This was my first trip to Hawaii, but my 15th cruise over all--certainly not my longest, but I live for longer cruises just like this with lots of sea days, amazing ports, and the experience one can only get during time on a ship. I arrived with my partner in Long Beach the night before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Maya. It was a fabulous hotel (albeit a bit on the pricey side when it came to dining--even though the food was fantastic!) with beautiful views of the harbor. We were able to watch the Miracle as she came in and felt the anticipation that comes when the heart starts beating faster upon seeing the ship for the first time.
This was, unfortunately, NOT my first time sailing out of Long Beach, and so I was prepared for the major mess that embarkation is from this port. Why can't Carnival get this right? We watched supervisors literally changing lines and policies on the fly. They sail out of Long Beach three times every week--they should certainly be able to get their act together. That had the potential of marring the first day, but once onboard the ship the process was soon forgotten. We were on a ship bound for Hawaii!
We had an interior cabin on deck one with a fabulous steward. The room was clean and tidy and had even been somewhat updated (flat screen tv, newer mattresses) and was very comfortable for our 15 days. I am platinum and when I arrived in my cabin the bottle of water and drink coupon were waiting for me, and the gift arrived later in the week.
The cabin was large and comfortable. The bed was amazing and the steward kept things very clean. The location was perfect for accessing all of the main ship activities other than the Lido Deck--and for that there were lots of stairs to get us there and help keep us in shape!
We rented a car through Dollar. The process of getting to the shuttle was a bit of a mess at the port, but once we got to the rental office they were amazingly efficient and fast at getting us a car and on the road. We traveled to Lahaina where we had a pre-booked excursion through Pacific Whale for a whale watching tour. It was fantastic--the weather was perfect and we saw a LOT of dolphins and whales. We also went to the Feast at Lele which was a lot of fun with really good fun. Getting back to the ship took a bit longer than expected because of a fire on the main road, but the ship was waiting for us when we got there. All in all it was a great day--the only hitch was our own fault--we parked in bus only parking and earned a $60 parking ticket for our trouble--but it was our own fault and hardly worth ruining the day.
We booked this tour through Carnival. It was a great price and they price matched what we had found on line in advance through another operator. The bus driver/tour guide was funny and engaging. The tour of the museum at Pearl Harbor was self-guided and very powerfully moving. Unfortunately, the "guided tour" of the Mighty Mo was led by a young woman who had her own agenda. She was pleasant and knowledgeable, but she took all our time showing us three spots on the deck and we had no time left over to explore the rest of the ship.
We rented a car here from Dollar. The shuttle was right there and we got right to the rental agency office. Unfortunately, there was no real sense of urgency, and then there were a couple of problems with some of the customers. We ended up standing there for 50 minutes before we finally got to the counter to get a car. Once we did, however, the agent was very apologetic, speedy, and actually upgraded us to a much nicer car than what we had paid for.
We spent the day exploring the Waimea Canyon. We also may have stopped at a Taco Bell on our way, but there's no proof of that. :) The canyon is fantastic, and if you go don't just go to the main entrance but be sure to travel further up the hill to see the other viewing spots.
After leaving the volcano we stopped at Salt Pond Beach, which was by far our favorite stop on the islands. This is the Hawaiian beach you have seen in your dreams. The people there were very friendly--we were even invited by several families to share in their gatherings and eat their food. From there we stopped at the blow hole and saw the water shooting out of the ground--it was a fantastic day and we can't wait to go back.
We did not plan anything here. Because we are platinum we were able to get on a tender when we were ready and got to shore very easily. We spent our time walking around the port area, toured the church, bought souvenirs at the market, and then grabbed a bite and a beer at one of the local hangouts. All-in-all it was a lovely day. Oh--and we saw turtles at the beach area.
Once again we rented a car from Dollar. The shuttle was MIA, and so a group of us rented a taxi for $20 and got ahead of the crows. We were again upgraded on our vehicle for free and headed off for the Volcanoes National Park where we went to the museum, hiked the trail, walked through the lava tube, ate a lunch on the ground with some authentic Hawaiian eats, and then headed to Akaka falls. We made really good time and had a very pleasant day. Again--we can't wait to go back!