We all have this vision of tropical islands with nothing but clear blue skies and sunshine. Equally, we have visions of Manchester in a permanent drizzle and although there is a grain of truth in both, the overall reality is somewhat different. We approached Hawaii and the port of Honolulu under cloudy skies at a very civilised hour (9am) and during the course of the day, there were several light showers. Cruising in past Diamond Head and Waikiki, what used to be a major landmark building, the pink, Royal Hotel, is now totally dwarfed by tower blocks and Honolulu itself is now a massive town, but still with that world famous beach.
As we approached, we could see the other cruise ship, our old favourite, the Pride of America we cruised on in 2007 with Oscar & Margaret. That 7 days set us up well and truly and although Paula’s initial response was that the ship was far too big, once on board, it was just like a massive hotel that moved. The Dawn Princess has a similar number of passengers and it is only when you are getting on or off that you are aware of the 1948 other passengers or the sheer size. There are times on board, particularly early morning and later at night when it is surprisingly quiet.
Bearing in mind this was another US port, we had no idea what the immigration structure might be, given that we hadn’t been to any other country since LA. Quite simply, we just walked off the ship. Over the tannoy speakers we were constantly told to make sure that we removed the lower portion of the green immigration card from our passports on our departure. What puzzled us was that we never retained the lower portion anyway, as the US immigration officials at LA simply kept the complete document!
This is something you have to be very careful of, as Brian was detained at LA, as they had no record of his leaving the USA in 2009 (on his old passport too) and when he returns to Adelaide, he has to make a PERSONAL appearance at the US Embassy in Canberra, with proof of his employment, documented evidence of being in Australia and his old passport. Moral seems to be, whatever you do, retain your old passports; don’t destroy them.
Having said that, there was no immigration hassle getting off once formalities had been completed, though funnelling about 1,000 passengers through the single on board swipe card reader creates a bottleneck, but it moved along OK.
Question: Why, after 80 plus days of getting on and off the ship using the same system, do some passengers get to the machine before looking for their card? These are probably the same people who hold you up at the supermarket searching for a purse, only after all the goods have been packed...
Having visited Honolulu several time before, we have often used the trolley shuttles for two or three dollars a day. Now, the fee is $30 a day!!! Ignoring the Walmart and Hilo Hattie’s free shopper shuttles, (an excellent way to get around) we took a walk to the Ala Moana shopping centre and that was possibly a mistake, as it was quite warm out in the sun by this time. From Ala Moana we strolled through to “Ross Dress for Less” (yes, again), where we recognised a fair few customers, but these low cost shops probably keep prices down by not employing enough people on the checkouts. There were between 40 and 50 people queuing to pay at just 4 manned checkouts.
Walmart (such exciting and exotic shops we frequent...) scored us some chocolate macadamia nuts and a couple of bits and pieces before catching their free shuttle back to the ship to unload and rest our tired feet, before heading out again. With a midnight on board target, there was no rush and the City Tour bus was outside, but he was on his last run, so if we elected to get off, we couldn’t get back to the ship. We agreed a $10 fare each instead of $20 and had a narrated tour of the western side of town before getting off at Waikiki.
There we spied a beached whale (see pic) before ambling back to the well known International Market and the Ferrari shop. Ferrari shop prices. Would you believe $88 for a tie? We left empty handed but I am sure Ferrari could do much better if they really wanted, as with their proud history, there was nothing at all that related to it. No 250GTO models for example; nothing on the early days of the F1 championship. Shame. I may be an Aston Martin fan but I love older front engine Ferraris. Even Shell petrol managed to sell quite acceptable model Ferraris on a couple of promotions.
We had decided on using a free shopper shuttle back to the ship, but whilst we were waiting, ended up sharing a taxi with port lecturer Debbie and a companion, so the return trip cost us $5 each including tip.
A stroll around the Aloha Tower area where we even considered having an evening meal, but we opted to go back to the ship.
Now I found this intriguing. When we returned the first time, we went through the terminal scanner A, (body) no problem. This time, we went through scanner B and it took me three attempts to get through, yet I was 100% carrying as before. Camera (mainly plastic) tucked into a pocket, leather belt with metal buckle (had to remove it), metal watch. Weird. I think it may have been the camera. At all ports so far I have gone through the scanners with no problem, both on shore and on the ship, wearing and carrying basically the same items, camera always in the pocket as it is usually attached to my belt.
Once on board, a relaxing lie down before a welcome shower and a visit to the Horizon Court buffet, as it was open seating in the dining rooms. For probably the first time so far, a rather lack lustre selection so we should really have gone to the pizzeria instead, of picking at the food.
To the Atrium for a while then the comedy magic show by Roy Shank. Not a bad show but not the best we have seen either.
Upstairs for a while for the deck party, but the weather wasn’t at all kind at 10:45pm and we were too tired anyway, but we did manage to wish Brazilian Barbara a very happy 30th birthday and hand over a rude card with a small packet of Thornton’s chocs.
Now no less than 5 days at sea before Papeete (Tahiti), then Bora Bora, two days at sea before Apia, 3 days at sea then home! We are currently 22 hours behind NZ time. So just a couple more time changes.
Most people on board use either personal notebook or lap top computers but the cafe is often full to overflowing with people using the ship’s computers, so if future cruisers are debating whether or not to take their own, the simple answer is yes.
Probably not much in the way of blog posts over the next few days for you to look forward to and no doubt the internet will be slow and busy anyway.