringing home a scooter that has never worked. This will not happen in January! Luckily, we were relatively close to the train station so we arrived in time for our noon departure from San Diego to Los Angeles. The people at AMTRAK were very nice and helpful and took care of our baggage (now including our scooter) and put us on the train. We were in business class and it was very nice. The thing that I noticed most was that you didn't hear the train horn as we were traveling. This was due to the fact that the train either went above or below streets so that cars were not blocked by the trains. Plus, the scenery was great. Sometimes we would be next to the ocean and other times we were next homes and condos. When we arrived in Los Angeles, the personnel of AMTRAK were again very nice to us even though we had a 4 hour wait for our train to Chicago. We enjoyed watching the characters inside and outside the train station. Eddie finally took us to our train car. We're in a handicapped room in car 430. It wasn't what I expected. The HC room was at the end of the car on the lower deck of the train. There were two seat next to the window facing each other and room for a table in between (this was folded up when not in use). Across the room was a toilet and sink. There was a curtain that could be pulled for privacy. But, I figured that it would work. Joe, our room attendant, made up the beds and I was hardly able to get into the top bunk. Then, I had a flat pillow that put my head about 8 inches from the ceiling. I couldn't do it. I'm somewhat claustrophobic and this just wouldn't work. If there was a chair in the room, I might be able to sleep in the chair but this wasn't going to work. I contacted Joe and he contacted the conductor. There was one large room on the upper deck available. We took it. It did have a chair and when the bottom bunk was open, I could sleep in the chair part of the night and at the edge of the bed, on my side, during the rest of the night. There was a very small combination shower/toilet room too. This was more acceptable than the handicapped room and Rod didn't have to climb the stairs to and from the dining area. Overall, some of the scenery was outstanding; the food was okay; but there wasn't much to do in the room. I did read some but the motion of the train made it somewhat difficult for me. Rod has decided that we'll never do this again. I'm glad that we did it and it was an adventure but probably never again. The Red Caps in Chicago were very helpful and my sister met us and we left for Michigan. We stayed Sunday night at the Marriott Courtyard in Benton Harbor. The bed felt soooooo good. Monday, we met our daughter who had our dog and we went home. It's good to be home. One note: It was rumored that the reason that we went to Honolulu first was due to two deaths on the ship and not the reason that was given by the announcement by Alan King. And, many people were upset as they felt that Celebrity wasn't being honest with them. One Cruise Critic member did write the Governor of Hawaii's office and was sent an answer that indicated that the Port at Lanaii was closed at 6:00pm on the night of Halloween and that no ship was allowed to tender. Celebrity did give us the correct information