Saturday 21st April
Woke up nice and early at about 5.30am. Had breakfast and did our final preparations. Said goodbye to Mum, Dad and the animals. We were picked up by Kylope Cars right on time at 8.30am and arrived at the airport at 10am. There were no lines at check in but unfortunately it’s a full flight so no spare seats to spread out in. We grab a bit to eat – Krispy Kreme donuts YUM and Mum & Dad arrive shortly afterwards. We spend a bit of time with them and at 11.30am set of through customs and security. We had been warned to expected VERY long lines but it was pretty painless and we were through quickly – not sure if it because 2 hours before our flight. We sit near the kids play area and they have a run around and then a light lunch. We board the plane at 1pm and settle in for our long flight. Christy and I sit together and Kevin & Amy are behind us. We take off on time at 1.30pm. The flight goes pretty well, except Christy has trouble sleeping and keeps waking up and kicking the seat in front, so I end staying away waiting for her to wake so I can grab her legs. My vegetarian meals are very nice and we get breakfast just before our arrival in LA at 10.30am. We go through immigration (long lines) and customs, then catch a bus to Dollar Car Rental (seem to wait forever for the bus to come around). NOT very imprressed here. We had already worked out the cost of the car hire but they tried to make us take a bigger car than we needed (lucky I was there to stop this – with only 4 people we could drop down the back seat for our luggage) and extra insurance. Ends up costing over $400 more than we had budgetted.
We then drive to South Coast Plaza – the girls fall asleep on the way. We have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe but we’re all feeling very tired. We do a bit of shopping at Gap Kids, Gymborree, Disneystore (Kevin goes back to the van for a sleep). We cut the trip short as we’re all just exhausted and not really having fun. We drive to the hotel and check in. Very nice room with view of empty pool (too cold to swim anyway). Have a very healthy dinner of ice ceam, chips and Mrs Fields Cookies and head to bed by 7pm.
Sunday 22nd April
Woke up about 8.30am. Have a shower, dress and pack. Check out of hotel and drive to Long Beach. Have a very yummy breakfast at Subway, then shopping at Walmart. We don’t seem to buy a lot but still spend US $240. We really don’t agree with the ethics of “walmart” but we only shop here every couple of years so figure us boycoting the store won’t have any effects at all.
We head over to the cruise terminal and drop the bags and off us. Kevin goes to park the van and meets. We are suprised how small the ship seems after the Diamond Princess. No lines at check in and slight lines to get aboard. The cabin in small, but nice, and the ship is great. It’s good to be back on board RCCL. We have lunch at Windjammers (as usual little vegetarians on the first day. ie. only salad and bread). We listen to a Mexican band playing in the atrium – the girls love this, then unpack and take the girls for a quick spa. It’s very cool outdoors today. Time for muster, then go up to deck 9 for sailaway. So nice to have the steel drum band again. I have my usual virgin pina colada as we set sail. Shame it’s so cold. The girls get up to dance for a bit then it’s off to the kids club info session and to get them signed up. Then it’s time for dinner. We are seated with another couple (later find out they are just friends) with 2 girls and a cuople and their friend. All seem very nice. Waiter is Serrao from India. He can’t do enough for the girls and over the week often brings them extra food to try and most night one of each desert. I didn’t like seeing the waste but I know it was done with the best intentions. We go to the night Welcome Aboard Show (ends up being the only show I see all week) but the girls are tired so we don’t stay too long. It still takes them a while to settle down once in bed (a pattern that continues),