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Christine and Richard

Age: 47

Occupation:Administrative Assistant

Number of Cruises: 13

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Radiance of the Seas

Sailing Date: October 14th, 2001

Itinerary: Vancouver to Honolulu

One tendered ashore on a sparkling morning to the welcoming sight of a replica of the 19th Century brig, Carthaginian II. Nearby was the historic Pioneer Inn – constructed in 1901, it was Lahaina’s first hotel and is still in use today. The 14th Annual Lahaina Banyan Tree Ho’olaulea was being held beneath the branches of the enormous landmark tree. Christine never misses a shopping opportunity, and this arts and crafts festival did not disappoint her. A sea glass necklace and ceramic Hawaiian flower bowls are lovely keepsakes. A reenactment of a royal procession awed the crowds and presented unique photo opportunities.

Lunch found us at Kimo’s Restaurant; the shaded deck overlooked the harbor and gave an unspoiled view of the Radiance of the Seas. Richard sampled broiled opi – a sweet white fish; Christine opted for grilled ahi – yellow fin tuna – with a spicy Thai salad.

Wo Hing Society Museum is a tribute to the Islands’ earliest immigrants. At the temple we met the museum’s curator, Basaba Paratacharya. She explained how Wo Hing was established in 1909 as an aid society to assist Chinese laborers on the Islands and to help maintain their ties to the homeland. There are fewer than 20 members today. In addition to the temple, the site includes noteworthy Chinese artifacts. At a separate restored cookhouse, one can envision meal preparation in enormous pots for sugar cane workers and their families and/or watch early Hawaiian documentary films by Thomas Edison.

Imagine gently rippling Pacific waters kissing a white sand beach, an evening sky illuminated by a crescent moon framed between swaying palm trees and the Radiance of the Seas aglow at sea providing the fantasy backdrop for sharing a meal with friends at Pacific’O Restaurant. The varied and tempting menu enticed us. A coconut crusted crab and shrimp cake appetizer was settled on by one – but enjoyed by all. Salad picks ranged from Shogun Caesar to roasted Maui onion and herbed goat cheese with a smoked tomato dressing to upcountry greens with balsamic herb vinaigrette. When it came to entrées, four chose sesame crusted racks of New Zealand lamb with roasted macadamia nut sauce and Hawaiian chutney, and one had pan-roasted jumbo scallops and pork tournedos with oyster garlic butter sauce, pesto and Maui onion salsa. The accompanying 1997 Stag’s Leap Petit Syrah complemented all selections. We are still pinching ourselves in disbelief and delight over our picture perfect evening in Lahaina.

Another day awaited us on the island of Maui. Whalers Village – a huge up-scale hotel and shopping complex located on the K’anapali coast – was our destination. A stroll along the beachfront was warm and inviting, and our brief rest stop afforded the chance to write a few postcards. We soon returned to Lahaina for lunch at Royal Seafood Chinese Restaurant, where our selections of ma po tofu (Szechuan-style braised bean curd) and crispy salt and pepper baked opi were quite good. However, our emergent tastes for Hawaiian seafood will be impossible to satisfy once we return home.

Nawiliwili, Kaua’i

At a third reunion, we joined some other previous cruisemates – who live on Kaua’i – for lunch at Duke’s Canoe Club at the Kaua’i Marriott Hotel in L'hu’e. Grilled fish tacos were chosen unanimously. The outdoor seating alongside a small sunny cove provided a comfortable setting for our get-together and a chance to learn first-hand about living in paradise. Later, exploration of the Marriott’s gardens and swimming pool convinced us this would be an ideal future vacation spot. JJ’s Broiler Restaurant beckoned on the way back to the pier. A frosty cool drink on the inviting umbrellaed deck was a nice way to end a relaxing day on this beautiful island.

Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i

Tendering into Kailua-Kona was like sailing into a postcard. The farmers’ market offered attractive selections of local produce and arts and crafts. Our souvenirs were augmented by a coral necklace and assorted flavors of marlin jerky, which sadly could not come home with us. A rocky and irregular coastline allowed only a few stretches of navigable beach, however, the nearby Hulihe’e Palace – built by King Kal’kaua in 1885 – and the lovely granite Moku’aikaua Church were interesting diversions.

Historic Kona Inn was chosen for lunch because of its open-air dining in the heart of Kailua. Again, we were kept company by the sight of the Radiance of the Seas offshore. This property was build in 1928 and maintains the look of bygone days. The Casablanca fans were particularly noteworthy – operated from a single power supply, they were interconnected to the source by a succession of belts. From our papasan chairs, we had delicious grilled spearfish – Richard’s as a sandwich and on a Caesar salad for Christine.

Honolulu, Oahu

Requisite photos were snapped at the neighboring Aloha Tower. Moored here were the idle Patriot and Independence cruise ships. The recent bankruptcy of American Classic Voyages has been a huge economic loss to the Islands. We visited briefly a nearby arts and crafts festival before heading toward Chinatown. Not prepared for the dilapidation and filth that attacked the senses, we could not bring ourselves to window shop, investigate the food markets nor settle on a restaurant for lunch. We retreated hastily to Waikiki – a very congested, over-developed tourist haven. We were grateful for the refuge of House of Hong Restaurant and soothing plates of baby eggplant in garlic sauce and chili shrimp. The return to the ship on the gratis Hilo Hattie’s shuttle bus provided an insightful orientation to major resorts and landmarks.

Disembarkation

We are very tolerant travelers, but our patience was tested by the gracelessness of debarkation, which was exacerbated by the heat and stringent USDA and security checks. The 3-1/2 hours allowed for this process, left just 20 minutes at the gate prior to boarding the plane. Except for the one-half-inch of leg room on the fully booked connecting red-eye flight out of Los Angeles, the remainder of the journey was unremarkable.

Conclusion

This stress-free holiday aboard the astonishing Radiance of the Seas exceeded our expectations. We were delighted to bring together past cruise companions and thankful for precious time shared with them. The opportunity to meet so many others with a mutual love of the sea was also something which will long be cherished. Already contemplating our next cruise destination – wherever that may be – we hope it will be just as pleasant and relaxing. Aloha!

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