Saturday, 13 October 2018

Back To Honolulu

Unbelievably, the cruise had come to an end. We had our last breakfast at Cagney’s, savouring not having to prepare breakfast ourselves…We were not in a rush to disembark and thus strolled off the ship just after 9am. As we didn’t leave US territory, there was no immigration or customs. As soon as we got off, we found our luggage lined up in a big hall ready for us to pick up. Oma and Opa’s booked private transfer came and we said goodbye as they left for their flight home via Japan.
We took a taxi to our hotel at Waikiki Beach. We whiled away the hours at Waikiki waiting for our room to be ready and lunched at Marukame. The udon lived up to the hype and the food was inhaled! We took the opportunity to relax with the whole family depressed about having to return to reality the next day.

Last served breakfast. Sigh...

Time to shop!

Marukame udon. You choose the type of broth, then added toppings as desired

The children very happy to eat Japanese food

Come early because there are often LONG lines

The famous Waikiki Beach

View from our balcony

The children allowed to watch TV....

Friday, 12 October 2018

A Rest Day

Everybody was relieved to NOT have a booked tour today. The ship was docked overnight again. A sleep in and late breakfast later, the family decided to skip the original plan of visiting Fern Grotto and venture to the local malls instead. We braved the free shuttles that took us to Walmart and Kukui Grove. I was surprised when the children were keen to tag along but discovered the real reason when I saw that they got to the Walmart wifi quicksmart!!

It was good to spend the rest of the day relaxing on the ship and then enjoying the phenomenally gorgeous Napali Coast, where many famous movies were filmed notably Jurassic Park. Our last dinner on board was at Moderno, the ship's churrascaria. We were glad that the food was good! 

Waiting for the free shuttle

Free wifi at Walmart!

Back in time for lunch onboard

Special cocktail sailaway party

Jurassic looking Napali Coast


tee hee

Thursday, 11 October 2018


Today we visited the last of the Hawaiin Islands on the itinerary, Kaua’i, also known as the Garden Island. Our guide today was Domi from Kauai North shore limousines. The tour started late but as we were paying per hour and we had no onboard time, it was forgiven. At first, he seemed to talk A LOT, but credit to him, he managed to engage the whole family and was obviously passionate about his home. Being knowledgeable is a given :) He managed to get the whole family singing and reciting facts about Hawaii which was a feat considering how quiet my father was! The children definitely learnt plenty and were confident that they would do well in the trivia quiz on Hawaii!

We covered the main tourist spots of Kauai including the Waimea Canyon, Kalalau look out, beaches, waterfalls, Kauai coffee (we didn’t have time to go on the Wailua river and Fern Grotto) and Kilauea Lighthouse. What Domi also did for us was to find the best shave ice on the island, Tege Tege, his neighbour’s truck, a Japanese local who hand makes each order with fresh organic produce from his garden. The dragonfruit, guava and lemon were AMAZING! He took us for lunch where the locals went for a real Hawaiin experience, essentially a mix of cuisines from all the nationalities who migrated to Hawaii over the centuries. Tasty and cheap (compared to tourist frequented restaurants. After our delicious lunch Domi brought us to his home where he allowed the children to feed his pet pig Omar the scraps from lunch. He also generously shared with us some of his home grown passion fruit. All in all, we had a great day!

Our dinner today was at the Cadillac Diner where we had by a rather surly server. The food was alright but nothing that to rave home about. 

Waimea Canyon

The stunning Kalalau lookout, we would later cruise on the water and look back up on this vista from the ocean

More coffee tasting!

Not as good as Kona was the consensus!

My very large and very tasty noodles

Hawaii = beaches!

Dragonfruit shave ice. SO GOOD!

A machine brought back all the way from Japan!

One more beach

Animal sanctuary Kilauea Lighthouse. Somewhere on the beach is a monk seal...

The Lighthouse itself

The rather disappointing Cadillac Diner

Domi and his pig Omar!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018


Kona was a tender port and today was a day that we really appreciated the perks of cruising in concierge as we walked past the lines of of people waiting for tenders. We were escorted straight from the lounge and got on the first tender without having to wait. We were fortunate to have been able to get on shore as the waters were choppy and the ship was not able to stop due to weather conditions just a week ago. Over the past few months it had also been hazy and shrouded with volcanic fumes. And again, just for us seemingly, clear skies have prevailed over the past few days! Thank the Lord! Boy was it hot thought but we'll take it! 

Our tour for today was booked with Kailani tours and our guide was Brett, a young guide, who moved to Hawaii a few years ago. He was fantastic with the children and the van was big, new and spotless. We started with a scenic drive as Brett went through the history of Kona. We made a brief stop for some fresh fruit produce before our arrival at the Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. This was a traditional place of refuge for the ancient Hawaiians who broke a kapu (rules or taboo). There was a collection of archeological sites as well as displays to recreate ancient village life.

Captain Cook was killed in Kona by Hawaiians who smashed his head into rock and drowned him to test if he was a God...because they thought that he was a God! Brett took us to a lookout where this event was reported to happen. By this time we were starving and we headed up to Kona Joe’s for a lunch with the most amazing view! Our stop including a tour of the coffee making process, free coffee tasting, and free mugs! A dilemma of how to actually carry the heavy mugs home was tossed aside as the Asian "can't refuse free things" trait took over! To my absolute horror, while I was wrestling with this immense decision, young Jonah and his siblings managed to try all the all the coffee!!! He decided that he liked Kona coffee...very much. Talk about parental fail! We ended up buying a pumpkin spiced ice latte as this was not something we could easily get in Australia. Kailani tours provided a substantial lunch, complete with cold wipes for after, the meal, napkins, cutlery, water, place mats, condiments, as well as a bottle of water! 

Our fresh and tasty lunch

Beautiful views at Kona Joe's

A most relaxing lunch!

Ancient Hawaiin games at the Place of Refuge National Park

Gorgeous weather. Blue skies!

Captain Cook's Lookout

Our last stop for the day was a honey tasting shop. The cinnamon honey was a favourite and Jonah decided to buy a small jar with his own money. When we got back to the pier, there was a LONG line to get for tenders to get back on to the ship. It was hot and by the time we got onboard everyone was cranky and tired. We dined at the main dining room and wandered around the amazing library onboard the ship. It was then time to call it a day.

Look who we bumped into at dinner! Our cruising buddies from NZ 3 years ago!

Half of the massive onboard library!

Tuesday, 9 October 2018


Hawaii is the biggest island in Hawaii, also known as the Big Island. Hilo is the second largest city in Hawaii and was believed to be the first island to be inhabited by Polynesian voyagers from the Marquessa Islands. Hilo is America’s wettest city with over 120 inches annually and so we thanked our lucky stars that it didn’t rain today!

Our guide for today was Lee, from Wild Orchid Tours. A few minor points - he was an older gentleman and was not as intuitive as our guide was in Maui. He also forgot the water which was meant to be included in the package! However he quickly rectified this and bought us water at the next available store. He was also friendly and knowledgeable and that was our main requirement. He gave us quite a comprehensive history of the city.

Hilo is known as a tsunami town, having suffered several tsunamis, the last one in the 70s. For this reason, much of the foreshore is left undeveloped and left as parklands with the main town moving up further inland. Only a few surviving buildings from before the tsunamis remain.

We made a brief stop at the Papahanaumokuokea Marine National Monument in town before heading to the National Park. This was a surprise hit! It gave us a great overview geologically of the Hawaiin Archipelago. They also had screen with satellite shots and the children were able to zoom right into our street! Interestingly upstairs was a gallery with portraits painted by an elephant!

Foreshore of Hilo

Marine museum with interactive displays. Jonah learning how to tie knots.

The interactive satellite pictures that occupied the children for quite some time!

Taking a selfie with the painting...enough said

More beautiful waterfalls!
 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where Kilauea Volcano is, the word’s most active volcano, where it has erupted every day since 1983. The most recent ones being in the news, where the lava flow had destroyed whole villages. In the months prior to our departure, the National had to be closed and was only just reopened about a week before our arrival. Unfortunately, for safety reasons, large sections of the Park was still not open to the public. We drove further into the national park to a beautiful picnic spot on hardened lava flow. As we ate our wraps we enjoyed the exquisite scenery of the ocean. Lee took us on a scenic drive en route back to the ship. Much to our annoyance, Elliot only remembered that he left his phone in the car AFTER we were dropped off back at the ship. Fortunately, the guide was happy to turn around and deliver it to us.

Dinner this evening was at La Cucina,, another one of our dining package venue, sadly it was only average. Some of the pasta were overcooked which is probably a sin for an Italian restaurant!After dinner, Lara somehow managed to convince Elliot to go to the teen club. Not sure of the outome as I feel asleep!
The almost moon like landscape of Volcano National Park. This was once a molten lava lake

An older crater now with vegetation on it

Picnic lunch on a Lava field. This one a few decades old

Nene! The bird of Hawaii

One of the better dishes at La Cucina

Monday, 8 October 2018

More Maui

As the ship docked overnight, there was no need to wait for clearance to go onshore this morning. We tried the breakfast buffet at the Aloha Café. There were mixed reactions from the family. Half preferred the freshly prepared options at Cagney’s, the other half preferred the speed and relative convenience of the buffet.

Our tour today was with Georgia, from Holo Holo Maui Tours, again. Today we headed west toward the Iao Valley for a much shorter tour. The lush and visually stunning Iao Valley and Needle were first on the agenda. The children enjoyed playing in the fresh waters of the Iao stream. We had to force them to leave for a brief stop at the Heritage Gardens, a public picnic area paying homage to the various immigrant groups in Hawaii. Unfortunately, some of the buildings were not maintained well which was a shame.

Iao Valley

The refreshingly cool river

Family fun wading around the river bed

A most beautiful picnic spot!

The Japanese Pavilion. They did a large amount of the field work

The Chinese Pavilion and its resident stone lions...

More lions...

Lunch was at a restaurant called 808 (after Hawaii’s call code) recommended by Georgia. We got there just in time. After we were seated, it appeared that the everybody on the island came too! The food was simple, fresh and tasty with generous serves.

Our last stop before heading back to the ship was Bailey House, a museum of Hawaiian history and art. The stone building was originally a house for the missionary families built within the grounds of the former last ruling chief of Maui. We had a brief tour and explanation of the various artifacts that are within the house as well as the history of the building itself. 

Once back on the ship, we had dinner at Cagney’s, our first of three dinners at one of the specialty restaurants onboard. We had a three restaurant ultimate dining package to use up. Dining at these restaurants would otherwise incur a surcharge. We noted that in general the service so far has not been as good as on the other NCL ships. We were not sure if this was due to the fact that the Pride of America was the only ship to be registered in the USA which meant it had to go with US labour laws. The workforce thereby would be vastly different to those on the Caribbean nation registered ships. The steak though…was good 😊

Lara headed to the Teen’s club and reported that she enjoyed it. Elliot chose to read and Jonah preferred to continue working through the movies that were available….

A replica traditional canoe on display

Cauldron for whale blubber. Oma's first comment...that was used to cook humans! 

An amazing collection of extinct snails

Intricate local seed necklace

Jonah feeling sad for the stuffed bird

Prawn cocktail = back on the ship!