CRUISE THROUGH THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
NOVEMBER 2-14, 2004
HAWAII TRAVELOGUE #1 – Hilo, Big Island of Hawaii – Thursday, November 4.
Aloha from Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii,
This is the first access I've had to the "on-board" Internet Cafe here on the Norwegian Wind. We arrived in Hawaii on time on Tuesday, election day, and stayed at a very nice hotel in Waikaki. Although we had two flights and were in the air for over 11 hours, the trip was relatively comfortable for everyone. Planes were on time and all connections were perfect -- from Vincentown Firehouse all the way to the Hotel in Hawaii. We watched the beautiful Hawaiian sunset from the patio of our hotel on Tuesday night, while sipping Mai Tai's and unwinding from the long air flight.
On Wednesday morning (November 3) we learned the results of the US elections, and they were well received by most in our group -- mainly a bunch of Vincentown rednecks and pineys. Our first major activity was a tour of Pearl Harbor where we visited the shrine over the USS Arizona -- a very touching and memorable part of our Hawaiian adventure. We then had a tour of Honolulu and boarded our ship, the Norwegian Wind at around 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. This again was a flawless and relatively simple operation. We had one passport problem, but within a few hours everyone was cleared and partying on board the ship.
We departed Honolulu at 8:00 p.m. Our group really unwound last night at a deck party -- and if only we could bring home videoos of Pat Scerba doing a Native Hawaiian dance with a Hawaiian Chippendale and me doing the YMCA dance and Mambo #5 on the dance floor, we might never be allowed back to Vincentown. We sailed through the night through some rough seas, so this morning several in our group awoke with a touch of sea sickness. We are hoping they will get the appropriate medication to survive the remainder of the cruise -- especially since tonight we leave for two full days at sea.
We docked at Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii at 10:00 a.m. (Thursday, November 4) and some took special scenic excursions. Penny and I and a few other people took a bus into the town of Hilo for a brief excursion, returning to the ship to sun ourselves for the afternoon. There is so much to do aboard ship that we have been having difficulty deciding on our plans for tonight, which include two shows, a meal, and a deck party. Penny is planning to take Hula lessons tomorrow. (Post-trip edit: Penny didn’t take the Hula Lessons, but four members of our group did and performed on stage for their “graduation” midway through the trip). We have a wonderful group of 32 people -- all apparently ready to let their hair down, if last night is any indication of what we can expect. We've gotten off to a good start and will keep you posted as we navigate the waters of Hawaii over the remaining 9 days. When the ship leaves Hilo tonight at about 8 p.m. we will be headed to Fanning Island -- which is not a part of the United States, and is supposed to be relatively primitive. We are looking forward to it, after the next two full days at sea. We'll be in touch.
Joe and Penny
HAWAII TRAVELOGUE #2 – Day at Sea – Friday, November 5
Well, we have been at sea since 8:00 p.m. last night. It was an unusually rough Pacific once we set sail, and many of our group were affected by seasickness. The infirmary was busy, but the drugs apparently worked, as many of the folks were up and about today -- a bit shaky and groggy, but determined to make the most of the Hawaiian sun. Much of the day was spent getting tanned (translate "burned") -- and we are getting ready for our "formal" (really, just "dress up") dinner tonight. At 2:00 p.m. they had a deck party which included a "Mr. Sexy Legs" contest, which I entered. There were 3 guys from Canada, one from North Jersey, one from California, and me, representing Vincentown, NJ! Guess what? I won! The prize was a free Mai Tai, and a lay (the Hawaiian kind) from one of the pretty judges (3 young girls from Canada). During the mandatory touching of the legs by the judges, one of them said that my legs were softer than hers! Anyway, it was all captured on TV and will play throughout the ship all night tonight and all day tomorrow. We have pictures! I attribute my victory both to my beautiful legs, but also to being cheered on by the very rowdy crowd I have with me. I have to wear my "Mr. Sexy Legs" banner all day today -- because if anyone sees me without it, I have to buy them a drink.
Tonight we have a dress up dinner, followed by a Las Vegas type show and Karaoke in the Observatory Lounge -- you can bet they'll hear me sing "Jambalaya" (Post-trip edit: The Karaoke repertoire was limited – no Jambalaya, so I had to sing Englebert’s “After the Loving” and Sinatra’s “High Hopes”!) That's it from somewhere in the Pacific on this Friday evening. We sail all day tomorrow and disembark on Fanning Island on Sunday morning.
Joe and Penny
HAWAII TRAVELOGUE #3 – From International Waters off Fanning Island – Sunday, November 7
Writing from the waters of the Republic of Kiribati, just off the coast of Fanning Island, two days by sea south of Hawaii's big Island. The news is less than happy today, because of some problems which have developed in the engine room of the Norwegian Wind. There has been a major engine malfunction, and although the technicians have been working on it for two days, the problem still exists. As a result, we arrived at Fanning Island 7 hours behind schedule (we were supposed to be here at 8:00 a.m. Sunday -- instead, we arrived at 3:00 p.m.) This prevented us from doing the scheduled disembarking for activities on this very primitive island (no telephones, no nothing -- except thatched huts and a population of relatively primitive people). We were looking forward to a taste of the past by visiting this very primitive culture -- but all land options were cancelled and we are already (at 4:00 p.m.) headed back to the Hawaiian Islands. There are a lot of disappointed people on board. So far the captain assures us that we will get to see most of what was scheduled, but the fact that we are running on half an engine (Post-trip correction: Actually, one of four engines was malfunctioning) isn’t exactly reassuring to the passengers on board. For some of us, the partying and the fun continues -- we will not allow an engine malfunction interfere with our vacation. So there is a little more drinking going on than originally planned -- and this is our third straight day at sea, with two more to go. By Wednesday morning we will be happy to make our port of call at Kona, back in the Hawaiian Islands (Big Island of Hawaii). 5 straight days aboard ship at sea is a long time.
As evidence of their cabin fever, some of the guys even resorted to joining the ladies, attending bead making and yoga classes to avoid boredom. One member of our group has already won bingo three times, for a grand total win of $650.00. There is plenty of entertainment on board, however, for everyone, and lots of good food -- so by and large, everyone is still having a great time. The engine problem has put a little cloud over the cruise, but as I said, most members of our group have a way of turning tragedy into fun. By the way, our ship is filled to capacity, with 1,748 tourists and a crew of 700. We still haven't reached the half-way point in the cruise -- and there's lots to look forward to. I’ll give you an update in a day or so.
Hope all is well where you are.
Joe and Penny
HAWAIIAN TRAVELOGUE #4 – Tuesday, November 9
Well, we are completing our fifth straight day at sea -- looking forward to our first steps on land tomorrow at around noon, when we land at Kona, on the big Island of Hawaii. On Thursday we land at Nawiliwili on the Island of Kauai, then Friday at Lahaina on the Island of Maui. When we reach Honolulu on the Island of Oahu on Saturday, we will have visited four of the 8 inhabited Hawaiian Islands. We have had a lot of fun aboard ship, however, with all kinds of shows and games and activities. One of our group members has won bingo an unprecedented 4 times with the ship record (out of 1,748 passengers) of $900 in winnings. The winners are newlyweds from Vincentown -- Butch and Wildred Sharp.
Penny proved herself on Monday night when she was invited up on stage by the Comedian at the big Variety Show. He was billed as the "Original Hawaiian Cowboy" -- Well, Penny was his partner for the demonstration of Hawaiian poi twirling. It is a white ball, the size of a tennis ball on the end of a string. They are twirled around heads, bodies, etc. along with Hawaiian music. Penny was fantastic and funny. Everybody on ship has been telling her what a great job she did -- and how funny she was. So between my legs and her twirling, we are celebrities on the Norwegian Wind. We have attended just about every show on ship, from piano bars, discos, clubs and theaters. The talent is great. No rain so far, so everyone has been getting a great tan on the sun deck and in the pools. I found a great wet bar where you sit on a stool in the water at the bar in your bathing suit. I've met people from all over the world there. Lot's of friendly people on board. However, one member of our group commented that it is a floating senior citizen community! --- and rightly so. Of all the cruises I've been on, and I've been on quite a few, this one has the oldest median age of any of them. Must be the call of Hawaii! That should do it for now.
By the way, we haven't been getting many messages back -- so we'd love getting even a line or two to let us know you are all Ok. We have been without CNN for 4 days while at sea, so I've been giving our group news from the Burlington County Times that I pick up here on the computer. CNN returns as we approach the islands tonight.
Take care -- and Mahalo from Hawaii.
Joe and Penny
HAWAIIAN TRAVELOGUE #5 – Thursday, November 11 (Veteran’s Day)
It is Thursday night, approaching 11:00 p.m. We are at sea after a day on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. We docked at the town of Nawiliwili (pronounced Na-Willie-Willie). It was another beautiful day (our tenth day of sunshine) with temperatures in the lower to mid 80s. Penny and I went to a Marriott Resort not far off shore. In Hawaii, all beaches are public -- so we blended in with the people at the Marriott who paid thousands of dollars for their week in the sun. We used their beach, their Tiki Bars, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
Some of our group went on helicopter rides into volcano craters, others toured this lush and beautiful island. Yesterday we were in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Most of the time there was spent shopping for souvenirs, although Penny and I did visit a hotel beach. It was our first day on land since we had been in Hilo almost a week ago. Tomorrow is our last stop at a new island. We will be on the Island of Maui, docking at 8 a.m. and then leaving at 9 p.m. Many in our group are going to a Luau tomorrow evening. Tonight we had our last Vegas-style show on board-- and it was spectacular. Hard to believe the trip is just about over. After our day in Maui tomorrow (we will dock at the town of Lahaina), we head to Honolulu ( Oahu) for our trip home. Many have their bags packed already so they can enjoy their last full day in Hawaii tomorrow. We fly via San Francisco to Philadelphia on Saturday, arriving in Vincentown early Sunday morning. It has been a great trip, despite the fact that it got off to a poor start because of a faulty ship engine. Most of the people in our group have gained between 5 and 15 pounds on this trip (no kidding!). I personally thought I saw stretch marks when I looked in the mirror this morning. Oh well!
We’ll see you sometime during next week. Thanks for putting up with this. Only one person asked to be removed from my Travelogue list mid trip! Not sure whether it was envy or boredom. Anyway, thanks to the rest of you for hanging in there.
Joe and Penny
POST TRIP CONCLUSION – Sunday, November 14
Our disembarking the ship on Saturday morning became a bit chaotic when the luggage of three Collette groups became intermingled on various luggage carts. It is a miracle that everyone’s luggage eventually got to the airport and on the correct plane. We can happily say that no one missed the plane and no one lost any luggage. The plane from Honolulu to San Francisco was relatively comfortable. The “red eye” from Frisco to Philly was a little more difficult – we were happy to make it through the night. Our bus was waiting outside the terminal, and we arrived in Vincentown by 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Because there was so much to do on this trip, this travelogue reflects the activities of just two people – Joe and Penny. Everybody else’s story will be different – as they opted for a variety of land excursions, from visiting volcanoes, biking down craters, seeing the undersea beauty via glass-bottom boats, taking an amphibious “duck” through Lahaina and on water to see huge Hawaiian sea turtles, helicopter rides over an island, and even renting ATVs for a land adventure. I have to admit that the economy of Hawaii benefited from our group – as we had many avid shoppers with us. It was truly an adventure of a lifetime for most of us. Still, there’s no place like home!