We certainly felt like novices arriving for our first visit to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Unfortunately, we did not stay in one of the many gay guest houses in the area, but we did strike it lucky arriving in Beach Pride Week, the third week of February. The weather was dry and comfortable, at around 24 degrees and the sea temperature was warm and inviting, though some of the locals didn’t agree. Many don’t swim until the water temperature reaches a distinct ‘summer simmer’. Our first few days were very relaxed, lazing and gazing on golden Sebastian Beach, Fort Lauderdale’s best known gay beach and recently voted (2019) the best gay beach in the world. Our friends who live in this fabulous area, kindly accompanied us on our first foray into the venues of Wilton Drive, the ‘happening’ strip of Wilton Manors, the gayest precinct we have ever seen.
It has taken us twenty five years to return to Honolulu, the tropical Hawaiian capital located on the island of Oahu. There have been some big changes, but it is surprisingly familiar and the welcoming ‘Aloha’ charm never changes. Here are some of our impressions for the second time round.
Black volcanic lava covered the landscape as we flew into Kona, the largest and newest of the Hawaiian islands. Kona is so young in geological terms that very little of the lava has weathered and the landscape is stark, black, barren and unforgiving. Whether its beaches, water sports, marvelling at the volcano or dining watching a magical Kona sunset the Big Island of Hawaii is packed with things to do. Ironically, this severe, rugged wilderness protects some of the most precious, enigmatic jewels of the Hawaiian islands and keeps us yearning to return and discover more.
Flying into Maui from the Big Island on a ten seater, single engine Mokulele Airlines plane was a little bumpy and scary at times. However, the views were magnificent and blissfully distracting as we flew low and closely hugged the coast, leaving behind the Big Island with its turquoise waters and rugged black volcanic landscapes. As we neared the island of Maui the lush, emerald green, mountainous terrain appeared rimmed with small tourist towns clinging to its radiant coastline.
We made it one of our missions while on board this 'floating Goliath' to understand more about the Save The Waves Program and how Celebrity Solstice undertakes its environmental responsibilities as the leader of the fleet. We went straight to the most experienced man in this area and found out some astonishing facts.
Every once in awhile you strike it lucky, a little bit like winning at the slot machines or striking gold in the Yukon. This time we were fortunate enough to organise an interview with the very experienced and knowledgeable Celebrity Solstice Hotel Director, Mario Valentino. The fact he was completely 'hot' was just a bonus (like winning the special feature..........10 times).