Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Feb 2019 - NCL Pride of America - Hawaii days 1-3



A cruise around the Hawaiian islands is not the easiest place to get to from the UK. Its a long journey and it is not often one finds anything anywhere near  a bargain to get you there. As usual we arranged our own flights taking advantage of Air New Zealand's route to Auckland which stops in Los Angeles and is great value and features the skycouch (more on that later). Only problem is it leaves from Heathrow so a flight from Manchester to London would have to be added on.


All flights were on time - its a supposedly 45min flight  from Manchester to Heathrow but in reality its more like an hour or more  by the time you add taxiing time and circling Heathrow waiting for a slot. Never ever fly to Heathrow with tight connections especially if you need to switch terminals which can be another hour on bus shuttles (been there done that - never again). We left Manchester at 9.05am on a British Airways flight that drops us at Heathrows T5. Our luggage is checked all the way through but we will have to pick up boarding cards for the Air New Zealand flight to LAX which leaves from T2 later this afternoon at 3:20. This sound like a lot of time but in reality its almost lunch time before we have passed security again in T2 and are sat down for a relaxing lunch and wine in a restaurant.


 Air New Zealand leaves on time and we have a 10hr 30min flight to LAX. Compared to other airlines I have to say Air NZ really have got everything spot on. Entertainment is vast and up to date (Bohemian Rhapsody - WOW what a performance from Rami Malek). Service is exactly what you want on a flight of this length. We are booked into Embassy Suites south at LAX  - great size rooms with a separate bedroom/lounge  kitchen area and bathroom. No need to open a suitcase as we carried overnight clothes etc in our carry on.


Our next leg of the journey should be a 10:00am Hawaiian Air flight direct to Honolulu but we receive an email just before we get into bed informing us its been changed and put back very annoyingly to 4pm (although it does mean we can have a lie in). So the following morning we relax over a breakfast in the hotel - have a little walk in the sun before deciding around 11am that we may as well set off for the airport and see if we can find an earlier flight.


We check in at Hawaiian Air where they immediately ask if we would like to switch over to a United flight that's leaving at 1.30pm which suits us fine.


Our flight (on a rather old, basic 757and entertainment free, other than some free wine) is pretty/ very bumpy the entire way but after 6 hrs we are making a dramatic descent over the island of O'ahu passing over Diamond Head volcano as we turn in to land at Honolulu. Wow, what a welcome to Hawaii.


As we leave the plane and enter the jetway one thing hits you straight away. ITS HOT. Way hotter than I was expecting for this time of year and its late evening.


We use Uber to take us to our Air BnB for tonight and get an excellent driver who points out lots of things for us and suggests a few places to eat tonight.


We are now -10 hours time difference from home - I am so glad we took the trip in two stages with a break in LAX otherwise I think we would feel like the walking dead . We get the key to our apartment in Waikiki and then head on out to a Thai restaurant recommended by the driver -Thai-Lao- and have possibly one of the best Thai meals we have ever had all washed down with a bottle of wine ( BYOB) from the 7-11 on the same block.


Next morning we are up bright and early - luckily we have the fantastic breakfast cafe 'Cream Pot' underneath our apartment building. The light & fluffy strawberry pancakes & Hawaiian eggs benedict were amazing. Beautifully fresh & full of flavour.


Check out out time here is noon so we have plenty of time to grab another Uber to take us up to Diamond Head and walk to the crater edge - which sounds in theory like a wonderful idea  for  an early morning trip before the sun gets too hot.


Quick note to one self - sun shoots up at 6:30am and sets at 6:30pm (you ain't that far from the equator in the middle of the Pacific Ocean -) it gets hot, sticky and rather sweaty  a little quick. Lucky though you can buy Shave Coconut Ice (The Hawaiian language apparently has no such thing as the past tense so I spelt that correctly no matter what google tells me)


OMG - Diamond Head - you pay a dollar to walk to the top in the hope you dont die half way up - but my goodness it's well worth it.


We take a taxi down to Waikiki  Beach for a paddle & wander on the beach and a quick shop to stock up on Hawaiian  hair accessories (obviously not for Dan) shirts and dresses.




Then stroll back to the apartment (actually we miscalculated  it was a 2 mile hike)  to pick up our cases from the room and take another Uber to the Cruise Terminal. Did I mention its seriously HOT!



NCL "Norwegian Pride of America" awaits us and after a traditional Hawaiian greeting we are on the gangplank and boarding for lunch.


 Dinner tonight was in the Skyline restaurant - here you can be a little more casual a good point on the first day as it did take  a while for our suitcases to appear at the cabin. Great meal all washed down with a bottle of  Ravens Wood Zinfandel. As we finish the first course we slowly slip out of the port and head towards our first destination the island of Maui.


Later that evening we sat on the open aft deck listening the  Hawaiian duo  singing traditional songs whilst we watch the island Oahu and the city of Honolulu and its twinkling lights disappear over the horizon. And then its an early night. We have been travelling now for 2 days and even with the 2 nights in LA and Honolulu the ten hour difference is taking its toll on us

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