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RMLincoln

My Reflections on Tales of the South Pacific - Amsterdam, R/T San Diego

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Back home now about a week, not all unpacked yet (but hey, it took more than a week to get packed, right?) and getting around to considering my reflections on this special itinerary of 48 nights R/T San Diego. I’ll try to add a bit more every day or so, that is if you’re up for it.

 

 

First: Why this cruise? We wanted something easy, a real vacation. Last few years we have done complex and energetic touring - long trips, 9 to 16 weeks to far-away places… all grand but all exhausting. R/T San Diego to beautiful Hawaii, equatorial and south Pacific islands… hmmmm sounds magical!

 

Second: Who are we? Retired (DH early 70s and me early 60s) but active, sometimes too active…. We live in the rural mountains of northern NM; work hard continuing to construct and remodel a fire-resistant log home and new addition in the forest (it’s 4 miles down a dirt road to our mailbox, almost 1000’ lower in elevation that the house at 8700’)… and we work hard volunteering with our local fire department as EMTs, Search and Rescuers and, hopefully not very often, firefighters… plus all the trainings and administrivia that go along with it. It all takes a toll physically and emotionally, so a real vacation was our agenda this year.

 

We are closer to value cruisers than luxury cruisers but booked a window room (yea! luxury for us) on Dolphin deck (most stable) near the aft elevator (closest route to the food – gotta get the priorities right). We turned 4 star Mariners on this cruise and they actually contacted us to give us our pins, have our ship-cards changed to show are new star and even left a new laundry form in our room that day! Quite the surprise for this to happen mid-cruise….. I should add that we’re platinum on Princess and gold or purple or Mars or something like that on Carnival, Celebrity and NCL… we book for the right timing and prices.

 

My cruise motto: It’s hard to have a bad on a cruise ship!

 

Booking: Called our HAL PCC in April and got a decent booking set up, yikes! 48 nights, wow. Later I found a big price difference from a big box store TA. Called PCC who said, “I can match the price but not the OBC”. So he re-fared the price, added the insurance that I requested (hey, the S. Pacific is a very long way from everywhere!), maintained his OBC and Pinnacle Grill dinner to us and helped me transfer the whole deal to the TA saying to me, “No problem, we want to do whatever gets you your best deal!” Really…. And it all happened.

 

Pre-Cruise: Easy non-stop flight to SAN airport; SuperShuttle already vouchered by the Urban Boutique Hotel included in their $90/night price that we got from booking.com several months in advance - and we’re there! Great location with a 5 minute walk to Little Italy for supper (and 2 bottles of wine); excellent continental breakfast included at hotel. Rooms were fine… think European style and size, but all we needed and comfortable including bottled water, refrigerator, free WiFi, big flat scree HD TV… come to think of it, all the things we wouldn’t have on the ship! Worked great for us. (BTW, with IRL_Joanie’s recommendation I tried to get a room at the Best Western Bayside but they were all sold out when I was booking… much later on they opened up some rooms but at $200, so we stayed with what we had, no regrets.)

 

Embarkation: San Diego is known for difficult embarkations, but we had no issues. We walked/rolled our way to the terminal from the hotel at about 11:00, the “10 minute” walk took longer for us rolling slowly so we got there about 11:30, dropped our luggage with the terminal porters (more on that later) and checked which doors and lines to use so we didn’t wind up on the NCL Sun (nice ship, we’ve been on her but they weren’t going to the south Pacific). It took about an hour to get all checked-in and to our room, all standing in lines or slogging along, no sitting around. We carried 2 bottles of wine that nobody seemed to care about. At check-in our passports were taken in exchange for a receipt – I said a little prayer for the angels to watch over them… same as for our luggage when I let go of it…

 

Room: The OV on Amsterdam is a good size for us. I really like having the full size couch… wish the OVs on Lower Promenade deck had a full couch but, alas, we’ll use the stairs and burn some calories. We had the small adjustable table which was adequate (juggled many lunches on it plus a few suppers), a largish and comfortable chair at the desk instead of a stool - nice, 3 drawers in the desk piece, and 5 closets! No refrigerator, which would have been nice but I didn’t want to give up the space under the desk and there’s really no other place for it except if it could be plugged into one of the 5 closets… think they could? I didn’t try.

 

The TV is antiquated, IMO… which I’m going to stop adding to the text because all this of this is my opinion… the TVs are old flat-screen models sitting kitty-corner on an elevated shelf over the desk. They not only are not high definition but they have very poor resolution, you can barely read the text on the navigation page, especially the white lettering on the blue-grey background, very poor… and I just had my fire-fighter physical and my eyes are 20/15, well with glasses. The remotes don’t hit the sensor well because of the shelf but I will say that Ruth C’s tip to bounce the signal off the ceiling helped a lot… genius Ruth! The TV selections are not interactive but they did have 3 news channels, a couple of movies including yesterday’s showing in the Wajang Theater, and the replays of the many enrichment speakers’ talks, so great to have that because it isn’t always possible to get to the presentations live. Oh yes, the CD’s Good Morning Amsterdam was shown everyday along with 48 days of the shore excursion CD, jewelry shopping channel, 48 days of the same Future Cruise presentation on its dedicated channel, and 3 HAL music channels. Bow-Cam channel is handy to hear the announcements on the PA from the CD and the Captain…. also the many times the Officer of the Watch went through the crew fire and safety drill routines…. nice to know they were drills at least.

 

The temperature in our room (1932) stayed at 72 degrees +/- 1 degree the whole trip, well after we spent a day or so getting it adjusted to our liking, as measured on my travel clock on my nightstand. I think this is first for us - DH always referred to the thermostat as a useless wall decoration; it seemed to work this time, or something did. I still used the pre-cruise-requested fan every night to blow a soft breeze on my side of the bed, what a blessing! And after the first night of “hard” sleep we requested a mattress pad and slept much better for it. I used to think the HAL beds were so comfortable, is it that I’m getting old? Maybe Amsterdam beds are getting old.

 

DH has a feather allergy and we made sure there was nothing in the bedding with feathers. But he reacted to the room as if there were, although mildly, and made good use of his allergy meds… I really do think it came through the HVAC system. Oh well, the ship is shared space… refer back to cruise motto, above.

 

Lighting by the safe is terrible, but I don’t want to nit-pick too much so I’ll add a smile and say that I love having real hangers, hangers that we can take off the rod, and the steward gladly brought me a few more the first day as I unpacked. We arranged the fold-up/flop-down shelves to augment our 3 drawers and settled in, ahhhh, welcome aboard!

m--

Next time ... How to enjoy 5 sea days to Hawaii....

Edited by RMLincoln

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Really enjoying this blog and look forward to reading more. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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Thanks for the review. We've been on the Amsterdam a couple of times & loved her. Sounds like a great itinerary.

Allan

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Looking forward to reading more. Very interested in this cruise in the future for us. We also agree about the lack of lighting for the safe-we keep our flashlight handy!

 

Thanks for for doing this.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Maureen!

 

Welcome back! So glad to have you returned to the board. Looking forward to all your posts on this super cruise.

 

HAL really does a higher level cruise on the Amsterdam, so I was not surprise, but very happy, to read that you received your 4 star status and rewards on this cruise. Yay you!

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We'll be on the Amsterdam soon for the first time so I find your post very interesting. Thank you.

 

Hangers...are they wooden ones that take up a lot of room or normal size? I'm wondering if I should bring a supply of my own or would the steward be able to provide me with wire ones (less room taken) to supplement what's on board.

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Hi Maureen

 

Sad that we never met on the ship. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this cruise.

 

We are unpacked but stuff is still all over the place. Our kids had a surprise party (70!) for me on Sunday, granddaughters birthday on Tuesday and Thanksgiving yesterday. Yikes.

 

CruiseNH No worries about hangers. Our room Steward brought me as many wire hangers as I wanted.

 

Cheers, Denise

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Happy the "signal bounce" trick worked for you. Welcome home.

Oh, and it's not as if there's a deadline to unpack. You're not going anywhere for a while, are you? ;)

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Greetings and thanks for staying with me. Hope you all had happy and safe Thanksgiving gatherings. We had a great Turkey Day (glad no 911 call interruptions) and a birthday here the next day– so very much to be grateful for. Especially for the birthday to enjoy together… I think you understand.

 

Thanks for the all happy comments: SilvertoGold, you were the encouragement to share the experience! DChip, also sorry we didn’t connect but I gather through WCB that you and DH had a good cruise too! And happy birthday! RuthC, thanks for the welcome, and oh yeah, all those clothes we used in the tropics, they’re not needed here now – we’re crunching in the snow and it’s great!

 

5 Sea Days to Hawaii…. Wonderful time to settle in, rest, relax, sleep in… well not exactly. Lots going on! Meet and Greet first morning, lovely folks, so many very experienced travelers and cruisers - Presidents Club level folks, world cruisers, veteran bloggers (hopefully you followed WCB’s blog of this cruise by Maryann and Bill – I loved re-living our cruise through their blog and I can’t hold a candle to their details, but I’ll continue with my reflections.

 

At the CC Roll Call M&G SDBagLady held up a “sign” for Trivia players and we were off to form a happy group. The informal sign was such a big help… others had signs for activities such as Snorkelers, Divers, maybe Card Players etc (not sure perfectly) to aid in finding each other. Easy enough.

 

But the M&G conflicted with the first of hundreds (seemed like hundreds, maybe was?) of enrichment presentations. What to do? Hmm… here to rest and relax….. but I really did wind up enjoying the sense of immersion in the cultural and historical learning on this cruise. A long cruise allows one to do this and HAL does a good job on this. I passed up opportunities for Watercolor Painting classes, many Ukulele lessons, hula classes and a lot of excellent and tasty Culinary Arts demos… and tons of other classes – bridge lessons, health classes, dance lessons, Windows 10…on and on. There was always something Polynesian to learn or experience with food, flowers, music or dance from Kainoa, the Hawaiian Ambassadors and Doug Kealoha. The immersion factor was I think what made this cruise so special for me!

 

And Beirnelisa, our librarian, pulled together a book discussion group using the many copies of Paul Theroux’s Happy Isles of Oceania that she inherited from the last World Cruise. (Those guests each received a signed copy as a pillow gift but apparently many people didn’t want to lug home two copies, ya think?) I had read about the pillow gifts in the world cruise blogs and remembered this after we made our booking, so some months later I ordered a used copy from Amazon (sorry Paul, value cruiser that I am) and started reading it about a month before we left – good thing too because I’d have never have gotten through it on Beirnelisa’s schedule. But the book gave me a good lead into our cruise; it began with his Australia and New Zealand visits, both places we’d been to and weren’t going to on this trip, followed by the Trobriands and Solomons, which we wouldn’t to get to either; but then from Melanesia he went to many of the places we’d stop at, some of which we had visited before (on our way to or from Australia in 2013), and many would be new ports of call for us, so that really helped me get set up for building a big-picture appreciation of the Pacific peoples. And with time to absorb it all – priceless… well not like free, but you get my feel.

 

I attended (or watched on TV) most of the speakers’ presentations. Over the whole cruise we had many speakers, some of them overlapped in time on board depending on where they joined us and left us: Greg Redfern on the US space programs, astronomy, night sky gazing (had enjoyed him previously also but he had all new material); then Charlie and Sadie Urbanowicz, Joseph Kess and Terry Greenberg (hope I didn’t miss someone . These presenters shared their knowledge-base with us on anthropology, migrations, botony, authors of the SP, WWII, life on the old wooden vessels, nautical language in every-day vernacular, the Bounty and her crew members before and after the mutiny, Darwin’s voyages and life…. And always Kainoa! who “talked story” with us on so much. Kainoa was with us as our Location Guide the entire cruise; he is Hawaiian, lives there still, his dad still lives in Kainoa’s grandfather’s house, they can trace their heritage back to Tahiti, his family experienced the Pearl Harbor bombing…. So much to share, and I deeply appreciated how he brought his Polynesian culture and history to me in such a personalized manner.

 

So no being bored on the way to Hawaii, and I had to balance my objectives with the plethora of enticing offerings. The weather was, well so-so; a bit cool still and a bit rocky but not bad. The hot tub felt better than the pool these first days.

 

The Amsterdam: I’ll finish today with reflections on the ship. She was built in 2000, so hanging onto middle-age, or maybe more like myself, ahem, a bit past that. She’s still lovely, elegant but technologically behind the times. For example, the elevators are noticeably sloooow, the show lounge stage is trying to look jazzy with its original twinkle lights, which they flash in different colors during many of the Cast Shows, and is starting to look really tacky. The teak loungers we love on Lower Promenade deck are beat-up and the cover pads are aged, many with seams open and their stuffing showing. I’d think that as HAL staff like to remind us often that she is a flagship of the line, that HAL would be more interested in presenting her in better light. But maybe they don’t have to because she carries the veterans that HAL doesn’t need to impress anymore? I don’t get it, but moving on…. Our AC worked, others I met had troubles; the plumbing is an issue in many staterooms, yes ours also but not severely; there are water leaks around the ship: buckets in the dining room foyer, the library, the Lido. But again, see “MY Motto”, above. The florists are fabulous with the most original flower arrangements all over the ship. Kudos for them and their unsung praises. Amsterdam is elegant and comfortable but don’t look too carefully, and work your way around the rough spots.

 

Next time I’ll reflect on our dining experiences…. I gained 10 pounds so that says I enjoyed a LOT of foods, but not all the experiences were satisfactory, there are some underlying issues, IMO… oh right, you already know these are my opinions. m—

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10 pounds isn't all that much for the length of this cruise! You just need to go snowshoeing about for a week or so!

 

I'm glad you had a really good florist. The Amsterdam is quite consistent in having a great, imaginative ones. The arrangements can be a real delight on the longer cruises.

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Your description of the Amsterdam is perfect. She is my favorite ship but as a "grand old lady" she does need some rejuvenation. I am sailing on the Rotterdam, her sister ship, for the first time February and am interested in seeing if she is in similar condition. Barbara

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Did the Tales last year and Amsterdam became our least favorite of these grand old smaller ships, which was a surprise. Zaandam, Rotterdam & Volendam, Amsterdam in that order.

 

But still would take the Amsterdam over any of the larger HAL ships, so there you have it. Mainly because the color and design on the Amsterdam was either dour or garish - she should be much more than that.

Edited by OlsSalt

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Hello again. I didn’t buy a thing yesterday on Black Friday, maybe on Cyber Monday? We’ll see. [i could use a new underwater camera because mine croaked in Bora Bora. Can’t complain too much, I bought it in St. Thomas almost 5 years ago when my then camera leaked at Half Moon Cay. They don’t last forever.] Onward….

 

Dining and Food: We usually like Open Seating. Have for the last several years, always happy with it after having been a late (main) diner for the first half of our cruising career. But not so much this time! Late seating is hard for us when we have an early day the next day (we seem to be of the age that neither one of us sleeps all that well anymore, and add to that when eating late we have to stay up to digest to have any chance of sleeping. We choose Open because it gives us good flexibility, like for when we’re late, dirty, or tired coming back from shore so not ready for a 5:30; or we want to spend time with the sunsets; or when we have an early day planned for a port day we’d like to eat earlier rather than later. We try to eat around 5:45 or 6, so we did that the first night by calling to make a reservation in the afternoon… nothing available. OK, we’ll try as a walk-in. No tables for 2 at that time, period, ever, not with reservations, not as a walk-in;, no reservations available before maybe 7:45. We were told that the people who got on the ship before us (meaning in Seattle or Vancouver) got all the tables for 2 and requested them for the whole cruise, which HAL granted. We could do sharing at tables for 6 or 8, no tables for 4 available either, or wait until later. Hmmm…. Later on we talked to the Dining Room Manager, Philip; he seemed to blow us off on this issue and said just go to the podium for what you want. Really? Does he not know what the situation is? Or does he not want to own up to the fact that they have pre-reserved all the tables for 2 during the time slot that HAL says they don’t reserve for, which the do just so that there will be tables for walk-ups. Not too happy. Remember that we started as 3 star Mariners and living in a basement room, not the suites, so we had no clout on this cruise, not against the high-day guests. This whole “chopped liver” feeling is hanging with us and we’re not sure if it’d be even worse on the 80 day Asia-Pacific cruise we were looking at. Maybe it wouldn’t be an issue if we started with all the others and this was just an anomaly. But then we’d have to request it for the whole cruise at the specific time…. Well we probably won’t be booking that cruise anyway.

 

So for 48 nights we juggled all our option: table sharing sometimes, eating later (7-ish and going to late show), eating in Lido if we really wanted to eat early and hit the early show), room service diners, whatever worked… and we made it work and rolled with it – refer back to MY Motto, above. Is a table for two such a big deal for us? It’s a preference for us for our comfort and convenience as DH has some hearing difficulties, plus and we often see little of each other during the days so we like to share our day over a quiet dinner together. Late in the cruise we talked with Henk the Hotel Manager about the long-term feeling and he said that with the segmented cruises we’d have an upper hand by getting on at the beginning… yeah, then it’ll be the same problem for the next folks. Just doesn’t sit well with us. Especially when we’ve much better experiences on Celebrity who has open dining down to a science – we could get a table for 2 reservation any time, all smiles, no excuses. But moving on…

 

We ate in the Lido for breakfast and lunch (often brought lunch to our room to eat) and I especially enjoyed the variety. I ate from every possible station during the trip, and I think on a long cruise it was important for me to have the variety. There was a dedicated sandwich maker during the regular hours, as well as the pre-made sandwiches (available even after the counters closed) which I had a couple of, pulling them apart, so a bit of waste.

 

There were Lido BBQs several times for lunch and even dinner once or twice; these seem very popular but the lines got very long and it’s not for us, especially in the heat with the smoke hanging around the pool area. I did take advantage of a fruit buffet by the pool which was different.

 

We enjoyed the sea day MDR Sunday Brunch Buffets, I think we had three of them. I don’t recall having had them previously, and this may be another aspect of this itinerary being a little more than usual, but not quite a grand cruise.

 

Breakfast also had a large variety but the choices changed almost not at all. Fruit was my most difficult foraging. I’m allergic to melon (green and orange types) and for breakfast there were only rare days when they had bins of strawberries or pineapple spears to serve you on request. Otherwise it was the little dishes of grab-n-go prunes and reconstituted dried apricots, or work my way through sectioning grapefruit and cutting up fresh fruit which often was only apples – the bananas never lasted more than a couple of days after they could pick them up locally. Luckily I could find canned blueberries dished out with yogurt and a sprinkle of granola in the little shot-glasses, so a couple of those became standard fare for most days. Otherwise we had plenty to pick from, even crepes which I didn’t remember from previous cruises.

 

MDR dinners were usually good to very good, but fewer were really outstanding meals. Not a problem, if you recall I was the one counting down how may suppers I had to make at home before the cruise started, so I enjoyed them all. The portions are little smaller than they used to be, the steaks and prime rib are cut thinner but that wasn’t a problem for us, we had plenty. The fresh catch fish that they bought locally was always a treat. And the vegetables served with our dinners were the best I think I’ve had!

 

We had 6 Gala nights and guests made these nights festive with nearly everyone dressing up. The chairs were covered, the menu selections were upped a bit, so overall these nights were still very nice.

 

We only ate one meal in the Pinnacle Grill and it was special. I had the crab cakes - wonderful, the lobster bisque - outstanding, and the halibut with shrimp – loved the shrimp, found the halibut below expectations but by that time I had so much really good food it didn’t matter much. They were out of fresh berries for dessert so I had the lemon tart, wow! DH said his tenderloin was the best beef of the trip.

 

We had room service dinner which was just as we ordered, timely and hot. We had the old RS menu, didn’t know it at the time that it was soon to be replaced with the new menu of fewer offerings. <sigh> Things change. Not dealing with that here….

 

Didn’t eat in Canaletto – we tried it back when it was free and didn’t think it was worth it then. I do read the menu on every ship and haven’t found it to be anything we are particularly interested in, so we pass.

 

Afternoon tea was at 3pm every day; Royal Dutch Tea served once; Cupcake Tea served once; Indonesian Tea served once - but the Sumatra coffee isn’t served in the French Presses anymore, it’s poured. And no Indonesian head wraps, only the batik shirts, and not as many decorations.

 

Not much else I can think of to share on Dining and Food, so next I’ll reflect on ports:

The list is Hawaii (Honolulu overnight, Lahina Maui, Nawiliwili Kauai, Hilo Hawaii, Kona Hawaii); Fanning Island Kiribati; Pago Pago American Samoa; Apia Samoa; Fiji (Savusavu, Suva, Dravuni and Lautoka), Tonga (Nuku’alofa and Vava’u); Rarotonga Cook Islands; Alofi Niue (canceled); all the rest in French Polynesia – Bora Bora, Raiatea, Papeete (overnight), Moorea, Rangiroa, Fakarava, and the Marquesas.

 

m--

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Oh dear Maureen on your open dining.

 

Sorry to hear about the issues. I didn't know they would let you reserve for the entire cruise??!!??

 

Glad to see you had Kainoa on board. He was amazing on our Westerdam cruise. The room was always packed for his talks. And deservedly so.

 

And Yay on the sandwich maker. That's good news indeed :)

 

Looking forward to more.

Edited by kazu

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Maureen

 

I feel very bad to hear of your dining issues. No tables for 2, well that would really and truly be a problem for us. Open dining did not work well for us either the few times we have gone that route (what were we thinking?). Reserving for the whole cruise turns open into set dining. HAL should have this all figured out by now.

 

Glad to hear that the food was better than the seating arrangements!

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Two comments

First... I just got a nice underwater camera ...

Reasonably priced. Great features...fujimi fp 90.....it's in many different chain stores , you can check it on

Check it Milne as well...

Second.... you got a raw deal with the dining for 2 ... whose cruise was it... yours or theirs? I would never have put up with the lame excuses they gave you!!! You were too nice....I realize you didn't wan to start any confrontation, but you were entitled to a table for two as much as those who got on earlier... I am taking a 25 day cruise that starts out as a 39 day one and I will not put up with an excuse

Like that for anything. I paid just like they did...

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Thank you for your review. I am sorry to hear of your issues with trying to get a table for two. I hope HAL is listening because what's the point of open dining if they let people reserve an "open" table for the entire cruise?

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HI again! Thanks for the camera tip, we have one fjui type and so far so good, may get another one.

 

Have a couple inches of fresh snow, more coming in; we got paged to go out at 6am in a white-out for two people injured in a domestic conflict.... makes me glad to have a life where I can go on vacation and my biggest problem is a table for 2 reservation! Onward....

 

Aloha! Welcome to Hawaii. We arrived with sunrise and the bow was opened for all to enjoy the sail-in past Diamond Head. There were “Hawaii Rolls” (really Panama rolls…) juice and coffee, music for the hula girls to dance to, and Kainoa chanted the Hawaiian welcome blessing. On the pier we were greeted with purple orchid leis, placed over our heads. It was a memorable arrival! HAL really can do a nice job. Our itinerary was Honolulu overnight, Lahina Maui, Nawiliwili Kauai, Hilo Hawaii, Kona Hawaii.

 

Kainoa (our Locations Guide) had been encouraging us from the start to consider the many offerings of Hawaii, as opposed to the more limited types of activities in the other islands. He was right that the Hawaiian ports have a large variety of activities to enjoy, either through ship or private tours or on your own. I highly second his recommendation. So whether you want beach/water activities, history, shopping, culture, night-life – Hawaii has it all, and all very accessible – rental car or public bus (The Bus - $2.50pp or $1 seniors w/ a Medicare card). And hey, they take $US!

Note: I forgot to include the Marine Biologist from U of Hawaii, George Losey, who started us out with presentations on the coral reefs and ocean wildlife; he left the ship in Honolulu, as did Greg Redfern.

 

Honolulu Oahu: Our plan for Honolulu had been laid before we left: Day 1 was on our own to Hanauma Bay State Park for photography (DH) and snorkeling for me. This plan gave us flexibility in case we arrived late, or the weather was poor. We’ve rented cars previously here and found we couldn’t stop at Hanauma Bay because the parking lot fills up early. We avoided that issue this time by taking the city bus. Worked great! What a pretty day, so glad we got to do that. Day 2 we had booked a private tour with pick-up at the pier to go kayaking; combo included a short hike to a view, a little sightseeing around town and a simple lunch. Our guide took us over the mountains to the east shore and we kayaked around Chinaman’s hat, beached there for lunch, snorkeling, walking, and resting. We had a very pleasant day of it, only 4 of us on the tour. A good time for a private tour – ship didn’t leave unitl11pm,. and we were sure to be there for the pick-up

Lahina Maui: Tender port. Google had shown us that there was a place to rent kayaks just a few minutes’ walk from the tender pier, so that’s what we did and we plunked around near the shore until we saw turtle heads popping up near us!! So that became the thrill of the day, to sit out in the water with the turtles swimming around us for about 3 hours!

Nawiliwili Kauai: Nearing Honolulu we had discovered I’d either forgotten our cell phone charger, or left it in the hotel... oops [Found it when we came home.]. We had no plans for this port so we hopped on the K-Mart shuttle which also took us to the adjacent mall. We have an old “dumb” flip phone (no cell signal at our home) but we were able to find what we needed at a Radio Shack plus picked up some extra sunscreen. That little trip to the stores was the only time I put on shoes, until we disembarked!

Hilo Hawaii: We mostly rested and I was getting over the early cruise-crud cold. At least it was mild and getting through it early-on had our immune systems geared up. Hilo is the best place to head to the volcanoes and we have been there before, so the rest was good for us to get well for lots more to come. I made phone calls to family and friends and enjoyed the connection and the empty ship! Hilo is more of an industrial port and renting a car here is a good option, the rental agencies come to the port with shuttles. There’s a lot of beauty here, botanical gardens, lava trees and lava tubes but not a good place for water adventures. NOTE: We cruised around the north end of the island to get to Kona, not the south end from where there was a chance to see the glow of the lava flow, no explanation, just an announcement, “This is how we’re going.” Oh well…. It’s all good.

Kona Hawaii: Tender port. Again, google helped us find a kayak rental place next to the tender pier, and we were easily entertained in the bay by pods of spinner dolphins. They’re smaller than other types but so much fun to watch. Taking pictures of swimming dolphins from a bobbing kayak is a hoot! I had the camera on burst mode and later on had to sort through 3000 pictures to find just a handful with the critters showing, but we had an exceptionally fun time!

 

Hawaii is such as great place to visit, gear well for tourists with so much to experience, many ways to get around, so beautiful, and relatively safe – well use some common sense, maybe don’t hang around Chinatown at 3am. This cruise itinerary gave us the most days in Hawaiian ports we’ve had on a cruise plus the wonderful overnight in Honolulu; we thought HAL had a good plan. We did some new things and had some time to rest too. On the way there I got in the groove of walking the LP deck some and doing 20 minutes of lap swimming, well slow laps. It was a great beginning to our long vacation.

 

After 6 consecutive ports the next 2 sea days to Fanning Island, Kiribati were a welcome break.

Next time: Kiribati, American and Western Samoas …. and maybe Fiji.

m—

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