Discussion in 'UK Trip Reports Board' started by dolphingirl47, Jun 18, 2017.
I second this!
Thanks for the birthday wishes. I had to work on Tuesday, but we were both off yesterday and celebrated then.
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Suddenly the last port day of the cruise had arrived. We woke up when we docked and went to Cafe Promenade for some breakfast. Then we got our stuff for the day and left. Our stateroom host intercepted us as we were leaving and asked us if we could take down our magnets as they were having a coast guard inspection that day. He advised that we could put them up again once we had left port that evening. That was a much better way of handling this than what we had experienced on Navigator in November.
I was pretty torn about this day. What I really wanted to do is visit Aulani for the day. I extensively looked at all the options for getting there before the trip. Taxi and Uber worked out very expensive and I could not find any transfer company or car hire from the port. So I was making plans for plan B, but I never really gave up on the Aulani idea. I was hoping that there may be car rental agencies offering their services at the port and when we arrived in the terminal, there were indeed signs for rental cars, but there were no representatives for any rental car agency present. So we reverted back to plan B.
Even though we had been to Honolulu on a previous cruise and also had an extended stay at Aulani, we never had a look at Downtown Honolulu. So I had checked out the option of the Waikiki Trolley, which is offering various hop on hop off routes. Because we had left the ship so early, it was still a little while until the first trolley was due to leave. We walked past the closest trolley stop. It was kind of sad. We had a look around this area in 2012 and there was a company offering dinner cruises and there was also a museum. Both businesses had closed. We then pushed on to Aloha Tower Marketplace. There were already quite a few empty units when we were there in 2012, but there were a few quirky shops and a coffee shop specialising in Kona coffee. Now it was a ghost town. Part of it has been taken over by a university and apart from this, there was a gym, a bar and a university book store. This was kind of sad. We headed upstairs and there is a balcony area overlooking the harbour. There were some interesting ship docked in this area so we stayed around and watched them for a while.
I went online on my phone to double-check the first departure of the Waikiki Trolley. Unfortunately my memory was about 20 minutes out and the first trolley was due to leave in 10 minutes. I asked Graham if he thought we could make this as we were at the far end of Aloha Tower Marketplace and the trolley stop was about halfway between there and the port. In the end Graham decided to head in the general direction of downtown Honolulu. Neither of us had a clear idea where we were headed, but soon I recognized building that I had seen on numerous photos. It was the old barracks in the grounds of 'Iolani Palace.
‘Iolani Palace was something I really wanted to see. As the only royal palace in the USA, it is something a little special. Graham did not fancy coming with me, but he was quite happy to sit in the palace gardens while I did the tour. I headed over to the barracks where the ticket centre is located. There was a tour leaving in 15 minutes and I got a ticket for this. Then headed back over to the palace and had a short wait. There were some other people waiting as well. Soon we were invited up onto the porch. We were asked to sit down and they gave out the gadgets for the audio tour. We were given a quick overview on where what was and then had to put on felt slippers over our shoes. Then we were let loose.
The palace was a lot smaller than I had imagined and probably the smallest I have ever visited. There were some fascinating exhibits and I was captivated by the history of the place. The most moving room was very sparse. It just had a beautiful quilt in it that was protected by a glass cabinet. This quilt was made by Queen Liliuokalani while she was imprisoned in the palace. The room was where she was held prisoner and she occupied herself by making this quilt. It is very elaborate and a really treasure.
Once I had finished the audio tour, I went back outside and put the audio tour, the headphones and the slippers in their respective baskets. Then I went to find Graham. There are all kinds of things on display in the basement and I could have gone there with my ticket, but I had seen what I had come for. I went to find Graham. He had found himself a bench underneath a tree and had spent a happy hour or so watching the local birds. I joined him for a bit before we moved on. We excited through the opposite side of the gardens and came across the statue of King Kamehameha. I stopped for some photos and then we crossed the road to Kawaiahao Church. This is the royal church of Hawaii and services are held in Hawaiian. I had read that this is usually locked up so I was delighted to find the door open. Unfortunately they were getting ready for a wedding and we were not allowed in, but I managed to get a couple of quick photos from the doorway.
We had a look at what else was in the area and we came across Honolulu Hale, which is the town hall as well as the administrative centre for Honolulu county. This is a beautiful and very impressive building we went inside and they had an exhibition of Japanese brush art. We had a look at the paintings and then sat down for a while to really absorb our surroundings.
One of the places I wanted to have a look at was the Ala Moana shopping centre, chiefly to visit the Disney Store that sells some unique Hawaiian merchandise. Graham suggested that we could walk there. We came past the old mission houses and stopped for some photos. It took us about half an hour to walk there. We ended up at a Japanese food court underneath Ala Moana and it was not immediately obvious how to get from there to the shopping centre. Eventually we worked it out. Ala Moana is quite pretty as shopping centres goes with loads of exotic plants and koi ponds. It did not take me long to find the Disney Store. I had really come for pins, but they only had one, which I did not like. I did however find two exclusive t-shirts that I liked and they both came home with me. I also stopped by Bath and Body Works to pick up some hand sanitizers for one of my colleagues.
We knew that there is a free shuttle bus between the port, Ala Moana and a couple of other shopping areas. We had actually seen the bus leaving the port in the morning. Because we walked there, we did not know where the bus stop was. There was an information desk near the Disney Store. We decided to go and see them. They had no idea about this, but sent us downstairs to the customer services office. The first person we spoke to there, had no idea either, but her colleague knew about it and marked the location where she thought the bus was leaving from on a map. We went in that general direction, but it was not obvious where the bus would be leaving from. There was a beach right across the road and Graham fancied a swim. I did not fancy it as the sun was really beating down and I was worried about getting burned. I found a tree to shelter under instead. Graham swam for a while and then we moved on. I found a kiosk that sold water. While I enjoyed my water, Graham had another quick dip in the sea. He pointed out where the port was and suggested we could walk back. I had kind of hoped we would go and find a taxi, but with him being dripping wet, this was not really an option. So we headed in the general direction of the port. The first half of the walk was really pleasant as it followed the seafront, but then we ended up walking through an industrial area with loads of warehouses. This was not very scenic. Still, it did not take us too long to get back to the ship.
When we got back on the ship, we dropped off our stuff in the cabin and Graham got showered and changed. Then we went in search of something to eat as we had not eaten since breakfast. We went to Cafe Promenade. Graham had a couple of roast beef sandwiches and I had some Coronation Chicken wraps. We also had some cream puffs. Then we went down to the Schooner Bar for afternoon trivia. The topic that afternoon was 70s trivia. Fortunately, we were joined by another couple as I had no clue about most of the questions. The other three did OK, but not well enough for a winning score. We were not too far off though.
After the trivia, we went upstairs to the helipad to watch us sailing away. It was drizzling a little and we were treated to a gorgeous rainbow. We also finally got our sunset. It was not a spectacular one, but it was the best we had all cruise. We got talking to some other people and a couple had actually been to Aulani. I was so jealous. They had arranged to be picked up and dropped at the port by the car hire company. Even though Honolulu still is my least favourite of the Hawaiian ports, I was sad to leave. Still, at least I left in the knowledge that we would be going back to Hawaii next year.
We moved down to deck 4 after a while and stayed there until we could no longer see land. Then we returned to our cabin. This time, I got showered and changed and then we went to dinner. We stopped for photos and then went to the dining room. Neither of us was very hungry as we had eaten not so long ago. Graham had some escargot and I had the split pea soup and a Caesar salad. We both skipped the main course. I had some orange sorbet, which was very nice and Graham had the strawberry shortcake with vanilla ice cream.
After dinner, we went to the art gallery. They were supposed to host an art scavenger hunt that evening and this sounded like a lot of fun. Unfortunately this had been postponed as they coast guard inspection had taken longer than anticipated and they did not have the chance to set up. We were advised to look out for this in the Daily Compass, but it never did get rescheduled.
We went to the R Bar for a glass of wine. We both had some Moscato. Once we had finished this, we went back to the cabin to read for a while. After about an hour, we settled down for the night.
Looks like you had a lovely day in Honolulu. Too bad Aulani didn't work out but you got to see some nice historical sites.
Jill in CO
We had now entered our last stretch of sea days and the final part of the cruise. After three port days in the row and relatively early starts, a lie in was in order. We got up at 9:30, got readying went downstairs. We picked up some pastries and some coffee at Cafe Promenade and then went to the Star Lounge for morning trivia. This was fun again. We did well, but did not get a winning score. After morning trivia, we went back to the cabin to pick up my iPad and Graham’s telescope. We initially headed up to the helipad, but it was very windy and it had also turned a lot cooler. So we went to the Schooner Bar instead. We managed to get a sofa by a porthole, which surprised me. We got the answer to that conundrum quite quickly. There was a spa seminar going on about wrinkle remedies, which was less than thrilling. The original speaker was then replaced by the resident acupuncturist, who was as dull as ditch water. For the most part, we managed to ignore both of them. I read and Graham watched the world go by.
We lost another hour that day. Just before noon, we went to the dining room to get some lunch. On the way I saw something that amused me no end. On one of the screens at guest services was an announcement that the final formal night would take place after our return from Vigo, Spain. I don’t know what happened there. We were halfway round the world from Spain and it was at least a couple of years since the Explorer of the Seas was last in Europe. I took a quick photo and then we went to eat. We both had a Tutti salad. Graham then had the open steak sandwich and I had a taco salad, which was very nice.
After lunch, we made our way to the Star Lounge for Progressive Trivia. The guest choir was still practicing in there so we waited on the Royal Promenade. Once the choir moved out, we moved in. It was a bit of a challenge to find enough seats together for all of us, but we managed to make it work. Our new team members were introduced to everybody else. We had a successful afternoon. After progressive trivia, we went back to the cabin to pick up my iPhone plus cable and Graham’s underwater camera as this afternoon was the submission for the photo exhibition.
The weather had not improved so we went upstairs to the Viking Crown Lounge. We even managed to get seats by the windows. I read and Graham watched the world go by. After a while, people were gathering and the member of the cruise director’s staff who was in charge of the photo exhibition arrived. I could not quite remember when the submission slot was so we headed over there. This actually turned out to be something different, but it was a lot of fun. Most people had met that morning for some photography assignments and this was the show and tell session. They had been given three topics. I can’t remember one of them, but one was close ups and the other was illusions. Right next to me was something that was perfect for the close up category. It was a Murano glass sphere. So I quickly snapped a photo. It was interesting to see the different takes on this subject matter and even more fun to guess what people had taken the photo of.
Once everybody had the chance to show their photos, Belle started to download the submissions for the exhibition. She was absolutely swamped. After a while somebody else came to help. Graham and I both managed to submit our chosen photo. I went for the rainbow photo from Honolulu and Graham used a fish photo from Isle of Pines. Once we were done, Graham took our stuff back to the cabin and then we met outside Studio B.
We had our final Crown and Anchor that afternoon. This was the top tier event for platinum and higher tiers. This was the first time we were eligible for this. They had covered the ice rink to create a dance floor. When we got there, one of the resident bands was playing and people were encouraged to dance. Drinks were flowing quite liberally again. After a while, the loyalty ambassador and some of the senior officers said a few words. There was a ballroom dancing presentation. I had to smile as the music they had chosen for this was He’s A Pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a presentation for people who achieved Pinnacle status on the cruise and another presentation for the person with the most cruise points. Then our captain sang a few songs. He has quite a voice. It was a nice way to spend an hour.
After the top tier event, we went back to the cabin to get changed. We finally had another formal night. We started making the rounds of the photo opportunities, but decided at one stage that we better head to the dining room before the show finishes and everybody was going in that direction.
Dinner was nice again. I had the arancini, which is one of my favourite appetizers followed by the roasted garlic soup. This was delicious, but strangely not as garlicky as I had expected. Graham had the mixed antipasti. For his main course, we went with the steak with fried potatoes and I had the roasted pork loin with potato gratin and vegetables. At some stage, the photographers came round and we had some photos taken. Graham passed on dessert, but I went with the dessert sampler, which consisted of chocolate cake, lemon cheesecake and strawberry panna cotta. It looked lovely, but did not taste like much.
After dinner, we finished our round of the photo opportunities and then we went back to the cabin. We had another towel animal that evening. We took turns checking out the Daily Compass while getting ready for bed. We read for a while and then settled down for the night around 10:00.
Although you did not get to Aulani this time, it looked like you had a nice day.
Love your gown and the playful pics!
I’m sorry you didn’t make it to Aulani. I like the sound of your plans of going back next year.
You packed in a lot of interesting things on Honolulu day. The ‘Iolani Palace looked like someplace I’d really enjoy touring.
Strange about the art scavenger hunt never being rescheduled.
Lovely to see a rainbow and I enjoyed the sunset pictures.
You definitely deserved a sea day at this point. Glad you were able to sleep in.
A very enjoyable day all around. The photo contest sounds fun.
Somebody certainly slipped with Vigo, Spain.
I absolutely love the color of this gown.
Now that I look back on this, I am actually kind of glad that I managed to do all those other things. That gives us an excuse not to leave Aulani.
It turned out quite enjoyable.
I had actually forgotten all about them until I started to sort through them yesterday. There are some more fun photos coming up.
It is a special year for us. It is our 20th wedding anniversary in February and Graham's 60th birthday in October.
It is a real gem and I am glad that I had the chance to visit.
There were some other events from the art gallery that were never rescheduled either. I don't think the gallery manager felt particularly well an this definitely influenced things.
I love this colour as well and the way how it changes colour in different types of light. I am not sure about the style though.
I am determined to get this trip report finished before we leave for our next trip. I definitely want to finish it and I know I won't do this after the next trip. I think it will be at least a couple of months after I finish this before I start the next one so people will have plenty of time to get caught up. I will be gone for half of December and once we are back, it is nearly Christmas. January is meant to be our busiest time at work so I will take this off from trip reporting. This will give me 4 months to do my trip report prior to our next vacation. This should be doable.
We had another nice and relaxed, but still full day ahead of us. We woke up around 9:00 and got up and ready. We went upstairs to the Windjammer for some food. Graham had porridge and poached eggs on toast and I had poached eggs, hash browns and beef strips. After breakfast, we got some coffee from Cafe Promenade and then went to morning trivia. We enjoyed this again and then headed off to our next activity.
Something had caught my eye in the Daily Compass the previous night. There was a Cluedo Scavenger Hunt. I have always enjoyed playing Cluedo and I like scavenger hunts. So I thought that this would be something I would enjoy although I was not quite sure how this would work in practice. This was actually rather clever. The characters and weapons were the same as in the game, but the locations had been replaced with six locations around the ship. I kind of wished that they had changed the characters as well to represent people on the ship. Captain Rick in the R Bar with the anchor chain has kind of a nice ring to it. Everybody playing was given a game card with all the characters, weapons and locations on them. The locations were the library, the Schooner Bar, the chapel, the Star Lounge, the Tavern and the conference centre. The idea was that you had to go to each location with the exception of the Schooner Bar and speak to the member of cruise director’s staff there. On every visit, you could make two guesses consisting of weapon, character and location for each guess. They each had an envelope with three cards. If you guessed one or more cards that they were holding correctly, they would show them to you and you could cross them off on your game sheet. You could visit each person more than once as long as you had the signature from everybody from the first go around first. The complication was there were some distances involved. The chapel is on deck 14 aft, the library on deck 8 aft, the Star Lounge on deck 5 forward, the Tavern on deck 4 forward and the conference centre on deck 2 forward. We managed to see everybody twice apart of the person at the conference centre as we only had 30 minutes. Thanks to some lucky guesses, we had eliminated 5 of the 6 locations and 5 of the 6 weapons. We only managed to eliminate 4 of the suspects. So we had a 50 50 chance of getting this right. Fortunately we made lucky guess and ended up winning some nice baseball caps.
Graham had seen something of interest as well. There was a chess tournament in the dining room. So we stopped for some coffee at Cafe Promenade and then made our way to the dining room. We got there early and had a nice chat with the member of cruise director’s staff who was hosting this. At the allotted time, only one other person had turned up. They played two games and Graham won them both. He got a gold medal. Once the tournament was over, more people turned up. They had got confused about the time. Graham ended up staying and played some more games. I went up to the cabin at one stage to get my iPad so that I could read.
By the time Graham was done, it was time to go to the Star Lounge for progressive trivia. Once we finished with this, we went to the Windjammer for a late lunch. Graham had roast chicken with potato and vegetables. I forgot to take a photo of my plate and cannot remember what I had. For dessert, Graham had bread pudding with custard and vanilla ice cream and I had pear and cherry cake and a chocolate cake. After lunch, we took a walk around deck 4 and then I went down to Studio B.
This afternoon was the last time the ice show was shown during our cruise and I really wanted to see this again. Based on the experience with our allocated show, I thought I would have no issues getting a seat, but I was wrong. The show was absolutely packed and I ended up having to stand. I had the perfect view though and really enjoyed it again.
After the show, I went to join Graham in the Schooner Bar for afternoon trivia. The topic for this was the 80s. I did better on this that with the 70s, but it was still one of our weaker performances. I thought that I would do quite well with this as the 80s was quite a significant decade for me. After trivia, we went to check out our photos in the photo gallery. The photographers were already ready on deck 3 so we stopped for some photos. There was nobody else around so we ended up with quite a fun photo shoot.
As we had a late lunch, we were not ready for dinner yet so we decided to get changed into our swim gear and head up the solarium. It was quite cool and windy and I was not sure if I was brave enough to get into the pool. Graham had no such doubts and he was in the water as soon as we got there. He told me that the water was lovely and warm and suggested that I put my towel right by the pool so that I could wrap up in the towel as soon as I got out. This sounded fair enough and I decided to go for a swim. The water really was warm and I did enjoy it. Getting out was not quite such a pleasure, but I was happy enough once I was wrapped up in my towel. They now have a member of crew watching the pool at any given time. It was mainly the youth activity staff and the cruise director’s staff that were in charge of watching the solarium pool. That evening it was a member of cruise director’s staff who did quite a lot of the trivia. As there was nobody else around, we went over and had a chat for a while. Then we went back to the cabin to get showered and changed.
We cut through the casino on our way to get our photos done. One of the photographers was passing through there, too on the way to somewhere and suggested that we should take some photos by the casino entrance. She was so enthusiastic about this that we did not have the heart to say no. We then went to all the different photo opportunities and still made it to the dining room before the show finished.
We were escorted to a table of 10, which is my least favourite table size. Service tends to take forever with so many people and it is impossible to have a conversation with everybody. We were seated, the menus were brought out and we ordered a glass of wine each. Nobody had turned up and our server took our order. It did not take long until our appetizers were served. Graham had a trio of salmon and I had the gourmet meat balls and the corn and poblano pepper soup. I was just finishing my soup when some more people were brought to our table. My heart just sunk. We had sat with two of them during lunch earlier in the cruise and they spent the whole meal trashing Royal Caribbean and going on about how much better Princess is. I am pretty realistic and I know Royal Caribbean is not perfect, but there are pros and cons to every cruise line and for us, it is a good fit. We also had an absolutely amazing cruise. I really was not inclined to spend another meal listening to them complaining about how terrible Royal Caribbean was. Fortunately we were saved from this fate. When the assistant server delivered the menus and took the drinks orders, our server brought out our main courses. I had some pasta in a vegetable and tomato sauce and Graham had fish. Once we had finished this, we made our excuses saying that we were going to the show.
We had overheard people commenting on how wonderful the show was and I did fancy this. We managed to get seats on the balcony just before the show started. The entertainer that evening was an Australian instrumentalist and singer called Hayden Smith. That evening, he was performing with his wife, who is originally from the UK. He alternated between vocals and instruments and his wife did a couple of songs on her own. He also had put together a slide show of images that showed why Australia is such a great country, which was quite moving. He performed a wide variety of types of music and although I did enjoy it, I came to the conclusion that he was a very gifted instrumentalist, but only a mediocre singer. That was until he performed a medley of songs from Les Miserable. That really showcased that he actually had an amazing voice. I had experienced this before on cruises that singers sounded flat and uninspiring with fairly easy songs, but really came into their own when they sang songs from the musicals or even the opera. The last song was an instrumental version of Time to Say Goodbye and I really wished he had sang it instead.
After the show we went for a nightcap at the R Bar and then went back to the cabin to relax and read for a while. I had an absolutely amazing day that day, but it had ended up being quite a full day and my eyes soon started to fall shut.
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