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Trip Report Cruise to Hawaii from the mianland

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After getting back home from our cruise to Hawaii on board the Ruby Princess, we heard the Grand Princess suffered a less than ideal fate. The Ruby Princess was round trip from LA whereas the Grand Princess was round trip from San Francisco.

It is always funny how things worked out. When we were looking at taking the Hawaiian cruise, we were looking at 3 embarkation ports: Vancouver, San Francisco and LA. If it weren't for a number of other determinating factors, we would have been on the Grand Princess on that particular voyage.

For those of you who know me, we tend to take cruises of less than 14 days, with a lot of port of call stops. This is actually the first time ever that we took a cruise with more sea days than port days. Of the total 18 days on board the Ruby Princess, it was 4 sea days to get to Hawaii, 4 ports in 4 days, 5 sea day, a short stop in Mexico, a short stop in LA, and then 2 more sea days to Vancouver, which was the final destination.

That many consecutive sea days is new to us. Maybe we are getting ready for retirement and want to test the water somewhat before committing to those 30+ days cruises or transatlantic cruises with many more sea days.

How well did we do with all those sea days? Stay tune.

BTW, I would have tag this under Pacific/Polynesian as well; but there are no Hawaii, Pacific/Polynesian, Australia/New Zealand on the tag area. Amy/Doug, can you fix this?

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    What happened to the Grand Princess?

    I have been fully retired since late Sept. as I have up my PT position after leaving the U of I in May 2014. I recommend retirement asap! My wife has cut back to 3 days per week and I hope she decides to cash in her chips soon.

    I am following E. :).

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    Larry! You retired! I have no idea. Congratulations!! Sue should retired the same time as you and travel more. Now I am envious.

    Although I should have pack it in long time ago, but circumstances just were not aligned for me to go, and at the rate things are going, not any time soon. Right now, I am looking at 2017 as the earliest and 2020 being the absolute latest. Things can change awfully quick though. As long as I am still enjoying "work", and I can still take my 3 or 4 trips a year, life is good.

    The Grand Princess had a small engine fire and missed most of the port. I have it on another post, and I guess I scared a few people. :)

    Okay ... back to the original reason for the post: the TR.

    We arrived a couple of days early and stayed at the Marriott LAX. The hotel looked tired and dated but the room rate was very good and provided free shuttle to and from the airport. There is really nothing around the hotel except other hotels. There is an “Ocean Express” bus service that will take you to Manhattan Beach, plus a couple shopping malls along the way. It ran on a loop and will pick up passengers on 6 stops and make 3 destination stops. The cost is $5 round trip, probably for the whole day.

    We stopped at all 3 destinations, spend a couple hours in each location and that’s about it for our pre-cruise activity for the day. We did find a lot of bargains in Macy's though. DW was happy.

    On embarkation day, took the shuttle back to the airport and meet up with the Princess reps. We got on the bus and the luggage got on a truck and that’s about it. The luggage would mysteriously show up at our cabin later that day and it was quite convenient. Other than my backpack, I don't have to worry about it getting onto the bus, off the bus and to the crew at the dock.

    As we have preferred boarding, the embarkation was quick. We got off the bus, walked in, filled out the health declaration and were ushered to the express line, checked in, get our cruise card, went through security and boarded the ship, maybe 15 to 20 minutes tops.

    At some piers, you went through security before the check-in process so everyone waits in the long line to get the bag check before your priority status kicked in.

    I like this better as there is less wait time and since the so call security check is a mere formality anyway.

    As an aside, the USS Iowa was docked at the San Pedro pier. It was one of the largest battleship in its glory days. It dwarfed in size and looked out right tiny next to a modern cruise ship.

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    Yep the end of Sept. was it for me. When its time you just know. Sue has cut back and I think she will finally stop completely fairly soon.

    For our upcoming cruise on the Sapphire we will have preferred boarding so that should help.

    Someday I would love to see the USS Iowa. The terms of surrender were signed on its deck officially ending WW II. I think it displaces like 50k tons so yes its puny compared to todays cruise ships.

    The Japanese built two super battle ships, the Musashi and the Yamato which displaced 80k tons. Both were sunk by waves of hundreds of US bombers and torpedo planes as at this stage of the war the Japanese naval air force was a non-factor. Ok so end of that bit of history and am following your TR!!

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    "...Someday I would love to see the USS Iowa. The terms of surrender were signed on its deck officially ending WW II..."

    Sorry, you are a bit confused. The terms of surrender were signed on the deck of the Battleship Missouri not the USS Iowa.

    At the time the USS Iowa served as Halsey's Flagship and was anchored in Tokyo Bay along with the USS Missouri.

    The USS Missouri is now moored at Perl Harbor. The USS Iowa is now moored at the Port of Los Angles. Both are "museums" and can be accessed by the public.

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    This is correct, my error. It's an Iowa class ship and yes it's the big Mo at Pearl where the terms of surrender were signed. I read that President Truman wanted it this way as he was from Missouri.

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    Something happened at the muster drill which was typically very routine and boring. Of course, we all knew the rule changed after the Costa Concordia mishap, necessitating the muster drill before the ship leaves port.

    You should hear the "murmur" when the PA announced during the drill that the ship will “rock” a bit on the open sea as there is a “storm” blowing through from the north, so please use caution, hold on to the hand rails when moving about etc. Since we booked a cabin located mid-ship lower deck, it shouldn't be too bad for us.

    As I have said earlier, we liked port intensive cruises so this Hawaii round trip cruise is making DW and I a bit nervous. 2000+ nautical miles and 4 days at 19 knots would get us to Hawaii. I guess we will have a lot of time to relax and take it easy, and the ship sort of became the destination. We have been on the Ruby a few times so we are familiar with it, so I don't know if it is a plus or a minus at this point. Only time will tell.

    The age of the fellow passengers were older than what we have become accustomed to with Princess. This group was much older and I saw more canes, walkers and electric scooters. Even the cruise directors were making jokes that most of the passengers were from California or Arizona. In a causal conversation with one of the “older” fellow passengers, it sort of made a lot of sense that the fellow passengers are older and mostly retirees. On a cruise lasting more than 14 days (15 days in this case), you will see mostly retirees or special occasion cruisers. Most working stiffs (like me) wouldn’t be able to take the more than 2 weeks off at a time. We also noticed a lot of “repeat” customers. Someone made a comment this is their 8th Hawaii cruise and someone chimed in saying it was their 12th.

    There were some younger passengers as there was a wedding party. With no disrespect to my fellow older passengers, as I will be there too soon, the area outside the dining room became a parking lot: full of walkers, scooters etc. I made a joke about the parking lot and I don't believe some took it as a joke. DW elbowed me and told me to keep my trap shut. :(

    Back to the rough sea ...

    We expected the sea to be rough around this time of year and it was. There were 2 surprises. The firsts one was with the bridge announcement during the muster drill, I thought it would be worse but it was not as bad as I would expect. The wave was only about 15 to 20 feet so it wasn’t that bad at all as we had seen much worst. The ship rocked side to side just a touch, mostly due to the cross wind coming at it from the north at 40 to 50 knots which was quite strong. Some people said it was the worst they have seen and all I can say was it wasn’t even close. I have been through worst on a Caribbean cruise and it wasn't during hurricane season either.

    The second surprise was the precaution the ship took. We expected the usual lock down on the open decks, nets over the swimming pool and so on, but they took the extraordinary step with all the cabin balcony doors locked and the balcony passengers do not have the use of their balconies as a safety precaution. For us, that’s a first, not sure what they are going to do about compensation, if any. No one seems to be complaining though.

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    I never heard of locking the balcony cabin door before. Did they unlock them when the weather improved?

    I do wonder what % overall of cruise passengers are seniors. Maybe I will ask the CD on our upcoming cruise.

    Keep it coming!

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    Larry, this is the first time I come across it too. They unlocked the balcony doors after the second sea day.

    On this particular cruise, I am guessing 85% or better are seniors, myself included, and we are the "younger ones", except for the wedding party.

    It’s been almost 2 years since we last set foot on a Princess ship so it’s been a while. But once we got on board, the familiar lay out of the Princess Grand class ships sort of made us feel as home as we knew exactly where everything was. We still like the very simple and basic layout of the closet/storage area of the cabin; an open space, a large cupboard with no drawers but a lot of shelf space and coat hanger space, a full length mirror by the door and it is very functional. In comparison, other cruise lines offered sliding closet doors with all kind of drawers. It looks prettier but not as functional. I distinctly remembered that we both try to get at our stuff to get dress for dinner and I have to wait for DW to finish so I can slide the doors over and access “my” side of the drawers and the closet space.

    The dinner menu was very familiar and not much had changed since we were on board last. A new feature was their new partnership with a celebrity chef who I have no idea who he was so in my mind, he wasn’t that famous. The menus will add items named “crafted by Curtis” and new menus will start to roll out next year, along with specialty restaurants by Curtis. I think he is Curtis Stone, from Australia.

    With their 50th anniversary, they have their own “Sea Witch” brand of craft beers which I thought was pretty good, especially the IPA, not that I am a big beer connoisseur, but I tried both of them anyway. Drink prices has inched up which was not a surprise, but all in all, we didn’t felt we were being gouged, and the increase was relatively reasonable. The price was comparable to a typical hotel cocktail lounge.

    I read elsewhere that this ship was “old” and tired and there were plumbing issues with plugged toilets and sewage smell everywhere. I am happy to report that I have not come across any of that. I did notice a fresh coat of paint on the promenade deck and you can definitely smell it.

    The ship is going into dry dock (the second renovation since the ship was launched in 2008) after our cruise. I will be curious to see what changes they are making.

    UP next: the entertainment

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    Stone is a big name and yes he's from OZ. I have seen him on several TV shows for cooking competitions.

    I too like the familiarity of their ships. makes it easy to navigate your way around.

    I hope the Sapphire has the Sea Witch brews. I do like trying a local brew when we are abroad. Among the best I've ever had or at least to my taste was a Guatamalan beer called Gallo there though in the US its called Famosa and a Cayman islands brew called, what else, Caybrew. Tiger beer from Singapore is also very good. :).

    BTW it seems that a lot of your posts are done in the wee hours. Are you a night owl? :).

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    Eschew, I was on the Fascination in October and on the last night there were rough seas and my friends had their balcony door locked. Tell your DW, next time when she shops at Macys, if she shows her out of state driver's license she will get an additional 7% off and no sales tax:). By the way great trip report, keep it coming:).

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    SOrry about the long dealy ... I am back ...
    Larry, back to your comments form Jan about night owl ... It's 4 in the morning and I am wide awake ...

    geosand, I'll finish the TR, now I have to collect my thoughts and remember where I left off. I knew entertainment is up next.

    tch912, I am getting Macy email weekly, they credited my account 10% of my total first day purchases. I totally missed that you got discount the day you got the card AND a credit on top when you get the bill. It's a great deal. I'll have to remember the out of state driver's license for additional 7% and no sales tax for next time.

    Percy, entertainment is up next ....

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    Entertainment on board any cruise ship is very hard to describe in a few words without giving the wrong impression. Words like traditional, vegas like, showy, boring, old, stale, loud, lame and a few other choice words come to mind. Other than NCL that use a brand name entertainment such as Blue Man Group, and Disney with their Disney shows, all the cruise ship entertainment is pretty well the same: singers and dancers, comedians, jugglers, magic show, maybe a tribute act and that's about it. The quality of the entertainer varies from ship to ship, not because of the cruise line but because of geographic locations, and the talent pool that is available close by.

    Princess signed a staple of entertainers and rotate them from ship to ship. Most typically have a contract, 3 or 6 months, maybe a year whatever. I have seen the same entertainer a few times through my years of cruising. If they are good, their contracts are renewed and if they are not so hot, they are gone. They also "discover" new up and comers who appeared in talent shows, which helps with the "freshness" of the line up.

    The Princess productions shows in general, are adequate and comparable to other mass market ships. 4 singers, 8 dancers, you got the idea. All the ships will have the same shows, but with different cast and crew, and they rotate the shows and typically keep doing it for a couple years and then they create new ones.

    For those who have cruise on Princess frequently, you would have seen the same production show over and over again.

    On the first night, they usually offer a sampler show giving you a highlight of what to expect on the main stage. It is usually boring but we don't want to skip it. For whatever reason, we did this time so we have to rely on the daily patter to figure out what is going on.

    Other than the first night, we did not miss too many of the main stage show as it is part of our routine, dinner, show, lounges/bar/night spots, bed. We did miss the Hula dancers though as we were ashore.

    Not in any particular order, the main stage acts and their grades. I don't give out "A"s unless they are really good. Sara Brightman, Michael Bublé, Josh Gorban, you got the idea. C- is a passing grade for me. I am also quite charitable and seldom give failing grades unless they are really bad.

    Steve Moris: he was the opening act for the beach boys for almost 20 years in the 80's and 90's. His act was billed as comedy and music. His hand shadow bohemian rhapsody act was interesting as was his beer bottles, and of course, he played a few beach boy tunes. Overall, he is quite good, but not good enough that I will pay money to see him specifically. I give him a B+

    Eric Lyden: He was a regular at the Gotham Comedy Live. He didn't do too many typical cruise ship jokes which was fine with me. You can only take so many buffet feeding frenzy and small shower jokes. He would be a B-

    Billy Joel tribute. The show is really good and he almost sounded like him, but I can't even remember his name! He will get a B+

    A vocal group doing a bunch of popular Motown hits. Didn't remember the name of the group though. They are okay. The tunes are catchy, relaxing entertainment. Did the Temptation impression with I've got sunshine (whatelse?) I guess I will give them a B.

    Nat King Cole tribute: this is probably the best act I've seen on board on this cruise. Donny Evins been on the cruise ship circuit for years as I have seen him on NCL before. A solid B+

    The strangest main stage show was the Piano follies ... but then again, he is playing at Vegas. He tried to be funny, a combination of jokes and piano playing. Maybe a C?

    Tyler Bryce was an interesting character. He is a vocal impressionist and he did impressions of many people, none particular bad, but none particular spectacular either. Since he sang mostly well known tunes from well known singers, he is a crowd pleaser. He is young (early 20+?) and I think he said he appeared at the America's got talent. He is new to the cruise ship circuit. He gave away free CDs to the audience, pointing them to his web page, He said he is going to make it "big" in Vegas. We'll see. He would be a B- in my book.

    The Comedy Juggler is forgettable. At least no one walks out on him. He would be a charitable C-.

    On the final day, they did a "Voice of the Ocean" show complete with the spinning chairs, audience voting and contestants (passengers) who qualified through Karaoke contests. Honestly, the talent wasn't all that great. The eventually winner was predictable as he is the only one who can actually holds a tune. Good entertainment value though as a comedy show rather than . The 3 judges were Tyler, the production show's singing captain, the ship's Captain (he got stuck with all those people who can't sing). I think they pay big money to use the name "Voice" as the whole thing mimic the TV show, and make constant reference to it.

    The big disappointment, No crew talent show. I was really looking forward to that. Not that I want to see "If I were not upon the sea" again.

    Next up, the production shows.

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    Really enjoyed your entertainment reviews! Did you write all of that down? No way I could have remembered all if it.
    We were on Princess Regal a few weeks ago. I thought the quality of entertainment was just barely average, except for a string quartet which was wonderful, but we enjoyed it anyway. Maybe it is just Princess these days. We were on MSC Divina last year and the entertainment was superb.

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    E I think you summed it up very well. The ship performers are quite good but will never be big stars on their own. They have found their niche. I do admire them for all they do and their stamina especially. They do a very nice job and I usually like their production shows. Sometimes the individual performers are not up to par and at times we have left before they finished.

    This is one area where I give NCL th edge. On the Getaway there is a theatre called the Grammy experience where to perform you have to at least been nominated for a Grammy award. That's a cut above usual ship entertainment.

    Sass overall how did you find MSC?

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    With cruise ship's main stage entertainers, they are usually had been, could have been, or want to be. I have seldom come across anyone who is really exceptional. Maybe I have to lower my standard a bit.

    Putting it all into proper context: It's free. It's part of the package. You don't pay for it, no cover charge, no minimum spend, no compulsory drinks ... Heck, I have been to bars with lesser (meaning worst) performers and paid cover charge, over priced water down beer, among other things. You pay your cruise fare, say $1000, and you got food, lodging and entertainment for a week to 10 days or more. I mean seriously, where do they make the money on bringing in an A listed entertainer? It is a business, and when there is no return for your investment, why spend the money? The performance are adequate. They do "popular" things, people seems to enjoy it, they clapped, cheered, even an occasional standing O, hey, it's all good. Can't be too critical if it's free. If I have to pay for a ticket, depending on what they charge, I probably would not go to too many of them.

    NCL seems to be a little bit ahead of the curve on the entertainment, their Grammy thing is a gimmick. The entertainers all fall under the category of "had been, could have been, or want to be". If only Grammy winners can perform, then it would be really something.

    We are not regulars to Vegas but we like to be there every once in a while and catch some shows. Sometimes paying big bucks for "had been, could have been, or want to be" as well.

    Sass, I didn't write them down, if I did, I would have all the names. I've seen Donny Evins before (on NCL) and he was better back then (much younger and more energy) so I remembered him; Tyler gave out free CDs and he autographed my copy so I got his name right; I've met Steve Moris some years ago when the Beach Boys were in town for a concert. Back then, my job involved dealing with the production companies and provide "personal" services for the star entertainers, so I have met quite a few A lister through my days back in the 80's and 90's; as well as the "had been, could have been, or want to be", which typically would be the opening act or back up singers.

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    We saw this gal on our very 1st cruise in 2002 on the Splendor of the Seas. She was awesome. Then we saw her again in 2012 on the Celebrity Equinox. Awesome again! I waited in line to meet her after her performance and told her this was the best performance I've seen on a cruise ship since our first one when we saw her then. She was so happy to hear that and it made me feel good she got a kick out of it. It was all true of course!!
    http://www.jacquiscott.com/

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    On one of our cruises the comedian was so bad that he left the stage saying it's obvious that I'm boring you, so I'll go". That was the best line the whole night.
    We've cruised to Hawaii from the mainland - the only difference is that our mainland is Australia. Lots of sea days but a very pleasant way to arrive in Hawaii.

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    Let me start off by saying that Princess production shows are generally very well done. Good and appropriate choice of music, gorgeous costumes, good choreography, decent singers and dancers, nice back drops and set designs, and overall, very entertaining. They are all about 35 to 45 minutes in length.

    With this cruise, there were a total of 4 production shows, which was lots. 2 performances each and generally packed for both shows. For the early show, you have to be at least half an hour early or else you won't find a seat. The second performance did not fill up as early but is packed just the same.

    So, what is there not to like about the Princess cruises' production show? Repetition.

    As I have said earlier, before this cruise, we have not been on a Princess ship for almost 2 years. Of the 4 production shows, we have seen 3 of them before, and multiple times. Not that we won't go see the show again if it is on.

    "Stardust" is relatively slow pace, full of songs form the late 50's and early 60's. But that show has been around for 5 or 6 years. Mind you, it is probably very age appropriate for this crowd.

    "Colors of the world" created scenes from around the world along with costumes from the regions (notice I did not say songs from the regions). The dancers tried hard to perform regional (cultural) specific dance moves to modern music. Again, this show has been around for a few years.

    "Once upon a dream" is the best of the 3 and probably the newest of the 3. I remember it was "premiered" at one of our previous Princess cruises. I liked this show a lot. But them again, this must be the 3rd of 4th time we have seen this show. Love the combination of music, the story line, this is probably one of the few that I may actually pay real money to see if it is on stage. But then it has to be longer than 45 minutes. If you come across this show, go see it. Well worth it regardless of your age.

    Notice that I said there were 4 production shows and I only talked about 3 all this time. The 4th one is different and Princess invested $$ in this one. The show is call "Magic to do".

    So, what is so different about this one from the others? First off, the composer for the music/songs in this production all came from one single composer: Stephen Schwartz.

    So who is he? Well, I really didn't know who he was until I read up on his bios, but I do know about his Broadway musicals. His single most famous Broadway hit is "Wicked". His other works included Houdini, Reluctant Pilgrim, Godspell & Pippin and many more. According to his bios, he is a multiple Oscar (3) and Grammy (4) awards winner, and was recently honored with a special Tony award among other things such as a star on the walk of fame, songwriter hall of fame etc.

    This show featured a magician (the central figure) with his assistant, weave a story line on a magical journey with songs from the various musicals that Stephen Schwartz wrote.

    Typically, each musical has it own story line so putting music/songs/lyrics from different story lines into one story is quite interesting; this is in addition to the magician performing magic tricks throughout the show.

    Apparently, this is a premier of the show and is a "first showing" within the entire Princess fleet. The have printed souvenir programs, handing them out was staff dressed in red carpet gowns and tux greeting everyone at the door. They really made a big deal out of this. This is the first of several new works commissioned by Princess, written exclusively for their production show.

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    The rest of the entertainment is so so. Your typical piano bar, a dance band, DJ at the club, Karaoke, game shows, trivia and the like. Toss in some arts and craft, guest lecturers for good measure. They have a variety of things at he Piazza but no string quartet. Really missed that. Didn't recall having a sting quartet at the last Princess cruise either. Maybe they don't do that any more, which is a shame.

    As the weather wasn't too good, the Movie under the Stars was not busy at all, except for the Monday night football (Green Bay was playing) and the Farve retirement at half time(??)

    We have always enjoyed Princess cruises guest lecturers and this cruise actually had 2 of them. Doug Eaton was absolutely fabulous. He was funny, and musically talented and his "lectures" were highly entertaining and topics varies. The lecture titles were intriguing enough that draws you in. I find myself talking to him almost after every lecture. All his lectures were on sea days.

    Here is a sample of his topics:
    - The Queen's knickers
    - Biggest musical hits
    - Quirky inventions
    - Murders in literature
    - the Vikings
    - Quirky Olympic events

    The other guest lecturer is a naturalist and talks about Hawaii and the volcanic formations, wild life etc. The information presented was good but she was boring and forgettable; she can't even operate her own laptop and power point and time were spent fiddling around with it and then she apologize. For one day, I can understand, but it was almost every single time she presented anything.

    Oh, almost forgot. They offered Ukulele lessons. They have loaner available so you can practice at your leisure between lessons. I believe there were 2 levels of skills and 8 sessions each. People obviously knew about this as we saw quite a few people brought their own instruments. And they have Hawaii dance lessons as well as lei making classes.

    Not much to say about the food as it was standard cruise ship affair. People keep trying to compare cruise ship food, who is better than who, and myself included in those conversations.

    The truth is, unless you went to the for fee specialty restaurants, the food from all mass market ships are very similar. The selection, menu choices, variety may be different, but not really all that much difference. It comes down to one thing: the one who did the cooking. So the menu may be the same on all Princess ships, but they tasted different because of the one who prepared the meal: just like going to a chain restaurant. I have adopted a new attitude for cruise ship dining. I call it a C-Food approach. C food? Eat food!:D

    The MDR was really busy very early on, every single night. Must be the age thing: early dinner, early to bed. Seems like everyone wanted to have early dinners. Staff were friendly and mostly helpful.

    Didn't wanted to talk about the ports unless there are interests. After all, it's Hawaii we are talking about. The weather was not so great, rainy, foggy, cool. We didn't hit any of the beaches, we went to National Parks and volcanic hikes instead on 2 stops. Didn't even do the usual tourist thing (like the memorial) in Honolulu. We opted for the Polynesian Cultural Center instead.

    That's about it for this TR unless there are specific things that you wanted to know.

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    Thank you for the TR E. I enjoyed it. I do agree about cruise ship food as to the over all similarity. I have always been fine with cruise ship food in the MDR. You have to consider that they are preparing for thousands of people. Given that then I think they do a fine job.

    Did you leave feedback about that naturalist who could not use her laptop? I'll bet Princess would like to know about such things.

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    Larry, the only feedback that I gave to Princess was the missing string quartet. I spoke to Frank, the cruise director, and he indicated that the string quartet did not fit the passenger profile on this itinerary which I think is bunk.

    I am being charitable to the naturalist. She had good material, either she was just not computer literate, or did not know how to work the remote control on the laptop for power point presentation. Slides got missed and not synchronized to her "talk". She is also very monotonous, but that's a totally different story all together.

    We had a great cabin steward. Mind you, it's nothing a few quick bucks early on the cruise that wouldn't fix if there is a problem. It is no longer tipping, think of it as "buying" over and above service or priority service.

    The service in MDR is A1. Since we like to have any time dining, we did not have the same waiter every single night. We did get the waiter we asked for when we had a reservation. The service level were similar regardless of who was our server.

    Oh yea, one small complaint. It was tough to get a table for 2 unless you call early. They need to have more 2-seaters tables.

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    Eschew,

    Thank you for the report. I'm interested to know if you will do another cruise like this that involves so many sea days in a row? We like port intensive cruses too. We have an up coming 39 day cruise to New Zealand on Holland America that includes Hawaii & the South Pacific so we will be having a LOT of sea days in a row and we've never done more than two in a row before.

    Utahtea

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    Utahtea, I started the TR by saying that we like cruises with a lot of port of call stops, and this Hawaiian cruise is actually the first time ever that we took a cruise with more sea days than port days. There was 11 seas days in all.

    What we have learned is that we can't really compare this Hawaiian cruise to the normal port intensive cruises we have taken in the past. We have to mentally prepared ourselves for it, and it is two complete different style of cruising.

    For port intensive cruises, we consider the ship to be a floating hotel and we are busy go-go-go all the time on port days, and the sea day is just to catch a breather. We are active people, and this worked great. We "sampled" a lot of destinations, if we like a particular one, we will return some other time and stay for a few days if possible, or take the same cruise again, and visit different place on the same port. We hardly do anything on the ship except eat, sleep and maybe catch a show or two, and that's about the size of it.

    With this many sea days on this Hawaiian cruise. Our goal was to relax / recharge, take it easy and go on a very slow pace. The ship sort of becomes the destination.

    All these years of cruising and we have never used the ship's swimming pools or hot tubs. We did not make any exception this time. We are not gamblers so we don't spent much time in the casino either. However, we did not find that we do not have enough things to do on sea days. On the contrary, we have so much to do that we were too busy and did not relax as much as we have hoped.

    We took in more on board activities, from trivia games and pop quiz to enrichment seminars (from guest lecturers to Ukulele, photography and iPad lessons), karaoke to dance band and night club, movies and production shows, read, people watching, we didn't have too much down time and we dictated our pace, and refused to be rushed.

    We got up when we feel like, go the MDR for breakfast and coffee (MDR eggs are made to order and the coffee are much better than the buffet). After that, we catch a morning trivia or a lecture, have a light lunch (or skip it all together), walk around a bit, people watching or take a nap, catch a movie, play bridge, enjoy the afternoon entertainment in the piazza, and then back to the cabin to change, and get ready for dinner. The day flew by so fast. Dinner usually took a couple of hours, catch the production show or something on the theater main stage. After that, it would be the piano bar or the night club, or the jazz band or the dance band, or watch people sing karaoke, catch a movie or the football game on the big screen (Movie under the stars) warm milk and cookies,popcorn, next thing you know, it's past midnight. I brought a book that I wanted to finish, but I never even get to open it.

    As you can see, time flew by quickly but it is with a different mentality, and our enjoyment (or value) came from different sources.

    You asked if we will do it again. The answer is a definitely yes, but only when we are ready for (or needed) it. Before this cruise, we had a lot of things happening in both work and personal life. We were tired. We needed to get away and just relax and don't do anything. I think it was mission accomplished. Many times we have gone on a cruise and we got home exhausted and needed a rest after the holiday.

    On the up coming trip, it will be full day of travel to Spain, 4 days in Barcelona, 7 days on a cruise with only 1 sea day, 3 days in Rome and a full day of travel back home. We have booked tours on every day except the day of arrival and the day of departure so it will be go go go all the time, quite the opposite to the Hawaiian cruise.

    If you prepare yourself to "laze" around the ship, relax and take in the activities, regardless how stupid the activities might sound, either as an active participant or spectator. You will have loads of fun and run out of time before you run out of things to do.

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