Arriving at Honolulu by Cruise Ship

We’re now about half-way to Hawaii, “the Big Island”, having sailed from Honolulu last night at 8:00 pm. We arrived at Honolulu at noon on Monday after having the islands in sight for several hours. Sailing in is a perspective that not many get, which is a shame, because it is spectacular, and it’s hard to not put yourself in the position of the early European explorers when they first saw the islands and tried to figure out what they would be like to land on.

Cathy’s only visit to Hawaii was in 1982, mine was in 1970, so we knew that nothing would be the same. We had no plans for the first afternoon on O’ahu, and had a car rented for yesterday for a circumnavigation of the island.

Monday began as usual with a lovely sunrise at 06:20, with only a handful of other passengers on the back deck having coffee (which is available there 24/7).
Sunrise from the Celebrity Solstice near O'ahu
A small Matson container ship seen at 09:20 – an inter-island ship, I expect.
Matson container ship in Hawaii
We could see some islands, notably the big island of Hawaii, but haze and clouds made the sightings unremarkable. By 09:45, though, the eastern shores of O’ahu could be seen fairly well despite the rain that the windward side was getting. The highest land in this photo is Koko Crater.
First sighting on Oahu from the Celebrity Solstice
The spectacular cliffs north of Makapuu Point, and Manana (Rabbit) Island.
Makapuu Point and Manana (Rabbit) Island
My first sighting of a large and beautiful frigate bird.
Frigate bird off Hawaii.
Amazing place. The Makapuu Lighthouse can just be made out in this photo.
Makapuu Point, and Manana (Rabbit) Island
As we got nearer, the volcanic origins of Koko Crater became obvious.
Koko Crater, Hawaii
A final look at Makapuu Point, the lighthouse and Manana Island from the sea.
Makapuu Point, the lighthouse and Manana Island
Koko Head, with heavy surf pounding the shore despite the fairly calm sea (reported as 1-meter or 3-foot seas). Seeing those homes in the background, it occurred to me that choosing a home or building site in Hawai must be exciting if you have a huge budget 🙂
Koko Head, Hawaii
Koko Head and Maunalua Bay.
Our first view of the towers of Waikiki, appearing from behind Diamond Head at 11:10.
The towers of Waikiki, appearing from behind Diamond Head
Waikiki Beach, with the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in the centre.
Waikiki Beach, with the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
At 11:48, the local pilot met us. I always find it funny that a pilot is still seen as a beter option than millions of dollars worth of electronics on the ship as well as a very experienced captain. Pilots must have a great union!
Hawaiian pilot boat at Honolulu
When discussing which cabin to book on a cruise ship, it’s often said that getting a balcony cabin isn’t necessary because you’re seldom in your cabin anyway. Cathy and I disagree – having a balcony is wonderful at times like this. MJ and Jim joined us, as their balcony is on the port side which is much less scenic for this particular sail-in.
Sailing into Honolulu
A rock wall protects part of the container port and adjacent Ala Moana Park from the surf.
Surf at Honolulu Harbor
This is my favourite image from the entire trip so far, shot from our balcony on Deck 7 as we approached Pier 2.
Classic Hawaii - Ala Moana Park and Diamond Head
While we waited for clearance to go ashore, we went for lunch in the Oceanview Cafe, as did pretty well every other passenger. It doesn’t get over-crowded very often, but that was one example of what it can be like. It can be avoided by going to the main dining room, however, or to varying degrees, to one of the many other eating places on board. This scene was shot from our balcony at 1:20 pm as we got ready to go ashore.
Our friends can’t do long walks, so the Aloha Tower was our only destination by foot.
Aloha Tower, Honolulu
The Celebrity Solstice, seen from the viewing area on the 10th floor of the Aloha Tower. That’s a fuel barge tied up to the ship.
Celebrity Solstice at Pier 2 in Honlulu
The main container port, seen from Aloha Tower.
Container port at Honolulu Harbor
This struck me as being the location of the “Hawaii 5-0” offices, but I don’t know whether it really is or not.
Hawaii 5-0 offices in Honolulu

While Jim went back to the ship, Cathy, MJ and I took a cab over to the Ala Moana shopping centre to pick up a few things. The size was overwhelming and proved to be a very negative experience until we discovered that the main level we ended up on, which has every high-end brand in the known universe, was only part of it. The lowest level is where people like us shop (that is, people who have the word “budget” in their vocabulary), and we found everything we wanted.

Looking across at the Aloha Tower from Deck 14 of the ship as the sun went down at 6:00 pm. Overnighting on board the ship is an increasingly popular itinerary option, and we have 2 of them on this sailing, at Honolulu and Lahaina.
During our shopping, Cathy, MJ and I decided to something really silly – to get matching outfits. You know, do the thing that tourists get laughed at for doing in Hawaii. Jim was a good sport about it, and the 4 of us got a good reaction back on board when we went for dinner in the main dining room all decked out – to finish the look, I even had a puka shell lei 🙂
Murray and Cathy on the Celebrity Solstice in Hawaii

It’s now just after 07:00, about 4 hours from going ashore at Hilo for a full day of volcano hiking with one of the best guides on the island. 🙂

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