This morning we're headed into Kauai. Weather has been great - 83 degrees everyday. No rain.
The internet is still VERY slow if you can get through at all. Constantly locking up without any connections. Christmas light decorations are still sparotic & not due to be up untin Dec 1 st. in Honolulu. Crowds at the Arizona memorial were not as heavy as I had expected.
We just arrived home from our Hawaii adventure this morning at 12:30....The least exciting part was the traveling home on a 12 hour airline trip. As soon as I can put together a detailed review of some sort I'll post it. I had all intentions of posting from the DP but the Internet service was so bad that I gave up on the idea after trying 4 or 5 times. I learned that most of my problem was the connection to the Comcast web site- for some reason the Comcast web site was exceptionally bad as compared to other sites. Their home page is heavy with graphics and takes time to download. It took me almost 5 minutes just to get to my mail section & then after composing a post I would find that I was disconnected. Very frustrating and expensive.
Aside from that we had a great trip & I'll give more personal obersavations later.
It happened at the cruise terminal at approximately 8:45 AM. We had applied for the "walk off" program & were seated in the Wheelhouse lounge waiting for a decent time to get our shuttle to the LAX when they announced an alert to move all passengers to one side of the ship. They called all crew members to their posts. It appears that when scanning a bag it something unusual detected & they were concerned that if it was a bomb & it detonated it could have blown out the windows on the dock side of the ship. It turned out to be nothing, but in the mean time it backlogged approx 40 minutes of pax getting off the ship. Needless to say it was a scramble after they resumed calling the colors. We had a 1:20 PM flight & so it didn't really make any difference to us but many of the people who had participated in the walk off program & were on the dock waiting for their rides had to evacuate the area on foot & haul their luggage almost 1/2 mile from the terminal while they cleared the problem. When we got out shuttle at 9:30 (Prime Time Shuttle) one couple told me that they felt as though they hauled their luggage over a mile just to clear the area. The problem was handled in a professional manner & the Captain made continuous announcement thought out the ordeal. Since we travel relatively lite on out trips & always carry off our small bags & always have the opportunity to leave the ships early- The early walk offs started at 8:15 AM - the call for customs was held at the Fusion lounge & began at 6:45 AM for the walk offs.
I had intentions of posting a lengthy review of our trip but I'm not sure if this is the place to post it so I'll just jot down a few of the more pertinent items of our cruise. The ship is everything you could expect from a large cruise liner. Princess crews keep the ship spotless as they could cleaning up constantly behind over 3,000 pax. The crew was more than friendly & couldn't do enough to please everyone. I'm sure that they're instructed to be pleasant but their attitude was more of a genuine concern for the pax comfort and it definitely showed.
* Our check in at the pier was done quickly (30 min) compared to last year(1 1/2 hours).
* The food quality from a few years back has improved considerably. At one point in time I was hesitant in cruising Princess because of the poor meat quality but this has all changed for the better. The Horizon buffet does have a seating shortage especially in the 8 AM breakfast and at the noon lunch. This can be somewhat avoided by using the starboard side. Most people seem to flock to the port side for some reason. Lobster was served twice in the dr's. Once on thanksgiving & again at the farewell diner.
* The Internet service in the pacific is terrible at best & I didn't even come clost to useing all of our free benefits. One evening (10:30 PM) I was trying to post a message & had been typing for 10 minutes (I'm slow) & the terminal locked up one me but the timer was continuing to run. Since there was no one around, I called the pax services desk & they assured me that any charged would be removed in the morning. After receiving the finalized bill there was a $522 charge for Internet service. (22 hours) I first thought that they would be reluctant to remove it but it was taken care of.
* The shows were typical Princess and entertaining. There was one Martin & Lewis impersonator show that was so bad that 80 % of the people walked out. There was actually a line leaving during the performance. The cruise director announced that the show has been cancelled on future cruises.
* Some time back I had noticed on certain web sites cabin credit being offered was not to be used for casino or gratuities. I doubled checked with the pax services desk & the future cruise dept & was told that this is not the case. Cabin credit can be used as cash for anything aboard the ship.
* On the Caribbean Princess I was told that the priority tender boarding passes could be used only after ALL of the tours left the ship- again this was a mistake by one of the crew. I checked with the Captains Circle rep & she informed me that we could blend in with the tender line at any time as soon as we were ready.
* My wife talked me into attending the wine tasting event since we had free pass. I thought it was boring as I'm not a wine conusor but we did get two of those free after dinner glasses with the colored bottoms which don't stand up very well. The dr was filled with people & I suspect that most were the 168 Elite pax onboard.
* Although the smoke problem has been solved to some degree aboard the ship but it still presents a major annoyance in the casino which we tried to avoid. (one night it was smoke free) and in the Wheelhouse lounge. They still allow smoking on the right side of the lounge in about 20 seats & we were inundated by the smoke during a comedian's performance one evening. I did notice that the smoke wasn't as bad if you sit towards the read of the lounge closer to the entrance.
* On most of the Hawaiian islands we did our own tours except for Kauai where we did a Princess tour- Wailua river & fern grotto which I thought was BORING. It consisted of a 1 1/2 mile barge boat ride (scenic) & 5 min walk leading to a rock wall with a trickle of water flowing over it. They sang the Hawaiian wedding song (the woman needed singing lessons) & we motored back to the bus. All this for $64 per person. I had more fun feeding my corn flakes to the wild chickens.
On the island of Hilo we rented a car & toured Rainbow falls & Akaka falls (10 min hike required) which were both beautiful & worth the trip.
On Maui we also rented a car & tried to drive the whole road to Hanna & didn't make it. The road is paved but very windey so it makes it impossible to make good time. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to Hanna Bay only to turn around & go back the same way. It is very scenic but requires more time than we had.
* In Honolulu we took the #20 bus ($2 p/p, $1 if you have a Medicare card) to Pearl Harbor & took a tour on the Bowfin sub. $10 p/p, $6 senior. We visited the Arizona memorial & Missouri last year. The lines for the Arizona at 9 AM were long but had almost disappeared when we were leaving at 1 PM.
* The weather going to & from Hawaii was cool & I was glad I didn't spring for the extra money for the balcony. You actually have very little opportunity to make use of it except when in Hawaii (or 1 day away). There were very few people using the pools (even the indoor one). Mostly the kids. People did use the hot tubs. I saw one guy with his 1 1/2 year old daughter in the tub & nothing was said. I personally don't use them & didn't care.
* Cell service- I can't comment about any other than Verizon which was great. We started to get reception at 34 miles out (measured with my GPS) & there's hardly a place where we didn't have service. (Akaka falls) We even had signal during the transit between the islands at night. This really came in handy when I would get the rental car & left my wife to shop.
One more thing I forgot to mention. Upon boarding we received an additional $25 cabin credit as a thank you from the Captains Circle. This was our 20 th cruise on Princess & it was a little gift for being a past cruiser. I know it's not all that much but with today's givebacks & fuel surcharges being added on it's something.
Thank you for the excellent report on your Hawaii cruise. Much appreciated as always.
We are off to San Juan for two 7 day back to backers on the Crown sailing January 5, 2008. Looking forward with a great deal of anticipation.
Our only concern is whether our bags will make it on time. We fly to O'Hare from Edmonton, and have a scheduled 2 1/2 hour lay-over to transfer to another airline for the final leg to San Juan. If our bags don't make it, we will have lots of fun for two weeks wearing the same underwear. (ha)
RichC, it seems like all in all you had a good time on the Diamond. Thank you for your review. Bob & Bev, hope you have a wonderful time on the Crown. Let us know when you get back if you luggage made it or not and how you enjoyed the Crown. Bon Voyage
I see that they're having some pretty rough weather in the islands for the last few days- 50 mph winds, power outages, floods, etc. I wonder how the ride over there was this week? Any body heard anything?
I was just reading about the experiences of one passenger from the Cruise Critic group that had to be taken off the ship in Ensenada. Although everything turned out OK & Princess did take care of all arrangements, the medical charges were staggering onboard the ship. They had no travel insurance & the one days stay in the ships hospital was around $4,000. They indicated that they weren't charged for the service but weren't happy with the nursing staff. I can't begin to imagine what other charged were incurred in Mexico!