Ahhhh.. the honeymoon… one of the benefits of getting married. Gambit and I got married in June 2014 and we went on our honeymoon in September that year.
Dreaming of a Bora Bora honeymoon
Our original honeymoon destination choice was Bora Bora. Yep, Bora Bora.. the island in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France. A beautiful island with an average temperature of 27C (81F), clear blue waters which look so tempting you just want to drink from it (but don’t), and wonderful blue skies with white, puffy clouds.
Also, the same Bora Bora which markets itself as a luxury honeymoon destination. So luxurious that when I was doing my planning and research, the cost of return flights for two and a week in mid-range accommodation was luxuriously expensive.
In the end, I had to bury my dreams of our Bora Bora honeymoon week and find other options.
Googling pays off
I don’t remember exactly what I was using as my search terms but it must have incorporated “Bora Bora” and “cruise” (Gambit and I love cruising as we love the fact it’s a moving hotel room). I was super excited when I came across the Celebrity Century that stopped at Bora Bora, plus many other islands in the Pacific! The cruise was called the “Golden Gate to Opera House 23-night cruise” because it sailed from San Francisco to Sydney.
Sure, the Bora Bora stop was only for a day, however the cost of this 23-night cruise for two, which included a hotel room, all food, most drinks, entertainment, pools, library, casino, plus plus plus, was cheaper than staying for one week in Bora Bora. It was an easy choice for us to make.
We used points to fly business class from Sydney to LA where we stayed for a couple of nights before traveling to San Francisco to board the ship.
Our Celebrity Century “Golden Gate to Opera House” cruise itinerary was as follows:
*NOTE: Our honeymoon was about 2.5 years ago and most days I struggle with what happened 2.5 hours ago. Be prepared for a few somewhat brief and possibly disappointing descriptions below.
Day 1 – San Francisco
I’ve always wanted to go to San Francisco because it sounded like a cool place. We only stayed one or two nights so we really had to do a whirlwind tour of the city.
Fact: You’d be a monster if you visited San Francisco and didn’t stop into Ghirardelli Square for something to eat or drink. Ghirardelli is a US division of Lindt & Sprüngli (same Lindt as those awesome chocolate balls), and being a chocolate fan (not a connoisseur) it is one of the few American brands of chocolate that I find palatable.
We stopped into Ghirardelli Square for a quick sundae. I am not exactly sure why we were given three spoons.
Eating seafood down at the pier
We ate dinner at Crab House at Pier 39. We had the whole crab and shrimp served on a skillet.
The oldest Chinatown in North America
I was only allowed to walk down one of the streets of Chinatown because Gambit is not a fan of the ‘authenticity’ of any Chinatown. But walking along just that one street, I just knew it was one of the best Chinatowns I’ve been to. I love how much ground it covers and it uses a grid system.
Steep hills and staircases
Although I won’t be posting a photo of the steps I climbed, you can take my word for it that we did do some. I am not a fan of parking on a steep hill as I never quite trust that the handbrake does what it is designed to do, nor am I a fan of working my glutes on a daily basis (although I have told myself I need to), so San Francisco wouldn’t be the first place I’d move to.
We stayed at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf. I do not remember hating or loving the hotel so it must have been good.
What I missed
- I would like to return and go through all of Chinatown at leisure and eat
- I would like to go to Alcatraz and feel like I am a prisoner of Azkaban – since that was what I was accidentally calling it as for a few months before our trip
It was a beautiful sailing day but up on the deck I remember it being quite chilly and windy. We did tick off seeing the Golden Gate bridge as we sailed under it.
Day 6 – Honolulu
We’ve been to Honolulu before. Gambit took me there as part of my 30th birthday and we stayed in Waikiki for nearly a week. When we docked, we walked aimlessly around, stumbling across a Wal-Mart, and boarded the ship again.
Day 7 – Maui
Maui was beautiful and besides eating at Cheeseburger in Paradise, having a shaved ice from Ululani’s Shaved Ice on Front St, I remember we ended up at this beach where the water was beautiful and we saw some dolphins close to the shore. It is a destination that if we could return to, we would.
Day 13 – Papeete
Only from going through the photos on my computer did I see that we went to a waterfall at this port, and after some Googling, I found that it was the Papenoo Valley waterfall.
Papeete is the capital of Tahiti and since I didn’t even remember going to this waterfall without evidence, it mustn’t have made a huge impression on me.
Would I return again? I think I would need to do some more research before saying yes.
Day 14 – Bora Bora
Alright alright alright. Now THIS stop was our highlight. By this point, we would’ve been on board for two weeks and super excited about this destination.
OMG – Bora Bora did not disappoint. Here are some photos to distract you for a bit:
It was everything I imagined it to be.
Did I regret not staying there for a week instead? Not at all because of many other factors, which I will get to later.
Would I recommend anyone else going, for either a day like on a cruise, or for a week? Yes, absolutely.
Day 20 – Fiji
Maybe we stopped here, maybe we didn’t because I stopped taking photos after Bora Bora so I don’t really remember this port.
Day 22 – Noumea
Gambit and I had been to Noumea before on a P&O cruise when we lived in Sydney. It was not particularly interesting for us but on this cruise, we received a complimentary tour around the city as part of some offer. I don’t remember the exact details but I do remember the tour being horrific. The coach didn’t have air con on to start with but when it did, the machine was so loud it was deafening. I remember feeling sick and trying to decide whether it was worth the risk of getting off the coach and making my own way back to the ship.
Day 25 – Sydney
It was wonderful to have the cruise end in our home city. Once we arrived, we didn’t have to faff around for a taxi as we just walked home from the port.
Even though we had just spent 23 nights on the same ship, with the same people, I remember feeling well rested but not exactly ready to leave.
The ship: the Celebrity Century
It is now name the SkySea Golden Era, a Chinese “leisure travel ship”. I am pretty sure that’s a nice way of saying it’s now a floating casino ship for the Chinese.
Fun fact: The Century was the setting for an episode of The Nanny.
There were many food options on board. There was casual dining at the buffet, semi ‘formal’ dining in a restaurant setting, and ‘specialty’ dining at one restaurant, Muranos. I would not really recommend purchasing the fine dining options on a short cruise because there are so many excellent options available and if I had known there was only one specialty restaurant on this ship, I would not have purchased the 3 or 5 pack because we were bored after the second visit.
Here are some images of the food served at dinner in the dining room:
Here are some of the menus for the food served in the dining room:
Below is the menu for Murano’s and photos taken from various times we visited:
I didn’t take photos of the cookies and cakes which I also ate at morning tea and afternoon tea with our tea or coffee from the cafe. However, I would safely say that all up I probably ate a couple of cakes.
Right now you may be thinking a few things, like:
- How much weight did you put on?!
- Wow, so many ‘at sea days’ – that would have sucked.
- Damn, that’s an old ship.
- What else was there to do on board?
I will address these quickly.
- I don’t remember putting on a lot of weight, if anything a 1 kilo or so. I don’t know how my body defied science while on board but perhaps walking to the buffet and dining rooms provided the exercise I needed…
- Sea days were wonderful because they were relaxing. We would spend sometime around the pool. A lot of the time in the library (more on that later). And I spent a lot of time doing what I like to do most, regardless of being on holidays or at home, which is to stay in bed reading, or watching tv. I am a simple creature.
- The Century was old but because we had only been on P&O ships out of Australia, I didn’t have a very high expectation. The ship was run down but it was clean, and felt safe.
- Ahhh the activities. There were loads of activities to do on board. There were various shows we could go see but when we weren’t sleeping, eating, walking to the dining areas, we were in the library. At this point you might be thinking that Gambit and I are big readers, or perhaps love playing Monopoly… but instead we stumbled across a fight club in the first few days of our cruise and met in the library to battle around 10am and again at 8pm.
By fight club I mean poker club. Gambit loves playing poker. I like paying to see what cards I get dealt, and paying more to see what another person’s cards are – this is NOT a good strategy. Gambit is good at it. I am really not good at it.
How it happened: Gambit met Stumps in the casino one day and was invited to meet in the library and play, instead of playing in the casino where the cruise would take 10%+ of the pot. What we thought would be a casual affair turned out to be quite organized with Stump and JHW (his partner) bringing their own poker chips (light weight ones) and cards from home, and somehow recruiting a full table of players most of the time.
And as days went on, over 20 of them, we became friends and got to know each other – age, religion, political preferences were never a factor. At the table we had people play that were living in Australia, or the US. One man, an American but living in Australia, was super lucky because every time we went to the casino and played the pokies, he would come back with hundreds of dollars, I think towards the end of the cruise he had won thousands! He was a super funny man, and his wife who is Australian, was an absolute delight.
Every day on board, we looked forward to seeing everyone in the morning, and then later in the evening. Stumps, JHW and JHW’s sister and brother in law, docked into New York late last year on a cruise they were on so Gambit and I had an opportunity to see them again.
Gambit and I were seated at the same table in the dining room for dinner throughout the cruise, which placed us next to another couple from Florida who I am also still keep in touch with. Lyal and I are ‘pen pals’ (but via email) and it’s been wonderful writing and getting to know each other that way.
There is also one more person that I keep in touch with and that’s primarily through his long, detailed ‘newsletters’. I look forward to receiving these from JP because they are so lengthy, I get to enjoy a cup of eat at the same time.
I feel eternally grateful that we were able to go on such a long cruise, see some amazing places, and meet people we would have not usually crossed paths with.
We have not been on another cruise where we’ve met such friendly and open people that we have so easily connected with. Maybe I should call a reunion?