WEL­COME TO THE FAM­ILY

Everyone is ‘ohana’ on a cruise around the Hawai­ian isles

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - CRUISING HAWAII - ADRI­ENNE TAM

It’s easy to for­get that Hawaii is more than the beaches, stores and sky­scrapers of its cap­i­tal, Honolulu, and its main is­land Oahu. With eight main is­lands to get lost in (and around), there is no bet­ter way than cruis­ing to see the beauty of this 50th state of the US.

OVERVIEW

There are three words you will quickly come to know in Hawaii – the first is aloha (used as a greet­ing but its true mean­ing is more akin to “love” and “af­fec­tion”), the sec­ond is ma­halo (thank you) and the third is ohana (fam­ily). “Aloha, and wel­come on board the

Vin­cent, the ev­er­ef­fu­sive cruise di­rec­tor booms over the in­ter­com.

Vin­cent is easy to spot over the com­ing days – he’s tall, lean and dressed in the most de­light­ful ar­ray of colour­ful suits. “While you are with us, you are our ohana, and we are happy to have you. Ma­halo, and I’ll see ya when I see ya!”

For this (very ex­cited) first-time cruiser, learn­ing how to nav­i­gate the 281-me­tre Nor­we­gian Cruise Line ship is not easy.

There are 10 floors, not in­clud­ing the crew’s quar­ters, 10 el­e­va­tors, 15 decks, 11 restau­rants, 940 crew, 2450 guests, and miles and miles of ocean.

My ad­vice is to use the maps on the walls re­li­giously, know your ship lan­guage (aft, for­ward, port, star­board) and, most im­por­tantly, be OK with get­ting lost. It’s all part of the fun of cruis­ing.

Be­sides, get­ting lost just means you’ll find your­self at ei­ther the li­brary, the shops, the Man­dara Spa or the Pink Cham­pagne bar.

While the liner is im­pres­sive, it is Hawaii that makes this an un­for­get­table trip.

The first stop on the seven-night cruise is stun­ning Maui, one of Hawaii’s eight main is­lands.

From there, we travel to Hilo and Kona on the vol­canic Big Is­land, then on­wards to lush Kauai.

The lo­cals like to say that each is­land has its own per­son­al­ity and it is en­tirely true. Maui is ad­ven­tur­ous, Hilo is sleepy, Kona is vi­brant, and Kauai – my favourite – is the most un­spoilt and green.

The one sim­i­lar­ity be­tween the is­lands is the glo­ri­ous heat. And per­haps the pres­ence of pineap­ples.

THINGS TO DO ON-BOARD

If sit­ting around the pool or a quiet deck with food, drink and a good book isn’t your cup of tea, fret not, there is an abun­dance of things you can try.

Most cruises are made for fam­i­lies and this is no ex­cep­tion. There are on­board ac­tiv­i­ties al­most every day for Gup­pies (ages 3 and un­der), Splash Academy (ages 3-12) and En­tourage (ages 13-17). While the kids are play­ing with toys, fight­ing dragons and sav­ing princesses, and hav­ing py­jama par­ties, the adults can learn to make Kukui nut bracelets, leis, straw­berry short­cake with pas­try chefs, and learn the hula. Sure, you might look a bit silly do­ing the hula but don’t let that de­ter you. As one sage cruiser tells me, “just think like a wash­ing ma­chine and shake those hips!”

At night, the Hol­ly­wood The­atre puts on a great show, be it the su­perb song stylings of Frankie Valli & The Four Sea­sons (highly rec­om­mended) or the comedic ge­nius of Jeff Harms.

IS­LAND TOURS

Be­yond the on-board ac­tiv­i­ties, the tours and ac­tiv­i­ties on the is­lands are, hands-down, the best time I’ve ever

AS ONE SAGE CRUISER TELLS ME, ‘JUST THINK LIKE A WASH­ING MA­CHINE AND SHAKE THOSE HIPS!’

had on a hol­i­day in my whole life (that’s 35 years – noth­ing to scoff at). No, the tours are not in­cluded in the price of the cruise but even so, they are not to be missed. There’s a tour to suit everyone, from the young and en­er­getic to the older, less mo­bile.

I go on a pleas­ant “Best of Maui” tour to check out the agri­cul­ture, eat (more) pineap­ples, get shown how to husk a co­conut in un­der a minute and visit the sugar mu­seum.

The next day I’m hik­ing through the rain­for­est and swim­ming in the clear pools with wa­ter­falls over­head. I meet a won­der­ful Cuban-Amer­i­can fam­ily who let me be­come a pseu­domem­ber for the day.

In Hilo, I forego the tours (al­though I’m told the vol­cano ex­cur­sion is spec­tac­u­lar) for a hop-on, hop-off bus trip through the town.

I hap­pily spend a few hours at the charm­ing farm­ers’ mar­ket, buy some anti-vog tablets (vog is a form of air pol­lu­tion that some­times oc­curs on vol­canic is­lands) and take too many pictures of tur­tles swim­ming in rock pools.

My love of cof­fee leads me to the Mocha tour in Kona, which is ex­actly as its name sug­gests – we go to Kona Joe’s cof­fee plan­ta­tion to see how the lo­cal brew is made, fol­lowed by a choco­late tour at the only choco­late fac­tory in Hawaii. My ob­vi­ous tip: eat and drink all the sam­ples and then buy the prod­ucts so you can eat and drink them some more.

While in Kona, you must try the shaved ice. It’s a favourite treat of for­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama and when you try, you’ll see why.

The feral chick­ens run rife in Kauai – don’t be alarmed, they’re harm­less.

I meet a whole bunch of them while on my “Jun­gle Falls” tour – a kayak­ing and hik­ing ad­ven­ture through the Huleia Na­tional Wildlife Refuge. We kayak 4km down­river be­fore a van takes us to a jun­gle trail where our hike be­gins. Ever had a pic­nic by a

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