20161105 – Hawaiian Islands On A Floating Gin Palace

Saturday – hot and sunny.

On our Hawaiian cruise.

On our Hawaiian cruise.

Well we’re off on our next great adventure, a 7 day cruise around the Hawaii Islands. As with all cruises there’s wifi available but it so expensive we’d both have to sell both kidneys, 8 pints of blood and a heart to pay for any sensible wifi access. It’s the equivalent of going to the dark side of the moon with a bunch of greedy pirates.

Surfing beach

Surfing beach

Therefore blog will posting will be a tad tardy.

Dropped the car off at the airport, got a shuttle to the port and then joined the usual boarding queue. Being silver members we got expedited registration but it still took 42 minutes of the usual misery.

Ship, boat or whatever they call it – Pride of America – has about 2,000 passengers and layout is quite good. Buffets area is smaller than normal but there are quite a few smaller restaurants around.

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NCL Daily Rant

Sugar plantation

Sugar plantation

We’ve been on two NCL cruises prior to this. After the last one I swore I’d never even look at an NCL cruise ever again never mind even cross the gangplank. But, but this cruise had the ideal itinerary so we girded our loins, got an A4 complaint pad and biro at the ready and stepped aboard.

Opened our stateroom door and the first SNAFU smacked us in the eye. Our unobstructed balcony view was obstructed with two wings either side and a 10 foot overhang. Yes we can see out but we’ll never get to see the sun except for the first 5 minutes after dawn and the last 5 minutes before sunset. We’ll be going home with rickets. Of course picked up the phone and logged my first complaint. They, the NCL corporate pirates don’t consider it to be obstructed. Customer services manager does think the corporate pirates should display a warning. Small claims court here we come.

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Qur’an Gangbang episode 8: The Three Questions

Sunday – hot and sunny.

Inactive volcano

Inactive volcano

Up at the 6 bells for breakfast and to catch our first Wallace Arnold experience with the “Best of Maui” tour. Great they treat my 16 year old mind like that of a 90 year old imbecile with a memory span of a geriatric goldfish – if in doubt repeat it until boredom sets in.

First stop a surf beach to watch them surf.

Second stop a sugar plantation with the usual Disney style trolley tour complete with informative narration on my favourite subject plants!

Third stop an aquarium for lunch and the chance to ogle pretty fish, sharks and coral.

Inactive volcano

Inactive volcano


Our driver is very informative and one of the most amusing guides ever and we get to see a lot of the island.

Back on board our floating gin palace for a lazy afternoon and dinner.

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New Rule: Bible Trumpers | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

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NCL Daily Rant

Our 2nd mediocre meal. Even the so called complimentary dining has $25 chargeable options on some items. Why at those rates it would be as cheap to go to one of the plethora of chargeable speciality, rip off restaurants. Oh and by the way any room service is no longer free, a mere $7.95 a shot. Corporate pirates strike again.

Won’t even comment on the wine prices.

Monday – hot and sunny.

 Speciality restaurant

Speciality restaurant

Up and out for the crater tour. 07:50 departure.

A long drive up to the Haleakala crater which is at 10,000 feet. No longer an active volcano but worth the trip and another National Park hat to add to the collection. Spectacular views.

Afternoon lazing onboard. Wendy toddles off to make a Lei, otherwise known as a shell necklace. I pass up this tempting opportunity. Back in the day only Hawaiian royalty could wear these. Now any old riff raff can buy or make one. If you’re feeling really stupid then you can buy an expensive “Lei shell making kits”. They’re selling faster than toilet rolls at a dysentery outbreak. The average American and her greenbacks are soon parted.

Active volcano

Active volcano

Cruise ship leaves early due to 40 foot waves predicted at our next port, Hilo, so captain, quite wisely, avoids that. Probably because they don’t have enough pewk bags. Tomorrow becomes a sea day rather than Hilo and the volcano National Park. Some passengers are left stranded as they decided to leave early, after we’d departed the ship. Fortunately we were on a ships tour so although our tour was cut short we got back before they high tailed out of there.

The volcano National Park houses one of the few active volcanoes in the world. The highlight of the itinerary. Fortunately I’ve got 3G access on my mobile and manage to book a car for Wednesday and a longer drive down to the volcano. We’d have been devastated to miss it.

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NCL Daily Rant

Lava flow into the sea - at night

Lava flow into the sea – at night

Well another pearler of a day for NCL. Where do I start.

Stair well and corridor stinks like a sewage farm. Apparently according to our steward it happens quite a lot.

Just love the sticky banisters. Is it a deliberate policy so that you get a better grip.

Tickets advise you that tour is not for people who suffer from motion sickness. Too late when you’re queuing for the bus. Of course their web site we booked through doesn’t bother to mention motion sickness.

We’re off the ship for 07:30 to catch our tour. At that time we believe the all aboard time is 17:00. Apparently at about 07:40, after we’ve left, they make an announcement telling everyone departure is 11:30. But as we’ve left we’re not aware of it. Fortunately we’re on a ships tour, it’s cut short and we’re back on time. But imagine if we’d done our own thing then we’d have been overjoyed when we got back to port to find our floating gin palace had disappeared or sunk. What a cock up.

Food is pretty poor. Service is slow and appalling. Lots of plates sent back untouched. The lamb would make good shoe leather or vibram sole replacements. Everyone on our tables complaining. Management comes along with their little notepad to make a note and give everyone the feeling that someone cares and will do something about it. Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Tuesday – hot and sunny.

Lava tube

Lava tube

40 foot waves down the East coast of Maui so Hilo and the volcano’s off the menu and we have a sea day.

Well at least we get a lie in. No crack of dawn tours.

Lazy sort of day. As usual most of the activities seem to be aimed at geriatric bingo brigade and paleo bargin huntresses. You can learn how to wrap a sarong, Hulu dance, weave a hat from palm leaves, play endless trivia or how to fold towels into animals. Haven’t come across any talks on colonic irrigation yet. The only morsel of intellectual stimulation is a Hum-back Whale talk.

As a result of our complaining about an obstructed view they’ve tried to compensate us with 4 free speciality restaurant meals each – about $30 a meal. So now we have to eat at a speciality restaurant every night. Tough life.

Active volcano crater

Active volcano crater

Start off in Cagney Steak house – lobster bisque and a tea bone. Lobster bisque gives me a touch of the squitters. Really think I need to avoid shell fish. Love crab cakes but they certainly don’t love me.

Cruise by the bottom of the volcano to get a glimpse of the red hot lava flowing into the sea. Sadly it’s a good distance to the shore – no risk of a Greek tragedy with this crew – so it’s nothing but a red glimmer in the distance. Then dash back in to watch the rest of the election programmed. Finally go to sleep when they’ve called it for Trump. Shock and awe. Tomorrow there’ll be a lot of long sad faces on the ultra smug democrats who “knew” that Clinton was obviously going to win. Best not speak to any Americans for a few days.

We live in interesting times. All the pundits and poles got it wrong. Lots of similarities to the BREXIT result.

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NCL Daily Rant

Hang on it’s raining in our stateroom. Yes, in the middle of the night I get a drip from our overhead air con unit. Just another feature of a NCL experience.

Wednesday – hot and sunny.

Lava tube entrance

Lava tube entrance

We had nothing booked today so I went through web hell to book the cheapest herzt mobile I could find for a trip down to the volcano. It’s a 2 hour drive but I was dammed if I was going to miss the highlight of the cruise.

Lava

Lava

Pick up my hertz mobile. Breathe a sigh of relieve as it’s not a fiat 500 but instead a Chrysler 300, very spacious very comfortable. We share the cost of the trip with Lynell from Australia.

Pleasant drive down. Visit visitors centre, buy yet another hat for my collection, and get to see lava in the cauldera, how awesome is that. Drive around the various craters and the volcanic landscape. Walk down a lava tube. What an awesome day. Not only do we get a personalised tour with stop offs where we choose, rather than a couple of stop offs with the bus tour, but we also save £250 in the process. So yesterday’s disaster turns into a real plus.

Real hot lava

Real hot lava

Get back in plenty of time to board. A well planned and well executed trip – moral again is better to do your own thing.

A fantastic day and then in the evening we get another freebe to the Italian speciality restaurant. Followed by the ??? show, which Wendy really enjoys and I manage to snooze through. Mind you a bottle of merlot did help.

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Overtime with Bill Maher: Trump Press, Civil Rights (HBO)

Thursday – hot and sunny.

Waimea canyon waterfall

Waimea canyon waterfall

I do the helicopter tour around Kauai. Wendy passes.

Well it cost an arm, a leg and a kidney, but I’m always reluctant to say this, it was worth every cent. What a fantastic island this is the Waimea Canyon and the Napali coast are unbelievable. Get a pilots front row seat, manage to retain my breakfast and nearly overflow a memory card with awesome pictures. It’ll take a month to cull and edit them.

Helicopter trip

Helicopter trip

Then in the afternoon we catch the free shuttle into the Mall. Well the less said about that the better.

At least it looks like we’ve got a home exchange in San Diego to replace the one a scrot has welshed on.

In the evening we do the Teppanyaki meal in a Japanese restaurant. All very entertaining but all those veggies before we get to some decent meat is just too much for a carnivore.

Friday – hot and sunny.

Waimea canyon

Waimea canyon

Up early for Waimea Canyon tour. I’d already seen it from the helicopter but the tour was well worth it for Wendy and we both enjoyed it. Stopped off at a market – could have passed on that; then the canyon; coffee farm with lots of free samples; then a blowhole. Thankfully no coconut husking demo. Great narration from our tour guide. Excellent and well worth it. Must be loosing my grip, that’s twice I’ve said that this week.

Napali coast

Napali coast

Back to the ship for lunch then lazy afternoon as we set sail for Honolulu. Pass on the invite from the captain to a select sail away party.
Sounds like he’s a bit of a Billy no mates, always wanting us to be his friend.

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NCL Daily Rant

Napali coast from the ship

Napali coast from the ship

It seems like our complaint about Monday evenings slow service and lamb that would make good vibram soles has resulted in yet another bribe. This time a free bottle of wine. So I suppose that means I’ll have to suffer a whole bottle of wine tonight and finish off my remaining Malbec in the afternoon – do they not realise they are making me sin!

Oh and because of the noise from above, no I’ve not suddenly had messages from allah, they’ve credited our account with $200.

NCL seems to have a new approach to customer service. They’ve obviously recognised they’re a total screw up and hope that freebies will bribe you tonkeep you on side. Well the freebies have been very nice but I’d rather things be right. There’s really no pleasure in having to use a megaphone from my virtual surf board on the wave of life to constantly do a Victor and complain.

Wendy in her natural habitat.

Wendy in her natural habitat.

Saturday – hot and sunny.

Honolulu airport lounge

Honolulu airport lounge

Joy for the first time ever we get to walk off a floating gin palace with on immigration or other delays.

Then to spoil the jubilation we meet the two clueless screw ups who are trying to organise our Speedishuttle back to the airport. It’s total chaos. So much for a shuttle every 20 minutes, it takes 45 minutes in the gruelling sun and a near riot from the massed passenger revolt to get on a shuttle. My fault I should have used Uber instead of these jokers.

Finally get to the airport. Survive the rude Hawaiian airlines check in staff and fortunately we’re TSA pre-checked.

Then we’ve 5 hours in the worst airport lounge ever. No food, no alcohol and to top it all they close for 30 minutes for lunch. Customer service, what’s that? Are all the Japanese mentally retarded or is their inscrutable gormless look just a way of deflecting complaints?

This airport must be the most expensive on the planet. A burger from burger king is over $10.

Ryanair are really missing a trick. Why not do what Hawaiian Airlines do, turn the temperature down so that it’s colder than a witches tit and then sell blankets. Another example of Hawaiian excellence in customer service.

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I think I’ve come across a new religion here in Honolulu. As we all know women from the religion of pieces and permanent offence perambulate around in black bin liners with a post box slit in it, like a dalek without a probiscous; sheikhs wear a turban; mormons wear magic underwear; christians tend to dangle a cross from their necks, probably to ward off evil spirits.

So what is this religion that wears white surgical masks? They’re here in hoards. Looks like they’ve just escaped from surgery. They’re always Chinese, so perhaps it some obscure Chinese religion or just a germaphobia. Having a drink with one on is easy, just pierce a hole for a straw, but a meal, now there’s a challenge.