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Ovation Goes South to Hawaii Sept. 20, 2019


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11 minutes ago, twangster said:

I haven't forgotten about this thread.  

With three ports days in a row with long excursions each day followed by disembarking in Honolulu this morning there hasn't been time to post.  I'll finish this off from the comfort of my living room back home.

What?!  You got off already.  That was way too fast.  Have a safe flight home.  

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3 hours ago, twangster said:

I haven't forgotten about this thread.  

With three ports days in a row with long excursions each day followed by disembarking in Honolulu this morning there hasn't been time to post.  I'll finish this off from the comfort of my living room back home.

What?! You got off already and haven't boarded another cruise?!?! I was sure you were going to surprise us all with the announcement that you were now on the transpacific to Australia!

You're falling off your "A" game, dude. ??



Hope you had a safe flight home and that all's well. Can't wait to see the remaining pics!

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Day 8 - Lahaina, Maui

Up early I noticed the sky was beginning to lighten.  Still moving I knew we much be getting close so I went topside.


Our first good look at our new home for the next two days.



First glimpse of Lahaina.


The first tender was dispatched to set up the port area for our visit.

According to our Captain this is the largest tender operation in the world.  Ovation has six lifeboats that have been designed specifically to function as tenders.  One hundred and ten crew would participate until 10pm when a local charter boat operator was hired to perform the hourly overnight tender service so that crew could rest before repeating the operation again the next day.



Sunrise was upon us.


The first hints of clouds forming over the island.


A closer look at a life/tender boat.


Maui is known as the valley isle.  


My excursion didn't depart until 2pm so I stayed on the ship closer to noon.  

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I wanted to wander a bit before my 2pm excursion that met on the island.

Clouds have formed over much of the island in just a few hours.


Here is the crew fixing the ramp after a swell knocked it off it's normal position.


The boats themselves are very comfortable with padded seating.  I think the capacity is 170.


Off and away we go...



The port area where we landed.



Walking along the shore for a bit.




Very close by is a street with shops.



It was very hot, over 31°C or almost 90° F.  I though something to cool me down was in order.  Conveniently located across from the port area is a hotel with bar.


Fortunately I found a Big Wave Golden Ale to cool me down.


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Today's excursion is called the Haleakalā Summit Sunset Experience. 

Our excursion met and we boarded a small shuttle type bus where we met our driver and guide.  We drove around 45 minutes to their business where we could get a coffee, snack, use the restroom and get a jacket for the summit.  


The summit is around 10,000 feet in elevation and the weather is very cool up there.  Today it was 41°F.  Jackets were highly recommended due to the strong winds and wind chill.

Menus were passed around for a post-summit dinner.  We picked our entree which was called into the restaurant prior to our arrival later in the evening.


Our bus ride continued up through changing weather and ecology.  Entering the Haleakalā National Park we stopped at the visitor's center for a restroom break and interesting talk about the type of plants in this area.   At this point we were above the clouds at around 7,000 feet.


We learned that many plants found here are endemic to Hawaii - they only exist here and nowhere else in the world.  Some are unique to each island and are not even found on other Hawaiian islands.


The Silversword is an example of one unique and exclusive to Maui.


We continue our drive towards the summit first stopping at a viewing area halfway there.


The sun was getting lower on the horizon.


Our guide tells us the story of Pele and Maui, both gods in Hawaiian culture.  Pele is the goddess of volcanoes and fire and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.  Maui was responsible for the mountains rising from the ocean floor.  


This area includes a viewing platform for a view into the crater behind the summit.



Cinder cones were easy to spot on the crater floor.  These are from past eruptions.  Scientists believe Haleakalā has erupted at least 7 times over the past 1,000 years and they predict she will erupt again at some point.


From here we proceeded to the summit.


Another view of the crater from the visitor's center at the summit.


Not quite sunset yet the sun popped behind a cloud.  Looking closely you can see the shoreline of Maui before us.


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Finally it was time for the main event.


  As the sun dropped lower it reappeared from behind the clouds.






It was pretty magical and soulful.  

With that it was time to regain feeling in my frozen fingers so we boarded our bus for the drive to our restaurant just over an hour away. 

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Dinner was included as part of the Haleakalā Summit Sunset excursion but we were all pretty tired by the time we reached the restaurant around 8pm.  We powered through dinner and reboarded the bus for a 35 minute drive back to the port.  

Arriving at 9:45pm there was quite a line for the tender back to the ship.  Other excursions were also returning.  This was approaching 10pm when service went to hourly so it was an undesirable delay getting back to the ship.  This is really my only complaint for the cruise.  Knowing several excursions come back at this time of night it was poor timing to reduce the frequency of tender boats at this small peak in demand. 

They were super focused on getting people to shore between 6am and 7am when we first arrived but perhaps they should have held some crew in reserve and had them work later when they knew excursions would be returning.  

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Day 9 - Lahaina, Maui

Still in Lahaina with nothing but a few hours sleep between excursions it was soon time to meet my excursions.  This time with an early morning excursion we met in the theater on board and were escorted down as a group to a tender.

There is a narrow channel through the reef with surfers on both sides.  Here they are waiting to ride the next good swell as our tender made it's way through the reef.  



Today's excursion is Molokini Zodiak Snorkeling.  Our group of 51 boarded a bus for a 25 minute drive to a marina where we were divided into two groups. Our boat held 30 while the other boat could only hold 21. 


The other boat.


Our Captain's plan was to head down the coast towards the Southern part of the island but a late summer South swell was causing rough surf so the waters were too rough to snorkel. 




We did see some turtles though.  



With snorkeling prospects low we headed over to the Molokini crater.

Approaching from the back side the crater walls with waves breaking against them were quite breathtaking.





Coming around to the front side of the crater you can see that the wall of the crater on this side is low into the ocean so you boat right into the crater itself.


It was a popular spot for boat trips today.





The walls of the crater really show the layers that formed it over time.



This would be our snorkel spot today, well sheltered from the wind.

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Day 10 - Kailua-Kona

Up early for arrival at our final port of call on this cruise.  I've never been to the big island of Hawaii before.




Also a tender port and our excursion met again in the theater before being escorted to a tender shortly after 7:30am.  Today's excursion is a full day tour called Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Kahuku Unit booked through Royal.


The port area for tenders is a short rise without the narrow channel that Lanaiha has.  This made for a faster tender process.



Our group had around 9 in our bus and there were 5 smaller shuttle like buses used for all participants.  On the way to our first stop we had a 25 minute drive.  As we got closer the roads went from highways to smaller two lane roads.  Interesting tree along the way that has grown in a full loop.


The big island clearly shows that this island is a volcano.  While all of the Hawaiian islands are born from volcanoes you feel it more on the big island.  As our guide and driver put it, you were on an active volcano the moment you stepped off the tender.  Lush and tropical in places contrasted with areas that have been wiped clean of any vegetation by a lava flow at some point in the last several hundred years.

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@twangster, you just keep taking me back to almost 22 years ago!

Very interesting to see your Haleakala experience, as you went at the opposite time of day from Cathy and I. Being young and adventurous, we did the sunrise expedition that follows the van ride up in the pitch dark with a (rather scary) bike ride down the mountain. I agree about the cold, once the sun is no longer shining it quickly dips down to near-freezing temps. But it also warms up super-fast once the sun does rise; we had those same coats on when we got out of the van, and by the time our bike ride started the coats were off and we were back to shorts and t-shirts.

And you also did Molokini! That was a highlight for us, definitely the best snorkeling we had the whole trip. You got way better pictures than I did; I tried to use one of those Kodak disposable underwater cameras and got maybe two usable shots that I don't think I even have the prints of any more.

Thanks for bringing back a bunch of great memories. We've always said we need to go back to Hawai'i some day; maybe when our 25th anniversary comes around we'll do a repeat of our honeymoon instead of a cruise!

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Our first stop is at The Painted Church.

In the early days of missionaries coming to Hawaii they were faced with either local native Hawaiian or immigrant workers few if any of which spoke english.  To get the message across this church resorted to paintings to help convey the message they were spreading.




It has been observed that the palm fronds on the ceiling are painted brown in one direction and green in the other.  The message being follow Christ forward where there is life but if you don't the other direction is death.







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Our next stop was at Bay View Farms where among other things they have 10 acres of coffee trees.  If anyone is a die hard coffee lover they've probably heard of Kona coffee.


Our driver and guide Dastan talking about the process of picking coffee cherries and the tree itself.  They have to be picked by hand and it's a lot of work for little pay.


The farm has other crops also planted.





While the Papaya and Pineapple are nice, this stop is all about coffee.





Coffee cherries have to be picked when they are red, not before and not long after they have turned color.


We were welcomed to sample a medium and dark roast variety of their coffee.





The farm has beautiful grounds with plenty to see.



We were warned when buying Kona coffee to avoid anything that said "blend" but insist on 100% Kona coffee.  A blend could have just 1 or 2 Kona beans and the rest something else where as 100% Kona coffee is just that.






Very interesting stop and of course I had to buy some Kona coffee right from the source.

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