tenaya: (exploring)
[personal profile] tenaya

We left San Diego on April 5 for a 15 day cruise to Hawaii and back. Yay! No flights! We were aboard Celebrity's Century, one of their smaller, older ships. But even though it was smaller, it seemed uncrowded most of the places I went.

First off, this was my third cruise so my opinion is not one of a frequent cruiser. We had a great time. I did not think the ship looked old or worn out, except maybe the carpets in front of the elevator in some places. There was a lot of deep red colored wood with brass fittings in the lounges and dining room. The crew was hard working, yet seemed happy. The officers were very visible throughout the ship and always asked how we were doing and were obviously listening to the answers (as opposed to pleasantries.)

We were on Deck 5 as we had an accessible room. It was in excellent condition, and the beds were firm (maybe a little too firm for me!) Our shower had plenty of hot water (in fact, it could be too hot so you had to adjust it and give it a minute to reach full temperature (much like it is a home.) The only annoying thing is that Deck five was where the accessible rooms were, and our MDR seating was also on deck five--but the kitchen was inbetween the areas. Therefore, you had to take the elevator up a floor, go to the aft elevator and then take the lift down a floor. The elevators are small compared to the other ships I've been on and were frequently full at dinnertime, so we would just get on when the elevator was going up and then ride it back down.

The food was excellent. I tried so many dishes I'd only heard about and everything was beautifully prepared and tasted wonderful. I pretty much had two deserts each night as I tried whatever sounded irresistible plus a little scoop of sorbet, which was a different flavor each night, like guava, kiwi, green apple, tangerine, mango.... Here is a copy of their menu that someone else posted:
http://www.megacity.org/scrap/Jan2012%20Silhouette%20Menus.pdf There were a few changes but that was pretty much it. Lobster was served during the final formal night (there were three) and it was delicious. I did not see anyone turned away for how they were dressed on formal night and people at my table were dressed like you would going out to a nice restaurant.

We never ate lunch, but instead went to Tea Time at 3:30pm if we thought we couldn't make it to dinner. They also offered a British breakfast which was a welcome treat (loved grilled mushrooms and tomatoes and their bacon.)

There was a cruise critic get together on the first day at sea. It was opposite a talk I wanted to see, so I stayed there 20 minutes and left. They had cookies and beverages. I talked to Jamie Petts, the hotel officer and he explained that on the previous cruise the reason the ship slowed down to 6 knots was because there was a low pressure with 18 foot swells ahead and by slowing down they allowed the system to clear before they went into that area.

They had three guest speakers and they were excellent. And June, the Hawaiian ambassador, taught us how to make leis and such on four different days. We had a lot of fun with that, and it was fun to see everyone walking around wearing their creations. There was also all sorts of gambling, bingo, trivia games, and competitions with the officiers but we didn't have the time to get to those. There were also movies, one would be shown in the cinema a few times a day, but then it would also be on the tv on certain other days. Films were The War Horse, The Help, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Ides of March, Capt America, and some comedies.

The first day at sea was rough, I think the swells were 14 foot with plenty of white caps. A couple of times waves splashed against our window on deck five. I found out a lot of people were laid low with motion sickness. I also asked and found out the ship had 1700 cruisers on board. There was only 2 days where the seas were fairly calm, the rest of the time there was a 6 foot swell which made walking slightly challenging but not bad at all.

It was about 61F/16C on deck on most days so the sun worshipers were only the most determined. The day or two before Hawaii, things warmed up enough to be comfortable out there.

Honolulu: we rented a car. It was very hot and humid. The car rental angencies sent shuttles to the little park just across from the Aloha Towers. We wanted to go to a shop in Honolulu, but after an hour of heavy traffic like LA on a bad day only to find there was no parking available for blocks around that store, we gave up and drove the circle tour around the island. We stopped at the Pali Lookout, then continued on along the coast. We stopped at Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm and found lots of good things to buy. They had free coffee which was very welcomed and the staff were wonderfully warm and generous people. We continued along the coast to the North Shore. No turtles were at Laniakea, a beach they are known to frequent. We stopped for a shaved ice at Matsumoto, and then drove back through the center of the island to go to a luau at Germaine's. That was a lovely time. Good food and drink, and they demonstrated how the dances were different on different islands. I'd left Mom alone while I got the drinks, only to return to find a handsome young man, a performer, chatting her up. He had the Maori tattoos on this face and I think he'd just noticed her alone and went to keep her company. He was very sweet.

Of course the GPS encouraged us in a wrong off ramp and we ended up at the entrance to the navy base. I had to let them inspect my driver license before they'd let us make a U-turn, and then the guard talked animatedly about Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and what a great film that was (San Dimas connection.)

For Lahaina, we tendered ashore and went on a whale watching cruise. We did see some whales and heard them, too, thanks to their microphone thing. Then we just stayed around town, ate, and went to Hilo Hatties.

For Kona, we chickened out and did not tender ashore. It was rougher than the day before and I wasn't too happy about the tender into Lahaina.

In Hilo, we rented a car, drove to the Short and Sweet Bakery and bought some food for a picnic which we enjoyed up at Volcanoes National Park. Visiting the volcano was the highlight of the trip for me. On the way back, we stopped at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut farm.

Then it was five days back to Ensenada. We got there nearly two hours late due to the swell the first two days out of Hawaii slowing us down some. We were back in San Diego by 5:30am (the walkway attached immediately above our cabin. Wakey, wakey!)

We got on the wrong Best Western shuttle, so I had to take a cab to the other one, collect the car and go back for Mom and the luggage. We were home by 2pm to 97 degree heat in the shade. But, you know, it was a dry heat! While Hawaii was lovely and the people were so very nice to us, I just don't do well in the humid heat. I think this has cured me of visiting anywhere else that is tropical! Maybe we'll go back to Fairbanks to see the Northern Lights.

I very much enjoyed our time on the Century and was never bored or restless. I'm glad for the experience of sailing to Hawaii at 20 miles an hour!

I wonder how the current cruise is doing because there's a storm out there now. We were very fortunate not to have had any storms for our journey.


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