ballroom dancing

p1130396-w500-h500.jpgMy home from home for 11 nights was the Hilton Vienna at Am Stadtpark 1. I managed to find a reasonable room price through Orbitz. Overall I liked almost everything about it - location, comfort and the staff. My room  was large and very comfortable- perfect for a stay of 11 nights. The desk was spacious and there was lots of storage space.

Courtesy Tahiti TourismOn my previous South Pacific Dance Cruise we journeyed from Hawaii to French Polynesia. I flew home from Papeete the day we docked in Tahiti and had no opportunity to see around the island. This time I planned to spend  a couple of days in Tahiti before boarding the Ocean Princess to sail in the reverse direction - Tahiti to Honolulu. This would give me time to actually see something of the island of Tahiti.

Since I would be spending Christmas and Boxing day in Tahiti,  I chose the stunning Intercontinental Resort in Tahiti as my base for a three night stay. My cabin mate for the cruise was flying into Papeete the day before the cruise. Another friend who is a specialist in tours to Italy, booked a couple of nights in a bed-and-breakfast in  Papeete, and we planned to explore the island together.

arriving in Papeete, TahitiTwo years ago I cruised from Honolulu to Tahiti with Dancers at Sea, on the Pacific Princess - South Pacific Dance Cruise.  To reverse the cruise that I did in November 2009, I decided to dance in the New Year of 2012, on board the Ocean Princess, this time journeying from Tahiti to Honolulu.

Rather than fly from Vancouver to Tahiti and then Honolulu to Vancouver, I opted for a return ticket to Honolulu where the cruise terminates, an overnight in Honolulu at each end ( so we can attend a dance in Hawaii at the end of our cruise), and a one-way flight from Honolulu to Papeete, to pick up the cruise.

The Air Canada flight to Honolulu was scheduled to leave at a convenient time – 2:30 and get into Honolulu early evening.

The cruise itineraryFor 11 days as 2011 gives way to 2012, I am cruising from Tahiti to Honolulu on the Ocean Princess, with  my dance-crazy friends from the Dancers at Sea travel group. My vacation begins with an overnight in Honolulu and a flight to Tahiti where I will stay a few nights at the Intercontinental Resort before the cruise.

This post is the index to the South Pacific Ballroom Dancing New Year Cruise Travelblogue.

Links will become active as the stories are added.



The Islands of French Polynesia

Three Nights in Tahiti

Circle Tour of Tahiti

Embarcation Day

Courtesy Tahiti TourismOur first stop, a mere 15 miles  and 3 hours sailing away from Papeete, was the island of Moorea.

On my previous visit to Moorea, I drove around parts of the island and visited one of the resorts. The islands of French Polynesia.

This time I signed up in advance for one of the Princess excursions. It was described as a lagoon trip to a beach on a motu (island) with a beach  barbecue.

Despite dancing till 11 Pm the previous night and falling asleep easily, I slept very fitfully. I thought I would be exhausted and just pass out, but I guess I was a bit anxious about that nasty cut on my toe and whether it would be affected by the salt water, since I would hopefully be swimming in the beautiful blue waters surrounding the island.  

We anchored in Cook’s Bay, and passengers were taken ashore in tenders. Our excursion to the lagoon for swimming and a beach barbecue, was a whole day one, and we had only had to assemble at 8:45 so that meant a little less rush in the morning. Margaret had also signed up for this excursion.

Tower Bridge at nightThe Air Canada flight from London to Vancouver departs Heathrow around 10 in the morning. Disembarking in Southampton from the Queen Victoria after the Ballroom Dance Cruise around the British Isles, I knew that there would be no way to catch that flight, so I had elected to stay overnight at the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel near the airport and travel back to Canada the following day.

A friend, Nancy, who was traveling back to the US also had a flight the day after the cruise, so we decided to take a  Thames River Dinner Showboat Cruise.

Several of us had booked a van to drive us from Southampton to London. After dropping the others off at the Heathrow terminals, the driver took us to our hotel. We had to wait quite a while to check in which was a bit annoying but we had arrived before the official check-in time so we could  not really complain.

sirloin steak in the Todd English restaurant - minus the risottoThe threat of turbulent seas from Hurricane Earl meant that the cruise itinerary had to be revised. So when I checked into my stateroom, there was a notice saying that the Queen Mary 2 would remain at the Brooklyn Pier till later that night and in the early hours, set sail, so to speak, for Boston. So instead of visiting Newport, we would have an unexpected day at sea.

I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to try a lunch at the Todd English restaurant so I trotted down the corridor to the aft end of the ship and made a reservation for lunch at 12:30 for Carol and myself, and figured I would check with her later.  I had been wanting to check out some of the alternate dining opportunities both on the Queen Victoria and on the QM2 but since with DAS we generally have each evening's dinner as a group, I have been reluctant to seem unsociable and skip out on a meal. So this unplanned day at sea seemed like an ideal time to eat out.

The reason I went on my first dance cruise with Dancers at Sea, the West Coast Ballroom Dancing and Wine-Tasting Cruise, that started my whole craze for dance cruising, was because on the DAS web-site, I noted that Wendy promised a dance host for every three single guests. So at worst, one would be dancing every third dance instead of sitting wistfully on the sidelines watching others on the dance floor.

On the second cruise I took with the DAS group, the four night East Coast Labor Weekend Getaway from New York, I first encountered Dance Hosts from the Queen Mary 2 Dance Host program. A couple of the hosts on that cruise were really excellent dancers and thanks to them, we found that we got to dance more frequently than every third dance. The next three cruises I went on were on two Princess and one Costa ship, none of which had dance hosts and I thought for me, that was a significant lack.

View of the Royal Court Theatre from stage areaView of the stage- its larger than it seems hereThe key saga...ah yes.  So there I was, around 11 PM,  having limped back on blistered feet to my cabin, with a newly recharged key card in my hand... and again it would not work. The light kept flashing red. I checked carefully that I was on the correct deck - because I have been known to try to get into a cabin with almost the same number - just on the wrong deck , but I was definitely outside my own cabin. I was tired and annoyed by now.

we gather for the start of the first workshop in Clunb HemisphereThis has been an unusual voyage from the dancing perspective because of the timing of the days when the ship is at sea. Wendy usually organizes two dance workshops taught by her dance pros in the morning on sea days and most times there is at least one quite early in the voyage. But in the cruise round the British isles, the sea days came at the end. So workshops were scheduled on the days that we sailed between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh back to Southampton.

We gathered in Club Hemispheres at 9 am for the first workshop taught by Robert, on rhumba.


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