19- March- 2016
Beth told you this was coming! So enjoy!
We left Boston at around 6:45PM on 19-March-2016 starting essentially a 40 day circumnavigation of the earth. The first flight was on American Airlines bound for LAX. This first flight was a 7 hour non-stop flight that would get us into LAX at around 10:30 PM LAX time (1:30AM our body time). When we decided to do this trip we also decided to take advantage of the business class upgrade that Oceania Cruises lines was offering. As it turned out this was an excellent idea. So the first leg was in AA First Class which actually for a US based airline is not bad. Food was good, seat was comfortable and they have an excellent audio video system with a good sized screen in first class.
Upon arrival in LAX after a smooth flight we had our first real pleasant surprise at LAX. As international flights leave from a different terminal than the domestic terminal you use to have to leave the secure area of the terminal and trot about a half mile to get to the international terminal. Not a problem in the typical California weather and actually a good thing to get the blood flowing again, but since you have left the secure area of the terminal you have to go through security all over again. This is a pain but for the flights going to the pacific region they all leave between 11:30 PM and 1:30 AM. So this being LAX there are a lot of flights and the lines are very long! I have experienced this twice in the last two years. Once going to Australia and once going to Fiji. These lines can take 3 hours, so the chance to miss you flight is very real! However since we were flying business class there is a expedited line and this shorten the wait to about 1 hour. Well LAX has finally joined the 21st century and built a link that allows you to stay in the terminals secure area, eliminating a additional security screen and a potential 3 hours in line. So after a 15 minute walk we were ensconced in Cathy Pacific’s business class lounge with food and drink and comfortable seating a plenty for our 2 and a half hour layover. Life is good. At about 1:00 AM we walked to the gate and boarded our 15 hour flight to Hong Kong. Now let me tell you Cathy Pacific’s business class is excellent! Great seats- for sleeping and relaxing, good food and attentive staff.
In all my travels my rating of airlines business class places Singapore Airlines at #1, Cathy Pacific at #2, Qantas at # 3, Air Tahiti Nui #4, Fiji Airlines #5, Delta #10.
Well after 22 hours of flying we arrived in Hong Kong and had our second nice surprise. Once we cleared Immigration, got all our bags, cleared Customs we were suppose to meet our pre-arranged hotel transport. Coming out of the customs hall there was a guy with a sign that had out name on it. Good start…. gets better- we were whisked out of the terminal into a waiting luxury van for our private transport to the hotel. This was a bonus, as typically on a cruise you have to hang around the airport till everyone going to the pre-cruise hotel arrives. In this case just us!
After a 25 minute drive from the airport we arrived at the beautiful Shangri-La hotel for our 3 night pre-cruise stay in Hong Kong. So after travel for 5 days and losing a day somewhere in the Pacific Ocean we really needed a coffee and since our room was not ready yet (it was 8 AM after all), well go figure across the street was you guessed it was a Starbucks!
So we dragged our jet lagged assess across the wet soggy street (did I mention it was raining very hard) and had a coffee and some breakfast! Coffee always tastes better after traveling for days and days. Then back to the hotel where Beth managed to convince the hotel staff to take pity on us and get us into a room so we could take a nap in a bead that was not moving. Now the Shangri-La hotel in Kowloon is a stunning hotel. Because we managed to get into a room before ours was ready we may have received a downgraded (not harbor view) room but it was a great room and had a great bed! No complaints!
So we took a 2 hour nap and a shower then set out to see a soggy Hong Kong. We came 3 day early because we wanted to spend some quality time in Hong Kong. We have been here before and always wanted to return. However our 3 day pre-cruise was going to be a wet and cold visit. Most of what we were looking to do was outside. So we changed plans and adapted to the wet weather! All I’ll say is that we had have our share of high end shopping malls like nothing I have ever seen elsewhere in the world! We did get some interesting good meals and recovered from jet lag in before getting on the ship.
Thursday March 24 – Transfer to ship day! So we showed up in the lobby at the appointed time and 600 or so of us were transfer to the ship by bus. This took 15 minutes and we were aboard the Oceania Nautica in another 15 minutes. Time for lunch in buffet. Wow is all I can say! At 4:30 we had the lifeboat drill then at 5:00 PM we set sail from Hong Kong China for 35 days till we arrived in Athens Greece! So the sail away out of Hong Kong was spectacular if wet and cold. But as we had a balcony cabin we could enjoy the passing city. Next stop after a day at sea is Nha Trang, Vietnam. I’ll do the next blog posting about our few days in Vietnam, so stay tuned!