Events beyond our control

Events beyond our control

Those of us who travel know that things don’t always go according to plan. Flights are delayed, hotel rooms don’t live up to expectation, the weather isn’t perfect – the list goes on. Despite the best planning & organisation, events beyond our control even happen to me!

Just last week, I finally got onboard the Pride of America to cruise the Hawaiian Islands. I was so excited to sail on this ship that I’ve been selling for years, as I knew it would mean seeing the best of the Maui, Hawaii & Kauai – as it does every week! Knowing the itinerary very well, I had planned a couple of helicopter rides over Volcanoes National Park to see the fiery fury of Kilauea (Hawaii) and also the majesty of the Na’Pali Coast (Kauai). I’d also recently seen some amazing clips online of the Tubing Adventure down an old sugar plantation irrigation system built in the 1870s (Kauai), and was keen to zipline through the countryside & over waterfalls on the Big Island (Hawaii).

Pride of America in Maui

While in Honolulu before the cruise, we’d heard that there was a rare major hurricane headed for Hawaii. I wasn’t worried though & was sure that my legendary travel weather luck would hold out. In my mind, the hurricane would just fizzle out or divert away from the islands, but I had no such luck!

After a lovely day exploring the quirky town of Lahaina (Maui), we reboarded the ship to a serious sounding announcement from the Captain. Hurricane Lane was on course to hit Hawaii within the next few days, so our itinerary had to change. We’d be heading for north to Kauai next, with the Big Island moved to the end of the itinerary. After an initial panic, I realised that this would still be ok. All I would have to do is contact the tour companies that I had booked with to rearrange my adventures – easy!

Helicopters trips first – Blue Hawaiian was easily able to reschedule my flights in Hawaii & Kauai for the alternative dates – tick! Next to the zipline – KapohoKine Adventures had our adventure move to later in the week without any hassles – big tick!

Finally, just to rearrange our tubing. I had everything crossed, as this was the most unique adventure that we’d chosen to do. Unfortunately, Kauai Backcountry Adventures are just so popular at the moment, that they were unable to squeeze us in earlier in the week than planned. How disappointing!

Knowing that we were avoiding the rain & wind of a hurricane, I took a deep breath & decided that missing one out of our four adventures was ok. We sailed up to Kauai & marvelled at the spectacular Na’Pali Coast from the deck of the Pride of America a little earlier than expected, watching the helicopters hovering among the towering cliffs & knowing we’d be there the next day.

Early the next day saw us peeking out to check the weather. It looked fine, so we headed off to Lihue Airport, reassured in the knowledge that the hurricane hadn’t managed to ruin our holiday. Like an excited kid on Xmas morning, I climbed into the Blue Hawaiian “Eco-Star” & off we went.

Getting up close & personal with the ancient cliffs of Kauai was an absolute highlight for me. I’ve been telling clients for years that this is a must do, and was ecstatic to finally have done it for myself. What more could I ask from this little island?

My friend Shona & I unenthusiastically boarded the Hop-on Hop-off bus that ran from just near the port. After our initial disappointment of missing the Backcountry Adventures Tubing, I am happy to say that we had an amazing day!

We strolled along Lydgate Beach, taking photos of the “wild chickens” roaming everywhere & being amazed by the massive tree trunks of driftwood all along the beach. We decided not to follow the crowds to Fern Grotto or the Botanic Gardens, and also made the decision to skip the “shopping opportunities” along the way. Our next stop was the Kilohana Plantation.

We had fairly low expectations of this stop, but we determined to make the most of it. We enjoyed a free rum tasting at the Koloa Rum Company store, a tour of the plantation on their historic railway, and were not disappointed by the promise of the best Mai Tai ever! If we didn’t have to get back on the ship that afternoon, I think we’d still be working our way through the cocktail list at the Mahiko Lounge on the plantation right now, enjoying the fresh produce from the plantation incorporated into their delicious drinks.

We had to move on & make our way back to the ship, so we skipped the museum & decided on a quick stop at the Kauai Beer Company stop instead. We met some fascinating locals enjoying a pre-hurricane drink & even had a chat to the owner, who is about to head to Australia for the first time. What a great way to end our time in Kauai!

We headed back to the ship, quite a bit happier than we had been earlier in the day, just in time for our enforced departure that evening. The Coast Guard had closed all Hawaiian ports at 11am that morning & we had to head out to safe waters in the opposite direction to that being taken by Hurricane Lane. At the time, we expected to be out for a day or maybe two, with a day on the Big Island after the weather passed by.

Although we sailed by Hawaii (the Big Island) later in the week, the port of Hilo was still closed by the Coast Guard, and we had to gaze out at the coastline from afar. Three & a half days of open sea later, we finally saw dry land again – in Honolulu!

Listening to other passengers onboard during our days at sea, and also overhearing conversations on my flight home, I heard descriptions of the “cruise from hell”. It was anything but that! While things hadn’t gone to plan, and we still had a great time. By being flexible & resilient, we made the most of the experience – including being able to see the Na’Pali Coast from two angles, our surprisingly fun day on Kauai & some enforced relaxation time in the middle of the North Pacific somewhere.

This isn’t the first time that things have “gone wrong” while travelling, and it won’t be the last. As the old saying goes, No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell – and this is just my latest story! ? Christie


PS. In case you’re wondering, I would recommend Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America to anyone! Cruising during the northern hemisphere’s winter months would bring more stable weather & humpback whales galore!

Christie Gowan
Based in Paddington, QLD
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