The Question is Finally Answered!

Trip Start Sep 17, 2012
Trip End Nov 11, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Saturday, September 29, 2012

This morning's view from our cabin was very different than what we’re used to. It reminded us of the second "Cruise Control" movie; the one where a cruise ship can’t stop and ends up on land in the middle of town… it really looked like we were parked in the middle of the street in downtown Honolulu. For the first time in weeks we closed the curtains in our cabin.

Honolulu is really a nice city. There’s lots of coconut-free palms, green spaces and early to mid 20th century buildings.  If you ignore the diesel fumes and garbage smell, even the industrial area where we’re docked is quite nice.

One phenomenon we have experienced on this cruise has been that a large number of total strangers have been asking us to recommend tours. This included at least 4 crew members who wanted to know what we thought would be the best tours for them to take… quite strange considering the on board shore excursion manager had spent the month prior to this cruise visiting all the ports and taking all of the tours that would be offered. In any case, I have one criterion for picking great tours which has been foolproof: Always pick the tour that includes the most interesting sounding food. That said, while today’s tour was on a less desirable “big” bus, it included stops at the Dole Pineapple Plantation, The Polynesian Cultural Center (with a Polynesian Lunch), and a Macadamia nut shop that processes and packages their own nuts.

The Dole Pineapple Plantation has changed a lot since we were there 32 years ago.  The tour used to be the pineapple canning factory and the drinking fountains had pineapple juice instead of water.  Now the canning factory and fountains are gone.  The plantation is pretty much one giant gift shop complete with a small cafeteria that sells pineapple everything.   Outside there are extensive and beautiful gardens where you can wander about learning more than you’d ever want to know about pineapples.  There is also a small tram tour so you can see more of what’s left of the dying Hawai’ian pineapple industry. 

It was only around 10 am, too early for ice cream, but fortunately we remembered that it was already 4pm in Montreal, the perfect time for a mid afternoon snack of Frozen Pineapple Whip. It was delicious.

It was time to head back to our bus to head off to the next attraction. There’s another interesting phenomenon we’ve recently become aware of.  Typically, as you pull up to a stop, the bus driver will announce something like “Alright folks, here we are at this wonderful place where we are going to make a half hour stop. During this 30 minute stop you’ll find washrooms off to the right, and the best scenery is straight ahead.  My watch says shows 10:00am and we are stopping for a half an hour, so make sure you meet me back here at 10:30. We are going to leave in 30 minutes at 10:30 am, when the big hand is on the 6 and the little hand is on the ten. That’s 30 minutes from now. I have 10:00 am, so be back here at 10:30.” The driver stops, exits the bus and stands at the door while the passengers exit. During this time, all you here is him repeating: “ten-thirty”, “thirty-minutes”, “half an hour”…

Why is there always one couple on every tour that can’t make it back to the bus on time? We got back to the bus a minute or two before the departure time, sat down, and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, fifteen minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Clueless sauntered on board, looked at the over 30 people sitting patiently in their seats and said “Oh, are we the last ones?” Now, I could see how someone could make a mistake once and miss the driver’s hundred or so reminders to be back on time. But, for some reason, even after suffering the shame of having all the other passengers clapping and cheering when they finally got on board, the same couple managed to be late at every stop. Even the 87 year old widow with a walker managed to get back on time. Surely there can’t be that many people that can’t tell time. Some people have no clue! (That’s it for today’s rant) 

We then made our way to the Polynesian Cultural Center (, an amazing exhibition of Polynesian Culture (duh!) operated by the Mormon Church. The center employs hundreds of students from all over Polynesia while they attend the adjacent university. Profits from the center are used to provide scholarships. They showcase 7 different  Polynesian cultures, each with its own pavilion and show. To see everything at the center  would take more than a day, since we had only about 4 hours, our driver suggested that since he had visited over 200 times, if we wanted, he would give us a mini tour of the center’s highlights.

We started off with a Polynesian lunch buffet. In addition to some interesting salads, there were excellent ribs and chicken. There were also several desserts made with fresh pineapple and coconut. (it contains fresh fruit… it must be healthy, right?)  After lunch we visited the Aotearoa (New Zealand) pavilion, home to the Maori people, where we saw several ceremonies, chants and dances by talented Maori.    

Next stop on our whirlwind tour was Samoa.  It was a real treat.  The show was hosted by a young Samoan gentleman named Kap.  He obtained his degree in fine arts at the university and now sells his paintings all over the world. He also does standup comedy, so his presentation on Samoan culture and tradition was very funny.

He showed us the easy way to open a coconut and shred the meat to make coconut milk. (Interesting tidbit: coconut WATER is the liquid in a coconut, coconut MILK is made by scraping the meat of the coconut and then straining it through a cloth.) The next demonstration was how to start a fire and last but not least, we witnessed a young man climbing up a palm tree (more like running up).  We then secured seats to watch the 'canoe pageant’ where the 7 societies performed dances on big doubled-hulled canoes in a wide channel.  Check out the videos below.  Our last stop was the Tonga exhibition for a drum demonstration. 

Back on the bus we headed off to the Macadamia Nut Outlet where, as our driver assured us, they give unlimited samples. The outlet turned out to be another fairly new small, but impressive, locally owned business. We quickly discovered that if you looked at any food item on a shelf for more than a couple of seconds, one of the staff would magically appear with samples of the item. We quickly learned the system and took full advantage of it. They even offered free coffee to wash the samples down. We purchased a bag of Macadamias and headed back to the bus where we nibbled on our purchase while waiting for (the same) Mr. & Mrs. Clueless to show up.

During the trip back to the ship the driver pointed out some of the famous places used in movies and television. These included “If you look to the left, tilt your head to the right and look through the trees you can see the end of the dock that was used in Fantasy Island and the final scene in Season 6 of Lost” (A note to my Chiropractor, Dr. Guben...You could have made a fortune adjusting necks if you were on this bus). We also saw the 7-11 Convenience store that was next to the place they used for a scene in Karate Kid 2 as well as the valley where, only a couple of miles from us, the sign for Jurassic Park was left. We could hardly contain our excitement.

Our last stop before returning to the ship was the Pali Lookout, a place with an amazing view of Honolulu. The pictures include a nice panorama shot from here.

A few days ago I promised to let you know the correct pronunciation of the word Hawai’i. According to Mike, our bus driver, the W is pronounced as a V. The rule is that in the Hawai’ian language, if a W is surrounded by 2 vowels, it is always pronounced as a V.  

Our ship stayed overnight in Honolulu, although, just to confuse us, they moved to a different pier around 5 am on the 30th. As you probably have figured out, the satellite internet on board ships is painfully slow. Our plan for the day was to disembark, find a Starbucks or McDonalds, and take advantage of free high speed internet to upload our pictures and update this blog until we had to re-board, at 3 pm. Things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Since this was the end of the first leg of our cruise to Australia, several passengers were disembarking. There was a complete jam up of passengers with their luggage on the exit gangway. (I’ll never understand why people insist on taking their own luggage off the ship when the cruise line is more than willing to do it for you. ) We finally got off the ship at around 11 am. We walked down Ala Moana boulevard, alongside the port, for 3 or 4 blocks to a Starbucks. We went inside and were greeted by a sign saying that Wi-Fi was temporarily unavailable at that location. We had seen another Starbucks the day before a couple of blocks from where the ship had originally docked, so off we went. Unfortunately, this put us in the middle of downtown Honolulu, which, unlike Montreal, is pretty much deserted on Sunday. As luck would have it, the Starbucks was closed.  We remembered seeing a brochure on board that mentioned that Hilo Hattie’s, a Hawai’ian clothing chain located a few blocks from our original pier, had an in-store café with hi-speed internet. They normally ran a shuttle from the pier to the store, but unfortunately (was there any doubt) it wasn’t running that day.

Off we trudged to Hilo Hattie’s where we received a Lei greeting from a lovely young girl. We browsed the store, trying on a few things, and finally ended up in the café where we decided to rest and get something to drink. We sat down with our drinks, unpacked our computers, turned them on and finally connected to…. nothing: their internet had stopped working the night before. So as not to make the trip a total loss, we purchased a Hawai’ian shirt and a couple of dresses, and headed back to the ship. The walk back took us through the Aloha Tower Marketplace where we noticed where we noticed a couple of people sitting at tables with their laptops. Finally, almost 3 hours and 17,000 steps after we began our trek, we had free, albeit slow, internet access. We used the little time we had left to upload most of the pictures that we wanted to post on the blog, and then headed back to the ship to continue our cruise.

Hope you enjoy the pictures. We had some videos, but I can't get them to upload.. I'll try again in a few days. Our next stop is Papeete, Tahiti.


Annette & Peter

A woman walks into a bar and orders ten shots of whiskey. The bartender lines up ten glasses and fills them all. The woman picks them up one by one, drinking all of them in less than fifteen seconds. The bartender says “That’s amazing! I’ve never seen anyone drink like that before!” The woman replies, “You’d drink like that too if you had what I have.”

The bartender says “Oh… I’m so, so sorry, but do you mind if I ask, what do you have?”

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Brian and Stella on

Happy Birthday Peter ! Have a good one.

Barry on



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