Trip Start Dec 28, 2007
Trip End Aug 28, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Our journey to the Hawaiian Islands started Saturday afternoon and was a long and slightly confusing one. Not only did we have to go 'backwards' by getting a flight to Sydney first we then flew overnight to Honolulu and arrived eariler than when we left Auckland?! At Sydney we had to get our second boarding passes for the Jetstar flight which involved a cheery but understaffed transfer desk who had clearly beened scratched together as none of them knew what they were doing! Nearly 80% of all Quantas flights had been cancelled or delayed causing major crowd issues including the South African Springboks we were standing next to. And it got funnier - this poor guy from East Asia came to the counter next to us getting information about his connecting flight to some island you've never heard of only to be told in a laughing voice 'well you're not going today are you!' - his cancelled once a day flight and no visa meant he was stuck at the airport overnight which the staff found quite funny. The quote of the day was 'it you don't laugh you'll cry'. After battling through fields of Americans we boarded our 'SleezyJet of the Pacific' aircraft where if you bought a Quantas seat you got blankets and headsets etc and food/drink. The unlucky ones had to do with nothing - zilch, sod all, nada - for the overnight 9-10 hour flight unless they were willing to spend lots of money. What a joke!

We arrived in Honolulu early, err.... Saturday morning?! Having gone over the international date line we were re-living the 28th June while tired and slightly jet-lagged and trying to get used to the 28 degree heat. After confusing conversations with taxi marshalls and drivers we made our way towards the town in a stretched limousine and spent the next four hours wasting time around the harbour area until we could board the cruise ship. Once past security etc we made our way to our stateroom to find we had been allocated one that can be used by disabled passengers. It actually meant we had a larger bathroom and more floor space which we were more than happy with. Our first evening involved touring the decks and heading up to the top to watch the sun go down as the ship left Honolulu. Obviously we made the most of the great waiter services and tried some local beer and long drinks before heading to one of the many restaurants for dinner.

Over the next seven days we planned as little as possible as this was to be our week of relaxing holiday in the sun. Therefore day two involved sitting by the pool doing sod all for most of the day whilst 90% of the passengers all headed off to do 5-8 hour shore activities. This meant that we had the opportunity to have a go at some of the on-board activites such as giant chess/draughts, basketball and 'sliding pucks with stick things into numberd squares' game. Monday we were still docked at the island of Maui so we got off the ship for a few hours and found a bus to the old whaling town of Laihina where we spent the day looking around the shops and watching the surfers do their thing. On our return to the ship we headed for dinner where we were served by an American who thought we were Australian. Chris tried the Lobster Tail and after finishing one was presented with another because the waiter liked us and could see he had a good appetite! We then had three desserts between us and free coffee! And we wonder why we're putting on a bit of weight?

Another day of relaxing by the pool and using the hot spas took up the next day pretty much (hard life isn't it) before having a glass of wine out on deck (while watching the waves fly by) and heading up to dinner where yet again we made an impression on the waiter that we got three of each course between us! The highlight of the trip (to that point) then came at around 10pm when, out on deck, the lights were turned off as we sailed past the active volcano on the main island of Hawai'i. Joined by hundreds of enthusiastic camera-happy Americans we watched the sky turn red as molten rock bubbled out of the top of the mountain and from a spew at the water's edge causing plumes of smoke to whirl into the air. It was amazing to see the lava flowing from what seemed like a short distance away - definitely a memorable moment. Wednesday's destination was the south side of the main  island where we jumped on a tender boat to the port an spent some time in the town of Kona. Unfortunatlely the sky was grey and cloudy due to the volvanic activity and the prevailing winds but it kept the heat down making for a pleasant day out.

Our last two days on the ship were to be the most entertaining. After another stressful day by the pools we got taken to a traditional Polynesian village for dinner. Once greeted by a singing Hawaiian man and girls with flower necklaces we found the free bar and tried some local drinks - Maitai and Blue Hawaiian. We were then treated to moutains of food cooked underground and a traditional Lu'au performance with singers and dancers. The following morning we were up early and off to the airport on Kaua'i for a helicopter ride over the island. Our pilot narrated the journey as we passed over the hills and fields where Jurassic Park was filmed before taking us on a tour of the valleys, coastlines and waterfalls. Not a bad way to end a week touring these small islands in the Pacific.

Back on dry land we got a taxi to what we thought was the right hotel only to find we had looked at the wrong paperwork. To cut a long story short the staff eventually found we were booked into the one around the corner so a bell boy took our bags round, we checked in and found a cold beer at the pool before taking spending the afternoon on the beach at Waikiki. The surfers were out in force making use of what seemed like huge waves as we just enjoyed being bobbed around and whisked along by them. Our last day in Hawaii started with a ride to Alamo car rental where we found the most inept man in the world who took 20 minutes to process our booking - we only wanted the smalled car they have for one day! We ended up paying less than we thought and found ourselves in a V6 Chevvie called a Malibu?! Anyway, we headed off to Pearl Harbour and joined the 'line' (the Amercians don't understand the word queue) to get our free ticket. We took a look inside a submarine called USS Bowfin before watching a moving video on the attack that happened in 1941. Then followed the short boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial where we could see the sunken vessel and a tribute to those who lost their lives and who are still entombed inside. We continued our day of historical sights with a visit the the Punchbowl Crater Memorial and the Diamond Head Lighthouse before filling up the car and returning it. But even this isn't simple over here - in order to pay cash for fuel you have to pay for it in advance in the shop, which is a little difficult when you don't know how much you need to fill the tank!
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