2004 Hawaii Cruise
Every great vacation beings with the proper packing.
The first thing you do is determine how many days you
are going to be away. Then you decide what items are
needed for each day. Contemplating this for a few days,
you step out of the shower, take a look in the mirror,
and try to identify one body part to highlight so other
people will be distracted from your not-so-desirable
features. But, unfortunately, you are unable to locate
even one attribute you are content with. Resolving that
this tactic is hopeless, you determine the best thing
you can do is something that will make you feel good,
so you go get a manicure and pedicure! Now your
wardrobe has a color scheme to work toward!
So there are 14 days to account for on my trip. What's
the easiest critical item to count out and pack? Panties!
Do I have enough to last the entire trip? Barely! If I
don't wear any for 3 days before I leave! Finally, all
the clothes were selected to pack. In fact, there were
twice as many clothes as needed, but one must account
for clothes that shrink on a well stocked cruise ship.
So instead of trying to pack each day's clothes together
(not knowing exactly what I'd be wearing), I decided to
divide the items between the two suitcases. If one was
lost, I'd still have clothes to wear without having to
sign up for nudist events! Some were also put in a
small suitcase full of clothes to wear while I was in Houston.
Now you may be wondering why I would drive to Houston if
I was going to Honolulu. Simply put, we got group air
fares on Continental Airlines from there. I drove to
Houston Thursday (July 22, 2004)
without any problems...and that
was good. I had way too many suitcases but one would remain
there. I hoped the others didn't weigh too much. It would
be embarrassing to have to rearrange in the airport in
order to balance the load to less than 50 pounds each.
Sara Johnson Lacy and I tried to organize a Houston dinner
on Friday (July 23, 2004) night while I was there. I talked with her and she
was not feeling well. Since others who had previously
attended a Houston dinner were not available, we decided
not to meet Friday night.
So, instead, my family all attended a play...Grease...that
my niece, Ashley, was performing in at Playhouse 1960 in
Houston. A really good friend of the family was producer.
It was really cute and well correographed. Most of the
kids from my family have performed in something at one
point or another, so I usually see a play every time I
go down to Houston. This one had 53 performers in it...most
were teens...and some outstanding performers.
We would be off on our flight Saturday
(July 24, 2004) morning. Actually,
it already was Saturday (1 AM) before I went to bed and
the shuttle was scheduled to pick up 20 of our mob at 7 AM.
I wasn't really looking forward to the long flight, not
having the convenience of flying first class like my brother,
John and wife Debbie. At least this flight was direct from Houston with
no stop in Los Angeles or elsewhere.
So, to help keep track of who people are in this saga, I
have created a chart of the cruisers:
Note that many of the following images my daughter Brandi took
are 'artistic photos', thus the tilt of the horizon line.
A huge limo bus arrived on time and we all piled in. There
was only standing room left by the time 20 people and all
our baggage was loaded in front of my brother's house.
The Limo Bus is parked in front of John and Debbie's house.
John inside the Limo Bus.
We arrived at George Bush International Airport and waited about
30 minutes while checking something like 37 bags curbside and made it onto
the plane with no problems.
Part of the group on the way to our gate.
We wait to board.
Except for John, Debbie, John's business
partner, Bill, and his wife Karen, who were in first class, the
rest of us were seated in coach where 3 of Bill's mostly adult
children joined us. Also, Page's mother, Louise and her friend
Peggy Fergus joined us on the plane. So now we're up to 27 people.
Once on board, several of our babies/children started crying and
screaming. Some continued most of the 8 hour flight. Fortunately
for me, I travel with ear plugs!
The good baby, Payton!
We arrived in Honolulu just before 1 PM where we met Brandi
who had flown in from Los Angeles and arrived about an hour
Debbie, who did a fantastic job organizing everything, had made
arrangements for our shuttle transportation from the airport to
the hotel and then from the hotel to the ship and back.
Debbie, John, Kaitnyn, Brandi, and Shaun wait for the bus
Staci, Crystal, John, Courtney, Shannon, and
Payton wait with the rest.
Except for Kaitlyn, the smokers take a break: Debbie,
Kaitlyn, John, Alex, and Shane.
Still waiting for the bus.
This was another 30 minute wait, but we were all quite
surprised when a full size luxury tour bus arrived just
for our group to take us to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in
Waikiki where we spent one night before sailing.
Loading up, the kids were glad the fancy tour bus had a potty!
If you haven't been to Waikiki, as you would expect, the
Hilton was quite nice.
Hilton Hawaiian Village resort in Waikiki.
We were there a couple of hours before check in time and
were lucky to get 3 of our 5 rooms in the Alii Tower early.
Mine had a view of the pool and some lovely water gardens
with flamingos, turtles, and penguins in them.
The gardens at the Hilton Hawaiian Village had
flamingos and other birds including penguins sharing
their pool with turtles.
One thought a recently single woman has is renewed flickering
hope of meeting her white knight...Prince Charming...her
Fantasy lover. To search for the same dream man who has
evaded her thus far through her years to maturity is once
again a possibility. Hawaii seemed to be a perfect place
for such an occasion. Unfortunately, my rendezvous with
my secret hero never materialized. A girl can dream. And I sit and
wonder if these photos of me look so bad because the camera
had a wide angle lens on it!
Many of us spent the afternoon near the patio buffet beside a
swimming pool that was reserved for residents of the Alii
Tower. Some of the group went down to the beach. Others
who had been up late the night before opted to sleep in
Bonney visits on the patio.
Crystal, Hillary, Callie, and John take a patio moment.
The next day shortly after noon on Sunday
(July 25, 2004),
we loaded our 21
people (now that Brandi was here and Louise and Peggy and
Bill and family were on their own again) onto our giant bus, with
all the luggage stowed below and rode to the dock where the
ship was waiting. The mistake we made was arriving
right at 1 PM when boarding began for the Norwegian
Cruise Line (NCL) Pride of Aloha, because apparently at
least half of the other passengers had the same idea
and we had long lines to wait in...except those 'exclusive'
passengers and those with babies, who got to go to the
line for 'special people'. I know I'm special, but was not
special enough for them!
Some of you have not heard the story of what happened to
the original, new ship, the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
Pride of America, that we had booked
our cruise on...
In 2002, Norwegian (NCL) bought the
unfinished hull and floated it from Mississippi to Germany
to complete construction, at the Lloyd Werft shipyard in
Bremerhaven. The ship was named the Pride of America,
and scheduled for completion and delivery to NCL in
April of this year.
Then, on the night of January 13th, a powerful storm
struck Germany, uprooting trees and flooding rivers. High
water closed roads and forced evacuations as winds in
excess of 100 MPH and torrential rains raged through the night.
In northern Germany, at the Bremerhaven shipyard, the
unfinished Pride of America was tied to the dock, covered
with scaffolding, when the storm struck. The 921-foot
liner was buffeted by wind and waves. Shortly after
midnight, the vessel shifted suddenly toward the pier,
knocking over a 600-ton crane that in turn damaged 2
buildings. Four workers on the ship were slightly injured.
According to police reports, there were openings in the
hull that took on water. There has been speculation that
high winds blew water through the openings, but it's
also possible that the winds caused the ship to lean
just enough to drop these openings below the water
line. In any event, the bottom 3 of the ship's 15 decks
were flooded, including the engine room. Fortunately,
none of the ship's public areas or passenger cabins
News reports that the ship "sank" were misleading. The
harbor is only 33 feet deep in this area, and the ship's
draft is 26 feet.
To resolve the situation, NCL decided to do the following...
The sunken ship Pride of America is larger than the
replacement Pride of Aloha.
Pride of Aloha didn't have as many expensive cabins
and all the cabins are smaller.
People booked in some of the expensive cabins (that
are too few in count) were assigned to cabins
the next level down, i.e. Suites -> ocean view,
ocean view -> inside.
No compensation was given for the downgrade in
type and size.
Some lucky enough to stay in a similar cabin were
asked to pay MORE!
So, it's like paying first class and riding in coach.
That's why so many people were irate. For us to rebook a
different date, we would lose money on our airfare since
we didn't book it through the cruise line. It would cost
$100 per person to change our flights. NCL did this for
all of the Pride of America cruises booked all summer.
The Pride of Aloha at anchor.
So, back to the saga...CONTINUE