our Hawaii Cruise:
Oahu, Maui, Big island and Kauai

Friday, February 1: Arrival in Honolulu
Gerry picks us up at 5:30 am and drops us off at the airport in Toronto while he parks the car. We're in the boarding pass lineup 90 minutes before departure. Alas, the lineup is roughly thirty miles long and we barely make it before the gate closes. By the time Gerry arrives, his seats have been assigned to another couple.**

Heidi & I find our King Airport Shuttle waiting in Honolulu, even tho' our plane arrived an hour late ($30: flat rate). We get to the Queen Kapiolani Hotel by 7 pm ($119 + taxes). A Mai Tai and quick snack at the neat open-air restaurant, we tell Margrit of the plight of Gerry & Lou, then early to bed.

** Gerry & Lou book a later flight to Los Angeles, were put up at a fancy hotel by United Airlines, given "food stamps" for breakfast then flown to Honolulu the next morning. They arrived in Honolulu at noon ... in time for the embarkation lineup at the pier.

Saturday, February 2: Leaving Honolulu
Up early, Heidi & I walked about at 7 am, had a unique to Hawaii breakfast (eggs, rice and spam: ugh!), relaxed by the hotel pool (gazing in awe at Diamond Head), met our King Taxi at noon with Margrit & Art, got our NCL cruise pass-keys in no time ... then discovered that we couldn't board until 2 pm.
We actually had a message on our answering machine, back home, saying boarding would be at 2 pm.
NCL had a group of Hawaiian dancers to entertain us until embarkation. Of course, at 2 pm, a thousand people headed directly for the Aloha buffet. (By this time, we were one with Gerry & Lou.)

Entertainment while waiting

Relaxing by the pool

An afternoon nap for me 'cause I worked so hard , dinner at 7 pm, then the evening show in the theatre. Alas, all that hard work required that I miss the show and drop unceremoniously into bed, exhausted. However, it must have been a pretty funny comedian in the theatre since I could hear Margrit laugh ... several decks away

The ship pulled out at 7 pm, heading for Maui..

Sunday, February 3: Maui and Iao Valley
How nice that the Cadillac Diner opens at 5 am. That's where I had my early morning coffee.

We pull in to Maui by 7 am. After breakfast, we meet the Roberts Hawaii bus for a drive about Maui: the Iao Valley and the Tropical Plantation. Everything is beeyutiful ... even the weather. The driver is proud to say he's 50% Hawaiian. We get a Hawaii history lesson, lessons on the Hawaiian language, details of the island Maui ... and lots of jokes.

Although everybuddy is delighted with the tour, they are happy to get back to the ship to watch the Super Bowl game on a huge TV in the Hollywood Theater. (Baltimore beat San Francisco: 34 - 31.)

Super Bowl game in the theater.

Maui arrival

Maui: Iao Valley tour
  • Our tour guide counts the people after we leave each tour stop and says:
    "That's forty-eight, so we can leave now. I don't care if the people are right as long as the number is right."
  • He says that Kamehameha was the greatest Hawaiian King, uniting all the islands.
    His descendents established a fast food chain: Burger King
  • He says people misprounce IAO as eye-aye-oh whereas, in Hawaiian (a language of just a dozen letters), it's ee-ah-oh
The evening show featured dancers/singers/actors displaying the rituals of the Polynesian islands: Hawaii, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti etc.
After the show, Heidi & I meet the other four (who had rented a car and been driving about Maui).
I point to Gerry's soft chocolate ice cream and say that he is supposed to report cases of diarrhea to the ship doctor. A nearby NCL staff member heard me and lays his hand on Gerry's shoulder telling him how important it was to report diarrhea. We all laugh and I notice the people at the next table laughing, too.
We met that NCL staff member often and would chuckle at the diarrhea episode.

Hollywood theater show

Monday, February 4: Maui and Haleakala Crater
This morning it began to rain ... and we watched a rainbow form over Kahului.
We waited for our Roberts Tour along with a hundred others. Then the sun came out and our bus (along with several other Roberts buses) climbed 9000 feet up a mountain in bright sun. It was a mite chilly, but the view was great!
Our guide said that the temperature drops 3 degrees for every 1000 feet climb.
By 9000 feet, we were all believers.

The view was terrific. It was fascinating to look down on the clouds.
I took a ton of pictures only to discover that my camera memory was sick: all my beeyutiful pictures were "corrupted".
(I eventually stole some of Art's pictures.)

In the afternoon all six of us went to a Latitudes Party where Gerry downed four-count-em-four MaiTais.
I just had one two maybe three. By the time we sat down for dinner in the Liberty Restaurant, we felt no pain.
But I did feel the need to hit the sack very early.
Our room steward had left us a towel animal.

As I lay in bed I thought of many things ... cabbages and kings:

  • There were a LOT of Hawaiian shirts about the ship. **
  • Most of the crew was American.
  • All the food stations were plastic wrapped. You couldn't serve yourself.
    Reducing bacterial infection, ya know. You had to ask for coffee, cutlery, etc.
  • My hash brown potatoes were soggy, my eggs Benedict had no sauce, my pasta Bolognese was way too dry and the coffee left something to be desired. Hmmm ... I can't say too little about the buffet food (so far).
  • We liked the smallness of the ship. It was older, charming and comfortable.
  • I reluctantly re-formatted my camera memory so I could take pics/videos of our Volcanoes Tour on Tuesday.
** ... but none so delicious as
my home-made shirt

Rainbow in Maui

Top o' the mountain (corrupted)

Our towel goose

Tuesday, February 5: Hilo and the Volcanoes
Heidi & I went early to the Aloha Cafe and had our plates filled with bagels, cheese, ham, salami, tomatoes and smoked salmon. We also grabbed some oranges and bananas. Today's tour was 6 1/2 hours long (over the lunch hour) and we figured we should pack victuals.

On the tour we visited Rainbow Falls, an orchid farm, a candy store, a macadamia nut factory, a field of lava rock, a smoking volcano pit/caldera, went inside a lava tube ... and had continuous history, language lessons* and jokes from our guide. There was a bit of rain and we were given bright yellow "panchos".

Sailing past the lava
Click for a you-tube video
After dinner in the Liberty restaurant (where I had a great rib-eye steak)**, we gathered to watch the lava run into the sea. That was at 10 pm, where a thousand people were pressed ag'in the starboard rails. It was a spectacular show.
* Aloha kaka iaka = Good morning       ** We celebrated Art's birthday with Merlot and Chavignon.

Wednesday, February 6: Kona
After breakfast at the Liberty, Heidi & I met the others at the Aloha buffet (still plastic-wrapped), filled a plate with sandwich stuff and, with Lou, we caught a tender to Kona. The others were going snorkeling.

The weather was perfect, our Hawaiian guide informative (and funny) and (as usual) he tested us on our Hawaiian pronunciation ... in particular, places we visited: Kaloko Honokohau and Pu'uhonua o Honaunau. Mamma mia!

Morning Aloha get-together

Kona scene

Dinner at the Skyline
We met Gerry, Margrit & Art for dinner at the Skyline restaurant. They had been snorkeling and it showed ... they were an attractive shade of red.

I had a deelishus prime rib. Heidi had Hawaiian Duck. So far the restaurant fare is much better than the Aloha buffet.

Although the Skyline wasn't crowded (in fact, it was sparsely populated when we arrived and almost empty when we left), reservations for the restaurants are definitely recommended! At the Liberty, we bypassed two dozen people waiting - without a reservation.

  • Kona was beautiful. I heard several people say they'd like to live there. The average house price is $500K.
  • Although there are a thousand whales in the area (at this time of year), I didn't hardly see none.
  • If you ask Americans where they're from, they name the state. Ask Canadians and they say "Canada"
  • The water is crystal clear, the beaches are gorgeous (sometimes with black volcanic sand).
  • Kona coffee comes in a variety of curious flavours: chocolate, macadamia nut, cocoanut, banana and various other fruits.
  • There's an interesting tree (which I ain't had a chance to capture - yet). The fruits look just like pineapples. Otherwise, breadfruit is everywhere.
  • All guides are horticulturists. There are a million flowering plants and they can name 'em all ... in English and Hawaiian!
    Although I heard a guest ask "What's that tree?". The guide said: "A big tree with green leaves."
  • All guides are comedians. The favourite comment when counting passengers? "If you're not here, please raise your hand."
  • It's interesting that, at every port, we need our NCL pass-key and photo I.D. to get off and on the ship.

Thursday, February 7: Kauai and Waimea Canyon
Our tour stated at 8:30 am and went to 1:30 pm.
We went here and there and gazed in awe into Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

After the tour, everybody wandered about Nawiliwili and the Marriott Hotel. Well, almost everybody. Yours Truly had a nap.
Excessive & strenuous activity, ya know.

Trip to Waimea Canyon

Some of Art's pictures

Heidi tried for a 6:30 pm reservation at the Liberty, without success ... so we just went there at 7 pm, praying. There were dozens of empty tables !!

Heidi & I ordered steak and shrimp: I had both steaks, Heidi has all the shrimp. Art brought his camera and I stole some of his pictures.

Friday, February 8: Kauai and Hanalei Tour
The tour starts at (gasp) 7 am !! However, it was the best of the six Roberts Hawaii tours. Instead of driving for hours, it stopped every twenty minutes at yet another gorgeous spot by the sea. And the driver was a gal who was born and raised in the area so we got a neat account of life in Kauai. She was also a teacher of Hawaiian history and (of course!) a joker.
"On the right is a golf course where the pros play.
 On the left is a prison, full of convicts.
 This is known as the area of pros and cons."

She is also a gifted singer and we were well entertained.

Marilyn, our guide, sings for us

Kauai: By the sea

Saturday, February 9: Last day, Oahu
Before we flew to Honolulu, we had booked the cheeepest economy car from Thrifty, so we could spend this last day driving about Oahu ... especially the North Shore. Our Thrifty shuttle was right at the pier when we disembarked and when we got to the Thrifty rental spot I looked about to see our dinky little car: ($32 + taxes).
The guy points to a slick Chrysler 300 touring: "That's your car" the guy says.
"But I was expecting a dinky little car," I says.
"Did you want the dinky car?" he says.
We took the Chrysler.
(We tried to adjust the seat, pushing and pulling on some gadget attached to the side of the seat.
Aah, t'was push-buttons to operate the 4-way power seats.)


Heidi & I drove to the North Shore, bought buns, ham, cheese, olives, yogurt and cold drinks at the Foodmart, found a table beneath a huge walnut tree and had a picnic while watching the waves crashing on the rocks. Delightful!

So that she could say she was in the surf at the famed and celebrated Oahu North Shore, Heidi dipped her toe ... and got soaked!

Our cheeep rental car

Oahu: North Shore
We all met at the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu then, after dinner at the food court, we returned our rental and flew back to Toronto ... where Gerry's car was inundated with snow. Gerry dropped us off at home, we picked up Sandy, had a quick snack and hit the sack ... exhausted.
The next morning, we were still exhausted. Heidi was so tired she even watered some artificial plants.

Odds 'n' Ends:
  • The Pride of America Hawaii cruise was great: seven days, all Hawaii, no sea-days.
    We love sea-days, but this was a cruise to see Hawaii, not the ship or the sea.
  • The food was sometimes great (for example: beef at the restaurants) and sometimes not-so-great (buffet fare).
  • Entertainment tended to be song-and-dance (which I avoid).
  • Although cruise ship staff are (usually) from Indonesia or the Phillipines, these were American
    ... some were just great and some not-so-great (meaning "unfriendly"). Indonesian staff are often "overly friendly".
  • Roberts Hawaii Tours were exceptional and the buses clean and comfortable.
    All six of our driver/guides were well versed in Hawaiian history, Hawaiian language and customs ... and they were all comedians!
  • Although Heidi and I and Gerry & Lou had been to Hawaii some sixteen years ago (click for a video), Honolulu/Waikiki had changed.
    It looked and felt like Miami, Florida with tall-wall-to-wall hotels. A guide told us that, on Kauai, buildings could be no higher than the tallest palm tree. Nice.
  • It seemed that every mountain displayed the profile of some famous person ... according to our guides.
  • All in all, it was a terrific cruise !!!

... or Dolly Parton?
        Did I happen to mention that I gained six pounds?

        And did I happen to mention the videos above, all-in-one? Hawaii video