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Home > Member Reviews > lavictoria's Port Reviews of Maui, Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai

lavictoria's Port Reviews of Maui, Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai
Oosterdam cruise in April 2012
Member Name: lavictoria
Cruise Date: April 2012
Embarkation: Vancouver
Destination: Hawaii
Member Review: lavictoria's Oosterdam Review
Atlantis Submarine Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
The Atlantis Submarine company is very polished and organized with up-to-date equipment and friendly knowledgeable staff. That said, my husband and I who are admittedly large people found our discomfort in the sub detracted from our experience. (Yes, I should have known and I do not fault Atlantis for our obesity.) We did see many types of fish and a sand shark. The company has a sunken vessel they paid for themselves, creating an artificial reef guaranteeing a variety of fish and several large schools are always available for viewing. This excursion is well worth it if you do not want to snorkel and if you can comfortably sit in a small space for about 45 minutes.

In Lahaina Atlantis shuttles you to their submarine in a boat which was a bit of a rough ride - fun! You get to watch the sub surface - fun! and then the staff quickly transfer the previous group off the sub and your group on and down - expertly! I do have minor mobility issues but never felt worried about falling.

THE PORT OF LAHAINA is very small and requires tendering. I was led to believe that the number of tenders allowed at the dock per ship is limited. The day we arrived there was already a Royal Caribbean ship anchored and between regular dock traffic and tenders from the two ships significant time spent idling in the tender waiting for our turn enter the harbor area left many passengers over-heated, crabby and just plain impatient. (In one case the 10 minute journey took 35 minutes and the motion of the near empty tender caused a couple of cases of sea-sickness.) Unfortunately this also meant that the dinner-time rush back to the boat ended in a queue that I overheard was "hours" long. On the other hand even though I went ashore twice I never waited more than 20 minutes at either end. My recommendation? Take a cab/bus (long walk) out to Aloha Mixed Plate for an inexpensive meal with a nice view and the sounds of the Old Lahaina Luau next door and head back to the ship after everyone else but still an hour before last tender.

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Imiloa Astronomy Center Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
There were more people booked for this excursion than the tour bus would hold and I ended up in a seven person over-sized mini-van with the overflow. "Auntie Karen" a mid-westerner who has lived on the big Island many years and married a Japanese-Hawaiian, was our tour guide. Not of Polynesian/Hawaiian descent herself, but a typical Hawaiian nonetheless. Driving out of the gridlock of the harbor area she told us about Ohana (family), and how every adult is Auntie or Uncle to small children. She also had good knowledge of the tsunamis that had changed the Hilo area over the years but admitted she lacked for statistics.

Our first stop at the Big Island Candies was basically a shopping stop. In spite of being told that this is the "only place you can get these" there is a second Big Island Candies store in the Ala Moana Center on Oahu.

Lots of tasty samples (don't miss the coffee) but other than some beautiful packages for Japanese style gift giving I felt shortbread just wouldn't scream "Hawaii!" to the folks back home.

Traveling along Banyan Drive we were given a short history lesson and saw trees planted by various luminaries. A quick stop at the shore demonstrated the "mud" was actually very fine black volcanic sand. Off to Rainbow Falls for a photo op of the falls and a lovely garden setting. Auntie Karen, hula enthusiast, showed us how to use ti leaves to make a grass skirt.

We were ushered rapidly through the Imiloa center and only given about 15 minutes to go back and look more closely at the displays before the start of the planetarium show. The presenter was a young woman involved in the research from data collected by the radio-telescope array and the show ranged from basic ("here is Orion") to a demonstration of recent space debris data in 3D addressing objects in low-, mid-level and geosynchronous orbit which was more than a little mind-blowing.

Recommended with the caveat that if the Astronomy Center is your main goal you will feel rushed to get through all the exhibits.

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
The port of Honolulu is very tourist friendly for adventuring out on your own. On foot or by The Bus (highly recommended) it's easy to find cool stuff nearby.

I never thought that "going to a mall" would be a good tourist activity but I had a great time. The Bus cost $2.50 at the time of our visit, a four-day pass for $25.00 is available from the ubiquitous ABC Stores. Not only is Ala Moana the biggest mall I had ever seen, its design is uniquely Hawaiian, the food court has lots of choices not found on the mainland and there's a Zippy's (what Hawaiians eat) in the Sears store. Every day at 1pm there is a very professional hula demonstration on a stage in the main concourse with a live singer. (Get there early for a good seat!) I wandered through Foodland looking at interesting stuff we don't see at home (a cooler full of leis next to the flower arrangements). Bought a musubi at the deli (don't ask, just eat), and a few bits and bobs. The Barnes and Noble store has a big selection of Hawaiian music in their CD department and listening stations so you can check them out. After picking up a few trinkets here and there I had a shave ice in the food court while people watching, then took the bus back to Aloha Tower (pier landmark).

Was lucky enough spend our second day in Honolulu at the 10th Annual Spam Jam. Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki was closed down for the event, wreaking havoc on the Shopping trolly and all other transportation. I just took The Bus and sat in air-conditioned comfort listening to the relaxing, mellow voice of the recorded bus announcements and looking past the grid-lock at the scenery. The Spam Jam itself was a hoot and I spent several hours grazing on Spammy concoctions and enjoying the live entertainment. Stopped at Hula Dog at the edge of the International Marketplace for another shave ice before heading back (by taxi since it was getting late - $20.00).

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Port Rating: 0.0 out of 5+
Kauai was the last port of call after four days of going flat-out in other locations so we weren't particularly adventurous.

There were the usual free shuttles waiting at the end of the gangway. I wanted to go to the beach so we got aboard the Harbor Mall shuttle which dropped us off across the road from Kalapaki Beach behind the Marriot resort (5 minute walk from back of mall where shuttle stops). The beach was very pleasant. The weather the day we visited was somewhat overcast and breezy which didn't bother me but probably kept the crowds away. There is a surf school on site as well as Duke's Barefoot Bar/Restaurant but I just spread out a towel and alternated between playing in the relatively gentle surf and resting on the beach.

After working up an appetite playing in the water I wandered back to the mall which is small and only has 4 food choices (pub, pizza, Mexican). I picked the Kalapaki Joe's sports restaurant which seemed to have as many locals as tourists. I chose the Blackened Ahi Salad (13.99), a big chunk of ahi with a tasty sesame dressing on the side over a massive plate of salad. I ate all of the fish and half of the salad so I could have the Kauai pie for dessert (8.99 but worth it - could easily be shared).

Not much at this struggling little mall; thought about walking down the road to the Anchor Cove mall but decided to head back to the ship and wash the sand out of my hair. Shuttle comes by every 10-12 minutes, traffic not an issue on Kauai. Security checked ID and room keys from the shuttle so he could drop us right next to the ship; less walking on the way home=priceless.

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