Woke up around 6.30am to see “land ahoy” as the Eclipse slowly made her way into port in Hilo. We went back to bed for an hour then got up and went out onto the balcony, to take in our immediate surroundings. As the Eclipse is such a large ship (over 122,000 tons) we found ourselves in quite an industrial port full of containers, with a large warehouse-like building serving as the passenger terminal.
We didn’t have any excursions booked today, preferring to do our own thing and get our first impressions of Hawai’i.
After breakfast we returned to 8166 to collect our shipboard passes, passports, money, credit cards etc. and go ashore. We were each attired in our touristy “Hawai’I” t-shirts and I wore my “Celebrity X Cruises” sunhat. We then made our way to Deck 2 and down the gangplank for the short walk to the cruise terminal and the shuttle bus into town.
Inside the terminal we were greeted with the somewhat-contrived girls-in-grass-skirts-and-leis singing and dancing to ukulele music. There was a number of stalls selling souvenirs and holiday tat, and one stall with tourist information, which we headed for. As a result, we obtained the last two seats on the 9.30am shuttle bus, and we sat down to await its arrival. 😊
While we waited, we looked around with interest. There was one queue waiting for the “Walmart” bus (why would you go all the way to Hawai’i just to go to Walmart?!) and another queue waiting for the “Hoppa-On-Hoppa-Off” [sic] bus.
Soon our bus arrived and we set off through the town. We didn’t quite know what to expect regarding Hawai’i; somehow we’d imagined it to be like the Caribbean islands with palm trees, gorgeous beaches, turquoise water and little ramshackle buildings here and there. However, while the beaches and palm trees bit was correct, it was really quite commercialised, and this shouldn’t really have come as much of a surprise when you stopped to think that, after all, this is America.
The bus dropped us off at the main stop in town, with a police station next door and some shops across the road. The sun was already very hot and I realised we should have brought a bottle of water with us, so we went over the road to get one. While we were there, was walked along and browsed the shops, many of which were selling brightly-coloured dresses and shirts, wooden carved “Tiki” figures, t-shirts, holiday souvenirs and the ubiquitous leis and hair flowers.
We strolled along, taking frequent sips of water, and looking around us. Across the road we could see the sea, with the Celebrity Eclipse in the distance (about two miles away, we guessed), but a large sea-wall prevented us from going near the sea or the beach.
As we walked along we came across a park, named Kalakaua Park, which contained a huge banyan tree, its trunk writhing and twisting tortuously while many creepers hung down from its branches. We saw lots of chickens wandering about, pecking at the ground, along with a huge, magnificent cockerel with his green tail feathers and proud, red coxcomb.
In front of the banyan tree was a statue of the former King of Hawaii, King David Kalākaua (after whom the park is named) and Trevor posed next to him for a photo. In front of the statue was a plaque depicting a buried time capsule; the plaque declared:
Total Solar Eclipse – Island of Hawaii
July 11, 1991 7:28AM
Time Capsule Memento from 1991
To be opened at the next total solar eclipse
May 3, 2106
Lorraine R. Inouye, Mayor, County of Hawaii
After we’d seen enough in the park, we continued along the main street. Browsing in the shops, I spotted a colourful pink cotton dress in a floral pattern with blue and yellow flowers. The bodice of the dress was shirred and could be worn on or off the shoulder. It was only $24 so I decided to try it on; it was full length on me and looked very nice, so I bought it, along with a couple of postcards. The guy at the checkout told us where we could find the post-office.
In the large, pillared United States Post Office (which also served as a court room) we bought the stamps and sat on some steps in the shade to write them out, then posted them. We then set off in search of a bar for a cold beer. 😊
We found a lively pub/eaterie called “Pineapples” in which all of the stools at the bar were occupied by people from the ship! We sat at a nearby table and each ordered a pint of the locally-brewed beer; Trevor had a dark beer while I had a lager which had quite a cloudy look about it. The beer was good and cold and we enjoyed it a lot, while listening to the background music and people-watching.
After we’d spent some more time browsing around and checking out our surroundings, we decided to go back to the bus station and await the shuttle. Several “hoppa-on-hoppa-off” buses pulled up as well as service buses, but there was no sign of ours and we didn’t know how long we’d have to wait. I didn’t feel like walking a couple of miles in the 31 degree heat, so we contemplated getting a taxi. One of the hop-on-hop-off bus drivers agreed to take us, plus another couple, back to the ship for five bucks each; he was probably making a little cash on the side. 😊
We arrived back at the Eclipse in time for lunch. The ship was fairly quiet as a lot of people were still ashore or on excursions, so there were no queues in the Ocean View café. The shops and casino were also closed as we were in port.
After lunch we returned to 8166 for a power nap, then went up by the pool deck where we sat in the shade out of the hot tropical sunshine. I enjoyed a cold Aperol Spritz followed by a prosecco, while Trevor had a couple of bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale.
At 3.30pm we went up to the Sky Lounge for the General Knowledge Trivia (the progressive trivia only happened on sea days) and we didn’t expect to see any of our team members, but Kendal joined us on his own and, while we did quite well, we lost out by one point. So no rubber bracelets for us this time! 😊
After pottering around the ship and spending the rest of the afternoon in the usual pleasant, leisurely way, we got showered and shampooed and ready for dinner. At around five o’clock the Celebrity Eclipse gave a blast of her foghorn as we put to sea once more, next stop Kailua Kona, approximately 119 nautical miles away.
Down in the Moonlight Sonata restaurant we found several people missing from table #350; there was only Dick and Barb and Randy and Donna there, apart from Trevor and me. Maybe the others were tired or were eating elsewhere, but nevertheless we all swapped stories about what we’d been up to today, discussed various topical news items (including the non-event that was Brexit, which should have happened yesterday, the 31st October) and enjoyed the lively conversation as well as the usual delicious meal, washed down with chilled rosé wine.
Afterwards we went into the Quasar Lounge and took part in the trivia pub quiz which was actually quite hard. We only scored 9/15 but the winners got 13. Ah well, you can’t win ‘em all. 😊
The main show tonight featured the orchestra and the Celebrity Eclipse vocalists. It was called “An Intimate Broadway Cabaret” and I thought it was going to be a bit boring, but it was actually very good indeed. So far in this cruise the entertainment has been excellent. 😊
I was quite tired afterwards; probably a combination of hot sun, cold booze and a lot of activity. At 10 o’clock Trevor went along to the Celebrity Central room to watch the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final, featuring England v South Africa, but I just decided to go back to 8166, sit out on the balcony for a while, and read.
I was fast asleep and didn’t hear Trevor return to the cabin at 1.00am, after England’s defeat of 32-12. ☹