Hawaii cruise tips

natesgrammaOctober 25, 2007

Need advise on our first trip to the islands. We'll be flying over and getting on a Norwegian Cruise Line, spending 7 days and stopping in the ports of: Hilo, Maui, Kona, Kauai, and Honolulu. We're a bit clueless of what to do there, let alone being able to remember these island names.

So. They send us a brochure of shore excursions and it says we need to start booking some of them now. The only one I know that we want is a helicopter ride in Kauai and I'd like to try snorkeling. That's about as daring as I get. We're not golfers, horseback riders, or parasailers. We not total old fogies but we do like some excitement and taking in the scenery.

So. Is there a place where you can rent a car to be available in every port? Should we book shore excursions thru the ship or once we get there? Any tips or special activities to share?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've done a few cruises - never Hawaii though so I can't help you there. It is a little like going to Disneyworld - the more you understand before you go, the easier it is to have an especially good time and avoid common headaches.

I think it helps enormously to read up on consumer sites, like cruisecritic.com and cruisemates.com . People write VERY extensive reviews of everything: ports, ships, excursions and share tons of tips. You can read firsthand reports of your ship on your itinerary. Take and use what tips sound good to you. You can also read specifically about ports (seaching separately from the search on your ship) and activities. I have found the best outing options trolling there! Some really unique opportunities in a lot of these ports that are well off the beaten path. It is wonderful to do some things with just a few other people and a local guide rather than the mega excursions.

Oh, and since some people just can't be satisfied, you will see complaints about every cruise line and every itinery and every port. So as always, take it all with a grain of salt.

You will have a great time!

Here is a link that might be useful: cruisemates site

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 5:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

www.fodors.com has a very active board for travel tips and advice , registration is free and no hassle. I believe there's a board for cruises and of course the carribean forum and even the usa forum discuss hawaii at length.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 8:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know it's silly but when I read the other forums (which did have great info so thanks for the links) I feel like I don't "know" them. I know my kitchen gang!!! So if any of my friends here have personal experiences I'd love to hear them too.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 10:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon in '94 and of the things we did the ones I enjoyed the most are:

Zodiac boat trip along the north shore of Kauai, including actually going into sea caves worn into the cliffs by the waves. Although I think I remember them saying that in the "winter" the waves were too rough to go that close to the cliffs, so this might be out.

Volcanoes National Park, we got there at dusk and could see rivers of molten lava running down the hillside in the distance. Apparently if we had gotten there earlier we could have hiked with a ranger to within a stone's throw of a finger of molten lava.

Haleakala National Park, the terrain in the main crater atop the island of Maui is like being on the surface of mars. Though be warned that a short, easy hike down to that "first little crater" within the big crater will entail an arduous slog back to the top.

Have fun, and Aloha.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 3:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been to all the places you're going (and I'm going back to the Big Island in January), so I can probably give you some guidelines. Could you post the list of shore excursions or a web site that lists them? Then I can tell you which things I've done or which places I've been to.

Snorkeling will be better in some places than in others. Same for whale watching, luaus, and other activities that you can do on any island. The helicopter trip on Kauai is a good choice (Maui would also be good for a helicopter ride), as much of the island is hard to get to in a car and there are cliffs and waterfalls that you can't see any other way. (I've never been on a helicopter ride in Hawaii.)

Whether there will be lava flowing at Volcanoes is hard to predict; it can change from one day to the next. Check the National Park's web site for updates. (http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lava2.htm)

Keep in mind that the mountains, such as Haleakala, are at a high elevation. Some people get dizzy at that altitude.

What time of year will you be there? Bob_cville is right about the waves in winter. The winds hit the north side of the islands in winter, making it very rough. And the north side will likely be rainier. The south side of the islands is the sunny side (Poipu area on Kauai, Honolulu area on Oahu, Lahaina area on Maui, Kona area on Hawaii). You'll want to snorkel in one of these areas, as the water will be calmer and warmer.

In addition to the web sites celticmoon suggested, check out Tripadvisor. There is a forum for each island and for the major cities/tourist areas on each island.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hawaii forums on Tripadvisor

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 12:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just about any excursion that you book through the cruise line will run you anywhere from 2 to 4 times more expensive than if you booked on your own...and booking through the CL is also not nearly as convenient. You will have to go when the ship schedules you...do it yourself, and go when you like! Keep in mind that the CL gets a kickback from these operators and also from the CL recommended shopping places.
We have cruised 10 times and are about to take our 11th, 12th and 13th this December... we have not booked any kind of excursion or activity through the CL since our very 1st cruise...we didn't know any better back then.
Btw, you can trust the advice you get at Cruise Critic...I would suggest going to the ports of call boards...there are great links to proven and trusted shore side operators and how to contact them.

Good Luck and have a great cruise!

I know I rarely post here but I do read and I've been around THS for many years.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 4:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We're planning to go before January. I really hate to post exactly when. The only site I find on-line with excursions is http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/shorex.html for Hawaii and the islands listed above.

I think you're right that we should book ourselves rather than thru the cruise line. We have reserved a car for every port. I'll check those other forums, thanks for the links.

We really would like to do the helicopter ride in Kauai but I have no idea how to pick a safe company.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 1:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Blue Hawaii is used a lot (Google them).. you can also book through shoretrips.com, but, really, your best bet is to ask at Cruise Critic at the NCL board and the ports of call boards. It's going to be expensive no matter who you book with. Hawaii is expensive...just like Alaska cruises. We cruise in the Caribbean where things are less expensive. I looked up the price for the helicopter tour at NCL website, Blue Hawaii and Shoretrips.... it looks to me that Shoretrips is the best of the three.... all the prices are close but it looks like shoretrips helicopter tour is 2 hours long? (Plus, the time of the helicopter tour would be YOUR choice. I love the flexibility of doing the ports of call on our own). You could call them to be sure. The others are 55 minutes.
Have you cruised before? We have not cruised with NCL. We mostly cruise with Royal Caribbean...6 with them, so far and the 3 December cruises are with RCL, as well. We've also cruised Celebrity, Costa and Holland America.
Anyway, I hope you have a fabulous cruise!

Good Luck!


    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 11:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We spent a week on Maui for our honeymoon in '91. We took a helicopter ride above/through the rain forest & waterfalls, saw the sunrise over Haleakala and then biked down, traveled the Road to Hana, visited the 7 sacred pools, went snorkeling, spent time on the beach, and, of course, had plenty of "us" time (it was our honeymoon after all!) [We also went to a Luau, but it was lame!]

All activities were booked after we got there and booked through the hotel concierge.

If you have limited time on Maui, I recommend the Waimoku falls and the 7 Sacred Pools--but plan on several hours for travel & sightseeing time!

Have fun....we loved it there and hope to go back sometime...after the kitchen! :-)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 11:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I looked at the shore excursions available at the ports you'll be stopping at, and here are my suggestions:

Hilo: I wouldn't book any activities in the Hilo area until you get there, as it will probably be raining (at least in the morning). I'd skip the Volcanoes National Park, unless there is lava flowing. Otherwise, there's not much to see. Thurston Lava Tube is interesting if you've never been in a cave, but it's only a few hundred yards long (if you take a flashlight, you can go another 1000 feet). Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Pe'epe'e Falls are nice--I was there in 1993, all in the same day.

Kona: I've not been to Place of Refuge, St. Benedict's church, Parker Ranch, or any coffee farms, so I can't give an opinion on any of them. While in Kona, I'd probably go snorkeling or on some kind of boat trip. Deep sea fishing is good there, if you like that sort of thing. We went fishing in 1993 and our boat caught two 60-pound striped marlin. If you go snorkeling on your own, try Captain Cook Monument, Honaunau, or Kahulu'u Beach Park.

Honolulu: Honolulu is just a huge city that happens to be on the beach, so you'll probably want to get out of town. I recommend snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, which is not far from Honolulu. But you'll want to get there early if possible. We got there at 8:15 in the morning and there were still parking spots, but by 9:00 they were gone. The hike to the top of Diamond Head is tiring, but the view is great. The "famous" north shore is OK, but nothing spectacular. There will be people surfing most likely, but they are pretty far away. I haven't been to the Polynesian Cultural Center, but I'm sure you'll find lots of reviews and opinions on Tripadvisor. If you don't have enough time to drive very far, visit Pearl Harbor (I've never been there) and walk around the International Market Place.

Kauai: The Waimea Canyon is spectacular! A helicopter ride would be a great way to see it, as it would take a while to drive there from port. I have kayaked up the Wailua River, (but not all the way to Fern Grotto) and I recommend that if you want physical activity. If you'll be on Kauai for a while and want to hike, I can recommend a couple trails. Snorkeling on Kauai is good in Poipu. Keep in mind that it may be rainy on Kauai, especially in the northern part of the island.

Maui: Great views of the crater on Haleakala; definitely worth the trip. Iao Valley is real pretty, but I don't think I'd go there if I had only one day on Maui. The road to Hana is a nice (but very twisty) ride. We did not go all the way, as it takes a long time. Lots of waterfalls along the way. Maui has too many beautiful beaches to mention. You may want to spend your day just beach hopping. We went on a whale watching trip on Maui. It was fabulous! The whales (a mom and her calf) swam right under the boat! I'll never forget it! If you want to see whales, Maui is the best place, as they come closer to that island.

I have found that Webshots is a great place to see photos of just about any tourist attraction, so do some searching there. I'm sure there are photos of all the popular waterfalls and beaches, as well as the volcanoes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Webshots

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 12:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you all for taking the time to share your experiences. I'm making a list of do's and don'ts and I think it's a great idea to purchase photos from the professionals and just take digital pics of each other. I can hardly wait. This will be our 2nd cruise with NCL and DH was able to book a mini-suite w/balcony so I'm really excited. We hope to fly back someday and visit our favorite island so it will be fun to find out just what that one will be.

The links have lots of info but I really appreciate your personal feedback.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 10:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

thought you might want to know about this

Here is a link that might be useful: Illness breaks out aboard Hawaiian islands cruise ship

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 12:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


What happened on that sailing doesn't mean it will happen on the next sailing....it is not confined to any one cruise ship or even a cruise line. This noro virus happens all over the place but only cruise lines are required to report any outbreak that affects a certain amount of paxs (I know the %, just can't remember right now). That's why you see this in the news, all the time. It happens in schools, nursing homes, all kinds of places.
In fact, when we returned from our cruise last December we came home to an unusual outbreak of this in the Greater Boston area...my niece was hospitalized for it.
We've also been on 2 cruises that had outbreaks of this.. and we didn't get it.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 6:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Uxorial, thank you for the link, Silly for your info too. I'd seen it earlier this morning on CNN and had a "sinking" feeling. It may be common and we don't hear about it much, but it definately has our attention now and we'll be watching to see how the next couple of sailings do. Upon reading a bit about it, it says it can still be contageous up to 2 weeks after you get it, so even tho they are cleaning everything, I'll keep an eye on the updates.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 10:21AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Nobody does drop-in sink on stone countertop? Really?
I know... undermount is more popular these days --...
Ideas to make this an eat- in kitchen
The kitchen in our new old house is pretty small and...
Please help me find an eco-friendly black-and-white floor!?
After more years than I care to admit, we are finally...
New Layout Help Please
Here's a first go of a new layout. We eat many meals...
What are your thoughts about a scullery? A place to...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™