It's very easy to rent cars in all the ports. IMHO, this is the best way to see the islands. We used Alamo, they will shuttle you to and from their office. In Maui there was plenty of secure overnight parking.
We didnít rent a car in Kona the only tender port. Itís very easy to find transportation to a beach or you can walk around town.
I did the ziplining on Kauai. It was fabulous. Not for someone who does not want adventure. I did snorkeling and kayaking in Kona and the lava hike in Hilo, Hawaii. We actually saw lava right under our feet. It was amazing. Enjoy! Try to book as many on your own as possible to save $.
Tours that we went on: We loved each of the tours we went on.
KONA: valley waterfall hike. This was a 3 mile hike through the valley, ending up at a beautiful waterfall. Tour guide was great, nice drive through the Lava desert. All Flat, but not good if you have a fear of heights
HILO: Circle of Fire Helicopter...expensive but fantastic !
MAUI: We rented a car on Maui. Shutlle picked us up at the pier and returned us later that night. We drove to Haleakala, I'ao valley and Lahaina. Nice leisure time.
We Also did the Atlantis submarine...but if you snorkel it would be a much better experience
KUAI: Waimea Canyon and Fern Grotto ( we took two seperate tours) but doing the combined tour should be nice too.
You probably don't want to try the lava hike then with your knee and hip replacements. The surface is VERY uneven and it is very easy to fall and get hurt even with good hips and knees. Have a great time!
Even if you don't do the actual lava hike ( I agree it is uneven, a bit difficult to negotiate and very abrasive) you might find it worthwhile to drive down to the end of Chain of Craters road to see the lava fields. We found it impressive to see how the lava had swept over everything in its path. Not as exciting as red lava I guess but still awe inspiring!
I would like to recommend that you cancel your cruise aboard this ship OR book every excursion that you can afford to allow you to be away from the Shame of Aloha for as many hours as you can. Hopefully they have cleaned up their problems before you sail. Best of Luch to you.
Although it is cheaper to organize your own tours or rent a car, we decided to take NCL shore excursions every day - and we were very happy with them. It was great having tour guides tell us what we were seeing - something you wouldn't get with a rental car. Plus it was very easy and thus worth the extra charge for us (we were 4 people ranging in age from 40 to 83).
Kauai: "Journey to Waimea Canyon" - very nice scenic drive; plenty of stops at lookouts
Kauai (day 2): "Scenic Hanalei" - I though this one was a little bit boring, but some of my travel mates really like it. But I would still recommend it just to see the other side of the island and the spectacular Hanalei Valley lookout.
Hilo: "Volcanoes National Park & Rainbow Falls" - easy way to see the volcano. The Thurston Lava Tube was great, but you do have to go down a steep hill (and come back up!).
Kona: "An Eruption of Flavor - A Chocolate Lover's Dream" - that was pretty good, but the last stop at a strawberry farm was a waste of time (and the driver knew it and was embarrased). I would still recommend it as an overview of Kona.
Maui: "Maui Ocean Center & Iao Valley" - both these sights are great, but if I were doing it again, I would rent a car and drive to both, then have the car for the rest of the day to go to beaches or whatever. We tried to rent a car when we got back from this excursion (at about 1:30) and they were all sold out. If you do rent a car, make reservations ahead of time. They will pick you up at the dock.
Maui (day 2): "Road to Hana" - this was the highlight of our trip! But I wouldn't recommend driving it yourself because it is pretty scary and the driver would never be able to look away from the road to see anything! Plus the tour driver had lots of interesting information to share.
Oahu: "Grand Circle Island Tour" - this was surprisingly great! Nice scenic drive. They dropped us off at the airport at 6:00.