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Hawaii Cruise for my 15th year wedding anniversary, any suggestions?
Old 05-23-2015, 07:37 PM   #1
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Hawaii Cruise for my 15th year wedding anniversary, any suggestions?

Starting to think about the upcoming 15th year wedding anniversary (Aug 2015). DW & I have not been to Hawaii before. Before kids, we enjoyed several cruises. So, I was thinking a 7 day cruise porting 4 islands can be a nice way to experience Hawaii. While the cabins are small (it's only to sleep), we only have to unpack once in the 7 days. Also, thinking of adding 3 - 4 nights at the Aulani Disney Resort as a treat to the kids. Aulani would be a splurge, but I'm willing to justify it to myself, breaking the LBYM mindset.

What are some must do activities at any of the ports? (notice limited time at each stop).

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 05-23-2015, 09:32 PM   #2
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We did this in 2014 had an amazing experience.

Hawaiian Islands

Explore four islands on our 7-night Hawaiian Islands small ship cruise
Your inclusive exploration, aboard a 36-guest yacht, carries you among the islands of Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i. Cruise along shore and watch marine life gracefully leap around your skiff; “talk story” with locals; enjoy exclusivity; and spend time at play—kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, and snorkeling. Onboard, relax on deck, mingle in the lounge, or chat up the captain. Many of our crew members are from the islands—so they know its secrets and keep it authentic—and uncover the islands’ natural gifts in a way only accessible on an small ship cruise adventure. Immerse yourself in aloha, and experience the islands from a different perspective.

Hawaii Small Ship Cruise | Un-Cruise Adventures
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Old 05-23-2015, 09:38 PM   #3
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We took this cruise (which I assume is the Norwegian?) about five or six years ago and had a great time. You are thinking of it just as we did - the ship's your mobile hotel and not much more.

First of all, don't neglect Oahu. Pearl Harbor is a don't miss, of course. Then there's the National Cemetery of the Pacific (the Punchbowl), the Diamond Head climb, the shrimp trucks on the North Shore, etc. I travel there on business fairly often and we stay in Waikiki, which I'm totally sick of but it's worth a few hours visit.

Maui was fun. We did the Road to Hana thing but booked a tour bus outside of the cruise line and were very glad we did. Smaller van, better service, better lunch, and cheaper.

From Hilo we took the tour from the cruise line up to the Moana Loa crater and it just sucked. Our bus driver held us captive in the bus in the parking lot while he told us some b.s. stories, while we were looking longingly at the views of the volcano we were missing. There was a stop at the popular lava tube where they herded you through just as fast as possible. The bus tour ended at the macadamia nut factory, which was entirely a gift shop. We would have been much better off renting a car ourselves, which is what I told my brother to do the next year and they had a great time.

Kona is beach day. I loved my excursion with Captain Zodiac down the coast to go snorkeling.

Kauai is just the greatest. By this time I had figured out to rent my own car which is what we did. Don't miss the Waimea Canyon. And if you have your own car you can drive all the way up to the top where you can look down on the Napali Coast. Buses can't. You will see the Napali Coast from the ship on the second day there.

I'm sure others will offer great advice as well.

Aloha!
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Old 05-23-2015, 09:52 PM   #4
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Absolutely go snorkeling, half of Hawaii's incredible beauty is underwater.
On Oahu, the Pali lookout and the hike to Manoa falls are worth checking out.
For Aulani see if you can "rent" points from a Disney Vacation Club member. There are a number of online brokers who facilitate these exchanges and it will be cheaper than Disney rack rates and the main difference is no daily maid service...(who cares?)
On the Big Island there is a green sand beach in the south, a black sand beach in the north, some gorgeous waterfalls across the top eastern part of the island and wonderful snorkeling at Captain Cook's grave (accessible only by boat). Don't miss the night sky on the less populated islands. You will see why it is called the MILKY Way.
On Kuai a helicopter tour might be worth taking. There is awesome snorkeling along the north western tip called Bali Hai (it was Bali Hai in the movie South Pacific and was the exotic escape location at the end of Body Heat as well)
Food is expensive on the islands-- There is a CostCo on Oahu which was a cheap snack bar and a source for gifts boxes of macadamia nuts, etc to take back...


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Old 05-23-2015, 10:26 PM   #5
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On Oahu, definitely Pearl Harbor and I'd also recommend the USS Missouri tour. You can get both combined in the same trip. The climb to Diamond Head is worth it if you are in decent shape. Since you've never been before, I suppose a luau is in order. I didn't much care for the food but the show was entertaining. When I go back, I definitely want to see the Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii. If you're into Groupon, they often have some good deals at least for Honolulu. Oahu tour costs are all over the map and it pays to Google for the best deals.
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Old 05-24-2015, 12:42 AM   #6
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We did the Norwegian cruise a while back. We enjoyed the Haleakala Bike ride on Maui, very fun.
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Old 05-24-2015, 12:56 AM   #7
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It looks like a great way to celebrate your anniversary.
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Old 05-24-2015, 01:30 AM   #8
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You indicate enjoying cruising before kids, how about with kids? They will love Aulani, not so sure about a cruise ship.

We have been going to Hawaii every year for the last 15 years, prefer to stay in condos or rent timeshares. I can tell you that all the shops jack up prices when the ship is in port, those are the days we avoid going to town.


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Old 05-24-2015, 01:51 AM   #9
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Definitely spend couple/few days in Oahu , maybe your kids/you will want to learn to surf at Waikiki !
Diamond head is fantastic, you can bus from Waikiki to there.
snorkeling in Hanama Bay is fun (the president does it there too).

I'm sure the kids will enjoy a cruise, we just took one (Carnival cruise) and the kids were all over the place.
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Old 05-24-2015, 06:32 AM   #10
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We're not big cruisers but have done them to get to places we wouldn't otherwise - Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Malta, Sicily, Glacier Bay & to get warm in the winter - Caribbean. But prefer staying in a location to get a feel of the place & eat their food vs. the good but sameness ship food.


But for HI, I'd stay on the islands instead. Kauai is magnificent. I'd get condo for three days each on south & north shores. And three days Oahu - Pearl, Waikiki & Diamond Head, east coast. JMO.
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Old 05-24-2015, 07:16 AM   #11
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I live on Kauai and you definitely need to rent a car. The port is at the midpoint of the island so the respective ends of the road are about an hour drive in each direction.
Given you only have a day and a half at best (assuming you got an early start the second day), it's a tough call as to which direction you should head.
Waimea Canyon on the west side of the island is amazing. Just not something you would expect to see on a relatively small island in the middle of nowhere. But the beaches on that side, with the exception of Polihale are disappointing. Poipu beach is interesting for a stop but it's crowded (by Kauai standards).
In the other direction, the beaches are just spectacular. Hanalei Bay (heading there later today) is just amazing. So if you want to be in the ocean I would head north.


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Old 05-24-2015, 08:10 AM   #12
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Sounds like fun! What's the costs look like?
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Old 05-24-2015, 08:32 AM   #13
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Also from another Hawaii thread....


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Take very seriously the warnings about locking your car and do NOT leave anything- ANYTHING-in the car that might tempt thieves. They have a serious Smash and Dash problem - so much that there are permanent signs up in the parking lots warning you about this.



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Old 05-24-2015, 09:08 AM   #14
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You don't mention how many kids you have or how old they are. Except for Disney cruises, I don't think too many of them are set up to cater to children.

If you kids are younger then 10, I'd throw in the idea of going to the Playa del Carmen area and looking for a really nice all inclusive resort. This time of year they should have pretty good pricing and you could either get a family suite or 2 adjoining rooms. You'd only unpack once and have all your food provided. With young children this would give you a lot more options as to food and schedule. Crusing schedules are fine for adults, but sometimes not for kids. Do you want a trip where a lot of your meals and all of your activities are on a tight timeline? On a cruise if you have a tired or ill child you can't just "do it tomorrow".
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:09 AM   #15
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You don't mention how many kids you have or how old they are. Except for Disney cruises, I don't think too many of them are set up to cater to children.

If you kids are younger then 10, I'd throw in the idea of going to the Playa del Carmen area and looking for a really nice all inclusive resort. This time of year they should have pretty good pricing and you could either get a family suite or 2 adjoining rooms. You'd only unpack once and have all your food provided. With young children this would give you a lot more options as to food and schedule. Crusing schedules are fine for adults, but sometimes not for kids. Do you want a trip where a lot of your meals and all of your activities are on a tight timeline? On a cruise if you have a tired or ill child you can't just "do it tomorrow".
If your kids need passports you still have time to take care of that.
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:22 AM   #16
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Thanks for the suggestions on the various activities. Keep them coming as I need to come up with the "plan".

grasshopper - the small ship cruise looks fun.

GalaxyBoy - yes, Norwegian. Only cruise line porting out of Oahu in Aug 2015. I was surprised the Disney cruise was not available, only in Sep.

urn2bfree - I'll have to check into the "renting points" from DVC member. We enjoy timesharing, just spent a weekend in a Palm Springs timeshare and planning a Vegas weekend in a timeshare.

SmithOp - this will be the first time with kids. They are now 9 and 7, so I can accept the cost as cruise lines don't really discount pricing for kids. When they were 4 and 2, I was looking into a cruise, adults $800 and kids $700. I could not spend $700 for the same space and 3 - 4 small sandwiches and milk.

Sunset - We moved to LA 2 years ago and one of the dream things to see were my kids on a surf board. They have semi-mastered the boogie board. So that is something to do.

gerntz - I think future trips will be more island specific as I would like more time at a destination, the cruise will allow us to get a flavor of a few islands without packing/flying losing half days.

latexman - the Norwegian Hawaii cruise cabin alone for a family of 4 in Aug is looking like: inside $4.6k, outside $5.6k, or balcony $6.5k. Additional expense for cruise drinks/tips/activities, island activities, airfare, Aulani, etc. Overall, my starting budgetis $15k or $15,151.50 in honor of our 15 year anniversary but it could go to about $18k to $20k. A pricey 15 day vacation for us, but we deserve it... who's Dave Ramsey or Suzy Orman?? Nothing will be financed.
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:41 AM   #17
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Maui was fun. We did the Road to Hana thing but booked a tour bus outside of the cruise line and were very glad we did. Smaller van, better service, better lunch, and cheaper.
My only time in Hawaii (so far) was a trip w/ a girlfriend and her family to Maui back in 2005. I did the road to Hana trip - was really fun, but remember that it's truly not the destination (Hana), but all of the side trips that are the real attraction. It might have changed in the 10 years since, but you can easily rent your own car and drive it yourself. Just take your time and be careful, since a good majority of the time the 'roads' are just gravel. The rental car companies have big disclaimers that they do not cover damage to gravel areas, but everyone does it. So as long as you are careful and don't drive over boulders, it's all good. You don't have any hair-raising sections where you're driving on a single-lane road for 2 directions of traffic and a 500 ft dropoff to the side of the road.

Just get a good guidebook to figure out which side trips you'd want to see, since to see just about any 'side attraction' on the Road to Hana, you literally have to drive up to 2 miles off of the main road, going maybe 15 mph on some crappy side road, then walk a few hundred yards sometimes to get to some great waterfall or beach. So just 1 side attraction could take 2 hours from driving there, driving back, and enjoying it. So do a little research ahead of time to figure out which side diversions you might want to see/do. I'd think there would be some fun for your kids on these too, so not like they're only things adults would want to do.

And the main 'road' itself, being gravel, will have your average speed at maybe 25-30 mph. So plan for an all-day adventure to hit up maybe 3-4 side diversions, and spending maybe a little time in Hana itself.

And if you do want to do it yourself, book a rental car early, since they'll probably get sold out. I don't know how far they are from the cruise port.
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Old 05-24-2015, 11:06 AM   #18
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We've done the Norwegian Hawaiian cruise twice. It's a great way to see as much of the islands as possible in a small time, less expensive than flying each hop and your hotel essentially follows you around. Our most recent trip was last year, and we rented mini-vans in Oahu (actually, two, one before the cruise and one after), Maui, and Kauai; only issue was parking it overnight on Kauai, didn't realize that certain street parking was okay until we were leaving. We also did a few of the ship tours; best ones from our POV were the seahorse farm on the Big Island and the movie tour on Kauai. We drove ourselves up Haleakala on Maui, and to the ends of Kauai to see Waimea Canyon at one end and Bubba's Burgers (long story) at the other end. Google Maps on the phone worked great.


We like Oahu (another long story) and tacked on a week to stay there on one end of the cruise both times.


Now, the cruise itself doesn't compare to what you'll experience on other lines, but that's not the point on the Hawaiian trip. FWIW, it's served us very well, highly recommended...


Edit: cruisecritic.com has good user-oriented information on all cruises, including this one.
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Old 05-24-2015, 11:11 AM   #19
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[QUOTE=urn2bfree;1596570]Also from another Hawaii thread....

Thanks Urn2bfree - I generally lock everything and double check.
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Old 05-24-2015, 11:16 AM   #20
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You don't mention how many kids you have or how old they are. Except for Disney cruises, I don't think too many of them are set up to cater to children.

If you kids are younger then 10, I'd throw in the idea of going to the Playa del Carmen area and looking for a really nice all inclusive resort. This time of year they should have pretty good pricing and you could either get a family suite or 2 adjoining rooms. You'd only unpack once and have all your food provided. With young children this would give you a lot more options as to food and schedule. Crusing schedules are fine for adults, but sometimes not for kids. Do you want a trip where a lot of your meals and all of your activities are on a tight timeline? On a cruise if you have a tired or ill child you can't just "do it tomorrow".
Thanks for the suggestion of Playa del Carmen, but we're set on Hawaii.

Kids will be 9 and 7 at the time of the cruise. If the kids get bored, they will just do extra homework that I create....practice reading, writing, and math on the deck

This is from a cruise critic for the ship we are looking at:

Norwegian is one of our favorite lines for family cruising, and Pride of America is no exception. The ship's Splash Academy kids club on Deck 12 midship is bright and cheery, with a climbing maze, computer stations and plenty of play space. It also has a kiddie pool adjacent to the hangout space. Potty-trained kids from 3 years old are welcome; there are complimentary age- and destination-appropriate activities available for children up to 12 years old. The kids are divided into age groups: Turtles (3 to 5 years), Seals (6 to 9 years) and Dolphins (10 to 12 years). Free programming runs from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily, with activities like teddy bear adventures, pirate treasure hunts and wacky water games for Turtles; Hollywood Night, Mad Scientist's Lab and sports court play for Seals; and wacky dress dance parties, crazy ball games and Wii play for Dolphins.

Norwegian doesn't offer private childcare, but it does have group baby-sitting services nightly from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. ($6 per hour, per solo child, or $4 per hour, per child, if there are multiple siblings).
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