The Golden Princess anchored near Lahaina, Maui
Following a now time-honored tradition, we celebrated the December 2008 holiday season with Mark and Karen. This year, we chose a two-week cruise to Hawaii from Los Angeles, aboard the Princess Cruise Line ship, the Golden Princess. This huge ship was no stranger; we had sailed on her through the eastern Mediterranean in 2006 and on her older "sister," the Grand Princess through the Western Caribbean in 2005. The ships have identical deck plans and being a bit familiar with them probably speeded up our learning curve of understanding what was where on the ship.
It is a LONG way from Los Angeles to Hawaii--and the distance is much more noticeable on a ship than on a plane. But, Princess found many ways to keep the passengers amused during the four "at sea" days on both the outbound and the inbound trip. We had excellent lectures on Hawaii, learned how to make a lei, could have learned the hula, but didn't, and even had movies with a Hawaiian theme!
We live smack on the 45th parallel. Our ship sailed 2550 miles from Los Angeles to Hawaii, on the 21st parallel, below the Tropic of Cancer.
We had one-day visits to the four major islands, docking at: Hilo, Hawai; Honolulu, Oahu; Nawiliwili (just south of Kapaa), Kauai; and Lahaina, Maui.
Each day, as we sailed closer to the tropics, the air got warmer and thoughts of chilly Oregon got dimmer. We did NOT escape rain, however. Hilo lived up to its reputation as the wettest city in the United States, greeting us with gray skies and showers. Oahu was still recovering from a big rainstorm that left partly-flooded roads and muddy streams. Ditto for Kauai where they were busy fishing jungle debris from the Wailua River as we put-putted up to the Fern Grotto. Finally, on Maui, we found sunshine which helped us spot the Humpback Whales on a whale-watching cruise from Lahaina.
We were still enjoying balmy days as we returned to the West Coast. Our last port was Ensenada, Mexico, 62 miles south of the U.S. border. Back at the airport in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve, we began to question the wisdom of flying on the day before Christmas. Flights to the East Coast were being cancelled left and right, but our flight to Portland left almost on time. Mark had not been able to get a flight back to Texas on Christmas Eve and he was not a bit unhappy about staying overnight in Los Angeles. It was only as our plane was descending into PDX that we realized we had come back to Oregon way too soon! The runway was covered with snow and ice--western Oregon had been enduring a series of snow and ice storms ever since we left. It took a day before we could get to Karen's home in a 4WD car, and two more days before the area thawed out and we could drive back to Salem. Meanwhile, Mark had an easy flight back to his home on Christmas Day and was greeted with about the same balmy temperatures we had left in Hawaii.
All in all, a pleasant and relaxing two weeks, and best of all, we had time to enjoy being together. Mark had rescued the well-used Monopoly game during our downsizing, and brought it along. Some things never change; just as forty-five years ago.....Glenn started the game with no property and ended up bankrupting the other three of us!
Yes, I kept a daily log of the trip which is posted here. Fair warning--it is long and detailed!
Day 1, Dec. 10 San Pedro Harbor. We boarded at 1 p.m., and Sailaway was just at dusk on a beautiful evening.
Bridge over Los Angeles Harbor Channel
Days 2,3,4,5 Dec. 11-14 At Sea Days We enjoyed ever-warmer air and sunshine enroute to the Islands.
Day 6, Dec. 15 Hilo, Hawaii Rainy day, so we explored Beautiful Downtown Hilo.
Colorful leis in Hilo port building
Day 7, Dec. 16 Honolulu, Oahu. We took a round-the-island tour, with the Polynesian Cultural Center as the highlight.
Dancers at Polynesian Cultural Center
Day 8, Dec. 17, Nawiliwili, Kauai Today's excursion was to the Fern Grotto on the Wailua River.
Day 9, Dec. 18, Lahaina, Maui. We went looking for Humpback Whales between Maui and Lanai.
Sunrise over Maui
Days 10, 11, 12, 13 Dec. 19-22 At Sea Days More relaxing, sunny days culminating in a fantastic anniversary dinner in the specialty dining room, the "Desert Rose."
Lotus Spa Pool--our favorite
Day 14, Dec. 23 Ensenada, Mexico We never went ashore at Ensenada! Just spent the afternoon and evening enjoying our last day on the Golden Princess.
Sunset from our cabin balcony, Ensenada
Days 15-18, Dec. 24-27 Snowbound in Oregon City! It was four days before Oregon got out of the deep freeze and we could travel from Oregon City to our home in Keizer.
Karen's car in her driveway
Unless otherwise noted, text and photos are the property of Glenn and Barbara Halliday, © 2008
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