Norweigian Cruise Lines operates The Pride of America out of Honolulu, Hawaii, and if you’re planning a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands, this, in my mind, is the way to go. With a crew of around 950, their only purpose is to see that you are properly fed and pampered.
Their cruise departs Honolulu every Saturday evening, arriving at the island of Maui early Sunday morning. We decided to take the “Road to Hana” as our excursion for the day. It turned into a nine-hour day of riding in a minibus similar to the buses operated by the St. Joe County Transportation Authority, but not as comfortable. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable. He shared his knowledge of native birds, plants, trees, and Hawaiian folklore and history. By the time we returned to the ship, my tailbone was numb, as was my brain from trying to digest everything that was explained to me during the tour. The Road to Hana is not for anyone with a fear of heights, or a dislike of bumpy roads and hairpin turns. I might compare it to taking a mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It is an excursion that everyone should experience. The sights are amazing and the experience is educational.
Monday morning found us on an excursion to the crater located about 10,000 feet above sea level. This tour provided us with a motor coach, which is much larger and much more comfortable. The road to the crater was much smoother, but just as winding. Before we reached our destination, we found ourselves already above the clouds. The terrain near the top was used during the filming of the Star Wars movie. Once again, we were fortunate to have a guide who was very knowledgeable and loved his job. He had a great sense of humor. Unfortunately, many members of our group either didn’t appreciate or understand his sense of humor. I wish I had had pencil and paper with me, because he did come across with humor worth remembering.
I experienced toothache problems after the non-stop flight from Chicago to Honolulu, which took about a week to subside. The high-altitude trip to the crater reminded me of the discomfort that accompanies such an experience, so the helicopter ride over an active volcano, which was scheduled for Tuesday morning, was cancelled for the two of us. As a result, we spent Tuesday onboard the ship. One can only spend so much time lounging on deck and partaking of the endless supply of food. A lesson I learned all too well.
It has been rumored that one of the best ways to see Alaska is to take a summer cruise and take advantage of the excursions from the ship. The same can be said of wanting to see the best of Hawaii. As I’ve mentioned before, you can’t visit Honolulu and say that you’ve seen Hawaii. There is too much to be seen and learned by visiting the other islands that make up our fiftieth state. Like Florida, probably the best time to visit Hawaii would be during the late fall or winter.
During our trip, we visited Oahu, of course, but found the islands of Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai just as interesting and actually more fun, because there weren’t as many tourists at one time, and in one place. Kauai was probably one of our favorite islands. The scenery and the people were fantastic, but probably most interesting to me was that Kauai provided the settings for many of the motion pictures we’ve enjoyed over the years.
My wife and I both enjoy traveling, but after all the adventures that go along with many trips and the opportunity to interact with other travelers, it’s always great to get back home. I don’t think I could ever be a world-traveler. I enjoy getting away for a weekend now and then, but it doesn’t take too long for me to get a little homesick. I soon miss the interaction with the people I know and the everyday life to which have become accustomed. Hawaii is about as close one can get to having perfect weather, but as my sister has said more than once, “I love the change of seasons.” Above all, it’s nice to sleep in my own bed at night.
See you Out and About!
Submitted by Norm Stutesman