Wednesday, September 9, 2009

OAHU, Hawaii --- a compilation of my 4 trips there: 1998; 2001; 2003; 2009

Our trips to Oahu:

Our very first trip to the Islands was to Oahu in 1998.  I found a great vacation package through TWA Getaway Vacations and surprisingly enough, Ken agreed to go.  So thus began our obsession with The Hawaiian Islands!

1998 Oahu---our first trip to the Islands:

2001 Oahu---3 nights around a Kauai vacation:

2003 Oahu---7 nights with Dad for Sean's reenlistment:

2009 Oahu---3 night solo trip:

If you want a place that's always bustling with activity and beauty, Oahu is the place to be.  It's not the laid back peaceful Hawaii most people think of when they've never been to Hawaii.  We don't often come to Oahu anymore since my husband usually wants to go to just one island and he prefers peace and quiet.  So we usually go to Kauai.  But I'm definitely not opposed to visiting Oahu again

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2009 Alaska Cruise --- 7 nt. NCL Pearl; Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay, Victoria B.C.,

August 16-23, 2009----to Alaska on board NCL's Pearl.

I chose this cruise as Ken's first cruise (my 7th)to try and impress him enough that he would want to go on more cruises. With the beauty of Alaska and the ports being mostly American towns (he has an aversion to leaving the states), I figured this might do the trick. It started out as a cruise for just him and myself. As the months went by, my brother and sister-in-law, Aunt and Uncle, and at the last minute my sister also joined us. Although I was looking forward to all my family joining us, I had never cruised with more then 1 other person in my party and was a little apprehensive about how it would all turn out. In the end, I think it went well, although we all did spend lots of time hunting each other out. It also meant wait times at the restaurants and a little more work finding tables for all of us at the buffet restaurant, but it all worked out. It was also nice knowing that we didn't have to do everything together, but that we could probably find someone to do "whatever" with (NCL's motto---You're free to do whatever.) Ken and I usually found Uncle Joe and Aunt Carol in the buffet for breakfast about 8ish. The inside cruisers would usually make their appearance around 10 or later. I even had to call and wake them one day after noon to see if they were joining us in Ketchikan. Ken and I also joined the spa which in hindesite was a waste of money. The spa was nice (love the therapy pool and heated loungers), but we were in port so much and had high waves that caused them to drain the pools the last couple days so we hardly had time to use it. Plus I really enjoyed the outdoor pool and jacuzzis with the gals.

I had read poor reviews of NCL from different travel agencies, but they had the itinerary I was looking for. The poor reviews were for naught, we had no problems with NCL. The Pearl was a beautiful ship. Not any more beautiful then the others I've been on, but just as nice. It's a rather large ship at 93,500 tons and 2,394 passengers, 15 decks, and was only 2 years old.

In the months before the cruise, I participated in and even made it to roll call. Noone had set up a meet & greet for this cruise, so at the last minute (within a week of our trip), I emailed the group administrator and she got us a spot in the Indigo restaurant for Mon. morning at 11. It was a nice meeting with refreshments provided by the ship and the hotel manager even came and spoke to us. I requested a tour of the villa suites which we got at the end of the cruise---for $30,000 a cabin they are quite impressive. The meet & greet did have about 12 of us there. I got a kick out of the location we were put in. I don't know if they purposely put us in the corner by this artwork or if it was coincidence, but it made me feel right at home (St. Louis).