Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our Hawaiian Vacation

February 16th - February 25th – POA cruise from the 18th - 25th
I basically had to twist my John's arm to get him to go.  I had a huge list of things that I wanted to show him and see myself while we were here.  I was working on convincing him that we needed to make a few more trips in the very near future!  Now if any of you saw my itinerary for the first couple of days on Oahu – you know that we were planning on not wasting any time.  I actually made it to everything that was important for us to see.  I think that the only things we missed were Diamondhead and the Blow Hole – which I didn’t even remember until late into the evening on the second day – figure we can catch that the next time.  We encountered almost no traffic but we also did not go into Waikiki – which was a choice I made on purpose.

 We flew into Oahu on the 16th landed at 11:25 a.m. and then rented a Mustang Convertible from Thrifty as Blue Chip members and were at our resort Aulani by about 12:15 or so. The arrival here was nothing short of wonderful.  We each received leis as we arrived – they also met us at the car and referred to us by name.  After a short tour of the grounds – pointing out where the restaurants us some brief information concerning the resort we were handed our room keys and were headed to our room on the 15th floor overlooking the grounds and out into the ocean.  We are serious Disney freaks so this was perfect for us.  The grounds and resort are amazing.  I was sorry that we didn't have time to enjoy them - just gives us a reason to go back again (which we are already planning for next year). 

Our room was ready so we headed up to it and then had our luggage delivered.  Shortly,   we were on the road to the North Shore to experience some of the things that I had read about on Cruise Critic and Oahu Revealed book. We stopped at the Dole Pineapple Plantation - walked around the grounds - had a Dole Whip with fresh pineapple, went into Haliewa and stopped at M. Matsumoto for a shaved ice - we both got cherry with ice cream in the bottom and condensed milk on top....oh yum!  Definitely worth the drive and the waves weren't too bad to watch either.  Stopped at several beaches along the way...looked for turtles (never saw any – for the entire trip) and ended up at Ted's Bakery which was another yum spot. They didn’t have a lot to choose from this late in the day but enough to get us to return the next day.

The next day we started our day at Pearl Harbor - we arrived at 8:00 and our ticket time was for 9:15 which I didn't think was too bad.  We got the video tour and walked around the museum and listened to the all the information until it was our time to go into the theatre.  Like many have said this is so much more and makes you understand the events so much better.  It is really hard to explain your feelings about seeing this.  We left here about noon and headed again to the North Shore - we really fell in love with this side of the island.  We headed towards Giovanni's Shrimp truck with a side trip to Ted’s Bakery and oh my goodness we both thought that these were the best shrimp we had ever had.  We both ordered the Shrimp Scampi which came with rice – so glad that I read about these trucks.  We finished the meal off with a fresh half pineapple from the Smoothie truck that is right there as well.  We went to Chinaman's Hat and Byodo-In Temple – which I think is a serene and beautiful place – we made sure that we rang the gong and onward back to the resort via H3 – seeing this beautiful piece of highway was another thing on my to-do list.  Heading back to the resort we pulled off and picked up some malasadas at Leonard’s Jr – this is a little trailer in a parking lot of a K-Mart...if the malasadas are any different at the original Leonard’s then I don’t think that we could of stood it....they were amazing!  Unfortunately we didn’t get to try them all – another reason to go back!

Saturday morning - we walked around the grounds at Aulani and then checked out and headed towards the ship.  Checked the car back in and were at the pier by about noon, check in went extremely smooth and we were on the ship in no time.

  Once we were on I went over and made reservations for two of the specialty restaurants - Jefferson's Bistro for that night and Teppanyaki for Tuesday night.  Again this was quick and painless.  We then headed to the Aloha Cafe on Deck 11 - wasn't crowded at all.  Ordered a drink immediately and then went and got some food.  Shortly after finishing our meal it was announced that our room was ready.  We headed to Deck 9 Aft Room 9702 to be exact.  I had heard that the rooms were small so I wasn't surprised when I walked in and I loved our balcony.   Bags arrived before 3 p.m. and ended up with an issue here - I had checked my camera bag - now my bag has a zipper and has a latch on it to keep it sealed and all of its contents safe which had been done.  I received the bag and the zipper was unzipped and the bag was completely open when I opened the door.  No worries at first since I checked that my lenses were in place - I had kept my camera with me.  Upon further examination I found that my battery charger for my DSLR was missing.  I contacted Guest Services immediately and they kept in contact with me concerning this for the rest of the trip.  It was never located and I have paperwork to give to the insurance company which I'm not sure what that means yet but the entire staff at customer service was wonderful in the whole process.  I believe what may have happened is since I had so many wires inside the bag that it may have been opened at security and never sealed up again - I figure it is really my fault since I should of just kept it with me.

On to the room - we had plenty of space for all of our clothes and essentials.  I had enough hangers for 20 shirts, shelving for all the shorts and jeans and two drawers held all of our undergarments.  The suitcases fit nicely under the bed and the power strip I brought worked perfectly for all of our electronics.  The two drawers under the television we didn't really use - I put the beach towels in there and a few things that we wouldn't need.  I used the medicine cabinet in the bathroom for everything that needed to be in there and the shelving next to the closet for snacks and other items.  As has been said on here more times than I can remember - the rooms are smaller than most ships but you aren't in them all that much either and I felt that the space was very good for two people.  Now the balcony was awesome - we had two chaise lounges, two chairs and a small table and still had plenty of room to walk around.  The downside to this is that our neighbors were smokers and of course, it came right into our area. 

When we arrived our beds were separate so we needed to get our room steward to fix that, clear out the refrigerator and give us ice.  He accommodated us fantastically while we were on board - never had to ask for anything and our room was always spic and span clean when we came back from whatever we had been out doing.  We also always had a towel animal!

As far as the food went we are pretty easy to DH can have a hamburger and be satisfied.  The Aloha Grill - we ate in it for dinner every night but the two nights we were in the specialty restaurants.  It was just easier and it had enough of a selection to make us both happy.  Everyone was always very pleasant and accommodating.  Once we got separated and ended up at two different tables - my DH sent one of the crew to see if they could find me - which they did and then escorted me to where he was sitting (he was in the wrong place). 

Jefferson's Bistro - we had the "Best of All" meal on embarkation night and it was fabulous.  We were given the menu but also told that we needed to go and get food from the buffet that they had and then order off the menu as well.  The buffet had a ton of different foods - salads, sushi, pasta, carving station and a dessert table.  After getting a plate from there I didn't really think I needed anything else but the crew member said "oh come on" so we ordered off the menu as well - I got the Onion soup, which was fantastic, the crab cakes - were yummy and then my DH ordered the filet mignon which I tried as well and it was as tender as could be.  This was all for $15 per person.  We never felt rushed or like they wanted us out of there - the atmosphere was very nice and they had a guy playing the keyboard too.

Teppanyaki - If at all possible you must do this once on this cruise.  The show was spectacular and our chef was hilarious.  The food was amazing.  I ordered the Shinto which was scallops and shrimp and DH had the Land and Sea which was filet mignon and shrimp.  We also received prior to our main course -  Miso soup and Seaweed Salad - both very good in my opinion.  For dessert we had fresh fruit and Green Tea cake and ice cream.  At this point we were so stuffed that the dessert was good but so not needed.  The chef asked before he left if anyone wanted more and he cooked up about 4 more filets and dished them out to the guests that had ordered that originally and even asked those of us that didn't if we wanted any.  They only do 3 shows a night - 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 so I would suggest booking this as soon as you get on the ship because it was sold out the entire time we were there.

Since we did Jefferson's Bistro on Embarkation day we missed lobster night and the other night that is lobster night is Wednesday in Lazy J Steakhouse. 

If you have any questions please feel free to up Maui!