Sunday, 16 October 2016

2016 Tahitian Treasures Cruise Diary Part 2 - Honolulu, Oahu.

 With only booking the cruise 14 days before departure, we were rushed to get accommodation and flights booked before we left. Both were booked by Sally at 'Helloworld' and although we could have got the flights (Hawaiian Airlines) and accommodation cheaper, it was worth the going through 'Helloworld' for both convenience and using our AMEX points. Bags are easy, we put the empty bags in the 'Star Trek' (spare) room and packed as we thought of what we would need. Darling daughter dropped us off at the airport at 7.45pm so we had plenty of time to check in. However, everyone else seemed to have the same idea, so we joined a queue. We ended up being one of the last to check-in, and only had 15 mins before boarding at 8.55pm. After checking the flight details we were scheduled to depart at 9.45pm, so I'm not sure why there was such a long boarding time. Anyway, Hawaiian Airlines check-in and flight were good, and we would recommend them. We boarded at 9.15pm and the plane left on time.
The seats were comfortable and there was plenty of space until one had been sitting in the seat for over 3 hours and the seat in front decided to recline - into my face!!!! The entertainment screen was so close I had to take off my glasses to see :) . I think we are getting old when a nine hour flight is just too much now. The flight staff were good and the food was fine. We were given a snack pack with a ham and cheese sandwich and a packet of BBQ, along with a double scotch for me and 2 beers for Peter. Off to a good start! If one wanted more snacks they needed to be purchased. We took muesli bars and jelly snakes and Pringles to see us through the flight (and the movies). The entertainment was ok. Breakfast was great - fruit, muffin, scrambled eggs, hash browns, tomatoe and bacon, water and juice and tea. Overall the flight was good and we would fly Hawaiian Airlines again - business class would be good for a long flight.
Aloha, arrival at Honolulu went smoothly. It was warm, sunny and there was a light mist of tropical rain. As the whole trip had been booked last minute I had researched airport shuttles and knew that it cost $15 each for a shuttle from airport to hotel and they were located outside the arrivals hall. However, once out of the arrivals hall it was all confusing. We went to a shuttle area and purchased return tickets to our hotel and back to the dock for the cruise a few days later. We waited 45 mins for a Speedy Shuttle bus, and once on board we drove past all the other shuttle companies waiting for passengers.  
TIP: walk past the first shuttle - Speedy Shuttle, which wasn't too speedy - to all the others to save time. Prices are the same, but other shuttles are much quicker.
In saying that, the Speedy Shuttle staff were friendly and helpful and talked us into a return ticket, which was fine as everything was now booked. We did meet a lovely couple from Virginia, George and Kim, who were on their way to a 7 night cruise around the islands. It was great to spend the long wait chatting to this lovely couple. Peter and I first visited Oahu for the first time in 1986 and stayed near Lewers Street at the Travelodge - we think - no longer there. We went with friends and hired a car and drove around the island, passing 'Magnum P.I' house and Sunset Beach. We did a lot of cultural things back then, and also did a sunset cruise that took us to Diamond Head and down to Pearl Harbour to view the Arizona Memorial - no longer allowed. The next time we went as a family in 1994 and stayed at the Embassy Suites, also near Lewers Street. With three young children, it was better to break up the flight to L.A. by having a few days stop over. I do remember Waikiki being a lot cheaper back then, relative to today.
This trip we are staying at The Imperial Hawaii Vacation Resort, before boarding our cruise back to Australia. It is located on Lewers Street, where we were familiar with, but the area has changed so much. Most of the old hotels are gone and new, very tall hotels have taken their place.
The Imperial Hawaii Resort Hotel is a time-share property. As preparation for this last minute trip I had looked at many different options for hotels. All were very expensive as we wanted to be near Waikiki Beach. The Imperial was reasonable at $US213.51 per night (including resort fee, room tax, and 2 lots of state tax) and, as I said, it was in an area we were familiar with.We knew the beach, the bus routes,the sights and shops near by, even 20 years on, we knew where we were, and except for a walkway, the beach has not changed. I read many travel blogs, and most that I have read stay at expensive resorts (some sponsored by that resort) that most people may not be able to afford.When we arrived the room was not ready, which we expected, so we checked our bags and went for a walk. The Imperial came up via Expedia, and although I may have chosen a different hotel, we were happy with this choice. We booked a double bed room and requested high up. We were in room 2005 on the 20th floor.

The room was clean and spacious, and had a separate bedroom, with a TV (big on Allie points), as well as a microwave, sink, fridge and FREE Wifi.
There was a small balcony with two chairs. We laughed because there was also a murphy bed (which we have never seen before) and that would have been Jonnie's bed - if he had wanted to come with us - as he often sleeps on a foldaway bed.
There was also a great pool area on the roof with spectacular views.

The afternoon was spent walking along the beach. The beach was the same as I remember, except for the public walkway, which has taken back the beach from the hotels and given it back to the public.
We walked along the walkway past all the big hotels up to the main street, Kalakaua Avenue, to the Cheesecake Factory. We had planned on having coffee / milkshake and afternoon tea at the Cheesecake Factory, but there was a queue already waiting, so we went further down the street, planning to go back the following day, but never did. Next time!
We also planned to go to Dukes for a drink, but Peter was tired from the flight and only want coffee, he even walked past the Apple Shop - he must have been tired. We found a Starbuck's around the corner from our hotel AND it had free wifi so Peter got his coffee. Of course there were at least another three coffee shops between Starbucks and our hotel, and Peter tried them all the next few days.
We had a nap, then went to the street party happening near us for Aloha Week. There were heaps of people, food, crafts and dancers. We were hoping to catch up with cousin Donna, who was also in Waikiki waiting for a Pacific cruise, but I guess our messages kept getting missed.
Many of the restaurants and cafes were expensive around our hotel. We did get some good snacks, chips, sandwiches and drinks in little places a little further away. We topped up with great salads and desserts from the ABC shop, next to our hotel, in the evenings.

Peter made me laugh when he tried to overfill his clam chowder soup, and couldn't work out why it was spilling LOL.

Breakfast was Denny's which is located in our hotel and was so huge neither one of us could finish it. TIP: Aussie's don't order a milkshake at Denny's - it is a super thick thick-shake, and not like we know it.
All of this, with juice, cost $US32!!! I do like Denny's.
 We also took the public bus to Walmart - I love Walmart. They have the cheapest fabric - $5-6 per yard. There were so many beautiful choices that I just couldn't decide. Then Peter went missing - although he said I went missing!!! (He wasn't where he told me he would be when I went to tell him I would be a while with the fabric). I did buy a pair of trousers, and some underwear, and some tops for 'gala' nights on the cruise. OH and of course some fat quarters $1.11 each - really!!!!!
This is the view from our room.
Our next day was Pearl Harbour and that will be in Part 3.
We would have loved to stay longer, but time and money are always a big factor - we now have the time, but not a lot of money, so this is like a 'budget' version of our travels.
Overseas travel can still be done on a budget.


  1. Hi Allison
    I LOVE Hawaii, and we have enjoyed two trips there. Sounds like your holiday is off to a good start - will enjoy reading about your cruise.

  2. Thanks Jenny, it was a wonderful trip, especially as it was unexpected and quickly planned. Love Hawaii and can't wait to go back.