What a surprise to find some 1100 Canadians, 200 Aussies, and 600 (U.S.) Americans on board in Honolulu for a 10 day trip through the islands on to Vancouver BC. The weather was cooperative for the most part. There was a rocky period in Lahaina, when the tender had to cease operating for 2 hours because of rough seas. The ship turned around in an attempt to allow smoother boarding. Overall, while the tender is a time eater, it went as smooth as could be expected.
My husband and I had a inside cabin forward, and we certainly felt it our first day out of Hilo. We were confined to quarters for one day. After that, it was much better.
The company was great...we were assigned to a table of six, and so met two other couples. Other folks we met at mealtimes, various classes, Wii contests were fun. Mealtimes were a pleasure...we used the dining room to the max...why schlep your plate through the buffet and hunt for a table? Service was impeccable...the dining staff hustle their buns!
Housekeeping did a top notch job, and when we asked that the extraneous decorative pillows be left off the bed, we didn't see them (the pillows) again. We did our own walking tour of Lahaina, and took the shuttle to Kanaapali. In Kona, we walked to a recommended fabric store and were not disappointed. The nighttime view of the volcano was a highlight...it looked like a chain of beach bonfires with showers of sparks from time to time and steam where the lava met the ocean. Spectacular!
In Hilo, we arranged a tour with Ricky of firstname.lastname@example.org. We met 2 other couples on the ship who were interested in going together, so for $50p/p, we had a 6+ hour treat. Ricky is a gentleman who has been running tours for 17 years. He was once a volunteer at Volcano National park, and knows the ins and outs of the park. He took us to viewpoints with the best views (and fewest people) and recommended spots to take photos. Being in a smaller group gave us opportunities to use our time to best advantage. Other included sites were the Mac Nut farm, a gorgeous orchid farm, lava tube, Rainbow Falls. When some of the ladies asked for some time at Macy's dept. store, Ricky gave extra time to accommodate their wishes. What a guy! Highly recommend using his services.
One complaint was the lack of internet due to satellite problems. Folks demanded sports scores! We were on vacation and didn't mind. Entry to Vancouver under Lion's Gate bridge was another Kodak moment. Vancouver's skyline has changed in the ten years since we visited. Good or bad, it's striking! Entertainment: Marty Allen is a gas, the Royal Caribbean cast is great!