Cruising the Hawaiian Islands – An Aussie’s First Time

What cruising means to you?

Travelling takes us out of our comfort zones and inspires us to touch, taste and try new life. It constantly challenges us, not only to adapt to and explore new surroundings, but also to engage with different people, to embrace adventures as they come and to share new and relevant experiences with playmate and wife.

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Aboard a cruise ship is always busy. So it was in Honolulu. What surprised us was that we had to take the locks off our suitcases before boarding. The ship, the Norwegian Pride of America, was the same size as the Princess ships we had sailed around Australia on. So we expected to get to our stateroom after boarding. We boarded at around 12:30 PM to enter our stateroom at 5:30 PM. We later found out that the crew were all US citizens, meaning they had to be paid at higher rates than the crews of other cruise lines. Norwegian was the only cruise line that was allowed to sail only around the islands under US law. Other cruise lines had to visit at least one foreign port. As a result, there were fewer crew members to do the job.

We found that the range of free restaurants was not as extensive as at Princess. We usually ate at their buffet restaurant and a few times at their East West restaurant. These were fine. By Australian standards, the coffee on board leaves a lot to be desired.

We found that our stateroom was the best designed we’d seen with a better bed arrangement; more closet space and better designed bathroom and shower.

The theater was more spacious and it was easier to get to and from your seat. People can walk past you without you having to stand. However, the Mardi Gras cabaret showroom was smaller than in Princess and the view from the back was not as good. But as the cruise progressed, the performances in these two areas were of a high quality.

For those who like to walk or run to mitigate the effects of overeating, the promenade deck had a 546-foot-long walkway. Three times around was a mile (over a mile). The walkway was much wider than any we’d seen on other ships before.

The purpose of the cruise was to see the islands of Hawaii. Consequently, there was a lack of things to do on the ship during the day if you came back from a tour early. There was only one port where tenders were needed to land us. We were impressed with how easy it was to get in and out of the tender and how spacious they were compared to others we had been on.

We arranged a tour of each port we visited, six in total. We discovered Roberts Tours during an internet search. In their green buses, they turned out to be the largest tour operators in America. We found them to be better priced than the tours organized by Norwegian Cruises Lines. In fact, booking several tours through them as what they called “Combo Tours” saved us at least $100 each. Their service was excellent, always on time with great drivers/guides who could go extra places when time allowed. We found the guides very knowledgeable and didn’t talk too much. They gave clear instructions regarding departure times and made good suggestions about food and so on.

Security was a very big issue. On return to the ship and pier we had to show photo ID and our cruise card to even get on the pier or the tender or off the bus on return from the tour.

What surprised me most about the islands on the cruise was the height buses climbed without us realizing we were at a high altitude. I found myself looking out the bus window and seeing a 2400 foot elevation sign. We never seemed to be this high. You don’t see that in Australia. We of course took the tour to the highest volcano in the islands. It was known as the tallest on Earth because it is a mountain that rises from the depths of the sea. It was more than 10,000 feet above sea level. Our bus could only take us to 9500 feet where we could see the huge crater and walk to a small peak about 400 meters. It was quite a tough hike because of the lack of oxygen at that altitude.

We did see an active volcano. From the viewing platform, it was possible to see lava bubbling to the surface of the crater. Later that evening, the ship passed another lava flow. This one was bigger and the lava flowed into the sea. This was much more spectacular.

On the island tours you will see many coffee and macadamia plantations. On a plantation that had quite a few different activities, we found pineapple ice cream. It is a pleasure not to be missed. The coffee plantations we visited offered coffee tastings. We saw the famous surfing beaches where the Pro tournaments are held. Another place we saw was the start and finish of the famous Hawaiian Iron Man triathlon.

All the islands were very green with very steep rugged mountains. There was a wet and a dry side of each island with a wide variation in rainfall. One side of each island was usually the windy side and the other side protected from the wind by the high mountains. The weather was beautiful for us. The only time we needed a jumper was on board the ship where the air con was sometimes too cold.

Each island had a highway that ran around the island, usually close to the beach. We found on our bus tours to get the best view you needed seats on the right side of the bus.

If you’re only going to Hawaii once in your life, you should include the cruise as part of your vacation, as well as Honolulu, Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, and an island tour from Honolulu.

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Why is cruising good for you?

Travelling relieves stress and boosts testosterone

Travel has the ability to take you out of our daily routine and into new circumstances and experiences and this can reset your physics and calm your mind. Even planning a adventure can have an fantastic effect on the body – it boosts happiness and feels rewarding.

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