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About faerievert

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Nashville, TN
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    Travel, Dogs
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  1. Everything I saw was worthwhile. We were advised to skip the national park. It's quite a drive, and would mean skipping most of the rest of the other places we went. Given that we were there less than two weeks after the government shutdown, almost nothing in the park was up and running. The trails I wanted to walk: closed. The lava tube: closed. The museum: closed. I'd rather see more of the local flavor than take the long drive to see dormant, rocky lava fields at a distance from anything interesting. The turtle cover is definitely worth it if anyone is willing to get in the water (grab a little sea grass from the water line on your way in so you can feed them). Loved the water falls. Seeing the "new beach" was pretty cool, but probably the least impressive thing. Stopped at a couple scenic outlooks that were just out of this world. I really don't think there are any bad choices.
  2. A combination of both. I specifically requested the one waterfall. He gave us options for everything else and we chose from his suggestions. We had an initial itinerary planned, but then we re-evaluated when we got there because due to conditions our time in port was cut short (they docked late plus all aboard was moved up an hour). We actually re-evaluated several times during the day just to make sure we were still good on time.
  3. Beachiekeen is correct. Kamaaina Custom Tours. Booked direct through his website and paid in cash at the end of the tour. Pricing was extremely reasonable (only $475 for a completely customized private SUV tour including at the port pickup/drop off for just us for the whole day) so we gave a generous additional tip.
  4. I remember karaoke being a thing on my past HAL cruises, but it wasn’t on the itinerary at all on my Feb Hawaiian cruise (and that cruise had 10+ sea days, so maximum onboard activities)
  5. Good choice, we missed Kona, Nawiliwili, and Lahaina due to weather. We went to the two major waterfalls (each a very short walk from the parking area), drove into the now lava-covered suburban neighborhood to see the steam from the current active fissure (no lava was visible anywhere in the islands when we were there), visited a few scenic beaches, stopped at the turtle lagoon in town (my husband got to swim with a HUGE sea turtle... water was very cold), stopped at a farm stand for fresh local pineapple for a snack and a bag of coffee for my dad, ate a bunch of local junk food like chocolate covered macadamia nuts and sweet potato chips, went to the farmer's market in town where I got jewelry and crazy cheap flowers (I was allowed to bring these on board the ship), visited an art gallery (the for sale kind, not a museum), and I'm probably forgetting something. We skipped the national park due to lack of flowing red lava and most of the trails being shut down (it's pretty far out of town, so we could see so much more if we skipped it). The guide was fantastic (older hippie dude who's been living off the grid near Hilo for a couple decades) and we absolutely got our money's worth. Almost awesome enough to make up for missing three ports. In regards to those missed ports: We got a refund for the biplane tour no problem, but big island air were not cooperative at all. The stop in kona was canceled because we weren't allowed to leave honolulu. This was after their cancelation deadline, so no refund. I didn't like that, but what really annoyed me was that when we called back first thing in the morning (less than 12 hours later) and offered to grab a commercial flight to kona to still make our tour time they said they had canceled the tour for insufficient numbers. They'd mentioned when we called the night before that one other couple had also been scheduled for the flight. We assumed that they would still get to fly seeing as how they already had our money to justify the flight. They decided not to fly them either, despite having kept our money. Which meant they had received a refund, which meant we now didn't have the numbers required fly.
  6. Unfortunately, the photographers are not in the photo gallery available for portraits. They set up on the dock in ports in the mornings and near the central elevators with a backdrop most evenings. They also visit the MDR on gala nights (gala nights have 4 backdrops, other nights just one). Hours are listed in the daily schedule, but it’s generally evening dinner hours. We bought an unlimited package and tried to get pictures every opportunity. Most days we would do happy hour and hang out until 5:30 or so, dress up for dinner, get photos before I messed up my makeup, then go to eat dinner. All that said, the quality of the photos both in print and digital was far lower than our previous cruise. It was still worth it to me because we really enjoyed working with the photographers and got a handful of shots I love. But it’s much harder for me to recommend seeing the deterioration in quality of that service.
  7. I must point out that tender ports always have the risk that no tenders will be allowed at all. That’s what just happened to us in Hawaii. We missed both tender ports (plus a non-tender... 3 out of 5 ports were missed because the weather was terrible). If it’s too wavy tenders can start late or you can even miss the port entirely. And you may not find that out until mid-morning day-of. It’s rare, but it absolutely DOES happen to at least several cruises a year. Know your private tour’s cancellation policy and your travel insurance coverage. And address your risk tolerance accordingly.
  8. To get the “couples” rate the pair of you need not be sharing a room or even know each other. You just have to go sign up together.
  9. Smaller. Caribbean lobster probably? MDR had a small lobster tails available as an upcharge on some nights. It was only included during the last gala night (NOT the first two gala nights). I think Pinnacle's is Maine lobster (also tail, not whole) and is also an upcharge -- on top of the usual Pinnacle charge.
  10. Forgot to attach the Captain's cupcake and Pinnacle birthday "cake" to the post #216 above.
  11. Speaking of lobster... it wasn't on the menu the first two gala nights. My husband made up for it when tails finally appeared as an included item on the third gala night. My husband ordered 4 to show up our friends from happy hour at the next table who had ordered 3 each. I'd heard you had to order one at a time, but they brought them all together without question. He enjoyed every bite.
  12. The last sea day turned out to be the cellar master dinner in pinnacle. It was advertised at $79pp including wine pairings. We did not choose to buy it. However, on the morning of the day, an invitation arrived in our box. So we went! It started with a glass of sparkling wine with strawberry syrup in the Pinnacle bar. Very sweet but yummy. For some reason the husband decided to ask the cellar master about how we got on the list. We thought he had invited us or something. He didn't know how we'd gotten on the list, and neither did his assistant and then they both disappeared for a while. We were concerned they were going to make us leave, but returned just in time for dinner. The assistant said we were all good and this dinner was included in our cellar master package. My theory is this is why our account showed we only had one dinner in pinnacle to schedule when we boarded. I think we were supposed to get this plus one other dinner. We argued about that not being told about being on the list for this one and therefore got two dinners plus the special cellar master event. I may not have been iffy on the fancy tasting and the around the world tasting, but this dinner was fantastic. We got second glasses of almost everything and the food was all perfection. I'm not that into fois gras, but I must admit it paired well, and for the first time in my life I actually enjoyed the lobster. Apparently, I like it with citrus.
  13. The around the world wine tasting was a bit odd. This one wasn't included in our cellar master's package, but we paid the $25 pp anyway. It was unlimited tastings for an hour. Honestly, I wasn't much of a fan of most of the offerings, even the ones I had expected to like. I took a couple sips of each, but that was it. I ended up drinking the bubbly the rest of the event. They started late because there was a mixup with the small food platters that were supposed to be served (cheese and bread and grapes and blueberries). The servers tried to cut off wine 10 minutes before the scheduled end time, even though we started 10 minutes late. The cellar master corrected the timing, but they'd still put away all except the currently open bottles. I left a few minutes before the end. I'd already had more than enough. I heard they got them to open one more bottle of the group's favorite.
  14. A note on birthdays: I mentioned that the Pinnacle didn't celebrate my husband's birthday with a cake. Well, for whatever reason they did acknowledge mine. With an amazing chocolate mousse cake, which was perfect because I love chocolate and don't like regular cake! I had no idea it would be coming so I'd already ordered the citrus tart. The waiter wrapped it up for me in a tinfoil purse, thinking I would eat it back in the room. This was a bad idea. I ate it the next day and it wasn't nearly as good. It's not stabilized food intended to sit. Some of the oil had separated and I probably shouldn't have even eaten it but I had been so excited about finding it in the fridge the next day I didn't want to give up on it. The next day (valentine's day... my birthday is the 13th), the topic of my age came up at happy hour. This was not unusual on the cruise, and it was often a bit of a joke whether at 36 we would be considered less than half the average age of the guests onboard. Because it had come up, I happened to say that I just turned 36 yesterday. And of course they realized that meant it had been my birthday and then they had to tell everyone and then the bartenders sang me happy birthday. Repeatedly. And got the bar to sing along. And then to my husband when I tried to make them stop by saying no one had sung for his birthday the week earlier. The continued to sing happy birthday every time I came down to happy hour for the next 4 days. I generally don't like being celebrated publicly, but they were very sweet about it. It was partially mortifying, but mostly endearing. I also got the cupcake with card from the captain, but not the spa gift certificate.
  15. Trying the menus again. That was impossible onboard and just took under 3 seconds here at home. menu-dinner-mdr-20190205.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190206.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190207.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190209.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190210.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190211.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190213.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190214.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190215.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190216.docx menu-dinner-mdr-20190218.docx
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