Hawaii - The Culinary Tour - This was a progressive brunch in three different homes. We were told to remove our shoes before stepping into the houses. No big deal for me, since I often go barefoot at home. They provided benches to aid with removing shoes. The food was a delight! Wish they had given out recipes. Interesting stories about Chef Ann's history. Octupuses in the washer, and cooking for the Kennedys. We had to cut the last stop a little short since one of our guests said they had booked another excursion and they needed to get back to the ship. I asked them if they sold their coffee, handed over my credit card and asked them to ship. It was waiting when we returned.
O'ahu - Arizona and WWII military bases. We were told by the cruise director, no bags on the Arizona, but our guides cleared it up a little. We were allowed gift store bags and camera bags if they came with the camera (whatever that means). No ziplocs. Only 20 minutes at the Arizona memorial. There were three survivors of the Arizona giving autographs. Lots of history! We had some excellent lectures in the van from site to site. And they had photos and film clips of the Pearl Harbor Heros and some of the Non-Heroes too. Didn't understand why we could take photos of the military base from the public road, but not one we got on the base. Think at least one of the guides was retired military. Guides were wonderful about taking pictures of us! Buffet dinner on one of the bases.
Sunset Cruise - Wonderful food and gorgeous sunset! The sky was so beautiful in all directions, it was hard to decide where to look. After sunset, we had hula dancers, and the cruise ended with Fireworks over the Hilton.
Kaui'i - Hollywood and Waterfalls, only about 15 minutes at each photo stop. But we knew that when we signed up. Lots of scenic vistas. The guide seemed pretty gushy, and that put off my husband. Because she was equally gushy with everyone and it came of phony, including appearing surprised when we saw Larry Riviera, and obvious set up. We went to a ramshackle resort called Coco Palms (destroyed in the 92 hurricane). Red tape prevents them from repairing the resort. We also had to sign a waiver before entering. Larry Riviera, the musician on the 1970s Fantasy Island was there to perform & sale DVDs. Loved the timing of the film clips and the actual sites. The clip of the giant crocodile attacking a bus filmed in a not so ruined Coco Palms resort, worked out well since it came on the screen just as we turned into the same spot! Great Hamburgers for lunch! We saw several beautiful beaches!
Maui - Haleakala, Goat Ranch, Lavender Farm & Winery. They stopped at a lookout to spot the whales. Haleakala and the Goat Ranch were wonderful. Loved the cheese! They even let us feed the goats! The talk on milking was pretty long, and the poor guide looked like she had delivered this tour too many times. We saw Mesquite Trees on Maui that actually looked like trees rather than bushes like they do in West Texas. The Lavender Farm was off season. The only thing working was the gift shop, and of course the port-a-potty. We were informed a couple of days ahead of time about a change in itinerary regarding the Pineapple Winery. Winery didn't happen due to double booking, and worries about getting back to the ship in time. Instead they went to a tourist trap, with expensive stores. However, the glass blower was interesting! To me, the tourist trap and the winery weren't an even exchange. I filled out a "Let us Know," and was contacted by the excursion representative on board. They didn't compensate us, but did tell us they would pass our comments up to corporate. We learned that the winery doesn't charge for the tour and tasting, they hope to make it up on sales. It would have been nice for the guides to pick up a bottle of wine to serve with their wonderful lunch along with winery brochures and order forms. Still, these guides were wonderful, and we'd gladly return for more tours with them. Also, they offered to take our picture a couple of times. We've been on a lot of excursions over the years, and having two guides offer to shoot photos is rare.