Blake and Marla Cruise to Hawaii
February 15, 2012
Well I was up bright and early again for a walk about Downtown Disney. This time I walked all around California Adventure by going down to Katella and then around to the Disney front gates on Harbor Boulevard. It was time to check out a few of the neighbour hotels and pick some places to stay on our return. Actually Marla and I discussed that our best choice would be to stay in a Disney Resort if at all possible and the Paradise Pier seemed to suit our needs foremost.
Soon it was 10:30am and we were all packed, checked out and ready to go. Our sweaters from yesterday's shopping in Adventureland showed up and we double checked the room to make sure we didn't lose or leave anything. I looked out and there was a SuperShuttle just waiting so I checked it and it was for us. He wasn't supposed to be there until 11am but going now seemed like a good thing. We only had one other pickup over at the Ramada Maingate and we were off to San Pedro. It is a long drive from Disneyland to San Pedro Harbor. But after about an hour on the freeways we saw our ship sitting at the pier. Just as we got out of the shuttle it began to rain, then it began to pour, soon it was torrential. But by then the people with the wheelchairs were out to give Marla a hand and we began the boarding process.
Two things I really don't like about cruising is the boarding and disembarkation process to and from the ship. Boarding is a long drawn out matter of waiting. We were marshaled into a large hall where our tickets were processed, then through security, and finally to a staging area where all the wheelchairs pushers would take their people onto the ship. The guy who was helping Marla through the process was a really nice retired fellow. He had lived in San Pedro all his life and was very helpful. The waiting room reminded me of a biblical scene of people heading to purgatory. Most of the people were older; many in wheelchairs or with walkers. It was like heaven's waiting room. True this is a longer than usual trip and many people cannot take this much time off unless they are retired. But this is another one of those cases of Marla and I with our 35 years of marriage will be considered newlyweds.
Finally we were moving onto the ship. It had only taken just over an hour so it wasn't as bad as I was making it sound. We immediately went to our room Lido 218 and got settled. It would be a while for our bags to show up so we went to the Horizon Buffet and picked out some lunch or in this case breakfast for Marla. Who says it doesn't rain in Southern California? It poured buckets. We went upstairs to check out the Sanctuary but it was just way too wet. So we went back to our room to hang out for a while until our bags arrived.
The bags showed up and I unpacked everything. Marla got about seven of the eight available drawers and gave me the last little draw. In the meantime I took over a cabinet in the closet. By the time all the unpacking was done we had met our cabin steward Cosme. We were ready for some supper. But first the ship had to leave the port.
As the ship made way out of port the rain stopped leaving us with just cloudy skies. Hopefully this will be an omen of no rain this voyage.
We were on the same Port side of the ship as we were a few years ago when we were on the NCL Star sailing to Mexico. It is interesting looking at all the containers being loaded and unloaded on the docks and wondering "how do they keep track of them all." It was also interesting to check out the sites as we moved along the waterway leading to the sea. At one of the docks we heard this incredibly loud honking or barking only to realize it was the call of a sea lion expressing an opinion as it echoed underneath the piers. Then when we passed the final trucks waiting for containers to be loaded we received a salute of horn honking from the truckers. A fitting send off as we were to travel away from San Pedro and Los Angeles.
When three o'clock came around all the sirens and bells went off. Seven short blasts and one long horn sounded that it was time to gather our life jackets and head downstairs to the seventh floor and the Casino which would serve to be our muster station in case of emergency. After a few jokes from other passengers about Italian Captains and Costa ships we settled in for our lesson on how to put on the life jacket, step off the boat and otherwise listen to the crew. This drill is one of those things which we shall not really ever have to do -- I hope.
Soon we were out in open water and sailing into the sunset. As we approached the island of Catalina we could see a pod of whales outside of our balcony. They were not very close but near enough for us to see the occasional spray of air as they breathed.
It was a good day and I was happy to be underway.
Thursday, February 16th
Well it was a bumpy night as the ship moved through the ocean. After a few minutes however we had no challenges in falling asleep and Marla and I showed no sign of seasickness. I woke up at about 5:30am but finally got up at 6. I wanted to go for a walk on the outside of the ship but it was simply too cold. So I did a great walk on the treadmill to start my day.
I got Marla up about 9am with room service bringing coffee into our room. She enjoys morning pastries but for me I have to go to the Horizon Buffet to get myself some eggs and better protein for breakfast. All their eggs come in pairs which are way too much for me to eat so I have my one and be happy with that. The ship is pretty rocky riding the relatively small waves. They are only about 1.5 meters high but there is a definite swerve and sway to the ship's path.
The view actually reminds me of driving in Saskatchewan. The horizon is a straight line bisecting the scene horizontally with a blue sea where a golden wheat field should be. The sky is very similar to a prairie landscape. I wish I could paint because the tones of colour and light are very beautiful. At 11am there was a gathering of CruiseCritic people up in the Skywalker's Nightclub. We went up and met a few nice people from this event. We met a kind of crasher there to the party, she was more like a stumble in-er but still a really interesting lady named Amanda.
We explored the ship a little more. There are some stores on board and some events to participate in but frankly we would rather read or enjoy each other's company more. Lunch was good and after we took in a bit of the future sailings show but it got a little dull so we went back to our room for a nap. The ship rocks a lot back and forth, to and fro in this part of the ocean, it is not all that bad, and actually kind of hypnotic and it does make us rather sleepy.
We six pm rolled around we went down towards the princess theater to get good seats to see Kevin Hughes. He is a favourite cruise ship comedian of ours and it was a treat to see him again. We stayed for both of his shows and by the time he was done we were ready to turn in. We are becoming such pumpkins.
Friday, February 17th,
It was another night of gentle rocking in our beds as the ocean lulled us to sleep. Just a few days out to sea and I have nothing but admiration for those sailors who have plied these waters in much smaller crafts. I think mostly in their ability to keep their lunches down and stamina required for the voyage. We didn't get seasick with the movement of the waters but a few of the people have complained about it.
I was up really early and had a good hour long work out in the gym. It was too cold and rough to go outside so I limited my work out to the treadmill and weight machines. Then it was off to the hot tub for a bit of a soak and relaxing. The pool was warm but kind of rough. It was almost like body surfing which was kinda fun. Then I met Marla back in the room. Room service had come and she was enjoying her coffee on the balcony.
We went out for lunch finding more places on the ship. We listened the the Hawaiian singers in the atrium and otherwise had an enjoyable afternoon. We keep meeting nice people as we share our lunches in the dining room. I much prefer the dining rooms over the buffet.
Marla went to the spa for a stone massage and I went down to the atrium to listen to some of the Hawaiian music and do some more writing. It is nice to have the opportunity to take this time and write some of my thoughts as we travel along.
Tonight was the first formal night so we got all dressed up and looking good. Marla looked especially good. She doesn't get a chance to dress up very often and this is a nice opportunity for her. And it is an even better opportunity for me to see her extra prettied up. We had some pictures taken in our nice attire and then went off for dinner.
Our formal night was very nice, we were in a group with three other couples and had a good time. The arrangement had a rather large space between Marla and me so I found myself sitting beside and interesting fellow who in his time was a sailor, policeman, innkeeper and stevedore. I think one of the more fascinating things about these cruises is the chance to talk with older more mature people who have so much experience. The most common thing we run into is people saying "We may be Americans but we are not our politicians." It was very nice to see that most of the gentlemen were in suits or tuxes. I am fond of formal nights and this one didn't let me down.
Once again we were completely worn out so it was off to bed.
Saturday February 18th
Up again this morning to work out in the gym. It was getting busier. But after a couple minutes of wait I was able to get on the treadmill. It was another good workout. I am feeling very stiff from sleeping. I am enjoying the sleep I get but I am not getting much sleep. For some reason I am waking up at five o'clock each morning. What a pain. An hour or so later I can get off for a pre-breakfast workout and then my usual breakfast. I am back to having one egg and one small piece of sausage. It seems to do me pretty well.
Marla and I hung out in the room after I had my swim. I have decided that the pool information on the television is all lies. If that was really 30 degrees Celsius then I am Howdy Doody. Brrrrrr. The hot tubs are nice though.
We went out for British Pub food in the Crown Grill for lunch. We spent it with a nice couple from Indiana. We talked about education, politics, first nations, and civics. It was an interesting time. I had a curry which was pretty good.
We shopped our way back to the room and caught a bit of Midnight In Paris. I like that movie. The trouble with seeing movies on a cruise ship is that you see them on the installment plan. And usually you don't see them in order. Normally you catch the middle section but have to go, then the next time you are sort of familiar with it so you see the end. Eventually you can catch the beginning and it all seems to make sense now.
It was time for supper so we went down to the Bernini room for supper. We had our picture taken, again, this time it was more casual and out of the seven shots we got only one. The photographer actually got one of me that made me look like a total gomer. So getting one out of seven is a good thing.
For supper we were celebrating our anniversary. It was an international menu -- Marla had a really horrible lobster pasta and I had so-so frogs legs. It was a bad appetizer for Marla too so she shared some of my fried mozzarella. I am an easy sharer since I have so little anyways. Desert was excellent and then they topped it off by giving us more chocolate cake. I had far and away enough. This was by far the worst meal of our trip.
Sunday February 19th
This was to be our final at Sea day. Things have developed into a routine now which is nice. Up at 6:30am and off to the gym. I work out for about half hour to 45 minutes and then go to the Horizon Buffet for breakfast. Breakfast is always, one egg and one quarter link of sausage. It fills me up pretty good but I am definitely going to need my multivitamin. Then it is finally into the pool for a swim, we are warm enough here to actually swim a while.
Once we get Marla fed and ready it is down to check out our pictures from the other night. I look very gomer-like in a few of them so we won't get them. Then it is down to see a lecture on the brain by Kevin Hughes. He is very funny and very interesting. We spent our afternoon napping and doing some laundry. One thing about packing small is that you do run out of clothes rather quickly. I am the laundry doer of the family. I like the break and can take the time to watch a movie while the washer and dryer do their stuff. It costs $2 in quarters to do the wash and another $2 to do the drying. Both machines worked effectively and since we brought our own one piece laundry soap and softener sheets there were no other charges.
We went down for tea which was a very strange experience. It wasn't that good of a tea but the conversations were interesting. The service was pretty bleh but the food was good.
Then in the evening we returned to watch Kevin's relationship shows. Again the show was very good and funny. When it was all done we still had time for supper. We have been eating as a couple lately and it has been rather nice. When we came back to the room we watched most of Tangled which was better than the first time I saw it.
Tomorrow we reach land -- back to the Big Island.
Check the port of calls for Hilo (Big Island), Honolulu (O'ahu), Nawiliwili (Kaui) and Lahaini (Maui) reviews.
February 24, 2012
At Sea between Lahaina and Ensenada
I started my morning with a work out in the gym. I really pushed myself today and it felt great. According to the machine I burned off nearly 450 calories -- which is about one cookie -- but it still felt fine. At sea days are really laid back, so I hung out a bit writing and not involving myself in much. Marla and I got up and went down for lunch at about 1pm. We shopped a bit and then went to the Donatello where we met up with this really nice couple from Chicago. They had been on over 35 cruises and are just a few years older than us.
We had a nice relaxing afternoon then since it was formal night we went down and got our pictures taken a bunch. It will be interesting finding them tomorrow. We went for a short sit down while we waited for our reservations for supper. We didn't want to drink anything so we just sat and listened to the quartet playing in the atrium.
Supper was very good again. This was the Chef's Special dinner night. Marla ate off the regular menu since everything else was pretty fishy. I had some good stuff -- this time I had orange ruffy. It was very good. We are eating far fewer deserts lately.
After the dinner we came back to the room and watched a combination between Letters to Juliet and Eat, Pray, Love. Then we went to watch the comedy piano stylings of David Moore. He did a really good 60 minute show of old and borrow jokes and some wonderful piano playing.
An all round very good and relaxing day.
February 25, 2012
Today is my Birthday! Well not really. Really my birthday is March 25th but we are celebrating it one month early. I started my day with a really challenging work out. Because the seas are rougher and the first week of the cruise has passed so the eager beavers have been staying away from the gym. It is like all the New Year's resolutionsers departing the fitness rooms after three weeks. So I had no wait for a treadmill and really pushed it. I am attempting to get my heart rate to maintain at 115. That is a good amount for me to lose weight.
I enjoy this doing a limited amount of things mostly because I have the opportunity to write more. So Marla is getting her reading done and I am getting my writing out of the way. It is way too cold to make use of the pools for more than a few minutes. This time we tried the pool in the fitness area. It was nice. We talked to a sweet Asian couple from England. One of the things that amazes me on this trip is how many experienced cruises there are here. We have 11 cruises under our belt and we are pretty much newbies. It is the same for marriages too. There are so many people here who have been married 50 years or more it is delightful.
Marla and I shared lunch with a couple who are serious experience cruisers. We have a similar pattern to them and that is to have breakfast in our room, lunch in a group of people and supper in the dining room alone. I like it that way. After supper we shopped a bit. There are some street entertainers from Russia in the Piazza. They were very good. I think if we were to go on a Baltic Cruise we would see a lot of this. I liked it mostly because I think it reminds me of growing up in Saskatoon. Then we went to a wine tasting seminar. It was $10 each but it was quite enjoyable. Frankly I still can't tell the difference between a good wine and a bad one, but it was still fine. We got ourselves another shooter glass each. Oh boy, just what we need.
Tonight was the Captain's Circle Cocktail Party. It is so large on this ship that they have to hold it twice. We got settled in and had a couple of drinks. Listened to a sales pitch. Got thanked by the Captain. And then they literally kicked us out.
Supper tonight was pretty good. All in all the food has been quite good. We have been enjoying our meals. I have been diligent to tell the wait staff, some of them like CID already know, that I have had surgery and will not eat very much. They have all been wonderfully encouraging and supportive. Tonight it was prime rib and it was very good. I have gotten so that I like editing the meat down to just the rare parts. It just melts and it is delightful. I am maintaining my goal to eat about a ' to a cup of food at each meal. Sometimes it is a little over but my blood sugars have been really good and I have been feeling fine.
After supper we went to see a ventriloquist named Don Horn. I keep thinking of Dale Horn from old Sing-Out Saskatoon days. These two have nothing in common. He was a fun ventriloquist but way down on the list. Still he had a little dog puppet who was very special and cute. With the show over we came home and called it at day.
February 26, 2012
At Sea -- At Rough Seas
Well the cold turned to wind and rough. We are getting 12ft waves that are approaching the ship at an angle. There is a lot of rocking back and forth and thankfully for the stabilizers just a little rolling. I probably switched those terms. It doesn't seem to affect Marla or me. I think we actually are sleeping better.
I was up and at'em fairly early so I headed up to the gym for my work out. I appear to have run the gambit of Princess Television Entertainment so lately I have been watching Howard Morton documentaries on Great 20th Century Music. I watched his session on the Beatles on the flight down, and on the boat I have watched Leonard Bernstein, and Alfred Hitchcock's composer Bernard Hermann. It is a good diversion. I must be working a lot harder because I am getting pretty sweaty up there.
Marla and I went down and reviewed all of our purchases. We bought a nice pair so they will add to the collection nicely. Then we went to the wheelhouse bar looking for a place to get away and read. Instead we got involved in a tequila tasting. It was pretty good and the presenter was actually quite good.
We got in our traditional afternoon nap and then got set to go to the Academy Awards. They had the Awards on the Movies Under The Stars big screen (way too cold and windy) and in the Vista lounge where the bingo game delayed the seating so our seats were not the best, but soon some people in front of us left and we moved forward. These were better. We teamed up with the couple beside us for the trivia challenge. We got 16 out of 24. Which was pretty good since the winner only got 19 out of 25.
The Academy Awards were fair. Billy Crystal was his usual good but the rest was pretty badly written. The In Memoriam was awful, you couldn't read any of the names in their artistically written graphics. Also the whole show was not consistently themed. It looked like it was designed by committee. When the show was over we stayed and talked to the male member of the team beside us. His name was Richard and he is a travel agent from Chicago. He gave us some good advice about doing back to back cruises. He says to change ships and cruise lines mid-way. It is a good idea.
We were late for supper so we went to the Donatello dining room and got a table way in the back. It was nice and an enjoyable meal. We had a little Serbian girl for the dining assistance and a rather mature waiter. But they did take good slow care of us.
Monday, February 27th,
At Rough Seas again
Wow, it is really bouncy today. The pools are all closed, it is grey and windy outside. I think this is a good day for staying inside. So after my work out and breakfast I gathered up our stuff and went down to do the laundry. So far for clothing things seem to be working out fine. The only thing I wish I had was sweatpants.
I was doing the laundry but when I came back to the room I found her all set and ready to go. She had booked herself a head to toe massage. I like it when she treats herself well. I used the time to go watch the egg drop contest -- won by a husband and wife team from Canada. I started watching the film Amazing Grace. It has been on my list of films to watch for about three years so I am glad I am getting to it.
We went to have tea and sat at what was thought by some as a Red Hat table. It wasn't but it was a nice exposure. Red Hat is something I think Marla should do now and then. When it was over Marla and I went to the Wheelhouse Bar and found a quiet corner to watch the waves.
We came back to the room showered and got ready for the formal night. Marla looked great in her black and white Nikki Babee outfit. I looked good in my Tux. Next cruise I get a new tux because this one is too big. My tie fit better tonight.
We went down to the atrium where there was the Captain's Goodbye party going on. We enjoyed another drink -- I had a green thing that was more like something from the Wiz but it was okay. Marla had a rum fruity drink. The good thing was they were free. We watched the dancers waltzing about on the floor. I invited Marla to dance since we didn't really have to move but let the rocking and rolling of the ship bump us about.
We actually bumped into Richard and his Wife and had a great chat with them. Richard forgot his Tux so he was faking it for the night. We both had dinner at the same time but in different rooms. We got our table at Cid's but most impressively was that we could see what we were eating. The lighting in the room has been so horrible up until now. Now there were lights over the tables. Big Improvement.
We had a good supper. Marla really really liked her asparagus with hollandaise and bacon bits. Yum it was really really good. She really really disliked her beef wellington. It tasted quite unpleasant so she had some more asparagus. I had lobster and frankly I over did it as well. The guys (Cid and Hermino) looked after us very well. They are very busy and popular.
We came back to the room stopping along the way to listen to a rough seas concert put on by the ships vocalists. They were not all that bad. We enjoyed them. Then we came back to the room and crashed out for the night as the ship rocked and rolled in the 12 foot high waves.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
At Sea and Ensenada Mexico
The seas have calmed down and there is no more rocking and rolling about. I was up early again but this time I stayed in bed for a little quality napping time. By 7:30am I had to get up and go the gym. Nobody was there so I picked my favourite treadmill and began my walk for the day. I am doing about two miles now in 30 minutes at an average rate of 3.1 mph. Best of all my resting heart rate is returning really quickly. Today I started watching the Impressionists Documentary series. This one was the first episode so it featured Pissarro, Monet, Degas and Renoir. It was very interesting. I have become quite taken by BBC documentaries lately.
It is still quite cold outside but I was able to go for a second stroll outside along the promenade deck. I got some nice photos of lifeboats and shadows. To warm up I came back in and tried my hand at the Casino. This time I won twenty dollars so I frittered it away by buying a couple of extra large t-shirts. One with Honolulu on it and the other with a map of the cruise. I came back to the room and got Marla going for the day. We did a little of seeing what was on sale, very little and then I took Marla to the Wheelhouse bar where she read a bit while I packed us up.
Packing to go home is easier than packing to go on a cruise. Still it took two hours to get most of it done. I took a break so that we could go for lunch. We had an interesting chat with some people from Chicago, definitely big shoulders people, and some nice quite folks from Montana. We got into a very interesting political conversation which was fun.
After lunch we came back to the room chilled a bit before we came into Ensenada. It is really cold here! But the Sea Lions are having a great time. There is a harem of them just outside of our stateroom window barking and honking. They are fun to watch.
We went into the very crowd and not very useful store selling tourist crap. I guess it is the same tourist crap one would buy if they went into town but my heart just wasn't there. So we went back to the ship to watch the sea lions a bit more. They are so noisy barking about for any unknown reason or slight from a fellow sea lion. Ouch you are on flipper.
We stopped at the International Cafe for some milk and a little rest time. We don't eat until 8pm so I had a Panini to take the edge off. I really shouldn't have because there were a lot of carbs in it but also it wasn't all that good. When it comes to Panins I tried three over the course of the cruise and it was good only once. But that's okay because I only at a couple of bites.
Marla and I went up and finished packing and watching the crew release the ropes as the ship set away from Ensenada. The Sea Lions objected to this as they seem to complain about everything. We went down to Vines for a glass of wine, and a plate of sushi. They do really nice sushi which is free with a glass of overpriced wine. Then we went to our last meal in the Bernini. Cid's area was oddly quiet this night. We had a nice dinner. I am having an internal organ day because for lunch I tried Steak and Kidney Pie and here it is supper and I am having sweetbreads. I also had some blue rare new york steak which was good but the overall highlight of the meals on board was the chateaubriand.
When all was done we went back to the room and stuffed what we could in our bags. I have a bad feeling that we are way over limit in the weight department. We will see.
Wednesday February 29, 2012
San Pedro, California
Well the ship has docked in San Pedro. I was up in time to see us maneuver into Pier 93a and see the sun start to shine on this little coastal city. Marla knew she had to get up early as we had to vacate the room by 8am. She was up at about 7am and was even coherent which is a major victory on her part. A few times through the cruise we got the feeling that everynow and then Princess says "Get your crap and go." This was one of those times. We did the sweep of the room to find what we may have left. For me it was insulin and my red crocs. So they were stuffed into the bags and we were ready to go for breakfast.
We found a spot by the window and had a big breakfast. Then just settled down and killed time until 9:30am when we are supposed to head to the wheelhouse bar. We were not there long before we were called to disembark. So it was a medium walk to get off the ship and a long walk to get to customs. They moved us from the Aliens line to the US Citizen line and we were processed really quickly. The customs guys were really nice, what a change.
We found our bags and with the help of a stevedore we got our bags to a SuperShuttle. $40 later and a hour long car ride to LAX we were at the LAX Radisson.