Christmas on the High Seas

December 24, 2002

Michele and I are immensely enjoying our Christmas time cruise to Hawaii and the Pacific. The day of travel Friday to get here was very long, but went as smoothly as one might expect. Flying from Springfield was a HUGE improvement over flying from St. Louis. We cleared baggage checkin in 10 minutes flat, and security took only a few more moments. Ha! This more than wiped out last year's 3 hour marathon at the St. Louis terminal. The plane ride to Honolulu was long. Very long. Very, very long. Longer even. By the time we reached our room we were both exhausted. Room service and bed were all we accomplished that evening.

Saturday we rented a Jeep of all things and drove ourselves around Oahu exploring. The north shore is incredible with its lava outcroppings and huge surf. Sunday dawned and we returned our Jeep and waited for the bus transfer to the Norwegian Star.

The transfer was smoother than we expected but not without difficulties. It took about 90 minutes to complete the bus ride and check in process. The last leg of the process was being led to our cabin. Even though we told the crew member that our cabin was on the port side of the ship, he insisted on leading us down half the length of the Star on the starboard side. Once at the aft end of the ship (and seemingly close to California after all the walking) he admitted he was new to the ship and didn't rightly know where our cabin was.

Our stress was compounded when we tried to find something to eat. The only food service open was outside by the pool, complete with hundreds of people, screaming children and a live band. Finding a crew member who could understand us was next to impossible. Our cabin A/C wasn't working either, so our room was hot and stuffy. Eventually we were able to get a maintenance man to come and fiddle with it. After an Italian dinner we thought the cabin was a little cooler.

On Monday we sat and talked about the stress of the travel and being tired. In a complete reversal from Sunday we had a fabulous day. As most of the passengers were ashore in Hilo we had large spaces of the ship to ourselves and we enjoyed every minute of it. In the afternoon we attended an art auction and added 6 new pieces to our collection. The collection now stands at 6 pieces. We were able to get 3 Thomas Kinkades for a fraction of gallery prices. Also a Winnie-ther-Pooh cell from Disney, and a Chen of Yosimite. The last one was a free lithograph that we both love. It was exciting and felt very adult to get art at auction.

Today we are at sea on our way to Fanning Island. It is about 1100 miles south of Oahu! Almost to the equator. We are spending a quiet day in our cabin. Later we have Michele's birthday dinner set for Le Bristo, the onboard French restaurant.

We are having a wonderful trip. Merry Christmas to all.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.