“Wow, wow, wow!!!!!!” is all I can say to start off with - it was a trip of a lifetime!
It all started for me at Sydney airport, checking in with Hawaiian Airlines whose process was so quick and easy. I had lined up and was checked-in within 40 minutes. I was through security after another 10 minutes and there I was waiting for boarding time with no idea what was in store for me. After walking around exploring the airport, before I knew it, it was nearly boarding time. Off to the gate I went, full of excitement! Not long after, Aaron, our BDM at Norwegian, spotted me and invited me over to sit with the group that were on the trip with me. It did not take long to get talking with everyone and make some new friends, who I can now call very good friends of mine! Boarding commenced and we were off. I found the Hawaiian Airlines process very easy. We had very little waiting times and everything ran smoothly and to schedule. Their service on board the flight was great, the food was nice and, being a full serviced airline, they had a great choice of movies and games to play for your entertainment throughout the flight. The return flight, service and check-in process on the way home ran just as smoothly.
My first night stay in Waikiki was at the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach Resort
This hotel is spectacular! It has just had a brand-new refurbishment and is looking incredible. It is right in the middle of Waikiki, with just a short walk to all your main hot spots in Waikiki. My room was very comfortable, great size, had a partial ocean view and, I have to say, had the comfiest bed that I have ever slept in to date!! The hotel has all the facilities you need within the hotel; cafes, restaurants, bars, gym, pool bar, a kid’s pool and an infinity pool looking over Waikiki beach (amazing!!).
Pride of America – Norwegian Cruise Line
Let’s just say I truly wish I was still onboard! This is a ship I could not fault in any way. The whole ship has recently been refurbished and is looking very modernised, clean and all up to a standard it should be. I highly recommend trying the specialty restaurants - they were to die for! Moderno Churrascaria is Brazilian cuisine and the meat melted in your mouth. They had a salad bar to start with over 30 choices to choose from and then a selection of sides followed by 5 different types of meat that they bring out to try (AMAZING!). Jefferson’s Bistro was the next restaurant we tried. This is French cuisine with food that just made your taste buds pop - even the snails!!! They had a lot of choices and would allow a bit of chop and change from the menu. Lastly, we tried Cagney’s steakhouse and wow it was just beautiful food. They had over 20 different steaks to choose from all prepared in different ways. We had some of the group say it was the best steak they have ever had in their life! Now that is a big statement to make! We also had lots of meals at the Aloha Café, which is their buffet-style eatery, and I have to say it was brilliant. Plenty of cuisine options and catered to everyone. It was always fresh and very tasty. The staff here were great and were always more than happy to make you something if requested.
We also got to experience two shows whilst onboard. The first was the “Lights, Camera, Music!”. It was great! They made the whole show very entertaining and even made you laugh at some points throughout the performance. They had the crowd going, some crowd involvement and we couldn’t take our eyes off the show. The second show was “Vegas!”. This was another fantastic performance with amazing dancing and singing and only had you wanting to see more. They also waited around after the show for a meet and greet and chat and were all so lovely!
I did get to experience all areas onboard the ship. Each had their own personal touch and there really was a place for everyone. From the Waikiki Bar at the back of the ship, with music and always a lot of guests enjoying the views, to the Napa Wine Bar, with classical music, and a quiet area to sit back and enjoy a glass of wine. Or, if you like to sing, they also had a Karaoke Bar to blast out your favourite songs and show the crowd what you were made of!
Ports of Call
Kahului, Maui (My two Highlights): My first must-do whilst visiting this port – We got to experience the most magical lunch at a place called Kula Lodge. It has the most beautiful views high up on the mountain looking over the island of Maui. The food was beautiful. I had the pulled pork burger and it was delicious!!! Next door they had a great gift shop where you could buy a range of different goodies and souvenirs.
My second must do is to experience dinner at “Fleetwood’s on Front street” – Yes, it is Fleetwood Mac’s restaurant and it is the only one in the world. The food was incredible, the service was great, and the view was my favourite thing about the whole place. Watching the sunset was amazing whilst enjoying a drink and great entertainment. We had a Scottish man playing the bagpipe. He asked for anyone celebrating their birthday so he could pull them up on stage and sing happy birthday along with everyone in the restaurant!
Hilo, Island of Hawaii – (My Highlight): I got to experience an amazing tour to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and it was so surreal. I got to see Lava that went through the whole island that erupted the year before. It was still steaming and it was very hot to touch. We got to learn so much. We got lucky, as they had only opened one of the roads 2 days before that was just built through the lava that went through the town. So we got to see what was destroyed and what houses survived. It was eerie but very interesting to see.
Kona, Island of Hawaii – (My Highlight): I got to do a premium snorkel off the shores of Kona. The water was so clear and beautiful and we got to see the most beautiful marine life. I probably saw over 100 different types of fish! We went to 2 different spots to snorkel and both were so different in their own ways. Along the way to these spots, we would stop in at cliff faces and learn all different facts about the formation and the mineral composition that causes all the different colour layers. This tour went for approximately 5 hours and was a really great day!
Nawiliwili, Kauai – (My Highlight): I have to say this topped everything I got to experience the whole time I was away. If this is one thing to experience whilst doing this itinerary and stopping at this port, it is to do the Helicopter flight over the Island. This blew my mind and took my breath away. The views of this incredible island were just something you cannot put into words. We got to see parts of the islands that were filmed in movies such as the waterfall in Jurassic Park. We flew right over it and it was absolutely beautiful. Our pilot introduced himself and explained that he used to fly helicopters in the war and would explain all the crazy stuff he saw from above and about the people he was alongside. It was very interesting. He also gave us fun facts about the different places we were flying over with a bit of themed music to go with it. The Jurassic Park theme song over the waterfall made you feel like you were in the movie! My favourite part was when we flew over the Na Pali Coast. It was so spectacular. The coastline was so beautiful and I really could have stayed up there all day.
Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger (the last hotel stay for 2 nights)
This Hotel is situated in the middle of Waikiki so no matter what end of town you wanted to walk to, it was not going to be very far at all. This hotel had fantastic amenities; fitness centre, restaurant, pool bar and a café for breakfast. The rooms were large and very comfortable. The bathrooms were set out nicely and are designed so your toilet and shower were separate to your vanity and dressing area. What topped it for me was the beautiful ocean view I had from our outdoor balcony. In the same building they have the Maui Brewing Co. which is a restaurant/bar that had the yummiest food and a huge range of cocktails to choose from. I found their service excellent, and the restaurant really added to the hotel features & facilities.
Tours I experienced in Honolulu that I recommend:
Kualoa Private Nature Reserve –
This tour was great. We started off doing a private Movie Site Tour which covered Jurassic Park, 50 first dates, Windtalkers, Jumanji, In Harms Way and many, many more. It was really fascinating seeing spots where they filmed famous scenes and actually visualising how they were created. The tour you can do by ATV’s, horseback, jungle jeep or Trolley.
Secret Island -
We finished our final day by visiting Secret Island. We had to cruise over on a large canoe from the mainland to get there and once we arrived and walked through the bushland to the beach we were in awe! This is a place that you can come to relax on the beach, relax in a hammock, be out in canoes or play a game of volleyball. I headed out on a canoe and got to see a turtle who wanted to pop it’s head up and out of the water to say hi. He would have only been arm’s length away - it was amazing!! The beach itself is absolutely beautiful and very quiet. It does not have any cafes or restaurants, so you do need to bring food and water with you.