We sailed from San Francisco on February 18, 2014 for a 15 day cruise. Thanks to everyone on cruise critic that helped make our trip more enjoyable. First I would like to report on temps. The first 3 days needed long pants and light jackets. Also on the last 4 days. The entertainment on the ship was great! We prefer small groups or private tours. All tours were great and would highly recommend.
Oahu - We contacted Nau Wale No "Just for you tours" - Our guide was Hilton. He was originally from Hilo. He customized the 8 hours around our desires. We mostly wanted to see the beauty of the island. Began on the north shore. Stopped at a local fruit stand, a coffee (100% Kona) and macadamia nut store. We also stopped at several viewing sites and stopped for lunch at a place where mostly locals eat (great food). We stopped at a beach to swim. He also took us by his home where he cut open a green coconut and we tasted coconut water which is sweeter than the coconut milk in ripe coconuts. He also cut open a ripe coconut and let us taste it also. Hilton is a great guy, very concerned with our likes and desires. Great tour!
Kauai - There is a shuttle from the pier to Anchor Cove (less than a 5 minute drive). There is shopping there. Nearby is a small beach with umbrella and snorkel gear to rent. We spend some time there before we were picked up by Ellen from Wings Over Kauai. She set the tone with her cheerful attitude. We had opted for a small plane ride over the usual helicopter tour. Good choice. Half the price. We were in a small plane with 2 others. Everyone had window seats. Bruce, the pilot and Ellen his wife were great to deal with. We saw whales surfacing below us, outstanding views of canyons, the coastline and many other natural wonders Kauai has to offer. You could probably find the same sites elsewhere but Bruce was the difference. He was very knowledgeable and encouraged questions and comments during the flight. Great tour!
Maui - We wanted to snorkel but didn't want to go with 149 people which the cruise line offered. I read one review on cruise critic who went on Gemini Charters. Great choice. The catamaran holds 40 but we were lucky to only have 11 on our tour. They took us to a turtle cleaning station. Saw several fish and numerous turtles. Not too deep so you got an up close experience. Then we were lucky to see up close whales and porpoises on the way back. Great crew!! From Lahaina we walked to the back of Wharf Center took bus #25 ($2 each) to Whalers Village (great shopping area) and checked in at the beach next to the West tour desk. Took the same bus back. The buses run every 30 minutes. Great tour!
Hilo - Contacted Apau Hawaii Tours for a private tour. Scott was our guide. Great guy! He picked us up at the pier for a 5 hour tour. He customized the day around our desires. We had seen the Volcanoes National Park previously so we were not interested in doing that again. He has a 4 wheel drive and was able to take us to a green sand beach which few people know about. We went to an area that had a natural lava tube (not one cleaned out for tourists). We put on hard hats with lights and gloves he provided. We climbed into the tube. Climbed over rocks to get in. Great to see! We then went to an area where a town was destroyed by the 1990s lava flow. Also showed us a black sand beach. Scott was very knowledgeable and could answer all our questions. After our 5 hours had ended he took us by a local farmers market since I mentioned I enjoyed papayas. I purchased 3 for $1. The lady cleaned, cut in half and wrapped with a spoon in each so I could enjoy immediately. I tipped her $1 for her efforts and she seemed surprised. Delicious, nothing like freshly cut Hawaii papayas!!! He then took us by a free botanical garden/zoo and told us to take our time while he answered some emails. We did leave a small contribution. On the way back to the pier he offer to take us by a Walmart or any other place for shopping. We declined but appreciated the offer. Great tour!
I hope this report helps others as much as cruise critic reviews have helped me.