Our transpacific cruise on Royal Caribbean‘s Explorer of the Seas made its first port stop in Honolulu. The cruise ship docked near the Aloha Tower a couple miles from the tourist area of Waikiki. They did have shuttles to the touristy part of town available. There was somebody offering van tours of the island that would last 6 or 7 hours and cost $50. That and the shuttles was all that we saw right off the ship for anyone who had not set up something to do in advance either through the ship or on their own. We didn’t have any plans for this port, but didn’t want to go to town. If the island tour was 3 or 4 hours long we might have tried it, but neither of us wanted to sit in a van for most of 6-7 hours so we passed on that and figured we’d just walk around a bit and look for a good vantage point to take some photos of the ship.
When we reached the main road we had a choice of turning right towards Waikiki or left towards the Aloha Tower. Left looked more promising for ship views so that’s the way we went. About halfway to the Aloha Tower we found a small park with a great view of the ship.
We stopped there to take some photos and a tall sailing ship approached, sailing past our cruise ship. As it came closer we noticed the masts were full of people standing along the beams that hold the sails. The ship passed us and continued over to a waiting crowd on a nearby dock by the Aloha Tower, broadcasting music in Spanish as it went by.
The ship looked a lot like one I had seen previously in Seattle. If it was the same Mexican Navy ship I thought we might be able to tour it, as they had tours available when it was docked in Seattle. It was already there then so we had no way of knowing how long it would take before they would open it up for tours if indeed it was the same ship and they planned to do so in Honolulu. The Aloha Tower wasn’t far and we had nothing better to do so we headed on over there.
We passed a maritime museum on the way there. It looked like something that might have been interesting to see had it been open. It had derelict ships tied to docks on either side of it and a closed sign on the door. As in permanently closed rather than just not open at that particular time.
Info on the internet said the Aloha Tower was a major shopping mall, but it turned out that portions of it are part of the University of Hawaii and there’s not a lot of shops there. Maybe there used to be. Portions of the building were empty with for lease signs on them so it has the potential for more shops in the future. When we were there it just had a few bars and restaurants, a convenience store and a store for the school.
A small crowd of people greeted the arriving ship with song and dance. About half an hour or so after the sailing ship docked they had the gangway out to welcome visitors aboard. It was indeed the Cuauhtémoc, the very same ship I had seen once before in Seattle. Touring the ship is free if you happen to be somewhere where it docks. People are allowed to wander around some of the decks on their own. This time they offered to assign a guide to take people around who wish to see a bit more. Some of them speak English, but not all. In Seattle we had only been allowed to wander the top decks so it was nice to see a bit of the inside as well.
Our guide was a young girl who is a cadet in training for the Mexican navy. The ship is used for training. New sailors like her learn as they sail around the world, getting sailing experience as well as classroom learning. The ship has 2 classrooms off the cadets’ mess hall.
We also met someone from the US Navy onboard. Besides its Mexican crew and students he said the ship also had representatives from a number of other countries, mostly from north and south America. He was a fairly recent naval academy graduate from Texas on his first assignment. Before this stop the ship had been at sea 32 days sailing from Japan. Coming into port it was under engine power along with a tugboat, but out to sea they use the sails most of the time saving the engines for times when there is no wind or the need to escape from a hurricane (too much wind.)
It’s a beautiful ship and kept up so well it looks new. There’s a plaque where you first come on board that shows the god of wind blowing the ship from Spain where it was built to Mexico. The wind god is also on the ship’s masthead. This was its second to last stop for this particular journey, which lasted over 200 days and visited many countries.
Things to do in Honolulu
Besides taking the shuttle to town to go shopping or go to the beach, the ship did offer a number of excursions for people who booked them in advance. They had several island tours to choose from, a luau, hop on hop off bus, some cultural tours, and transportation to Pearl Harbor where people could go to the visitor’s center on their own, or for a higher price visit the USS Missouri as well. They also offered a helicopter tour and a hiking tour at Diamond Head Crater. Our ship did not have any snorkel excursions this port stop, but on a land stay in Waikiki once we went snorkeling at Diamond Head.
Copyright My Cruise Stories 2018