I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon. Everybody has already been up and is back in bed. It’s been a long 2 1/2 weeks away from home. Here’s a summary of where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to.
Our vacation began on Thursday, December 17th, when we flew non-stop from Oklahoma City to Los Angeles. After landing we picked up our rental car, drove to the hotel to unload our luggage, and then walked over to El Capitan theater to catch the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We got back to our hotel around 1 a.m. (3 a.m. Oklahoma time), although at some point during the trip we would lose track of time zones.
On Friday, December 18th, we got up early to go on the Paramount Studio’s back lot tour. Last year while in California we went on the Warner Bros. tour and we enjoyed it so much that we decided to do another one. After the tour we drove to the port and began the embarking process. The process was a mess. A group of tourists from Canada didn’t bring the proper paperwork and couldn’t leave the ship, which was preventing us from boarding. As we would eventually learn, the entire boarding and unboarding process is a bit of a scheduling nightmare and one minor thing (like this) can screw everything up. Instead of waiting in our reserved area and boarding the ship smoothly, we spent a couple of hours standing around (and later sitting on the hard ground) waiting for things to move. Like many things, these waits were frustrating at the time but seem inconsequential in retrospect.
With all 3,300 passengers finally on board, the Ruby Princess pulled out of port around 6 p.m., headed toward Hawaii. We spent five days on the open sea, travelling roughly twenty miles per hour. There are a million things to do on the ship while you are at sea. There were three trivia games a day (the highlight of Morgan’s day), and just all kinds of things to see and do. We saw a stand up comedian, a juggler/comedian, a magician, karaoke, a Broadway quality musical performance, “The Voice at Sea,” a Beatles’ tribute band, and more. Mason played basketball and mini-golf up on the ship’s 19th deck. Both kids also had “come and go” privileges to their respective clubs — one for kids aged 8-12 and a teen club for passengers ages 13-17. Both clubs had ping-pong and air hockey tables and at least 30 Xboxes. There were a million things we didn’t attend, from speeches and presentations to ukulele and hula lessons.
We also ate, a lot. We ate breakfast at a private restaurant for platinum, elite and suite passengers that served everything from oatmeal and fruit to eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce and French toast. For lunch, we took turns visiting the buffet, the hamburger and hot dog grill, the pizza station, the sushi bar, and other places. For dinner we either ate at one of those same places or the Da Vinci and Michelangelo dining rooms. One night we ate snacks up at the Skywalker Lounge for dinner. Most of not all of those places would also delivered their goods to your room via room service. It is literally impossible to starve on a cruise ship.
During our cruise to Hawaii we went through another two time zones. Our internal clocks were never quite right.
Then, we arrived at Hawaii. We visited four islands in Hawaii, one per day. On the first day we visited Hilo in Hawaii and went on a tour of the island. On day two, we rented a car in Honolulu (on Oahu) and drove around visiting things. We visited Pearl Harbor, a Macademia Nut farm, the Dole Pineapple Farm, and several other locations. On day three we went snorkeling in Maui. On day four, we took a tour and visited filming locations on Kauai from the port of Nawiliwili. I’ll be writing about those adventures in days to come.
One of those days, I forget which one, was Christmas day.
We left Kauai and headed out for another five days at sea, this time headed for Ensenada, Mexico. We went to more trivia and more shows. We ate more. We played Scattergories in the library. I watched a lot of episodes of The Love Boat in our cabin. We did not get off the boat in Ensenada — it didn’t seem worth the hassle at that point. I watched the OU and OSU games on deck 15 on a 100′ outdoor television screen, near the pool. Susan and I spent some time in the casino, and sitting outside on our deck.
The day before Ensenada was New Year’s Eve. We went to a fancy dinner and a show in formal wear. Everyone was pooped by 11 p.m. and we retreated to our room to watch the ball drop in Times Square on our TV.
On the last day of our trip we disembarked after eating breakfast on the ship and waiting around. Embarking and disembarking is a trial of patience and waiting. We went from the port to the airport and due to a change in flight plans ended up waiting there 8 hours for our plane to arrive. It did, and we flew home, arriving in Oklahoma just after midnight and eating dinner at 1:30 a.m. at Taco Bell.
I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot about this trip over the next couple of weeks, but that’s a basic overview. Two and a half weeks on a cruise ship is a long time. We had a great time and are glad to be home!