Enjoyed a relaxing 16 day repositioning cruise from Vancouver, BC around Hawaii and back to Long Beach, Ca. Cruised with 3 other couples, all 60's - early 70's - the median age of passengers was 65, so we were happy to fit the profile. Best of all, the ship wasn't overrun with unruly brats or drunks! Mostly fit, happy retirees - a number of whom were from Canada and the UK. We had not been to Vancouver - it is a lovely city. We overnighted at the Hotel Blu, which I highly recommend. We had sailed on the Miracle 7 years ago, and really enjoyed the size and layout. 3 couples were in adjoining staterooms, so we had the doors to our balconies opened - sweet! It was like having our own deck!
Embarkation: We are Platinum and usually practically walk right onto the ship. We arrived at the port around 12:30. We were herded into the waiting area and it was frustrating to wait almost an hour to board. The embarkation staff gave the excuse that they weren't familiar with Carnival's computer system? Oh well.
Ship: As usual we had lovely wait staff and room stewards. I am continually amazed at how gracious and helpful they are in spite of their grueling work schedules and years of service. Gede from Bali and Elena from Bulgaria were our waiters, and so very friendly and kind. Ben from Thailand was our steward, and he was just terrific! All over the ship, the crew smiled, greeted us by name, and made us feel so welcome - made for a relaxing, happy cruise. Seas were a little bumpy out of Vancouver, but we love that - have never been seasick, even when going through the edge of a hurricane on our first cruise.
Food: Food was good - typical Carnival fare. We've been on so many Carnival cruises we know what to order and what to avoid. My very favorite meals were the sea day brunches -the steak and eggs as well as the pork chop were scrumptious! Breakfasts on the Lido were pretty much the same every day, but you can get a lovely omelet or eggs cooked to order every day. The pizza was terrific. I enjoyed the freshly cooked Asian menu for lunch on the Lido.
Entertainment: Cruise Director Troy Linton is the best! He is very talented and engaging. He had a tough job with so many sea days. 400 miles away from Hawaii, one of the passengers became ill and had to have an air drop of medical supplies. The next day the passenger had to be made made medevaced from the ship. The Ships's Captain, CD Troy, and the rest of the crew handled this very stressful situation with dignity and discretion. The entertainers were pretty good, particularly the comedian JeRome. We love the live band, and are sad that they will probably be history after the Carnival Fun Ship 2.0 changes are made. The Assistant Cruise Director Mel was a sweetie! I participated in the Talent Show, and she was very helpful and kind. It was a wonderful memory! Troy is sooo quick and funny, and a little bit sassy! There was a naturalist on board - Michele - who gave talks every sea day. She was excellent. The talks were very informational and well presented. We didn't miss one of them! Highly recommended!
Ports: we had been to Hawaii on the Norwegian Pride of America 2 years ago, and we were glad to hit the spots we hadn't really seen before. We rented a vehicle at all the ports except Kona - all Jeeps and one convertible. Car rental takes a bit of time away from the few hours you have in each port, but we like to do our own thing at our own pace. Kauai is my favorite island - we drove to Kilauea Lighthouse from our port at Lihue and then on up and over to Tunnels Beach. The water was nice, but it's rough getting in and out of the surf. I had sand EVERYWHERE, even in my ears! We stopped by Wailua Falls on the way back, so beautiful. Maui - there was light rain when we arrived, and I have to complain about how Kahului Port Security handled the queues for car rental shuttles. It was absolutely poorly set up - complete chaos! People were jumping lines and rushing the shuttles. It got pretty ugly. I was ashamed of the lack of civility of fellow passengers, but blame the port for not organizing it better. It needs to change!
We drove over the southeast side of Haleakela to the O'heo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools). What a gorgeous drive! On the leeward side, there's not so much vegetation to block the views. There isn't much along the way - we stopped at funky Hasagawa's Country Store for a snack - a fun place! Be aware that driving this side rather than the road to Hana, your car rental contract is void if you have problems. The road narrows to one lane & gravel near the end. You can see the big island from the road, as well as the little island of Kaho'olawe. The 7 Sacred Pools are part of Haleakala National Park. It's a short hike over to the pools. Very beautiful! We went swimming in the first pool. Be aware that flash floods occur after heavy rains, and it may be unsafe. We decided to go ahead and drive back through Hana, as there weren't any lunch choices the other way. We had lunch at the little Hana beach cafe - just ok. We weren't excited about driving the road to Hana after driving it before (once was more than enough). It was fun to watch the surfers at Honolua Bay.
Our next stop was Oahu. We did the major stuff before, but didn't make it to the North Shore previously, so we drove along the coast up to Waimea Bay and Haleiwa, after driving to the Punch Bowl National Cemetary. We stopped at Hanauma Bay, but were disappointed that we couldn't get in. It was already full at 10:30 AM, and we didn't want to wait. We did go to Waimea Falls at Waimea Bay, and it was lovely. A bit costly, but the gardens and falls were worth it. We stopped and swam at Shark's Cove (not to worry - it's not named for an abundance of sharks). The smallish swimming area was very nice without a rough break to haul in and out of.
Big Island - our first stop was the tender port at Kona. We booked a rare excursion through the ship because of the short time in port - Captain Zodiac snorkel tour to Kealakekua Bay. It was great snorkeling - we had been there before and thoroughly enjoyed it. We are 62, and usually the oldest on snorkel trips. There were folks in their seventies in our group, and I just had to smh! Why? Why would people that old and decrepit attempt it? Bucket list? This is a rubber raft over open ocean, folks! When we got back they had to lift one lady out of the raft under her arms and by her feet because she couldn't get out on her own. Oh, well. Our final stop was Hilo. We drove the 11 down to Punaluu black sand beach - totally worth it! There were sea turtles resting in the beach. On the way back we drove by the orchid farm as well as the Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm. The nuts are cheaper at Walmart, though. We decided to drive down to Pahoa to try to see the latest lava flow, but we couldn't find it. We did go down to see the 1990 lava flow that destroyed the town of Kalapana - eerie. On the way back we stopped at the Star of the Sea painted church. Back to the ship and more wonderful sea days!
Debarkation: smooth and fast, except the taxi line at Long Beach was huge. They only load one taxi at a time. Be prepared.
This was our longest cruise so far, and I highly recommend the itinerary if you like sea days and a quick overview of the Hawaiian Islands. We Like Carnival for the large staterooms and great service. Sailing February 2015 on the Dream (again ðŸ˜„)
this is an extended balcony amidships. Typical Carnival balcony stateroom. Plenty of storage and room. We weren't cramped at all, even with the long itinerary and two large old people.