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SilentDad

Review of Radiance OTS April 5-22

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We signed up for this cruise about a year ago. It was a repositioning cruise from Sydney, Australia to eventually end up in Vancouver for the summer Alaska runs.

We only did the first leg. We boarded in Sydney, cruised to Auckland, New Zealand and stayed there two nights. We had four nights at sea until we reached Tahiti, Moorea an Bora Bora, where we stayed a night at each place. Five nights at sea followed until we reached Hilo, Hawaii where we stayed for one day. We ended our leg in Honolulu for a total of 17 or 18 days, depending who you talked to. We crossed the international date line and did April 10 twice. I have the papers to prove it.:)

 

Now for the details:

We flew from Indianapolis to Chicago to LAX, so that we could catch the United flight to Sydney which left at 10:00 pm. We got to LA with several hours to spare since this is the one flight I wanted to be sure not to miss. The 14 hour flight actually wasn't too bad, given that it was 1:00 AM Indiana time when we started AND the Ambien I took soon after I got on the plane. We had entertainment-- movies, tv shows, music, etc.- but I soon drifted off to sleep and slept 6 or 7 hours.

We arrived in Sydney about 8 AM. I know this because we were the first or second plane to land and 8 in the morning is the earliest planes are allowed to come in. We went through Customs-- not a big deal, there is always a line, gathered our luggage and proceeded to the taxi stand. I had been in Sydney 2 years ago and the taxi we took then cost $50 for the two of us. This time we needed a van type taxi since there were four of us. From the airport to our hotel in the Rocks area was around $80 Australian. They do take credit cards by the way.

We got to our hotel, the Park Hyatt, a bit after 9 AM. I was worried that we'd be sitting in the lobby for quite a long time since we were so early. To my surprise, they took our bags, gave us our room keys and then took us to our room and gave us a tour! They were VERY nice! The Park Hyatt is a great location for going on a cruise since it is only about 300 steps from the terminal in the Circular Quay. It has an outstanding view of the Opera House as well. It is also VERY expensive. My wife and I, as well as our friends, are all retired. We got a deal to get these rooms at the price we did. I'll post a picture taken from the pool area.

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From the pool area by silentdad, on Flickr

We were going to stay there for 3 days before the cruise to get over the 15 hour difference in time between Eastern time and the time in Sydney.

During those three days, we walked around the town. I must say that Sydney is a beautiful city and a great place to walk in. The food is quite expensive though. 18 dollars for a chicken sandwich and $4.50 for a coke-- no free refills.:eek: Ah, well, that's travel. We took the ferry to Manley- a seaside resort, walked to Darling Harbor so my wife could get a Hard Rock pin- she collects them- and went to Woolworth's, a store that is definitely not a five and dime store. We slowly adjusted to the time difference, saw a lot of neat things (Opera House) and took many pictures. Everyone in our group loved Sydney.

Next up: Boarding of the ship.

Here's a pic of the Terminal taken from our room.

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View before ship arrives by silentdad, on Flickr

Edited by SilentDad

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Looking forward to reading the rest of this review! I'd love to cruise from Australia one day.

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I got up early to see the ship come in. Notice how it dwarfs the Terminal.:)

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From hotel room by silentdad, on Flickr

 

 

 

There had been talk on CC about the long lines at the terminal and so I was a bit concerned--not much-- but a bit. About 11:00 AM, we trundled our bags downstairs to walk to the ship. The Park Hyatt staff offered to take us in a van for no charge but I told them it would probably take longer to wait in the traffic than it would just to walk over there. However, it was exceptionally nice of them to offer. They did help us down to the pier lever-- about 10 steps. Then we walked over. There were people milling around but it actually wasn't too crowded. They had a tent set just outside the terminal to take your luggage. Australians don't expect to be tipped for the taking of the bags, so we dropped them. We did have to fill out the customs form and the usual health form and there were chairs set up near the luggage tent so that we could sit down. (Note: I had found the "have you been sick" form online at CC before we went on this cruise, so we all had them filled out the night before.)

They started checking our documents at the door and we were quickly upstairs in the Diamond line and getting checked in. We went through Customs, the obligatory photo of boarding and we were on the promenade deck getting "dinged" in. In the Windjammer by noon.

No boarding problems for us at all. We ate lunch, went to the dining room to find our table and at 1:00pm, we went to find our room on deck 8-- #8512.

 

By 4:00pm, we had our luggage and we started stowing things away. We had plenty of time to get ready to go to supper at 6. Sailaway didn't happen until after we were at supper. We had already gone around the ship taking shots of the city from the open decks.

 

We had two days across the Tasman Sea to get to Auckland, said to be one of the roughest crossings that cruise ships experience. For us, no problems. They didn't even get out the barf bags. When we were on the Rhapsody, two years earlier, the bags made their appearance, so this crossing was pretty mild. Some bumps, but the waves were never over 3 meters.:)

 

Auckland is a city that is known for it's personal watercraft . One out of three residents own a boat. So as we sailed in, there were numerous sailboats out. We even had a jet skier come out and use the wake of the ship to catch air. Pretty Amazing!

 

More to come

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Here is the pic of the jet ski using our wake coming into Auckland.

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Using our wake-Auckland by silentdad, on Flickr

 

What was interesting about this port is where we were docked. Here's a pic of us coming into our berth.

 

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Docked next to Hilton by silentdad, on Flickr

 

This was a Hilton. There were also some condos in another building just closer to shore than this. It was early in the morning on Easter. It was funny to see people come out of their room with no idea that a ship was beside them that was just as tall as they were!! One guy who had a place on the top floor came out in his shorts, bleary eyed and scratching himself only to realize that there were people looking right at him!:D

 

 

We took a tour of Auckland on a bus tour organized by someone on CC that cost $25 NZ for about 4 to 5 hours of touring. Seemed reasonable to me. I got the NZ dollars from the Purser on the ship. Quite handy. We saw the surrounding countryside and stopped at a cultural museum and gardens. What my wife liked the most was someone on the tour convinced the driver to stop a local grocery. Most of the bus trooped in-- just to see what things cost. Most brought back six packs of ginger beer and yes, they did allow them to bring them on the ship since it is non-alcoholic.

We had another day in Auckland, which also was a holiday but shops were open because the ship was in.

Here's a look at the harbor.

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Auckland Harbor by silentdad, on Flickr

 

We had 4 days of cruising to reach the Tahiti area. We read, ate, played cards, drank coffee, read some more, went to lunch, napped/read and got ready for supper. Really, there was always something to do if you wanted to and the weather got warmer as we went North. Soon the pool decks were full of people. Since we had a majority of Aussies onboard , along with Americans, and a mix of Europeans, we had a variety of styles of bathing apparel. Let me just say-- Oh My! I wouldn't wear that Speedo!:) But it was a cheap entertainment. Some women took pictures!! They said for their co-workers. Uh huh.:D

 

Up next: Tahiti, Moorea & Bora Bora

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I'm really enjoying your review. Looking forward to reading more and seeing other photos of your travels!:)

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thanks for the review

 

we had resv on this cruise but had to cancel, so glad we will be able to see what we missed (not sure it i should add a a happy or sad face)

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In all likelihood I'll never take this cruise, but its fascinating reading. Looking forward to hearing about Bora Bora.

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Loving your review so far. I would love to the same cruise you did, only going all the way to Vancouver. Maybe some day when I'm older and have some time off this time of year. Looking forward to the rest

 

Cindy

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It looks like it would be hard to stay too much closer to where you get on the ship.

 

Are you talking about Sydney or the Hilton in Auckland? I think the Shangri La is right on the pier in Sydney, but the Park Hyatt must be next closest.

 

They made good use of their bonus credit card nights. :D

 

This was our overnight port side view in Auckland: AustraliaCruise197.jpg[/img]

 

The building is called "The Cloud" and it changes colors!

 

~Patti :)

Great review Jim! It is interesting to hear about what others experienced.

 

The Hilton in Auckland was starboard.

Edited by Coralc

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After leaving Auckland, we traveled almost due North and got warmer as we went. We had four days at sea to idle away-- which was no problem for us. Our schedule consisted of getting out of the room by 8 a.m. so the cabin steward could do his thing. We usually walked across the pool deck to check out the weather and the seemingly endless blue sea and then ended up in the Diamond lounge on Deck 13-Viking Crown to get a latte ( me), tea (her) and perhaps a pastry. We looked out over the pool deck and each time found ourselves wondering how we could be so lucky. Then at 10 a.m., we usually played Canasta with some ladies we met onboard. ( I usually read-unless they needed a fourth) Had a small lunch. Went to some activities in the afternoon and then got ready for dinner. A usual sea day. Life is tough.

 

Anyway, at the end of 4 days we reached Tahiti. It is a volcanic island which has most of the population living where we were docking, Papeete. Here's a pic.

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Coming into Tahiti by silentdad, on Flickr

 

 

We had no scheduled tour here, so we got off the ship and wandered around the streets near the waterfront. We went into the city market where there was a mixture of produce- like mangos, pineapples and leechee nuts and other more commercial products like pearls. The pearl shops and booths are everywhere. I enjoyed the market.

 

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Tahiti Market by silentdad, on Flickr

 

This port is the most active freight port of the three islands we visited. So, the scenery wasn't the stereotypical South Sea island look. As we walked along the streets, it seemed more and more like many islands in the Caribbean we had visited-- similar to Grenada-- since there were always those towering volcanic peaks in the background. A tour might have changed that perception . As I said, a very active port. Here's a pic of the cargo side of the port. It just goes to show that even with containers stacked up, a great background ( that's Moorea, btw) and beautiful sunset can change even the ordinary things.

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Tahiti Harbor by silentdad, on Flickr

 

After our stay in Tahiti, our next stop was Moorea which was just next door. We could have drifted over but we cruised around most of the night and pulled in early in the morning. We anchored in the crater of the volcano ( yes, it was a tender port) Here's the view from the front of the ship.

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Moorea by silentdad, on Flickr

 

I did notice one thing on these three islands. The often shown "grass huts" on stilts surrounded by water are everywhere. A testimony to how many hotel chains that are actually on these islands. Here's a view from the back of the ship. Notice huts.

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At anchor, Moorea by silentdad, on Flickr

 

Again, on this island, we had no tour planned. We waited until the tender line was short and got on for the short ride to Moorea. As we got off, there were numerous tents set up of local vendors with all sorts of things to sell-- shell earrings, pearls and other hand made objects. There was also the almost mandatory photo stop with the "chief" and the hula girls. We were told that Moorea is the place that Tahitians go for their vacations. Definitely, not as commercial as Tahiti. Mostly a place for hotels which are scattered all about the island.

We decided to hop on the "free" taxi which was going to take us to a pearl store so that we could look at their merchandise. I had visions of the 2 hour hard sale condo presentations I've been to in the past.

I was wrong. The taxi driver took us to the Intercontinental hotel and the pearl store was on their grounds. There was no pressure, nothing needed to get stamped to get back and we had free access to the whole resort. Well, this place was NICE!

6972858648_6071e9b9b8.jpg

At Intercontinental,Moorea by silentdad, on Flickr

 

continued in next post.

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At the Intercontinental- Moorea We wandered around looking at all the rooms like you see in the picture. Some of the "huts" were on the ocean front but many were on a lagoon that was perfect for jumping into from your deck and paddling around or snorkeling.

They also had a dolphin encounter area. I watched a couple in the pool that housed the dolphins. The trainer was talking to them about how to touch and interact with the dolphins. It was neat to watch.

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IMGP1177 by silentdad, on Flickr

 

We had told the driver that we'd be ready to go around 1 p.m., and believe it or not, he was there!:) We got our free ride back to the dock. It actually was free! Interestingly, our drive told us that all the hotels on Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora were for sale. He told us that the economic downturn that got us 2 years ago is just now showing up in the reservations now.

 

A CC friend we met onboard, rented one of those huts for the day (those shown off the back of the ship) and it cost her $200. Had a glass part in the middle of the floor so that you could look into the water below. Neat.

One last look at the Intercontinental.

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Intercontinental on Moorea by silentdad, on Flickr

 

Next up Bora Bora-- I promise.

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Enjoying the review and all your photos. I hop on the Radiance next week. My 3rd cruise on her but first after the refurb.

 

Wow, I would love to have one of those palapas over the water in Moorea. It is definatly on my bucket list

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Tahiti was nice, Moorea was very nice but Bora Bora was the best. In almost anything you could name, Bora Bora was the nicest of the three islands we visited. Here's a pic of us coming in, early in the morning-- a tender port, BTW.

 

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Coming in to Bora Bora by silentdad, on Flickr

 

We again anchored in the drowned crater of the island. We had the early excursion that someone on CC had arranged. The ship had a "fast Pass" time before the ship excursion groups got off. No lines, get off and get in the port. So, we got off about an hour earlier than we had anticipated. We were going on a Patrick's Tour. He has these "outrigger canoes" that he uses to take his customers around the island. They are powered by an outboard. Hence the quotes around the boats. We found the group, paid our money and got on a boat. We went out past our ship as we started out to the Stingray place.

 

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At anchor at Bora Bora by silentdad, on Flickr

 

Our guide, Rapa got in the water help us all "encounter" the stingrays and black-tipped sharks. I thought this one woman was going to climb up on her husband's head when a ray came close to her. Because of the broken coral, we HAD to wear water shoes.

 

We continued on around the island marveling at all the shades of blue in the water and the abundance of over the water Tiki huts. We stopped at the "coral garden" where we could snorkel. My wife did not get into the water but I had brought a swim mask and my snorkel vest so I could swim to the coral heads to see the fish. Rapa brought a fish with him and teased out a Moray eel from the middle of one coral head. Wow, it was big and it REALLY wanted that fish.

We then went to a beach, where Patrick and all his helpers had prepared a meal for us. We had lobster-- or it looked like lobster-- and we had pork that had been prepared in a pit. This is Rapa standing in front of the cooking pit which is covered with palm fronds.

 

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Rapa, our guide by silentdad, on Flickr

 

We also had some great tasting tuna that they had grilled for us. There was taro root, tapioca (not the dessert) and sweet potatoes. We had a great "island" meal with a view that could not be beat. This was a 5-6 hour tour and it was a great time. Very unique and very "homey"-- almost like your friends who have a boat and are taking you out on it for an afternoon.

Here's the eating area.

 

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Picnic on Bora Bora by silentdad, on Flickr

 

As we got back onboard everyone that I talked to wanted to stay longer. Sadly, that couldn't happen. So we pulled anchor at about 6 p.m. and started the final leg of the journey, crossing the equator in the 5 days we had at sea before Hilo. Here's one more pic of Bora Bora.

 

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Bora Bora by silentdad, on Flickr

 

Next part: Crossing the Equator ceremony and Hilo

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Loving this review and pics.

 

I would love to see some pics from your sea days.

 

I will be doing a South Pacific cruise on Radiance over New Years, and would love to see on board pics, cabin pics etc etc

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After leaving Bora Bora, we had 5 sea days in front of us which meant that there would be some events to keep everyone from getting bored. If you can get bored on a cruise ship!:) We had crossed the international date line as we had approached French Polynesia and so got back the day we had lost when we traveled to Sydney. Now were were on the same day as the U.S., just later in the day than the East Coast. Our Captain, Sindar Borsheim, had running gag about looking overboard as we crossed these "lines" in the sea. He said that some people actually looked to see if they could spy the black line. Well, not a big joke but:rolleyes:

We changed time zones 4 times while on this trip and we changed at noon, not at midnight. The Captain would come on for his noon announcements and say, "well, it's time for my noon report and now it's one o'clock."

The big deal was the crossing of the equator. If you had never crossed on a ship before, you were called a polliwog. King Neptune had to give permission for all the newbies to cross. You could tell that this ceremony would be messy since they started to lay down layers of plastic on the pool deck early in the morning. "King Neptune" and his court and proceeded to initiate all the polliwogs. The first part was the new people had to kiss a flounder. Here's that pic.

 

6972870180_81b642ddd2.jpg

Equator ceremony by silentdad, on Flickr

 

Then volunteers were covered with eggs, spaghetti, flour and other things, symbolic of something-- I just don't know what. Very messy- but a well-attended event. We watched from the Viking Crown lounge. Good view and air-conditioned.

At the end of 5 days we got into Hilo. This port was important because it gave people a chance to get off the ship but also it was when we cleared US customs. Much better time than in Honolulu. Customs was quick and easy. Have your customs form filled out- have your passport in hand- stand in a quickly moving line into the Colony club. We stood in front of a Customs agent for about 15 seconds, answered a question and left. We had our sea pass card marked so that we could get off the ship.

 

When we did get off the ship, we took the free bus to Hilo Hatties- a legend in the Hawaiian islands- to look at the goods there but also to go across the street to Wal-Mart. They had the cheapest souvenirs around. Same stuff in other stores, better price. We didn't take a tour since we had been to Hilo and the volcanoes before.

 

The ship left Hilo about dinner time, I believe and we were on our way to Honolulu, the last stop in our 17/18 day journey. Remember, we did April 10 twice.

 

I got up early to catch our entry to Honolulu and was rewarded with this beautiful picture. A great way to end the cruise.

 

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Coming into Honolulu by silentdad, on Flickr

 

Next up: my thoughts on the ship and the cruise

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As I said, we started in Sydney and after having been on Rhapsody from that same port, Radiance looks mammoth in comparison. This is the third time I've been on this ship and the first time since it has been "upgraded".

 

We had the dining package and I thought it was a pretty good deal and a way to try all the restaurants.

 

First of all, the Samba restaurant takes the place of the Seaview cafe. They extended the room by adding a "sunroom" addition. Here's a pic.

 

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IMGP1062 by silentdad, on Flickr

 

Nice chairs, nice view( we were at Sydney when this was taken) and the food was good. Let's just say you don't want to eat much the whole day before you go. There's a salad bar but I would suggest going easy on it because the meat could overwhelm you. I would also suggest you start the rotation of 8 meats from number 8 (filet mignon) to the first( something beef:) ). That way you don't have to fill up on the less tasty offerings. Nice room, good food-- I wouldn't do it too often. As in every fourth or fifth cruise. Nice but....

The night we went, the Captain was there with the Pinnacles. Long way to the restrooms. Nearest is near Adventure Ocean.

 

Two of the new specialty restaurants were carved out of the forward sections of the Windjammer. We ate at Izumi. I'm not a great sushi lover but my wife loves it, so we go. It was fine. I didn't like the hot rock because it was HOT and it was very near you. I probably didn't do it right but I couldn't figure out what to do with the cooked meat when I took it off the hot rock.:o Fine but not something I would do every cruise either.

 

We never went to Rita's Cantina to eat. We had some friends go to have magaritas and nachos and they enjoyed it.

 

Giovanni's Table-- We first experienced this place on Oasis. We loved it then and we still do. The food is good, the service was good and the atmosphere pleasant.

 

Chops was the first specialty restaurant we ate at on Radiance. We've always liked it and still do. Of all the specialty restaurants, I would eat at either Chops or Giovanni's Table. Overall, they have the best of everything. The others are good for that "every once in a while" occasion.

 

What I do dislike is the reduction in size of the Windjammer. It is starting to look like Oasis in there. People are having to save tables in advance of anyone getting food because there is limited seating. It's not as bad as Oasis but it's close. NOTE: you can take your food and sit in Izumi when they are not open. We sat in there one time for a lunch and once for breakfast on our departure day.

 

I keep wondering what they did with all the money for refitting they had. They still have plastic shower curtains, not doors. They didn't upgrade the decor, that I could see. They removed space from the Windjammer just to get in more restaurants that you have to pay for. They put in a pub where the sports bar used to be and blocked off one side of the casino. Now, when a show gets out it's like Los Angeles at rush hour through there.

 

The Diamond Lounge-We had Charmaine Fernandez as our concierge on this cruise. She was FABULOUS. She hustled around the lounge and Viking Crown spill over area making sure that everyone had everything they wanted. I enjoyed the coffee machine and morning breakfast as well as the pre-dinner appetizers. I enjoyed this part of the make-over the most.:)

I can't speak to the other since I couldn't go in there but I think our view was better since there were quite a few D+ in our lounge.

 

As I said, this is our third time and it will probably be our last on this ship. I privately call this ship the "poop" ship. Two out of the three times, we've been on her, we've had problems with the plumbing. We're not newbie cruisers-we're diamond - but this ship has had a history of plumbing problems and not only for us.

 

We had an enjoyable trip from Sydney to Honolulu. Complaints can always be made but overall we thought this cruise was great. We met a lot of new people, we saw places we always wanted to see and we found new ways to amuse ourselves on the sea days that a repositioning cruise provides.

Good times-- and I've got the pictures!:D

 

Jim

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I agree that I had the showers with curtains instead of doors. It's too bad that there were still plumbing problems. It can be frustrating when something so basic, yet essential, has problems.

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The big deal was the crossing of the equator. If you had never crossed on a ship before, you were called a polliwog. King Neptune had to give permission for all the newbies to cross. You could tell that this ceremony would be messy since they started to lay down layers of plastic on the pool deck early in the morning. "King Neptune" and his court and proceeded to initiate all the polliwogs. The first part was the new people had to kiss a flounder. Here's that pic.

 

6972870180_81b642ddd2.jpg

Equator ceremony by silentdad, on Flickr

 

 

 

When we did get off the ship, we took the free bus to Hilo Hatties- a legend in the Hawaiian islands- to look at the goods there but also to go across the street to Wal-Mart. They had the cheapest souvenirs around. Same stuff in other stores, better price. We didn't take a tour since we had been to Hilo and the volcanoes before.

 

 

Thanks for taking this pic. The reason we did this cruise was to go around the world to see our Aussie friends who we met on this ship in April 2008. They did the cruise with us. This is a picture of Peter kissing the fish. My husband is the bald headed guy to his right/our left next to the woman.

 

We bought our supply of 100% Kona coffee at wal-mart, too. It was way cheaper than the other places. They also had he 10% Kona option.

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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wow - wonderful! Such a trip is only a dream for me! Thanks for sharing.

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