Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 3 Mon Nov 8 MY BDAY in MAUI

Up at 7 and off the ship by 8 for our snorkeling trip to Molokini (NCL)

We skipped breakfast to get in line to disembark...knowing we would get a continental breakfast on the boat heading to our snorkeling adventure.
The shuttle picked us up around 8:20 and it was about a 30 minute drive across the island of Maui to get from the Kahului harbor where our ship was docked to the Maalaea harbor our boat would take us out to the crater to snorkel. 

We got to the harbor and boarded the boat called Ocean Spirit which is run by the Pacific Whale Foundation Eco Tours.

It was about a one hour boat ride from the harbor to the crater...during which time we were served breakfast of bagels, muffins, fruits and juice.
The crew were awesome...very informative and helpful.  Everyone got fitted with snorkel, mask and fins.  Those who wanted to could rent a wet suit top (long sleeved) for $10...they said the water might feel fine at first but usually after about 20 minutes the swimmers start to feel chilly.  So I opted for a wetsuit top because I wanted to be comfy to stay in the water as long as possible. 
In retrospect I wouldnt bother renting it next time...if you start to feel chilly...just swim around more to warm up.  If you are not a strong swimmer and you are just going to be floating there laying over a swim noodle...yes you will get chilly floating there and not moving or getting your blood circulating.
When we arrived in the crater there were a few other boats already there but it wasnt crowded by any means.  The boat stopped moving and one of the crew dove in and towed the line with a big latch on it to hook it to the cement block with ring on the bottom of the ocean floor near the edge of the crater almost directly in the center of the crescent shaped land mass.

amazing deep deep blue water...almost purple

almost at the reef...the water shallower and translucent

The water was sooooo clear and such a pretty color blue...the crew said our visibility today was extremely good...about 150 ft visibility. 
The water did feel chilly at first...but I think that was partly because I had that black long sleeved wetsuit top on for the past 20 minutes and I was sweating hot in it on the top deck in the direct sunlight!!
It took a few minutes in the water to get relaxed with the breathing but once I got my breathing even it was so relaxing and beautiful...very serene and peaceful.
In no time at all we had taken all 28 pics on the disposable underwater camera...hopefully a few turn out and I can scan and upload them to this blog soon!
We saw TONS of fish...all different shapes, sizes and colors. 
The water was calm and we had lots of room to spread out around the back of the boat where we docked.  They told us to stay behind the boat and off to each side to a 45 degree angle so the crew could keep an eye on all the swimmers the entire time. 
At first I was using a noodle to float on but ditched it back on the boat after a few minutes and realizing that the water was SO salty I was even more boyant than usual...super floaty salty water.  It even tasted saltier than the last time I tasted sea water!? My lips were cracked from the salty water....glad I brought my burts bees super strong chapstick along!
We spent one hour at the Molokini crater snorkel was just enough time to see everything in the reef in the area we were at.  I was ready to go back on the boat...was getting thirsty and could use a snack too!
Back on the boat we were served more yummy fruity juices, fresh fruit and pretzels.  There was also big platters of muffins and bagels left from breakfast time to eat up.

Next we drove east back towards Maui to the coast line to a spot called TURTLE ARCHES.  It looked like the homes along the coast there were pretty fancy and we could see several golf courses too.
When we got to Turtle Town and got back in the water it felt cold at first but warmed up quickly once we started moving around.  At first we followed one of the crew who was leading a tour of the reef below.  He pointed out several interesting items and explained things and told neat stories!  Saw more fish, eel, and amazing coral. 
Then Greg and I went off on our own away from the big group of swimmers...Greg was ahead of me about 25 ft and he spotted a TURTLE!!!  I stayed with the turtle while Greg went back to the group to tell them we found a turtle. I just followed the turtle....swimming above him about 10 ft along the surface while he slowly and peacefully floated his way along the bottom.  I could see he had barnacles on this shell and there was a medium sized pale blue silver fish swimming directly on top of his shell like a shadow. I saw above him for a good 10 - 15 minutes...pointed him out to 4 other snorkelers along the way too.  This was definitely a highlight of the day!

Soon it was time to get back on the boat again....the hour in the water went by much faster at this location! Time to turn in all the gear....and head back to the harbor where the bus was waiting to take us back to the cruise ship. During our 1 hour return boat ride they served lunch and had an open bar.  Sandwiches and pasta salad, chips and fruit...I tried a Mai Tai and didnt like it...just took a few sips and gave it to Greg and took his soda! The crew also did some educational talks on the way back about the fish we saw and their mission to preserve the ocean and all the marine life that live in it. 

They also announced my birthday on the ride back to the harbor...and another couple was also celebrating an anniversary!

more tour boats in the harbor upon our return

random wind farm on the hillside above the harbor

After docking and getting back on the bus we did make one quick 20 minute stop at a small shopping plaza with a handful of stores at it.  Greg did find a cool shirt from the Whale Foundation store with Turtles on it and I bought some chocolate covered macadamian nuts and chocolate covered coffee beans at the Whalers General Store.

We got back to the cruise ship at about 3pm...1.5 hours later than expected...but didnt matter...we had no plans until dinnertime.

We were exhausted from our early morning and all the swimming so we took a nice long 3 hours!
We didnt set an alarm...and I guess we were more tired than we realized!

Then we got showered and all dressed up for dinner...we decided to eat in the Liberty Dining Room tonight...the fancier one...since it is my birthday!

For dinner I had:
Appy: mixed fresh fruit with mascarpone cheese and passionfruit syrup
Entree: Chicken Picatta (a favorite of mine!)
Dessert: Chocolate Mousse

Greg had:
Appy: caesar salad AND shrimp coctail
Entree: Pork loin
Dessert: banana cheesecake

They also brought out a bread pudding to try eeehhh blech

THEN they brought out an entire 8 inch round birthday cake for me and SANG...a group of about 8 staff!!!!!  They said they had three versions of the birthday song they could sing and I chose "backwards" thinking they would sing all the words in backwards order...but instead they all turned on their heels and put their backs to me and faced out towards the entire restaurant and sang out loud to everyone!!

Then we went to the Hollywood Theater....tonights show "Aloha Dancers"
They danced through all the different islands and wore many different costumes...We were in the FRONT ROW again and the dancers and musicians were excellent!  We got some great much energy...a lot of hard work...especially the guys doing the slap dance from Tonga!  There was even a comedy bit with a guy in a funny'll see the picture!

THEN we went to the Mardis Gras lounge to see the Beattles tribute which was very enjoyable...FRONT ROW again...and it was interesting how they went through the years and talked about what was going on behind the scenes for the band and playing/singing their hits.  The couple next to us...the man was way into the show...singing all the words to every song...his wife kept smacking him to simmer down when he clapped too much or too was funny.  I had a strawberry daquari and Greg had a marguerita.  (my only drink the whole time on the ship actually)

When the show about 11pm we walked to the grand staircase in the atrium of the ship and took some photos of me all dressed up for my birthday. 

Then we walked outside to the top deck to see the lights of Maui and look at the was warm and slightly was around midnight and it seemed like we were the only passengers awake on the ship...we didnt see anyone else on our walk except crew who were busy cleaning up for another day tomorrow. 

Long day and a lot of fun...finally went to sleep around 1:30am...good thing we took a three hour nap!

Gregs thoughts on Maui Day 1
Molokini snorkeling was amazing
saw tons of fish
getting in water...was timid at first but got comfy very quickly
turtle town...spotted the first turtle!!
bday dinner...backwards bday song was funny
the liberty dining room was very relaxing atmosphere
liked all the large portraits of the presidents
no hustle/bustle...could actually hear the music playing
also...the dancers in the show were great
the tonga slap dance was a favorite
beattles tribute...dud

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