Friday, May 10, 2013

Hawaii / Tahiti 30 Day Cruise - The Trip Home and Final Thoughts

Arriving in San Diego and the Trip Home

We arrived at the entrance to the San Diego Harbor before 6:00 AM under cloudy and drizzly weather and were docked before 7:00.  I got up to watch us arrive in San Diego and then went back to be bed as it would be a while before we could disembark. 

We arrive in San Diego near dawn under cloudy skies.
Just about ready to dock, the trip is over.  :-(
We got up around 7:30 and had our last light breakfast in the Neptune Lounge.  We packed the last of our stuff and waited for the announcement that we could leave, but before they let anybody off the ship, all the non-US citizens on board had to clear customs on board.  The called each deck to do this and it should have been done in a quick and orderly fashion, but as always there was a few who didn’t show up and so a few names were called over and over again until finally they were found and the debarkation could begin.  They give out priority numbers so that not everyone rushes off the ship at once and because of our cabin class we had priority debarkation privileges which we took advantage of.  They called our number around 9:30 so we were quickly off the ship, claiming our luggage, going through customs, and getting into a cab before 10:00.  A quick taxi ride to the hotel we stayed at pre-cruise to claim our car and we were on our way home.
We drove home via the 405 and 101 freeways which were remarkably free of traffic, and anyone that knows the area knows that this is pretty unusual.  We drove through intermittent rain showers almost all the way home, but this didn’t pose any problems.  We made one stop in Camarillo to eat at Los Arroyos, our favorite Mexican restaurant, and were home just after 4:00 PM.  It was good to be home, but also kind of sad, the trip we had looked forward to for so long was over.

Final Thoughts

When I was young, one of my hobbies was listening to the shortwave radio which allowed me to listen to radio stations around the world.  Living on the west coast, I listened to many stations from Asia and the South Pacific and I was fascinated by the exotic music and culture I heard over the airwaves.  I always fantasized about traveling to the South Pacific, but never really thought I’d ever get there so this trip was definitely a dream come true for me.  

This trip was everything and more than we hoped it would be. You know you’ve had a great trip when you start out with high expectations and they are exceeded.  We just loved the South Pacific Islands.  My favorites were Fanning Island, Bora Bora and Nuku Hiva, but enjoyed every place we visited.  The weather was near perfect, the people on the islands were very friendly, and the beauty of the turquoise and blue lagoons and lush green interiors were beyond description, we had truly visited a tropical paradise.

We wondered if a 30-day cruise might be too long, but it turned out to be just fine.  We never got bored and always had something to do, whether it was participating in the ship activities or just relaxing, it seemed like time just flew by.  As Cruise Director Armen said, "you can do as much or as little as you want, just make sure you enjoy yourself".  Life on the ship was great.  How could it not be!  The food was plentiful and excellent, the entertainment was great, and the staff was so friendly and helpful.  I have mentioned them before, but our dining room stewards Pram and Mega, and our cabin stewards Ricardo and Muhammed were just wonderful, they made life so easy and enjoyable.  The whole Westerdam crew was great, always a friendly greeting and smile, always ready to make sure your needs were met and doing all of this despite long hours without days off for months at a time.  It really spoils you to have to return home and do all the daily chores yourself again.

One of the really nice things about this cruise was all the nice people we met through Cruise Critic and on board the ship.  We made many new friends and acquaintances during the cruise, in particular there was Ken and Kathy who we actually met  while waiting in line to board the ship. They were traveling with friends Mark and Shirley who we met later and were equally nice.  Ken and Kathy live pretty close to us, in Thousand Oaks, so we will be seeing them again. And Mark and Shirley live in Denver and invited us to drop in on them when we are in that area.  This was a cruise bonus we didn’t expect.

All-in-all this was a great trip, we traveled 9,579 nautical miles (just over 11,000 regular miles), met wonderful people, and visited amazing and beautiful exotic places.  I retired just over a year ago and in that time Val and I have made two “trips of a lifetime”, it just doesn’t get any better than that, we are very lucky people.

It was a bit of a challenge keeping the blog up for the full 30 days, particularly with the slow Internet speed.  I kept up with the writing pretty well, but ended up having to post most of the last part of the trip after I got home. It just took too long to upload pictures on the way home, until the last couple of days.  We have no immediate trips planned for a while, we don’t usually like to travel in the summer due to the crowds and heat, but we’ll see.

Well, this wraps up our amazing South Pacific cruise.  I'm sure we'll get cabin fever in a little while and we'll be off on another adventure soon.


  1. Great blog and photos, Dave and Val! It brought back a lot of memories. We really enjoyed meeting the two of you and sharing some fun experiences. I was glad the wait on Nuku Hiva didn't ruin the day for youi.

    1. Thanks Nancy, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks again for all the effort you put into organizing our excursions on Bora Bora and Nuka Hiva. We didn't mind the wait at all on Nuka Hiva, it was an interesting place and we enjoyed just walking around. If a person can't be flexible when they travel, they probably shouldn't travel. We have some pictures to send to you once I can sort through the many we took.

  2. Dave, I have really enjoyed your blog. We are going to many of the same ports you visited as part of a trans-Pacific cruise (Aukland to San Diego) next January/February and I took a few notes. Thanks again, and I hope you have many happy travels ahead. Paula B (Gawker on Cruise Critic)