Let's Get "Lei'd"

Let's Get "Lei'd" Article - Part 1 Let's Get "Lei'd" Article - Part 2 Let's Get "Lei'd" Article - Part 3 Let's Get "Lei'd" Article - Part 4

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Aloha from the Hawaiian Islands!

After months of enthusiastic preparation, the CruiseMates Hawaii Group Cruise on the Celebrity Summit is underway. This CruiseMates "Let's Get Lei'd" Group Cruise kicked off the night before departure with an intimate pre-cruise party for 80 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village's Tropics Bar, right on Waikiki Beach. The Hilton kindly turned the place over to us for our CruiseMates get-together.

Our favorite CruiseMates Trivia Queen, "Mermaid," made name tags for everyone, and we had a terrific time meeting and mingling with old and new cruising friends. Our own "Pamda" (Pam Kane) got a surprise: A group of old cruise friends had given her all kinds of excuses as to why they weren't able to join this cruise, but they booked it without telling her, and showed up to share the fun.

The next morning, as Mrs. Kuki and I arrived at Aloha Towers Pier at 11:30 a.m., we could tell this was an enthusiastic group easily because the first 50 or so people waiting in line for the doors to open were all "CruiseMates".

The registration/embarkation process was very efficient. Mrs. Kuki and I were walking into our cabin by 11:45 a.m. We dropped our carry-on bags, then went off to explore the ship and have lunch.

The Summit is a beautiful ship, and she was shining and glistening as if she had just come out of the shipyard. We headed to the Waterfall Cafe for lunch, and went to my favorite area on the ship: the Resort Deck, at the stern, just outside the cafe. This area is perfect for alfresco dining, with large wooden tables and comfortably cushioned armchairs. It didn't take long for some of the CruiseMates gang to find the spot. The party was already beginning!

As we talked to many of the "Get Lei'd" gang, we found there were some minor problems with seating assignments for dinner, so I headed down to the Maitre d' to see if we could remedy the problems.

The Assistant Maitre d' couldn't have been more pleasant. We went through the entire group seating list so everyone's dining request could be met. That evening, he called me in my cabin with a few final questions on the matter. I was suitably impressed: He had been on duty since noon that day, and was still working to meet everyone's dining needs.

Earlier in the afternoon, after the luggage was delivered, a bunch of us met to assemble small "goody bags" for everyone in the group. I had dragged along the group T-shirts in extra pieces of luggage. Pamda had made personalized cabin door posters for everyone, and brought antlers for all, supplied by the agent who handled the group. Linda Griggs had made outstanding "We're Getting Lei'd" cabin door magnets for everyone. Mermaid brought along the trivia sheets she'd made for everyone. We got an assembly line going, and the bag-stuffing alone turned into a party.

The Summit was sailing out of Honolulu at midnight, so we had scheduled a Sail-Away Pajama Party on the same stern deck. This may sound a bit "Kuki" to some, but we could tell we had a great CruiseMates group by the huge number of people who not only attended the party, but were dressed in pajamas. And there were some terrifically imaginative pajamas on display.

Tuesday morning I had a good laugh when some staff told me they'd been asked by other passengers why there was a big Pajama Party that hadn't been announced in the "Summit Daily" (the onboard activity newsletter). Maybe Celebrity will want to steal our Pajama Party idea, because it certainly set the mood for what's proving to be a very festive, high energy, group cruise.

Day 2

Tuesday morning, the Summit arrived at the "Garden Island" of Kauai. As I left the ship to go golfing at the Poipu Bay Resort, there was a slight sprinkling of rain. By mid-morning it was almost torrential, leaving many passengers disappointed with cancelled helicopter trips and other tours of a beautiful island.

I proved that I'm not all that bright by continuing on with my scheduled golf game. We got soaked through to our underwear, but we got 13 holes in before we had to quit. Too bad, because this is one beautiful golf course.

Back on the ship, the mood was somewhat somber because so many people's plans were cancelled due to weather. But Tuesday evening was our first formal night, and the dinner was superb. Monday night's dinner had been open seating in the dining room, so Tuesday evening everyone got to meet their table-mates and their wait staff. The CruiseMates group was split between main and late seating. At both, all the group's tables were in close proximity. As the group bonds, I think this seating arrangement will lead to some fun, since this group seems to have some playful instigators, besides yours truly.

Day 3

Wednesday morning the Summit arrived in Lahaina Harbor, Maui, to much sunnier, Hawaii-like weather. This morning some people saw whales right from the ship. Though I wasn't one of the fortunate ones, I did see the pictures.

My golf buddies and I headed out for an early tee-off at the amazing Kapalua Golf Club, Plantation Course. This course is home to the PGA Mercedes Open Golf Tournament, and for a golfer it was quite a treat to play the same course that each year hosts the likes of Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, etc.

On our last Hawaiian cruise, two years ago, I had booked our golf excursions through the ship, and ended up being disappointed with the quality of the courses. This time I left nothing to chance, and pre-booked the golf directly. We are playing at amazing golf courses, and although the greens fees are higher than the cost of the ship's golf excursions, I believe it's worth the extra money.

Unfortunately, the skill of my game doesn't match the quality of the courses. It's a good thing I enjoy hitting a small round ball with a metal stick, and the cursing that accompanies most swings of the stick.

Many people booked ship's excursions in Maui, or rented cars to do their own thing. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful day in port, with cooperative weather.

For tonight I had pre-arranged an optional CruiseMates discount booking at the Old Lahaina Luau on shore, and 84 CruiseMates members attended. The grounds of the Old Lahaina Luau are reminiscent of Hawaiian postcard pictures, and as a bonus we were fortunate to have a lovely sunset. The entire group sat in one area, and as we moved around and socialized, everyone seemed to be having great fun.

The show put on by the Old Lahaina was very good, and the buffet dinner offered quite an extensive variety of foods. But except for outstanding banana bread and some tasty desserts, I'd have much preferred the Summit's dinner in the Cosmopolitan Dining Room. A few folks at the luau tried the Hawaiian favorite, poi, but from the expressions on their faces when they tasted it, I'd guess that the word "Pee-yoo" must have been derived from the word Poi.

I'm now looking forward to dining tonight in the Normandie Restaurant, the ship's alternate (surcharge) dining room. Twelve of us have booked two tables and I'm waiting to see if the classic elegance of the Normandie can withstand a CruiseMates onslaught. My sympathies go out to those who, unwittingly, have booked for an evening of fine dining in the Normandie on the same night. Dinner will be preceded tonight by the CruiseMates Wild Kingdom Cocktail Party!

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