Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hawaii Summary

As promised, the summary of our 7-day cruise of the Hawaiian islands.

Sun., Sept. 2nd
Most of today was spent traveling. All in all, it took us 12 hrs to get to Honolulu (via a 2-hr layover in Denver). We checked in and boarded the ship, grabbed a snack, and took a nap. We finally got up and had dinner in the main dining room. Then it was back to bed. All that traveling was tiring. Overnight, we sailed from Honolulu, Oahu to Nawiliwili, Kauai.

Mon., Sept. 3rd
Today we saw Nawiliwili on our own. We took the free shuttle to Hilo Hattie's in search of some luau attire for Derek. We found that and a few other things. We went back to the pier, dropped off our purchases, and then headed back to some shopping close to the pier. We headed back to the ship for lunch and then took a nap before getting ready for the luau. We had a great time at the luau. The food was pretty good, but the entertainment was superb. Plus, we met some great people--some of whom we spent time with later in the trip. After the luau, we hung out with Apryl (we met her during the evacuation drill that wouldn't end) in the Blue Hawaiian. Would you believe that Derek did an Elvis impression? Pretty hilarious!

Tues., Sept. 4th
A very early morning, especially after the late night at the luau. Today we went mudbugging on the retired sugar plantation. This was Derek's favorite part of the trip, and I have to admit, it was pretty fun. We drove 22 miles of muddy trails up and down and all around. Part of the trip took us by the fields used to film Jurassic Park. Needless to say, there was great scenery. And, as promised, we got really dirty. After returning to the ship, we took a much-needed nap. But we got up in time (thanks to the trusty alarm) to see the Napali Coastline as we sailed by.

Weds., Sept. 5th
Today we're in Hilo, Hawaii. Our tour today takes us to Volcano National Park, the Thurston Lava Tube, the Volcano House Restaurant that boasts the longest burning fire (more than 65 yrs), the botanical gardens, the Mauna Loa macademia nut factory, and Rainbow Falls. We had the most knowledgeable tour driver--he knew everything from plants to animals to volcanoes to local lore. It truly was an informative tour not to mention full of stunning scenery. We made it back to the ship in time for the pub crawl, which was quite an interesting ship-sponsored event. We had a great time and met some more great people. It was definitely a late night.

Thurs., Sept. 6th
Today we're in Kona, Hawaii--the opposite side of the island from Hilo. We're taking the Explosion of Flavor tour today. Aside from lots of beautiful scenery (gosh, I say that a lot), we'll be visiting coffee, chocolate, and vanilla plantations. We learned a lot about the processes of making all of the things that we so much enjoy. We enjoyed a fabulous vanilla-inspired lunch at the vanilla plantation. All in all, it was a great day of learning & shopping.

Fri., Sept. 7th
We're in Kahului, Maui the next two days. We spent most of the day with our friends Apryl and Harris. We rented an SUV and went to the nice beaches on the other side of the island by all the resorts. The beaches are clean and the shorelines aren't rocky. We had lunch at Bubba Gump's before heading back to the ship. We took nap before getting ready for the sunset cruise, which gave us amazing views of the sunset.

Sat., Sept. 8th
We intended to go back to the beach, but the "free shuttle" from the pier was quite the joke. We should have rented a car but we were both afraid of getting lost. (Harris had driven the day before since he knew his way around.) We took a little walk but I ultimately got blisters b/c I believed the lady who said it wasn't that far. So we headed back to the ship, where I spent the afternoon on the pool deck (with my SPF 5000, as Derek liked to call my super SPF 50 sunscreen) doing puzzles and playing the ship-sponsored games and Derek entertained himself (though I'm still not sure how--details are sketchy). We packed our bags for the Easy Fly program (the ship checked us in with the airline (no standing in line) and our bags went straight through to our final destination without us having to do anything--terrific program!) since they needed to be out by midnight and we had the time to pack them before our late dinner reservation. We had dinner with Apryl in the Italian restaurant, which turned out to be our best meal on the ship--if only we'd gone earlier in the trip! We met friends in the Blue Hawaiian where we visited/danced/goofed off before heading to bed.

Sun., Sept. 9th
We were an hour late deboarding the ship for our tour of the USS Arizona/Missouri. There was some kind of issue with the cruise line and the tour company. But our tour didn't suffer. We still got to see everything the driver intended, including parts of town and the Punch Bowl. We had about an hour to tour the visitors' center. Derek really enjoyed the film we watched before going to the memorial. It included never-before-released footage of the attack. Apparently, the Japanese filmed the entire attack and several townspeople did, as well. The Navy compiled all of this video into an informative tale of that fateful day. The memorial was really amazing and awe-inspiring. It drives home the sacredness of sacrifice for God and country. 1177 servicemen were entombed on December 7th. Twenty-five survivors have since chosen to be interred with their brothers. If ever you're in Honolulu, you really should visit Pearl Harbor.

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