Saturday, December 22, 2007

Day Three - Hawaii

Day 3:
This was the day we were starting our cruise. Our cruise ship was scheduled to sail out of Honolulu by 8pm and we had planned to get onboard around 1pm and that left us the whole morning to explore.

The Bus and google maps were our guides to the famed Diamond Head. The good instructions let us down. We got down a good mile ahead and started our hike much much earlier. We ended up walking more than any other typical tourist hiking the Diamond Head would do. But it was all a part of the fun!

The hike basically starts from the floor of the crater and leads you all the way to the top. Spectacular views are all around but the ocean is visible only from the very top. The trail has handrails all through and uneven. The killer part of the hike is the two flights of very steep and narrow stairs and it is like you are on the stairmaster machines in the gym.

Good walking shoes, water and camera are highly recommended. The hike overall was not really stressful. It was good fun with us stopping very frequently for photographs and teasing each other. We also realized it gets really hot and sweaty very fast. As every tour book advises start early. We started our hike around 7.45~8am and would recommend starting much earlier. Surprisingly we realized it was cooler at the floor of the crater than at the summit.

It was also quite crowded. Many of the hikers that day happened to be marathon runners from Japan making the most of their visit to the US. We would have loved a little more solitude and one-on-one with Mother Nature.

Once up the spiral stairs, there is a tiny crawl space through which one has to pull oneself. It is kind of interesting that nothing much has been done to improve the crawl space. The hike down is quick and fast. We had packed some fresh fruits and wonderful stuffed bread (purchased at the Aloha Swap Meet on Day 2) for a after-hike treat and we were hungry. Feeding the Brazilian cardinals we had a picnic lunch and were ready to head back to the hotel. We were planning to take the Bus again but a taxi driver offered us a ride along with another couple for $2 pp (the same rate the Bus charges) so we took the easy way out. The drive to our hotel was short but we were forced to put up with the FM taxi driver who spoke about everything from tender coconut water to Noni juice to his belief in Christ! Yeah he was ahem....entertaining (also spelt as irritating)!

We had a couple of hours to kill before checkout and we did what any tourist in Hawaii would have done at 10am, hit Waikiki. Waikiki with its gentle warm waves is the perfect spot for our dream vacation but for the crowd. Well we people watched and enjoyed the sun n the sand before heading back to the hotel. Frantic packing, quick checkout and a taxi ride later we were at Pier 2.

Check-in was a breeze at the Latitudes member check-in (past NCL cruisers) and the first impressions of the NCLA Pride of Hawaii - WOW! She was a beauty, in and out. Lavish furnishings with a Hawaiian touch, bright colors with a touch of whimsy. The ship is amazing and if given a chance we'll choose her again without any reservations. From Feb 2008, Pride of Hawaii is renamed as NCL Jade and moves to the Mediterranean seas.

Our deck was not ready and so we headed with all our scary-on to the 12th deck for some lunch. The lunch buffet was open and so were some tables on the lanai on the deck. Grabbing a table and lot of food we did what we do the best - eat, laugh, talk, eat, relax, eat :)

Our room was finally ready and we made way to our interior stateroom. We really went penny pinching on this trip and booked a inside stateroom and it worked out well as the only time we were in our cabins was to sleep or to grab a shower. I am constantly amazed by the way these cabins are designed. In that small less than 100 square feet space, there was room for our enormous bags, scary-ons, three adults, a wonderful and functional bathroom, three beds and a closet. Unpacked and ready to sail!

All cruiselines have a mandatory safety drill and ours was held in the Stardust theater. The theater left us speechless! It was wonderfully and colorfully designed! We left for Hawaii imagining the sights of Hawaii to leave us stunned but the tastefully decorated POH did leave us stunned!

A spa tour, preview show, sailaway party, fitness center we crammed as much as possible into our first day before we hit the sack! What a day! Many more wonderful ones to come!

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