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Mom and I took this cruise to honor my Gramma. Gramma passed away in November of 2014. She was 91 years old. You're never ready to let a loved one go, but you also know our time on Earth is limited.
A couple of days before she passed, Mom had gone to visit Gramma at the nursing home and for some reason, she thought they were on a plane headed to Hawaii. It was strange because she usually talked about going to Vegas.
When we were trying to figure out how best to honor her, we thought of all the places Gramma had been and where she would like her final resting place to be. My Gramma was a world traveler so we had a lot of options. She'd always said we could take her on a cruise with us when she passed and we started to think about the Caribbean islands she loved to visit. But then we remembered that at the end of her life, she was on a plane headed to Hawaii. So that's what we chose.
This cruise was leaving December 6th so we had less than a month to get everything planned. It was a 15-day cruise that hit all the major islands:
- Ensenada, Mexico
This was a real test of my organizational skills. Less than a month to plan for a 15-day cruise that embarks on the other side of the country! I need flights, hotel, transportation, and excursions! Eeek! ?
We got a flight to Los Angeles that wasn't too expensive, but we needed to choose a hotel that was either in LA or in Long Beach which is where the cruise terminal is located. Being from a big city myself (New York City – the Planet of Brooklyn to be exact ?), I knew that it would be more expensive to stay in LA proper. Plus, LA is about an hour away from the port and I like to start my embarkation day as close to the port as possible. No matter how many cruises I've taken, embarkation is still super-exciting!
They had the usual chain hotels, but The Queen Mary caught my fancy. Why?
- It shared the parking lot with the Long Beach cruise terminal.
- It's a floating hotel!
- It's a museum full of history.
It was a little more expensive than what I would normally spend on a hotel, but I felt the experience was worth the price. Mom and I were super excited!
We booked SuperShuttle for our transportation to and from LAX for a reasonable price. So now we're researching excursions.
There were some things I knew for sure we wanted to do like a Luau and a visit to Pearl Harbor. But other than that, I was clueless as to what there was to do in Hawaii besides just enjoy the beauty of it.??♀️ Luaus were offered in multiple ports and by more than one vendor in the same port. How do you know which island and which vendor to choose? Cruise Critic, that's how. I logged in and read some of the posts of people who were planning to go (on our sailing or others) and reviews from those who had already gone. Cruise Critic can be a very helpful resource when you want opinions of real people that have already done what you're trying to do.
Here's what we ended up booking (all through Carnival):
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens – Hilo, HI
Pearl Harbor & USS Missouri – Honolulu, HI
Waimea Canyon Tour – Kauai (Nawiliwili), HI
Kona Historical Tour – Kona, HI
Maui Luau – Maui, HI
We didn't have the full selection available because of the lateness of our booking. This was the first time we had ever encountered the excursions being sold out ahead of time.
We decided not to do anything in Ensenada as we knew we'd be tired from the back-to-back port days. We also fell in love with the number of sea days on the way there and wanted to add just one more day of relaxation going back.
The other details we had to take care of was getting permission to honor Gramma at sea. I contacted John Heald, Carnival's Senior Cruise Director on his Facebook page and asked him for assistance. He was very responsive and just asked for a reminder and cabin number closer to embarkation. Make sure that you get an eco-friendly biodegradable urn for your loved one's remains. The crematorium/funeral home should be able to provide you with a selection to choose from.
The other thing I researched was getting through airport security which, as it turns out, wasn't going to be as much of an issue as I thought it would.
So, here's what we've done:
- Booked a cruise
- Purchased flights
- Booked a pre-cruise hotel
- Booked roundtrip ground transportation
- Booked excursions
- Purchased a biodegradable urn
- Made arrangements with Carnival for a burial service
I needed to choose my entertainment. Click here to see what movies I took with me.