S: The Little - Lance Vacation Extravaganza - December 2011
BC: Those beloved Towel Animals!!
FC: The Little - Lance Vacation Extravaganza December 2011
1: Thursday, December 22 Because of the potential for winter weather to delay travel plans, the Minnesota and South Dakota family members headed out early. They met up at the airport to board the first flight. Everyone was ready to have a great time. 21 of us on the same flight? Scary!
2: Honolulu/Waikiki - Oahu Oahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is home to the majority of Hawaii's population. It is referred to as "The Gathering Place." During the winter months, the North Shore attracts the best surfers in the world. The Island is home to the landmark Pearl Harbor, which features 5 historic sites memorializing the attacks in 1941. On Oahu is Iolani Palace - the only official state residence of royalty in the United States and home to the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs from 1882 to 1893, King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani. One of the most famous landmarks is Diamond Head, which was known as Leahi (brow of the tuna) in Hawaiian. The crater was used as a strategic military lookout in the early 1900s. It is a popular hiking destination with panoramic views of Waikiki and the south shore. The MN and SD Little group arrived in the evening and many of them could not resist making a quick visit to Waikiki Beach. Especially Carter – who had never been to any ocean! So off they went.
4: The group spent the day sight seeing around Honolulu. The Aloha Bus was the perfect way to do this. And, how often, do you take a tour on the top of a bus, in a new city, and come across another bus with members of your family on it? And then, Bonus!! get to see one family member (not to mention any names, Lori) hula for you?? | Friday, December 23 Honolulu, Oahu
6: The whole crew went to Pearl Harbor and toured the USS Missouri and many boarded the USS Bowfin submarine. Unfortunately, it was too windy to get out to the USS Arizona, but just seeing the memorial from a distance was a grave reminder of the history at Pearl Harbor.
8: USS Missouri
9: USS Bowfin | They decorated for Christmas! | USS Texas surfacing
10: A few of the group got out of bed early to watch the beautiful sunrise over Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Wait, is that our cruise ship out there sailing into port? | Saturday, December 24 Honolulu, Oahu
11: This was the exciting day that we all got to go and board the Pride of America! | Meanwhile, the rest of the family was arriving in Honolulu.
13: After a beautiful sunset, the ship set sail. There was a lot of hoopla and excitement as we headed out into the dark ocean, leaving the shore and twinkling lights along the coastline. It was amazing and exciting traveling into the unknown darkness!
14: Sunday, December 25 Kahului, Maui Merry Christmas everyone! Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is known for long stretches of beautiful beaches and the landmark Haleakala Crater, the House of the Sun. Maui is the winter breeding ground of the Humpback Whale. The town of Lahaina was once known as Lele, which means “relentless sun” in Hawaiian. It was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the early nineteenth century. And, in front of the Historic Lahaina Courthouse is the oldest Banyan Tree, which was brought from India in 1873. It spans an entire city block and is over 60 ft tall. Down the road is Kaanapali Beach and the famous cliff, Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. About 3 miles off the southern coast is the Island of Molokini, one of the most well-known snorkeling locations.
15: Many of us went to spend the day in Lahaina and at the Kaanapali Beach, swimming, snorkeling and basking in the sun. Kathy and Jessica were brave and followed a custom of reenacting a feat by King Kahekili: they jumped off of the Black Rock cliff! Corey and Ashley went whale watching and saw some great scenery around Lahaina. They ran into Marc and Jim and enjoyed lunch together. Greg, Wendy, Brianna and Jeff spent the afternoon in a submarine on the ocean floor at 128 ft. There they saw beautifully colored fish, rays, a shark, pipe fish and a shipwreck! Very cool! I think we all agree - what a nice way to spend Christmas! | Kathy's jump | Jessica's jump
16: Pink’s Champagne Lounge was the meeting spot of the entire group, including Rakan’s family. After a few cocktails there, we all enjoyed a great Christmas dinner together in the dining room. With 41 of us, we took up a little space!
18: After dinner, some of us joined in a wild game of BINGO! Kathy won, but she had to go up front and dance to get her prize.
20: The day started a little rocky for Greg, Wendy, Brianna and Jeff when trying to depart for an excursion, they discovered that they did not have Brianna's card, which was necessary to get back on the ship! After a frantic visit to guest services and a replacement card in hand, they barely made it to their excursion bus where they joined the Stilles and Rick Little Family for a snorkeling trip to the Molokini Crater. The island of Molokini spans over 18 acres and rises 160 feet above reef-filled waters. While snorkeling this amazing area, they got to see so many beautiful fish and coral. After an hour, they moved to a new location where they could snorkel with Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and also saw a hook-billed turtle. They got back on their Catamaran for lunch and on the trip back, watched humpback whales blowing and flipping their tails. Cindy and Marc went whale watching and spent some time following a mother humpback and her calf, who was only about 4 days old. They learned that a mother and her young calf typically travel with a companion whale, which they found true for this pair. Then, they were treated to a new experience. A water microphone was placed under the surface and they sat and listened to a male humpback they were following sing. It was really neat to hear, and fortunately, they were able to capture the singing with their video camera. | Monday, December 26 Maui
21: Happy 17th Birthday Nicole! | Mike, Trihn, Derek, Suzanne, Joe and Peggy spent some time enjoying the lush scenery on the "Trip to Nowhere", aka The Road to Hana. Later, everyone enjoyed the various restaurants on the ship and fun shows such as the "LIghts, Camera, Action" musical and the "Rock 'n Roll" show..
23: And then it was time to say Good-Bye to Maui!
24: Tuesday, December 27 Hilo, Hawaii We woke up at a new location - Hilo, on the Island of Hawaii. Hilo is the capital of the Big Island. The Island of Hawaii is the largest and the youngest of the islands. It is built from 5 volcanoes, including Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes of the world. It contains 8 of the 13 climate zones of the world. It is very wet with an average of 140 inches of rain each year, which means an average of 275 days per year with rain. This causes it to be very lush and filled with a tropical rainforest with beautiful plants and also many waterfalls. It is the orchid capital of the world.
25: The Land of the Frozen Fire Marc, Cindy, Corey and Ashley were part of a small group (led by the amazing guide Ikaika) who visited the Lava Tree National Park, lava warmed hot springs, MacKenzie Park (with lava formed cliffs), the Black Sand Beach, the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Plantation and then Rainbow Falls, an 80-foot waterfall flowing into the Wailuku River.
26: Rainforest Zipline & Waterfall Rick, Lori, Sara and Nicole joined an excursion where they flew through a tropical rainforest, strolled through the famous World Botanical Gardens and walked across a suspension bridge high over the jungle. It was a great time, enjoyed by all.
27: Volcano Park and Rainbow Falls The Stille clan started with a trip to Rainbow Falls followed by a visit to the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens. The next stop - Volcanoes National Park, which included viewing Halema’uma’u Fire Pit and a walk through Thurston Lava Tube. This tour ended with a visit to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Plantation.
28: Private Island Tour Wendy booked a private excursion to see the area of Hilo. So, off went Joe, Peggy, Greg, Wendy, Brianna, Jeff, Mike, Trihn, Derek and Suzanne. Everyone enjoyed listening to the history of Hawaii from Phil, the amazing driver/tour guide. The first stop - Tranquility Gardens. This was a perfect place to sit and be at peace with yourself, surrounded by a Japanese garden with beautiful trees. It proved to be.... tranquil. While on the way to Rainbow Falls, they were told about the Tsunami which destroyed downtown Hilo, which was never rebuilt, and about the 19 year old boy who became king and how he accomplished this. He was King Kamehameha.
29: The trip to Rainbow Falls provided the opportunity to buy a beautiful reed basket from a basket maker who made it right there next to the falls. The next stop was to Candy Island Cookies and to an orchid farm. Perhaps, the highlight of the day was going to Volcanoes National Park and seeing the smoking Volcano Kilauea Iki Crater. They also got to take a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube; a walk down through a lush grove of giant ferns, through a giant lava tunnel and then back up through the dank woods and moss covered logs. Because Hilo is wet and rainy, it did rain a good part of the day. Fortunately, it seemed to clear up just in time for them to get out at the various locations.
30: That evening found many of us at an impromptu party at Joe and Peggy’s room! | Once back on the ship, Kathy, Ema, Corey, Ashley and Brianna participated in a fresh flower lei making class.
31: While some were at the "crash Joe and Peggy's room" party, others enjoyed the restaurants and other hot spots on the ship. | After we left port that night, we sailed along the coast to get an amazing view of active lava dripping down the side of the rocks into the sea. This was a very dramatic and beautiful scene - a "once in a lifetime"!
32: Wednesday, December 28 Kona, Hawaii On the west side of the big island of Hawaii is Kona. This area is rich in history since King Kamehameha I, who became the first leader to unite the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1810, spent his final years in Kailua Village at Kealakekua Bay. This bay is important in history because it marks the site where the first westerner, Captain James Cook, landed on the island of Hawaii. Kona is the home to some of the best coffee in the world. This part of the Island is very different from the Hilo side - it is almost always dry and sunny. It is a place with an abundance of water activities. The ship anchored here, and we had to take the life rafts in to shore. While here, some of our group took some time to see the sites of the area.
33: Captain Zodiac’s Raft, Snorkel & Dolphin Adventure A few groups went on this excursion. They rode a very speedy raft through the Kealakekua Bay to an amazing snorkeling location. After getting their fill of all of the beautiful fish and coral (and being watched by some sharks) they headed back and stopped to watch a bunch of spinner dolphins showing off by jumping up and out of the water.
34: "Beach Blast" day! Greg, Wendy, Brianna and Jeff made a 1-hour drive through a volcanic desert to a fairly non-impressive beach, packed like sardines with people from surrounding hotels and other bus tours. They tried to snorkel but the visibility was about 2 inches! Wendy may have seen a parrot fish-maybe. After 3 hours, it was time to return to the ship, back through the volcanic desert.
35: Later that evening, a group attended the White Hot Party. There was plenty of dancing with the Ship 'N Dale Dancers!! | Meanwhile, Greg and Wendy enjoyed a great acoustic guitarist, who played covers of Paul Simon, in one of the wine bars. They were joined by Kathy, Marc and Cindy.
36: Thursday, December 29 Lihue (Nawiliwili Harbor) - Kauai | Kauai is Hawaii's fourth largest island and is sometimes called the "Garden Isle." It is the oldest and northernmost island and is draped in emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires and jagged cliffs, aged by time and the elements. In 1778, British explorer Captain James Cook landed in Waimea Bay for the first time and later introduced Hawaii, or as he called it, the "Sandwich Isles," (named after the Earl of Sandwich), to the world. A statue of Cook is in Waimea Town. In 1835, Old Koloa Town opened its first sugar mill and set the precedent for sugar production across the islands. The sugar era opened the door to a wave of immigrants that make up Hawaii's multicultural population. | This was a great day to hang out on the ship and enjoy what it had to offer. Several people took advantage of the spa services on the ship in preparation of the fun evening to come.
37: Greg, Wendy, Brianna and Jeff drove around the town of Lihue and then headed north to Opaekaa Falls. They then went further north to Princeville, which to them, seemed like a Stepford town - all too perfect -perfect streets, perfect houses and perfect golf courses. It seemed like an American tourist destination - America in Kauai. They went searching for the Queen's Bath, which is a "pool" carved into a lava shelf and is the size of several large swimming pools. It is said to be a great location for swimming and snorkeling. Well, it was soon discovered that this was only true in the summer... When they arrived, the surf was UP!! It was very impressive, all volcanic rock with HUGE waves crashing in. There were a lot of warning signs not to get too close, with records of the number of people who had been swept away and killed. It was a very slippery walk down along the trail, but well worth it. They decided to start back south, and stopped at Anini Beach, which was stunning. It was a thin sandy beach, lined with old and gnarled trees and a beautiful blue-green sea.
38: Later that day, we all met and boarded a bus to the Kauai Plantation where we started with a tour of the Kilohana estate aboard the Kauai Plantation Railway. On this tour we saw many different plants and crops and saw different animals. One highlight was all of the little pigs that ran along the fence as the train passed! One memorable fact learned on this tour? It takes a pineapple 2 years to fully grow and ripen. Who knew??
44: It just was toooo much.
46: Friday, December 30 Lihue (Nawiliwili Harbor) - Kauai Since the ship was going to set sail early, many of us decided to spend the day on the deck by the pool. During this time, we enjoyed a band playing Jimmy Buffett music. Jimmy Stille participated in a Jimmy Buffett impersonating contest and sang "Margaritaville." He took second place, but everyone thought he should have gotten first! Others participated in kayaking and hiking excursions and got up-close with the sights and nature.
47: Greg and Wendy ventured out to explore the island that day. They took a drive along the southern coast and then up into Waimea Canyon, along very steep and winding roads. The Waimea Canyon looks out over 3,000 feet with spectacular views across the canyon. Not only is the view as spectacular as the Grand Canyon, but this also includes a lot of lush and beautiful vegetation. They then headed back to Lihue and up the east coast to Wailua Falls. These falls were so gorgeous. What made them even more captivating were the birds that were swirling and diving and seemed to be flying straight at the falls and at the last minute they would swoop in a different direction. They were intriguing birds with long thin trailing tails – they were White-tailed Tropicbirds. | Joe enjoyed some quiet time while Susan spent some well-deserved time getting pampered in the Spa. Anthony, John and Carolyn went out to the Tree Top Zip Line Adventure. This included soaring through the canopy of Kauai’s “silent giants” (Norfolk pines) which grow up to 150 feet tall. The total trip included seven runs and four bridge crossings while gliding 60 – 85 feet above the forest floor.
48: We left Kauai in the drizzling rain, the shoreline hazy - we were sad to leave. Later in the evening, as the sun was getting low, we sailed along the Napali coastline. This breathtaking area of green mountains rising vertically from the beach can only be accessed by hiking, sea tours such as kayaking or by helicopter tours. This remote area is popular for film making. Some movies filmed here include South Pacific, Just Go With It, some parts of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Descendants, Six Days/Seven Nights and Jurassic Park. As Wendy says about this view - "WOW, WOW and WOW!!"
50: Our last evening on the ship brought us all together for another cocktail hour and family dinner. By now, the whole group was starting to get a little... goofy.
53: And once again, the group took up a LOT of space!!
54: The ship docked at 7:00 am. We were back in Honolulu. We took a shuttle over to the hotel, but we were too early to get in our rooms. So, we all headed off in different directions. Everyone enjoyed the day of sun and just hanging out. | Saturday, December 31 Honolulu/Waikiki, Oahu
55: Peggy, Joe, Wendy, Greg, Jeff, Rick and Lori headed to the north shore to the Waimea Bay and went beach hopping – looking for good surf-watching. They saw some great surfing at Sunset Beach. The water was crystal clear and very inviting. Greg and Wendy went body surfing – so much fun, but very strong rip tides. Mike, Trihn, Derek and Suzanne spent the day visiting Pearl Harbor.
56: In the evening, everyone split up and had dinner. The Little's were joined by their cousin Colette, who lives on the north side of Oahu. | Then, we walked to Waikiki Beach. It seemed like everyone in the city was there, or hanging out on balconies over the beach.
57: After the countdown to midnight, we started the new year with spectacular fireworks across the bay. Happy New Year Everyone!!
58: Sunday, January 1 Honolulu, Oahu This was the day when everyone starting saying their goodbyes. Throughout the day, people were leaving to catch their planes to return home. The Stilles, McCleary/Littles and the Rick Little family spent one last day soaking up rays on the beaches of Honolulu. At the end of the day, they packed up and headed for home.
60: Dad and Peggy, Thank you so much for the vacation of a lifetime! How many people have ever had the opportunity to cruise with so much family?! I especially loved seeing all the cousins hang out and get connected! So special! So much love your way,
61: Joe and Peggy, This was an extremely extravagant gift that will keep on giving for a lifetime. We just kept thinking, "pinch us, are we really here?" This was just a fantastic, fun-loving family field trip. We will relish and appreciate this kindness forever. Thank you!!
62: Joe and Peggy, Many thanks for this opportunity to spend the holidays together in paradise.
63: Aloha! Best trip ever! Great to see everyone together at one time. Our first cruise and it was first-class and beautiful. I will never forget seeing the dolphins off the balcony of our cabin as well as the lava flowing into the ocean at night from the ship. Thank you Mom and Joe for a very special time together. Love, | Thank you for an incredible Christmas 2011 - the trip of a lifetime! It was wonderful to get to know Joe's side of the family - a wild and fun bunch! Thank you for memories that will last a lifetime and more. With love, | I really liked the trip. It was great! Thank you.
64: Thank you so very much for this wonderful trip! Love,
65: Dad and Peggy, This was an amazing adventure. We will never forget this trip and the time we got to spend together as one big family. Thank you so much. We love you,
66: Signs seen around the Hawaiian Islands! | The most amazing sunsets and sunrises!
67: The colors of Hawaii