Hawaii 2013 - Cruise and 3 days in San Diego pre-cruise/land excursions includedAuthor: Jan Nugent
Date of Trip: April 2013
Our Ship: Celebrity Century: Although quite a bit smaller than other ships we've sailed, the Century (more a mid-size vessel) proved to be more than adequate and in general we now prefer this size to others in that you actually do get to meet people and see them on a more regular basis than the larger ships. It provides more of an intimate ambience than the larger vessels. Overall, the wood-decor of the ship is very nice, although the upholstery and rugs are in dire straits! I understand she is going into refub soon and in some areas it is greatly needed. The crew, however, keeps everything spic and span. The cabins consist of comfortable beds, pillows and fresh linens, flat screen TV, plenty of closets, bureau, end tables, etc. One of our cabins was a balcony and the other an inside. Both fulfilled our needs perfectly. The room stewards were prompt with cleaning our cabins and offered many suggestions to make our stay perfect. Oh, a little pre-tip always helps in that area too! The food was delish, not only in the dining room (anytime for us) but also the buffet. Murano was simply put -- outstanding! We booked for our last night and had a wonderful 3+ hour experience. YUMMY! The entertainment was varied and overall very, very good. In the dining room, we enjoyed all of the team work that went on there as well as the delicious dinners. Each server -- was top notch and friendly. We also like the high visibility of the Captain and his crew. All were present and engaging daily. Hats off to other crew members we enjoyed: Happy, Pretty, Dani, Volcan and all the others who made sure our trip was memorable! Our days were filled with many activities including hula classes, ukulele lessons, crafts, talks, presentations, movies, pool, spa, etc. The spa, I should mention, had a special deal for the Persian Garden which we took advantage of. Each day we would go and use the saunas (dry/wet) and heated tiled chairs...how relaxing it was! We also indulged in seaweed massages as well as manis and pedis. Our favorite place to hang was the Mast Bar at the back of the ship -- spent many hours there (day/night) with our two favorite bartenders -- Milos and Nicholas -- they were the best! We met lots of good, down-to-earth folks there too. Cova Cafe is also worth mentioning...great drinks with great entertainment and the people watching is always great here...
Crusie Critic: Had a delightful sailing with them all. They had a meet and greet the first day after muster, which was fun. They scheduled a cabin crawl but there was a bit of mix up and some of us didn't see all the cabins (no big deal). There were several lunches in the main dining room and a captain greeting too. There was supposed to be a galley tour but we never did get our invites. In any event, most of the people were lots of fun and we enjoyed spending time with them at these events and often times at the pool, bars, etc. Nice way to make new friends too -- Pauline, Ron and Ruth, Neil and Andre, Timarie and Tom, just to name a few.
Now moving onto our adventures in Hawaii:
Oahu: Pearl Harbor: We booked out visit to this site on our own for a lot less than what the ship charged. It included a round trip transfer to/from via shuttle ($16/pp). We were picked up on the pier at 9:00ish and at the site by 9:20. We purchased tickets on-line, in advance, the One-Day Passport to Pearl Harbor which allowed us to visit all four Pearl Harbor Historic Sites and included admission to: the USS Arizona Memorial with Audio Tour, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum - $55. We picked up tickets and audio guide at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center's Information Desk. This memorial is a must-see to anyone visiting Hawaii. We cannot stress this enough. We spent the entire day there and we were truly impressed with it all (we didn't have time to visit the aviation museum).
After Pearl, we returned to the ship and grabbed a quick dinner. Two of us then decided to head to Waikiki for the evening. We took a cab from the pier to the Outrigger and Duke's. We first strolled the beach and watched the surfers and beach goers; there was an incredible sunset to view as well. Later we enjoyed a few Mai tais at Dukes. Later we crossed the street and did a bit of shopping before making it back in time for our departure - overall a wonderful day.
This was a tender port and it was just awful! Windy weather and lots of rolling of the waves made the tenders almost impossible to board. When we finally made it to shore, we grabbed a shuttle to the car rental agency and procured our vehicle. We then went back into town to rent our Gypsy Guide and snorkel gear. Soon we were on our way to sightsee and snorkel Maui. Total cost for this trip was $33/pp...and what a beautiful day we had. The gypsy guide directed us everywhere and we took in some amazing sights. Highly recommend the Gypsy Guide and wish they were available everywhere, as we learned so much about the history, culture and the many wonderful sights that others wouldn't have known how to get to w/o the gypsy. Our day plan included Lahaina, Ka'anapali, Kapalua, Honolua Bay, Nakele Blowhole, Kahakuloa. We stopped and snorkeled at Kapalua and saw beautiful fish and even a large turtle...a true highlight! All of the sites were spectacular. At Ka'anaplai we had lunch at the Hula Grill and enjoyed the sounds and sites of the beach from there...delish! We then finished our day by returning our rentals and heading to Old Lahaina Luau which was outstanding! The setting was lovely and the food delish. The show was incredible and followed a Hawaiian legend. Got back to the ship in time to have a few at the Mast Bar before retiring - another great day in paradise!
Today was another tender day and even worse than yesterday. The tenders were even shut down for a few hours as the sea was rough and it was quite dangerous. By the time we got to our destination, all Big Island Spectacular helicopter tours were cancelled due to bad weather. However, they compensated us by taking us on the Kohala coast helicopter tour -- a freebie! This included views over the island including the farm land and ranches to the valleys and waterfalls - spectacular scenery on the Big Island. The towering sea cliffs open into the dramatically deep and meandering valleys of the Kohala Mountains. Beautiful waterfalls cascade thousands of feet into the rainforest below and remnants of ancient Hawaiian settlements are still visible too. Two of us were lucky enough to draw Greg as our pilot -- an awesome, fun, friendly, knowledgeable young man. We were also lucky enough to draw 2 front seats beside Greg. Got tons of fabulous pictures and consider this to be another highlight of our trip. Upon returning to town, we did a bit of shopping and grabbed a bite at Kimo's -- fish tacos were Yum!
Again we did it on our own and it cost next to nothing....rented a car and headed to Volcano National Park. I had packed my Senior National Park Card so all of us got in for zippo, including the car! This park is unbelievable! We stopped first at the information center and watched the "Born of Fire" video which is a must...nicely done and you learn so much in just a few minutes. Outside we met a ranger who mapped the BEST route for us to take as we were only there for the day. We followed his route religiously and feel we saw so much of the park that we were totally amazed. We saw all of the following and so much more: We basically explored the summit of K?lauea volcano via Crater Rim Drive; an 11-mile road that encircles the summit caldera, passes through desert, lush tropical rain forest, traverses the caldera floor, and provides access to well-marked scenic stops and short walks. We witnessed the steam vents, devastation, lava tube, the crater itself, etc. - such a great day. We returned to Hilo and stopped at Hilo Hatties to make our last purchases from Hawaii. The ship left early so we returned to the Mast Bar and had a few cheerful drinks to Hawaii - an incredible, ever changing paradise.
The cruise home was another 5 days of restful bliss on board the Century. Eating, drinking, participating or not, watching shows, movies, whatever we wanted to do, we did...or not. Arrived back home via United flight to the frightening events surrounding the Marathon bombers...our lives have changed again, forever! Thank you law enforcement and first responders for capturing the bombers - you are all so brave beyond belief.
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