Hawai’i Cruise: Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i
Wed., 8 Oct 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Tendered)

Let me tell you about “vog” – vog is volcanic fog. Noxious sulfur dioxide gas and other pollutants emitted from Kilauea Volcano on the Island of Hawai’i react with oxygen and atmospheric moisture to produce volcanic smog (vog) and acid rain. Vog poses a health hazard by aggravating preexisting respiratory ailments, and acid rain damages crops and can leach lead into household water supplies. (From a USGS fact sheet.)

When we arrived at Kailua-Kona, there wasn't much there, there!

Kona is a tender port – there is no dock large enough to handle the cruise ship,
so the ship’s launches are used to bring passengers to and from the shore.

Major disppointment on the cruise

We reserved the Big Island Expedition helicopter tour ($450 per person!) in May (for our October cruise) – you know, SIX FULL MONTHS before the cruise. We had our confirmation numbers, we had submitted our weights for the balancing of the helo. We bought a high-definition video camera and memory chips, and brought dark long-sleeved shirts to avoid reflection from the helo’s windows on the pictures and videos. This tour was going to be the highlight of our cruise!

Through research, we knew it was Blue Hawaiian Helicopters who offered this tour. We had scoped out the itinerary, read up on taking pix from the helo and what to look for on the tour. We were READY! Blue Hawaiian had warned the for people over a certain weight, that we might be required to buy another half seat; and we agreed that we were fine with that. They had SIX FULL MONTHS to let us know that we needed to take action.

Onboard, the day before the flight, we filled out the new weight form they provided to people who had *confirmed* seats on the helo tour. We actually went to the ship’s spa and weighed ourselves (I had lost nearly 20 pounds since the weight we’d submitted on the original reservation).

At 7 a.m., on the morning the Serenade sailed into Kailua-Kona, we got a voice mail message in our cabin: it was very polite and apologetic, but ‘they were sad to say that we would not be able to go on our heli tour; Blue Hawaiian had apparently overbooked. They hoped we would be able to find another excursion that wasn’t already booked up.’

Michael went down to the Purser’s Desk to ask what was going on. While there he met the two other (large) women who were distressed and upset that they, too, had been kicked off the helo tour, despite having been confirmed on it. (I was told several days later by the crew member who handles the excursions that “only four people were kicked off the helo tour” – she said it as if that should have made me feel better.)

Michael even offered to buy a second seat, and ‘they were sorry, but the helo was entirely full, so no.’ He tried to get us on the same company’s helo tour from Hilo, the next day of the cruise: ‘they were sorry, but the helo was entirely full, so no.’

The main, major excursion we were planning on (and were really excited to go on!) was just cancelled on us with no warning. WHY didn’t Blue Hawaiian, since they knew they were selling out, bother to contact people who had been reserved for SIX FULL MONTHS ahead of time to let them buy a second seat in order to be able to go on their confirmed and already paid for tour?!

I’m underwhelmed with the amazing lack of professionalism shown by this so-highly-recommended excursion provider. Yes, Royal Caribbean refunded our $900, but this should have been managed at any time during the SIX FULL MONTHS they had our reservations. Really unprofessional on all sides.