Real Hawaii

We’re travelling up to dry dock currently, enduring some very choppy waters off the California coast as we make our way towards British Columbia, Canada.  Fortunately, that means I don’t want to leave my room, and thus I can blog!  #thingstobegratefulfor

I can now say I’ve experienced all four Hawaiian islands – the Big Island, Oahu, Kauai, and Maui.  And I had quite different adventures in each…

Our first stop on these cruises is always Hilo, the biggest city on the Big Island (Hawaii itself).  Quite frankly, Hilo doesn’t feel much like the vacation paradise you’re expecting.  (I took no pictures.)  It’s quite industrial and, apart from the lush tropical vegetation, feels like Anytown, USA.  However, after four sea days, I was more than ready to step onto land and do ANYTHING.

So a friend and I took the shuttle to the major shopping center, where there was a real mall (which we didn’t visit) and a strip mall with a Ross and a Wal-Mart (both of which we did visit).  I was delighted to find two warm sweaters at Ross, as it’s starting to get chilly even in Los Angeles!  Knowing that dry dock in Canada was coming up, I wanted at least a couple things to keep me warm.  Then at Wal-Mart, I made the big purchase I’d decided on a few days before: hair dye!  I’ll write more about this in my next blog about branding, but those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook may have seen the new, darker brunette color I ended up with.

Before we left Hilo that afternoon, I realized something very important (to my budget, at least): the longer you work on a ship, the more you go shopping-crazy when you hit land.  I’d seen it in my cast mates who’ve done ships for a while, but I hadn’t expected to fall victim to it myself.  I’m not really sure why it happens still.  Just the desire for something new, something indulgent, something to treat yourself, I guess?  I’m usually pretty restrained on shopping for myself, preferring when travelling to spend money on family and friends.  But the last few months of my budget show what a hard time I’m having sticking to my spending limits!  (I’m trying to save as much of that money as I can for when I get back to New York.)  We’ll see if being aware of this now helps me reign my spending back in for the last two months of this contract.

Dinner at Duke's Waikiki on Oahu. It was Queen Candace's birthday.  We had a Hulu Pie to celebrate.
Dinner at Duke’s Waikiki on Oahu. It was Queen Candace’s birthday. We had a Hulu Pie to celebrate.

The next day was Honolulu on the island of Oahu, which was basically the only port in which I was able to spend time on our last Hawaii cruise.  I spent most of the day on a mission to pick up some of my last Christmas gifts.  However, I did take a few moments for myself, including dinner on the beach (Duke’s Waikiki for the second time!!!) and, more importantly, visiting Pearl Harbor.

I didn’t do the full Pearl Harbor experience, given time constraints after morning rehearsals.  However, I was able to visit the Visitor’s Center and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum in my time there.  The latter was incredibly moving.  I’ve never visited a museum or taken a tour that has hit me so deeply before; I actually cried at the end of the (phenomenal) audio tour, so touching was the simple and elegant tribute to those lost on submarines just like the Bowfin.  It was also my first time seeing the inside of a sub, and the experience was much more meaningful given my current ship life perspective!  It’s amazing what those men underwent to protect our country.  Thank you to all our military families who continue to serve us all.

Look, Ma, that's my bed above the missiles!
Look, Ma, that’s my bed above the missiles!

The next day we were in Nawiliwili, Kauai.  Kauai looks like Jurassic Park – maybe because that’s where they filmed some of it!  A whole bunch of other movies filmed there, including one of the later Pirates of the Caribbean films.  One of the local storeowners was telling me about how Johnny Depp liked to chill at the bar with the locals.

RealHawaii3I shared a picture of the beach in Kauai last time we were there, and it was overcast this time, so I didn’t take anymore.  But I did love this picture I snapped at the Marriot Resort’s botanical garden courtyard – the koi were just amazing!  Apparently there are over 80 varieties in their pond system, which is quite beautiful and large.

I also visited an art gallery off the courtyard and fell in love with two artists I hadn’t known before: Rino Gonzalez and Roy Tabora.  I wish I were the type who sneaks a photo after being told, “No photos,” but I’m way too obedient.  Roy Tabora’s work was breathtaking – sunlight or moonlight breaking through the waves of various spots around Kauai.  Rino Gonzalez surprised me; his work was mostly still lifes, which bore me, but one painting in particular effected a strong emotional reaction in me.  Something about the lace on the table, which was almost photorealistic, juxtaposed with the china tea set, which was slightly blurred, reminded me strongly of times with my grandmothers and my great aunt.  (I don’t know why, as none of them had lace tablecloths like that.)  Sometimes you don’t know why art moves you the way it does.

The next and final day of port time was in Maui.  I treated myself to a very Hawaiian breakfast (fruit smoothie with pineapple macadamia coconut bread) and walked briefly around Lahaina, off of which we were anchored.  There were flowers everywhere.

RealHawaii4Then I met up with my friend Chris.  We’ve been friends for about six years, but we’ve only spent about a week of that in each other’s company!  (We were working on a big alumni dance retreat and production at my alma mater several years ago.)  So I was super excited to get to see her in her “element” of Hawaii.

She was an amazing host.  We first drove to a gorgeous resort north of Lahaina and went swimming (well, bobbing, really, since we couldn’t stop chatting) in the ocean.  Despite the forecast of rain all day, it was stunningly beautiful – a perfect day for a swim.  It was also amusing to remember what salt water tastes like, hehe.

I swam right there!
I swam right there!

Then we headed southeast, past Lahaina and towards the valley between the two mountains of Maui, where Chris and her husband have a ranch they’re slowly developing.  I couldn’t believe how lush and Hawaii-local her “neighborhood” was.  This was a shot on the drive up towards their home.

RealHawaii7In reality we didn’t really do that much, other than talk – but that’s what I’d most wanted, so it was a perfect visit.  There’s something so relaxing about catching up with dear friends.  By the time I got back on the boat, ready to face another five days at sea, I felt peaceful and satisfied (the Hawaiian ice cream we ate right before might have helped, too).  And I received my first lei!  A perfect finish to the real Hawaii.

Though I am an employee of Princess Cruises, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer. 

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