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Photos by Susan Milne

Waikiki Beach

Hanauma Bay, Oahu


The historic
Royal Hawaiian Hotel


Vision of the Seas
from the Aloha Tower


Aloha Tower from Vision


Kilaueaiki Crater


The Caldera of
Kilauea Volcano


Vision at Kailua,
Kona, Hawaii


Lava wall,
Kailua, Kona


City of Refuge
Kona coast


On deck at Lahaina, Maui 


The Island of Lanai from Vision 


Vision from Lahaina, Maui 


Regal Princess & Vision 


Tendering to Lahaina 


Court House, Lahaina 


Sailout from Lahaina

5 days at sea

Windjammer Cafe

The Centrum on Vision

Category F Cabin

Internet Cafe on Vision

Solarium on Vision

Promenade Deck

Land Ho! after 5 days
Viking Crown Lounge

Vision at Canada Place

Vision at Canada Place


Cruise Watch Home Page
©Susan Milne, 2000
May 3 to 14, 2000

By Susan Milne

Sensational Honolulu, tranquil out-islands and five relaxing days at sea combine to make cruising between Hawaii and the mainland an idyllic itinerary. These special cruises give you a chance to sample the Polynesian charm and friendliness of the Hawaiian people and the spectacular scenery of the Aloha state with ample time on board to enjoy shipboard life.

Overnights on board in port add to the leisurely pace of cruising Hawaii. Our 11-day; Vision of the Seas Honolulu-Vancouver cruise included overnights; in both Honolulu and Lahaina, Maui. Combined with calls at Hilo and Kona on the “big island” of Hawaii and five days at sea, this was a very appealing schedule which did translate into a slow paced cruise experience.

We were welcomed aboard with the traditional Hawaiian lei greeting. Vision wouldn’t sail until 6pm the following day. There was a full schedule of entertainment on board but the shops and casino were closed. The Masquerade Theatre was packed for the welcome aboard hula show, presented by the award winning dancers and musicians of the “Keiki Hula Children's Folkloric Show”. The gentle spirit of the Hawaiian people was beautifully conveyed by this touching concert which explained the tradition of the Hula dance.

Shore excursions departed the following day for Honolulu and the island of Oahu. Tours for the other ports of call were also open for booking. Covering historical, cultural, golf and nature themes, there was something for pretty much everyone and the tours were favorably priced in comparison to tours offered ashore - something practically unheard of in cruising destinations.

Knowledgeable drivers conduct the shore excursions, teaching you about Hawaiian history and culture as you go. There is much to learn about these islands and passengers appreciated these most informative tours.

There was time to explore the pier area and downtown Honolulu before sailing. The pier is dominated by the famous Aloha Tower which has greeted and bid farewell to passengers since 1929 when, at ten stories, it was the tallest building in Honolulu. Recently renovated, the tower offers superb views including one of the best you’ll get of your cruise ship in port. The Aloha Tower marketplace and the Maritime Museum are right at the pier and you are walking distance to the only royal palace on American soil, the Iolani Palace, and the well known statue of King Kamehameha the Great who united the Hawaiian islands.

“Boat Days” have always been a major event in Honolulu and the tradition continues. Sailout was accompanied by Hawaiian music and dancing on the pier, a harbor fire tug shooting water fountains into the air and a helicopter overhead dropping flowers onto the ship. The view from the Viking Crown Lounge was superb as we enjoyed sailout with a cocktail.

The diversity of Hawaii adds to any cruise itinerary. Next day in Hilo the highlight was a visit to the Volcanoes National Park. Walking through a lava tube and over an old lava flow, driving through the Kilauea Caldera to view Halema’uma’ crater was a thrilling experience and a total departure from the palm fringed beaches and tranquility of the islands. This is the most active volcanic region in the world and the most easily accessible; not to be missed on any journey to Hawaii.

That night Captain Antalis sailed close to the molten lava flowing from the side of Kilauea which has been erupting continually for seventeen years. The molten lava, bright red and orange in the darkness was a striking sight. It was one of those exciting, unscheduled events that often happens on a cruise vacation.

Kailua, Kona is the home of the Ironman Triathalon competition and the world’s capital for marlin fishing. It is a good starting point for exploring the historic Kona coast, home of the famous Kona coffee, black sand beaches and superb snorkeling and scuba bays. At Kealakekua Bay a white plinth marks the spot where English explorer, Captain James Cook, the first westerner to discover the islands, was killed in 1779. The City of Refuge is a an ancient religious center where Hawaiians who broke taboos could be absolved of their guilt, if they could survive the swim across shark infested Hanaunau Bay. The area has reverted to its original Hawaiian name, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, one of many signs we saw indicating a resurgence of Hawaiian culture.

Spending two days at anchor off Lahaina in spectacular Maui was a highlight in itself. Passengers who had only visited by land remarked on the sheer beauty of this port of call from the sea. (There is another cruise ship port on Maui - the small town of Kahului, a 45 minute drive from Lahaina. While ships anchor off Lahaina and passengers tender ashore, cruise ships dock at the container port in Kahului.)

The town of Lahaina played a vital part in the development of Hawaii and was named a national historic monument in 1964. The tender takes you to the Pioneer Inn (1901), Court building (1859) and massive banyan tree (1873) in the middle of town which is also an artists’colony. The visitor’s center has produced a package of information specifically for cruise passengers which includes a historical walking tour guide book. A huge marina of pleasure boats including whale watching vessels and America II, a contender in the 1987 America’s Cup race, are available for hire.

Again the shore excursions were comprehensive but it is easy to get around on your own. Trolley cars shuttle visitors to various shopping areas, the Sugar Cane Train runs between Lahaina and Kaanapali and there are rental cars available. Maui has grown into a tourist mecca to rival Waikiki Beach so it is prepared for visitors. More active passengers took a bike ride down the dormant volcano Mt. Haleakala or teed off at the tournament grade golf course.

The peaceful, evening sailout from Maui, past the islands of Lanai and Molokai brought us to the five relaxing sea days of this intriguing itinerary.

The winds were strong as we sailed to Vancouver but only day three was rough with 8 to 12 foot waves and gale force 4 winds. Vision of the Seas handled it well and carried on at 21 knots until we approached the Washington coast on our final day.

We were sorry to see the Hawaiian trio leave the ship in Lahaina but new entertainers were brought on board and there were plenty of venues to choose from for music throughout the voyage. Easy listening, ballroom dancing, disco and light classical were the main styles offered each day.

A full roster of activities took place daily: art auctions, dance and keep fit classes, quiz sessions and the ever popular bingo were regular events. The spa was open from 8am to 8pm and there were a number of wellness lectures held in the relaxation lounge of the spa.

The Academy at Sea added an educational theme to the cruise. Classes were offered in Health and Fitness, Beauty, Hospitality and Beverage, Theatre Production and Photography for one hour a day on sea days. Taught by the ship’s staff, the informal and informative classes were well attended.

Bridge and galley tours were offered and were extremely popular. Two hundred and forty people had signed up to see the bridge by the time I got to the Crown and Anchor Study. Bridge officers conducted groups of 20 on the 20 minute tour of the sophisticated equipment. A galley tour took place, late one night and the magnificent gala buffet, resplendent with culinary art, was a huge success.

The new Internet café was out of order throughout the voyage due to a “weak and intermittent satellite signal”. This ended the plans of many passengers to keep in touch with home , work or their stock reports. The daily news appeared in the library for pick-up after 11am each day and was in great demand. American, Canadian and British papers were available. It was a good opportunity to pickup the daily trivia quiz at the same time.

Vision of the Seas has many peaceful spots to enjoy and many passengers passed the sea; days reading in the comfortable leather chairs of the well stocked library, playing games in the colourful card room or simply relaxing in one of the many lounges or the centrum.

RCI’s vision class vessels are designed with walls of glass to give you superb ocean views throughout the ship. The public rooms are magnificent in this regard - you never feel closed in. The décor is also very pleasing with an emphasis on blue and green hues. There is artwork at every turn, all well identified and explained.

The Solarium is a self contained pool area with a retractable glass roof, swimming pool, hot tubs, café and table tennis area It was very popular, particularly on the three colder days. Many passengers chose to spend the seas days relaxing and reading by the pools rather than participating in any organized activities.

On day five we saw land - the coast of Washington state. At 7pm we sailed past Cape Flattery and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was a beautiful evening of scenic cruising before arriving in Vancouver at 7am the following morning to end our voyage.

The serenity of being on board ship away from the traffic and haste of life on land had been very welcome and rejuvenating. Gazing to the horizon of the vast Pacific, we had seen only an albatross following our ship and just one other vessel in the first four days at sea. This is definitely an itinerary to be cherished by those seeking to get away from it all.

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