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Kuki January 3rd, 2006 01:58 PM

Daily Log of the CruiseMates Let's Get Lei'd 3 Group Cruise
Beginning Saturday Jan. 7 you're invited to cruise along with on the Island Princess, on the CruiseMates Let's Get Lei'd Version 3.0 Group Cruise... from the comfort of your computer screen!

You'll get daily live reports as we sail from LA to the Hawaiian Islands and back. Hear about our group activities; get reports directly and current about the ship, and see what we're up to during our ports of call.

While we know you'd all rather be sailing with, we'll try and make you feel as though you are. Hope you enjoy!

Just bookmark this thread, and come cruisin with us.

Donna January 3rd, 2006 05:55 PM

Hey Moose Man,
I just love the daily updates and pics, almost the next best thing to actually cruising with you all :D

Lombard January 7th, 2006 02:51 AM

Can someone please post a message in chit chat pointing to this thread?

Thought it would be better coming from a CM god? LOL

I followed the Liberty sailing with great zest!
Now all I have to do is find the webcam for this ship. :wink:

Lombard January 7th, 2006 03:10 AM

Island princess web cam.

Donna January 7th, 2006 07:54 AM

Good idea. I posted in Chit chat with a link to this thread, should prove interesting..

Lombard January 7th, 2006 08:07 AM

Thanks again, Donna.

It shall indeed, be interesting. :shock:

CruisinK n J January 7th, 2006 11:26 AM

Beginning Sat., Jan 7, Cruise alongwith Us from Your Compute
What a greaet idea! Will folllow avidly.


Travelnut January 7th, 2006 12:25 PM

Thanks guys for the info,,,will be watching and waiting for reports from Mr. Moose Man,,,,

Babiechubbs January 7th, 2006 01:39 PM

Message from Babiechubbs
Hey Kuki!!!!!! Tell Mama Babie says hey and I gave the dogs away! Hope the weather is great its 55 here.

Kuki January 7th, 2006 04:31 PM

JAN 7... It's Begun
Island Princess – pre cruise and Day 1

As is always our habit, if possible, we fly into our embarkation port a day early, avoiding the travel delays which inevitably occur, with the added benefit of starting our vacation a day early.

This trip we booked our pre-cruise stay at what at the moment is called the LA Harbor Hotel in San Pedro, California. This hotel is making a transition to the Crowne Plaza brand in the next month or so. It is located within a few blocks of the pier, and offers complimentary shuttle service to the pier.

The service at this property was outstanding, and warm, friendly, and helpful staff. We asked a bellman for a restaurant recommendation for dinner, and he recommended a restaurant a few minutes away called the 22 St. Landing., and offered to use the hotel shuttle bus to drive us over, and instructed us to call him when we were ready for pickup.

The restaurant located right at a Marina was a great choice, with a varied menu, at most reasonable prices, in a lovely relaxed ambiance. Dinner for 4, with tip was $110.

We returned to the hotel in the evening to meet up with other cruisemates at 8:30 in Romeo’s bar. It happened to be Kareoke night, and who knew we had at least a couple of singers in the crowd.

I had been considering heading to the ship about 1 PM, but after checking out the area around the hotel by foot a bit in the morning, we became bored and antsy, and decided we may just as well shuttle over to the pier to do our waiting. And WAIT we did.

The ship had been delayed coming into port this morning, then delayed further my immigration and customs clearing of the ship. When we arrived at the pier just prior to 11 A.M. there were still a considerable number or passengers still debarking from the previous cruise.

The set up for waiting here is not the best organized, and the line of passengers waiting, many in the hot sun, grew continuously until the doors were opened. The handicapped, and those in wheel chairs were boarded first, then the boarding for others waiting in line began at about 12:30. Once at the check in desk the process was simple and quick, and we were onboard shortly after 1 PM. From 1P.M. to 2:30 PM the waiting and embarkation time turn into a scene of mayhem, with disgruntled passengers and crew!

A note on many people use wheelchair assistance to board early. No question some people have serious mobility problems, and need assistance. However I was amazed (and perplexed ) when minutes later I saw many people, who had boarded as wheel chair passengers, racing across the lido deck under their own power to get to the Horizon Court buffet before it ran of food. At least you’d think that was their reasoning.

It was a day of mayhem for the Island Princess staff; pier side and onboard, and the difficulties seemed to mushroom. Luggage was still being delivered to cabins at well into the evening. One would think the ship goes through these procedures on a regular bases, so would be good at reacting, and getting through the experience. This was not the case, and most everyone who boarded had negative feelings to begin their cruise experience. Nerves were definitely frayed on both the passengers and the staff.

The ship is an astonishing visual encounter, exuding rich feels in furnishing and a pleasant onboard staff eager to respond to your needs.

After think we were going to have “Any Time Dining?, we found ourselves assigned for 8 PM dinner in the “traditional dining room?. We then decided to try it for this evening, and then decide if we had a consensus within the group being happy with the dining staff, then we’d stick with it.

I enjoyed our first meal onboard tremendously! Both the variety of the food,, and the obvious freshness of the ingredients, combined with service staff who were professional, efficient, and friendly made the decision to stay with our assigned dining times and service staff an easy decision.

This morning we had our first CM group get together, on Lido Deck. Sunny but chilly on deck and we still had an excellent turn out. GREAT group of folks, and everyone is settling in. It's the start of a WONDERFUL CM group cruise. ALOHA!

Kuki January 8th, 2006 02:29 PM

– Island Princess – First Full Sea Day

Most of the ship seems to have recovered from yesterday’s embarkation experience. The mood on the ship seems generally quite happy; a nice attitude turnaround by all concerned, particularly with a chilly sea day keeping most everyone indoors, or in the enclosed Lotus Pool area.

I have to mention that amongst all the information and advertising awaiting us in when we first entered the cabin yesterday was a wonderfully useful sheet of paper called the “Cruise Planner?.
A full sheet, broken down like a calendar listing the major events planned each day, along with their times, and the suggested dress code for each evening for the entire 15 night cruise.

After our morning CruiseMates get together, where we distributed the Get Lei’d 3.0 T-shirts, onboard phone book, and magnets for everyone’s cabin doors, everyone went off to various scheduled activities that might interest them. There were NUMEROUS options, with everything from naturalist lectures, to pottery or dance classes, to a slot tournament and the ever present bingo.

Mrs. Kuki and some of the group headed off to pottery class. The Island Princess has wheels and a kiln for firing the pottery onboard, and the classes are held on every say day. I’ll just have to hope she isn’t making something heavy enough to do damage when she throws it at me.

I enjoyed breakfast this morning at the Horizon Court buffet. The physical set up of this area on the Island Princess is vastly superior to the Grand Class ships (where at peak times it can look like the land of lost lemmings). And the breakfast menu variety was excellent as well. There’s standard breakfast items; i.e. breakfast meats, pancakes, French Toast, and a made to order eggs/omelets station. However one could also have eggs benedict, smoked salmon, etc. Some of these offerings suffered from “chaffing dish syndrome?, but that’s not unexpected at a buffet.

The 4 deck high Atrium area on the Island Princess is quite beautiful! It’s not as overwhelming, with “wow? factor as some of the 10 deck atriums on Carnival or Royal Caribbean ships, but it is very elegant, and sets a rather rich ambiance that runs through most of the public rooms on the ship.

The weather turned cooler as the day progressed, and with it being our first full day many took advantage to unwind, reading in the enormous library, in clubby leather chairs, or just take long afternoon naps.

Tonight was our first of three formal nights, and there were a great many tuxedos in evidence, in a relatively well dressed crowd. And dinner was again a huge hit! Our dining team, of Elena and Marius, both from Romania, proved to us again that we’d made a wise choice sticking with our assigned dining time, rather than “anytime dining?, and staying with them to serve us. The service is simply superb! Tonight we were even asked if we’d like the pace of the meal slowed down, or speeded up. I can’t ever recall being asked that question by wait staff on any previous cruise.

Last night Elena had overheard someone say it was my birthday, and they’d brought us a cake and sang Happy Birthday. I told her, though I was having a birthday later in the cruise, last night was in fact not my birthday. At the time, she told us that we would just have my birthday every night.

Well… true to her word, they brought out another birthday cake tonight, and once again Happy Birthday to me.

Talking to other members of our CruiseMates group, it seems everyone we’ve spoken to so far is delighted with their service.

After dinner tonight there was a “Vegas style? review, featuring Broadway tunes in the Princess Theater, as well as Yacov Noy, a comedic “visual artist? in the alternate theater, the Universe Lounge. Some of the cruisemates chose the broadway tunes show, while others attended Yacov Noy’s show, while I saw yet another group of cruisemates in the Explorer’s Lounge giving Kareoke a try. This was most certainly a something for everyone kind of night, entertainment wise.

Since meeting most of the CruiseMates group this morning, we’ve found we’re running into many of them frequently when wandering around the ship to do different things. This proves that the ship is a good size, because we can see the same people coincidently in passing. And on the true Mega ships those coincidental meetings are rare.

The weather forecast for tomorrow (Sunday) is not particularly wonderful, with highs near 68 F (20C), and we have no “group? events planned until our late afternoon cocktail party in the Wheelhouse Bar. So, after a leisurely breakfast, my plan is to get a closer look at the ship’s interior and public rooms… and maybe sign up for the BlackJack Tournament in the casino.

I see in the Princess Patters for Sunday evening, there’s a pre-dinner comedy show scheduled in Universe Lounge, and a post dinner Cabaret Show Time, featuring Country to Classical Via Comedy, in the Princess Theater… so sounds like another busy night of entertainment awaits us.

I do have to admit that previously I haven’t been a devout fan of Princess, from past experiences on the Grand and Golden Princess, though we had quite throuroughly enjoyed the Diamond Princess in Spring ’04.

It is only 1 full day into this cruise, so there’s still time for thing to turn… but if this is the “typical? Princess experience that Princess devotees have touted to us over the years… we are finally getting to appreciate their loyalty to Princess. One full day, and two wonderful nights of everything good one could want in a cruise have passed, other than fairly rough seas life onboard is very very good!

mehawk January 9th, 2006 11:13 AM

I'm glad to see you and the group are having a great time. I look forward to seeing your reviews everyday, and who knows... maybe I will change my mind about Princess lines.

Kuki January 9th, 2006 11:52 AM

Sunday.. Jan 8
Jan 8 – Island Princess

We woke up to a less than ideal weather day, though it’s not as blustery as yesterday. The seas have settled down nicely as well, so the hallways no longer look like they are filled with drunken sailors.

This morning lots of passengers are taking full advantage of the outdoor promenade deck for walking, because on the Island Princess, it extends completely around the outside of the ship. Keeping with the theme of my exercise regimen, I’m watching them walk by through the windows of Crooner’s Bar.

Mrs. Kuki and some others in the group went to arts & crafts classes today, where they were making bracelets, others cruisemates attended the wine tasting seminar, while others chose from the cooking demonstrations, bridge lectures, trivia or golf games, and bingos.

As the afternoon progressed, so did the weather, to the point people were able to sit out and sun on the open decks, and live music played poolside. With any luck, we’re into more tropical weather for the next week or so, before we come back eastward on the homebound trip.

This afternoon was our CruiseMates cocktail party in the Wheelhouse Bar. The Wheelhouse Bar, though quite large, is a wonderfully comfortable area with large overstuffed chairs, and leather sofas, broken up into smaller areas, creating their own “conversation pits?.

Nearly everyone in the group attended today’s party, and it was proven once again that CruiseMates folks are the best. Introductions and conversations seemed to be relaxed, and flowed easily. Even as the party officially ended and people with early dining left, many others stayed in the lounge, chatting and getting to know one another. I’m delighted because as we talked about some of the group activities we’ve got planned for the balance of the cruise, everyone was enthusiastic. It seems like it’s going to be a very participatory group of people, which is what can make these group cruises special.

Dinner was another delightful experience this evening. Though tonight’s menu was a bit more hit and miss with selections, our dining team is so delightful and fun it makes us eager to anticipate the next evening dinner time.
And yes, once again tonight, we “celebrated my birthday? ?

After dinner a few of us headed to the casino and got a cruisemates blackjack table going. The casino staff is, as usual, a very friendly bunch, and therefore we had a great time joking and teasing with each other and them. And oddly enough, none of us lost any money tonight, and a few even made a couple of dollars.

The casino on the Island is decorated in a Parisian theme. It’s very large for a shipboard casino, but much of the room is taken up with slot and poker machines. For the size of the area, the numbers of table games is surprisingly limited. Although tonight was the first night of the cruise we found a lot of people in the casino.

Unlike many shipboard casinos, the Island’s is not situated as a throughway, that passengers are forced to pass through on their way to other parts of the ship. One must pretty much purposely enter, rather than be forced. So, if the casino holds no interest, or the smoke might bother you just passing through, it’s all quite easily avoided.

We go to bed tonight reading a forecast for the weather in the Princess Patter predicting highs in 70s F, which should lead to some reasonable outdoor poolside weather as we make our way to Hawaii.

Our next scheduled group activity is tomorrow afternoon - for the “gift representative of your area? exchange, and no doubt we’ll have some fun with that, as it’s an ever popular event!

But now that we’ve met everyone in the group, there’s no doubt we’ll be running into and visiting with folks throughout the day, as we go about our individually selected activity choices.

rollerdonna January 9th, 2006 10:20 PM

Thanks Kuki for keeping us posted daily. I am really wishing I was on this trip with all of you, so look forward to each installment. Can't wait to see what the gifts are!


heatherbc January 9th, 2006 11:25 PM


This is wonderful reading along with you. We had different comediennes on the cruise before last. (Dec.7 - 22nd ) Of course I know they change them around. Sorry that you may miss the wonderful ones we saw.

I can just picture you all in the Wheelhouse Bar. I agree......isn't it the most beautiful room ? And did you see the little museum in the back ?

Happy to read that you have such wonderful dining room staff. That is the 'only' complaint that I had. Our waiter was a very friendly personable man but certainly not that efficient.

Next time in the Casino seek out Michelle the Casino host and ask if she remembers "The Queen" and Heather.

Travelnut January 10th, 2006 11:34 AM

Sounds like your having a great time,,,,love the Birthday cake every night thingee,,,very funny !!! Hope that doesn't mean you turn a year older with every cake LOL LOL LOL
Oh and Happy Birthday too,,,,

Kuki January 10th, 2006 05:05 PM

Jan 9 - at sea
Jan.9 – Island Princess

After waking this morning I walked out on the balcony to find a very promising blue sky, and as the day went on the promise was fulfilled. It was a wonderful and warm day sailing the Pacific Ocean. It seemed everyone onboard could feel the “spirit of aloha? reaching out to us from the Hawaiian Islands. The Island Princess was a very happy ship today!

As one might guess, most of our day was spent lounging in the sun, and visiting with different cruisemates throughout the day as people passed by. Poolside loungers were not a problem, even with the burst of good weather. The passenger demographic tips noticeably towards a more mature crowd, as one would expect on a 15 night cruise, and therefore many are more conscious about spending extended periods of time in the sun.

As I was relaxing in the sun, our dining room waitress Elena, who was working the Horizon Court this afternoon, came by to wish me a Happy Birthday… and it’s still not my birthday. LOL

By afternoon the band was entertaining poolside, the cruise staff were teaching Hula dancing, and poolside games got into full swing with the crowning of the King of the Island Princess. Interestingly, and surprisingly with a crowd this elderly, during the pool game, the cruise staff were able to convince several passengers to jump into the pool fully clothed; and they didn’t even appear to be intoxicated ?

Today, for lunch, I sampled the Island’s pizza for the first time, and it was excellent. For several days now I’ve observed the Horizon Court buffet, and noticed that even at peak times there have been no line ups to speak of, nor any confusing movement I’ve previously experienced with the buffets on the Grand, Golden, or Diamond Princess.

There was also a lunch time dessert buffet extravaganza today, set up forward, near the bow, in the Horizon Court. The presentations were eye catching, though I only sampled one sugar free dessert. The nightly single choice of sugarless desserts to this point has been pretty disappointing, but this afternoon’s offering was quite delicious.

At 4 PM the CruiseMates group got together “en masse? for our gift exchange. Once again I was really pleased because most everyone in the group attended, and it was a very fun and very social affair. And it was clearly demonstrated that one can find some wonderful gifts even when sticking to the rule of a $10- 15 maximum for spending- which we had established beforehand. The people in this group really seem to be melding together nicely, and it shines through in a delightful feeling of warmth and camaraderie.

That was followed up by yet another fun dining experience with our regular tablemates, and servers Elana and Marius. What is especially pleasant about their professional expertise, and an added bonus to us, is it allows us time to chat a bit each evening and get to know them better. It helps make us and them more at ease, and on a cruise 15 days in length I believe that helps enhance the experience for all concerned.

Ah yes… and once again after dinner, Elana and Marius brought a cake with candle and serenaded me with the Happy Birthday song!

Here’s a rather interesting aside about the dining room; we have traditional, assigned, late seating dining in the Provence Dining Room. We had noticed that since the beginning of the cruise a table for 4, immediately next to ours, has been unoccupied. After two days we mentioned this empty table to 4 people in our CruiseMates group (who have Personal Choice Dining), and suggested they may want to talk to the Maitre D about switching to the empty table beside us at “traditional dining?. They came to the dining room that evening and made the request of the Maitre D, but he had to turn them down because that table was “assigned?.

It’s now 4 nights into the cruise and to date no one has come in to use that table at late seating. Elana tells us there are several other tables in the dining room with the same situation. This situation exposes a weakness in the Princess Dining scheme. While many people are wait-listed for traditional dining (and therefore assigned “personal choice?) there are those who are assigned “traditional dining? and for whatever reason chose not to show up, and do not inform the Maitre D of their plans to dine elsewhere.

They could be choosing to dine in the more casual Horizon Court each evening, or in the alternate (surcharge) restaurants (Sabitini’s or The Bayou Café). However because they hadn’t been bothered to “officially? bow out of traditional dining, other passengers wanting traditional dining are left wanting, unnecessarily.

rollerdonna January 10th, 2006 07:10 PM

Kuki, if it's not too nosy of me, could you tell us some of the gifts that were exchanged amongst CruiseMates? I'm just curious as to what some of the ideas were of gifts from each cruiser's "home" state, city or province.
Also, for future reference, for when I finally get to go on a CM cruise!


flamomo January 11th, 2006 12:20 PM

Thanks, Kuki
I am thrilled to read your daily reviews, because I will be boarding the Island Princess the day you disembark. It will be my first visit to Hawaii, so I will be anxiously awaiting info re: the islands.
Glad to hear you have a favorable report on the ship. I have sailed twice before on Princess and loved it. In fact, it's the only cruiseline I have sailed. In view of my past experiences, I fully expect to love this upcoming cruise.
Please keep the reports coming.
Thanks again,

2006 Island Princess - Hawaii - in 10 days !!! :D :D :D

monkeybums January 11th, 2006 08:05 PM

a note from SAM and TLC
Hi Kuki,
Please accept my apologies for the lack, if there was a lack, of a gift from Missouri. Mama and Papa could't figure out the best way to package Cow Patties or Mountain Oysters for smooth sailing. LOL I told them to stuff their suitcases with dry ice but they didn't agree. :( Too bad for all you big city folk. Reading about your daily adventures has proven quite entertaining. Sounds like you all are having a wonderful time and hope that some day, maybe some day, Mama and Papa will take Big Brother Chubs, Babiechubs and me, Chubs in the Middle, on a cruise to meet all you crazy CMs! :wink: Sammy and Sable miss their Mommy and Daddy but have faired quite well in baptising the carpet at Babie's house and the rug, oh well. Tell Mama and Papa that TLC and SAM miss them and will be looking forward to the dissertation on the adventures of the cruise. Thanks so much from St Louie! :)

Kuki January 11th, 2006 09:38 PM

JAN 10
Jan.10 – Island Princess

Following last night’s dinner we attended the show in the Princess Theater. Tonight’s show was called “The Relationship Show – Part 1?, with Kevin Hughes, and Kevin was hilarious. Up tempo, philosophical banter, about the relationships of men, women, and life - delivered at the speed of light had us rolling in the aisles. I’ll definitely be checking the “Princess Patter? to make certain we catch Part 2 of Kevin’s act when it occurs.

The Princess Theater is one of the most unattractive main showrooms I’ve seen on a ship. Though site lines are all good, making the showroom functional, the interior design work, with leather squares decorating the walls, has more in common with a movie theater than it does a showroom.

The seating is amphitheater style, with a too steep pitch to walk down to the front rows of the theater (or back up). The railings at each row, which are very important to hold on to while ascending or descending, are thick copper piping, and look more like subway blockades than showroom material.

When we returned to our cabin last night there was a reminder to turn our clocks and watches back one hour (for the second time in the cruise) so we would now be on “island time?. I’ve had to smile both times that the notice for these time changes have been posted in the Princess Patters. Each time, it’s stated quite elegantly… “clocks will be retarded by one hour this evening?.

Now it’s time to get back to the story about our last sea day before reaching the Hawaiian Islands.

A cruiser’s delight awaited us as we awoke this morning; clear skies, smooth seas and light winds.

The Princess Patter is jam-packed with a variety of activities filling virtually the entire day. Historian Dr. Alan Stone’s lecture series continues, another lecture series with naturalist, Dean Paige, on Hawaii, the 50th state is available as well. The list of possible activities include bridge classes, dance classes, ceramics classes, computer classes, trivia games, digital photography seminars, more games poolside, mini-golf tournament, 3 on 3 basketball, afternoon tea… and the ever present bingo! One could run themselves ragged trying to do it all, and certainly no one could complain there wasn’t anything to do.

We did what I do best; relaxed poolside in sun loungers socializing, with breaks for eating, until late in the afternoon. At least I’m easy to locate for other cruisemates.

Tonight show time was set for 7 P.M, prior to late seating dinner. This is a trend I’ve seen much more of lately on all the cruise lines, and one I don’t care for at all. It seems to me to diminish the main benefit of late seating dinner; the ability to take late afternoon naps, or spend sunsets out on the open decks, and then get cleaned up for dinner. So, tonight we skipped the show entirely.

At dinner this evening I gave Elena and Marius a couple of our CruiseMates Let’s Get Lei’d T- shirts, because they really have won our hearts, and become a part of the group (even if they are serving us). Elena is a relatively demur young lady, and has a delightfully “kuki spirit?. So as a bit of a prank, I gave her a size XXXL T-shirt. I handed each of them a shirt, and asked if they would put on them on to “officially? become a part of the group. When Elena realized just how large her shirt was she knew right away that it had been done on purpose, and we all got a good laugh out of it. I told her I had a different shirt to replace it that would fit her, and I then gave her a second shirt that was baby sized, and therefore much too small. Finally I did end up giving her a shirt the correct size.

This was to offer them a token of the appreciation we have for the amazing job they’ve done serving us; constantly reminding us if we want something not on the menu to ask, and they’ll do their best to deliver, and all the while, doing it all, while allowing their personalities to come through.

Of course, Elana served the rest of the meal to us, and her other tables, wearing the XXXL T-shirt proudly.

Dinner was once again very good, but frankly if everyone on the ship had a service team as good as we’ve got, I don’t think we’d ever hear complaints about the food. It simply tastes even better than it might, when combined with the experience provided by our team.

By early evening this ship pretty much becomes a well decorated “ghost town?. If you’re returning to your cabin past midnight, you feel pretty much as though you’re a part of the cleaning staff.

By the time we leave the dining room each evening (probably around 10 PM), even the onboard shops are already closed for the evening.

We did go the casino for a bit of black jack gaming before returning to the cabins. The casino staff were all getting pretty excited about tomorrow being day one of four and half days where the casino would be entirely closed while we in the Hawaiian Islands, and they wouldn’t be working. It sounds pretty good until you realize they’ve worked 10 days straight, with returning form Hawaii, turning around and going back.

Previous Hawaiian cruises we’ve gone on have been repositioning cruises, and the casino has been open in the evenings as the ships travel between islands. That’s not the case on this itinerary. The casino remains closed the entire time we are in the islands.

Tomorrow, myself and some of the other cruisemates are going golfing at the Kona Golf & Country Club. I had best get some sleep now, to be prepared for our early morning departure.

Kuki January 13th, 2006 03:10 AM

Jan . 11 LAND HO!
Jan.11 – Land Ho!

After 4 sea days the Island Princess arrived this morning at Kona, on the Big Island, in Hawaii. Six of us had booked a golf outing at the Kona Country Club through the ship’s onboard golf professional.

We met early this morning with all the other golfers, and were in the first tender over to Kona. This turned out to be a very good idea because the beginning of the tendering process was delayed this morning by about a half hour. We heard later that those waiting to tender after us suffered through some very long delays. Mrs. Kuki and the “golf widows?, who didn’t have an excursion booked, weren’t able to get on a tender until 11:30 AM.

Their original plan was to rent a vehicle, which we had pre-booked, and tour the island a bit. However, after getting to the island so late, they cancelled the car and just stuck fairly close the pier area, and took a shuttle to a newly opened market area as well.

The Big Island is a volcanic island, and the black volcanic rock seemingly everywhere compromises most of its scenery. All of the beaches are black sand as well because of the base of volcanic rock, and therefore the beaches on the entire island are not the fine grain sandy beaches one might be used to.

There are some truly fantastic and luxurious resorts on Kona that you can visit for the day, but with the need to tender at this port, an organized ship excursion is probably a good idea to make the most of the short visit the ship makes to this port of call. Because of the late start of many tours today our departure from Kona was also delayed.

The Kona Golf & Country Club has two 18 hole golf courses, and we chose to play the Ocean Course. The Ocean Course has some spectacular views, with a half dozen holes running right along the ocean, and the cruise ships sitting at anchor in the bay are in view on more than half the holes. The striking difference on the golf courses here is the natural black volcanic rock formations in the rough off many of the fairways.

This course features wide, forgiving fairways, like many “resort style? golf courses, but some very tricky rolling greens.

The ship’s golf professional, Patrick Hanley, did an excellent organizational job. There were several vans waiting at the pier to load the golfers and equipment, and take us over to the golf course.

Princess has a very comprehensive golf program, with onboard golf simulators, and private lessons available. For some reason the golf excursions listings on the Princess web site shore excursion area are not complete. I did look for golf excursions on the web site prior to sailing, but only one golf outing was posted, on Oahu. As it turns out, they offer golf excursions in Kona, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

Tonight, once again, there was a pre-dinner show scheduled for late seating diners; featuring comedic juggler Jonathan Stamp. I enjoy comedy, and would have liked to see the show. However, after a long day in the sun on the golf course the need to relax won out, and I passed on the show. There is a repeat of the show scheduled for early diners, at 8:45 PM, but we’d still be in the dining room, so couldn’t attend.

Mrs. Kuki and some of the other cruisemates did go to the show at 7 P.M., and said it was quite entertaining.

An oddity, on these Hawaiian itineraries, that many people may not expect…. The casino is closed from the time the ship reaches Hawaii, until an hour after the ship departs the last of the Hawaiian ports of call. The end result; for the next 4 ½ days there is no gambling at all on the ship.

We have previously sailed on repositioning cruises to or from Vancouver, and the casinos have been open in the evenings, while traveling between islands. I’m honestly not sure if that’s still the case, but it’s something I’ll have to check out when we return from this cruise.

One other oddity we’ve noticed on this ship is the shops onboard have been closing very early every evening. Generally by the time we’re leaving the dining room, the shops are already closed.

Now the ship is sailing towards our next port, Honolulu. Four of us have golf booked again, this time at the Ko’olau Golf Club, which bills itself as one of the toughest golf courses in the world. We’ve played this course before, and know to take along lots of golf balls, because it does live up to its billing. I’m just hoping the course is in better shape than it was two years ago when we played it. The golf pro assured us it is excellent condition, and that’s what convinced us to try it again.

Many cruisemates have rental cars reserved in Honolulu, to tour the island on their own, and that’s my personal recommendation as the best way to see Ohau.

Tomorrow evening, we’ve arranged a cruisemates get together for drinks/dinner at the House Without A Key, at the Halekalani Hotel on Waikiki Beach. This is a casual restaurant in a gorgeous setting, with Hawaiian entertainment that we learned about from cruisemates on our last visit to the Hawaiian Islands. We had a wonderful time here on our last visit, and no doubt this cruisemates gang will enjoy it as much as we did then.

By the way, this evening at dinner Elena and Marius sang Happy Birthday to me again, and tonight I got a gift from them as well. A small baby’s bib, with a star on it, that Elena had spotted earlier in the day while on the crew’s Walmart shopping trip. I guess she’s seen the stains on my shirt when I finish dinner each night. LOL

Because the ship remains in Honolulu until 11 P.M tomorrow night, and the dining room will most likely be relatively empty for dinner, we asked the head waiter if Elena and Marius could have the evening off to join our group at the House Without A Key. He told us it was alright with him, but we’d have to get them permission from the Maitre D, who was unfortunately not available this evening.

Tomorrow morning, before I leave the ship for our golf outing, I’ll try to see the Maitre D and make our request to get our dining room team a few extra hours off to spend some time with us in a more social setting. I do hope it can be worked out, because they seemed to be quite excited by the prospect.

Y2C January 13th, 2006 03:49 AM

I'm really enjoying this daily log as we will be cruising Hawaii R/T at the end of March. The information Kuki is providing is a great resource.

Not sure where he finds all the time to write and post, but it is well appreciated.

TexasFyre January 13th, 2006 07:50 AM

Wow Kuki...You didn't say or not, but on the 10th, did you as well get the cake?

And thanks for the reminder..sometimes i forget there are other golf courses in this world then the one in my own back yard, so to speak!

Glad your having fun!

UConn1 January 13th, 2006 08:00 AM

The casino on the Spirit was open between the islands for the Vancouver - Honolulu cruise in Sept 05. The only night it was closed was the last night because we were overnight in Honolulu.


mehawk January 13th, 2006 10:33 AM

Great topic, great writing!!!! I feel as if I am there with you! 8) About the stores closing early, I noticed the same on the Grand Princess when I was on her in November of '04. Seemed as if they rolled up the corridors after dinnertime was over.

DianeT January 13th, 2006 01:11 PM


Just love your postings - great info and we feel like we are right there with you. We are doing this cruise in September, so look forward more info more each port. We are avid Big Island visitors, so just wanted to correct one comment. There are some extraordinarily beautiful white soft sand beaches on the Big Island, mostly on the west side and north of Kona all the way up to the North Kohala area - beautiful sugary sand and some fabulous snorkeling areas.

I am really curious why the casino is closed the whole time you are in the islands - has anyone on board been able to explain that to you?

CA Cruiser January 13th, 2006 01:43 PM

There was no casino on the NCL Star when we cruised the islands. It was explained to me that gambling is prohibited in Hawaii and since they are at Hawaiian ports and in Hawaiian waters, there is no gambiling.


Irish Shark January 13th, 2006 02:50 PM

It is mainly due to the fact that the ship is in US waters and not outside the 3 mile limit.

Also, Hawaii prohibits gambling in the State, but this is not the real issue.

rollerdonna January 13th, 2006 08:03 PM

Kuki, still loving your posts! When you get to Oahu, keep an eye out for "LOST" passengers of Oceanic flight 815. If you meet any, get an autograph for me please? :D


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