Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kauai: Sun-filled day with canyons, beaches and unspoiled terrain

This is really saving the best for last! We docked in Nawiliwili (pronounced Nah-wili-wili), Kauai and decided that we would only rent the car for one day rather than the two that we had originally planned. The island is not that big but it surely is beautiful in every corner! As soon as we saw the island this morning from the ship, we knew that it would be a good day but it turned out to be a great day.



I went up for breakfast this morning on the 11th floor outer deck and was lucky enough to see the sun rise right out of the ocean. It wasn’t quite as stunning as the one on the volcano a few days ago but it was beautiful, nevertheless. Everyone else came up soon after and joined me. We left the ship around 830am to get our rental car from Alamo. We’ve rented from them pretty well every day and the service is quick and efficient and the cost for a minivan per day worked out to be about $65. If we had done the same activities from the ship, we would easily have paid in excess of $100 per person, per day. So if anyone is planning to do this trip, call me and I can give you all the tips you need! Agnes, I am not trying to take your travel agent job away from you, but I can do almost as well and with some practice, I bet that I can be as good as you!
Okay so now for our activities, we went from the Lihue airport, west to Waimea Canyon. According to the ship’s person, the canyon is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. If you have never seen the Grand Canyon (I saw it last year when I was in Phoenix), then this would be considered beautiful. But I have to say that it doesn’t quite compare to the magnitude of the Grand Canyon. The view was pretty incredible anyway and the sun cast some amazing shadows in the peaks and valleys of the mountain.
Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Conyon
We then drove down a different road to get back to Waimea. Now, how can I describe Waimea? It is the most perfect seaside little town that I have seen in a long time. I took a picture of a house that I’d buy if I had $1,000,000+. It was a blue and white two-story house that faces the beautiful sandy beach, with the most amazing waves. I grew up by the ocean so I love the smell of the salt in the air and this house reminds me of Belair. We passed another house with the hugest sai-jan tree in the front yard and a mango tree close by. All we needed was some fresh fish to make a good fish curry. I could totally get used to living here, although yesterday Karran and I were saying that we couldn’t live on an island because it would be too restrictive. I could make an exception for this island.

May vacation home in Waimea
We drove for a while and ended up in Poipu which was on our list of places to see today. Now, that’s a lovely little town. We found ourselves at the beach at a picnic table under a shady coconut tree and that’s where we had lunch of bread, cheese, fruit and water. We all thought we’d be eating more, but I am quite comfortable with a big breakfast, a light lunch and a not so big dinner. When everyone was finished eating, I took off my shoes and walked along the shoreline for a few minutes enjoying the warm ocean water right at the edge where it hits the shore. If you go out too far, the water is cold, but if you walk right along the edge, the water is warm on your feet. I stood there with the warm water lapping at my feet and staring at the big waves, which can be very hypnotic for me. I don’t know if you ever had that feeling but it’s as if the water is calling out to me and I can’t help but walk towards it as if hypnotized. I could easily understand how people can drown with the water calling out like that.  

Poipu Beach

We left Poipu and headed for the Na’Pali coast which is on the North side of the island but in the opposite direction (we went west to Waimea and then East and North to the Na’Pali coast). The 28 mile drive took almost an hour and a half but it was worth it. The drive through all the little beach towns was quite scenic. Then we got out to Na’Pali Beach Park and the waves were coming in full force. We walked out on part of the beach and then I heard a woman behind me saying “There’s a shark” but before I could see where she was pointing, I missed it. Karran, however, saw it. Later in the dining room, one of the staff said that when she was surfing, she saw a shark (probably in the same vicinity).

Na'Pali coast

Na'Pali sunset

Na"Pali sunset
 Before we left Na’Pali, we saw a man in an old jalopy truck selling coconuts so we bought some and had a good drink of coconut water (not the white milk that some people mistake for coconut water). The water was good but the jelly was a bit too hard. Anyway, it was still good. Then it was the drive back to Lihue which took about an hour. The search for a gas station to gas up the car prior to returning it to Alamo, took almost half as much time as it took to go to the Na’Pali coastline. Today is Thanksgiving so most businesses are closed, including gas stations.

We got back to the ship around 5:45pm and got ready for dinner at the specialty Teppanyaki restaurant (where there is an additional charge for eating there). We all got very dressed up because it was really a celebration of Karran’s birthday which was Sunday (and we postponed till today). We arrived at the restaurant for our 7:30 reservation only to be told that someone made a mistake and it was booked for tomorrow night. Needless to say, we were not impressed. We ended up in the Aloha cafe on the 11th floor, annoyed that this was yet another screw-up by the staff. I finally felt that it was time for me to go and talk to the manager.

When I got to the desk, I spoke to Chelsey - a Guest Service Associate - who told me that the manager had already left for the night. I told her about the number of incidents since we arrived on the ship that was contributing to my frustration and of course she asked what she could do to make it better. I told her that I was not satisfied about hearing that once again from another staff member, only to have something else happen. I explained that the ship has my credit card information and can charge me if I do not show up for a reservation but should the reverse happen, and one of their staff member screws up, I have no recourse but to take whatever the inconvenience is. That is not a good situation. She said that they’ll try to fix it and someone will be contacting me tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.

I have to say that I am disappointed with Norwegian Cruise Lines. The accommodation is not what I expected. The food is okay but the service is less than satisfactory. We were speculating that part of the reason is that the ship is registered as American and most of the staff are Americans so their attitude is “this is just a job until I can get something better” rather than some of the other cruise ships that are non-US registered and there are a lot of people from developing countries who depend on this kind of work to make a living, and therefore want to accommodate the needs of the guests. The other part may be that the gratuities are pre-paid so the staff doesn’t feel like they have to work hard to earn it. Imagine going to a restaurant and paying the gratuity before you’ve even been served a meal. Why would the server want to accommodate your needs if she/he is getting a tip anyway? That’s what it feels like with the staff.

Okay, did you think I let all that ruin a good day? No. No. The island was beautiful. The beaches were clean. The waves were huge and awesome and tomorrow is another day to do as we please. I think I’ll go to the beach but we were warned not to go alone but to walk in pairs or groups because the locals like to party, and if they see you alone, they’ll invite you to party with them, I can’t see how that’s a bad deal. I’m thinking that it sounds pretty good to me. It’s now 10pm and I’ve had a full day so good night.


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