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©Susan Milne, 2000
HONOLULU TO VANCOUVER
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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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