May 1 - Oahu
The very best thing about today was this afternoon, after returning to the ship, when I turned on the TV in my suite, and found out the U.S. had succeeded in killing Osama Bin Laden. I celebrate that with all my American friends, and hopefully all the people in the world who want to see hatred for hatredís sake end.
The events of today had an early affect on the passengers from the Symphony in port today. In Honolulu the most popular tour, of course, is a visit to the Arizona Memorial, as well as to the military bases located on the island of Oahu.
Apparently the first tour of the day made it to itís destination, before things changed drastically. The Arizona Memorial and the military bases were abruptly closed to visitors. Iím told that guests booked on those tours, only to arrive and be told there would be no admittance were very upset, and getting quite irate.
Later, when the news broke about the attack and ultimate death of Bin Laden, Iím sure the vast majority of those people who had been upset appreciated the circumstances for the sudden change, and the loss of their tours.
Many were no doubt still disappointed, but itís interesting to know the government took the steps to close The Memorial and military bases to visitors prior to the news of the events being made public.
Thatís also a good thing on the Symphony; television service includes CNN (US), Fox News, MSNBC, Sky News, BBC World, CNN Headline News, ESPN, ESPN2, Sky Sports, as well as two movie channels. It is so much better than the ships who choose to only carry CNN International.
Now to get back to the more mundane cruise events, rather than the more important world events.
At 7 A.M. this morning I woke up as we sailed into Honolulu Harbor, and pulled up to Pier 2, which is the shipyard pier, not Aloha Tower.
With an early golf game scheduled I had pre-ordered a continental breakfast, with a bucket of coffee, then headed down at 8 A.M. to the Crystal Cove once again to meet the golf group. Today there were only a dozen golfers heading to the links.
We were playing KOíOLAU Golf Club today, which is on the north side of the island; about 40 minutes away, and located in the rain forest, with gorgeous lush mountains for a background on most holes. It is rated one of the toughest golf courses in the world because of many forced carries and some fairly narrow fairways in places. They say players should bring at one ball for every stroke of their handicap.
Iíve played this course before, and really you go for the scenery.
As well organized and operated as yesterdayís golf day was, I was disappointed with todayís. Even when I first heard Crystal had chosen this course for itís outlining in Oahu, having played it before I was surprised. There are several first class golf courses on the island I would have selected other than this one.
For the rather steep price Crystal charges for their golf excursions, they should have chosen one with much better amenities.
To begin with there is no beverage cart on the course. In the heat, and with high humidity, itís important to keep hydrated, and important to enjoy a golf outing with beverages.
About half way through the round they did deliver a box lunch, and a cold drink to the cart.
As difficult as this course plays, and with some steep terrain, I was very surprised that the rule for the golf carts on the course is they must stay on the cart paths. After a few holes on the front nine, they did change and allow carts on the fairways. On the back nine, they informed the players it was back to cart path only.
The golfers from the ship, myself included, are not ďspring chickensĒ, and many found the cart path only rule to be very difficult and restricting. Cart path only golf in these conditions also slows the pace of play tremendously, and made for a very long day. We left the ship at 8:15 A.M., and returned at 4:30 P.M.
While we played the last 3 holes it was raining quite heavily. You certainly canít blame anyone for rain in a rain forest of course. I had a rain suit in my golf bag. Many others did not. However, as we finished our game, and returned to the clubhouse, with everyone pretty much soaked, there were no attendants present to take the golf clubs off the cart, clean them, and store them until all the groups finished, and we were leaving.
There were also no attendants to carry peopleís bags and load them into taxis for the return trip. Even returning to the ship I had to hunt down someone to collect everyoneís golf bags to return them to their storage area on the ship.
To summarize, the problems as I saw them..
-Unlike yesterday, there was no bus, or even mini-bus, to transport the entire group to the golf course. We were loaded into several taxi vans, with folks having to climb over seats to get in the back to fit everyone.
-the golf course lacked the services and amenities that are provided at just about any golf & country club.
- passengers paying a significant premium to Crystal, shouldnít be required to carry and clean their own golf bags (particularly in the rain).
- if I were to book golf games on my own (which I have done in Hawaii on previous cruises) I would expect to have to deal with these sorts of things on my own. Booking as part of a golf package I expect more.
I believe Crystal passengers expect their shore excursions, whether it be golf, or any other tour, to be equal in quality to the Crystal experience onboard. This one fell well short of that mark!
The best thing about the golf today was Ken Venturi showed me how he grips a club, using my driver.
I am suddenly having trouble uploading pictures that were taken with my I-Phone, so it appears the pictures from todayís golf outing will have to wait to be uploaded until I am back on land, with high speed internet. Iíve now switched back to using my digital camera.
This evening it was back to the dining room for dinner. It was a special night for 2 of my tablemates, Glenn and Debra, who were celebrating their 29th anniversary. It seemed the entire dining room staff showed up at our table to sing for them for their anniversary. The first picture is taken from behind them, and there were so many singers participating I couldnít fit them in the frame. The second picture shows the happy couple.
Tomorrow we arrive in Maui, and the last of the scheduled golf games. Hopefully the excursion tomorrow will match that of the day in Kauai, as opposed to todayís. We tender into Lahaina tomorrow, and the "golf gang" has to be up early as we are scheduled for the first tender to shore.