The ship drifted from Honolulu to Lahaina on Maui during the night, all of 90 miles or so. It is still breezy and the sea is somewhat choppy. We have a tour that is to meet in the theater at 8:15AM to tender ashore. As happened the last time we were here on Holland American, the harbor master is being a jerk and holding up the tenders, forcing them to come in one at a time. For not the first time in our life it pays not to be early. There are four buses of about 40 seats each scheduled for our tour. We get to the theater at 8:15AM as they are passing out the last tickets for bus #6 and starting on bus #7, the fourth of the buses on our tour. As we sit down, they call groups for two buses for the other all day tour and two of our four buses. Then we wait and wait and wait some more. About 9AM the Captain comes on the PA and says that he is working on clearance for our tenders to land....???....what the heck....two full tenders left 30 minutes ago! Well things do not get moving again until about 9:30AM, over an hour later than planned, and we do not get ashore until 10AM. Fortunately, we are not in the two groups that are loaded into the first three tenders and then spend an hour and more bouncing around just outside the harbor entrance before being allowed to land.
There is total confusion on shore as there is the first group of people standing around waiting to board the buses for the other tour and two buses for our tour. At this point no one has told us our tour number is actually the number of our bus. So, of course, we try to board bus #5 only to be told our bus is on the way. Finally, the first three buses leave and three more pull up. There are no numbers or tour names on any of the buses and again we try to board the one right in front of us and are again told no that bus #6 is the other bus! Dick is less than happy at the point, so Carolyn checks on the other buses. Ours is the first bus and, by the way, hurry up they are waiting for us!! Since we are last on, we have our choice of the last six rows of seats and we each get our own row giving us plenty of space. See, late is not always bad!
We are off aboard "Robert’s Hawaii" bus #6 for our trip up to Haleakala National Park and the edge of the volcano crater at 10,023 feet above sea level. The driver of the bus is "Wally" and we will come to hate the sound of his voice before the day is over. The AC in the bus is not working and it quickly becomes warm and stuffy. Wally prattles constantly with the microphone turned up too loud. Once again, we hear of the wonders of living in the "People Republic of Hawaii." We constantly hear of the wonders performed by the government for the people. There is a pervasive since of entitlement and the right to use "OPM" (Other People’s Money) to provide those things you want out of life.
The ride up the mountain offers spectacular views in all directions since the sky is clear with the exception of VOG (Volcanic Smog) from the erupting volcanoes on the Big Island. Once we are on top of the mountain we find beautiful and other worldly views and can see all of the Hawaiian Islands with the exception of Kauai. The temperature is in the 40s and there are some patches of ice among the rocks. The views down into the crater are impressive. We see the last survivors of the "Silver Sword", a beautiful, cactus-looking, silver plant that only blooms once every 35-37 years and then dies. It has become a victim of chance. It only grows at the top of this crater and there are only a few hundred plants left.
On the way up the mountain we pass numerous bicycles coming down and a few even trying to ride up. The 10,000 foot ride down the mountain must be quite an adventure if you don’t splatter yourself somewhere along the way, having missed one of the innumerable hair-pin turns!
Because we are running more than an hour late, we are only allowed 25 minutes instead of the original 40 minutes at the top but that is enough. There are four buses in our group and we are now heading for lunch at Maui Tropical Plantation where the plan was to have about 90 minutes for lunch and to explore the plantation which is a collection of artisan shops and tropical gardens with banquet facilities. We were supposed to have lunch at 1:30PM and do not actually get there until 2:45PM. Needless to say, 160 grumpy, hungry people exit the buses!! The setting is lovely and lunch is a tasty cream of onion soup with a small piece of grilled chicken with rice, vegetables, Hawaiian style, a roll and bread pudding.
After a somewhat rushed visit, we to return to the bus at the set 3:30PM and find that our driver has left to get a new bus as he has figured out the AC compressor is not working. Explain to me why he could not have waited until we return to the ship; another 30 minutes or so. The new bus arrives and we get back to town at 4:20PM. The last tender is supposed to leave at 4:30PM and when our 160 arrive the line is already at least two full tenders long. The ship’s host comes aboard the bus and tells us he would like for us to get in line. But understands we don’t want to stand in the sun so we can wander around if we like, but PLEASE watch the line and join it when it gets shorter. The Captain must be pulling his hair out! We look out toward the ship and see three tenders bobbing around outside of the harbor and one just entering.
Carolyn had made the comment earlier that she had hoped she would have time to walk around the town some, so we do just that. There is a Sunday craft market under the big Banyan tree in the square which we explore and then hit a couple of shops around the square where she buys a swimsuit coverup and a couple of hand made bracelets. The line has moved some by now so we walk over and sit on a ledge near the line. Things are moving painfully slow since there are lots of boats, ferries and dinner cruises trying to move in or out of the harbor. Dick finally gets in line and Carolyn walks around taking some pictures. The sun is very low in the deep blue sky...good time for picture taking.
The last tender was to have been at 4:30PM and it does not load until 5:30PM and we are on it. It has been a long day! The ship finally sails around 6PM and we watch whales spouting in the distance while having a drink or two on our balcony. We have our stewardess bring us a bucket of ice, order some food from room service and get two personal sized pizzas from the Lido. Dick breaks open a bottle of Brandlin "Henry’s Keep" Proprietary red wine 2011 and we are in for the evening!