Next to leisurely tours of wine-country, cruising is probably my second favorite form of vacationing. On the days at sea, everything is planned out for you: activities, food, and sleep (primarily defined by those periods when neither food nor activities are available). And with a toddler, the benefits of reliable, on-board childcare during dinnertime can’t be beat.
This year, Chad talked me into a 15-day cruise from San Diego to Hawaii, our longest voyage so far. We spent four days at sea followed by five days visiting Hilo, Maui, Honolulu, Kona, and Kauai. Another five days at sea with a brief stop in Ensenada, Mexico (no doubt required to offer Duty Free shopping) saw us returning to San Diego. Even though we only spent a total of five days in Hawaii, I think it was a great way to spend a first visit. We got to experience several different islands and will have a better idea of where we’d like to concentrate our time the next time we visit.
Hanalei was my favorite beach, a preference no doubt influenced by the fact that Colin’s favorite bedtime story character – Puff the Magic Dragon – hails from the area. We made a point of telling Colin about the significance of our destination and stopped by the Magic Dragon Toy shop in nearby Princeville where we bought him a stuffed dragon puppet of “Puff.” When asked about what he was going to tell his classmates about his trip to Hanalei this morning, he informed me that “we didn’t find Jackie Paper.”
Our trip also included dinner at Mama’s Fish House in Maui where I enjoyed the best meal of my life: Bouillabaisse with Mahi-mahi, lobster, shrimp, scallops, and crab in a tomato-saffron broth. It probably didn’t hurt that the meal was accompanied by an incredible bottle of wine, a Talbott “Sleepy Hollow” Pinot Noir. I think I would have had a second helping of Bouillabaisse for dessert, if it had been offered. If you do decide to visit Mama’s, I have to stress the importance of making a reservation ahead of time. After a $35 taxi ride from the port, we almost didn’t get in. Thankfully, they took pity on us and let us wait for a table to open up in the noobs-that-didn’t-know-to-make-a-reservation section.
Of all our time in Hawaii, my only regret was spending the day at Waikiki beach in Honolulu. It was super crowded, and some beach goers seemed less than tolerant of Chad and Colin’s playing along the shoreline. That was our first day at the beach, however, so we didn’t really know what we were missing until Kona when we took a 45 minute taxi ride to Hapuna beach on the opposite side of the island from our port. That beach was much less crowded, and I even managed to scope out some shade under some rocks to enjoy reading a Game of Thrones book while Chad and Colin built and Hulk-smashed sand castles (respectively). (Beach + Shade + Kindle = Bliss)
Our cruise sailed out of San Diego, so we decided to drive up to Anaheim and spend an extra day in Disneyland. And because it was both Colin and my first visit to Disney, it was doubly exciting. I am looking forward to retroactively experiencing all the different types of activities that Disney has to offer in each age group as Colin grows up. I think the picture at left pretty much sums up the entire point of taking a toddler to a place like Disneyland; even if he won’t necessarily remember the experience, his joy was our delight.