For those folks who have never been to Hawaii, and who think they would like to see the Islands, this particular cruise will give you a taste of four of the major Islands in the Hawaiian chain. In addition the ship stops for three days in Tahiti, and two days in Samoa.
The Hawaiian Islands visited for a full day are:
Hawaii (Big Island) Hilo
We have been to Hawaii a number of times and during this visit, we chose to wander the town we are docked in, rather than take any of the tours offered by Princess except in Hilo.
Hilo was the one exception, mainly because it has been some time since we were there, and it was a great opportunity to visit the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. Due to safety considerations and old lave flows, some roads that were open in years past are now closed to traffic. Lava is still flowing, creating more and more land for the Big Island every day, but unless you take a helicopter or a boat you will not see lava flowing. Reason? Safety. When the molten lava enters the ocean as it is doing, several things happen. The lava cools immediately, and some of it explodes, creating the Hawaiian Black Sand beaches. A phenomena termed VOG is created. A cloud of steam is generated when the lava and the sea meet. The result is VOG, or volcanic smog. It is laden with minute glass particles like dust, and also sulphurous acid, that promptly becomes sulphuric acid when some oxygen atoms unite with the weaker acid. None of this is good for you, and so you do not go there. You will see rain water steam venting, and an area in the Kilauea Crater where smoke is rising.
Additionally you will see an old lava tube, and in fact you will walk through this remnant left behind from when lave flowed over he land. It is the Thurston Lava Tube. In this area there some of the biggest ferns you can ever imagine.
The tour we took stopped for lunch at a garden acreage, a place evidently used for weddings. The lunch was very good, unlike what we had been eating on the ship. You are free to wander the gardens and photograph the flowers and trees as you wish.
Our bus and driver were very good with the driver guide offering us glimpses of his sense of humour. This was a great way to see some of the island on the way to the park, have a great lunch and see the old calderas.
Oahu, and Honolulu, and Waikiki offer a couple of outstanding places to visit. There are a lot of things to see on Oahu, the island with nearly all the inhabitants, but two outstanding places to visit are the recently redesigned Museum of the Pacific, situated beside the famous old Arizona Battleship Memorial. The memorial is included in the museum. This exhibit is of limits to any ship outside of the US Navy, so to visit the Arizona memorial, you get a 25 minute movie of the December 7 attack, and you ride on a navy boat out to the memorial.
A few hundred feet away is the battleship the Missouri, where the surrender of the Japanese was signed. You can buy a ticket to tour the Missouri, tickets vary in price depending on the scope of the tour you take.
Also at the museum is the submarine Bowfin. There is yet another museum, a submarine museum attached to it, and it has a charge as well. The Bowfin is noted for sending the largest number of Japanese ships to the bottom during WW2. You can tour the sub as well.
Ward Island where the battleships were tied up during the raid on Pearl Harbour, has the hangers that were shot up during the raid. The site was used during the filming of 2 movies, “Pearl Harbour” and “Tora, Tora, Tora”. The original bullet holes are still there. Inside the hangers there are a number of aircraft old and modern that are restored. There is a fee for this part of the museum as well.
The trip is almost a full day to see it all. There are all the usual T shirt shops, food kiosks, a great selection of videos and history books on sale as well.
For a look at what is there check this out: Pearl Harbour
The second location that I would recommend is the Polynesian Cultural Centre, located on the north side of the island. You can take a bus out to it, or a tour. The tour will offer you a very big Hawaiian luau, where you get to try all kinds of Hawaiian food, including the Kahlua Pig, cooked in the Hawaiian oven called an Imu. All very good. The gates open at noon, and various Pacific islands are depicted as they might have been in earlier times. It is a full day, with visiting the islands, the luau, and Imax theater, and a hugely popular stage show in the evening. Here the cast members, who are islanders themselves do Polynesian dancing including the Tahitian drums, and the Samoan fire dance. It is all over by 9:00 and the bus can take you back to the ship. It’s a bit pricey, but you get a great dinner, a fantastic show, plus getting immersed in Polynesian life on the Islands”.
Check out the Polynesian Cultural Centre web site: Polynesian
On Maui, we didn’t do anything, we wandered the shops in Lahaina, after we were tendered in. There are a few things to do there, one being to rent a car and drive the Road to Hana. It has a lot of bridges on a very narrow road, but a lot of scenery. You can also drive to the top of a dormant volcano, Haleakala for some interesting views of nearby islands and the crater at the top. I have been there in winter and there has been snow piled up at the top! If scuba is your thing it is offered here as well as on the other islands.
Kauai tends to be a bit quiet, and using the port in Nawiliwili, you will need to take a tour, take a cab, or take a free shuttle to town for shopping. I find that Kauai is a bit on the sleepy side for me.
Tahiti, offers a number of tours, that can start at the pier, in Papeete. It is a French Island, and you dock right downtown. We were there on Good Friday and so everything was closed. We did get in a tour of the island however.
Moorea was another island we stopped and took a shorex, but for my money, it was not worth it. The island is surrounded by reefs and a beautiful lagoon, and we had to tender in. The bus we got was a school bus, no speaker system, and a broken AC, that only blew cold air on us. The control at the end was broken out, and we got all the cold air. On top of that my knees were jammed up into a graffiti laden seat. Our guide may as well have stayed home. It too was a holiday, and a lot of places were closed, and our driver was thinking that maybe this was good practice for his NASCAR debut. Crazy driver, we saw little for our $70.00 each.
Bora Bora, is another tender in stop, but the shore end was way better organized than the stop at Moorea. The tour bus was much like it was advertised, with bench seat, no AC, and no windows. It too was a holiday, Easter Day, but we had a great driver and guide. It even had a speaker system, home made to be sure, but it got the job done. We got to see all the places we were supposed to, including “Bloody Mary’s”. This one cost $70.00 as well, but this one was just fine.
In Samoa, Apia in Western Samoa was OK, but some stops were not covered as advertised. The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, was the highlight, seeing as how it was the old guys house that had been restored and converted. Here they had some Samoan food, some native dancing demonstrations, and a great garden area. Then the wheels came off and we drove aimlessly around town looking at the new government buildings, all the while stewing in our own juices when the driver didn’t turn on the AC. We passed by the store that sold crafts made by handicapped people, but all they seemed to have were garden items that we could neither take home or on the ship. Then we stopped at the flea market. This was a dark warehouse type of building where t shirts were sold, along with handicrafts. The ladies said it was too dark and didn’t like it in there.
The next day it was American Samoa, and we got a bus just outside the ship, had a great guide, and had a great tour of the island. We stopped at some old churches, scenic views, a great food and dance presentation, in all a lot of fun. Well worth the money.
All the islands offered something for everybody in some way or another, but we had a couple of poor tours, and when I took my concerns to the Shorex (Shore Excursion) desk, I was met with indifference and defensiveness. It was apparent that the staff on the ship that managed these tours were not empowered in any way to make a decision regarding a rebate or anything else. It all had to be referred back to head office. Makes me wonder if we should use Princess again, or their tours. We were most disappointed with the tours and in particular the service we got from the Princess staff on the Shorex desk, not necessarily a deal breaker, but close. If this was a persons first cruise, there would be nothing to compare it with, but we have and so did a lot of others on this ship, and we heard a lot of complaints.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: -‘No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.’
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Sorry folks, this is another one I stole from the retiree newsletter, too funny not to!
My neighbour was working in his yard when he was startled by a late model car that came crashing through his hedge and ended up in his front lawn.
He rushed to help an elderly driver out of the car and sat him down on a lawn chair.
He said with excitement, “You appear quite elderly to be driving.”
“Well yes, I am; he replied proudly. I’ll be 97 next month, and I am now old enough that I don’t even need a driver’s license anymore. The last time I went to my doctor, he examined me and asked if I had a driver’s license. I told him yes and handed it to him. He took scissors out of the drawer, cut the license into pieces, and threw it in the waste basket, saying, ‘You won’t need this anymore,’ so I thanked him and left!”
Have a Great Day, and be nice to everybody.