Hawaii – Days Four and Five – Kona

The ship traversed around the Hawaiian Islands south to north and now back south to the big island of Hawaii for our final stop in Kailua-Kona. Kona is on the dry western side of the island and receives 20 inches of rain a year compared to Hilo on the eastern side that receives 125 inches per year and this fact just about guaranteed we would have good weather. And we did.

It is too bad we missed Maui but I think that in addition to the waves that slowed us down from Long Beach to Hawaii, the other problem that put us behind schedule was all the alcohol that people tried to smuggle in their luggage.  I sat in a lounge by a window in Long Beach and noticed there were still six carts full of luggage still to be loaded on board at our scheduled departure time. The luggage was being brought in just down the hall from our cabin and every single piece was scanned and then opened if it had suspicious bottles or containers inside.  Ours was one of them!  Not until this cruise have we ever brought even one bottle of wine on a ship but knew we were allowed one bottle each and so this time we put some in a suitcase. Not until after we turned our luggage in at the port did we learn that it had to be carried in our hand luggage.  A letter was delivered to our cabin stating that dangerous items like weapons and alcohol were not allowed in our luggage and that we would get our wine returned on the final day of the cruise. Someone needs to rework that letter to say they don’t want us to bring alcohol on board so they can sell more at grossly inflated prices in the ship’s venues. One man told us about all the methods he used to  smuggle vodka on the ship in various bottles that look like water bottles and also hidden in his pockets.  Some of his gets confiscated but some makes it through.  Bottles that are disguised as something else are not returned.

Kailua-Kona doesn’t have a dock for cruise ships and so we were anchored in the bay and took tenders to the town.  There was a big fair in town on the first day with many arts and crafts and home made items. We bought some ginger and lemon seasoned macadamia nuts for Joy who had been taking care of Molly, and a smaller bag for ourselves.  We really wanted to find some books for the long trip home but were told there are no books sold in Kailua. 

1412Kona 3Kailua is the site of the Ironman Triathlon

1412Kona 2View from the tender/lifeboat window as we made our way to shore. It was a rough ride.

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1412Kona 7The Mo Kuai Kaua was the first church in Hawaii

We had arrived rather late on the first day and it took longer to get off the ship and back on again than our allotted time in the village. But that was fine because we had the whole next day for our Kona Historical Tour which was actually just 3 1/2 hours long but that gave us more time to walk around the town once we returned.  This tour was a pretty good one as it packed a lot into a short time.

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Our first and best stop was to the black lava flats of the southern Kona Coast and the site of Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.  This is a place where the royal chiefs established one of their most important residences. The temple and mausoleum has been rebuilt but once held the bones of 23 noble chiefs.

1412KonaTour 13This stone wall, built about 1550, separates the royal grounds from the pu’uhonua which was a place for defeated warriors and those that had violated sacred laws. In 1819, traditional religious practices were abolished and many of the old religious sites and structures were destroyed or abandoned.

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This spring and salt water pond held fish to be eaten by the chiefs

1412KonaTour 16Lava rock meets the ocean

1412KonaTour 25Ki leaves were hung from the roof of these structures. The leaves were tied to ropes to form nets for fishing in the shallow water.

1412KonaTour 32The next stop was to St. Benedicts Church, established1899

1412KonaTour 30The inside has vibrant murals painted by Father Berchmans Velghe from Belgium. Some of the murals told biblical stories as people could not read or write in the early 1900’s.

Our last stop was the Kona Coffee Factory with unlimited sampling in many flavors. Our favorite was Macadamia Nut Chocolate. Later that day the ship pulled up it’s anchor and headed for Ensenada, Mexico and Long Beach.  I was sure we would skip Ensenada since we were not scheduled to arrive until 8 pm and would leave again at 11 pm.  However, there is a law called the Jones Act with a provision that only US flagged ships may carry cargo or passengers from one US port to another or there would be large fines. This means that the cruise lines, which probably most if not all are registered outside the US, MUST make a stop in a foreign port to be in compliance. I read on a forum about an incident on a short cruise from Long Beach to Catalina Island (California) to Ensenada and return where a lady learned on Catalina Island that her sister had been in an accident. She wanted to return directly back to Los Angeles on another boat but had to pay a $300 fine and the ships agents had to also first get special permission from customs officials. If our ship skipped Ensenada, Carnival Cruises would have had to pay a $300 fine for each passenger.

One other event that happened on our cruise was that five days out from Long Beach, a passenger whose cabin was down the hall from ours, threw a glass at a bartender’s head and he had to have 5 stitches.  Security guards corralled the unruly lady and took her to the cabin.  For the next five days and nights, a security guard sat in a chair outside her door as she was under house arrest.  And then only females were allowed to bring her meals and clean her room.  She was taken off the ship in Long Beach and turned over to the police.  There is a website called http://www.cruisejunkie.com that lists events at sea in several categories.  Select the 2014 Events at Sea and you will be surprised at how much happens every few days. Take a look at an event December 23rd on the Queen Elizabeth when passengers practically mutinied.

I also was wrong in thinking absolutely no one would get off the boat that late in Mexico.  There were at least 10 busses at the dock and every one of them filled up with passengers going into the main part of town.  A big fireworks display greeted us on the ship and also an armada of 10 little boats decorated to the hilt for Christmas paraded around our ship.  It was a nice stop after all.