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Paul Gauguin Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, French Polynesia Pre-cruise

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RSSC - Regent Seven Seas, Formally Radisson Seven Seas Cruises Paul Gauguin

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2003 Date: 1/10/2003

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Email: greg@cruisingreview.com

TEL: 608-238-6001

United Air Lines Flights

I was scheduled on a UAL airline flight from Madison to Denver (Canadair Regional Jet) and from Denver to Los Angeles (Boeing 757). The Canadair was 2 across seating with little leg or elbow room. Most carry-on's were checked at the gateway due to lack of storage space in the jet. The jet itself was relatively quiet-- engines are at the back. The 757 had plenty of room (new space added to rows 8-16) and had plenty of overhead storage for even the largest roll-on luggage or carry-on's. There were no delays in any of the flights, except for a 15 minute addition to the first flight when we encountered 100 knot headwinds headed to Denver. The people next to me on the Denver to Los Angeles flight commented on how some of the pilots were out in the airport corridors helping guide people and answering questions. We were all pleasantly amazed at this ambassador of goodwill gesture. With all the recent problems at United (i.e. bankruptcy) it's clear that the pilots really want to keep things rolling.

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Madison, Denver and Los Angeles

With full security enhancements in-place, security screening is slower than it was a year ago. Almost all shoes with any sole have to be screened, and all wallets and other detachables must go in a bin (or several bins) and through the X-ray machine. It's easy to lose things there, so be careful and keep track of your possessions. The relatively new Denver airport is spacious and efficient. It's obvious that a great deal of good planning went into this airport. Both moving sidewalks and trams will get you to and in-between your gates.

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Los Angeles

Hotel Lobby

Since I pack only a TravelPro Rollaboard carry-on, I eliminate the wait for luggage and proceeded directly to the hotel shuttle area on the lower level to pickup the Hilton Airport Van after a 2 minute wait. Check-in to the Hilton was effortless. With my wireless iBook, I actually picked up two wireless access points, but the signal was too weak to do any internet work. This is the first trip I've taken with my iBook computer and cellular phone, both of which are worth their weight in gold. Calls from the hotel room can be expensive, with unclear tariffs. If you don't want to bring your own cell phone, then get a prepaid one, even if it's just for that week. Keep in mind they are only good in the USA, and Virgin Islands. Most overseas networks are GSM and not compatible. The iBook is nice for a number of reasons. First, to write my cruise reviews. Second, I have my entire CD-music collection on MP3's, stored on my iBook. Third, I can download my digital photos directly to my computer, where I can save them to a CDR for backup. Fourth, if I get caught anywhere on the way back, I can easily do business having the computer with me. Of course, there are plenty other reasons why a traveling computer is fun, but for now, those are the most important. The hotel offers a "business center" with a credit-card swipe vended PC computer station, laser printer and copier. I paid $4.00 for about 10 minutes of email access. The hotel lobby is quite nice, however the rooms are quite average. The age of the building is really showing in the rooms, however there are kept very clean. There is a Radisson agent in the lobby from 5-9:00 pm and I stopped by to say hello. I would say about half of the ships passengers were staying at the Hilton before flying out the next day to catch the ship in Tahiti. I had read about a person who got a $600 upgrade to first-class (business class on the Airbus) but the agent told me that it was a $1,200 upgrade.

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Evening at Manhattan Beach

Dinner at Beaches

After getting directions to some nearby martini bars, I headed with my dinner date to Manhattan Beach. After a 15 minute drive (and another 10 minutes to find parking), we ended up at "Beaches" which is a multilevel bar overlooking the Manhattan Beach Pier and a wonderful vista of the Pacific Ocean. The lower level is a bar and turns into a disco in later hours, while the upper level is a California slightly upscale restaurant with a small bar mezzanine. My dinner date Marni had the Chipolte Salmon, while I had the Surf-n-turf. Both meals were excellent, and mine tasted as if it was grilled over wood. The ahi-tuna spring rolls started the meal which were absolutely incredible. After dinner, a beautiful crescent Moon gilded the otherwise dark Pacific Ocean, as if lighting a path which headed due west. The next day would bring the flight to Tahiti, and boarding the ship... the excitement for a cruise is like no other vacation. And a Radisson Seven Seas Cruise means pampering and luxury which really sets it aside from the other cruise lines I have been on.

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Quantas VIP Lounge

Lounge

Since I upgraded to Business Class on Air Tahiti Nui, I got a pass for the Quantas VIP lounge where I waited before boarding the eight and one half hour flight to Tahiti. In the lounge they offered a snack bar, open bar with liquor and wine, soft drinks, water, and very comfortable chairs. There were not detectable open wireless (WiFi) networks here, but lots of tables and outlets for portable computers. Cell signal access was good here.

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