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Uncruise Safari Explorer Hawaii April 2023


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Uncruise Safari Explorer April 2023

We recently returned from our third Uncruise, having previously visited Alaska's Inside Passage and Mexico's Sea of Cortez on Uncruise Safari Endeavor.  We chose this cruise near the end of the Hawaii "season" because it lined up with a cruise from Honolulu to Vancouver we had planned with friends on Royal Caribbean  Quantum of the Seas. The two experiences could not have been more different, but I'm grateful I had BOTH experiences! (and we spent a week in Waikiki between cruises)

 

Safari Explorer is a bit smaller than Safari Endeavor, on this cruise we only had 28 guests, but we found the deck and outside areas of the ships to be more spacious.  We had to fly to Molokai to embark and then fly from Hawaii (Big Island) back to Honolulu (Oahu) after the cruise because it's not a round trip.  Add these costs to your budget, and be prepared to pay for any over weight, checked or extra luggage, (and pay attention to each of the small inner island airlines baggage allowances, because you'll need to match the strictest allowance for all you flights, or plan to store luggage in Honolulu. We found an expensive option at the airport directly across from the baggage carousels, but it served to store luggage we didn't need till our Waikiki stay.)   And you may need plan extra days in hotels before and after the cruise in order to arrange the flights based on the schedules of the inter island flights and flights to the mainland. Uncruise has a section of their website where there's a good explanation of how to transit from the main terminals to the small terminal where Mokulele airlines is located, but you are on your own both financially and logistically to get to Molokai for embarkation. 

 

We flew from Boston to LAX to Honolulu and  stayed at an airport hotel for the night.  The following morning, we took the airport shuttle to the small terminal where you get the Mokulele airlines flights to Molokai. 20230413-ToMolokai-011.thumb.jpg.2f95f03cf9e5b19047a0c304c5082692.jpg

This is the plane- you'll wait till they call you flight and they'll arrange everyone by weight to board.  If you don't mind small airplanes (9 seat) you will love the views you'll get as you fly up past Waikiki and Diamond head and out to Molokai!

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We arrived a couple of days in advance and we stayed at the Uncruise selected pre hotel, Hotel Molokai. We met friends from Seattle who had arrived the day before. After spending a few days in Molokai, you'll see it's one of the only options for guests to stay in Molokai.  It's a quiet island, with little tourist infrastructure and felt the most like "old Hawaii" to us, and turned out to be one of our favorite places! Be aware that the local wild chickens are loud in the early mornings! 

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The entrance to Hotel Molokai

 

 

 

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The beach and some of the "old" Hawaiian style rooms

 

 

 

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The pool

 

 

 

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The dining room with a beautiful sea view, it's one of the best restaurants on the island and offers live entertainment in the evening.

 

We learned pretty quickly that we'd need a rental car to get around the island...the advertised hotel shuttle was "broken" and there are no walking areas to safely walk into town, even though its only 2 (hot!) miles. At night it would be very unsafe with traffic on the dark road. Renting a bike or ebike could also work, but we found it difficult to rent anything on the island!  There were no real "rental cars" for rent when we visited and the rental agent essentially rented us his own car! It worked perfectly for us...we had wheels to explore the island and get out to restaurants, although we quickly recognized the best restaurant in town was right at our hotel!

 

Rooms were rustic, but the AC worked well, although it was delightful to open the old jalousie windows and let the ocean breezes blow through, most of the rooms had refrigerators, coffee makers and microwaves, and some of the larger units also had stoves. 20230413-MolotaiHotel-001.thumb.jpg.1bd28600f5d7c9fdebe2d3b88d090a52.jpg

 

 

 

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Next Post : I'll share some of the things we explored on Molokai and then we'll get to embarkation!

 

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Molokai

Equipped with "Jimmy's car" we headed out to explore Molokai.  Our friends had explored the western end of the island the prior day; it was very remote and isolated. 

The "big" attraction on Molokai is the Halawa Valley on the eastern end of the island. We headed there hoping to see a bit more than we might with the Uncruise folks who had planned a hike up to the waterfalls.  Wehne we arrived to the Halawa Valley Park, we ran into the two white vans with the Uncruise passengers and guides from the cruise that started in Hawaii and was ending in Molokai the week before our cruise.  We were delighted to see 2 of our favorite guides from our Baja cruise, Mareth and Wilson, leading the group and they told us they would be still on board when we boarded the next day! 

Im sorry I have to end this prematurely, because I cant get CC to post my photos.  I'm willing to provide free content to pay it forward, but I don't have time de bug CC!  You know where to find me and the information about this cruise, which will be on my blog. 

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When we went to Iguazu Falls in January, at the beginning of a long trip through Patagonia, we booked the same hotel in Buenos Aires for the nights before and after the Iguazu side trip.  They were happy to store our extra luggage and spare us airline baggage charges for those two flights.  That might work with a hotel on Oahu for a trip like yours.

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Forgot to say:  thanks for posting!  We get so little about Uncruise and I think many people would like to know more about them (me included).  I hope you can get the photo issue solved, because they add so much to your first post.  [But I don't have any debugging ideas, sorry...]

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Uncruise Boarding Day

Because Uncruise uses the relatively small resort (Hotel Molokai) in Molokai for hosting both returning guests and those about to embark, we had the opportunity to meet them all (again, since we'd seen them in Halawa Valley!) When we disembarked in Hawaii at the much larger King K Marriott, there were so many people, we really couldn't tell who was headed out on the next Uncruise. We knew we were in for a great trip based on the stories from the guests who just left. One of the things they raved about was the food...and that had been our experience too, excellent meals at the end of each day!20230414-MolotaiHotel-145.thumb.jpg.447458078d17fab5923ffbd331e5c05e.jpg

A nice hospitality area is set up for both embarking and departing guests with snacks, water, tea and coffee, access to a changing room and full use off all the complimentary facilities at the resort. 

 

Anyone who does Uncruises knows that embarking is very personal...you'll be greeted by a receiving line, including the captain, and you'll have your photo taken for for the "face book".  This is the only "social media" you'll find on board, any passengers who would like, have their photos posted in a book or bulletin board along with the photos of the crew to help you remember the names that go with the faces!  Along with name tags used the first few days on excursions help so that by day 2, everyone including the crew knows everyone else!20230417-Lanai-106.thumb.jpg.2b8a2f1b71a1c97cfe07c3e74888a29c.jpg

 

We were taken to our cabin by a staff member and our luggage was already waiting for us there!

A briefing before dinner included trying on our life jackets, and discussing safety, and meeting our crew.  We were thrilled to see that we recognized several of the crew from previous cruises!

 

Part of the crew on an Uncruise is the Naturalist Guides, and Expedition Leader, which is unique to expedition cruises.  Great ones make the trip and poor ones can put a damper on your trip, because all of the included excursions are only as good as guides you have. (We took an excursion on the Amazon with a major brand leader in expedition cruises and were so disappointed with the quality of the guiding, that no matter how shiny the trips look in the yellow bordered brochure, it will be a while before we cruise with them again!) Luckily, every time we've been on an Uncruise the guides have been excellent, and were delighted to find one of our favorite guides from our Baja cruise, Wilson, had been promoted to Expedition leader!20230416-Molokai-271.thumb.jpg.5afcf5d2d8dc29f0fe2a53350dccd20f.jpg

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A tour of Safari Explorer

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The Safari Explorer has a swim deck and sport platform where kayaks and skiffs are launched, on the next deck up, there's a promenade leading to cabins and viewing areas all around the ship.  This is our favorite cabin location, with doors that open directly onto the promenade.  The top deck includes a huge sun deck, a shaded area with a seating lounge, and all of the sports and exercise gear. 

 

 

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The promenade connects cabins on port and starboard with some of the best wildlife viewing areas forward and aft. If you look at deck plans, avoid the cabin closest to the door to the ships ladder (stairway) because the door opening closing can be noisy during the day. (everything is quiet at night!!) 

 

 

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The Sun Deck. lounge and exercise area. A beautiful spot for sunrises and sunsets and several evenings, the bar tender will set up bar here before dinner!

 

 

 

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This area serves as a library, and the shop for Uncruise gear.  It's stocked with some musical instruments and games.  

 

 

 

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The bar

 

 

 

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The lounge and briefing area

 

 

 

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The dining room

 

 

 

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Cabin B 10, fixed Queen bed

 

 

 

 

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This ship had a lot of areas for storage and also desk areas for working on photos or notes. 

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A Typical Day Aboard Safari Explorer

The typical day, is that there is no typical day!  Activites vary based on the weather, the wildlife in the area and can be very nimble, with safety first and then optimized for guests to have a great experience!

 

Evening: Let's start after dinner since that is when Wilson would brief us on the activities for the next day.  A variety of options are offered, to meet the physical capabilities of everyone on board: kayaking, or skiff tours for those who want a gentler or less physical excursion, hiking, gentle walking, cultural interactions, snorkeling, or free time ashore, there are always options. 

Each option will be described, what it involves, what gear to wear or bring, and the best part is nothing "sells out", no matter what you want to do, guides will be deployed so that everyone gets a chance to do what they want to do. 

After the briefing, the bar (with all drinks included) stays open and usually one of the guides will make a presentation about flora, fauna, history, geology, or culture of the Hawaiian archipelago. Even as fascinating as these talks were, lids would get heavy and most passengers would be headed to bed by 9 PM!20230421-SafariExplorer-042.thumb.jpg.cc20ad21af06340c1ee9bfefc805eabf.jpg

These skiff boats are used extensively for tours, snorkeling and to deliver guests to the dock where the ship can't come to the dock.  Being able to board this moving boat from the moving ship is taught carefully for everyone's safety! 

 

 

Morning: Days start early...usually with coffee service at 6 AM and breakfast between 6:30 AM and 8:00 AM depending on the activities planned. Sometimes there's a stretch class on the upper deck, or folks will gather with coffee to see the sunrise an search for "charismatic mega fauna"! Breakfast is a set time, seated with whoever you wish, and after you have breakfast, you'll be asked about your choices for lunch and dinner.  There's always a vegetarian option, and usually a meat and fish option. Special diets are cheerfully accommodated.    20230420-Maui-159.thumb.jpg.d39142029537c13345a495817aebbd5f.jpg

occasional morning stretch

 

Usually after breakfast, groups gather on the activity platform to board skiffs or launch in kayaks for excursions.  

Mid morning, everyone returns from excursions, to clean up for lunch. Lunch is another set time, sitting where you choose.  Unless you have a longer excursion, in which case you'' have a picnic lunch during the excursion.   

 

Afternoon: Sometimes the ship will move midday, and there's often a little time to relax after lunch before the afternoon excursion.  20230420-MolokiniCraterSnorkel-050.thumb.jpg.f52d659a82a4acd3546c9e3afd9bba39.jpg

The ship has any gear you'll need in the water, snorkeling or wet suits.

 

Evening: The afternoon excursion usually ends in time for a late afternoon nap, workout  or pre dinner drink in the lounge.  Dinners are at a set time, generally 6:30 or 7 PM, dining with whoever you like, on our cruise there were several parties of 4 or 6, but everyone (except one family) happily sat with different folks at each meal, and the group was very convivial. 

 

Sadly, this is where I have to be honest about the food on our particular cruise.  As mentioned earlier, the excellent chef who the prior guests raved about, had finished his contract and we had a chef and pastry chef, both brand new to the company.  Both were personable and responsive as people, but sadly, whether because they were still finding their way around the kitchen, or because we started in Molokai and food is generally hard to source in the more remote islands, or because with only 28 people and vegans and diabetics on board and they were trying to create one meal to fit all, but the food was a major disappointment on this cruise.  Especially in light of how the food was highlight on both our Alaska and Mexican Uncruises, local, tasty and hot, we had been really looking forward to similar experience in Hawaii.  I shared my feed back with Uncruise, as did other passengers and we all noted that none of us were on the ship for the food, but most of the passengers, being repeat guests, really noticed a significant drop off. The good news is I lost weight, often eating around certain dishes and rejecting desserts most nights after a bite. I saw a lot of food wasted on plates around me too. 

 

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Our Itinerary

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As I mentioned earlier, the itinerary is posted when you book, but being an expedition cruise, things can change, based on weather, what there is to see, or even the ship's condition at any given time (stay tuned for a little "excitement" we encountered)

Our itinerary was planned to start in Molokai for two nights, a day in Lanai and an overnight in Maui, crossing to the Hawaii for 2 days before disembarking. 

 

Our actual itinerary was interrupted by an unexpected weather event.  

 

It's important to note that this mostly water based itinerary doesn't include some of the big tourist attractions, such as the Road to Hana in Maui or the Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii.  But while we experienced some of those later in our trip on excursions from Quantum of the Seas, the Uncruise gave us opportunities to connect with locals and close up encounters with wildlife that a large cruise ship could never provide.  Similar excursions could be part of a resort stay, but getting to as many places and the quality of the guiding was far superior to hiring a guide while staying on the island (we stayed in Oahu for 8 days and hired some of the best reviewed guides for tours, and none was close to what we experienced on Uncruise.) SO my advice is if there are some "must" see things on your Hawaii bucket list- Pearl Harbor on Oahu, or Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii, plan for pre and post tours after Uncruise. Uncruise is designed to get you off the beaten path and connected to the Hawaiian islands in a unique way. 

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Molokai

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On our first full day we boarded small vans and headed out to the Halawa Valley along a scenic road along the southwest side of the island. 

 

 

 

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View to the waterfalls in the Halawa Valley

 

 

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From the park we were invited onto the property of a local family where some of the group was able to make a local food and the rest of the group took a long hike into the valley and had a picnic and swim at a waterfall

 

 

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Devik, whose family has generational roots on the island, welcomed us to his family's home with a traditional conch shell greeting. 

 

 

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Welcomed to this little ranch, we hiked to the water falls

 

 

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Mushrooms on the trail

 

 

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Our hike included stream crossings 

 

 

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We made it to the water fall and were able to swim in the cold pool

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More to come later!

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Molokai Paina Dinner

One of the most special things about traveling with a small group us the authentic cultural interactions you can have with local people.  Even the drivers of our buses shared personal insights and funny stories about growing up on Molokai, about being proud of their Hawaiian heritage and being joyful about sharing it!

For dinner in Molokai, we were bused to the Molokai Historical and Cultural Center to the north of the island. We were greeted with colorful leis made of yarn. The main room of the center had been transformed with little tables and chairs and they docents at the museum gave us an orientation about the museum and explained about a paina as a special celebration for milestones and special occasions. They explained that when Hawaiians celebrate with their favorite foods, and sometimes dancing or entertainment, that they often believe the celebration includes all the ancestors of the people celebrating.

They shared with us the importance of understanding the difference between the kind of celebration we were invited to, and the performative luau often experienced by tourists. They asked us to help spread the word about the appropriate ways to respect and acknowledge Hawaiian culture, which like many of the native cultures in the US, has been around for thousands of years.

 

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We had a wonderful evening and enjoyed food made by our hosts and entertainment by a small combo.  The docents then shared an award winning legacy quilt made by their members, which they were rightfully proud of! 

 

 

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Lania

The next morning we awoke anchored off the coast of Lanai. Lanai is nearly 100% owned by Larry Ellison, and he is referred to as Uncle Larry on the island.  After years of agribusinesses using the island and using up resources (such as sugar cane industry using all the water and deserting the island) and the pineapple industry leaving behind plastic embedded in the earth, "Uncle Larry" appears to be using the island as a base for researching sustainable environmental projects and sustainable tourism. 

We spent the morning in the water, snorkeling at Dinosaur Cove.20230417-DinosaurCoveSnorkel-006.thumb.jpg.38e8556a0f36fc4caf99bbb694614e77.jpg

Do you see it!? 

 

 

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Exploring the outside of a cave...always the guides were with us in the water, in a kayak above the water and in the skiffs watching over the group!

 

 

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In big beautiful Hawaiian "bathtub", Safari Explorer looks like a tiny dot on the horizon!

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Lanai

In the afternoon, we tendered to Manele with lots of options for the afternoon excursions. All of these adventures were run by a concessionaire called Lanai Adventure Park, an outfitter associated with Sensei Four Seasons Hotel.  We took vans up to the Adventure Park,  and deployed into our groups, hike, two e-bike tours, one into town and one in a more remote area.  We chose the more adventurous ebike tour through the dusty red trails at the top of Lanai. 20230417-Lanai-097.thumb.jpg.c1f2dfa072d831f270bee323400bc7ee.jpg

The little port area at Lanai is carefully developed.

 

 

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Safari Explorer anchored in Manele

 

 

 

 

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After some basic instruction, and a few loops around the parking lot, we were off. 

 

 

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The roads and soils of the island are red from the minerals in the soil

 

 

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In the distance, Cook Island Pines, we were told were brought in after the sugar cane companies exhausted all the water on the island, and the pineapple companies planted them to add water to the environment, because thee tress actually create water! The pineapple companies also left remnants of plastic sheeting in the soil that can be see everywhere.  

 

 

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At the top elevation, the open landscape over looking the ocean almost looked like a mars scape. 

 

 

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Maui

After moving to Maui and anchoring, we took a sunrise skiff tour into the Humpback Marine Sanctuary hoping to see humpback whales or other "charismatic mega fauna". while we didn't see whales on this day, we could hear them through the hydrophone dropped into the water. 

 

After breakfast we visited the Mala Wharf, a development that failed and fell into the sea creating an artificial reef popular with sea turtles. We took skiffs over to the wharf, and there were other snorkelers and divers there, but we were able to enjoy amazing underwater wildlife, including turtles and white tipped sharks.20230418-MalaWharfSnorkel-012.thumb.jpg.af70555449f4941f7edb45d0c5796bd6.jpg

 

 

 

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Maui

In the afternoon, we were given the option to take the skiff into Lahaina, the main port in Maui. With just a couple of hours, there's not time to book an excursion, although several are offered by vendors in the port, but there is time to explore the historical trail in town, see the Banyan Park, with it's huge 1 acre banyon tree and the shops and galleries. We can recommend the shave ice at Banyon Treats (get it?!) 20230418-Maui-276.thumb.jpg.542c290fe5129873b5eae6f6c554c072.jpg

Front Street Lahaina, the banyan tree to the left covers a city block. 

 

 

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Right on Wharf St, under the banyan tree, you'll find the historic courthouse which offers a by donation museum, Lahaina Heritage Museum with exhibits about Maui's history and culture. 

 

 

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A detail of the ancient fort in Lahaina is right near the courthouse

 

 

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traditional shave ice

 

 

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Lots of rental shops and excursion stands in Lahaina

 

Edited by Familygoboston
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Do Whale Sightings Require Losing an Anchor!? Apparently so!

(Alaska photos ahead! These may be the same whales you'd see in Hawaii, because the humpback whales migrate, but these whales we saw in AK!)

 

In 2018, we sailed to Southeast Alaska on Uncruise Safari Endeavor. One day, the anchor got stuck and could not be raised.  We spent a good part of day, stuck at anchor instead of cruising for "charismatic megafuana" in the inside passage.  (This is Uncruise speak for larger marine mammals and land mammals, things that realllly get people excited, like whales and bears!) While we awaited a solution to the "stuck" anchor in Alaska, the "charismatic mega fauna" came to US! And the sunset created the most amazing scenery.  Despite being initially disappointed that the ship was "stuck", the evening turned out to be amazing because we were "stuck" in the middle of the most amazing landscapes and habitat! Finally, the anchor was "cut" and we made our way onto Glacier Bay!

 

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Orca

 

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breaching humpback

 

 

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Edited by Familygoboston
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Wait, Did We Stumble into an Alaska Review?!

No you did not!  Have we taken 3 Uncruises? Yes, we have! Have we lost our anchor  on two of those Uncruise? Yes, we did!

The plan had been to anchor for the night. The captain carefully considered the weather when deciding where to anchor, but unfortunately, the storm changed direction and while we were at anchor, we rolled and pitched with the storm all night long.  Many passengers were sick and took medication, fortunately, we never felt ill, but I also couldn't sleep because I was rolling like a hot dog in a pan all night long. At one point we heard a huge snapping sound, we couldn't identify if it was a wave that hit us or debris? In the morning we learned the anchor line had snapped.   The captain didn't feel it was safe to move the dark, but at dawn, he made an announcement for us to continue to stay in our cabins and preferably, safely in our beds while the storm continued.  His plan was to move the ship into the lee of an island and trawl slowly in calmer waters so the crew could get up and prepare breakfast and we could regroup. Around 9:30 AM, the captain had moved the ship to calmer waters and announced anyone who felt well enough could come down to breakfast and anyone who wasn't feeling well could remain in their cabin and crew would be around to check on them, provide foo or medicine, any clean up needed. 

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 The broken anchor line

 

A half an hour later, every passenger came down to breakfast. Many described a rough night, but they all showed up!  We felt grateful we had not felt sick during the storm and we are encouraged that we might be ok on our next expedition cruise in Antarctica!

 

The captain took our photo because he said we were a salty group to endure the night we had and still show up for breakfast, and he wanted to send a photo to his son!  He briefed us on what had happened.  When the anchor snapped, he dropped a pin so he could recover the anchor later (which was in relatively shallow water)  He told us that he had been in touch with the Coast Guard because he needed to seek more sheltered water and the only place that looked safe during this short but violent storm was the island of Kaho'olawe. 

 

What, you've never heard of it?!  Well, there's a reason for that!  During WWII the uninhabited island of Kaho'olawe was used for target practice.  There is unexploded ordinance all over the island and in the water around the island.  So it's a "no go" for anyone!  No one is allowed on the island or to anchor anywhere near it.   During this storm, it was also one of the only places we could go to avoid the wind and high water.  After consultation with the CG, it was decided that Safari Explorer could go there, since there was no anchor to drop, thus no danger 😬 to ship an passengers. 

 

Just as in Alaska, lose an anchor...find whales!!

This time the ship were able to move, so despite canceled morning plans, we went whale watching and found a group of humpbacks breaching and then a mother and a calf. 20230419-AtSeainHawaii-041.thumb.jpg.64260824b6d662f66ac29ffe39696514.jpg

 

 

 

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Many of passengers joked that Uncruise keeps mechanical whales they deploy when things go wrong to distract guests! Fortunately, divers were able to recover the anchor later, and the mechanic on board was able to reattach it and we were on our way again!

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Maui While We Await Anchor Recovery

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We weren't completely with out an anchor, this one is on deck if we'd needed it, but we didn't, we moved on enjoyed the activities.

 

The morning was very calm and visibility was great so we had a snorkeling excursion at Molokini crater...this area is also a rookery for Magnificent Frigate birds. So we had wonderful things to see both above and BELOW the crater!20230420-MolokiniCrater-186.thumb.jpg.390980cecbc3c835f6a272ee15266f7d.jpg

 

 

 

 

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In the afternoon we did some kayaking. 20230420-Maui-208.thumb.jpg.fc3ddbad81f5dd65de50f68fa8ee7827.jpg

 

 

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At the end of the play in the water, we were treated to a rainbow and a deck bar.  Wilson and the crew broke out all the toys, including floaties and paddle boards and the jumping platform to leap off the ship from deck 2!

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Edited by Familygoboston
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Hawaii

After recovering our anchor while we were enjoying lunch on board, we traveled over night to Hawaii across the channel  After our storm night, the channel crossing was as smooth as glass and we barely felt any motion on the crossing!

 

In the morning we were anchored again, and used the skiffs to enter the harbor and explore the Koloko Honokokou National Historical Park just south of Kona. Two options were offered, a longer hike, and a shorter walk/visit to the shore.  We chose the shorter walk which allowed us to view a variety of wildlife and cultural sites in the park. 

 

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Very volcanic shore here, and we also were able to see hieroglyphics and ruins from ancient cultures 

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This area was also very popular with sea turtles, which enjoyed lying out in the sun

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The bird life was particularly abundant here too 

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Edited by Familygoboston
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I have three words to say to you - BUCKET LIST TRIP! 
I only hope I’ll be able to do this cruise or one like it before my poor old body refuses to let me do it.

Meanwhile, I’m truly enjoying your stories and pictures. Thank you very much for sharing! 

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Thank You Nancy!

One of the reasons we rearranged our life in 2018/19 was to travel! It's been a blast to do things we've dreamed of, but this one is quite do-able even as we all age! Uncruise is really clear about the effort and challenge of every excursion and that makes Uncruise a great option for multi generational families!

8 hours ago, perfect match said:

I have three words to say to you - BUCKET LIST TRIP! 
I only hope I’ll be able to do this cruise or one like it before my poor old body refuses to let me do it.

Meanwhile, I’m truly enjoying your stories and pictures. Thank you very much for sharing! 

 

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Hawaii Manta Rays!

In the afternoon, we cruises a bit to look for more "charismatic megafauna", we saw our voyage slide show a bit early and had dinner early to make time for another very special wildlife encounter!

 

Very simply put, this encounter was among one of the most thrilling wildlife encounters we've ever had!  Those who follow our blog and social media know we've been all over the globe to encounter wildlife, from Churchill Manitoba for polar bears, to Galapagos islands, to Africa and many more.  We've explored remote corners of the globe in search of seeing wildlife in the wild, and right in the waters where we were snorkeling, one of the most amazing creatures we've ever seen is living it's life under water unknown to most people.  A few days later in Oahu, we saw manta rays near the surface of the water and it was amazing, but seeing them feeding underwater at night, was an absolute thrill!20230421-MantaSnorkel-014.thumb.jpg.7da9d4ade23ca70cf1042e9638159f3c.jpg

wet suits were provided to prevent getting chilled because of the night air and relative stillness you need to maintain to watch these animals. 

 

 

So night snorkeling is planned because the manta rays eat plankton, much like whales, and some of that plankton is attracted to light because that's how the plankton feeds. An water sports adventure outfitter in Hawaii has retrofitted a sur board with bright lights. Those lights attract plankton, which then attracts manta rays to feed on the plankton. Participants go from the skiffs into the water in wetsuits and hang onto the surfboards, all around it.  We were instructed to relax and keep our feet floating out, (with help of a pool noodle if needed) so we didn't kick the animals.  As soon as we slipped into the dark water, we could see the plankton and other small creatures teeming in the pools of light under the surf board.  We were allowed only 30 minutes in the water, but it was only a few minutes before a large manta ray over 14 foot wide from wing tip to wing tip began feeding by rolling under the surfboard and filtering the plankton through its almost mechanical gills.  

 The mantas make no sound...the sounds you hear are just the camera recording the bumping into the surfboard

 

 

 

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