Friday, September 2, 2016

Blue Skies, Blue Waters, What Maui do you want!

Nothing like Island hopping in Hawaii …. As we left Honolulu all the captain had to do was point us in the right direction, put us in drive and we were bound to hit another Hawaiian Island…

And we did, Maui in fact.  Lahaina was the port and wanting to mix things up a little bit we did a Princess tour.  We literally boat hopped today. 

Off the Sun Princess, onto a tender then straight onto Lahaina Princess…. No, Princess has not increased its fleet, just a local boat with an appropriate name.
We couldn’t have picked a more glorious day, sitting out on deck cruising pass our ship, following the Maui coastline.  The landscape looked so barren, so mountainous so uninhabitable and yet it is the third most populated island in the Hawaiian group.

Our first stop was Molokini crater. What looks like a crescent shape island in the middle of nowhere, is actually an ancient volcanic caldera offering some of the clearest waters in Maui to snorkel in. After a quick instruction from a young Owen Wilson look alike, it was not long before we were all paddling around in our fins, snorkel and for some of us chickens, noodles to keep us afloat.  They said it was a quiet day, but we were surrounded by several boats filled with tourists just as excited as we were.  Their only stipulations were don’t climb on the crater and don’t climb back on to the wrong boat.
From there we retraced our steps and headed back stopping at Olowalu’s Turtle Reef, renowned for the endangered green sea turtles that frequent the area.  But alas today they were a little infrequent and although there was a shout of “OVER THERE” we all seemed to miss them.
For a princess tour, I would have to say we were quite impressed and after all that strenuous snorkelling we refuelled on a sumptuous deli style sandwich buffet, complete with unlimited chips, cookies and soft drink.
After arriving back in Lahaina, we still had some time to kill so we walked along the main street lined with tourist shops as far as the eye could see and if you made it all the way to the end you were rewarded with an outlet centre!!
Being so efficient we even had enough time to sit back and enjoy a cocktail or three before climbing back into those steamy tenders for our ride back home.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

H’ Alo-ha can you go….

Honolulu was the only Hawaiian port that we had previously been to.  For something different we decided to visit the Polynesian Cultural Village.  As the tour did not start till mid-day it gave us time to re-explore the port area.

It was pretty early when we walked off and not much was happening, so we took a walk up to Ross – dress for less.  They were open early; they must have got the email about a cruise ship arriving.  Just out front a small market was starting to set up.  What caught my eye was the bakery stall.  White/ white, wholemeal/brown, pumpkin/yellow, guava/pink and taro/purple where all types of bread and like the Gay Pride Flag, looked like a rainbow up on the shelf.

Heading down to the Aloha Tower we were surprised to find it deserted. It seems it has been taken over by the University and the shops are now conference and meeting rooms.  By chance, while looking for the toilets we found the elevator was running people up the clock tower where we managed to grab some great photos of the city skyline and the ship. 

Finally, it was time to meet for our Princess tour, and with only 17 people, this made it a comfortable and intimate tour.   Maybe too intimate or so one passenger thought...

So there we are, all sitting on the bus for the start of our 90-minute drive to reach the other side of the island. Sitting in front of us were a couple of ladies - one happened to have a particularly bad cough. After about 20 min the man sitting in front of her was starting to wiggle uncomfortably in his seat.  Cough, cough, cough…. A rain poncho appears and the gentleman puts it on.  Cough, Cough, Cough…… up goes the rain hood ….  It was all we could do not to laugh out loud.  It was made worse when the ladies in front also realised what had happened, and with their hands covering their mouths, they tried to muffle their own laughs. Pretending we were taking photos of the scenery we started snapping raincoat man, and swapped photos with the ladies in front using Airdrop.  Well they say prevention is better than cure!

Later speaking with our cougher, she was actually suffering with bronchitis and she was certainly not contagious. Coincidently raincoat man stopped for a chat and innocently explained how cold he was on the bus and only had his poncho for protection.  Just like a Ripley’s Believe It or Not, I will let you make your own conclusions… 

Even with the entertainment happening in the bus we also managed to enjoy the passing countryside.  Views that never cease to amaze with the dramatic mountains on the left and the crystal clear waters that sometimes come so close they seem to lap the edge of the road.

Our driver was pretty confident on these shore hugging roads, and he sped his way to the Village making photography challenging. He then proceeded to give us our instructions for the day.  Like kids on a school excursion we were lectured.

If you can’t walk fast you have to hire a motor scooter; we will need to get from one show to another in quick time to ensure good seating.

If you wander off, he will not come looking for you as it was your choice to stray.

At the end of the day, in order to be in front of all the slow driving tourists who are unfamiliar with the dark winding roads, we needed to be out of the car park first.  Not realising he was talking to a bus of well-travelled cruisers, he told us that if wewere not back in time the captain will leave without us... Yeah sure!

In order to do this, he instructed that during intermission we were all to go to the toilet, that way once the lights came on, we were to head straight to the bus… NO STOPPING FOR SHOPPING …

Well he must have scared most of the others, as out of the corner of our eyes we could see them all running up the stairs before the final encore. 

Garry and I were last on the bus, but we were still first out of the carpark and we boarded the ship in plenty of time.

Now I was so caught up with our driver I forgot to tell you about our actual visit.

The cultural village pays tribute to all the major Polynesian islands.  Tonga, Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji were all represented, each with separate villages constructed to display their way of life.  During the day at specific times each village would come alive with shows and demonstrations showcasing their culture.  Natives from each country danced, sang, played music and even climbed trees to entertain us.  Funny or serious there was always something to entertain us.

There are also events when all the countries cane together, starting with a Canoe Pageant.  Unlike the floating stage of a princess ship, these canoes rocked and rolled as each group performed their lively dances on a platform that bobbed up and down with each movement as it sailed pass the cheering spectators.

In the evening there is the Night show, the story of Ha – Breath of life is told in song and dance, once again displaying each culture.

The Story went like this:

On a perilous night, in an unknown place, a child, Mana is born and breathes the breath of life.

Tonga – Kind Villagers welcome the little one and his parents to their new home.

Hawaii – Mana grows, and the village celebrates his early years of life.

Aotearoa (NZ) – As Mana becomes a man he learns the ways of this fathers and sets out to find his place in the world

Samoa – He discovers new villages, new people and new love.

Tahiti – Mana and Lani marry and make a life together

Fiji – Mana becomes a father, but loses his own father whilst trying to defend his family

A new child is born and Mana learns that Ha – the breath of life, goes on forever …

Well you had to be there… it was excellent.

The only thing that didn’t impress was the actual Luau.  In a room we sat with another couple of thousand people and waited for our turn to join the buffet line… couldn’t fault the food… couldn’t fault the show, it just felt a little bit crowded.

The centre is actually a non-profit organisation founded by the Mormons.  Its purpose is to provide scholarships and work experience to the students of Brigham Young University – Hawaii.    Now the penny should have dropped, they were selling these fabulous looking cocktails, straight out of a pineapple but of the non-alcoholic kind, I didn’t get one….