Hawaii And Back In 18 Days

18 days!  Seemed like a really long cruise to me.  After all, the only cruise I have ever been on was seven days.  Well, I was on the ship that long.  In actuality, I slept a healthy third of the trip after mistakenly taking a double dose of meds to overcome sea sickness.  This former reading teacher did not read the directions first.

Our journey to Hawaii began October 25 when about 40 residents of Tanglewood gathered up at the clubhouse in the wee morning hours.  Due to a miscommunication somewhere along the line, the bus arrived 2 hours later than scheduled.  Needless to say, the bus trip to Orlando airport was very quiet as riders were trying to catch up on missed hours of sleep.  We met up with the second bus of travelers from the Lake Placid area and other parts of Highland County.

After our 5-1/2-hour flight to Los Angles, we were back on buses for a tour of the city.  The highlights of the LA area were pointed out, history given, architecture noted, and we made a stop at the Farmer’s Market for a quick bite to eat.  The biggest disappointment for me personally was Hollywood.  It was a real mess.  I felt safer on the bus rather than being out on the streets and dodging locals who were camped along the Walk of Fame.

But our destination was not Hollywood.  It was the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  It was worth all the traffic we had to endure to get there.  As soon as you cross the gangplank onto her, you know you have stepped back into history.

Our cabin was beautiful.  It definitely gave us an idea what it must have been like to travel prior to the modern cruise ships.  The woodwork, the cabinetry, the bathroom fixtures were all original.  It was spacious with plenty of room for our minimal luggage as compared to numerous trunks folks used for travel way back in the day.

Greg was stationed at the former Naval base at Long Beach.  His ship happened to be in port in 1967 when the Queen Mary made her way into port.  It was a big deal back then.  If you ever have the opportunity, make the Queen Mary a part of your journey.  Spend a couple nights, walk the ship, enjoy the great food, and imagine what it must have been like back in 1936 on her maiden voyage.

Our actual cruise on Celebrity Eclipse to the Aloha State began on Sunday, October 27.  Once we settled in our cabin on Deck 6, it was off to the buffet where we enjoyed our daily breakfasts and lunches.  Our evening meals were served in a more elegant and organized fashion in the Moonlight Sonata.  It was very pleasant being waited upon and served rather than bumping elbows at the buffet while trying to get a serving of one of the gorgeous and sometimes outrageous looking desserts.

Right from the first evening, we experienced the first of a super line up of shows.  We were treated to a show by the group RaveOns who turned out to be a most pleasant surprise.  Their first show covered Buddy Hollie music.  Between each song they told stories about him and the Crickets.  I was pretty young when Buddy Hollie was around and knew little about him.

Speaking of music, another favorite of ours was Bill Powell who gave a series of lectures on the history on Rock and Roll.  What made his talks interesting is he is British.  He became fascinated with the Beatles as a kid and long before the Beatles were known in the U. S.  Besides the Beatles, his afternoon talks were about Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, and the Day the Music Died.

Besides eating and the outstanding evening shows, we managed to check our several of the 100s of activities planned for those on board.  Every hour of every day so many different things were happening all over the ship.  Since we were traveling during Halloween, a costume parade was planned.  It was pretty obvious travelers came prepared to participate.  Another afternoon we watched an egg drop contest.  Contestants were challenged to use recycled items to create a container that would hold two raw eggs. The eggs had to land unbroken when dropped from the 7th deck to the 3rd.  Some actually made it!

First stop was Hilo on Friday.  Did all the touristy things including photos at Rainbow Falls.  On Saturday we awoke at Kailua Kona where we experienced being tendered to shore.  Learned all about Macadamia nuts and coffee, plus a stop to visit The Painted Church, beautiful and most interesting.  Sunday found us in Lahaina, Maui where we visited a pineapple plantation and enjoyed eating fresh fruit.

Monday was the reason I wanted to visit Hawaii and Honolulu.  I finally had the opportunity to visit and experience the Arizona Memorial. Thankfully the restoration was completed in September.  So very touching and solemn.  We also toured the “Mighty Mo”, the USS Missouri and the submarine Bowfin.  The tour ended with a trip to the Punch Bowl, the location of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific built to honor those who have given their lives

” We said “Aloha” to Hawaii Monday when the ship pulled out at 10:30PM headed for Ensenada, Mexico.  The return days at sea were very pleasant with days and nights filled with tons of things and new shows to keep us all occupied.  A Remembrance Sunday Service was held to honor Veteran’s Day where a reading of “Flanders Fields”, a piano rendition of “Amazing Grace” was offered along with other appropriate pieces.  As we neared the Mexican coast, we began to see signs of life with porpoises racing our ship.  As the ship was being position at the dock, hundreds of seals greeted us with their barking.  It was quite a site to see and hear.

In Mexico we had choices of tours or shopping in the area, or just staying on the ship since we would not be there for very long.  The next morning it was off to experience the traffic of LA again and feeling so very glad we were doing the driving.  Our flight back to Orlando was an hour shorter and it was nice to find our busses waiting for us and all our luggage.  We arrived back at Tanglewood about 2AM, all a bit confused because of all the time changes we had endured.  It was a wonderful vacation.  A special thanks to Tracy and Randy for planning such a great trip.


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