Number of Cruises: approx. 8
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Serenade of the Seas
Sailing Date: September 24th, 2006
Itinerary: Vancouver to Hawaii
This includes the trip one-day prior to the cruise and a two (2) day stay after the cruise, all of which was included in the purchase of our cruise. As is our way we make all arrangements through Royal Caribbean for air, transportation, and hotels. Since we only fly on our vacations frequent flyer miles or any other air incentives usually mean little to nothing for us, we have discovered the cruise line pricing is equal to or cheaper then trying to book separate air, transportation, and hotels. Of all of our past cruises this was by far the best when it came to the arrangements by Royal Caribbean. Because of luggage issues, discussed later, we ended up never having to manage our large suitcases because of the arrangements.
The hotel took our luggage from our room directly to the cruise line prior to
our arrival at the ship. After the cruise our luggage was taken directly from
the ship to our hotel and delivered to our room, and on our return trip we used
an optional luggage and airport check-in offered by the hotel. So we handled our
own luggage twice, once when we arrived at our airport to leave and once upon
our return. At every location on the way we were met and handled by the cruise
line representatives as promised. At our hotel in Honolulu they had a special
desk for guests of our cruise that handled our transportation, luggage, and
sight seeing packages. One thing we noticed at the hotel was the number of
packages offered varied from desk to desk, but when you looked at the options
and added them up, all of the grand totals were identical.
Of course no vacation starts with a good start, there is always last minute packing and an early trip to the airport and this trip was no different. For the most part the packing was done by 8:00 PM, but final preparations took until 11:00 PM. We had to awake about 3:30 AM for our trip to the airport, since we were flying to Vancouver, British Columbia it is considered an international flight, we were instructed to arrive 2 o 3 hours in advance. This meant for our 8:30 AM flight we were to be there by 5:30 AM. We had opted to fly from Milwaukee so we arrived about 6:00 AM, parked in the garage, unloaded the suitcases, made our way to the terminal, checked our bags and received our boarding passes, made security and arrived at our gate by 7:00 AM with no problems. On this trip we used different gates and as such had our choice of different eating establishments, we opted for breakfast sandwiches from “Quizno’s”, actually they were pretty good and not over priced for airport food, we also enjoyed juice and coffee. Had we known what was to follow we would have had more.
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 8:45 AM for Denver, and this flight loaded and departed on time, we were offered “Teddy Grahams” and a drink. Our first stop was Denver and we actually arrived about 20 minutes early, so we had to sit on the tarmac and wait for our gate to open. Unfortunately the departing flight was 15 minutes late in departing; this gave us less then 30 minutes to reach our connecting flight, which of course was at the opposite end of the airport. We made the flight with only 15 minutes to spare and had no time in which to grab food of any kind. We then continued to Vancouver, again offered a little bag of snack crackers and a drink. By the time we had landed in Vancouver we had been in the air or waiting in airports for over 8 hours. Having landed in Canada we had to clear Canadian customs, after walking for what seemed miles we were finally led to a large collecting area where we were herded into lines like amusement parks. There were two (2) main lines to choose from, and then we would slowly wind our way to the front. Once at the front we found about 4 total agents working the lines. Ours seemed put out that we were only staying for 24 hours, he asked us why, told him a cruise, he asked where we were staying, we replied the Hyatt, handed us our passports and told us to pass.
Now it was on to the luggage claim area, of course we had to locate our carousel, then try to locate our luggage. It wasn’t long before we realized that everyone on our flight had departed and we still had no luggage. Then it’s on to the lost luggage department. Of course you need to tell them what happened and their first question was, did you have a connecting flight? Told her yes and then she asked for our luggage claim tickets, a few minutes on the computer confirmed our luggage was still in Denver. We had to describe all four bags as to color and style and we were then told that they would send our luggage on the next flight and we should have it delivered later that night to our hotel.
From there it was on to find the cruise representative to locate our transportation to the hotel. To our surprise the cruise agent was waiting for us right outside the doors, and her first question was, “Where’s your luggage?” We had to explain that it was still in Denver and would hopefully make it to the hotel later that evening or else they would deliver it to the ship. From there she directed us to the bus stand to await our transportation. We were told our bus would come in about 30 minutes, in a couple minutes a bus showed up, but it was not going to our hotel, our bus should arrive in about 30 minutes. Finally our bus shows up and we load on, but we notice that other people are asking for additional stops. Slowly we start winding our way through traffic towards town, making stops at street corners and other hotels, we find it rather strange that we have driven past the same Hyatt hotel twice but never stopped. Finally after about 45 minutes we pull up to the Hyatt, yes the same one we had passed twice earlier.
We find our way to the front desk and check in, of course we are asked again about our luggage, so once again we tell our sad story. We are told they would supply us with a toiletry kit and would notify us as soon as our luggage arrives. We then inquire about food and are told the only places to eat nearby are in the hotel and are directed to the two establishments in the hotel. We are also asked if we would like to get some local currency to avoid problems, they would exchange U.S. dollars for Canadian then convert anything left before we leave. Seemed like a good deal at the time, gave her $40.00 U.S. and received $43.00 in return.
Found our room to drop our carry on luggage then try to find food as it was 3:00 PM local time, 5:00 PM our time and about 10 hours since we ate normal food. As it turns out all of the restaurants in the hotel were closed until 5:30 PM, so we started walking around and found a newsstand that had candy bars, bought a couple and continued our search.
It turns out the hotel is connected to a mall of some sort and included in the mall is a food court, down on the lower level. Success! Oops not so fast, turns out the food court establishments all close at 3:00 PM on Saturdays. All except for one (1) that we found still had it’s doors open, although they were obviously in the process of closing and cleaning they asked us if we would like to order some food. We of course responded, YES! Deb ordered the lasagna and I had a patty melt with fries, and of course we each had a drink. At this point it didn’t matter how much it cost or how bad it tasted, it was food. On the other hand it was tasty and reasonably priced.
After our little dinner we retired to our room to try and relax. During that time I decided to go outside and see what sights I could see and found that right next door was a Tim Horton’s and a McDonalds. At least I had found a place in which we could get some breakfast in the morning. When I returned Deb was sleeping and I watched a little TV, waiting for the desk to call and say our luggage had finally arrived. By 9:00 PM I had not heard anything so I called the United Airlines luggage number we had been given. According to the recorded message our luggage was on a 7:00 PM flight, but they did not say it had departed at that time or if it was due to land at that time. Try as I might I could not reach a live operator so I finally gave up and went to bed. At 2:00 AM Deb got up to use the bathroom and she noticed the message light was blinking on the phone, so she called the desk and found out our luggage had arrived and they wanted to know if they should hold them until morning or bring them up to the room. Opted to have it delivered to the room to verify it was ours and that all bags were present. It was ours and we had them all. With that done we both went back to sleep.
The hotel itself was a very nice hotel, with a very nice view of the city and the bay. However it reminded me of downtown Miami as the doormen warned me about venturing off on my own and saw them chase away the homeless and vagrants repeatedly from the doors, outside café, and patrons waiting for the cars or cabs. Does not seem to be a very welcome area in which to wander alone.
With the bus coming at 11:00 Am to take us to the cruise terminal and with the time changes we had gone through getting up early was not a problem. Got up and did the normal morning things, shave, shower and the such, and since we had the luggage we actually had clean clothes. Finally we had something to laugh about. Turns out the Hyatt’s are in the process of renovating the hotels and we happened to have one of the new rooms. Imagine my surprise when I turned on the tub and realized there was no showerhead on the wall, looking around I saw one imbedded in the ceiling. It was rather interesting to have the water come directly down on your head except it presented on minor problem. How does one rinse off any body parts that the water does not reach? One needs to be inventive in order to remove all soapsuds when trying to rinse off. That done I got dressed and told Deb I would go and get us some food from either McD’s or Tim’s. Upon my return Deb asked what the shower was all about and asked how I managed to rinse off. I just told her I had to become a contortionist and stand on my head in order to complete the required tasks. Of course we both stood there and laughed about the antics we could imagine each of us had done.
We had the bellmen pick up the luggage as it was going to be delivered directly
to the ship for us, went down to check out and try to exchange the left over
money. Checkout was easy trying to exchange the money was not. I was told they
could not exchange it back for me, so now I have about $12.00 in Canadian money
Day 1: The bus did come at 11:00 AM as listed and we were on our way. Of course our ship was not in the cruise terminal near our hotel but rather in the commercial port across the bay. It took a little time to make our way into the port, as the bus had to wait in traffic as cars cleared security, but at least we could see our ship. Once we made the terminal check in was easy, turns out we were the first bus to arrive, so no one was in front of us anywhere. Once we checked in we had to clear Canadian customs again then clear U.S. customs before we could enter the ship. That done we were on board and home free!!
During this check in period we met up with a nice couple from California, Mike and Corrine, and they ended up being our companions, or us theirs, during the whole cruise. It made our cruise enjoyable meeting up with others who shared the same interests as us, yet for the most part we did things we wanted to do by ourselves, meeting up when it was convenient for all of us. We located our cabin on the ship, dropped off our carryon luggage and headed to the windjammer for lunch and some real food. Once we were fed and content we headed back to our cabin and imagine our surprise when most of our luggage was waiting at the door for us. Not only were we some of the first people onboard but we also received our luggage long before others.
Took advantage of the situation to start putting away our items, took a rest on our balcony and took in the sights and waited for the mandatory lifeboat drill. Also a first for us, we did not have to stand on the deck; we got to sit in the one specialty dinning rooms. We have learned our lessons over the years, carry your lifejacket to the designated area, check in with the cruise representative, sit back and wait.
Having survived the lifeboat drill we returned to our cabin to find the rest of
our luggage delivered and to meet our room steward for the week. That complete
we started on a journey to discover the amenities of the ship.
We have to admit, for the ship being 3 years old, we found very few worn or damaged items anywhere, of course not to say we didn’t see any signs of wear and tear, but they were minimal. We took our tour of the ship to find the main theater, gift shops, casino, pool area, solarium, mini golf course, kids play area, and any other sights. Although our kids are no longer young enough to use the kids area we were impressed by how much they have evolved over the years from when we first started cruising. Today each age group has it’s own areas and seems set up much better. Maybe someday the grandkids will get their turn. We decided that we are not into paying extra to use the “specialty” restaurants the food in the regular dinning room is good enough for us. One thing we have noticed with the larger ships is that the “Captain’s” night is not as formal as it was on smaller ships. And along that line fewer people are also attending. Although we attended, we did not take the time to meet the captain or have our picture taken with him, we also noticed the horsdourves and cocktails are less then inviting, as a matter of fact we found no fruit punch and champagne being served at the reception. However we also attended the “returning passenger” reception, it was far less crowded, food and drinks were much better. And the “Crown and Anchor” reception was a brunch this time, food and drinks were very good, and again very few actually attended.
The ship itself is very impressive, from the entry on deck 4 right up to the top on deck 13. From deck 4 in the atrium you have a view right to the top of the ship. The glass elevators allow you to view the atrium if on the inside set, or the ocean view if on the outside. All floors have an opening onto the atrium and allow you to see the views up and down the center. Deck 4 has the “Guest Relations” desk, dinning room, and an area for computers. Deck 5 is the dinning room and shopping. In the front is the theater on decks 5 and 6, the seating is very good but we along with many others found the seats to be very uncomfortable. Of course in RCI fashion we had shows every night while at sea and movies while in port. The shows continue to be impressive and entertain all who attend. Deck 6 is the optional dinning rooms, lounges, and casino. Decks 7 through 10 contain mostly passenger cabins with center areas set aside for computers or library space. Deck 11 is the pool deck. The outside pools and such are in the center, the solarium, spa, and work out areas are towards the bow, the aft portion is the “Windjammer” dinning room. Deck 12 aft contains the kids areas, the kids water park area, and the basketball court along with the “Seaview Café”. It serves only sandwiches and light side orders, the difference is they are prepared fresh when you order them. The food and service is no charge but drinks are pay per order. They do offer water and some sort of juice for no charge, and as normal you may take the food out on the deck. Deck 13 is the mini golf course and the climbing wall.
We have found that we eat only our main dinner in the main dinning room, the
rest of our meals either came from the “Windjammer” or the “Seaview Café”. The
assortment in the windjammer allows for different foods no matter what the meal
is. For breakfast my wife also enjoys having her egg white omelet made fresh
along with her choices of fillings and toppings. If there was a complaint about
the food it had to be the bacon. It was not your traditional bacon and it was
not listed as being anything other then bacon, it just never tasted right. As
for lunch there was always a vast assortment of salads and foods ranging from
meats and fish to burgers, hot dogs, and pizza along with all the trimmings.
Since this cruise was part of a “repositioning” cruise, the previous cruise was to Alaska, quiet a few passengers were a carry over from the last cruise, and a lot of the passengers were from Canada. There were very few children of any age on the cruise; I don’t think I counted more then 20 kids’ total.
Back to the Cruise
The first five days of the cruise were “at sea”. We were fortunate in that the weather was relatively warm and the seas calm, of course by the time we approached Hawaii the temps increased. The skies were partly cloudy most of the time so we saw very few sunrises or sunsets as it seemed the clouds were always on the horizon at sea level, although I did get a few shots one day of each the sunrise and sunset. Since we were at sea, we decided to try and take part of the “Art Auctions” during the day. The only thing they ask is that you register before the auction begins, any registered guest is entitled to a “free” piece of art following the auction, all registered guests are included for a drawing for a “free” painting following every day’s auction, and prior to the auction you are offered free champagne. We were pleasantly surprised to find that not all of the art was priced beyond our means. We actually purchased two (2) pieces during the auctions; one piece cost us more the second day because we had not purchased it the first day. That and our friends were trying to do us a favor and purchase it for us. They were in the back of the room while we were in the front; once they realized they were bidding against they dropped out and allowed us to purchase the artwork. In addition we were selected a winner of one drawing, and our friends, Mike and Corrine, were winners of one piece plus a $500.00 certificate towards the purchase of another. Other then the auctions we took advantage of the sailing days to rest and take in the sights and activities of the ship, such as golfing, gaming, shopping, etc.
Day 7 of the cruise found us anchored in Lahaina, Maui. Used the tenders to get to the island, once there we wandered around town for a little while then found the free shuttle to “Whalers Village”. Unfortunately we thought we were going to a old village, it actually is part of a hotel resort complex and definitely geared to those of better wealth then us. It is an outdoor mall-shopping complex filled with the high-end gift shops.
Got back on the shuttle and headed back to town to see what other sights we
could find. In town, under the large Banyan tree was a local craft fair in the
park. On display and for sale were many local artisan wares that we had not seen
in any gift shops, of course we did buy a few postcards to send home for the
grandkids that were made by a local artisan based on an idea from his kids.
Decided to return to the ship and return tomorrow.
Day 8, still at Lahaina, today we have a tour of the Maui Ocean Center, the local aquarium and rain forest. The aquarium was definitely worth the price and time. Though it’s not as large as some it had all the local sea life on exhibit and guides place though out the sight to answer questions should you have any. Then it was on to the “rain forest” and it lived up to its name. By the time we reached the mountain it was dark and raining, at times the rain was pretty hard. Once we arrived we decided not to venture out into the weather, as we had not come prepared to venture out in such weather. Spent a few minutes taking in the sights from the bus windows and then we headed off back to town. Once there we ventured into a few more shops and the craft fair again then headed back to the ship. That night as we set sail the wind was very strong and seas rather rough, they had to close and lock the doors to deck 5 as to keep the passengers dry and safe.
Day 9 found us in Hilo on the big island of Hawaii. The morning was absolutely gorgeous; the mountain was clearly visible along with the observatory. However I was not smart enough to have my camera with me at the time and probably missed the best shots of the trip. By the time I returned after breakfast the clouds and fog had shrouded the sights and we never saw them again. Took a tour of the Botanical Gardens, another beautiful sight, we could have spent twice as much time there as we were allowed. But once again our timing was perfect, it started to rain as we made our way back to the starting point, and rain it did for quiet a while, as a matter of fact it rained all the way back to the pier and stopped when we walked back to the ship.
That night we sailed by the active lava fields, and what sights we saw. The active red molten lava pouring out of the channels into the ocean. Seeing the red hot lava hitting the ocean and causing large balls of fire, steam and smoke. At times we saw the lava become fireballs dancing across the ocean. According to the captain we were between a mile and a mile and a half away from the shore, but the sights were just fascinating. After we had passed once the captain announced he was turning the ship around so people on the other side could see the sights, so I took off to our cabin to take more pictures from our balcony, then after we passed on our side he turned again to continue our journey so I headed off to the other side again.
I must admit it was rather difficult to take pictures with a digital camera at
night into the darkness trying to catch the glow, this is one time that s
standard 35mm camera would have been better. I did manage to get a few photos
and a short video of the flow.
Day 10 found us in Kailua Kona and pouring rain. Fortunately the rain started to let up and we managed to get our “glass bottom” boat tour in without any problem. In addition to the “standard” local sea life we also saw a moray eel and a small octopus in the coral reef. The big joke on the pier was to take the local free shuttle to see the “Wal-Mart”. So not to be outdone we loaded on and went to see what they had to offer.
For the most part the Wal-Mart on Kona is the same as the local Wal-Mart in your hometown except the have a few pieces of Hawaiian clothes. Prices and items seemed about the same as any other. Returned to the ship just prior to another rainstorm, so we managed to keep dry again. Once back on board we met with Mike and Corinne for lunch in the Sea view Café for fresh sandwiches and sides.
While back onboard I confirmed with a
member of the crew that we did indeed have a stabilizer problem when cruising
above 18 knots and they hoped to repair it when in Honolulu in a couple of days.
We also inquired about the “wake up calls’ not working. We were told that it was
not working when programmed from your cabin phone, but would work when the front
desk entered the information, wrong.
That evening we thought we would return to the photo center to pick out our
pictures, we had been told that we should pick up our photos every night and
place them all together so that at the end of the cruise we could pick from all
of the pictures taken. Imagine our surprise when we found all of our pictures
had been moved and split up. The photo counter was going to try to search for
our photo’s in the records but after an hour we actually found them in different
locations, some had been split up and others were still grouped together. During
this endeavor we actually learned that one of the photo staff has a boyfriend
from one of our neighboring towns back in Illinois.
Day 11, we are still in Kona. Met with Mike and Corinne for breakfast then off for a morning of walking to see the sights and do some shopping. The weather was nice and the area not to crowded so we walked the main street along the beach stopping to check out the local stores and sights. Returned to the ship for a late lunch then take a short rest and get ready for dinner. Following dinner we had to pick up our “carry off” picture we had purchased in the art auction, then for a short photo session with Mike and Corinne to remember our journey together. Went to the last show of the trip then met for drinks and small talk until time to return to our rooms for our final night sleep on board.
Day 12 found us in Honolulu tied up tight to the pier. Met with Mike and Corinne for our final breakfast together, said our good-byes and returned to our cabin to pick up our carry on luggage. Being Crown and Anchor members we are given the right to use a private lounge with refreshments to await our call to depart the ship. Since we were staying in Honolulu for two days following the cruise our regular bags had been sent ahead to our hotel so all we had to do was locate our bus when called. Of course since our lounge was near the ships exit door we were instructed by the cruise line to “just blend in” with the line when we were summoned. We were actually one of the last groups to be called and the line to the door was very long, so we tried to blend in, however someone in the crowd took exception to us and voiced their opinion of us trying to butt in. A few words were spoken to calm them and all went well. This time as we came out of the pier we were directed to our buses to take us to the hotels.
It took no more then an hour to arrive at the hotel, “The Hilton Hawaiian Village”. It seemed like a long walk from the bus drop off area to the front desk, plus we were directed by people from Royal Caribbean to a special desk to receive information regarding our stay and pick up for the airport at the completion of our stay. The people were very helpful and also supplied information on tours and other options. Upon looking at our pick up times for the airport I discovered the flight times were still incorrect. The cruise personnel had to call the airlines to verify the correct time then contact the bus company to correct our pick up time. From there we made our way to the front desk for check in. Since it was about 11:00 AM, normal check out time, the lines were very long. Then once we made the counter we were told that our room was not yet ready and they would call us when complete. Unfortunately it took the better part of an hour and a half before our room was finally ready. Since we had to wait we used the time to locate the “post office” on the grounds to try and mail our picture home that we were carrying with us. There actually is a Fed-Ex and Post office in the same building right on the grounds. We showed them the size of the picture and asked which would be cheaper, and to our surprise the Fed-Ex agent told us to mail it. The mail staff was more than friendly and assisted us in wrapping the box and making sure we were happy with the packaging before applying the postage. The cost for packaging and mailing was only $35.00 and the package arrived safe and sound two days after we did, well worth the cost. By that time we were ready for another nap, but once again we needed food. Unfortunately the food prices at the hotel are very HIGH, but we were also very fortunate that our bus driver had pointed out a 24 hour dinner across the street and recommended it from his own personal experience. Decent prices, good food, and large helpings and decent service, what a find!
After lunch we returned for a short nap then set out to explore the hotel grounds and see what else was around. Unfortunately the hotel sales staff in the stores seemed more interested in selling us the possibility of buying into the vacation club rather then selling their wares. So we wandered the beach path and ended up by some other hotels and found a “Denny’s” for dinner, then retraced our tracks back to hotel as we had an early wake up for our trip to “PEARL HARBOR” in the morning and then “Polynesian Cultural Center” that afternoon.
Before returning to our room we had discovered an “ABC” store on the grounds, so
we stopped to purchase some muffins for breakfast, bottles of water and pop to
have in our room. If you are ever in Hawaii definitely look for those stores as
the prices are very affordable and they carry anything you could ever need.
Friday morning found us up at 4:40 AM to prepare for our trip to “Pearl Harbor”. Had some of our muffins and glasses of water. Made our way to the bus pick up area for our bus at 6:00 AM. Loaded in and made a few more stops before actually departing for the harbor. When we arrived we were near the front of the line and actually had tickets number 2 for the exhibit. It opens at 7:30 AM and is first come first served as you enter. By the time we left the opening movie for our ride to the memorial the line was wrapped around the parking lot. We were told to meet the tour bus driver in front of the entrance at 10:00 AM for our return to the hotels. We actually had more then enough time to view the movie, take our trip to the memorial, and roam the museum at the entrance before our return. Arrived back at the hotel about 11:00 AM so we had one hour before we had to meet the bus for our afternoon and evening at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Departed the hotel a little after noon for our ride, which took a little over an
hour. During the ride we were shown many sights of the island along with facts
of island life or lore. The trip was very enjoyable and did not seem to take
that long. When we purchased the trip we were given three options and prices.
The basic ride there along with dinner and the show, in this package you are
free to roam the ground as you see fit. Package two was a guided tour, Luau
dinner, and show, and package three was the same except for a buffet dinner. We
opted for the buffet dinner and the guided tour, which was nice as we were
guided to areas out of synch of others, yet we actually got to see a lot of the
grounds and shows. They are not bashful about telling you up front that it takes
more then one day to see the whole area and that our tickets were good for three
days to enter the grounds, but that did not include tours or meals. After our
tour the guide took us back to the restaurants and told when and where to go for
the show, at that time she presented us with a gift bag that included a
guidebook and DVD for each of us. After the dinner we were free to roam the
grounds and gift shops until show time. They only asked that we are seated a few
minutes before show time and all of our tickets had seat assignments so seating
would not be an issue. Our seats were in the 5th or 6th row so we had perfect
sight lines of the stage. The show lasted about 1-½ hours and was very
enjoyable. We then returned to our bus for the long ride back to the hotels. We
were lucky and our hotel was the first stop so we were in bed by a little after
Saturday morning found us sleeping in, as we did not have to check out until 11:00AM. In the morning I took a walk back to the ABC store to get some fresh muffins for breakfast, took our time to load the suitcases back up. I actually checked out at 11:00 AM but left my wife in the room so we could call for the bellmen to take our luggage to the “Easy Check” as service offered on sight to check your bags and receive your boarding passes for our return trip home. You pay for this service, but in my opinion it was well worth the cost, as we did not have to carry our bags to the airport and check in. I had also made arrangement with the hotel to secure the use of a “Complimentary Refreshment Room” for 45 minutes during the late afternoon. So we spent the rest of the morning doing our final gift shopping and photo taking, then went to lunch at the dinner, returned an used our room to freshen up and take a couple bottles of water. Then we just sat and waited for our turn to load the bus to the airport.
The bus arrived about 6:45 PM for our trip to the airport, since we had no baggage to check we were allowed to proceed right to the security area. Good thing we checked the board before entering the security check point, as we did not see any more boards for flight information. We must admit that we were slightly disappointed in the food fares offered in the airport. We had a choice of Burger King or Burger King for dinner. Once we ate we found we had about a ½ mile walk to our gate, once there we found another news stand that also sold snacks and such so we loaded up on a few candy bars just in case we got no food again on the plane. Actually they offered us the chance to purchase snack packs for $5.00 each. We bought the one we figured would be the most edible, but if course it tasted like garbage. Should have bought more candy bars. Landed in Denver on Sunday morning and this time we had better then an hour and a half to kill before boarding so we found some cinnabuns and coffee for breakfast. From there we continued on to Milwaukee and our final destination, home. We actually pulled in our driveway at 3:15 PM after leaving for the airport at 6:45 PM the night before, with a 5-hour time change, and only catching a few hours of sleep on the plane. It made for a VERY long day.
Final thoughts: We thoroughly enjoyed this trip and would love to take it again or one similar to it. We thought about doing the cruise from Hawaii back to the states. For one the dates up front would be your “busy” days to see the islands, and if you wanted to see more on the islands you would have to go a few days before the cruise. The advantage to this would be the days you have to rest while sailing back to the states. It appears that Royal Caribbean only offers a few sailing’s to or from Hawaii and they must be booked as soon as they appear or you risk the chance of not getting your booking. It’s to bad that RCI does not see fit to have more ships sailing to that market more frequently, we’re sure it would be a hit no matter what the season. We did meet a couple from a competitors cruise line that only sails the islands, and they were a little disappointed in their cruise. Everything was listed as “open” for meals and such, and because of that they felt they did not get the chance to meet and mingle with their fellow cruisers like we do on our conventional cruise.
We were also warned that once we took a balcony we would never be satisfied with
a standard cabin again. I admit the balcony is nice, and when you are at sea
it’s a nice quiet spot to sit and relax, but other then that we find we spend
very little time in our cabin and I’m sure we will be just as happy with a
standard ocean view room the next time. My wife on the other hand, truly loved
the balcony and would sit on it every chance she had. Although she admits that
having the balcony was a great feature to this cruise, she will cruise again
without one, but will always miss not having that privilege and privacy.