2009 World Cruise – Jan 19-24 – Days 15-20 – Hilo, Hawai’i

2009 World Cruise.  I am writing this blog 8 years after we went on the Holland America World Cruise and I still remember very well the immediately recognizable changes between the 14-day ‘regular’ cruise we just completed from Ft. Lauderdale and the World Cruise as we sailed out of Los Angeles.

We had to get off the ship when we docked in LA and go through US Immigration.  We were allowed back on board at 10:30.  As we waited in the Cruise Terminal there was HAL staff circulating among the guest with trays of cookies.  A 4-piece string ensemble (wearing tuxedos) played background music.  Two huge purple and white balloon towers stood at the check-in area.

Once we were back on board there was unlimited champagne available on the Lido deck and restaurant.  A long-stem red rose was given to every woman as she entered the dining-room for dinner.  On the tables there were no longer foil-wrapped pats of butter; now the butter was in the shape of pressed flowers.  There are little jars of jam and honey instead of the small plastic packages.  Even the selections on the in-room breakfast menu have expanded. Everything has stepped up a notch (or two).

We spent five days at sea getting to our first port of call – Hilo, Hawai’i (Hawai’i is the name of the biggest island and also the state.  To avoid confusion with the other islands Hawai’i is referred to as The Big Island.)

We had booked all of our shore excursions before we left home.  We have been to Hilo a few times so none of the tours around the town or to Volcano National Park interested us.  However, there was a tour to Mauna Kea the highest peak in the Pacific, at 13, 796′ above sea level.   (Since it rose out of the sea as an erupted volcano it is actually the tallest mountain in the world passing Everest by quite a margin if you measure from the sea bottom, which is the true base of Mauna Kea.)  I have always wanted to go up there but the road rugged and narrow and is off-limits to rental cars.

I had developed a cold just as we left LA which severely compromises my breathing and asthma attacks usually follow.  I, very reluctantly, decided that I better not go on the tour as the low oxygen levels would make a bad situation much worse.  John went without me (there was only five people on the tour) and later said it was a good thing I didn’t go as he found it difficult to breath up there.  All of the photos in this blog are his.

img_3244-1 img_3257Typical Big Island scenery – it is volcanic after all.

The Observatory at the summit of Mauna Kea.  The snow never melts here.

img_3273 img_3288 img_3289 img_3312img_3307The volcanic craters at the summit of Mauna Kea.img_3303 img_3310Snowboarders and skiers come up to sail down.  It is a long, twisty, rugged road to get there. (If you have good eyes you can see the skiers.)

On the way back to the ship John made a stop at Rainbow Falls.img_3323

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