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October 6 - 10: Prolog
Our initial plan was to simply fly to Seattle, take the Explorer of The Seas cruise ship from Seattle to Sydney, Australia, visit our Australian friends and tour Western Australia for 3 weeks, and then fly home. Simple, no? Our ship was scheduled to leave on October 6, 2017, and we had dutifully booked an early morning flight to Seattle on October 6 that would have arrived with enough time to take the Royal Caribbean shuttle from the airport to the dock where the "Explorer of the Seas" was moored by the time the ship set sail around 4 p.m.
But since all our previous cruises had departed on a Saturday or a Sunday, we had convinced ourselves that October 6 was a Saturday. October 6, 2017 was in fact a Friday, and we just discovered that unfortunate fact at 8:15 am on Friday morning, causing much "weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth"! By that time it was WAY too late to finish packing and get to the airport by our plane`s departure of 8:30 a.m. I immediately called Royal Caribbean`s emergency hotline, explained our situation, and tried to schedule a later flight to Seattle. Even more unfortunately, no other flight existed that would have departed by the time we could get to the airport (10 or so) and still get us to the dock by 3:30 p.m., when the doors closed for passengers boarding for the cruise.
Of necessity, we quickly checked the ship`s itinerary and realized that after 5 straight days "At Sea" our ship would have its first port of call in Honolulu, Hawaii. That opened up the possibility that we could fly to Honolulu and joined the ship there. So we checked for last-minute flights available from IAD to Honolulu, and found there were several 2-stop, 3-leg flights for under $600. Rather than lose the money and planning that we had invested in the cruise and our visit to Australia, we thought that spending an extra $600 apiece was a rather good deal. Of course, it turned out that all of those 3-leg flights involved staying over a whole night in an airport except for Delta Airlines, which had a DC to Atlanta, Atlanta to Los Angeles, and then Los Angeles to Honolulu in one VERY long day.
Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, which would be not only stupid but highly embarrassing, we decided to arrive in Honolulu at least 1 day early so that we could still devise a "Plan C" if "Plan B" fell through. When we found the "Polynesian Waikiki Residences" hotel with very high ratings and a reasonable rate of $132 per day, we decided to take this lemon and make some lemonade by flying in an extra day early and thus getting two full days to explore Honolulu and the island of Oahu.
Thus we fleshed out "Plan B" and flew on Delta for the very long day of October 10th and after many hours in the air arrived at the Hawaiian Islands chain right at sunset. I could even see the two big volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii poking their peaks up through a layer of low-lying clouds as we flew by on the way to Oahu. Arriving in Honolulu just after sunset, we grabbed our luggage, which had fortunately made all the flight legs with us, stumbled over to the taxi stand, and then fetched up in our hotel around 8 p.m. We would have missed it on our own, because the front of the hotel is just a doorway on the busy street with with "Polynesian Plaza" above the door. Checking in, we staggered up to our room, dropped our bags, and collapsed into bed.
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