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Old 07-06-2012, 01:18 PM   #196
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I'm so glad the acupuncture worked! What an amazing day I had no idea there were so many changes in the scenery. Thanks for the beautiful photos
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Old 07-06-2012, 05:40 PM   #197
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Originally Posted by tiggrbaby View Post
Thank you so much for sharing this day! Your pics are amazing! I hope to go to Maui and drive that road some day...
Although I would classify the Road to Hana as a must do, I would not recommend driving it yourself. The drive is tricky and you would not get to appreciate the beauty of it. The locals refer to the Road to Hana as "Divorce Highway" as so many people driving it come to blows with each other. I would definitely advise you to let the experts do the work and I can highly recommend Valley Isle Excursions.

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Sounds like a long day. Were the trips expensive?

I don't think I finished your last TR as I don't remember you going to Walt's grave, where is it? I must go back and revisit that TR.
It was definitely a long day. All in all it lasted about 11 hours. It was the most expensive excursion we did and cost $127.

The second most expensive excursion was on Oahu, which was something a bit special and was $120 per person, which included transportation from the port and lunch.

The Disney excursions that I did were quite good value. The Volcanoes National Park Tour was $66 per person, our tour in Kauai was $58 per person and my excursion in Ensenada was an absolute bargain at $35.

Walt Disney's grave is at Forest Lawn Glendale.

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Wow what a lovely day Corinna - some gorgeous photographs.

Not sure how I would have coped on the roads, but the views and scenery you saw certainly look worth it

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I know I would not have coped without the Acupuncture.

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Great update&lovely photos. I never knew Lindbergh was buried in Hawaii..although his wife Ann wrote those best selling books from Hawaii in her later years so I should have put 2 and 2 together.
I had not know this either until I started to research possible excursions.

Corinna
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:38 PM   #198
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Corinna? you're not done, are you? Haven't seen you around in a couple days. Your audience is stirring impatiently
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:40 PM   #199
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No, I am not done. I am working on the Oahu installment every free minute I get at the moment, but there are not many of those. Things are going crazy at work at the moment. With a bit of luck I am ready to post the next installment on Sunday.

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Old 07-15-2012, 08:51 AM   #200
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Day 12

Today it was back to our usual routine as we had a slightly later start. Mickey woke us up at 7:00 AM. We got up and packed all the things that we needed for the day. We had brought our wetsuits and as we were going snorkelling that day, we decided to take them. Once we had everything we needed, we headed up to deck 9 to have some breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet. The view that we had morning was decidedly different from the view that we had enjoyed the previous two days. Instead of volcanoes and greenery, we were welcomed by skyscrapers. Actually Honolulu reminded me of Dubai and the temperature was comparable, too. Beach Blanket Buffet was much busier that day, but we were lucky enough to get a table. We both had a cooked breakfast. Shortly after we sat down, I spotted somebody from our cruise meet thread looking for a table. I invited her to join us as we had ended up with one of the circular booth and there was plenty of space. It was nice to have some company and talking about our plans for the day. She had a Disney excursion and had to leave a bit earlier than us.

Once we had finished our breakfast, we headed downstairs to deck 3 trying to figure out were the gangway was. Normally there are signs in all of the elevator lobbies pointing people in the right direction as deck 1 does not have corridors running all the way through. There was no indication where we needed to go. A crew member realised what we were looking for and advised us that they gangway was actually on deck 3. We headed for the atrium and left the ship. The photographers were just outside the ship again taking photos. Once we entered the terminal, they had staff from Aulani, the new Disney resort on Oahu, there to welcome us and also a children’s choir. Unfortunately the children’s choir was just going on a break. The terminal building was rather nice and actually looked like a proper terminal rather than the warehouse-like structures at the other ports. Honolulu is the home port for the NCL Pride of America and this probably has something to do with this. Again we had been given instructions on how to get to the meeting point. There were no photos this time round, but we had been advised to wait in front of the Hula Girl statue in front of Aloha Tower Marketplace. That seemed straightforward enough. The port in Honolulu is huge and Aloha Tower Marketplace was further away from where we had docked than I had anticipated. Still, we had given ourselves plenty of time, the weather was beautiful and the walk was actually very pleasant. We walked along the waterfront and the water was so clear that we could see all manner of tropical fish just walking past. Soon after we reached Aloha Tower Marketplace, I spotted a Hula Girl statue. The trouble was that Graham had spotted one, too and they were not the same. The one Graham had spotted was right by the road, whereas mine was set back from the street and just inside the shopping centre. So we figured that Graham’s statue was the more likely option. We headed over there and sat down on the base of the statue. There was another couple wearing our group shirts already there. They were heading to Aulani for the day. People on our cruise meet thread had got together to share transport to Aulani. The meeting place for this was also the Hula Girl statue. They were quite relieved when they saw us as nobody else was at the meeting point and they had the same confusion that we had about the multiple statues. In the end is turned out that they were in the wrong place as their pick up point had changed, but it was nice to chat while we waited. Shortly afterwards, a family that I knew were on the same excursion as us turned up and we spent some time talking to them.







Pretty much right on time, our mini bus arrived. The driver had picked up everybody from the hotels before coming to get us. There were not enough seats in the back so I ended up sitting in the front with the driver. Once she had made sure that she had everybody, we were on our way. Honolulu is a big and modern city and we saw something that we had not seen since leaving Los Angeles: a freeway. She pointed out various landmarks along the way. She also asked us to fill out a waiver and to choose our lunch. I had assumed that the tour would leave relatively close from the port, but we actually had to drive for a while. We actually could see Aulani in the distance on our way to the boat dock.

When we arrived at Waianae Boat Harbor, we were asked to go inside the building to check in. As our driver did not have quite enough waiver forms on the bus, I filled out our form at the check in. Once we had taken care of the formalities, we headed back outside where a trailer with all kinds of equipment was parked. We had brought our own snorkeling gear, but we needed a life vest. It took a while for everybody to get sorted out and they had to get some different sized of flippers and life vests for some people. We also had to wait for some people to arrive that had made their own way to Waianae Boat Harbor. Eventually everybody was there and we walked down to the boat dock. I was not thrilled when I saw the boat. I am not good with small boats at the best of times and this looked like an overgrown rubber dinghy!!! The only redeeming feature was its name. The boat is called Nai'a, which is Hawaiian for dolphin. We had to leave our shoes on the dock, but for everything else there was a huge plastic box. I was not sure if we would need to bring the wetsuits, but our driver suggested that we bring them along and put them in the box so that we have them if we would feel more comfortable with them.

Once everybody was on board, our captain introduced himself and his crew. Our driver was also the first mate on the boat, a lifeguard and marine biologist. They also had a professional photographer on board. The captain told us that Spinner Dolphins had been spotted in the bay just outside the harbour that morning. He told us a little about dolphins in general and about Spinner dolphins in particular. He explained that the dolphins hunt at night and that this was actually their resting period and that there was no guarantee that they would show any interest in us. However, he did say that the dolphins are used to the boat and know that it poses no danger so there was a good chance that they would grace us with their presence. It did not take long until we were surrounded by Spinner Dolphins. It was fascinating to watch them and they were fairly active. Some of them even performed for us. They are called Spinner Dolphins after one of their natural behaviours. Most species of dolphins jump out of the water and do flips. Spinner Dolphins are taking this to a new level. When they jump out of the water, they do a few rotations before diving back into the water. I was absolutely in awe of this.































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Old 07-15-2012, 08:59 AM   #201
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For a while, the dolphins played in the waves that our boat created and performed for us. Then they suddenly hung back a bit. It was almost like they were expecting something. This was the signal for our captain to slow the boat right down. I explained that it was time for the first "drop". We would be allowed to go in the water. He reminded us that we needed to wear the life vests. He also explained that this was not as much for our protection, but for the protection of the dolphins as this would prevent us diving down to them. He also recommended that we stayed together as a group as the dolphins are usually more likely to engage with a group then with individuals that are spread out. He then invited people to come towards the back of the boat, sit down on the rim and jump into the water from there. I did not think much of this. Eventually it was our turn. The water was not as cold as I had expected. Once I was in the water, I swum towards the group. Initially I was a bit nervous about the snorkelling. I don't quite understand why this was as I had done two successful snorkelling trips previously and both were in the Pacific. I started out with short stints of snorkelling and then coming up for air, but soon I got into the swing of things again. There were plenty of tropical fish that kept me entertained. What I did not see was dolphins. It was hard to believe that there were so many of them nearby. After a little while, the photographer came by to take some underwater shots of Graham and me. After we were in the water for about 40 minutes or so, the captain signaled is to come back to the boat. This answered my question on how we were supposed to get back on the boat. There was a ladder right at the back and this part was actually easy.





Once everybody was back on board, the captain asked if there were any people that had not seen the dolphins. I was the only one. He started the boat up again and moved a bit further up the bay. There we did the second drop. When I went in, something went wrong and I ended up with a lung full of water. This actually turned out to be a blessing. I spent a while coughing and spluttering, which separated me from the group. I was still relatively close to the boat when I felt that I was ready to get snorkelling again. As soon as I put my face in the water, I realised that I had company. Right underneath me, there were about a dozen dolphins including a calf. This was just an amazing experience. I swam on slowly and for a while the dolphins and I just swam together. At one stage I had to come up for air as I had another coughing fit caused by the water that had gone somewhere were it did not belong. When I was ready to continue snorkelling, the dolphins had moved on. I carried on snorkelling for a bit longer, but then decided to head back to the boat. This proved easier said than done. I am not a fast swimmer, but I am a reasonably strong swimmer and normally can hold my own. I have swam in all kinds of different bodies of water and I have always been OK. However, there was a strong current near the boat and for every three lengths of progress I made, I was swept back about two lengths. I was not worried or afraid and I still felt in control, but it was hard work and quite tiring. The captain realised what was happening and shouted to me to stay exactly where I was and he reversed the boat towards me. This is the ultimate exercise of trust to remain still when a very powerful boat is coming right at you . He stopped a couple of lengths away from me and I could get back on the boat with no problems. When it was time to move on, he took the boat close to the small groups that had formed so that there was minimal swimming involved.































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Old 07-15-2012, 09:05 AM   #202
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With everybody back on the boat, we got a first impression what this boat was capable of. The Nai'a has a cruising speed that is a third more that that of the Disney Wonder and a top speed that I don't even want to think about. As soon as we were clear of the bay with the dolphins, the captain opened her up and it was almost as if we were flying just above the water surface. Our next stop was a system of sandbanks that is known locally as a turtle cleaning station. The green sea turtles come to this area as there are certain fish there that feed on parasites that attach themselves to the shells of the turtles. This was actually the part of the excursion that I had looked forward to the most when we booked this. I have spent significant amounts of time in the company of dolphins for the past 10 years or so. However, I have never come across green sea turtles. In the end, after the mishap on the previous drop, I could not face going in the water again. So while most people jumped right back in, I opted to stay on the boat and enjoy the beautiful scenery. As we approached the sandbanks, the captain set out some more ground rules. Life vests no longer had to be worn, but reaching out to the turtles was strictly forbidden. The captain did advise though that the turtles either do not understand this rule or do not think much about it. Apparently they do often come really close and almost provoke contact. We stayed there for about 20 minutes or so before moving on to another spot that is good for turtle watching. Again I opted to stay on the boat. After another 20 minutes or so, we made our way back to the boat harbour. The ride back was a real thrill ride. The captain really opened the boat up and this time it did not feel so much like we were flying, but more like a high speed roller coaster ride. I hung on to the metal bar behind me for dear life, but I actually rather enjoyed it.





























When we were back at the harbour, we headed back to the main building for lunch. Graham had ordered the Tuna Salad Sub which came with crisps. I had ordered the Bento Box, which as per menu was a slice of Spam, Teriyaki Beef and a Hot Dog with rice. I love Teriyaki Beef and rice and I was quite curious about Spam. When I collected this, there was no sign of Teriyaki Beef. I still enjoyed it though. The meal also came with a soft drink. I had a Coke and Graham had Sprite. We ended up sitting with the other family from our cruise meet thread and it was great to have a chance to get to know them. During lunch, the photographer was also taking orders for photo CDs of the photos that she had taken during the excursion. The price for this was very fair and included shipping to anywhere in the world. So we decided to go for it. All too soon it was time to get back on the mini bus to head back to the port. I spent most of the journey back chatting with the driver. It has always been my dream to study marine biology, but as I could never see a practical career application for this, it has remained a dream. However, I make good use of every opportunity I get to talk to marine biologist. We were the first people to be dropped off and we made our way back to the ship. Again, security was handled by the port and this was a much more professional set up as at the other ports. However, I was quite surprised that they were very worried about people bringing alcohol back onto the ship which is not an issue with Disney Cruise Line at all. Some people had bought some salad dressings and marinates and they had to take them out of the bags to show the official and only once he checked that they were really what the customer said they were, they were waved through. This time round, we did not have to do security again when we got on the ship.
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Old 07-15-2012, 09:12 AM   #203
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Once we got back to our cabin, we dropped off our stuff and got changed and then we headed out again. The original plan had been to get on one of the hop on hop off buses or trolleys, but we were too tired for this. We figured that this would wait until our next visit to Oahu. Instead we just wondered over to Aloha Tower Market Place to have a look around. Unfortunately this place most certainly has seen better days and there were loads of empty shops and restaurants there. First of all, we needed something to drink. We found a coffee shop called the Island Vintage Coffee Company, which looked promising. We both had a Vintage Kona Mocha, which is an ice blended drink made wit Kona Coffee, Macadamia Nut and Coconut. This was absolutely delicious. They also showed a video about the production of Kona Coffee, which was very interesting.

I was still in the market for a few things I wanted to buy so we headed out as soon as we had finished our drinks. I was hoping to get a couple more Hawaiian sun dresses and I got lucky at a shop right across the way from Island Vintage Coffee Company where I found a lovely white dress with Hawaiian print, which was also an absolute bargain. I did not have much luck with the Plumeria body lotion that I was also hoping to get. I decided to have a look at the little market area that is behind the main shopping centre. They sold pretty much everything but the body lotion I was after. I did however find another dress. This is ankle length and black with a lovely orchid print. At that stage I was pretty much shopped out, but on the way into the shopping centre, I had spotted a big surf and leisure wear shop that had a closing down sale. I figured this would be worth a look. I did not buy anything, but Graham got two gorgeous Hawaiian shirts, one of which is the same shade of blue as my semi-formal dress.

We headed back to the ship. The excitement of the last two days had finally caught up with us. The Rainforest Room did not really appeal. As i was wearing my Middle Eastern swim suit, i had only burned part of my hands and feet. Graham did not get away quite so lightly. In any case neither of us found exposure to heat particularly appealing. We decided to have a nap. For some reason I thought that our Palo reservation was at 19:30. So I requested for Mickey to call us at 18:45. When Mickey called, I checked our reservation and realised that it was not until 20:30. So I reset the wake up call and went back to bed for another hour. This time it was really time to get up and we got showered and ready.

When we arrived at Palo, the server that we had for Brunch welcomed us. He would be our server again. He showed us to our table, which was near the window. This was kind of strange. We have eaten at Palo many times, but we were always at sea. This time we were still docked as we were not scheduled to leave port until 22:30. So we had the lit skyline of Honolulu outside the window. This actually was quite romantic.

Our server asked us what we wanted to drink and we fancied some wine, but I find the wine list at Palo quite intimidating. Our normal go to wine at Palo, the Fairytale Cuvée, was not on the menu this time round. So we asked our server for a recommendation. After he established that we like white wine, but nothing too dry, he recommended the Gaierhof Moscato Giallo Trentino. This was a slightly sweet wine, but not overly so and had a gorgeous fragrant flavour. It was literally love at first sip. With the drinks order out of the way, he brought out the antipasti cart. We had assorted breads and bread sticks, Prosciutto, Bresaola,Parmesan Reggiano sprinkled with Balsamic Vinegar,Marinated olives and sun-dried Tomatoes, Artichokes, Tapenade and Olive Oil. I passed on the Artichokes and Graham passed on the Tapenade. I still miss the red pepper dip and the Aioli that they used to serve at Palo. Still, I tried something new that was a total revelation. Our server had suggested to drizzle some Balsamic Vinegar over the cubes of the Parmesan Reggiano. I am not normally a fan of any kind of vinegar, but I felt adventurous that evening. This was one of the most delicious things I ever tasted. The flavours just complimented each other perfectly. Graham was not too keen so I got most of this.

At that stage it was making your mind up time. We had to choose the rest of our meal. Graham had Tuscan White Bean Soup with Prosciutto and Parmesan Cheese garnished with Shredded Cabbage and Red Radishes for his starter and I went with my favourite, Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Polenta with a Roasted Shallot Sauce and a Parmesan Crisp. After we had our starters, we had some lemon sorbet to clean the palate. Graham had decided to go with the Chianti Braised Beef Ravioli tossed in a rich Red Wine Reduction with oven-roasted carrots and celery. On our last cruise, our server had brought some out for us to share and Graham really liked this. I went with the Beef Tenderloin "Palo", but rather than the sides that come with it, I asked for Risotto Milanese. This was absolutely gorgeous. For dessert, we both had Zabablione with Sangiovese-infused berries made with Marsala Wine and Biscotti Chips. Dinner was finished off nicely by the traditional Sgroppino, a drink made with Prosecco, vodka and lemon sorbet. We were pleasantly full, but not as stuffed as we usually are when we go to Palo. We had nearly finished our meal, when we commended that we had not seen any photographers around. There are normally some photographers. We were waiting for the bill when a photographer appeared. We had a couple of photos taken and they actually came out pretty nice.





Once we had taken care of all the formalities, we said goodbye to our server. We decided to have a little stroll on deck 10. It was a gorgeous night and Honolulu at night looked beautiful. Once we got to the forward elevator lobby, we headed back to our cabin. There were no photo opportunities that evening either due to the late port departure. So we had nothing left to do. When we got to the cabin, I took a quick photo of our towel animal and then I got ready for bed.



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Old 07-15-2012, 09:26 AM   #204
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Oh Corinna! you must have been in absolute HEAVEN with all that dolphin interaction. The photos are GLORIOUS! Thank you for sharing with us. This installment was WELL worth the wait for it!
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Old 07-15-2012, 10:04 AM   #205
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Oh Corinna! you must have been in absolute HEAVEN with all that dolphin interaction. The photos are GLORIOUS! Thank you for sharing with us. This installment was WELL worth the wait for it!
Heaven pretty much describes it. It was just an amazing excursion. The photos were taken by their resident photographer. We could not resist buying the photo CD. We are hoping to got back to Hawaii for my 40th birthday in 2014 and we definitely will do that excursion again.

Corinna
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Old 07-15-2012, 10:34 AM   #206
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What an amazing excursion Corinna - all those dolphins and turtles - how fantastic and what great photos to remember it all by

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Old 07-15-2012, 11:09 AM   #207
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That looked amazing!!! I can't imagine how you felt being in the water with those beautiful dolphins. Turtles are one of my favorite creatures, love all the photos. So this wasn't a DCL excursion correct? Can I ask the company it was with, I'd love to do this when I go to Aulani.

Palo sounds so delicious. Can't wait to try it on my next cruise.

What a fabulous day!
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:26 AM   #208
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That looked amazing!!! I can't imagine how you felt being in the water with those beautiful dolphins. Turtles are one of my favorite creatures, love all the photos. So this wasn't a DCL excursion correct? Can I ask the company it was with, I'd love to do this when I go to Aulani.

Palo sounds so delicious. Can't wait to try it on my next cruise.

What a fabulous day!
No, this was not a DCL excursion. They did not offer anything on Oahu that interested us. The company is called Dolphin Excursions (http://www.dolphinexcursions.com/). Their boat dock is quite close to Aulani and we checked that they did pick up from there.

Corinna
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Old 07-15-2012, 02:00 PM   #209
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Corinna, I am so jealous!

I can't convince DBF enough to go on a Disney cruise, even the new ships, or AquaDuck can't convince him!

However, we have agreed that for our honeymoon (bearing in mind we aren't even close to being married yet! ) we would love to go to Hawaii... Now I know I can cruise one day! I will get him on a Disney Cruise to Hawaii.

The excursion with the snorkelling and the dolphins... Just beautiful!

xxx
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Old 07-15-2012, 02:55 PM   #210
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Corinna, I am so jealous!

I can't convince DBF enough to go on a Disney cruise, even the new ships, or AquaDuck can't convince him!

However, we have agreed that for our honeymoon (bearing in mind we aren't even close to being married yet! ) we would love to go to Hawaii... Now I know I can cruise one day! I will get him on a Disney Cruise to Hawaii.

The excursion with the snorkelling and the dolphins... Just beautiful!

xxx
I had a similar problem with DH. We got married in 1998 and spent our honeymoon in Orlando. At that time, DCL was aggressively marketing as it was their launch year. Ever since I saw their adverts, it was my dream to go on a Disney cruise, but DH was not having any of it. It took me nearly 10 years to convince him. Fortunately he has fallen in love with cruising as much as I have.

I keep my fingers crossed that DCL will do another Hawaii cruise in future. They had bookings at the Hawaiian ports for autumn 2013, but the expected Hawaii cruise did not materialize. I hope that they will offer another one in future. I would not hesitate to do this cruise again. It really was amazing. Another option would be flying to Honolulu, spend some time at Aulani and then do an inter-island cruise on the NCL Pride of America to see the other islands. That is what we are hoping to do for my 40th birthday in 2014.

Corinna
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