Don't bother booking ships tours. You spend way too much time waiting for other people, sitting on busses, etc. etc. For example, on our tour to Pearl Harbour, we got on the bus at 8:30. We didn't leave til close to 9:00 a.m. and got there close to 10:00 a.m. - had a two hour wait. When we were done, we were shuttled about 15 feet to another bus to take us to the Mighty Mo. Herding on and off takes about 20 minutes. We go to the Mighty Mo for 45 mins, we wait for another bus to herd us back to another bus (restricted busses) and back to the ship around 3:00.
If we had taken a cab at 7:30 a.m. on arrival to Pearl Harbour, we would have been done before noon and had time for Waikiki Beach.....
We had never been to Hawaii and werent' sure what to expect - save your time - take a cab and go yourselves. Way faster.
I would not agree that "foot passengers" are the last off the ship. That might happen sometimes if you have to tender - those with a tour are tendered first, but not if you are berthed.
Highly recommend the helicopter tour in Kauai - we did the ships tour, but its through Blue Hawaiian Helicopters which you can book yourself directly. The thing about booking some of these tours through the ship - if you have any kind of problem at the port, you are covered. But, on a tour that is simply on a bus (eg Pearl Harbour) its simply not worth it.
We also did the snorkel thing in Maui. That was nice - but again took too long. A one hour snorkel took about five hours - including transportation (bus and boat). Leaves little time to see anything else, or enjoy a beach.
Thanks Angelfish for the link. We decided to go with the ship's offerings and have booked with HAL, realizing we've paid more than doing things on our own. As I mentioned before I have a horrid fear of missing a sailing.
This is our first sailing with HAL but are hoping the tours are as good as those offered on our Celebrity cruise last winter.
Any such tour is a relatively sterilized way to visit a country, we realize, but we're willing to accept those limitations on this holiday.