amarillocruisecat Posted November 5, 2006 #1 Share Posted November 5, 2006 Since there quite a few of us "locals" trying to give advice and help out, it would be really nice and cool to get some reports and reviews when you get back... You know... "Review - Hollywood - 10/20/06" "Report - Santa Monica - 08/15/07" "Review - San Pedro Doubletree - 05/10/08" etc., etc. In response to CJW's suggestion on another thread (good idea BTW), I thought I'd post this review of our recent pre-cruise stay at the Long Beach Westin. We booked two nights prior to a cruise on Monarch of the Seas. My thoughts on our pre-cruise stay (including travel arrangements) are included in my review of the Monarch, but I have replicated them here. We also took lots of photos while in Long Beach (check the link in my signature). Our wedding anniversary was on Sunday so we decided to stay in Long Beach Saturday and Sunday nights before the Monday departure of the ship. We booked air, hotel, and transfers with RCI. The travel arrangements were more than acceptable. We had 7:00 a.m. flight from Amarillo to DFW on Saturday on American Eagle. We then took an American flight from DFW to LAX. We had a 90 minute layover at DFW. Just enough time to grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks and a breakfast sandwich at Burger King. We arrived at LAX on time and took the SuperShuttle to the Long Beach Westin hotel. RCI provided us with a voucher for the SuperShuttle. We were checked in to our room at the hotel by 1:00 p.m. local time. The Westin was nice enough, but the service could have been better (don't think any member of the staff said as much as a good morning or good evening during our stay). We prefer a room with a queen bed, but received one with two double beds (I've read on other threads that RCI always books rooms with two doubles). The hotel was within walking distance of several restaurants, the beach, and the harbor, though the Hyatt is three blocks closer to the harbor and may be a better choice for some. Our room was on the 10th floor and we had a view of the harbor, including a partially obstructed view of the Queen Mary. We were extremely pleased with the area near the hotel. There are numerous restaurants ranging from chains (Outback, P.F. Changs, California Pizza Kitchen, etc.) to fine dining establishments (The Sky Room, L'Opera, 555 East, etc.) to nice local establishments (Parkers' Lighthouse). We chose to celebrate our anniversary with dinner at The Sky Room on Saturday night. The restaurant is on top of the historic Breakers building just one block from the Westin. The Breakers building was originally a hotel, though it is now retirement housing. The original Sky room was a favorite hangout for Elizabeth Taylor, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindberg, Errol Flynn and others during its heyday. When researching restaurants in the area, we were attracted to The Sky Room because of the views, the history, and the original 1920's parquet dance floor. We were not disappointed. The views and service were awesome. The food was very good, though for the price I expected better (admittedly we experienced a bit of sticker shock coming from the midwest and I suspect the prices are not out of line for quality restaurants in CA), and the band played some great music (mostly foxtrots and swings with an occasional cha cha). We were a little disappointed in the size of the dance floor - it was small, and the fact that most people only danced swing - even when the band played a great foxtrot. Also, it is very expensive - we dropped $300 for the meal, a bottle of decent (but not great) champagne, and tip. Was also disappointed that I had to drink $100 champagne out of cheap glass flutes. All in all though it was a very romantic evening and highly recommend it if you are looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion. We had lunch on Sunday at Parkers' Lighthouse. The food was good and we were able to sit on the deck outside and had a great view of the harbor and the Queen Mary. On Sunday we took the Aquabus harbor taxi across the bay to the Queen Mary and took the self guided tour. We spent 2 ½ hours touring the grand old liner and could easily have stayed another hour, but we had to cut our tour short so we could make the last taxi back across the bay. The Queen Mary is a must see sight for any die hard cruise fan. We spent the rest of our time touring the shops and attractions of Shoreline Village and the Pike at Rainbow Harbor. On Sunday evening, we took a moonlight stroll to Shoreline Park. The park is a great spot from which to watch the activity in the harbor and offered a great nightime view of the QM. The Aquarium of the Pacific is also in the area, but we did not have time to go there. We experienced a slight problem with our travel arrangements from the hotel to San Pedro. Our cruise docs indicated that we would receive a welcome letter with instructions for the transfer to the ship on Monday. We did not receive one, but when I asked at the front desk on Sunday they were able to provide me with the letter. The instructions indicated that the hotel bellman would pick up our luggage for transfer to the ship at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning. Our luggage was still in our room at 11:00 a.m. so I went to ask the bellman. She acted surprised when I told them we were supposed to be transferred to the ship, but immediately went to our room to pick up our luggage and take it to the lobby. She also told us that we were the only ones in the hotel on this particular cruise, which caused us some concern. However, we need not have been concerned. A bus came to pick us up at 11:15 and after a stop at the Hyatt to pick up 6 more passengers, we made our way to the ship. We were aboard by 12:00. All in all, we think a pre-cruise stay in Long Beach is well worth the time and cost, especially for those who have not been to California before. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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