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 Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1

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NDJollyMon
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PostSubject: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:49 pm



February 5-20, 2006, Los Angeles to Hawaii to Los Angeles. (15 days)

Total distance traveled: 5,081 nautical miles.

This was our 4th cruise, and our second with Princess Cruise Lines. We are in our early 40s, and love each cruise for what it is. We flew in to LAX two nights prior, with family and friends. There were 8 adults, and 2 children in our group.

Los Angeles, California -- Arrived in LA two nights pre-cruise for some R&R and sightseeing. Took a pre-reserved SuperShuttle from LAX to Best Western Ocean View Hotel, Santa Monica. It overlooks Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica Pier, and Palisades Park. We had an ocean view with balcony. The hotel was nice, and in a really GREAT location. The beach and pier is right across the street, and the 3rd Street Promenade is only 2 blocks away. This is a great place to spend some time.

Island Princess leaves from Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro, California. We arranged for SuperShuttle to drive us to the pier on sail date. We were told by Princess to arrive AFTER 1pm because there were 3 cruise ships in harbor. We arrived a little before noon, and the short line outside started moving into the terminal shortly thereafter. Porters grabbed our luggage quickly, and were very helpful. We processed through the EXPRESS check-in line quickly and were in our cabin before 1 pm. Getting to the port early was a great choice for us, as we missed standing in HUGE lines later. The people who bought Princess Transfers got there hours after we did, and waited in those long lines.

Ratings:

Best Western Ocean View Hotel: C+

Best Western Ocean View area: A Embarkation: A+

SuperShuttle Service: A+

Porters: A+

Sail Away Party -- I enjoy having a nice sail away party at each port, and the first night should be the biggest and the best. Princess put on the lamest party I have ever attended in 4 cruises. The band set up, then disappeared and never played any music. So basically, there wasn’t a party, dancing, or an explanation why. It was over before it started. Everyone went inside right away, as it became cool and breezy on deck as night fell. I later found out one band member didn’t show up onboard so they didn’t play.

Ratings: Sail Away Party: F

Sea Days -- I love sea days! I’d like a cruise that didn’t stop anywhere; so being on a cruise that begins and ends with 5 nights at sea was HEAVEN to me. Getting around the ship seems a little confusing at first. It gets easier as time goes by. The crossing was pretty rough at times. Seas were mostly mild to moderate. The ship does pitch up and down, side to side quite a bit. Sometimes, walking straight can be a challenge. There are many daily activities for those who like to participate. Check your Princess Patter daily.

TIP: If you are prone to sea sickness, I recommend taking a remedy each day. I would also recommend a cabin near the center of the ship, on a lower deck. The front of the ship seemed to have the most movement. (think of the ship as a teeter-totter) On one occasion, the dance show in the forward theatre was postponed because it was too dangerous for the dancers.

TIP: For those that like to carry a schedule, but like to save their Princess Patter as a keepsake: You can pick up a single page daily activity sheet at Guest Services each day. You can fold it up, and not miss a thing.

TIP: If you like to see the menu each day prior to dinner, you can simply look in the binder located on most bars. There is a Dining Room Menu posted there each day. This can save you a trip to the Dining Room to see it.

FYI: If you book a balcony on this trip, keep in mind it may be windy and cool. Water spray sometimes reaches the highest decks. We found the balcony to be almost useless most sea days coming and going to Hawaii because of this. Even so, I still would have booked the balcony room. Sailing between islands, and while in port are great times to use the area. It’s also nice to have daylight in the cabin.

TIP: There are some nice aft sun decks on Island Princess. There is plenty of sun, and very little wind back there. You can get to them easily through the upper deck public areas. There are also some hidden sun decks you can only access through the Port and Starboard stateroom hallways on Aloha and Baja decks. You can have them to yourself for a few days. Word usually gets out, and traffic out there picks up later in the cruise.

FYI: If you like wildlife, keep your eye out for porpoises on the first couple days. We saw large numbers of them near the ship from our balconies.

Hilo, Hawaii -- We rented a minivan from Thrifty, and drove up to the Kilauea Volcano. The drive takes around 45 minutes each way. Prepare for rain, and cool weather at the volcano. There are lots of trails and thermal features to see in the park. Thurston Lava Tube was interesting to walk through. This was the most crowded site in the park.

FYI: If you like wildlife, keep your eye out for whales in the morning before entering into Hilo’s harbor. We saw many humpbacks just before reaching the harbor.

FYI: The evening we left Hilo, around 9-10 pm we passed the lava flow where it enters the ocean. It was on the Port side of the ship. You could see the lava flowing down the mountain, and entering the sea. It will be dark, and you will need a really good camera to take a good picture. This spectacle is worth seeing, so try not to miss it!

TIP: If you have a starboard balcony, I suggest viewing the lava from your cabin. Deck rail space on deck 15 is tough to find. It’s crowded with people, and the majority of it has high windows, which limit your view. Get there early if you want your own space, or better yet, stand on the stairs leading to the forward Splash Pool.

FYI: This evening is also the ISLAND NIGHT deck party. Fun, music, games and dancing under the stars. Don’t forget to go in to Horizon Court and see the tropical buffet.

Ratings:

Thrifty Car Rental Hilo: B+

Island Night Party: B

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii -- This is a tender port. Excursion groups have priority getting on the tenders first. We went on the Capt. Zodiac Excursion. It was fun, but it was a rough ride. Snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay was second to none. Loads of fish, and coral. The area gets a lot of traffic when the Fairwind boat arrives dumping loads of people into the water with you.

Much that Kona has to offer is within walking distance of the tender port. Tender lines can get long near the end of the day. The lines move pretty quickly, however.

I had planned a trip to a coffee farm, and reserved a rental car from the Dollar Rental place at the King K. Hotel. There was a Chinese New Year celebration going on, streets were blocked, and traffic was a nightmare. I skipped picking up the car, checked out the town, and joined the celebration. I also paid a visit to Rainbow Falls Tattoo shop for a permanent souvenir. Very nice people, and great work.

Ratings:

Capt. Zodiac Excursion: B

Kealakekua Bay as a snorkeling spot: A+

Rainbow Falls Tattoo: A (great parrot tattoo!)


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PostSubject: Re: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:12 pm

Not to mention the great company in Santa Monica and Lunch at Bubba Gumps.
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PostSubject: Re: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:11 am

I had the time of my life, and want to come that way again. When I do...I'll be spending more time with you bud...I PROMISE!

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PostSubject: Re: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:02 am

Promise!
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PostSubject: Re: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Sat Dec 06, 2008 9:39 am

Yes. Hawaii was one of our favorite cruises...and we'll do it again.

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PostSubject: Re: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Tue Jan 20, 2009 3:20 pm

Ginny and I are going in April. What were the sea days like? Did you play trivia?
How was the onboard entertainment? I plan to bring some books ,but I read
all the time at work so it gets tiresome for me.
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PostSubject: Re: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:43 pm

I love sea days. On this cruise, I planned on just relaxing. No activities.

The next thing you know...I'm on a team in PRINCESS SURVIVOR, and Captain of the MEN'S team in MEN VS WOMEN Trivia game. I was like a celebrity onboard...because I ended up 2nd in SURVIVOR...and the MEN won the trivia. (I got screwed out of the Survivor win Mad )

The entertainment was typical...nothing memorable.
I got great amusement in the middle of the Pacific..days from land by watching dolphins playing in the wake on the side of the ship. There were tons of them, just having a good time. Got some nice video from the balcony. Oh, and around the islands in Feb....whales everywhere!

The on deck parties were fun, and of course Hawaii was the theme. (think hula)
It was a great cruise, and I can't wait to do it again!

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PostSubject: Re: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:04 pm

Pete how much did you pay for the Super Shuttle? We booked a transfer for the trip home but since we are coming in a day early I would rather not use them for embarkation day.
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PostSubject: Re: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:22 pm

I can't recall the price. I booked it in advance...and had the whole shuttle with our group in it.

You can poke around here: Super Shuttle

They were very good in LA. Ok in other ports too.

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PostSubject: Re: Island Princess Hawaii ('06) part 1   Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:49 am

good job on the cruise review.
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