October 5, 2006

Ahh the difficulty of having to go back to work when thoughts of the Hawaiian Islands still dance in your psyche! It’s nice to see that my farewell lei which never made it to the ocean still looks kinda fresh laying out on the kitchen countertop, and souveniers are still sprinkled about the house. I suppose I could invite Rob and Kerry, and every reader of this blog to our house for a riveting four-hour travelogue presentation, but everyone would then need a boat drink and I haven’t got enough cocktail parasols to go around.

Instead, here are a few impressions – both good and bad – left over from our vacation.

1. A truly memorable experience was feeling our boat drift slowly away from the pier beside the Aloha Tower to the strains of “Aloha ‘Oe” played by a Hawaiian band on the pier below. A tradition dating back to the “Boat Days” of earlier times, one got the sense of being in some quaint 1920s timewarp and experiencing something truly unique and timeless. Magical.

2. Although NCL America tried, it really can’t hold a candle to Royal Caribbean when it comes to cruising. While the food was OK, the ship was just so and you got the sense that one hand didn’t always know what the other was doing. One main pet peeve: the daily ship newsletter never included a map of the pier and surrounding area to be visited the next day. Simply inexcusable.

3. The Jack Nicklaus-designed Kauai Lagoons Kiele course was both beautiful and challenging. My rental clubs were top of the line Callaways, but The Great White Shank’s game is an equal opportunity employer when it comes to golf courses – resort or muni – and equipment – expensive or cheap. No matter where or with what, I always end up shooting my usual 110. But what a way to go!

4. Waimea on the Big Island (not to be confused with Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore) is a beautiful place – almost New England-rural in appearance, in the thin zone between the dry and wet sides of the island. The day we arrived, the sun was glistening through a heavy mist and a brisk wind blowing the trees around. Not much to see and do there, but it felt like home and a place I’d seen before. Maybe in my dreams…

5. If you’re going to Hawai’i, bring plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of do-re-mi. I don’t know how people can afford to live there with everything as expensive as it is. Because there’s little manufacturing and diversity of agriculture to speak of (the latter being something I still don’t get), everything has to be shipped from the mainland in one way or another. And that costs.

6. Lahaina is a great little town on the west side of Maui. Lots of shops, restaurants and bars with truly unique concepts and wares. The afternoon we were there was blazing hot – fortunately there were enough cool dark places where one could find solace in a couple-two-three frosty Kona Longboard Lagers. Not a bad beer, by the way…

7. Hawaiian chicks (actually, in Hawai’i, they’re called “wahines”). ‘Nuff said.

8. The Blue Hawaiian Helicopters tour over the west side of Maui and the island of Molokai was a true highlight. And, you can pick up the DVD of your own personal trip right then and there minutes after you’ve landed. Technology is an amazing thing!

9. I like Hilo Hattie. More Hawaiian shirts than you’ll ever see the rest of your life, and the sounds of “Alo…..ha!” everywhere as people tap the oysters they’ve picked out of a bowl three times for luck and have them opened to see what kind of pearl(s) await them inside. Mrs. Shank found twin pink pearls in hers, which figures, given that she’s a twin herself.

10. A chilled Cream of Macadamia Nut soup aboard ship was not as disgusting as it sounds.

11. The Kahala Mandarin Oriental on the east side of Oahu is simply one of the most beautiful resorts you’ll find anywhere. Away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, it sits next to the exclusive Waialae Country Club where the PGA’s Sony Open is played. Oceanside drinks and dining amidst lush gardens and lagoons, the tiki torches ablaze at night….sigh. A place we’d love to visit again – if we can ever afford it again.

(BTW, if you do plan a visit there, do yourself a favor – rent a car and stop at one of the many ABC stores that dot the island. There, buy all the snacks and beverages you plan to partake of while at the Kahala, then sit back and enjoy not having to be constantly amazed at how much food and drink costs there! Pricey, yes, but if you can afford it, you’ll have a memorable vacation there.)

12. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Pearl Harbor while on Oahu due to: a) one of our tours being cancelled due to a lack of numbers, and b) spending our first post-cruise afternoon trying to convince a security guard at the pier that, while we had indeed departed the ship for good that morning, we were fairly certain my cell phone had not. But the day wasn’t a total loss: not only did we end up at the Royal Hawaiian for beachside cocktails in the shadow of Diamond Head, but my cell phone was ultimately found on the ship and is currently winging its way back to AZ via DHL.

13. Whether it’s by cruise ship or by plane, if you get to Maui, do not – I repeat, DO NOT – buy into attending the heavily-marketed Pacific Paradise Luau at the Maui Prince. More a grandiose combo buffet/Las Vegas show than an honest-to-goodness luau, it was overly-priced, the food was no better than your average American Legion hall wedding reception, and, while the grounds of the resort were lovely, it WASN’T what I would call a luau at all. Better luck next time in that regard.

All in all, however, it was till a great vacation, and a nice way to see a number of the Hawaiian Islands. If you haven’t been to Hawaii, NCL does a nice job showing you around – just don’t expect anything overly spectacular when it comes to the cruising end of it. For us, God willing, next time it’ll just be the Kahala (and a lot of trips to the ABC Store!)

Mahalo lu le, Mahalo lu la, Keeni waka pula

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:03 | Comments (2)
  1. So, were the boat drinks better when you were on the boat?? I am sure they had parasols!! Especially the drink of the day!

    Comment by Kerry — October 6, 2006 @ 6:04 am

  2. As a matter of fact they were!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — October 6, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

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