This was our second cruise, and our second with Carnival. When choosing to cruise again after our Mexican Riviera cruise in Jan 07, I did not consciously pick Carnival, they had the itinerary I was looking for. We wanted a longer than 7 night cruise this time around, so we chose the 12 day Hawaii cruise back to Vancouver, perfect for us as we live in British Columbia. We flew from Vancouver to Hawaii one day ahead of departure. I did not book a hotel for the first night, just thought we'd wing it when we got to the airport, big mistake...make sure you book your room! We did find a hotel that would pick us up at the airport and take us to the hotel, but it was old and the bed was very uncomfortable. Only 1 night, thank goodness. We hung around the hotel pool until check-out time then took a taxi to the Pier for our 1 pm departure.
Departure was quite smooth, quicker and easier than the Mexican Riviera on Carnival Pride departure. I am assuming because there was an overnight stay in Honolulu, the embark was ongoing for most of the day, so less people lining up right at 1 pm. So after our smooth embark, we found or cabin, dropped off our bags and headed up to the lido so find lunch and look around. The Spirit and the Pride are the same ship so finding our way around this time was easy. I did not make any shore excursion bookings ahead of time because I like to check mood and weather before I spend the money so we booked a Pearl Harbor and Punch Bowl tour for the next day in Honolulu. So the first afternoon we wandered around the Aloha Marketplace then back to the ship for the evening. Again our entire cruise was filled with wonderfully good food, our wait staff and room stewards were the best, remembering what you like and don't like and greeting you by name and with a smile everyday. We did the tour of Pearl Harbor (wonderful historical tour) and the tour of the city and punchbowl. The weather was great for the whole of our island tours. We spent much more time poolside and on deck this cruise, the Mexican cruise was chilly so there was more time spent inside than outside.
We sailed on to Kuaia where we had booked a Snorkel Tour. Great fun, great companions and the tour operators were fantastic. There was a little rain at the start of the day in Kuaia but it ended up to be an OK day. The sail aways are always fun and we enjoyed them again this trip. The fourth and fifth days were spent on the big island. First port was Kona, we did not book a shore excursion, just took the tender in and spent the day wandering around shopping and taking some pictures. Again a nice day.
The next day in Hilo we booked the Volcano and Lava Tubes tour. It was chiller up on the Kilauea crater than we expected, and most of us on the tour were not dressed quite warm enough so everyone was a little chilled. But the tour and again the tour guide were great. I loved all the Hawaiian legends and the stories the tour operators tell. Back to the ship for another great evening.
Our next two days were in Lahaina, Maui. My parents were vacationing in Maui along with some other relatives so again we did not book any shore excursions. Mom and Dad picked us up at the docks and we spent the first day driving to Hana. What an interesting experience. The road is about 65 km of winding, narrow and often down to one lane. It takes all day to do the drive but well worth it, the waterfalls, beaches and views are fantastic. We had dinner in Lahaina at Bubba Gumps, you must eat there, good food and lots of fun. Back late to the ship for sleep. Again the next day we were met by my parents and finally went to a beach. Our whole tour and we had yet to spend any time on the beach! Our sail away was bittersweet. I was looking forward to the r&r for the five days home to Canada, but I really enjoyed the islands.
As we got away from the islands the ocean was a little rougher and the air a little chiller, but we still enjoyed our days onboard. The cruise director and the entertainment staff make sure there are always lots to do, games, trivias, contests, dance lessons, art lessons, just to name a few. I convinced my hubby to enter the Hairy Chest Contest, so I had an excuse to buy the Ship DVD...runner up...but at least he's featured in the DVD I bought.
After 5 days I was rested and only a little excited to be getting home. Disembark at Vancouver was smooth and easy and we were soon picked up by our daughter and on our way home. I love cruising, this was only number 2...I am already planning 3, 4 and 5. Hopefully fuel prices don't make things too expensive...I like that cruises are a fun and reasonable way to travel. I suppose that could change...but I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope not!