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|Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2011
Maiden World Cruise - part 1
This chart shows the routing at the time of printing of the brochure.
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All the pictures on the pages provide details of where they were taken if you hover a cursor over them and they can all be clicked to open a larger version in an Overlay (Lightbox)
We arrived at Los Angeles at some unearthly hour of morning but it did not help progress through US customs. The Norwegian Star and the Sapphire Princess had arrived before us. Almost everybody had already cleared through in New York or Miami but paranoia rules OK. The customs officials should have come on board to start clearing everyone at 0630 but the gangways did not seem to match up so the officials stood around for 45 minutes. We were meeting up with friends at 0900 so we joined the first queue at 0615 - we expected some delays so we took books and sat on the floor from the start. We were almost at the front of the queue just as they decided that a print out of the Electronic ESTA form would be useful as they had no communications. We persuaded them that the VISAs in our passports meant we must have satisfed everything in New York and got to grab a piece of fruit at 0810 and tried to email Joe and Jill only to find the Internet had been switched off we were led to understand to satisfy the US authorities - presumably they are afraid of videos of arrivals being posted on the web. We then rushed down to join the queue to get off the ship when it got cleared. Most ports clear the ship in a few minutes but it took till nearly 0845 before the first person went into the new lines for customs. In the end we made it out at 0858 to sunny LA after 150 minutes in queues.
The day rapidly improved after that as Joe and Jill turned up after a few minutes - they arrived just as we were TXTing to say the pier was different to that expected which may be why the gangways did not fit - we were on 91 not the 87 we had been told. The plan was to do a bit of walking in the local area as we only had limited time and the important thing was catching up with the last couple of years. The first stop was at Trader Joe's to pick up some wine and food for a picnic. and then we headed out to a local National Park; The Palos Verdes Nature Preserve which was about 10 miles from the ship. This had a network of trails stretch from the ridge where we entered down to the ocean. We had a nice gentle hike admiring the views and generally catching up with what had happened over the last few years before looping back to the car where we unloaded a real feast of a picnic which we ate looking out at the long views from the edge of the ridge.
After lunch we drove down to the Abalone Cove Shoreline Park at the foot of the ridge and had a short walk down to the sea. The beach had an interesting coating of what we think was an algae giving it a rather surealistic appearance. By now the day was starting to disappear so we headed back in the general direction of the ship and stopped for a Coffee at a Starbucks where Pauline spotted a the Bodem (Cafettiere) we were looking for to try all the special coffees we had bought in Costa Rica. Everything seemed much cheaper in the US than en route so far - a Bodem for $17 and very drinkable Californian wine at under $2 a bottle. All good things had to end so it was then back towards the ship via a couple more viewpoints. The port area was complicated and we could not park close up and walk back out so we checked the departure times and were told that although there was in theory some time left everybody else seemed to be back on board. Prudence won and we got back on board clunking slightly and clutching bags of Californian stem and leaf Mandarins that our friends insisted we must have.
We left at dusk and were led out by a fireboat which had some of the most powerful jets we had seen. We were on Deck 10 and they were well above us. The waterside restaurants seemed to be teaming with people watching and cheering. Joe and Jill sent some pictures of the day and our departure.
The Hawaiian islands are isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and are a perfect destination on our journey south. They are 4 days at sea from Los Angeles, and it is then a further 4 days at sea to the Samoan islands. There are 132 Hawaiian islands. The Big Island with its volcanos National Park is the largest, then Maui then Oahu. Captain Cook first visited Hawaii on 18 January 1778; on his second visit 8 months later he was killed. The resulting plunder of modern weapons by the King of Big Island followed by the arrival of foreign diseases caused their problems and the native Hawaiians reduced in number; then cheap foreign labour arrived to work in the pineapple and sugar plantations. The King was overthrown in 1893 and Hawaii was declared a republic, then in 1898 the islands were annexed by the US. Finally, in 1959 Hawaii was proclaimed the 50th state of the American Union. The US President, Barack Obama, comes from Hawaii. The state flower is the yellow hibiscus, which grows everywhere and is depicted on many of the souvenirs; the state fish is the pretty Picasso triggerfish Humuhumunukunukuapua’a and the state bird is a Nene Goose.
Our first stop in the Hawaii islands was at the port of Lahaina on the island of Maui. We knew it had been an important whaling port and as the sun rose and the Queen Elizabeth slowly approached her anchorage we went on deck to watch and sure enough we passed several hump back whales on the edge of the coast. One showed us his tail – was it in homage ? The anchor was dropped and shortly afterwards the tender operation began. We were pleased to see we were the only cruise ship in the area.
Until 1845 Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. We disembarked from the tender, and were welcomed by a local group of senior citizens, singing and dancing. The ladies were all dressed in the long loose mu’umu’u with lei necklaces and a yellow hibiscus hairclip. Opposite us we saw the Pioneer Inn; built by an Englishman in 1901 it was the first hotel to open in Lahaina. It reminded us of the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell - another whaling port - in the Bay of Islands, although the latter is older. It was marked as number 16 on the historic town walking map. It seemed to be a good idea to get a map and we went into the helpful information office and also found that there was an interesting museum mostly covering whaling on the top floor. To the right is a large park with the Old Lahaina Court and Custom house, number 14 on the walking map, the old Banyan tree at number 15 and the Fort Ruins at number 12. All the historic building are numbered and labelled. King Kamehameha III funded the building of the Lahiana Courthouse in 1859 as a Customs House and Court House. On August 12 1898 it was here that the Hawaiian flag was lowered and the American flag raised when Hawaii became a territory of the United States. The building is shaded by the largest Banyan tree in Hawaii which was planted on April 24 1873 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Lahaina’s first Protestant Christian mission. This special banyan tree shades more than two-thirds of an acre and reaches upwards to a height of 60 feet. The Lahaina Fort was built in the 1830s to jail rowdy whalers but dismantled 20 years later.
We reached Front Street and walked south to the Lahaina Shores Resort, passing the Episcopal Church and the Royal grounds which were the oceanfront park along Front Street. In the early 1800s the sacred Royal complex stretched from the Banyon Tree Park all the way to Shaw Street. This area is called Waine ‘e meaning ‘flowing water’ and there used to be a fresh water irrigation system with a sluice gate. There are old pictures showing the fish ponds. Surfing is popular here and several groups of young tourists were taking classes on the beach.
Hawaii’s first reconstruction of an ancient double-hulled sailing canoe, the Hokule’a, which translates as the Star of Joy, sailed to Tahiti and back in 1976. This was the first authentic voyaging canoe to be built in over 500 years. Navigation skills had to be developed, and Nainoa Thompson from that crew, with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, began training a new generation in the ancient arts of canoe building and navigation. In 1975, Hui O Wa‘a Kaulua was established on Maui to support the construction of a wa‘a kaulua, again a double-hulled canoe. Its name, Mo‘olele, or “Flying Lizard,” recalls the legendary mo‘o (lizard or water spirit) said to inhabit the inland waters surrounding Moku‘ula. The site of that vanished lake and island lies across Front Street from Hui O Wa‘a Kaulua. Then in 1997, the dream of Mo‘okiha O Pi‘ilani, “Sacred Lizard of Maui,” was born, a sixty-two-foot double hulled voyaging canoe which is nearing completion under the corrugated tin roof of the old Lahaina Armory. Though Mo‘okiha is being constructed with modern tools and materials like fiberglass and nylon sails, its structural design remains true to the traditional voyaging canoe. There are no screws or nails—the pieces of the canoe are held together by ropes. We talked with the boat builder and admired the workmanship. Another smaller canoe was resting on the lawn outside, and he asked if we had noticed their other canoe which was anchored near the tender dock. It was impossible to miss. The traditional designs are so beautiful and their construction work is impeccable. It is a good area for boats – we also saw a Pivar Trimaran very similar to the one we sail in New Zealand at anchor.
Front Steet is very long and in the other direction is the main tourist shopping street and many of the old historic shops and buildings have been restored. We passed the Baldwin House, the 1919 Ichiki House, the Old Lahaina Store, the 1903 Kishi Building, and the 1938 Lahaina Inn. The chimney of the Pioneer Mill Co Ltd of 1860 stood out in the distance, and on our return we found a small local craft market and a much larger shopping area with McDonalds, a modern supermarket and a DIY store.
We left the historic waterfront behind and eventually there was a sign towards beach access to a small sandy beach designed for families with children. A reef protects the beach here from the ocean, and there is a lot to see underwater although it is very shallow. After resting we were refreshed enough to start our walk back. We passed the Seamen’s House and Hospital,the Lahaina United Methodist Church, and the Chinese Wo Hing Society Temple and Cookhouse before reaching the souvenir shops and colourful street stalls. Maui is an artist and photographers paradise and many shops were selling expensive images. We saw vintage European posters which were typically many thousands of dollars. We went into an expensive Skrimshaw shop in order to buy a CocaCola from their vintage machine; they also had a Wurlitzer which was in working order, and we could see a stack of vinyl music.
Maui seemed delightful and largely unspoilt – it has quite a small population of 100,000 who all seem very laid back and there was none of the pressure to buy tourist junk that we had in Mexico. It is one of the few places we have been to recently where one felt one could come back for a longer holiday. There is much to explore inland with Mountainous National Parks, Rainforests, 10,000 foot high volcanoes, and thermal areas as well on the coast with long sandy beaches, diving and surfing all in a near perfect climate. We can see why there are two and a half million visitors every year. The only disadvantage is access but Air New Zealand fly into Hawaii so it could even be a stopover one year.
In the evening we went into the Verandah Restaurant - it was the last day Chef Zimmermann was aboard and we were fortunate that we got the first chance of some of his variations which will lead to a slightly different 'spring' menu. We had the rack of lamb for two in a salt crust and this had some slightly different vegetables which were wrapped in little parcels - an amazing experience. The presentation of the lemon tart Pete had was equally impressive. We also got to try his latest creation to add to the petit Fours - a chocolate heart shape using four different chocolate. We can not think of anywhere we eat in the UK that comes close. The Chef is aiming for the first Michelin Star afloat and it should not take very long to get his first - he used to have one ashore. The only shortfall we could see was in the cheese board which is uninspiring and has no proper unpasturised cheeses - but perhaps that is because of the US phobias. We could not resist taking a few more pictures.
Honolulu is the capital city of the Hawaii region, on the island of Oahu. Arriving as the sun rose between the skyscrapers, reminiscent of our earlier arrival in New York, it was hard to believe this island has less than 1 million people. Honolulu has beautiful weather throughout the year, and the famous Waikiki beach for surfing and sun worshipping. Tourism is a major business and when we arrived the Sapphire Princess was already berthed. She had departed Los Angeles with us and is a regular visitor to the region.
The Queen Elizabeth berthed at Passenger Piers 10/11. We rushed to the top of the Aloha Tower on nearby Pier 9, which was built in 1926. It is 184 feet high and the lift only holds a small number of people, so it is best to go early. There is an excellent view in all four directions, including glimpses of Pearl Harbour, an enormous enclosed harbour with a narrow entry from the ocean. It was here that the Japanese attacked the Fleet in December 1941 and thereby brought the USA into World War II. One of the popular tours visited Pearl Harbour and the National Memorial Cemetery for Pacific War Dead which is in the Punchbowl, an extinct crater 500 feet high above the city; we could just see the Punchbowl beyond the skyscrapers. The red funnel of the Queen Elizabeth was reflected in the glass sides of the skyscrapers. We could also look down on the Maritime Centre at Pier 7 next door, with the Falls of Clyde berthed alongside. Sadly the Maritime Centre was closed while we were there. The Falls of Clyde, a 266 foot iron-hulled vessel built in Scotland in 1878 is the world’s last surviving full-rigger four-masted sailing ship.
Hawaii’s Golden Jubilee was in 2009 and we collected the brochure of the special walking tour of the capitol cultural district. This area was directly between our berth and the Punchbowl. Traffic was very calm and always stopped for us at pedestrian crossings; in return we obediently waited when there were red lights against us at more complex junctions. We strolled under the shadows of the tall banking buildings until we reached the historic buildings and the centre of government. Set in the centre of a park, the Iolani ‘Royal Hawk’ Palace is the only royal residence in the US. It was completed in 1882. The Royal bandstand, set in the grounds, was built for the coronation of King Kalakaua in 1883. The palace is open and tickets cost $20 for a guided tour in the mornings but less for self-guided tours later in the day. The ticket office is in the Iolani Barracks nerby which were built in 1871 to house royal soldiers. We did not go in but the brochure describes it as an 11 acre site of coronations, lavish social events and political turmoil, and the Palace has been elegantly and meticulously restored with original royal furnishings.
The State Library was designed by Henry D. Whitfoeld and completed in 1913, partly funded by Andrew Carnegie and with the front columns which are typical of a Carnegie library. The exhibition in the foyer traced writer and explorer Isabella Bird’s journeys through landscapes past and present. She lived in England and Scotland from 1831 to 1904 and travelled the world writing popular geographies. In 1873 she arrived in Hawaii, having travelled by steamship from New Zealand. The exhibition is a mixture of images of her travels alongside modern images by Professor Kanasaka of Kyoto University who travelled ‘In the Footsteps of Isabella Bird’.
Kawaiaha ‘o church was built in New England style in 1842 and was the first permanent Western house of worship on the island. Prior to its construction the missionaries preached from thatched huts on the same site. Most Hawaiian monarchs and their familes were baptised, married and crowned here. Twenty one royal portraits hang in the upper gallery and the pews at the rear are still reserved for royal descendants. Also located on the grounds is the royal crypt for King Lunalilo, the first elected monarch of the Hawaiian kingdom.
Honolulu Hale was built in 1928 and reflects the popular California – Spanish style of architecture. It houses the offices of the Mayor, the City Council, and several departments for the City and County of Honolulu. We were now in Punchbowl Street which headed broadly in the direction of the Punchbowl. We then made a mistake and walked directly towards the summit, passing the Board of Water Supply building. The new H-1 Freeway severed the old streets shown in our map and although we found a pedestrian overbridge there was no route on the other side up the hill for pedestrians. It was all private rough ground and the only permitted route up to the Punchbowl was by road. Locals here do not walk. After spending 30 minutes walking around the edge of the hill we finally found the entrance. It is a long distance on foot and a gentle but continuous climb.
The National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific and the Honolulu Memorial, covering 116 acres, are located in Puowaina Crater, the Punchbowl. Construction of the cemetary began in 1948 and the first remains were interred in January 1949. Seven hundred and seventy six (776) casualties from the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour were among the first to be interred here. Punchbowl is now filled to capacity with 33,255 gravesites. The Honolulu Memorial was erected in 1964, and dedicated in 1966. It consists of a chapel, two map galleries, a monumental staircase leading from the crater floor to the Court of Honor, ten Courts of the Missing and a Dedicatory stone centred on the base of the stairway on which is inscribed ‘In these gardens are recorded the names of Americans who gave their lives in service to their country and whose earthly resting place is known only to God’. In the ten Courts of the Missing are recorded the names of 18,094 WWII heros mssing in action or lost at sea, with 8,195 in the Korean conflict and 2,489 in the Vietnam conflict, a total of 28,778 names. The female figure known as Columbia, 30 foot high, stands on the prow of a US Navy carrier with a laurel branch in her left hand. Engraved below are the words of President Abraham Lincoln to a mother who lost 5 sons in battle: “The solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” The two map galleries on each side contain maps and texts recording the battles in the central and south Pacific regions and in Korea. Visiting the Punchbowl is best done independently because buses are only allowed to drive through, they cannot stop. To one side there is a Lookout which gives a good view down of the city and towards the ocean. We could just glimpse Pearl Harbour in the distance.
From the lookout we had planned a slightly different route back, which went down Queen Emma Street, passing the Royal School and the Pacific Club and then to Saint Andrew’s Cathedral which was built as an Anglican cathedral in 1867. King Kamehameha IV had visited England and brought the Anglican religion to Honoluu. After his death in 1863 Queen Emma was responsible for organising the design and funding of a cathedral and the first phase was completed for Christmas 1866; unfortunately Queen Emma died the previous year. Much of the stone was imported from Caen in Normandy and in 1958 it was extended and a large wall of vivid stained glass was added.
We continued onwards and saw Washington Place, a pretty two storey white frame house built between 1844 and 47. From 1862 it was the residence of Lydia Paki and her husband; she became Queen Lili’uokalani in 1891. In 1918 Washington Place became the Executive Mansion for all of Hawaii’s governors and their families. In 2002 a new residence was completed on the grounds and Washington Place became a historic home museum. Nearby is the Eternal Flame, a war memorial to WWII soldiers.
We had passed the State Capitol earlier but now there was time for a detailed view of its design, which represents the formation of the Hawaiian volvanic islands. The building rises from a reflecting pool just as the islands rise from the Pacific and fluted columns, suggesting lofty palms, circle the veranda. The building houses the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, offices of state legislation and two volcano-shaped chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives. From the inner square we could look directly up to the sky, and down into their debating chambers. Constructed at the direction of Governor John A. Burns who was Hawaii’s territorial delegate to Congress when statehood was approved in 1959, the State Capitol was completed in March 1969.
Outside stands the statue of Queen Lili’uokalani. She was Hawaii’s last monarch and took the throne in 1891 but was deposed two years later. On the other side of the building is a statue of Father Damien, a Roman Catholic missionary who dedicated his time in Hawaii to leprosy, dying from that disease in 1889. He was beatified in 1995.
Then Ali’iolani Hale - the house of the heavenly king - was designed as a palace and built in 1874. It now houses the Supreme Court and the Judiciary History Centre. The gold leaf feathered helmet and cloak of the bronze statue of King Kamehameha stands proudly in front of the building. King Kamehameha ruled the islands from 1795 to 1819. The statue was sculpted by Thomas Gould in Florence and the statue was cast in Paris in 1883. The original was lost at sea during its delivery, in a storm near the Falkland Islands, and this is a second version. The original was later discovered and stands at his birthplace of Kapa’au on Big Island.
In the shadow of the Queen Elizabeth and beneath the Aloha Tower is a large area of shops and market stalls where exhausted cruise ship passengers can purchase their local souvenirs and rest for a while in the many pavement cafes and bars. After a long and tiring walk we approached the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, tempted by the number of large stainless steel brewing vessels. It is an active brewery. Unable to decide which beer to try, we purchased a tasting tray of six small glasses of their german-style beers: Golden Export, Hefeweizen, Czech Pilsner, Marzen, Schwarzbier and the Seasonal beer. We used to visit a similar establisment in Wellington, New Zealand which offered a tasting tray of beers, and there are wineries which offer a tasting tray of wines.
Our overall view of the Hawaiian islands is that we enjoyed our visit and would enjoy to come back again for a longer holiday. There is a lot to do in Honolulu and although it is much more commercial and commercialised than Maui, it has a definite charm. And we have not yet visited the beautiful beaches.
| Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis
Layout revised: 11th June, 2015