We returned safely from our cruise at the beginning of the month, but I came home with an added extra - a terrible cough which took weeks to shift! Still I feel better now, so thought I'd better get back to posting - this one will be about our holiday so I'll be posting lots of photos.
WARNING - THIS POST IS VERY PHOTO HEAVY!
We left Heathrow Airport early afternoon and landed in Los Angeles in time for dinner! We managed a quick meal and then almost straight away hit the bed, as we were tired out! We'd been up from about 6am to get the taxi to the airport, and with an 11 hour flight it felt like we'd been awake for ever. Luckily we were in a hotel we'd stayed in before, so we knew that the food was good, and we didn't have to go out hunting for a restaurant!
The next morning we were being collected just after 1pm and taken to our ship - the Ruby Princess, so we had plenty of time to sit outside and relax for an hour or so! As soon as we could see the bridge at San Pedro we began to feel like it was going to be a good trip!
Ruby Princess parks next to the bridge, so you know you've arrived when you spot the bridge from the coach!
Top deck - before the hoards take over the pool!
The first four days on board are sea days. Normally it takes me a couple of days to get my sea legs - but this time I was fine from the very first day. We spent time lounging around, catching a few rays (and putting a few stitches into my Brookes' Advent Animals which I had brought along for the ride!
The first stop this time was Lahaina (on Maui). This involves getting onto a tender boat to go ashore. Greeting us as we stepped off the jetty was a small group of older people (residents) who were dancing hula and playing ukuleles.
Then - just a few paces away - is the old Banyan tree. This year there was a craft market around the tree with lots of local craft for sale. There were loads of photographers who had printed photos onto aluminium - a process I had never seen before.
After a walk along the main street, we stopped for a drink at a sea front bar, where we could watch the waves! We also spent a few minutes watching all the mini crabs who were sunning themselves on the rocks below us! Who said that holidays had to be active!!
Back on board, there was a sailaway deck party and several cocktails to try before dinner! The next morning we docked in Hilo (Big Island of Hawaii). This time we opted for a hop on hop off bus. Hilo is only a small town, and the bus takes you out to the Rainbow Falls on one side of the town and then ends up at the black sand beach on the opposite side before taking you back to the ship. Here's a few shots of Hilo.
Green Turtles (Honu) relaxing on the beach! This was the first time we had spotted turtles on our trips to Hawaii, so it was a very special day.
Back on board again, but not before I found a Ben Franklins store and spent a few pounds topping up some craft supplies! The next day we were due to go ashore in Honolulu (Oahu). It was to be a full day (8am - 10.30pm!) We had booked tickets again for the hop on hop off bus, which would allow us to see as much as possible in the time we had available.
On the way down from Diamond Head Crater, you drive past the Film Studios where Hawaii 5-0 is filmed. I wasn't able to get a photo of it, but that big monster truck that Steve McGarrett drives was parked outside! Shame they weren't filming though as the series was wrapped a few weeks before! So of course the next photo has to be where the Five-0 offices are based (in the show that is!)
We actually took two routes on the tour bus - the trip up to Diamond Head and back and the Historic route which took us around Honolulu itself. When we got back to the Ala Moana shopping centre, we hopped off and did a bit of shopping. Back on the bus we made a quick stop at Waikiki Beach (you just have to dip your feet in the ocean there!) before heading back to the ship for dinner. Some people had booked to go to a luau, but it had been included in a full day tour to the Polynesian Centre which would have meant we couldn't go round the town itself, so we decided not to do it on this trip. (maybe we'll have to go back again to do that!)
Back on board and the next stop was Nawiliwili (Kaui). Hopping onto the free bus (see there's a common theme here?) we hopped off at the local beach and shops. Wandering round and sitting on the beach for a while to enjoy the day has to be one of the best things on holiday. Especially when people at home are freezing cold!
Before we went back on board, we took a side trip to Walmart where I bought some cotton fabric much cheaper than it would be at home. I picked up three nice lengths which will make some summer dresses and a charm square pack (for quilting) of fabrics which look like Hawaiian shirt material! Might make that into a nice quilted table runner or some table mats for outside on the patio table. Once everyone was back on board, we headed back across the Pacific - five days at sea this time!
The last stop was Ensenada (Mexico). I know they have to make a stop somewhere outside of the USA in order to be able to sell duty free on board (and also something to do with it being a non US registered ship) but there was little to do here. As this was our fourth cruise on this route, we had already done the trips organised by the ship, and the town itself doesn't have much to recommend it, so after a quick walk around the town, we spent most of the rest of the afternoon taking photos around the almost empty ship, and packing!
An early morning arrival back in LA, and we were off on our last trip. We had booked to go to Long Beach, especially as our flight home wasn't until 9pm, and we were one of the first groups off the ship. We wandered round the Queen Mary, had lunch and were collected again. It did mean that we were at the airport by 1.30pm though (we had hoped to be longer in Long Beach), so we had to sit at the airport for quite a few hours! And if anyone has travelled through Virgin Atlantic at LA you will know that there isn't much to do there! Lucky I had my stitching in my carry on bag eh?
So after that whirlwind tour of our cruise, I suppose I had better let you all get on with life! Hope you enjoyed the photos. Next time I'll fill you in on my stitching progress
Until then, take care everyone