Carnival Spirit Hawaii Cruise 12.2.2011-12.17.2011
This part is going to be mostly about the ship. The review of the ports are below.
Let me start out that over all we enjoyed our trip. We LOVED Hawaii and hope to go back. We felt that for our first visit this was the way to see some of the best of what the islands had. Definitely not enough time on them, but gave us a good taste of what they had to offer.
I'll start with the not so good for the ship. It's quite the story. From the start it had some faults. Check in was horrible. The lines were so long and we got there when our papers said to be there (at 1:00). There were computers not in use, which I think is not right when you know you have about 2,000 people you are trying to get on board. If you are a VIP, frequent cruiser to Carnival, then I'm sure this process is much better, but for those of us that aren't its pure torture!
I was told I did not need a passport and could use my birth certificate, which I did, and I was also told I did not need More
to bring along my marriage certificate, just my drivers license with picture, which I did. When we finally had the chance to get up the counter to check in, they told me I needed my marriage license! What a mess. They did finally let me go but with a "warning" next time to bring it or get a passport and then a "Welcome to Carnival and good luck at customs getting off without the marriage license. They will probably understand". When we stopped and turned around to ask what she meant by that, she just said all should be ok. Just wonderful do we get on the ship or not? We went ahead and figured we'd worry about that when it came time to get off. People at Carnival need to get on the same page with the papers you need to check in.
After the long wait to check in we were herded over to an area to get a boarding number. Upon receiving it we were told that all the sitting areas were full and to find something out where we were now and they would be calling our number. There was nothing around and we saw some people going through security and figured they were VIP. We opted to go outside and sit on some of the planters they have out there. It was very windy, but not too cool so it wasn't bad except for all the people out there smoking.
We were outside about hour when a man came outside and said that some room had opened up inside if we wanted a seat inside. We got up to go inside and could see not seating at all. I don't know what he was talking about. We walked around to see if there was another lounge area with seating and didn't see a thing, but we did see people getting their boarding numbers and going straight into the security line. Their numbers could not have been called without ours being called because ours was about 9 numbers in front of theirs!
We tried to find someone to help us, but no one that worked at the port or for Carnival could tell us anything. I finally approached a person that just got their number and was heading towards security and asked them if they were told they could go ahead through security or were they just doing it? She told me you can proceed through security at any time and just wait in the lounge areas they have after security until they call your boarding number. Why couldn't someone from Carnival or the port tell us that? So I'm telling you now, once you get your boarding number you can go through security and find a seat on the other side.
If you are sitting on the other side of security, the side before you go through it, you do not hear them calling out the boarding numbers. We did not have too long of a wait once we made it through security and had we stayed on the other side we would not have known they were calling our number.
After your number is called you proceed to an area to file past an area that you put in your sail and sign card and get your picture taken. Once through there you walk out of the building and then get into another line to enter the maze to get onto the ship. It is a glass covered gang plank, for lack of a better word for it. It's a huge line that goes back and forth about 5 times before you step onto the ship deck.
I think there needs to be a different boarding area for those in wheelchairs instead of trying to push them through the lines of people waiting to board. Trying to get people to crunch over to one side so the wheelchairs or motorized chairs can go through is hard to do. I don't mind that they need additional help (I think I'll soon be joining their ranks), I just think it would be easier for all if there was another place they could get on the ship or else you stop the lines occasionally and put them on in groups.
I know many of the people in the chairs were apologizing as they were going by and I felt bad for them that they felt they needed to do that. I didn't feel they needed to. I'm sure they would have rather have been standing in line. It's the workers that were pushing them that were sometimes rude. That is why I say if there could be a different area for those that needed the additional assistance it would be better for all and maybe they wouldn't be so uncomfortable either.
When we finally made it through the ship doors we were greeted with Carnival workers passing out silk leis. It was finally like...we're on vacation! Very nice. Until we made it to the elevators! They asked that you use the central bank; however, they did not mean the whole central bank. Some were blocked from use because they were using them to get the luggage to the people.
I totally understand that they want to get people their things as quickly as possible. What I don't understand is how rude people waiting for a free elevator can be! The pushing and shoving that was going on. Come on now people. We all had to wait to get on and we all were waiting and wanting to get to our rooms.
Once we made it onto the elevator (hint, we took it down and then back up) our room was ready, which was nice. Right away I noticed that the chairs on our balcony were too small for me to sit in with my leg and asked our steward for something different. That issue never got solved so for me the extended balcony was an additional fee I didn't need to pay because I didn't get full use of it. I don't understand why the chairs on the balcony aren't the same size as the chairs on the Lido deck. I was fine in those.
Now onto the food issue. My understanding was that Carnival just changed their menu on all of their ships. I wish I could have tasted what they offered before because as far as I was concerned, the new menu was horrible! I had to really search long and hard to find something good to eat. You can only eat so much salad.
On our first cruise (Celebrity) on their formal night they did lobster and Prime rib, as did this cruise. The difference? On this cruise the lobster tail was about the size of a piece of perch once you took the "meat" off the shell and on our first cruise it was a nice big "regular" sized piece of lobster tail. I would say you'd have to order about 6 maybe 7 of the lobster tails on this cruise to equal one normal sized one. Very disappointing. We didn't bother going to the second formal night.
My final complaint of the ship is the excursions they offer. Maybe I'm picky, but for the most part they didn't offer much that interested me. I'd like a part of one and then a part of another. It made it had to pick out what to do so we rented cars on the first two islands and then used the Trolley by Honolulu.
Carnival did offer a couple of different snorkel adventures; however, the type of boat they use for this is not suitable for everyone, especially me. I can't ride in one of those raft type boats and I certainly can't climb back into the boat with that type of ladder. Many people had this same complaint.
I wrote to Carnival regarding this issue when I found a boat in Kona called the Body Glove that was a boat I could snorkel from and requested they look into making a contract with them so all of us could snorkel. The reply I got was they could not do it (I'm thinking it might be a breach of contract with whoever they contracted with already, but something needs to be done for those that can't use the one they have booked already). I talked with Body Glove because Kona is a tender port and since I'm not a frequent cruiser and not "legally" handicapped I would not get on the tender in enough time to do their trip. Body Glove was so nice since so many of us on this cruise wanted to do their adventure, they changed their start time. Much more accommodating than Carnival was (by the way, it was wonderful, you should check them out!!!).
That all being said, this was Carnival Spirit's first 15 day cruise so they had some things to learn from it. They have room to tweak things if they want to continue to offer this cruise. I hope they'll be reading people's reviews so it will help to make a better time for future people sailing with them.
I know some of this may seem petty, but these are things that can make or break a vacation. Many of these things can be adjusted and improvements made so they don't happen to make for better cruising.
Something that Carnival had no control over was the weather. While on ship it wasn't very good. We had a lot of gloomy days and right off the bat we had very high seas with a lot of rocking and rolling. Our understanding was that about 1/4 of the crew was even seasick! They did have their "little white bags" taped up all over the ship if you needed them. Thank goodness I didn't need any use of them!!! DH wasn't feeling well, but after two days he started to feel better also (a little dry toast, green apples, and ginger ale along with some Dramamine did the trick).
Also some good advice from our server the first night was to stay out of the bathroom (too closed in) and get out of the room and onto a lower deck where it's wide open and try to see as far as you can..but don't look out the windows. We went down into the atrium area and it seemed to work out pretty good.
On the good side of our cruise, I found that for the most part most of the workers were very, very friendly and greeted you with a smile and a hello (except for the guys by the pizza area!). Our room was kept nice and the room steward and helper were very good when we accidentally broke a glass while the seas were not cooperating with their high waves! Our steward and helper remembered our names from the start and that's always nice too. We got many cute towel animals each evening, as well as our beds turned down and the mints on our beds.
I did buy a soda card and one young man from the very first time I asked for a soda remembered me and what I drank and every time he saw me would ask if I'd like another, which was nice. It didn't matter if I was by the pool, in a lounge or in the main show room, he remembered me.
It was nice they had some desserts that were sugar free; however, I wish they offered a little more variety of them (just changing the flavor, but having the same thing starts to get old on this long of a cruise). I was happy for the effort to have them though.
I liked that the captain of the ship came over the speakers every day but I wish he'd say something that we'd understand a little better. I especially liked that he did come on one of the days the weather was extremely bad and many people were worried if the ship could take the beating it was taking with the high seas and winds (it was really creaking and I was just starting to get a little worried...never seasick like so many other, but just wondering since this was its first time). He assured everyone that ship was handling everything fine (there were a few people that were sitting with their life jackets by them and that was when I got a little worried wondering if they knew something I didn't...but I looked at some of the crews faces when they were walking by and didn't see any worry in them so I figured we were ok for now). It would be nice to have a weather update besides saying no changes for the day. Maybe let us know what the next day was going to look like and what the temp of the day was?
There was a nice variety of things to do on the ship also. My only suggestion would be to have back up plans when something happens and you can't carry through with the first plan (like when the decks were closed because of the high seas so those things got canceled and nothing was in its place so it made for some sitting around for some people and they weren't happy). For us, we enjoy lounging by the pool and with the bad weather, that didn't happen. Not Carnival's fault though...so I got a lot more reading done. We also sat down in the Atrium area and enjoyed what was going on there and a lot of the music they offered there.
We didn't participate in the events that were offered; however, we did go and view those that did for many different ones. A lot of fun was had by those that participated and those watching.
Each of the islands had their own unique thing about them. It was very hard to pick a favorite. Best advice I'd give is to make sure to either carry an umbrella or poncho for the islands. It may be sunny when you get off the ship, but things can change quickly. I brought the items from home, but left them on the ship. Live and learn. We didn't mind getting wet though. It was warm and I was in Hawaii!!!
The only excursion we did through the ship was in Kauai and it was the Hollywood Movies and Waterfalls. I really liked it because we got to see so much of the island and learn a lot about quite a few places. I felt it was worth the price and I was glad we ate at a restaurant instead of on the beach someplace. The food was very good (a burger, but good!). You could also see beautiful waterfalls from way up in the mountains coming down and it was kind of gloomy that day so I can imagine how it looked on a clear day!
As much as I got aggravated with all the people wanting to take pictures of you on the ship, I'm glad we finally took advantage of it the night before our last night. They did a wonderful job. Much better than I thought it was going to turn out and now wished I would have taken advantage of them a little more often. Again, live and learn! I'm just glad we got a really nice picture of the two of us. The ones they take while you get off the ship didn't turn out so great so I was glad we did this and we have a good one of us together.
Bingo can get out of hand. It was quite pricey and they kind of have you hooked when they do the progressive. You figure you've donated a couple of times so you need to try to win it back. Also on the pull tabs they offer. They say you have 12 chances to win, but in reality you only have 11 because the very last pull is either a no win one or if you won higher up on the card it verifies what you won on that one, so really you only have 11 chances...just a FYI on that one. These pull tab cards have an additional card at the bottom that you tear off and put in a bin in the casino that they draw at the end of the cruise to pay off your bar tab up to I believe it was $500. My hubby threw ours away on the first day because we don't drink, but they will pay for your sodas too so don't toss them! Make sure to place them into the bin in the casino or else give them to someone else to use.
The placement of our cabin was great. We were in room 7237. This was midship and close to the stairs and the elevators there. We had no excessive noise from any of it. On our balcony we could see to the front of the ship; however, we could not see to the back because the rooms next to us jutted out from the side of the ship there. It was fine with us. If we wanted to see behind us, just go on deck or turn on the tv to that channel. Looking down, there was a life boat below us, but you could still see the water. If we took Spirit again, I'd definitely pick this cabin again (especially if they'd get larger chairs for sitting on the deck!).
We did not hear any noise above or below us either. Sometimes in the bathroom you could hear the "neighbors" if, and that's if, they were yelling (like someone being in the bathroom with the door closed and "yelling" out to someone in the cabin..never heard any-ones "business" going on though! Of course on your balcony you could hear others out on theirs, but you only saw them if they were leaning over the railing below you. FYI..never any cigarette smoke came on our balcony and I know a floor down and a room or two over there was a guy smoking on his, but it never came up to us.
We had plenty of room for all of our things in our room. I did bring an over the door shoe bag for the bathroom and that worked out great too. The shower looked to be so small, but once in it, there was plenty of room to wash up and not be hitting the shower curtain. The power in the shower head was great too.
I did hear this noise in the bathroom sink like there was a ping pong ball in there and as we rocked back and forth you hear it making a noise. It was driving me nuts and I figured out if you close the stopper on the sink it stops. That took care of that!
The steakhouse was delicious! This is what I would expect of the main dining room though. I don't think it's right to have a restaurant on the ship that you have to pay additional money to eat there...even if it's "only" $30 per person. By the time you tip you're well on your way to almost $100 per night for 2 people.
Getting off the ship is a whole can of worms! It was much worse than getting on, I can tell you that!!! They need to change this and fast. When I was booking I specifically asked what time we would be off so I know when I should book our return flight because we could NOT spend another night away from home. They told me any time after 12pm and we would make our flight fine, so I went with that information and I booked a 1:40pm flight from LAX. Carnival told me I would have no problems at all making that flight, so I didn't worry.
That is until I hear other people on the ship saying they were asking to get off ship because they had an early flight and they told them they would have a number 2 and they would be fine. Everyone would be off ship by 11:30am. That made me feel a little better.
We get up on our last morning, get everything else packed that we used that morning and didn't pack the night before and set out and headed to breakfast. They requested you be out of your room by 8am and we were in plenty of time.
We had a nice breakfast (where was this food during the cruise???) and then headed for floor #2 (they asked that you stay off of floor #3). We didn't stay on the Lido because there were a lot of sick people (coughing so much) and we were trying to stay well. We made it down to #2 and there were no seats anyplace to be had. I found the stairs and we sat....and sat...and sat. No announcements were being made and no people or numbers being called. Now I'm beginning to worry.
Its 10am and nothing. The line at guest services is really long so no asking anyone there. No employees to be found either and the crowd is turning mean!
We ended up moving because one guy was really angry and there is no telling when people get like that what they may do. We moved off towards the casino area.
As we were walking we see people going up to #3...Hmm, no one called though. Then one man says they are "self-service" and carrying their own luggage off. Finally Stu, the cruise director, comes on and chastises people for getting in line when not called and it's holding up things so he asks them to leave the lines and allow it to proceed the way it's planned. Didn't happen. Now more people are going up to #3 and getting in this line that is not supposed to be there.
By the looks of the line it's going to take a long time to get off and we will probably miss our flight. DH decides to go and get in line anyway even though we're not called and we're now one of the ones not listening to Stu! I went up to #3 also and sat on the main stairs while DH got in line.
About 10:30am he's finally by where I'm sitting so I join him. As I get in line Stu calls for numbers 1 & 2 to get in line. Now I feel better...but it's still a long, long wait.
Once we get to the area to get off ship I see what is holding everything up. The customs people are on the ship instead of in the warehouse area and there are 4 of them and only 3 are sitting looking at papers! Now get this, 3 workers for 2,000 people! Not only that, but they started with all of the foreign people first. This is the US and we pay the taxes here so I think we should go first...but that's just me. FYI: Customs didn't even ask me for the marriage license!
Once off the ship, it was quite a walk, but we made it and down to our luggage area and it was just as they said it would be. With your debark number for each section. We found our section, found our luggage and found a porter to cart it outside for us. Our limo wasn't there so we just took a taxi ($60) to LAX.
It was now 12:15pm and our plane takes off at 1:40. I thought for sure we might miss it, but the airport security went much quicker than I thought it was going to (first time being full body scanned!). We even had time to grab a bite to eat and make it to the bathroom before boarding our flight, thank goodness! Didn't have any extra time to spare though and didn't linger over lunch either.
As I said when I started out, there were many things that I didn't care for on the ship, but there were other things that were good (forgot to mention the acts they had for entertainment...hit and miss too. Everyone is different in their likes and dislikes though so what I didn't like someone else loved, and vice versa). Would I take this trip again? I sure hope I get the chance to. Would it be with Carnival? I'd have to see if they changed things around some before saying if there were other ships making the same trip. If they were the only ship doing it, I'd probably do it just so I could see Hawaii again (flying is out for me because I have a DVT and it's too long of a flight).
I'm sure you'll find many people agreeing with me on these things and I'm just as sure you'll find those that disagree with me. As I said, we're all different, but I wanted to tell it like it was for us. I hope this helps others and I especially hope Carnival looks at all the reviews and tries to improve the things that they can. Less
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Cabin review: Carnival Spirit
Our cabin was 7237. It was a very good position for us. It was close to the stairs and elevators at mid-ship. We had no excessive noise from this area, in fact actually heard no noise from either at all when we were in our room.
Our extended balcony would have been nice had the chairs on the balcony been a little wider so we could sit in them (actually DH could; however, I have a DVT in my groin and it was too uncomfortable for me).
We were above a life boat, but you could still see the water below. You could see to the front of the ship; however, you could not see to the back. The very next room going aft was jutting out so no vision back there. That was fine with us because all we had to do was go out on deck or turn the tv to the channel that showed the aft section. We didn't get any second hand smoke in this area either.
We had 2 full closets for hanging clothing, one had one rod and the other had 2 rods (one higher and one lower). The third closet had shelves from top to bottom. We felt we had plenty of closet room for the 15 day trip. We were even able to fit our luggage into the bottom of the 2 full closets for storage.
It would have been nice to have a chair in the room, but the room was too small to add that to it. There was a little stool under the dresser counter and we had the couch/day bed area to sit on also. We didn't realize that the table had a lever so you could raise the table up and down until half the cruise was over.
The bed was very firm, but for us that was a good thing. It felt very comfortable to us and we had good night sleeping. That is a per person issue. Some like firm and others like soft, so if you like a soft bed, it would not be comfortable for you.
On first look the bathroom looked small, especially the shower. Once we got all settled in, the bathroom was just fine. I did bring along an over the door shoe organizer and that helped to keep many things organized.
The shower was actually very nice. There was much more room than I realized and the curtain didn't stick on you at all. The shower head was also good. It was an adjustable one so you could adjust the type of spray coming out of it and it also detached so it made it easy to spay off your legs, etc. The power of the spray was also very good. The only thing to watch for is the temperature did fluctuate, but not dramatically.
The room was very well lit and I loved the feature of having the button to turn off the lights right over the bed. I did bring along a night light and used that so we could see for those late night bathroom visits and wished I would have taken others advice on purchasing those little battery candles to put into the bathroom too since there was no outlet to plug in a night light in there. That bathroom light at 2am is pretty bright!
Speaking of bathroom, we had some pretty high seas and there was a noise coming out of the sink. It sounded like a ping pong ball in there moving around and it really got on my nerves. I soon figured out if you put the stopper down on the sink you no longer hear the noise, so that took care of that problem.
The decor in the room seemed a little dated; however, that's not really an issue with me. As long as it's clean, I'm good, but felt I needed to mention it for those that do have issues with it.
The tv was very dated. We are usually big time tv watchers and thought we would be bothered with the older tv; however, it turned out it wasn't an issue either. We didn't spend much time in our room except for sleeping or getting ready for dinner, etc. I think there was maybe one day that we spent quite a bit of time in there and it was because of the bad seas and being very gloomy outside.
Speaking of tv. We did not know and didn't find it written anyplace, that when the cruise director or captain spoke over the loud speakers that you could tune them in on the tv on the channel that showed the front of the ship! We could never hear what they were saying without jumping up and opening the outside door or the door to the hallway until someone mentioned this to us!
Also, the door for our balcony was not a sliding door. It was an actual door that opened out and had a window next to it. The door slams shut, so be careful to hold it until you are all the way in or out, it might clip your heel if you don't! You can also really hear the wind whipping around when the seas are wicked...sounded like a huge snowstorm (for those that live in the Midwest you know what I'm talking about) going on outside with all the whistling going on!
The room was not very big at all; however, it was adequate. We didn't feel like we were on top of each other all the time. I thought we would being in there for 15 days, but we did just fine (there was just 2 of us, if it was 3 then I think we'd have another story).
You did have to wait for one person to pass at the end of the bed to go to the balcony or to head to the bathroom, but no different than being in a hallway passing someone. It was a little tight by 2 of the closets. Only one person could be over there at one time and only one closet opened at a time too.
We did not have any excessive noise from the floors above or below us. Very occasionally you might hear a thud from above, but nothing from below. Even for our next door neighbors you didn't hear much of anything from them and actually the only time I did hear from one neighbor was in the bathroom. Could never make out what he was saying, but I would imagine he was in there with the door closed and yelling out to someone else..never heard anything else.
We encountered some high seas so there was a lot of rocking and rolling back and forth. We were told that being in an upper floor we would be feeling it a little more than those that were lower. If this sort of thing would bother you, then I'd look for something a little lower.
We did rock and roll quite a bit and DH did get sea sick from it. I got him up, got some food in his belly (green apple, dry toast, and ginger ale, along with a Dramamine) and got him down to the Atrium area where it's more wide open and also a lower floor. All of this seemed to help and he felt better the next day (we were told to try to stay out of the bathrooms...the smaller the area the worse you will feel..just an FYI).
If we cruised on the Carnival Spirit again I would certainly choose this room again. I might want to give the room next to us a try too (the one that jutted out a little and didn't have the life boat under it). I believe it is the same size, just no life boat under it and you would be able to see in front and back (from the sides).
I hope this helps you decide if this is the room for you!
Port and Shore Excursions
Sorry not much to offer on this port. We did dock here and no tender for this port. The town looked very pretty as we were coming in and we had quite the surprise when I could hear barking. I was looking for a dog and found, instead, seals on the shore! Tons and tons of them!!!
We pulled in about 5pm so the sun was still out but not for long. It was raining and very cool outside. If going into town you would need a jacket. We opted to not go into town.
We were told if you decided to go stay in groups and no wondering around on your own. They had a bus and a few taxis to take you where you wanted to go, but for me if I got on a bus with a group of people and they got off at some stop and I didn't, then I would be alone. The same for if you take the bus into town with a group, but you all get off and go your own way. Now you're alone again. It just wasn't worth it to me.
The port did have a building with a lot of little shops in it. We did exit the ship to go into this area to see what they had to offer. I didn't see much of anything that interested me. We didn't stay out there long and returned to the ship.
Some people found some unique buys and others found a good restaurant or two. I would have liked to have tried one of the restaurants, but with having to fly the next day I didn't want to give any new food a try. Using the bathroom on an airplane is not one of my favorite things to do and if we had turbulence and was told to stay in our seat there really could have been trouble! LOL
That being said, I couldn't really rate the port at anything other than a 2. It was decorated with Christmas lights which were pretty and that's about all I can give it along with the seals and how pretty the town looked from our balcony on arrival. Sorry.
Everyone was back on the ship in time and we took off as planned for San Pedro. Another adventure in the morning to come!
Adios Ensenada and my first time in Mexico. Wish it were better!
Hilo was wonderful!!! It was our first step into Hawaii and our first time getting off the ship into a warehouse! We docked so no tender was needed. You have to make sure to get off as soon as possible if you rent a car though! Since we docked, we weren't in line as they said you could get off. We were in our room and then went down to get off the ship.
Because of that when we got out of the warehouse it was craziness all over! Lines here and there and no signs telling you which line was for what. We rented a car from Budget (made sure to get the Rapid Rez, which is free too) and we were looking for the van with Budget on it. Of course we saw it too late and it was 3 rows over (they did have some tents put up to help shade you from the sun...yes, there was sun when we got off the ship!). It was also very warm in temperature and with the mood of the people already too!!!
We found a guy directing traffic and asked him where was the best place to wait for the Budget rental van and he said he was going to direct all of the rental vans to the first line of tents, so that's where we went to stand.
I was told that the van would come every 10 to 15 minutes so I looked at my watch when the first one left figuring we'd have no more than 15 minutes to wait. Every other company was having vans pull up pretty regularly; however, they were only allowing whoever was going to be the driver of the rental on their van and then that person was going to have to drive back to pick up the other people that would be sharing the car. No one was happy!
When it got to be 1/2 hour and our Budget (and Alamo) van didn't come back I called them (thank goodness I programmed the direct line into my cell phone!). No answer though! Another 20 minute wait and we finally see it coming...as did the other 30 people waiting for either Budget or Alamo too. Now it was a "who is lucky on where they are standing when the van stops" game. We did luck out and DH got on, but someone else got on along with him who had family also waiting to get on and they had a handicap child. I was NOT going to push myself in front of her trying to get her child on, so I stepped aside so the driver could help her and 4 other people pushed by me and jumped on (meaning they also pushed in front of this family! So rude!).
Once they got the child on the van I got on also but there was no seating left. My DH got up and held onto the rails so I could sit. It was a very short trip over to the airport, thank goodness!
Once there we saw that we really could have gotten onto any of the vans for any of the companies because they were all right there along the curb in a line. Now I saw why they didn't answer their phone. There was only 2 of them working in each little opening!
I was glad I did the Rapid Rez (like a frequent flyer card, frequent buyer, etc.) because there was only 1 person ahead of me then; whereas, the other line had about 15 people in line. It didn't take long and we were in our car..a nice car too!
We got our barrings and by now it's starting to rain. Originally we were going to head to Richardson's beach, but thank goodness I had printed off all kinds of directions for other things to do just in case weather turned bad, or other things happened, like road closings, etc. So a last minute decision was made to drive up to the volcanoes and see them from afar and do the chain of craters road and possibly the Thurston's Lava Tunnel too.
We were on the road about an hour after I had wanted to be, but hey, we were in Hawaii and even in the rain it was warm and we were starting to enjoy ourselves now!
Once we made it up to the VNP, it was $10 to get in and we stopped to view the crater. It was foggy, drizzling and it was very cool out!!! I forgot our ponchos and umbrella in the ship and we didn't bring jackets...so we suffered through it (not much suffering in reality! LOL). We waited for a short bit because a gentleman said give it about 10 minutes and it would probably clear up, but it didn't and it was drizzling a little harder so we took cover in the car.
We drove towards the Chain of Craters and came across the Lava Tunnel first. I saw on the map that I got from the entrance guy that there was a bathroom here so we stopped to use it and tried to decide if we wanted to do the tunnel.
Originally I really wanted to do it until we got there and I saw that you had to go down very, very steep declines into the "bowel" of the crater/rainforest to get to it. With it being so wet I was very afraid of slipping and falling. I also worried that it was such a long walk down that we'd be so tired we wouldn't feel like doing anything else and this was just our first stop of the day and trip! I certainly didn't want to get hurt and not be able to do anything else the rest of the trip. DH left it up to me. He said he'd do it if I wanted to or he would be fine in not doing it.
We stood around for a bit while I was giving it some thought and while I watched all these people go down and how long it was taking them to get to where I didn't see them anymore. I wanted to do it, but was just scared. I didn't want to be holding anyone up as I crept down it too.
DH saw a man and woman coming from the area of the bathrooms and asked them if they had done the tunnel and they said yes. He asked if it was worth it and they said yes and then he asked them about how long it took to get down there and then back up and the guy said the whole thing took them about 15 minutes to 20 tops. Now they looked to be in better health than me, but I also saw some older people going down there so I decided, let's do it. Boy was I glad I did!
Yes, it was steep and wet, but we went slow and let other people pass us. There were a few stairs here and there, but never more than 4 together at a time. It was mostly like paved ramps with railings.
It went much quicker than I thought it would. Maybe because it was so steep? We ended up behind a tour guide (they passed us up going down) so we were able to hear some of the history of what he was telling them. It was interesting (did you know you can use the milk of the coconut in the human body to increase the volume of fluid in your blood until you can get to a medical facility that has blood? Don't know how you'd get it in you though!).
Then you see the entrance! I was so excited because when my children were in grade school and middle school I brought a program to the school called the Jason Project and for that semester the Jason Project was in Hawaii studying volcanoes and lava tubes and everything else that goes along with it and I was finally here seeing it in person!
It was rough footing through the tube. They did have a few lights placed around, but it was very wet inside and water was also dripping trough the top of it too. You had to be very careful where you stepped. At the end they used to have a gated section where you could go off on your own if you brought along a flashlight; however, it is now closed because they said that parts of it were caving in. At the end there was about 8-10 stairs to climb up out of the tunnel.
The path going back to where you start is at an incline that you have to walk. It was no where near as steep and there were no railings along the way, just a paved path. It would incline and then smooth out and then incline again, all the way to where you started from. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, it was amazing to see (even the rainforest was so pretty!) and it only took us about 35 minutes from when we took our first step down to coming out. Not too shabby for 2 out of shape folks! We did this now I felt like we could tackle anything!! LOL
On to Chain of Craters road. It was still drizzling as we drove. We didn't stop at every stopping point (for us, once you saw some of the old lava flow that hardened, what difference did it make what year it came down, it was the same...I know others will beg to differ on it though). We made a stop at some of the other craters along the way too and the drizzle started to stop. It was a very windy day though! I was also amazed at how vegetation could grow through the cracks in the lava. We didn't do any of the trails either. I was anxious to get to the end. I wanted to see the Holei Sea Arch (made from the hot lava over flowing the edge of the island..not hot anymore, it's hardened).
We made it down to the end and there were signs where the arch was, but there was also warning signs not to stand on the edges because there could be falling rocks into the ocean. It was still very windy and drizzling, but I was getting out to see this arch. It was a short walk from the car, over some very uneven grounds (the old lava flow) to the edge; however, this edge had a small wall built up so I assumed that was where they wanted you to stand to see the arch and that's the only place I went. There were many others testing fate!
My DH decided to make the trip out to see this arch too, but not until after I had gotten most of the way out there myself. As he walked out, the sun came out and it was beautiful out! He was just as amazed with that arch as I was. It's beautiful. We took our pictures, stood around for awhile in marvel at it all and then made our way back to the car. We did not walk past the security huts to see the lava flow across the road. From what people said it was about a 15 minute walk so it would have been even longer for me. We decided to head on back up to the top and onto our next place...Rainbow Falls.
We couldn't stop talking about the arch and how beautiful it was on our way back up. As we drove back up, it started to drizzle again and get more dark. We made our way to Rainbow Falls and it was raining now. We still got out of the car to see it and were glad we did. There were quite a few people around even in the rain. A man took a picture of us with the falls, for that we were thankful. With the rain, there was no rainbow to be seen though. It was warm out so it was not cold here.
We took cover under this large tree and marveled at how beautiful those falls were. We took a few more pictures and then headed for the car because the rain was coming down much harder now! It was huge drops!!
We were trying to decide what to do next and our stomachs won out. It was now 5pm and we needed to have the car back no later than 6pm because we had to be on the ship by 6:30pm and we didn't want to be rushing. Before leaving home I looked for good places to eat close to the pier and many, many people suggested Ken's Pancake House so we plugged in the address into our GPS (one we brought from home) and away we went looking for food!
For some reason our GPS lead us wrong! We kept going to this round-a-bout and no Ken's to be found. I tried looking for it as we drove, but didn't see anything that I thought might be it. We stopped to ask and it turned out it was across the street from where we were! It was nothing like I thought it was going to look like!!! I was thinking on the order of an IHop.
We went there anyway and boy are we glad we did. Service is slow compared to Chicago, but we're in Hawaii. We were just on pins and needles because we were worried about getting back onto the ship in time. The staff was very friendly there and the food so delicious! I was trying to figure out how we could bring some back on the ship with us since that food was so bad!!! Couldn't figure it out though. I had their Prime Rib (special for that night) and it was so much better than what I got on the ship! And the soup...oh my goodness!!! It was chicken tortilla and it was out of this world!!!! I had to have a second one. Even the fries were good...not greasy at all.
It is an old place, nothing fancy at all. While eating they rang this bell on the wall and hit a gong and yelled out something...scared us at first because we were sitting right there! When we asked about it our waitress told us it's a tradition that is as old as the restaurant is and when someone orders a super size/large they do that. She also said they're open 24/7 and in the evenings they get a large crowd of teens in there to hang out. The manager doesn't have a problem with it and enjoys them being around even if they only order just a drink and nothing else all evening because it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. Very nice thing to do!!!
While sitting there we also saw one of the waitresses cleaning behind the counter. She was cleaning everything from top to bottom and every corner. I commented to my DH on how great of a job she was doing...even breaking down some of the machines (like the malt machine) and cleaning it all up. Our waitress over heard me talking to DH and she said they do this every shift. Each day one of the waitresses has to stay after the end of their shift and clean everything up like that. You didn't see this woman mad that she had to stay either and she did it right. She wasn't hurrying to get out and skipping anything. So nice to see! I'd love to bring her to my house to clean!
We finished up, paid our bill, left our tip and was on our way in plenty of time to return the car and get back to the ship. Our belly's still full we had no need for dinner that night and just picked up some fresh fruit for dessert.
LOVED HILO and hope to go back and see more of what she has to offer!! Would have given Hilo a 5+ if it wasn't for the problems in the port with the car rental vans. That needs to be straightened out.
Look out Honolulu here we come! Oahu was our third island. I was standing on our balcony as we were getting into our port. I got so excited when I saw the clock tower and knew we were very close now! From my research I knew we would be docking very close to this tower and we did. We were at Pier 10 and actually at 11 too. We took up both berths.
This was going to be an "open" day for us. No rush to get off the ship because I knew this was a "big city" and DH works in Chicago and had no desire of being caught up in it all.
We did not rent a car here because so many said it was a huge headache to do so. We had advance notice that trying to go see the USS Arizona would be a hassle also because Hawaii 5-0 was filming in the area so we decided to forgo that visit also.
We let the masses get off ship and then decided to strike out on our own. In my research I knew there was a trolley that ran around parts of the island and it said it was a get on and off type thing and also a tour of parts of the island so we decided to do that.
When we got off the ship, it wasn't a warehouse this time. It was a building and we were on the upper floor and had a couple of long corridors to walk through and then down an escalator. Once downstairs it was craziness again! There were lines all over the place for this and that and no one to ask any questions to. Security was at the doors; however, they were no help when asking where you pick up the trolley.
We went out the doors and headed over to the Clock Tower area. I figured that was a main area and you'd think they would have a pick up here. Once we got there, only about a half block, we didn't see anything except for the shopping area behind us and then a parking area across the street, so we walked. We asked a couple of men that were by limos, but they had no idea and I don't think they understood English. We walked some more.
We made it down to Pier 8 and still didn't see anything so I told DH that I remembered them saying in my research that it picked you up by the Clock Tower so I was thinking maybe right in front of it, but there was no road for vehicles to get through to it.
We crossed the street because there was a woman in the parking area in the hut to collect the money so I asked her about the trolley and she said the stand was right behind us! Sure enough there was a wooden structure standing there with the words trolley on it right across the street from the door we came out from by pier! DOH!
There were quite a few people sitting there, but not all were waiting for the trolley. They were waiting for various shuttles. As we were sitting there, there was a big commotion behind us but I couldn't tell what was going on and as we sat there all of a sudden there was all this water coming down the street in front of us. I thought maybe they were doing a fire hydrant flush or something...but the water just kept coming and getting more and more. I stood up to take a look around and there was this huge flume coming from about a block away!
It turns out that a bus backed into a fire hydrant and broke it off! Water was quickly filling all the surrounding streets, including in front of us. We were on the low side of the street and it was up to the curb. They had some speed bumps in the street so we decided to cross over to the other side to get away from the rising water while we could wade on the speed bumps to keep us out of water above our ankles.
We make it to the other side with just some wet shoes and we no sooner get over there and the trolley comes around the corner towards the trolley stop! To get on and off is on the side of the street we were on before. We let the traffic director know we wanted to get onto this trolley so he stopped it and told them they needed to turn around and could not proceed any further because the water was way too deep now. He also let the driver know we wanted to get on.
The trolley driver pulled out into the middle of the street so we didn't have to wade into too deep of water and waited for us to get on and then he did a turn around using the parking area driveway to do it.
As we started to go the trolley driver asked for our tickets, which we had none. We told him we thought we could buy them from him and he said usually you purchase them from (and we couldn't understand where he said to get them) but that we could buy them from him also.
Now I thought the trolley was only supposed to be $2 and when he said $32 each I freaked. I grabbed a map and for the life of me I can't figure out what costs $2 on the trolley, but to ride any of them and have the on and off was $32 each, which we went ahead and paid because this is what we wanted to do for the day.
There are 3 different lines. A red, pink and green line and each one has a tour of either shopping, sight seeing and restaurants. We were currently on the red line because we wanted to go to Waikiki for lunch at Dukes.
I had no idea where Dukes restaurant was except for it's on the beach in Waikiki. I figured it would be some place around the Duke's statue. Makes sense right? Wrong! If you get off at the statue, you're actually one stop too far from the restaurant.
There is no advertisement or signs that the restaurant is there either and you can't see it from the street! We asked the driver when we got off at the Duke's statue and he said it was a short distance away and we got off at the right stop. We looked and looked and didn't see anything that even looked like Dukes. I saw a map so we walked over to it to look and a nice woman from a tourist department came over and asked if she could help so we asked her. She told us where to go and it was just past the oldest hotel. So we start walking.
We pass up the oldest hotel and still don't see it. We walked a little more and I saw this arch and it had some stores listed inside it and I saw what looked to say Duke's so we decided to go in there and see. There were quite a few nice shops that we walked past and then realized that we were in a side hallway of a hotel. As we made a bend in the corridor there it was, Dukes!
Not what I was thinking at all. I thought it would be a building by itself out on the beach of Waikiki! Not that it wasn't nice. It was very nice, just not what I thought it was going to be.
After you go past the entrance then you walk into the area where they seat you and it's all open to the beach. Very cool. Just outside of the restaurant there is the swimming pool for the hotel and also chairs for laying out in the sun. Next comes the sand and the the Waikiki beach. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were tons of people out on the beach and in the water as well as laying on the chaises in the sun and in the swimming pool.
We had a nice lunch. It was basically burgers, chicken, etc., but it tasted good. It wasn't cheap, but not expensive either. The atmosphere was relaxing and nice. DH was facing the beach and was blinded by the sun reflected off the water at times, but other than that, it was nice.
Once we were done with our lunch we ventured back out onto the roads to catch the next trolley that was green so we could go and see Diamond Head and some other parts of the island (FYI if you're going to Duke's you'll want to get off at the stop that is by the Cheesecake Factory and it's a very short walk to your left to get to the arch to go through to get to Dukes!).
We didn't have too long of a wait and the green trolley came along. Our driver was very friendly and full of all kinds of information about everything we were going by. He did stop at a couple of look out places for Diamond Head Beach, which was nice too. He pointed out some houses in the distance, including Jim Neighbors.
We actually went around and then into the crater area of Diamond Head! There is an armed services base located there and a tunnel you have to go through to get inside of it. Once inside you could get off the trolley if you wanted and hike to the top rim of the crater. They had look out posts up around the top, but we opted to not get off. Not many people did.
We proceeded to drive through a few neighborhoods and our driver informed us that to live in the mountains costs millions of dollars. To live on the beaches costs tens of millions of dollars and even hundreds of millions of dollars! He did say there were a few areas between the two that wasn't as bad, but still not cheap.
As we came back into Waikiki we decided to get off the trolley in the Duty Free Shopping Mall. It wasn't to shop, but that seems to be their main stop for each trolley and we got into line for the red trolley to go back to our ship area, the Clock Tower, so we could get ready for dinner.
Good thing we did because as we were standing in line we saw on the board that showed all of the different lines and where they visited that the trolleys stopped running soon! I thought they would run all day and into evenings, but they don't. They finish up about 4pm and one sooner than that! When we got on the red line to go back to the Clock Tower there was only one more pick up after us. That was cutting it kind of close. Of course we could have taken a taxi, but they say that is about $60 and we already paid that for our trolley ticket.
Our red line finally came around again and we were in a very long line to get on it. Not many people got off at the Duty Free Shop so it was standing room only. I was just glad to be on it though. After 2 more stops enough people got off that I was able to sit, but DH had to still stand all the way back to the Clock Tower.
We got off back where we started and they already had the mess of the bus accident with the fire hydrant cleared up. It was a very short walk back to our pier and then through security to get back to the ship. There were many lines formed for the luau that was going on this night, but we opted not to go on it since I looked up information on Trip Advisor and it said it wasn't a very good one.
We made it up to our room and got freshened up and then headed back our for our sunset dinner cruise which included fireworks. In my research I stumbled upon this dinner cruise in Honolulu with Navatek. It's a catamaran like no other. Very beautiful when you are walking up and seeing it for the first time! Quite impressive to say the least.
Our ship was at pier 10 and they were located at pier 5. When I called for directions they told me a short, 5 minute walk so I figured for me it would be about 15 minutes and I was right for me. It's quite a haul..I'd say about 6 long blocks or so. A nice walk on a nice evening though. It wasn't too hot or too cool and a nice breeze.
Once there they had the normal picture taking session (make sure to stop by the desk before getting in line so you can pick up your tickets/boarding passes...or do like we did...I got in line to board and DH went and got the tickets). Soon it was our turn for the picture. They have a very nice backdrop and their photographer takes their time to pose you. Had I known they did such a nice job I would not have worn my capris and I probably would have bought the picture because it did turn out nice when they brought it to us later in the cruise after dinner.
Once finished with the picture you walk across the plank and are greeted by staff and directed to a doorway. Once going through it (we opted for the buffet instead of the more elegant lobster dinner...it was a whole lobster and not just lobster tail and DH didn't want to mess with a whole one and I don't eat any kind of seafood so I was fine with the buffet) we were greeted by a hostess who asked for our name and had someone show us to our seats.
I paid extra to get window seats so we could see the sunset and fireworks from our seats. This time of the year I would not do that again. We were seated on the port, left, side of the boat and you could not see the sunset from the window. You needed to go outside onto the deck to see it.
They did announce that the sun was setting but by the time we got out of our seats and onto the deck it was already set. Bummer. This happened very soon after we set sail..again, because it was during the winter and the sun sets sooner.
Our table was set up to hold 8 people, but it would be very crowded if 8 people were sitting there. We had 3 more women that joined us, so it worked out pretty good in the respect of having a little more elbow room. Had there been 8, it would have been way too crowded with no room at all to move.
The chairs were comfortable, just standard chairs, but padding was good and the spacing between tables was decent too, which made for getting up and down easy. If we had not paid extra for the window seating (and known we'd not see anything but the skyline) it would have been better to pick the "end" seats so we'd have one side open to the aisle and a little more room if the table were full.
For entertainment the woman singing had a beautiful voice and the gentleman playing the instruments had a nice voice also and played very well. It was enjoyable listening to them sing together.
We had a small taste of the different variety of hula dancing along with Tahitian dancing. Of course there was no fire dancing though. It was entertaining and they even had some audience participation wearing the coconut bras and grass skirts by the men in our group. A good bunch of participators and even one dressed as Santa!
They had worked out the lines for the food well and had 2 lines going at all times. The food was just ok. Nothing stood out to me as being great, but they had a nice variety of it. They don't fix it on the boat, it's catered in. It stuck me odd they would have canned pineapple when I thought Hawaii grows it's own on the islands, but later would find out that most of the pineapple in Hawaii is brought in from the mainlands! That answered that question.
The skyline of Honolulu and Waikiki was beautiful at night and there was also a full moon. As we were going along the moon came out nice and bright over Diamond Head! Such a pretty sight, for sure.
The women at our table were very nice and we had a nice talk with them all through dinner. It made for a very nice evening. As it all was winding down and desserts were brought out, it began to rain. While standing in line for dessert an announcement was made that the hotel that puts on the fireworks started them early and they were now going on so there was a mad dash for the doors to get on deck. We were unable to view them from our window seat.
By the time I made it outside all that was left of the fireworks show was the grand finale. Many people that went out before me were heading back in because the wind was blowing hard and the rain was really coming down and soaking them. I stayed out until the end of the grand finale, after all that was part of the reason I chose this dinner cruise! Once it ended then it was back inside.
Now I'm pretty wet, so I headed off to the bathroom area where a lot of the women headed. There was a line, but it went quickly. One of the stall doors didn't lock and a little girl was so distraught because she had to go to the bathroom so badly and the door wouldn't stay closed, so I told her I'd hold it for her and she could let me know when she was finished. She was so happy that I'd do that for her. Once she was done she yelled out, "I'm finished" so I let the door go and she still had the tears on her face so I helped her wash them off before returning to her table with her family. She was so cute! The rest of the evening she kept looking over at me with a shy smile.
As I came out of the bathroom they had all the couples celebrating their wedding or anniversary up on stage. This trip was to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary this past June, but I had no desire to get up there and I knew my DH didn't either, so I stayed in the back while this was going on. Our waiter looked at me and said, "your husband is waiting for you" and I just thought, "yeah, right". I soon met eyes with my husband and I was right. He motioned for me to wait because our table guests knew we were celebrating our anniversary on this cruise and they kept looking for me!
They did all of the announcements of those on stage and then they played a special song for them to dance too. Once it was almost done I headed to my seat. The rest of the evening on our trip back to the dock was spent in sing-a-longs and line dances. It was a fun evening, even though my dancing was kept to my chair! I had a good time just doing that.
Once we docked again, we said our goodbyes to our fellow guests at the table and wished them well on their return trip home the next day to California. They were 3 sisters that didn't get to see each other much because of living a distance away from each other. Good for them to be able to get away for a week together! They were not on Carnival, they had flown over to Hawaii for the week and stayed in Waikiki the whole time.
We got off the boat and started our walk back to the ship. It was drizzling out, but not bad and it was warm. We took our time because we didn't need to be back on our ship until 10:30pm again and it was only 9:10pm. We were back at the pier, made it through security and in our room by 9:30pm.
We had a very nice day in Honolulu, Waikiki and at Diamond Head. Our dinner cruise was fun and as with the other two islands, we hope to make it back sometime to enjoy more of it! We were very happy not to have to be running around to fit everything in so it was a nice time in the middle of our 5 days on the islands. We got to regroup for our next stop, Kauai!
As with the other islands, we would have given Honolulu a 5+ if more people were around to give help once getting off the ship. It was chaos once you made it downstairs and no one to ask for help. There was a help desk sitting there, but no one behind it or around it.
Kauai is the only island where we took the excursion from the Carnival Spirit ship. It's not that they didn't have a lot to offer for excursions; however, none of them appealed to us or else they had a piece of one and a piece of another but they didn't offer them together so that's why we struck out on our own for the other ports of call.
Right away this one caught my eye and I thought it would be fun. I did write Carnival to find out more about it. The descriptions they offer leave much to be desired. I wanted to know if the tour bus stops at different locations and allows us to get off to view the area better and take pictures and I also wanted to know about the lunch that was included. It said lunch on the beach so I wanted to know if there were tables or if we had to sit on the sand to eat. I also wanted to know if we could bring along a bottle of water because the trip was 6 1/2 hours long.
The answer to the questions were yes, we make stops and can get out. The lunch place has changed from the beach to a restaurant so it would be inside with table and chairs. As for bringing bottled water, yes we could bring that along too. They also provided that our bus would be for 25 people max and that it was air conditioned as well as being able to open windows if guests preferred. That was nice to know.
After our beautiful arrival at the port in Kauai we docked so there was no tender involved here either. From our balcony we saw the sunrise in the harbor. So pretty! Day four of our island adventures soon to begin!
Our tour was to begin at 9:30 and our tickets said to be ready by 9am so we got off the ship, into a small warehouse looking building and saw right away the sign for our excursion. It was very easy to find and not the craziness that was going on at all the other piers. I was glad for that.
It looked like quite a few people were taking this excursion so we got into line right away. As the buses pulled up a group leader took a group over to get onto the bus and the rest of us waited for another bus. It didn't take too long for the next to come. I guess security will allow one bus per company to be inside the gates at once so when one left then they allowed another in.
It was finally our time to go and we had a very up beat woman as our guide. I think part of her goal was to learn everybody's names right away..and she did! Our bus had 3 open seats left on it so there was plenty of room. It was a nice sunny day as we left and I was impressed with all the green around as we drove.
On our bus there was a tv and she showed video clips of movies that were filmed on Kauai and she talked about a few of them. Every time we came to a special spot where a film was made, she would show the clip and then point out where it was filmed and called our attention to what they added in the film or how they changed things around. Some of the movies were from the 50's and others very recently.
Not all of the stops had signs telling you what they were and I had no paper and pen to write it down. We went by so many different areas it's hard to recall them all.
We did see where various parts of Jurassic Park was filmed, including the waterfalls, we also saw the waterfall where Fantasy Island was filmed (da plane, da plane), along with a site where the movie Dustin Hoffman was in called Outbreak was filmed.
Our first stop was the waterfall where Fantasy Island was filmed. The name of the falls is Wailua Falls. On that stop there was a man sitting outside with his dog under the shade of a tree making some bowls out of some long leaves. Amazing race even made a stop here!
The bowls were very pretty, but when I was doing my research I saw that a woman purchased one of these (not sure it if was from him or not) and when she was getting back on the ship they considered this to be agriculture and they took it away! I held back on buying one for fear this would happen. As I said, it was very pretty though!
Our next stop was a beach. The name of the beach was Hanamaulu Bay. They showed a few different movies that were filmed here, but don't remember the name of them. Wish I'd have brought a pen and paper!
Our guide told us we could get out and look around, but to be careful putting your feet into the water because it's known for hammer head sharks! I took a pass going into the water, but a few people did it anyway.
It was a very pretty beach and had a sign posted saying no living there or camping out. People must not listen to that either because where we pulled up it looked like this person had been living there for quite some time. He had everything quite comfy, including a hammock between the trees! Bathroom facilities here were the kind where you dig a hole...no thank you! We were told the next stop would have good facilities, so I wait.
Upon getting ready to leave this beautiful beach with the warm sun shining down we could see off in the distance something bobbing around. At one point we wondered if it was the person living in the area next to our bus, but then upon looking further it turned out to be a dolphin! The waters were kind of choppy so it was hard to tell right away, but sure enough, it was one.
It was time to load up the group and move on to our next stop. This was Opaekaa Falls and were told what movies used these falls, but I don't remember them right now (again, wish I had paper and pen!).
A short walk down the sidewalk you can cross the street for another look out area. By this one you look down and see the Wailua River Valley. So beautiful. Here we were told that Raiders of the Lost Arc, Jurassic Park, and the Outbreak movie with Dustin Hoffman was filmed. Looking down we could see some people in kayaks paddling down the river (or was it up?).
In this parking lot there was a woman sitting in the back of her open SUV. She was alone and I didn't pay much attention to her. Guess I should have. She was selling Macadamia nuts, shelled, out of the back of her car. A full quart size baggie for $15. A real deal. Darn! I missed it! One woman and man on our bus didn't miss it and I think all of the others, including me, had mouths watering as they were eating them in front of us! LOL
This was the stop to use the bathroom facilities too. I wouldn't say nice bathrooms, but better than digging a hole or using an outhouse. It will do being that the next one won't be until lunch!
Just as everyone got back on the bus the skies opened up and it was a downpour! Boy was I glad I got on in time. I think I was the last one to get on.
One thing we noticed here and as we're driving that there are a lot of roosters running around! We're told that there is no predator to them so they just run around because they don't taste good either. I pose a question here...wouldn't they just die off? I didn't see any female chickens so how are the roosters born? Just thinking.
Next stop, the Coco Palms Hotel that was torn up by a hurricane about 10 years ago..what a shame. So many memories with Elvis and Blue Hawaii there. We had to sign a release to get out of the van because of all the coconut trees and falling coconuts! Did you know that 109 people die each year from falling coconuts? I'd never heard that before!!!
We got to get out and look around and it brought back so many memories of the movie to me. I was a big Elvis fan, probably because my mom was so we watched all those movies.
I was very excited when we got to walk down to the open grounds area and I got to see and stand where they filmed the wedding part of Blue Hawaii. I had someone take a picture of me and DH standing there too.
It began to rain so we got shelter in the building, it's all open air, and they had the guy that always sang at the hotel there singing! His name is Larry Rivera and he helped in the push to get someone to rebuild the hotel. His being there singing was a nice touch. He's in his 80's now and he was telling stories of when Elvis would visit and when Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby would come. He and his wife knew them all.
You could see how beautiful the place used to be and what a shame no one ever fixed it up after hurricane Iniki hit. Then we found out that a Japanese group purchased the land and is in the process of gathering information and pictures of how it was in it's prime and they plan on restoring the place and trying to make the entrance and main part look as much as it did before the damage; however, they will add computers, etc. too so it won't be exactly identical, but as close as they can make it. They'll be adding condo's to the property also.
Out on the grounds there was a building that was where Elvis stayed (#56) when he was there. I could see it through the trees and brush from where we were standing, but I wanted to get a closer look and saw one guy with a video camera going out that direction so I decided to go too. I mean we were standing there for over 1/2 hour now and no coconuts had fallen.
So off I go on the winding path to Elvis's room/hut. The path was winding, but finally I came around the bend and the guy with the video camera was walking quickly with his hands on his head! He said he was filming and a coconut fell about 5 feet from him and when he heard the thud he decided to seek shelter because they fall hard.
I kept on my way thinking he was crazy, it couldn't be that bad. I got right in front of the hut Elvis lived in when he was in Hawaii and was disappointed that I could not get close. I wanted to peak into the window (actually no window, just a hole in the wall that had slats on it that were broken so you could see in...if, and that's if you could get close enough) but there was so much thick brush in front of it there was no way.
I tried to maneuver around a little to see if there was another way to get closer and just then a wind came through. As it did, 5 coconuts fell close to me. What a thud they made too! Got me scared right away and in my mind I said sorry to the other guy that said it was loud and I also put my hands onto my head and started walking as fast as I could back to shelter also! If I could have run, I would have been running!
As I came around the last bend in the path to where everyone else could see me now, my DH was laughing and asking what I was doing and I told him about the coconuts falling and he yells out "so you think your hands are going to save you?" My reply was, "well, I'd rather have my hands broken instead of them breaking open my head!" Once back under protection one of the other guest, the one that knew about the 109 deaths a year from coconuts, proceeded to tell us that placing our hands on our heads would not stop the coconut from breaking our heads open because of the force of them...why didn't he say that before? Not that I would have believed him anyway though! LOL Maybe they should think about getting hard hats for the people?
As we were walking back to the van my DH picked up a coconut that was on the ground. I never realized that they are covered in a hard shell, kind of like other nuts and the "hairy" part is under that hard shell. The coconut is also large. It was about the size or bigger of my husbands whole head. He held it up with his arm above his head and let it drop onto the ground and even the thud you heard from just that distance you knew it would do major damage if it hit any part of your body! At this point I had had enough and was ready to get back into the van for cover!!! Thank goodness it wasn't too much more of a walk, but it was lined with coconut trees full of coconuts and many coconuts on the ground along the way! We made it safely though, thank goodness. Now onto our next adventure.
We went by some beaches and various things all the while seeing movie clips. We also picked out what we wanted for lunch from the choices on the sheet. They did burgers, chicken breast sandwiches, some kind of noodle thing and then a salad but we were told the salad wasn't very big and not filling if you're pretty hungry. I think there was a fish option too, but can't remember.
You were told to pick out what you wanted and then next to it was a colored dot. Along with the sheet of what was being offered was rows of colored dots so you were to pull off the dot corresponding to what you wanted to eat and put it on your shirt that way when we got to the restaurant they would know who ordered what. Simple and easy and worked out great!
Just before lunch we pulled into this area with a couple of beautiful homes! Along the fence surrounding these homes were beautiful plants, some with Plumeria flowers and then Hibiscus too. I believe the name of the area was called Anahola, but not sure.
Our guide brought along a basket with Plumeria flowers for those that would like one. She told us the proper way of wearing them. You put it behind you left ear (like you wear your wedding ring on your left hand) if you are happily married. You put it behind your right ear if you are not married and if you have one behind your left and right, it means you are married, but willing to upgrade (or looking for something better!) LOL. She said whatever you do, do NOT put it on top of your head because that means you are loose and will bed anyone at any time! She said every now and then you see a local wearing it like that and they all just shake their heads. They know that if they see a visitor like that they probably just don't know the custom.
While at this area we were told to turn around and look up into the mountains. What we saw was a mountain in the shape of King Kong! It was amazing to see. When she told us, you could see it right away. As we drove away, you could see it from all angles too. I don't know what the real name of the mountain was though.
We loaded up the bus and moved on to our next stop. It was in a residential area and they actually pulled up by this house that was above an open garage. You could see the bay, which is called Moloaa Beach through the garage and it was just beautiful. There was also a sign saying this was a Monk Seal resting place and they are endangered so don't bother them, approach them or make any sudden movements or loud noises if one is on the beach. None were there, unfortunately, when we were there. I would have loved to have seen one!
Upon getting off the bus, many people walked into the garage thinking this was part of the tour, but it wasn't. That home belonged to someone. They stopped there because right next to it was a public access to the beach.
It was not paved and was a little rough to climb down, but we all made it ok. It was very pretty. It had a lot of lava rocks along the beach and in the water and our guide pointed out some seaweed growing on the rocks. She said in the spring everyone is out there picking it off the rocks (they don't do it now because the waters are way too rough during the winter) to eat! I'll take a pass, but she said it's very good and good for you too.
There were a few people on the beach relaxing and off to one side there was a man fishing. Our guide pointed out an area to the right of the bay when you are looking out to sea where Gilligan's Island, the original one, was filmed. On the same side, but more towards the ocean there was a point of the bay and she said behind all of those trees at that point was the home of Will Smith. She said the family flies in often to stay there too.
On the other side of the bay area out by the ocean our guide informed us that the commercial for Herbal Essence was filmed there...the one where they sing, "Wash that guy right out of my hair".
There were quite a few homes in this area. Some were very nice and others not so nice. Our guide told us that the homes are built up high because of the water that runs down from the mountains and also when bad weather, like hurricanes come, it helps to keep them dry being up higher. She also said that the price of the homes there are in the low millions, but she would never live there because you don't get what you pay for here even though the beach is beautiful.
She also let us know that one thing about Hawaii is that you can own a home that sits right up against the beach, but you do not own the beach. All beaches are accessible to anyone. They all are government owned so even if we were to walk all around that cove over to the area where Will Smith lives, we could go on the beach that he uses because it's not his. She also said that the property tax for this area of homes is about $400 a year!! I don't see why she wouldn't want to live there. I sure would like to!!!
Our guide told us that the walkway we came down to the beach between the 2 houses is open for anyone to use, but sometimes the people that live in the house with the open garage try to stop people from using it and legally they can't, but they do try. For those people that don't know beaches are open to anyone they will turn around, but those that know, keep on going. Quite a few of the homes had signs on them for rent. If we ever go back, that might be something to look into. It was a beautiful beach!
On the way to lunch we passed up where some of Jurassic Park was filmed and a golf course where you have to pay $500 a round to play! There were a couple of really pretty hotels too that I'm sure you had to pay a pretty penny to stay at.
We had to cross a wooden bridge that only had room for one car at a time to go across. The sign as we approached it said courtesy is to allow 5 cars to cross and then it's your turn. Looked to be a busy spot too!
The place we ate at was called the Tahiti Nui Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge. It was located in Hanalei Bay area. It was a hut like building and the door we went into said it was also a Tahiti Nui Luau. It was an open area with some long tables and chairs with a stage in the back. Very clean and clean bathrooms too! The food was very good. DH and I both got the cheeseburgers and they tasted like the ones you grill in the summer! We were hungry by this time, about 1:30pm I believe and they were good. Also the new movie with George Clooney called "The Descendants" was partially filmed here!
Around the corner was an ice cream place. I was looking for some shaved ice, but didn't see that on their sign and once we got to the corner after our lunch we saw they brought around the bus and people were getting on so we headed back instead of on to the ice cream shop. We noticed it too late!
One thing I did notice when we were outside of the restaurant was up in the mountains some of the cloud cover had gone away and there were 3 big, long waterfalls! What a sight. It was from far away, but still beautiful. Our guide told us if you go on the plane or helicopter they say there are hundreds and hundreds of them in between the mountains that can only be viewed by air. I'm sure it's amazing to see because it sure was by land too!
We all got on the bus and our next stop, and last stop, was Hanalei Beach and Pier. There were quite a few movies filmed here but I think the most famous would be South Pacific.
As we pulled up there were a lot of people all around and it began to rain again. We sat on the bus for a bit while our guide gave us additional information on things and then it began to slow down. Quite a few people still wanted to get off even if it was raining, so they opened the doors and let whoever wanted out off.
I decided to go ahead and get off. It was warm out and not raining too hard anymore. It's a very nice beach and one where they give surfing lessons. Some were going on as I was walking to the pier.
There was a sign saying no jumping or diving off the pier, but people must not be able to read because a lot of kids were doing it. Made me nervous! The homes in the area were very pretty. There were quite a few people in the water besides the ones jumping off the pier and the ones taking the surfing lessons. I know there were a lot of cars in the parking lot and they had some hard sided out houses too. I stayed away from those!
The waters didn't seem to be as rough as the ones at Moloaa Beach. I guess it was good for beginning to learn to surf because there were some smaller waves. It was a shame that someone took a horse out onto the pier when they're not supposed to and let it do it's duty on the pier. Yuck! Don't know when it happened, but no one cleaned it up either. Made a big detour around that mess.
The clouds were very low over the tops of the surrounding mountains. You couldn't see the tops of them at all. Our guide told us when hurricane Ikini hit it tore off the end of the pier and they had to rebuild it. They did a good job because it didn't look any different than the rest of it.
As we were walking back to the bus, the drizzle stopped and clouds moved away from the mountains a bit. All of a sudden you could see this beautiful waterfall in the distance! It was from the top of the mountain and all the way down. I'm sure close up it's even more beautiful.
While taking a picture of that one the clouds moved away from another mountain and it revealed yet another waterfall. I had to get a picture of that one too and on our bus was a couple on their honeymoon and the man was taking a picture of his wife with that in the background, so I offered to take one of them together with it in the background. I hope it turned out the way they wanted it too!
Alas, our tour has ended and it's time to return to the ship. As I couldn't believe our time on Kauai had come to an end. As we got back to the ship we had 1/2 hour before we had to be on board. As we got off the bus our guide gave everyone a hug and she passed out a map of the island. I wish we would have had that before we went to our first site because I could have marked it all.
I was hoping to be able to take a shuttle to one of the local stores, but there just was not enough time, so back on the ship we went.
The weather had turned really nasty very quickly. It was raining and the wind was blowing hard by the time we pulled away from the dock. I thought we'd be in for some rough seas during the night..and we were.
We had a nice partial sunset as we were pulling away. The storm clouds moved in before full sunset though. I was hoping we'd go around the island and be able to see the Na Pali coast, but we didn't head that way, unfortunately.
We had a wonderful full day on Kauai with many surprises. I hope to get back to see more of this wonderful island. Back to the Big Island now and Kona!
Aloha and Mahalo, Kauai!!!
Arrival in Kona was quite interesting. We did not cruise into a port and dock. We stayed out in the ocean. I thought we dropped anchor, but someone said we couldn't do that either because of the coral, so I have no idea how the ship stayed in that position. To get to land we had to take a tender boat to the shore. The tenders we used were the ones that were on our ship (the life boats).
In order to get on the tender many things had to fall into place with Carnival. Their rule/policy is to allow those needing assistance and those with platinum cards to exit first along with anyone with an excursion booked with them that needed to get off early too.
People were to be able to get off the ship beginning at 7am. Since we did not book our excursion through Carnival in order to get off as early as possible we had to go up to the Lido deck to get a number to get onto the tender. We got out there about 6:15 am for our number and there was already a line formed.
In the announcements regarding this issue they told everyone that in order to get your number to tender everyone in your party had to be present. They would not give any additional tickets for those still sleeping or getting dressed. Both DH and I were dressed and present for our tender tickets. They requested those people that didn't have plans for a specific time or those that had an excursion at a later time to please wait so those that needed to be off early could get off early.
We had an excursion that was supposed to leave at 10am and check in was at 9:30am. It was with a company called Body Glove and it was for snorkeling. After much research it was the company for us.
The snorkeling offered by Carnival was on a raft type boat, called Zodiac, and it was advised to not go on it if you have back or neck problems. From the research I did it said the ride on these types of rafts are very bumpy and also the ladder to get back into the boat was a vertical one, which I'd not be able to climb up to get back on the boat.
On Trip Advisor a company called Body Glove was very highly rated; however, they were supposed to leave at 9am and the chance of us getting off the ship in time wasn't good.
After contacting Body Glove a few times and letting them know that there were quite a few people on the ship that wanted to do their trip, they contacted me and some others and let us all know that they would change their time to 10am depart so we could make it. It made a lot of people very happy...me included!
Now that we had this trip planned it was very important for us to get off the ship as quickly as possible after the assisted people and platinum guests so that is why we got up extra early to get that early ticket!
Once they started handing them out, we were still in the first group. Group #1. We were happy about that and told we'd probably be getting off about 8am or so. When they started calling numbers they called both #1 and #2. It made a few people very angry. They felt only one group at a time should be called because they could have slept a little later had they known they were going to call two groups. It didn't bother me. I wanted off so I would have been up anyway!
We got into the line for the tender and finally it was our turn to get onto it. They loaded the tender and got set to take off. As we're sitting there and they rev up the engines we start to go and the driver hits the platform off the side of the ship and it jerks us all really hard! A few people hurt their arm or head and one little boy fell off his seat onto the floor and began to cry. There was nothing too serious so they kept going. Made for some headaches and sore arms for later though!
Just be warned when you tender that anything can happen! I don't know who picks out who drives these things and how much experience they have with them but our guy needed a little more practice, I think!
We made it to shore with no other surprises and got off the tender. This area in Kona was very nice. There was a beach right there and people were swimming in it. From what I gather they were having the Iron Man competition in a couple of days so people were practicing.
There was another beach on the other side of the dock and a Kona Boys rental on the sand for other equipment. On the end of the dock there was a whole group of men and young boys fishing. For what, I have no idea but there were a lot of them.
There was a nice building with adequate bathrooms. Again, not the best, but not an outhouse, so good enough. There was an outdoor shower area too so you could wash off the salt water and they had a spigot to wash the sand off your feet too with no danger of getting soaked.
From what I gather there was also an area where you could snorkel right off the beach. I didn't see it but I heard others talking about it when we were in line to go back to the ship.
There was a nice little town, but I didn't venture into it at all. A restaurant was right across the street on the corner too as was an ABC store. Our goal was to make it to check in for the Body Glove.
As we got off the tender we did see the Body Glove boat right next to where we docked so it wasn't long of a walk. It was very sunny and hot out and we had about 1/2 hour before check in so I started to look for some shade. I figured I'd be out in the sun while I snorkeled and I didn't want to get a sunburn before heading out.
There was a lava rock wall over by the bathrooms so I headed over there because there was also a tree for some shade. Here is a note...lava rock is not the softest thing to sit on, nor is it the smoothest! I moved quite a few times trying to find a more comfortable spot to sit. Some of it is very sharp too so be careful and don't get cut on it!
It was finally time to go and check in so off we went. There were a few people there already and a tent was set up to give a little shade. The crew was on the boat getting it all ready for us to come on.
The captain finally gave the ok to start taking names and letting people on. The crew was there to help you walk across the, for lack of a better word, metal plank, onto the boat.
It was a very nice boat and had seats and tables on the lower floor as well as seating up top too along with some shade. It was a catamaran so it was going to be a much more smooth ride than the raft. There was an area where they set up their buffet area and also a bar area.
They gave their safety talk and then we were on our way. They had a continental breakfast set up with delicious bagels, breads, muffins, and fresh fruit too. They had some coffee and juice and also some water ready.
We were able to munch on these while going out to where we were going to snorkel and they made a bet that anyone who sees a whale while going out to our spot the captain would buy a drink for them. It was the captain that saw the spout of blow from the whale so he turned the boat into that direction and went a little closer.
The whale was by a sail boat and from the looks of it, it was a baby. It made a couple of appearances and then you saw the tail go up so we knew it was diving down for a bit so the captain turned on the engines again and we started heading back for our snorkel area.
They came around offering wet suits for rent if you wanted one because they said the water was going to be a little on the cool side. I believe they said about 76 degrees. I didn't care to use one.
The crew came around at different times to talk with you and find out where you're from, etc. and offered to take a picture of us with our camera. This was different than any other thing we did on the islands because they did not have a camera set up to take a picture of you before you got on the boat! Taking the picture with your camera they did not charge you for it either.
Not too much longer they came around with the snorkel masks and told you where the spray was to use on the inside of the mask so it wouldn't fog up and how to rinse the mask out before putting it on in the bucket on the back of the boat. They also informed everyone that if you've never snorkeled before they would give a brief lesson on the top deck and answer any questions for you. I went up top to see what I needed to know.
I believe her name was Laurie (not sure of the spelling...too many ways to spell it and I apologize if I spelled it wrong) gave the brief lesson on the top deck. She also checked the masks when you put them on if you wanted her too. She let me know that I had to get my long hair out of the way because it would cause the mask not to seal correctly and water would get in. She helped me to position the breathing tube too.
After that short bit was done I came back down and we were pulling in to where we were going to snorkel. It was such a beautiful area; however, to me the waves seemed kind of vicious! I was beginning to get a little worried now.
Three of the crew were now at the back of the boat and seemed to be looking for something by the shore. Soon enough the captain came over the speaker and told us that in order to snorkel here they couldn't drop anchor because they would ruin the coral down below so there is a metal thing in the ground, like what they use for bouys, and they swim down with a rope and tie off to it.
All of a sudden Laurie jumps off the back of the boat with the rope and she's gone! A short bit later she surfaces and swims to the front of the boat to tie it off too. She was gone such a short amount of time and she's climbing back onto the boat! She didn't even wear a snorkel mask when going down!!!
Soon there was a lot of commotion going on while everyone was getting ready to get into the water. They lowered down the stairs (another reason for picking this boat because they had stairways that were about 4 feet wide and went down about 6 feet into the water so it made it a very easy entry and exit from the water for me) on both sides and then had people go down on each side, sit and put on their fins (I didn't like wearing the fins. Never wore them before and just couldn't get used to them, but they're supposed to be more safe for you in the water. For me they were more of a hassle, but I guess if you get used to them they would work good. Seemed to for other people) and then get into the water.
It all seemed easy enough. As I got by the landing platform they started blowing their horn because someone was getting too close to the rocks. That got me worried again, but I didn't come this far not to give it a try.
Laurie, that tied us off, was at the landing where I went. I told her that I probably would have problems getting the fin on my right foot because I have a DVT in that leg and she said no problem she'd help me and she did. A little side note...the ladder and the boat sway separately and my toe accidentally went between the two as the waves pushed them back together...OUCH! Boy did that hurt, so be careful when around the ladders and boat!!!
As bad as it hurt I was still going into the water. Laurie knew I was nervous and I told her why (about how rough the water was in Maui at Ka'anapali). She asked if I wanted her to come in with me and I told her I thought I would be ok alone so she asked me to repeat the hand signals for ok and for I need help so I showed her I remembered them and after that I walked down the stairs and into the water.
She asked me if I was doing ok and I gave her the ok signal and then she told me that the inner tubes are tied to a string that is tied to the boat so until I got more comfortable being in the water to just swim over to them and hang onto them and they wouldn't go anywhere near the rocks so I wouldn't either. Good idea and it made me feel better about being in the rocking waters.
As I'm holding onto the inner tubes I see people raising their faces saying how amazing it is. As I try to look through the water I see nothing, nothing at all. I couldn't figure out why they could see things and I couldn't. I didn't put my face into the water yet because I was waiting to see the fish and coral first before attempting to do it!
Next thing I know one of the crew was in the water checking on people and he asked me how I liked it and I told him I didn't see anything yet. He then told me to put my face into the water and see the wonder below me, so I did and was AMAZED! I had fish swimming between my legs under there! I couldn't see anything from above the water, you just see the reflection of the sky and coast; however, once you put your face in it's a whole new world down there!!! I couldn't get enough of it.
Then I remembered that I had my camera strapped to my wrist so I could take pictures and video so I tried to get that set up to take some and finally got it halfway figured out. Of course I didn't know exactly what I was doing with it and the waters were very choppy so I'm bouncing around quite a bit, but I did get some of the fish and coral in it. It was so exciting to be a part of this.
I did get brave enough to let go of the inner tubes and float to a few other areas, but the waves did carry you far and quick. One time I came up pretty far from the boat and another time I was almost right up against the boat. When it started to push me towards the rocks and it was hard for me to swim away from them I got a little worried again so headed over to the inner tubes again to get my bearings. I was also getting tired. I'd been in the water now for over an hour fighting the waves.
They made a call out to everyone that they had lunch all set up on deck for anyone that wanted it and they'd leave it out for about 1/2 hour. I didn't want to go in yet because I knew once I got back on the boat I wouldn't go back into the water so I stayed out for a bit more and just marveled at all that was going on below me and the boat! I want to try to find some pictures of what I saw so I'll know the names of all that I was seeing.
I know one fish I saw was what they called Yellow Tangs. There were quite a few of them. We were told that from the boat to the floor of the water where we were was about 25 feet in some areas. One guy actually did scuba diving with the pro on the boat. I actually got a little clip of him on my video that I took. Where he was it was quite a bit deeper than over where I was so I'm not sure where the 25 feet depth was at, by me or him. I'm not good with that kind of stuff.
There was also a black fish that had a neon stripe down the middle of him from front to back. There were a lot of those in schools swimming around and of various sizes. I also saw a very light blue fish that was thin and longer. It was by itself and I tried so hard to get it on video, but I didn't do it the right way. It was very pretty.
The one time I was more toward the front of the boat and out a little ways I saw a long skinny thing like a snake and brown but I didn't know what it was. It was close to the bottom. Since I didn't know what it was I didn't want to stick around much longer and when I raised my head up and saw how far away from the boat I was, I headed back (I really wasn't all that far. There were people much farther away than me, but it was out of my comfort zone).
My DH did not get in the water and he was up on the second deck and asked if I wanted him to make me a sandwich because they were going to start cleaning it up and I told him I was coming in. I swam to the ladder and tried to figure out how to get up the ladder with fins on and finally figured it out and went backwards up the ladder to the landing.
One of the crew was there to help and I took one fin off but I couldn't get the right one off. I tried and tried and the crew member, I believe his name was Spike, said he'd help and all of a sudden jumped into the water and pulled it off in one fell swoop! I was shocked.
In an instant he was back up the ladder, around me and on the landing again to help me stand up and get back on the boat. Of course it's no easy feat for me and a wave hit the boat and I lost my footing and went down on one knee. He grabbed me and asked me if I was ok and it was my pride that was hurt the most! I did scrape my leg, but nothing much thank goodness because of being on Coumadin for the DVT I was afraid it was going to bleed a lot, but it didn't. Just another proud battle scar to show of my adventures!
DH was waiting for me on the first deck and helped me get a sandwich made and some chips. He got me a soda from the bar. Both lunch and soda was included in the price of our trip (as was the breakfast). You only needed to pay for alcoholic drinks.
There was a fresh water shower to wash the salt water off yourself on this boat. They also had a diving board (no going in head first though) and a slide off the top deck to use. Kids on the trip had a blast with the slide! I didn't try that. I was more interested in snorkeling. The bathrooms on the boat were nice too. Plenty of room to be able to change into dry clothes and everything on the boat was very, very clean!
They did call out to the people in the water to see if they wanted sandwiches made and held for them because they needed to get the meat up because of the heat. They also told everyone on the boat that if they wanted an additional sandwich or wanted one for later they would wrap it up for you. I thought that was very nice.
Once they got it all cleared up they made the call for everyone to get back onto the boat. Once they all got on they called out the names of everyone to make sure they had everyone and then went and untied from the bottom and we were on our way back to the shore. We were on the look out for the whales again and the offer for a free drink was still standing.
The captain saw the whale and turned over towards it. Seas were very rough so it was hard to see right away, but at the last minute I saw it as the tail came up and it went for it's dive. Once it did that we headed for shore again because who knew how long it would stay down. It was probably the same one because it was a baby again.
I have to say this was the best trip and I had so much fun doing it! If we ever make it back I will certainly want to do this again with them!!! A very class act, that's for sure!!!
Everyone from the girl I spoke with on the phone to the woman I emailed with to this crew that went out with us was top notch. I will let EVERYONE I know that goes to Hawaii and Kona know to seek them out and I will post on every site that I share my experience with my vacation know they are great. If you're going to Kona and looking for a great company to snorkel with this is it (from what I hear the one on the Zodiac was good too, but that was the raft type craft and not everyone can ride on that or climb in and out of it, like me).
I wish we would have had more time on Kona. Once we returned from our trip the line to get onto the tender to get back to the ship was so long! We got back on land at about 2:45. The line went all the way down the dock and down the block to the street! We had to be back on the ship by 3:30pm and the last tender was to leave at 3:15pm.
Originally my DH said let's just sit and wait for the line to get to where we're sitting instead of waiting in that long line, so we went to sit. Then we saw the ABC store across the street and headed over there to get a soda while we waited. I also found the chocolate covered Macadamia candies that I wanted to get in Hilo, but we didn't have time to go to the Chocolate Candy Factory there, so I bought them in this store. Boy were they cheap too! I should have bought more than I did. They had them for $2.79 a box or 3 boxes for $6.00! They even had where you could buy 6 boxes for only $10 and 12 boxes for $20!! I knew DH would freak if I got too many so I just got the 3 boxes.
Once we left the store the line didn't go down at all. If anything it seemed to be even longer. We weren't in the store for very long either. DH went to get in line and I went to find shade. I couldn't let the chocolate melt! I also needed to go to the bathroom before getting back on that tender in case we ran into anything and jerked again!
It wasn't too long after I got out of the bathroom that my husband made the turn to be on the dock area now. In another few minutes he was getting up to where they had fencing up to separate you into areas for security and so they could scan your bags and you go through the metal detectors. Once you made it through that people were getting so upset because you might have been behind them in the original line, but after security you made it through quicker than them so you're now in front of them. So petty and after such a nice day on Kona. I wasn't going to worry about it and I certainly wasn't going to let it ruin my day!!
It was finally our turn to get onto the tender boat (I believe they had about 5 of them running) and we got situated and off we went. Made it to the boat with no problems this time; however, once we were there it was very rocky and most needed assistance with getting off.
Safe and sound it was up to our room to get ready for dinner, but first it was out to the balcony to watch us leave Kona and Hawaii for the last time. I was happy and so sad to say goodbye. We had such a good time! It wasn't too long before clouds set in and the rain was on the way. The seas were very rocky again so it didn't look good for our return trip to the mainland.
I stayed on the balcony for as long as I could see land and say my goodbyes to the islands that brought us so much fun and joy. I went over in my mind all we did on these 5 wonderful days.
If you ever have the chance to go see Hawaii, do it! If you have any questions for me you can check out the thread of the Carnival Spirit Roll Call page for 12/2/2011 and post it there. I subscribe to the the link and will get an email that something is posted and I'll try to answer it for you.
I didn't get to see much of the town because our snorkel trip took up all of our time on Kona, but from that alone Kona gets a 5+ and it would be higher if I could give it more!
Mahalo people of Hawaii and Aloha! Until we meet again!!! I sure hope it won't be too long before we make our way back to the beautiful islands
Our second island and second day of the islands. As we were coming into port a rainbow was waiting to welcome us to the island (one of many for the day!). So BEAUTIFUL and so vibrant!!
So excited and this time was ready to go down and get off the ship right away! We docked so no tender here either. Lots of sun and again, we get off inside a warehouse. Once outside we find where the shuttles are coming for those renting cars. This time no tents set up and it's a huge wooden frame with signs saying which line to get into for which shuttle. It's still craziness going on though! I felt like a herd of cattle getting ready for slaughter while lining us up in the lines!!!
As we find the correct line we see our shuttle, a Budget/Alamo sitting out in the lot in front of us. As we're trying to get to the front of the line (all rental car people line up in the same area no matter which rental car you are taking..makes for a mess!) the shuttle starts to pull out. We yelled for the security guard to stop the shuttle and he says he can't stop him. They are only allowed to sit and wait for someone to board for 5 minutes and then they have to leave. They also can not just exit and pull back in again! Rats!
Now we stand again among all those waiting for the rental car shuttles. It crosses my mind about Hilo and how they were all lined up along a curb at the airport and I toy with the idea of just jumping on the very next one that comes. Good thing I didn't. It was not the same layout for Maui airport!
So now we wait, and wait some more. Again, I call after waiting for 20 minutes and this time someone answers and she tells me the same thing the security guard did in that they can only sit for a short amount of time and then have to leave. She said another one was on it's way and should be there in no time at all. Sure enough I no sooner hang up with her and it begins to pull in.
We had to wait for other buses to clear and then the security guard allowed all those on Alamo or Budget to go to the shuttle. We filled it in no time at all and this driver would not allow anyone to stand. Good thing no one else was in line yet, and off we went.
The road to the airport was full of bumps this time! Wasn't too nice of an area we were driving through either. The driver made mention that when coming to return the car stay on main roads and don't go driving through neighborhoods around here. Ok, now he scared me! On Maui we didn't have to be back on ship until 10:30pm and being winter time, it gets dark very early!
Soon we were at the airport and like I said I was glad I didn't hop on another shuttle. Each rental place had their own building along these roads on airport property. We got off at Budget, along with everyone else on our shuttle (no one got off at Alamo) and all filed inside the building. Everyone went to get into line and I saw that there was a woman sitting under a sign that said Rapid Rez, so I went over to her and asked if her line was open and she said for Rapid Rez customers only so I told her, "that's us!". Within less than 5 minutes we had the keys to our next car and it was parked right outside the door! Another nice car.
We got everything arranged in the car, plugged in our GPS and were on our way for a fun filled day on Maui! The sun was out (saw a beautiful rainbow off the ship before we got off) and it was warm outside. Looking forward to a day on the beach at Ka'anapali and maybe try some beach snorkeling for the first time!
We made the drive with no problems to the Ka'anapali area but really had problems finding open parking. There were hotels all over and most said parking for guests only. Wasn't too sure if they were strict with it or not so we looked for some open parking. I know the info I had from home said it was open parking by the Wharf shops, but we could only find valet parking there and we didn't want to do that. The shops looked to be very upscale shopping too...not what I was looking for.
On our way up to Ka'anapali we passed many, many places where you just pull off the highway and there was sand, some picnic tables, and people parking their cars on the sand and going in the water. We were at the point where we were going to do that and we then saw a sign for open beach parking in designated spaces only.
We pulled into that area, between shops and hotels and many spots were reserved and then we found one that said reserved beach access, so we pulled into that spot hoping it was for the beach. I took a picture of the car and the sign just in case it got towed so I'd have proof that was where we were at. We pulled out all of our beach things and headed to the beach area.
It was so pretty! The water so blue and you had green grass with walkways between everything with some bushes lining between the grass and sand. The bad news..no place to rent a chair or umbrella. I'm past the age of enjoying sitting on a small beach towel on the sand so I kept looking thinking maybe by a hotel we could give the person a tip and still get a chair and umbrella, but to be honest, there was only 2 chairs and no umbrella set up as far as the eye could see! Hmm, what to do?
We put our things down (didn't bring along much with us and purchased a water wallet thing that looked like a fanny pack that I put on under my swimsuit with our important things in it...licenses, sail and sign cards, money, etc.). In the bag was only towels and snorkel things along with a book for me to read and some bottled water.
I decided to go ahead in the water. It was warm out, sunny and I figured I wanted to spend most of my time in the water anyway. DH decided to sit on the towel on the beach. So off I went. Did I mention it was windy? If not, it was very windy and the waves didn't look too bad, but oh boy were they when you got into it! The undertow was horrible and very, very strong!
Now I can swim in a pool and I've been in oceans before and done fine, but this was just too strong and I got very nervous right away after stepping off of the "sand shelf" area! It was pulling me out no matter how hard I was trying to go back to shore. I had to call out to DH and he got up and waded out wondering why I was getting so upset. It's just not like me in water. Then he saw.
He finally latched onto my hand and was able to help pull me back up to the higher area of the sand. That was the end of my being in the water on this beautiful beach! I walked along it for a short distance and saw huge waves crashing into the sand not too far away from us and there were very few people in the water. Most walking along the beach on the sand or up on the walkway by the hotels.
We finally dried off some and headed up to land and found a bench facing the ocean and sat just enjoying the sights. There was a nice man there trying to sell time shares and not doing well with the weather being like this and there was a restaurant right there by him being remodeled and all of that noise and garbage was keeping people away from him.
He was nice to talk to though and said the waters are very rough during the winter but they started early this year and they are not friendly enough to go into right now...no kidding! Wish we would have seen him earlier!! LOL He said he'd give us a "guide" to Hawaiian waters, only go in when you see brown in the water (meaning natives swimming there) AND stay out of white waters that means it's crashing waves and too rough. I remembered that one for the rest of the trip!
We were disappointed with our beach day so I suggested we head back to this strip mall that we passed on the way here to do our souvenir shopping and stop at a gas station so I could change out of my swimsuit and into clothes for the next part of our travels on the island. We also made a stop at Safeway for some soda and healthy snacks to take back onto the ship for later. I shopped at the ABC store for the items I wanted to get for gifts. With that done, we headed off to Lahaina for our Whale Watch excursion I planned on my own through Pacific Whale Watching Tours.
The drive was short and in my research I knew parking was at a premium in Lahaina. We found a lot right behind the Pacific Whale Watching Tour shop. It was a paid lot, but it was a spot. I wasn't going to be driving around wasting time. We parked, checked in at the shop and got the directions to the pier. We were about 45 minutes early but after walking over to the pier there was many people in line already. It was very hot and very sunny and not much shade.
DH did his thing and got in line while I sought out shade. It was about 15 minutes when someone from PWW came out to give instructions for boarding and then 5 minutes later they let us start filing onto the boat, but not before getting our picture taken...as seems to be the thing for all excursions.
This boat was nice in that it had an upper and lower deck area to sit. We picked the lower because it was covered, but had windows that were open so we got a nice cool breeze from the winds.
We were told to help the captain look for whales and if you think you see something don't just yell out you see something, yell a point like on a clock. Twelve o'clock was the front of the boat and 6 o'clock was the back. Three was the right side of the boat and nine was the left and then all the markers in between. We had a specialist on the boat giving out information on the whales as we went and after just a short bit we had a sighting at 11 o'clock!
Originally as we're going along I thought I saw one; however, the seas were very choppy and I didn't want to yell anything out for fear it was just a wave and this is the area I saw something. It was less than a minute later the woman talking about whales yells out 11 o'clock that she saw the back of one and I was looking there since I saw the other thing and sure enough I saw what she was talking about.
Everyone on the other side of the boat ran over to the left side then. It wasn't long when it appeared again, not too far from that point and it was around a catamaran that had it's engine killed so our captain said this one was mugging the other boat so they couldn't move when it was up and around it; however, we also couldn't go any closer but we'd stay at the distance and view it like that for now.
It kept coming up and around the other boat...both sides and around the back of it. It looked to me to be a baby because it sure didn't look as big as what they were saying big ones were. It wasn't long before our expert said it looked to be a young one....Ha! I was right! LOL
All of a sudden you saw the tail come up and down it went and our specialist said when whales do that they usually go deeper and stay down for awhile. Once the whale did that the other boat started it's engine and went back to land. We stayed around for a little bit, but no other sightings of this little one, so off we went in search of others.
After a short bit someone yelled out 2 o'clock and off in the distance you could see some whales "blowing" (when they come up from the deep and blow out of their hole on top there is water/mist that comes up in a spout). There was about 4 of them doing it, so we headed out that way to check it out. Once we got to the area there was nothing else to see. They either moved away or went deep again.
Next thing you know someone in the back of the boat yells out 6 o'clock and I didn't see it but he said, along with 3 other people that were sitting back there, saw a whale, a large one, come up and then go down and showed it's tail as it went down. Our specialist said it seemed like each whale was staying down for about 7 minutes so we'd stay around to see if this one surfaced again.
Seven minutes seems like such a long time when nothing is going on. It's not like being at a zoo or aquarium where the whales and dolphins have a show they put on for you! Seven minutes came and went and nothing again from this one.
There was a small cluster of boats off to our port side (left side) so our captain started up our engines and headed off into that direction figuring that they were clustered together because of a sighting. As we got closer there was a little one again. At first just floating around just under the surface and then actually brought it's head above water for a short amount of time. It did a couple of blows and arched it's back a couple of times too.
Our specialist told us that where there is a baby there is a mother not far away and usually a little deeper so keep our eyes peeled. Soon enough a mother appears off in the distance along with a male following her. She's circling around so she won't get too far from the baby and she's trying to ward off her suitor also, but he's not giving up and trying to stay close. She finally had enough of him and slapped him really hard with her tail!!! All of a sudden you see him arch and up comes his tail and he goes for deep dive. She gets closer just under the water and at the very same time as the baby, they both arch and show their tails and they go for a deep dive.
This was the end of our time and we were actually 15 minutes later out there than we were supposed to be so now we started heading back to shore. Our specialist told us with it being only December 8th it was very early in the season for the whales to be in Maui and that in a couple of weeks there would be quite a few more. For now they're thinking there are only about a dozen or so and come January there will be over 3,000 and each boat can have their own group to watch instead of having to "share" just a couple! I couldn't image seeing that many whales in one spot! She also asked, "are the humpback whales citizens of Hawaii or Alaska since they come to Hawaii from Alaska?" A lot of people yelled out they were Alaskan; however, she answered, "wrong! They're from Hawaii because they come here to be born so if born in Hawaii then you're Hawaiian. They are coming back home!" When you think of that, it's true. They are born in Hawaii and then go to Alaska to eat and then come back home for the winters. Smart beings!
After getting off the PWW boat we walked around on Front Street for a little bit just looking at the different store fronts. We found a place to get some shaved ice! I was so happy to have some because I'd heard so many talking about it. It's basically a snow cone, but instead of crushed ice, it's shaved. It does make a difference. We bought one and then went across the street to the park where there was a huge Banyan tree to sit and eat it.
This tree was amazing! It took up the whole block. Hard to believe that it was all just one tree. I'd heard talk about it, but didn't place it on my "to see" list, but now that we saw it, I'm glad we did. It's amazing.
We finished up with our shaved ice and did some window shopping as we walked back to our car. There was a little area where a man was carving out tiki's and also some Honu (turtles). He was very good. I found a turtle that I fell in love with and was fighting the urge to buy it. It was quite large and if I bought it I'd have to find a way to ship it home, but the more I thought about it, I would have no place for it in my home. He said he could do a smaller one for me and I wish I would have let him, but we had dinner reservations to make it to and so I took a pass. I wish I would have been late for dinner now and bought the smaller turtle because it was so pretty. Maybe one day I'll be back and can get one.
We made it to the car and then headed off for our dinner reservations at Buzz's Wharf in Ma'alaea for a sunset dinner. We found it with no problems and it was as was stated in their website...the port area was under construction so we just had to drive slowly and avoid the dips to get to them. They were situated right on the water, which would have been beautiful if not under construction.
So much for watching the sunset as we had dinner too. It being winter, the sunset was off to the side of the restaurant instead of over the water. Other than those things dinner was delicious!
The restaurant was a brown wood building with quite a few stairs to go up to get inside. They had it decorated for Christmas nicely and the whole front of the building had windows so you could see outside (while the back side was covered in mirrors so it reflected what was outside..very cool!). It was not a big place and on the website they did advise you to make reservations, which we did.
Our waitress was very nice and explained the menu and specials. They grow their own prawns and she strongly suggested giving them a try. I can't eat fish, but DH wanted to have some good fish while on the islands so that's why I picked this place out. It had good reviews on Trip Advisor. He ordered his fish, but didn't order the prawns and I ordered my steak.
After the waitress left I asked him why he didn't try the prawns and he said he just didn't think about adding them or if he could with his meal, so I told him we could add them to mine so when the waitress brought our soup he added them and he was glad he did! He said they were so good and he wished he'd have gotten a full order of them. He said however they fixed them it was delicious and the best tasting he'd ever gotten!
I felt the same for my steak. I'm a pretty picky eater (you'd never know it by looking at me though) and the steak was done exactly the way I like it! I can't remember ever having one that tasted so good. I don't know the spices they used or rub, if they did, but whatever they did to it, it was the best I've ever had! If I wasn't so full from it I would have loved to have had another or try to figure out a way to have it on the ship! YUM!
Buzz's Wharf is a definite place to eat whether you like seafood or steak when on Maui. It's not cheap, but it is so worth the price!!! Everyone was very nice there too. Sitting by the window with the breeze coming in felt good and especially realizing that it was December 8th and I was in short sleeves enjoying the weather instead of at home by Chicago with 17 degree weather! YES!! We will certainly be telling anyone visiting Maui about this place! (FYI: they also have a 10% off coupon on their website so make sure to print that out before going..any little bit helps!).
After dinner we got back into our car and had a short drive to return our rental. I was so glad that I went on Trip Advisor and looked up information. Originally we were going to have a sunset dinner in Lahaina but they advised us to go to Ma'alaea because the drive from Lahaina at night would be a hard drive through the roads with no lights and we'd have an easier drive from Ma'alaea to our port area and they were right! They've not steered me wrong yet, so thanks to those on Trip Advisor too!
Returning the car was very easy and when we had gotten the car the woman behind the desk said they closed at 10pm (never thought to ask when they closed. Just figured that since they were at an airport they would be open 24/7..note to self and others to ask when they close and when last shuttle runs!) so we got back about 8:30pm with our belly's full of good food again! We remembered what our shuttle driver told us about going off the main roads so even though we still had time left we decided to just return the car and return to the ship. We had almost a 1/2 hour wait for the shuttle and then it finally came. It was only us and one other couple returning to the ship at this time.
We went straight to our room to change clothes. It wasn't too long that we felt the ship being to leave the dock. It was not 11pm yet, but everyone must have been on the ship and they decided to go ahead and leave. So off we went for our next stop, Honolulu.
Again, would have given the port a 5+ rating if they could get the shuttle issue cleared up. It wasn't only problems with the rental car shuttles, but also the free shuttles for shopping, etc. As with Hilo, Maui is definitely a place I'd love to go back and spend more time..and have another dinner at Buzz's Wharf!!!