And the Journey Began!
At the top of my "Bucket List" was to take a cruise to Hawaii from California. Finally, my husband and I decided it was time to take that long dreamed of trip. Since my husband doesn't like to fly, but does like to drive, this was going to be a road trip across the country to a port of embarkation. Since we would be driving, time of year and weather conditions needed to be taken into consideration when making our plans and shopping for our cruise to Hawaii from California.
We found the perfect trip; the Diamond Princess had a cruise to Hawaii from California, from the Port of Los Angeles, sailing on April 1. This was the perfect time of the year to make a cross country drive - good driving conditions, and no heavy clothing would be needed. Plus, if booked with a special advertised code, the price was right. When shopping for a trip, be sure to check prices with warehouse clubs such as Costco and BJ's.
In addition to the cost of the cruise to Hawaii from California, we needed to figure in the cost of our travel to CA and our return trip home. Since we have made this trip across this beautiful country three times, before, there were just a few places we wanted to revisit. Also, we wanted to spend sometime in Los Angeles, and on our return trip home, sometime in Las Vegas. (We aren't big gamblers, but we do enjoy their large variety of dining venues and their shows.)
Our travel schedule was planned, our port tours booked. All we had to do now was wait until it was time to leave for our cruise to Hawaii from California. Finally, on March 24, it was time to load up the car (What a job!), and begin our journey from Virginia to the West Coast. We enjoyed a beautiful drive across country, stopping in a few favorite places like Memphis, Tennessee, to eat at Corky's Ribs & BBQ, and to drive, once again, by Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. Another favorite stop is at the Groom Cross, at Groom, Texas. This huge Cross, one of the largest in the country, is a nice place to stop, spend sometime, and say thank you for our safe journey.
Our Cruise to Hawaii From California – Embarkation
After handing our luggage over to the porters, and parking the car, we were ready to board the ship for our cruise to Hawaii from California. After we checked our cabin, we headed to Horizon Court Buffet for lunch. The afternoon and evening were a whirlwind of activity: exploring the new ship, checking to see if our luggage was on-board, the passenger drill, the sailing, dinner, and the many offerings of evening entertainment. And, then, it was bedtime, and that wonderful sleep you get on a ship, with its gentle roll. But, before sleep, the Princess Patter had to be read, and the activities circled for the next day. Lights out!
Our Cruise to Hawaii From California – Sea Days
The Diamond Princess staff did a wonderful job teaching Hawaiian Culture on the sea days over and back. You could learn the Hawaiian Hula: the moves, the words, and the music of this dance. Or, learn to make leis or how to play a ukulele. Go hear a Naturalist lecture on the sea and its creatures.
Some other activities you could participate in were: port of call information talks, lectures on taking photographs, food and drink demonstrations, golf seminars, arts & crafts, ceramic classes (fee), computer classes (fee), spa (fee), and fitness programs.
Or, improve your dance skills with line dance classes or ballroom dance instruction. Join other passengers at a movie, an art auction, or afternoon tea. Play charades and trivia games with the staff. Go on a scavenger hunt. Practice your putt on the putting green. Play bridge, or other games, with your fellow passengers.Our Cruise to Hawaii from California - First Port of Call - Lahaina, Maui
How excited we were to finally be going ashore. We took a tender to shore, and explored the quaint village of Lahaina, before boarding our motor coach for our "Iao Valley & Tropical Plantation Tour." Our four-hour excursion carried us to the Iao Valley State Park to see the 'Iao Needle' and the picturesque valley surrounding it. Afterwards, we visited the Maui Tropical Plantation, where we rode a tram through the fields and gardens of the plantation, to see tropical plants growing in their natural environment.Our Cruise to Hawaii from California - Second Port of Call: Nawiliwili, Kauai
We docked at Nawiliwili, where we boarded a motor coach to take us on our "Tropical Garden, Luai & Romantic Ceremony Tour." This four-hour tour included a traditional Hawaiian luau. While waiting for the imu ceremony to begin, we enjoyed visiting the gardens. We watched, in fascination, as the imu ceremony began, with the uncovering of the kalua pig. Once the pig was carried off to the kitchen, for shredding, we made our way to the tented dining area, where we were served drinks. The food was absolutely delicious and plentiful. The hula dancers, and the musicians who entertained us were awesome. The shipboard hula lessons, sailing over, had taught me some of the hand and body movements, so it was especially interesting to watch them as they performed the beautiful Polynesian dances.
Our Cruise to Hawaii from California - Third Port of Call – Honolulu, Oahu
This was the most anticipated stop on our cruise to Hawaii from California. My husband and I both wanted to visit Pearl Harbor to pay our respects to those who'd died there. To do this, we chose the "Pearl Harbor VIP Military Base Tour," as this excursion encompassed all the stops we wanted to make. Once at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, we had time to visit the Museum, before taking a Navy launch out to the USS Arizona Memorial. "A Date that will Live in Infamy," kept running through my head, as my husband and I reverently paid our respects to the brave men who gave their lives for our country. We were also able to say a personal, 'thank you' to a couple of Pearl Harbor survivors, who were at the Museum to answer questions.
Other meaningful sites that we visited that day were: Wheeler Field, Schofield Barracks, the "Pineapple Pentagon," Punchbowl National Memorial, and the Home of the Brave Museum.
Our Cruise to Hawaii from California - Fourth Port of Call – Kona, Hawaii
A tender carried us ashore to board our motor coach for our "Kona Highlights Tour." Our first stop on this tour was the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, also known as the 'Place of Refuge'. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the park and shared her expertise with us as we traveled to our destination. So, we were well prepared to really appreciate what we saw. Our next stop was The Painted Church, and once again, she shared information about the history of this quaint, picturesque church. To help us focus on all she'd shared with us, our next stop, was the Royal Kona Coffee Store. Hawaii, coffee, chocolate, and history – what more could you want.Our Cruise to Hawaii from California - Fifth Port of Call – Hilo, Hawaii
Because of the recent activity at the Halema'uma'u crater, we were not sure our tour for the day would even take place. The "Explore Hilo Tour" was focused on Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but with clouds of sulfur dioxide in the air, our venture was uncertain. However, just before docking, an announcement was made that the tour was on. So, off we went! What an adventure! Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is amazing! Our next stops were exciting in their own way – think food! Sampling the goodies at Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory was delightful, but deciding what, and how many, to bring home was the question. And if things couldn't get better, our next stop was Big Island Candies. Need I say more?
"All good things must come to an end" - this old saying says it all, since this was our last day in the Hawaiian Islands.
Our Cruise to Hawaii from California - Sixth Port of Call – Ensenada, Mexico
We did not go ashore at Ensenada, since we had just been in Mexico the year before. So, we stayed on-board to pack, take pictures, and rest for our trip home.The days on board the Diamond Princess went in a hurry. But we have many fond memories of all the delicious meals we enjoyed, and all the interesting people we met while sharing a table. We chose "Personal Choice Dining," and it was perfect for us. We could eat dinner when we wanted; plus, we had a choice of dining rooms. But after a long day of touring, we would usually head to the Horizon Court Buffet for dinner, since the choices there were fantastic. If you like smoked salmon for breakfast, and the BEST doughnuts made anywhere, then you will like the Horizon Court Buffet breakfast.
Our cabin was just right for us, and our cabin steward was the best. He was very attentive to our needs, and when my husband said he had trouble sleeping, the steward said he would change out the mattress to see if that would help. Sure enough, that night, hubby had a different mattress and slept well thereafter.The CD and his staff provided continuous entertainment and far exceeded our expectations. Not only were the professional entertainers and shows wonderful, but they also included passengers in the entertainment, by allowing them to sing in one of the clubs. This was one of our favorite 'after dinner' stops. And the champagne waterfall was a fun time for passengers, as well as the staff, and was a not to be missed party.
We were very pleased with the service and attention we received on the Golden Princess, the year before, on our Mexican Riviera trip, and expected excellent service on this trip. We were not disappointed.
Our vacation cruise to Hawaii from California was over – the Diamond Princess was once again docked in Los Angeles. After disembarkation, and loading the car, we began another adventure – our trip back to Virginia and home.
I am so very thankful for this wonderful cruise to Hawaii from California, and I am grateful we returned home safely, after traveling nearly 12,000 miles in thirty-two days. The islands were everything I dreamed they would be, and more. The officers and staff of the Diamond Princess were wonderful, and contributed greatly to our fantastic trip. To them, I say 'thank you,' and job well done.
Oh, my "Bucket List" has another entry: cruise to Hawaii from California Trip #2, and yes, I have added it back to the list; once was just not enough.
My Personal Diary
Princess Patter (Their daily paper, listing activities.)