Cruise, Sydney to Southampton – Honolulu & Hilo (Hawaii)

Tuesday 24 March – Honolulu on the island of O’ahu (Hawaii)

Land at last! We have survived another 5 days at sea and are looking forward to a trip to Pearl Harbour today.  We booked this one some time ago as we reckoned it would get booked up quickly and we weren’t wrong, there were many people in many buses.

Queue up at 6:45am to have passports stamped by American Immigration officials. Slow moving queue but we are processed by about 8am and off to breakfast before joining our Pearl Harbour booked tour.

Pearl Harbour memorial
Pearl Harbour memorial

Amiable guide / driver but a couple of wheelchair bound passengers and only one wheelchair between them delays our entry and gives us less time there than we should have had!  Somewhat selfish of the disabled.

So much for P & O’s advice for no open toed shoes to be worn – there are plenty of evidence of toes on view and no one appeared to mind.

Pearl Harbour visitor centre grounds
Pearl Harbour visitor centre grounds

Once inside the area, there is a small indoors display to view but really not enough time to study the words attached as we have a time to adhere to for our tour of the Arizona memorial.

The tour starts with a 25 minute film on the history behind both the Hawaiian Islands (including the monarchy and Japanese settlers arriving well before Pearl Harbour), the build up to the attack and is followed by a short boat ride to the visitor centre built over the Arizona which still lays where it was hit – quite well done and moving.

Arizona memorial to those who lost their lives.
Arizona memorial to those who lost their lives.

Soon we are back on the short boat ride back to land but only a brief time left to visit shop for a book on the attack.

A veteran of the attack has written a book and we buy signed copies for gifts future reading.

A well laid out “museum” and the viewing platform over the Arizona a moving memorial to those who lost their lives.  It is such a shame that we did not have enough time to visit all the exhibits including the submarine.


Whilst we were back at the coach at the allotted time, we have to wait a further 20+ minutes for the wheelchair passenger – again, not a considerate person and this lopped time off the next part of the tour.

Off for a quick drive around the area between the Port and Pearl Harbour, taking in the Cemetery, a couple of older style buildings, a statue of the last King of Hawaii and other public buildings.

State flag
State flag

The island’s flag is interesting as it incorporates a Union Jack in the top left hand corner of the flag.

Soon we pass the Waikiki beach area which was popular with other tourists and is over the road from a vast shopping centre but have no time to stop.

Statue of David Kalakaua, last King of Hawai'i
Statue of David Kalakaua, last King of Hawai’i

A nearby beach nearer the port is used by locals and is far less crowded.

Our coach then drops us back at the cruise ship and I then take a walk out later to get cash and some Internet to check e-mails.

Young singer – Will Martin – tonight has laryngitis and struggles with first concert, cancelling 2nd concert.

Good view of Honolulu as we set sail this evening for Hilo on another of the islands, Hawai’i (the Big Island).

Wednesday 25 March

Hilo is the biggest town on the east side of the island of Hawai’i. which itself is the biggest of the Hawaiin range of islands but does not contain the the capital – that would be Honolulu on O’ahu.

An attractive area of Hilo
An attractive area of Hilo

The port and island was not talked up by P&O in their literature and talk on the port so we were unsure what to expect.

In fact the sea front from a distance and from the port area is nothing to write home about but there are attractive parts if you look for them.

We had been told that the visit to the volcano might not be suitable for persons with respiratory problems so we avoided that from Sal’s point of view, but later understood that there probably would have been no problem and in fact we appear to have missed an excellent tour.

We are moored about 3 miles from Hilo town centre and organisation land side by P&O is poor with no staff available and no shuttle laid on.

John, Deirdre, Sal and I/ share a taxi with 2 others into town, costing a mammoth $2 each and opt for a Hoppa bus tour for $20 each which took us on a circuitous route including stopping at the Port on the way to the other side of the bay!

colourful tree on Hilo waterfront
colourful tree on Hilo waterfront
Japanese Garden bridge
Japanese Garden bridge

Stay on Hoppa bus for visits to Rainbow Falls, no rainbow today, and Liliuokalani Gardens, a lovely peaceful Japanese style garden, past a few large Banyan trees planted by celebrities and which played their part in the May 1960 Tsunami where survivors clung to the tops of trees before getting off in town and a walk through the farmer’s market.

Banyan Tree
Banyan Tree

An Internet stop at a cafe couldn’t download my missing 512 e-mails so we left and headed for the Tsunami museum dedicated to the history of the April 1, 1946 and 23 May, 1960 tsunamis that claimed many lives and devastated much of the East Coast of Hawai’i and especially the town of Hilo.

The museum is fascinating, run by volunteers and only $6 entrance fee.

A short film with some footage from the day the 1960 tsunami struck was enlightening as were models of the town before and after the disaster and some recorded interviews with survivors.  Some interactive exhibits were child friendly.

Banyan Tree
Banyan Tree

A railway existed pre 1946 but was washed away in the Tsunami along with some of the sea front leaving only evidence further inland of the railway.

A small board recorded that in March 2015, there were 2 earthquakes in the Pacific area over 6 on the Richter scale and 2 on the island over 2.  They keep a record of all earthquakes in the area.

A couple of extra souvenirs bought and back to the ship for another 4 days at sea before we reach San Francisco.

The Comedian and piano player who performed tonight was not particularly good, his piano playing was better than his jokes though!


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