Sunday, December 18, 2005

On Vacation

We were both up a bit early to finish preparing for the cruise yesterday. I did a bunch of errands and picked up some malasadas from Leonard's while I was out. The dog was flipping out, she knew we were leaving. I am expecting her to tear one thing up in the house in rebellion. While I was gone for a week she attacked some paperwork Rikki left out from work. She took it right off the kitchen table and shredded it. She doesn't like to be left alone. Rikki is already worrying about her Angel.

We took the bus to the Aloha Tower pier. I'm not sure why everyone doesn't like the bus, we find it convenient. Rikki has an annual pass so it only cost us 2 bucks. We arrived early, checked our baggage, went through check-in, and were on the ship in about 20 minutes. One of the better check-ins so far. I think Rikki and I are getting pretty good at cruising. We took a quick tour of the ship (the largest cruise ship in the U.S.) until our room was ready. The christmas tree tied to the top of the mast was a good touch. Our deck was done early (they do a same day turn around so rooms are not cleaned and ready to use until after 3 p.m.) so we headed down to it. As we were at the door a staff member gave us some mail. Our christmas present from my side of the family was the anniversary package. We had some flowers, chocolate strawberries, a bottle of sparkling wine, and later in the week: some hors d'oeuvres, a free anniversay photograph, a cake and champagne party with everyone else celebrating their honeymoon or anniversay plus a free dinner at the best restaurant (you have to pay extra normally). A very nice gift.

We were also pleasantly surprised by our room 10042. Deck 10 with a balcony. I have learned a few tricks from our previous cruises so we picked the best balcony room there was. It has a wrap around balcony and we are just forward of the pool, a deck above us so we don't have to listen to them rearranging tables/chairs and our balcony view isn't blocked by extra supports needed to hold the weight of the pool/spas. The rooms on the ship do have the smallest bathroom and shower I have ever seen. Cramped, but nice. This is the first room we've ever had a fridge with, that is a nice touch.

After reading reviews about the Pride of America on cruisecritic.com I had lowered my expectations for this cruise. It seems Norwegian Cruise Lines has been working hard and they have come a long ways. I already know this will be our best cruise yet. Service is fine so far (even with an all-american crew) and the ship, commissioned in 2004, is spotless. There are numerous little things that only new ships designed as cruise ships from the bottom up would have. After our first cruise I realized the age of the cruise ship is a huge factor when deciding what to book.

It is now 5 a.m. and we are sailing towards Hilo on the Big Island. According to the "report from the bridge" channel, it is 75 degrees outside with a 20 knot wind and .3-.5 foot seas. I think I can see the lights for Upolu Point. We are making good time. We have to travel over 200 miles overnight to get from Honolulu to Hilo and it feels like we are going about 20 knots. We will be picking up a rental car from Alamo to go see the black sand beach and volcano national park. I have my GPS and plan on hitting a few geocaches along the way. The next three days will be very busy.

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