On the way from Seattle to Sydney, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas stopped in Hawaii at Lahaina on Maui. Prior to the cruise we set up an excursion on our own with Trilogy, a popular catamaran day trip company there. Trilogy did offer a couple of 2-hour excursions through the ship, but we took an all-day trip from their website, sailtrilogy.com. They have a variety of sailing or sail and snorkel excursions to choose from, departing from three different harbors.
The Trilogy departed from the other side of the same dock in Lahaina where the ship’s tenders came to shore, making it quite convenient for arriving by ship. When excursion time approached they put up a sign for Trilogy near the dock, which is where everyone checked in. They did not have a booth offering last-minute tours among the many lining the harbor near the dock. Upon boarding they offer a variety of things to drink. I was happy to see a jug of reef-safe sunscreen sitting on a counter available for anyone who needs it. It’s nice to see that people care about saving the reefs.
While cruise ship sail and snorkel catamaran excursions often “sail” with the engine running due to time constraints, the Trilogy catamaran actually sailed a good portion of the way from Maui to Lanai, which the locals spell Lana’i. Of course they also spell Hawaii as Hawai’i.
You won’t go hungry on this excursion. Not long after leaving port they served cinnamon rolls hot and fresh from the oven. We weren’t underway too long before they came back around with fresh fruit. Before arriving at the island we were served wraps in a variety of flavors as well.
There’s lots of options for places to sit on the catamaran. It has some inside seating as well as seating outside across the back. It also has seating around the edges of the front with tables containing cupholders, handy for the drinks they provide. The boat is also equipped with a couple heads, shipspeak for bathrooms. There are nets across a couple sections of the bow, which are also seating (or lying down) options for those who don’t mind getting a bit – or a lot – wet along the way. The other bow seats get splashed sometimes as well, but we sat there anyway.
We came on a windy day when the waves were fairly high so people got a bit wetter than they would on a calm flat day. Of course the wind is a great help for the sails. Along the way they offered a snuba add-on to the excursion for an extra charge. Snuba instruction was provided along the way for interested parties. It’s a way for beginners to have a chance at diving. They also had a photographer for anyone interested in purchasing a photo package if they liked their photos. The photographer asked in advance who thought they might want photos so they could concentrate on taking pictures of just those people, who had no obligation to buy them.
Arrival at the island came with the option of a quick van ride or short walk to the beach. Everyone was given a shell necklace, which marked us as having permission to be on that private beach. At the beach they provided snorkel gear as well as instructions. The snorkel instructions included some great hints like put the mask onto your face first, make sure it gets a good seal, and then pull the strap over the back of your head because if you put the strap on first and then pull the mask down it brings your hair with it which breaks the seal. Also it should be snug, but not too tight because if it is too tight the mask may become distorted and break the seal, which of course makes it leak. When you can pull it an inch or so away from your face it is just right.
They also suggested anyone who had not put sunscreen on prior to that point not put it under where the mask goes and anyone who had wipe it off that area because sunscreen can come off under the mask and get into your eyes leaving them with a painful burning feeling. Of course after getting out of the water that area would need sunscreen and it’s always recommended to re-apply for the rest of your body after swimming anyway. They brought the jar of reef-safe sunscreen ashore for people to use there.
Options for the island included spending the whole time at the beach, taking an island tour in the vans, or a short hike. We opted for the island tour. There wasn’t anything spectacular to see, but the tour guide/driver provided an interesting history of the island.
The current vegetation is non-native, the original having been eaten by cattle and goats that once roamed the island. Cattle ranches were replaced by pineapple plantations, which are all open land now. Current residents mainly make their living from tourism. Besides day trippers the island has several hotels. Other than people’s private homes the majority of the island is owned by Larry Ellison, billionaire founder of Oracle Corp.
Long ago the cowboys planted pine trees which attract water out of the atmosphere and drip it onto the ground where it soaks in to fill the aquifer. They are up on the ridges of hills as well as lining the roads and in a park in Lana’i City, the island’s only town.
Our driver said Trilogy is a great company to work for. Besides the catamarans and the building at the harbor where they serve lunch, Trilogy owns a store and gas station. Every year Trilogy provides free turkeys to all of the island’s residents at Thanksgiving. The island has wild turkeys roaming about and some little deer called axis deer that keep the white spots usually just found on fawns for their entire life. These deer are not native to the island, but are descendants of those brought there as gifts to King Kamehameha in the 1860’s.
Back at the beach we went in for some snorkeling. There was a pretty good surf that day, but once through the surf the water beyond it was fine for snorkeling. At first it was just sand, but once you get out a bit there are reefs and lots of fish. The beach is in a park with restricted access and was not very crowded on the day we were there. The Trilogy people are on shore where everyone leaves their things when they go into the water and nobody has ever had anything stolen there.
Drinks and potato chips sat on a picnic table, available for anyone on the tour who wanted them. When asked about their no-rinse snorkel mask defogger they said it was Dawn dish soap mixed with lots of water. It worked better than the commercial de-fogging products you spray in and rinse out. They said Johnson’s baby shampoo with a lot of water also works well.
When our beach time was up we went back to the boat dock area to their building full of tables and a barbecue area. They made a great meal which they called lunch even though it was served around 3pm. It included salad and rolls, chicken, corn on the cob, and yakisoba noodles with veggies.
There is a ferry from Maui to Lanai which lands at the same docks as the Trilogy catamarans at both ends. Due to the fact that last tender to our ship was just 15 minutes after the Trilogy’s scheduled return time we took the ferry back for an earlier arrival on the advice of the people at Trilogy who said though they would return on time they could not guarantee getting to the dock before the last tender if the harbor master held them back due to other boat traffic given priority to enter first – like the ship’s tenders for instance.
Though Trilogy’s departure was planned for 4pm and the ferry for 4:30, the ferry crosses in just 45 minutes while Trilogy sails around for a couple hours (with an open bar) as they work their way back. Due to the rough seas both left about 15 minutes late. The ferry got there late and it took awhile to unload because after all the people left they were still removing a bunch of trees and other landscape plants, presumably for someone on the island. The ferry arrived back in Maui about half an hour late while Trilogy arrived on time so we only got there 15 minutes earlier by taking the ferry.
As it turned out we made the second to last tender from the ferry, and would have made the last tender from Trilogy, but when your next port is 7 days and an ocean away you don’t take chances on missing the ship. For ships with an earlier departure there is also a 2:00 ferry. To insure a place on the ferry you can either buy the tickets in advance on the Maui side, or just put your name on the list for that sailing at the booth in Lahaina and buy the ticket in Lanai. The Lanai booth was only manned shortly before the ferry’s arrival.
The Trilogy tour is a fun adventure for anyone visiting Maui, whether vacationing there or visiting by cruise ship. Besides the trip to Lanai they also offer several other sail and snorkel tours, sunset sailing or sunset sailing with dinner, and when in season whale watching tours.