GUEST POST: Moe
Hawaii for Christmas and new year – 15 nights with princess cruises – January 2018
First major cruise trip
Spending the holidays away from home
This was my second consecutive year that I haven’t spent the Christmas and New Year period at my family’s home. And only the second cruise I’ve ever taken and my first BIG one. The first one was several years ago to the Bahamas on a very short, two-night cruise. Now, I was about to embark on a 15-night cruise with 4 days at sea going out to Hawai’i and 5 days at sea on the way back to LA.
Stugeron, acupressure bands and motion sickness stick-ons.
My friend and I chose to book everything with Princess Cruises. Flights, pre-cruise hotel stay, transfers, shore excursions. The organisation of all of this was top-notch. Especially with the flights and transfers as we required additional assistance at the airports, embarkation and disembarkation.
A lovely ship. We were informed that it had just come out of dry dock and we were the first group to get back on the ship after some uplifts.
We had an ocean view stateroom on Emerald Deck 8, aft. Very nice.
What nobody tells you about the big cruise ships: how much you have to walk to get anywhere. There’s no need for a gym, just walking from our stateroom to the laundromat was a decent warm-up. Then walking back to your room with your clean laundry, getting to one of the dining options and walking to the next activity was the main workout. I didn’t put on any weight but I didn’t lose any either… My friend developed muscles!
Plenty of things going on to keep you busy as a bee spread across decks 5 to 17. Ukulele, hula dancing, ballroom dancing, line dancing, Zumba, trivia, karaoke, films (inside and outside), lei making, bingo (I played!), production shows in the main theatre and other venues, sports on TV, meet-ups for various groups like the military, knitting and book clubs, nature talks geared towards our ports of calls, sports court, huge chessboard, shuffleboard, spa, bars, musical sessions, carol singing, Christmas and New Year celebrations, nightclub, wine tasting, youth and teen centres and more activities that I didn’t take part in. O! The casino, how could I forget…?
One of my favourite places was the Vista Lounge. The decor is how I would imagine a Vegas show lounge to be like. Plush seating and an intimate atmosphere.
I was disappointed, unfortunately. Especially in the traditional dining rooms. The food did get better in the second week but I think that was due to people feeding back to the serving staff, as I also noticed an increase in being asked if the food was fine (not that I wasn’t already being asked, but it had now increased to being asked after almost every dish).
I watched the food videos on Princess’ website, read their marketing blurb and read that Princess was known for having good food. I would say that 65% of the food was of a good standard. The food wasn’t SO bad that it wasn’t edible but under-seasoned dishes and overcooked meat, more than three times? Meh. I only remember a handful of dishes that were very good.
They offer traditional dining options, buffet option, cafe and room service. I didn’t try the 2 specialty restaurants (Italian and steak) but heard that they were very good.
I must say, the Crab Shack evening was excellent. Fresh and big seafood. The crab claws were as long as my lower arm!
The best one was on Kaua’i. We had the Hollywood Movies tour with Aunty Wendy and Chubby and it exceeded expectations. We saw half of the island, had lunch at a great, local restaurant and experienced wet and dry areas of the island. The knowledge and personal touch of Aunty Wendy was the heart of this excursion. A film buff who was clearly proud of her island and the history of it. My friend and I had a blast and were so happy we’d chosen this tour.
In Honolulu, it was Christmas Day; so beware that none of the main attractions will be open as is expected. We whale watched which was great as we were lucky enough to see a pod of them and a mother and child. We then went into Waikiki (it was buzzing) and shopped our hearts out in an ABC store where we got all of our souvenir gifts for our family and friends. Didn’t know what an ABC store was before the 25th December 2017, I do now.
We visited a volcano and walked on lava on the Big Island in the Volcano National Park (Thomas A. Jaggar Museum and Volcano Observatory, Thurston Lava Tube) and survived! That volcano was smoking.
Our last port of call in Hawai’i was Mau’i. We visited the Ocean Centre and Tropical Plantation. Unfortunately, this was rushed as we were collected late to start the tour and had to beat the traffic back to the port. The 2 sites were interesting to learn about the marine life and a working plantation (we had a 45 minute tram trolley tour which was excellent, the guide was extremely knowledgeable) but if the timings had been better, we would have had more time to explore the plantation and the area around the port terminal.
We visited Ensenada in Mexico on a city drive and saw La Bufadora (a natural, occurring blowhole). The guide was excellent. Knowledgeable about his city, country and history of both. Very entertaining with all of his stories. We visited the main municipal building, sampled margaritas, ate fish tacos (delicious), and haggled with the stall owners on the way to the blowhole. I’d never been to South America and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Great atmosphere.
Outstanding and very hardworking. From the stateroom steward, dining room waiters/waitresses, entertainment crew to the Passenger Services Desk – faultless. They couldn’t have done anything more for us and always asked if we were happy with what we were receiving. Attentive without being intrusive and always having the time to listen and ask.
Christmas and New Years celebrations
Such great fun. Princess Cruises really get into the spirit with decorations and events around the ship. My friend and I had left Christmas behind us and hadn’t brought any festive clothing or decorations with us. Seeing an entire family dressed up as Santa’s helpers was a sight to behold on Christmas Eve morning.
Post cruise thoughts
I had a bunch of fun. If you didn‘t want to do so much, you could. If you wanted to be busy from sunrise to sunset, you could. I loved the atmosphere of the cruise and we met some very nice and fascinating people on board. To the point that we’ve exchanged emails.
I will be doing more research on booking my own excursions next time to save money.
Was it for old people?
Yes, there were a lot of old people (we met a 93 year old woman who’d gone on 103 cruises) who all looked at least 10 to 20 years younger than their actual age. The takeaway we got from them was the stress-free life of cruising. Their stories were interesting, the travelling and why they decide to go away for Christmas. I want to be away because I want to do something different at that time of year and being in a warmer part of the world was a bonus.
And because of this, I have finally been persuaded to go on an Alaskan cruise in 2019 which has been booked and deposit paid.
Emma says: Thanks for this one Moe! This cruise sounds like an absolute dream come true. Hawaii is one of the most amazing destinations and cruising over Christmas is one of my favourite things in the world.
I’m really excited to try my first Princess cruise which is coming up in a couple of months time. You’ve really got me in the mood. So thanks! 😀
Moe has officially caught the cruising bug: 3rd one already booked. Currently living at large in London town, travelling the world in my heart (but slowly making it a reality). I can be found on Instagram where I like to take photos: @moehomerha
Are you in a mood for a Chritmas cruise?! You definitely should consider it.
Check out the Princess section of our site here for more info: Princess.