Posted March 27th, 2005, 11:25 PM
Day 7, 3/11, Kahului, Maui. Had breakfast in the café and met Polynesian Adventure Tour van for Haleakala Crater & Maui Ocean Center tours. We drove through lots of sugar cane and stopped at the visitors center inside Haleaka National Park, where we saw the silversword plant, which grows only in elevations above 6,000 feet. We next stopped at the summit of Haleakala Crater, the world’s largest dormant volcano. The crater measures over 7 miles long and over 2 miles wide. The views from the top, at 10,032 feet above sea level, were magnificent. It was a very winding road all the way up to the top. The “crater” was actually made by erosion, not a volcano. This is the point where people are brought to bike ride down from the crater and also horseback ride. There’s a trail to the Haleakala Observatory of the astronomical telescopes, but it’s not open to the public. It was windy and chilly walking around, but a beautiful view! We drove back down and on to the Maui Ocean Center, where we spent 2.5 hours. We had lunch on our own. You could spend much more time here, but I went through and saw all of the aquarium displays. There’s one big aquarium that you can walk through and see fish on both sides and overhead swimming around. They have seats so you can just sit and watch, and a guide will point out all the different kinds of fish and answer questions.
I headed back to the ship, changed and our group of 7 went to the ship-sponsored luau, which is held at the Maui Prince Hotel, which had beautiful grounds along the ocean. The sound of the Pu, the conch, signaled the start of the luau with live Hawaiian music. After the pig was brought from the imu, the underground oven, we enjoyed a buffet, which included green salad, macaroni salad, fresh pineapple and papaya, purple sweet potatoes, poi, white fish with salsa, pork, beef, stir-fry chicken and rice and rolls. Yes, I tried the poi even though it did not look very appetizing. I dipped my roll in some and I didn’t find it to have much of a taste at all. Free drinks include Mai Tai’s and Blue Hawaii’s, beer, wine, water and coffee, as much as you wanted. Desserts included chocolate cream pie with macadamia nuts and sponge cakes. The show included the hula dancers and a Samoan fire knife dancer, who was great—swallowing fire and throwing the fiery knives around! We got back to the ship about 8:30. Ship stayed overnight in Maui.
Day 8, 3/12, Kahului, Maui: I had been told by Norwegian before the cruise that for Lahaina on Your Own, you could not choose when to go and come from Lahaina, so we had rented a car in case we needed it. I had heard from other cruisers that they had gotten their vouchers for the ride to Lahaina with set times and were able to change them at the shore excursion desk, so when I got back to the ship, I asked if they still had openings for us to ride the van to Lahaina and pick our times. They had open spots for going at 9:00 and coming back at 4:00. I called Teri & Janice when I got back to the room to tell them we could still do this and not rent the car. We decided it would be easier, so we got up and went to the shore excursion desk at 7:00 a.m., when it opened and got our vouchers to go to Lahaina. The one change I would like to have seen on the cruise was the ship docking in Lahaina instead of Kahului. There’s nothing around Kahului and no real public transportation, and the taxi/shuttle rates are very expensive. We really didn’t want to rent a car and find our way around the island.
We had breakfast in the café and met the van to take us to Lahaina. It rained hard all day, but with a hooded jacket and umbrella, I was fine to walk around town and shop. Lahaina is a very cute harbor town with lots of nice shops. I met Janice and Teri at Bubba Gump’s for lunch, where we ran into Julie, Kim and Lynne having lunch. I had steamed spiced shrimp, which was delicious and we split an order of onion rings. After lunch, I shopped some more and walked down to Banyan Tree Park and along the harbor and back to Hilo Hattie’s where the van would pick us up to go back to the ship. I changed and met Teri and Janice for dinner at Bistro, a French specialty restaurant. I had Caesar salad made at the table, filet mignon which melted in my mouth and chocolate fondue with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and pineapple—YUM! Again, we had great service.