Spiriting Away for a Hawaiian Lei
After 14 months of chatting on the CC boards our group finally met for the Vancouver to Hawaii Sept 14th 2010 Cruise.
Having done this cruise in 2006 I was had great expectations & felt more relaxed having some ideas of what to expect.
We headed out early & got to the Vancouver Port by 10:30 am. No worries on where to go as the Port Staff were there to direct you at every turn. It was so easy & the Porters were friendly & quick to deal with unloading the car & taking our luggage.
This part went so fast & efficient last time that I had suggested to my husband that we slow it down & enjoy it more this time. But before you know it we were in line being welcomed to our Carnival Cruise, getting the passports dealt with, going through security, getting pictures taken, & getting our sail and sign card set up, that we were hearing that distinctive sound of that card entering the reader before we knew it.
As we had 1 bag more than we wanted to lug around we snuck off to our cabin (the same one as last time) & asked the cabin steward if we could leave it in the room. If something should happen to it we were prepared to say goodbye to it. He graciously allowed it & then we set off to the Lido deck for the Fun Ship Drink & some lunch. At 1:30 we went to our room & unpacked as well as decorated the door & window.
The safety drill was done on deck with no life jackets & didn't take that long. Most people paid heed and arrived in a timely fashion.
Soon after we set sail under the Lions Gate Bridge in rather breezy conditions, which was much better than the rain that started our last adventure.
We choose the late seating & many of the tables had only 1 or 2 couples at them. We did get a card asking us if we would mind changing tables & we said yes. Very glad we did too, as we had a very interesting group of tablemates.
Carnival had been especially helpful & gracious in getting us a room to hold our Meet n Greet on very short notice. They offered us a lounge where a group of about 50 met. Servers & bartenders were supplied & we had a great time meeting the people we had been chatting with for so long. The White Elephant gift exchange was a success as well.
The weather for the first day or 2 or even 3 is notoriously finicky as you come out of the protection of the Vancouver Harbour. So too this time as it stayed in the mid 60's or 17 Celsius & breezy until our 3rd sea day which warmed up & became sunny.
We had a cabin Poker Crawl with a turn out of about 18 people, which was a nice size. The age group on this cruise is mostly 40 & up but this time we did have some newly weds. There were not a lot children.
Although the decks were full I never noticed any chair issues. You could always find somewhere to sit.
The water slide was a hit.
We went to 3 shows, which were comedy & hypnosis. They were entertaining.
The food at the Lido deck was tasty & there was a large variety to suit anyone. From burgers & fries to pizza & deli sandwiches. The favourite ice cream bar & the Asian Buffet. There was a chocolate lunch as well as the more traditional fare.
The dining room menu was adequate. The waiters always offered more than one serving to those with larger appetites, whether it was appetizers or the main course. The only suggestion here would be to have drinks offered. Unless you had wine no one ever asked if you would like a cocktail or soda.
The shipboard activities were of the usual type, Hairy Man Contest, Bingo, Trivia, Towel Making etc.
The Past Guest Party was in Pharaoh's Lounge & there were plenty of waiters with drinks & food.
Another mention for improvement would be the number of times one is asked if they would like a drink. In the pool areas it became annoying. Too many servers asking the same people just minutes apart. Perhaps one or two servers to an area might help.
The last Sea Day was Hawaiian Elegant Night (the 2nd elegant night of the cruise) & there were free cocktails before dinner throughout the Atrium and all bars on that deck. I always enjoy the crowds & dancing & excitement at the Atrium on Elegant Nights.
Our Captain needs mention also. He was the same one we had previously & his sense of humour is infectious. The weather is "yucky" and we are "in the middle of nowhere" The Marine Biologist on board gave us daily ocean updates that were peppered by his humour. Good thing she couldn't be phased!.
I do wish Carnival had not changed the route for this cruise. We did not pass by the lava fields of the Big Island at night. It was of huge interest to everyone in 2006 & the captain made a 2nd pass so that both sides of the ship could view them. Considering the 6,000+ miles to get there, it seems a waste not to go around the bottom of the island of Hawaii to view the lava flowing into the ocean.
Our cabin steward was terrific. There was always ice in the fridge for the medication that needed to be kept cold. She was considerate & helpful. She offered information on places to visit & she had a sense of humour as well as a caring attitude.
Our Ports were Kona Hawaii, Nawiliwili Kauai, Hilo Hawaii, Kahului, Maui overnight & Honolulu Oahu overnight making up the 12 day cruise.
We did not do any ship excursions or tours. We did rent a car at each port. There were issues with getting the car rental shuttles in a timely fashion on 2 occasions.
We did the self assist debarkation & if it is at all possible I highly recommend it. You can leave with your luggage at the time of your choice. We left at 7:30 am before the rush. Our rental car was parked close by & off we went.
Would I cruise Carnival again? Yes, keeping in mind it is the itinerary as well as the length of the cruise & the time of the year that determines the type of people, the age group & the overall expectations of each cruise.