Friday April 5th – Honolulu Hawaii

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April 6th 2019
Published: April 6th 2019
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Aloha from Oahu Hawaii. Our ship arrived in Honolulu about 7:00 this morning. David was up earlier than that to prepare for his excursion this morning. So he was dressed and fed by the time we arrived in port. Unfortunately it still was not light enough to get a good view of Waikiki or Diamondhead while we were sailing into port. But David was down in the Atrium when they approved everyone to depart the ship.

His excursion was supposed to meet at 7:20 inside the cruise terminal and he got on the first bus to leave. Today’s excursion was to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The most well know item is the Arizona Memorial, but it includes a lot more. We only went to two places but spend half a day exploring them. There are a lot of other areas we did not have time to visit.

Our driver took us to the Main facility where we disembarked and entered a series of 4 museum and 2 memorials, along with assorted gift shops. No one is allowed to bring any bags in the memorials or onto Ford Island. Most folks heeded the instructions but there were still 4 who didn’t and had to store them in a storage center. Then we all got lined up and given tickets for the 8:45 showing in the theater. That allowed us about 20 minutes to look around, use the facilities and get to the theater. The 25-min movie was a very interesting reporting of not just the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but also the facts leading up to it and a summary of the consequences following the attack. There was a lot of actual footage shot during that time. Everyone has a general understanding the attack on Pearl Harbor, but this gave more play-by-play details and explanation of the reasons different things happened. It was very informative.

Afterwards we were taken to a motor launch and were ferried around the Arizona Memorial and alongside the battleship Missouri. The dock adjacent to the memorial was damaged back in May 2018 and will not be repaired and available for visitors until about Nov 2019. A large part of the delay appears to be funding, which comes exclusively from private donations, but also from the approval process to make changes to the memorial. It currently is suspended above,
USS BowfinUSS BowfinUSS Bowfin

plaques in foreground from other submarines
but not touching, the Arizona. The ship itself is a national monument and burial site. We were told than over 100 survivors from the Arizona who have since become deceased, have had their ashes scattered on the waters above their old ship. There are currently only 5 remaining living Arizona survivors.

After returning from the boat ride we had plenty of time to visit the museums and see more reflections and depictions of the battle. We also had the opportunity to tour the USS Bowfin – a WW2 submarine which is now also part of the permanent memorial. The Bowfin was not launched until partway through the war but its nickname was the Pearl Harbor Avenger as it sank more than 40 enemy ships during the war. There were plaques with the names of 54 other submarines, with the names of their crew, which are on Eternal Patrol from WW2. David did not take the Bowfin tour but he did see it from the shore. There are also commemorations to the battleships California, Nevada, West Virginia and others which were badly damaged but were eventually restored to service during the war.

After crossing onto Ford Island we were let out of the bus to a memorial to the USS Oklahoma. It was another battleship which was sunk and was never refloated/restored during the war. The Utah was sunk and not restored, but we did not get to wherever that memorial is located. We were let off the bus near the center which surrounds the last battleship ever launched – USS Missouri. The Missouri is docked bow to bow with the sunken Arizona, representing the beginning and the end of our involvement in WW2.

We walked down the entrance approach to the Mighty Mo and up the ramp to the main deck. We had a tour guide who gave us a lot of information. The ship is 897 feet long and 216 feet deep, but just barely narrow enough to pass through the old Panama Canal locks. The Missouri has 3 main turrets with 3 guns each – all are capable to firing a high explosive projectile weighing more than a Volkswagen, and hitting a target accurately at more than 20 miles. The reload/re-fire rate is so high they 3 sets of 9 shells can be in the air before the first set hits the target. The ship has subsequently been updated to remove antiaircraft guns and replace them with laser guided Gatling Guns as the ship stayed in service until 1991. The Missouri took part in the Korean War and was then decommissioned until it was upgraded and recalled to serve in the Persian Gulf battles. It actually fired the first Tomahawk missiles in Dessert Shield (using 28 of their 32 missiles).

Probably the most notable event was the signing of the surrender papers by Japan ending World War 2. There are several displays and pictures of the ceremony and our guide explained a lot about what actually happened during that event. However it was President Truman who personally chose this ship for the signing in Tokyo Bay – against the wishes of many who wanted to use one of the battleships which had been attacked and reactivated.

Afterwards we had 45 minutes to explore on the self-guided portion of the tour up and down through the interior of the ship. During WW2 the ship had a crew of 2700 but after the modernization they only needed a crew of 1300. That changed the bunk rooms to having only 3-high bunks instead of 5-high during WW2. It was fascinating to see the depictions and display throughout the ship, but David was pretty tired by the time he got back to the bus at 12:40. Then it was time to return to our ship. The whole experience was very inspirational and moving, as we got a glimpse of the horror and then resilience of the people in the face of the attack.

David went back to the cabin and met up with Janet. During his absence she had breakfast in the dining room with a group from Canada and California. It was a leisurely way to start the day. She went to knitting but no one else was there so she went to the room and watched a movie. The crew was having emergency drills so messages kept coming over the intercom which we were supposed to ignore. There was some running up and down the halls by the crew as well as interruption in all services including the elevator so it was best to stay in the room out of the way. This ship has been in South America for the last several months so they had to pass all the U. S. certifications. It’s good to know that they will be prepared but we hope they never have to do it for real.

We went to lunch about 2:00 and then headed back to the cabin for a little rest before a second excursion. We had to be back in the terminal at 4:15 and all dressed for a luau on the beach. We actually went down early to have time for a leisurely walk instead of a rush. Janet brought her walking stick to help getting around in the luau, so they gave us preferential seating on the 2nd of 7 buses. There were about 350 people in total taking this excursion.

After a long drive through rush hour traffic we got to Germaine’s Luau, on the west coast of Oahu. We weren’t sure exactly how everything was going to work but it was all explained during our bus ride. First we got off and were presented with shell leis and then had our picture taken right on the beach. Everyone who knows Janet has heard her opinion of beaches and sand, but it was actually a good experience anyway. We then walked into the complex and found a lot of picnic benches/tables reserved for Star Princess passengers. The tables were on hard-packed sand but it wasn’t too difficult to walk. There is a bar where we could get one-each free alcoholic drink and another with unlimited other drinks. There was fresh pineapple on the table as an appetizer (called pupu). When they served the food it was served buffet-style but on a paved surface. All the tables were arranged around a large stage and we had fairly good views not too far back – but also fairly close to the restrooms.

The show began with a few brief demonstrations of hula dancing reflecting the styles from Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand, and French Polynesia. That covered a little time while everyone got their drinks and the late arrivals got settled. Then everyone who wanted could leave and go back to the beach area and watch while they dug up the pig from the baking pit. It was interesting to watch two young men uncover the pig and toss aside the very hot “baking stones”. Then they hoisted the meat from the pit and placed it in an enormous platter. Then we all went back to our tables.

During the evening we had various displays of dancing and singing. There were a couple of times for audience participation, but we declined to go onto the stage. There were a couple of fire dancers and lots of different kinds of hulas representing different significant island events (like honoring the Pele Goddess, or celebrating a wedding, etc). Even one hula was danced by the bus guides we had met during our drive.

Part way through the show we were directed to the buffet tables for a variety of salad choices, side dishes, and meats. Everything we tried was delicious, especially the hot roasted pork. We also had sliced beef, which is called pipi. So for dinner we had pupu & pipi, which sounds bad but were both delicious. We had been able to load as much food on our plate as we wanted so we each tried a little of everything except the poi. It did not even look appetizing. It was a little difficult climbing into the table, and eventually the wooden bench got pretty hard for sitting, but we had a really good time.

The bus brought us back to the pier and we were able to get back in the cabin before 10:00. We crashed into bed pretty quickly. The ship sailed at 10:30 and David looked at the lights of Honolulu receding into the night, but again it was not possible to get a Waikiki picture. Too bad! Goodbye from Oahu.

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