Cruise Line Adds Photography- And Biology-Themed Sailings

Photography And Biology

Travelers can know more about biology and photography by sourcing knowledge in a variety of ways. Online research leads to entire websites devoted to teaching us both. Locally, area colleges and universities will have lab-grade biology experiences as well as hands-on classes on photography for all ages and abilities.

Still, nothing quite beats the thrill of capturing an image of a bear in the wilderness.

This winter, adventure travelers into marine biology or photography can choose a themed cruise catering to their interests aboard 36-guest Safari Explorer or 86-guest Safari Endeavour. InnerSea Discoveries and sister-line American Safari Cruises has added themes to ten Un-Cruise sailings in the Hawaiian Islands and Mexico’s Sea of Cortés.

“Themes bring together people with common interests and adds one more benefit for booking these dates,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Themed cruises come in every shape and size, bringing together like-minded travelers to spend up-close and personal time with a star of their shared addiction.

The new Un-Cruise photography- and marine biology-themed cruises come with an expert guest host along for the ride. Special presentations will be held on the ship or ashore and passengers are free to interact with the host throughout the voyage.

Kids in Nature departures are for families traveling with kids 12 and younger. The expedition team gears the program to a variety of ages and activity levels with a focus on educating. Hiking excursions, kayaking trips, skiff explorations and snorkeling all provide hands-on learning in a fun environment. Active explorations in nature and wildlife sightings engage all ages.

2013 Theme Cruises in Hawaii
Jan 5 – Photography and Whales with Flip Nicklin, highly-regarded whale photographer.
March 9 and 30 – Kids in Nature, a focus on spring break departures for the whole family.
April 6 – Photography with professional photographer/world traveler Peter West Carey.

2013 Theme Cruises in the Sea of Cortés
Jan 12 – Marine Biology with La Paz resident Rodrigo Rocha Gosselin, a local with passion about conservation and nature.
Feb 16 – David Julian, a 30-year veteran professional photographer.
March 16 – Ellen Barone, traveler, freelance writer and photographer.
March 30 – Marine Biology with Giovanni Malagrino, an oceanologist and professor of marine biology.
March 9 and 23 – Kids in Nature, spring break departures for the whole family.

Safari Explorer sails seven-night cruises between Hawaii, the Big Island and Lana’i with two days of activities on Moloka’i. Flexible yacht itineraries focus on explorations of four islands: Lana’i, Moloka’i, Maui and Hawaii.

Safari Endeavour sails Luxury Adventures round trip to La Paz, Baja, Mexico. While the sailing may be themed, an unstructured itinerary explores hideaways such as Isla Espíritu Santo, Isla San Francisco, Bahia Agua Verde, Los Islotes and Loreto.

In the Hawaiian Islands and the Sea of Cortés, guests can be as active as they like and activities include trekking, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and skiff excursions. On-board naturalists provide interpretation on guided excursions ashore and at sea. The unstructured itinerary allows time for viewing wildlife such as whales and dolphins.

Sound like fun? Passengers aboard the Safari Explorer got the opportunity to jump in and swim with a whale shark last week as we see in this video:


[Photo Credit- Flickr user FelixR]

Photo Of The Day: Standing On The Cliffs

Look out! It’s a long way down in today’s photo, brought to us by Flickr user Buck Forester. Similar to the shot Alex selected this past Friday, today’s photo was also taken along the gorgeous beaches of Kauai in Hawaii, just from an entirely different perspective. Instead of walking along this rugged island’s eye-popping shoreline, Buck takes us to another view high above the waves below, providing this colorful, vertigo-inducing look at the view from the top.

Taken any great Hawaii photos of your own recently? Or perhaps at a beach near you? Add them to our Gadling group on Flickr. We might just pick one of your shots as our Photo of the Day.

An ode to the Hawaiian Plate Lunch

One of the finest meals I’ve ever eaten was on the island of Oahu at a fancy bistro called Chef Mavro. This place is expensive — It’s no problem to spend 100 dollars per person on dinner. But the beautifully sculpted little plates had melt in your mouth sashimi and delicately browned crab rolls in fine rice paper wrappers and, oh, truly, it was a memorable experience.

I can’t think of Chef Mavro’s pricey restaurant without, in the same moment, thinking of a meal I’d had not 24 hours earlier at a bright green diner in funky, hippie-crunchy Honoka’a on Hawaii’s Big Island. At CC Jon”s Snack and Shoppe I spent about 7 dollars on chicken katsu, rice, mac salad, and a huge Styrofoam cup of soda. And there, I fell in love with the plate lunch. For some reason, I mentioned this to our waiter at Chef Mavro. “You went to CCs!” exclaimed the self described Big Island boy. “I’m from Honoka’a, that place is da kine.”

Hawaii has remarkable food. Smack in the middle of the ocean, populated by Native Hawaiians, Europeans (predominantly Portuguese, at first), and people from around the Pacific Rim, it’s a melting pot of culinary cliches — fresh, fusion, Pacific Rim, organic, local…. There’s an abundance of tropical produce and the boats come in daily bearing fresh seafood. Hawaii Regional Cuisine — the combination of locally sourced ingredients combined with the chef’s own sensibilities — seems almost inevitable in a place where good ingredients are readily available.

But my heart and its hardened arteries belong to junkier offerings. Haupia malasadas: essentially, a donut filled with coconut pudding. Chicken long rice: Fried noodles with chicken and a passing acknowledgment to vegetables. Milkshakes from the Roselani counter in the International Marketplace, good lord, the butterfat. And all that takes back seat to the main course, the plate lunch.At its most basic, the plate lunch is two scoops of white rice, a scoop of macaroni salad, thick with mayonnaise, and a serving of meat. Fried, probably, though you can also get two grilled Portuguese sausage patties or a serving of garlic shrimp. Plate lunch typically comes on a flimsy paper or other throwaway plate, or in a Styrofoam container that you can carry across the street to that picnic bench that’s makai — ocean side — from the food truck. It generates a shocking amount of garbage, the containers, the napkins, the plastic forks and knives. The classic plate lunch is unhealthy, environmentally unfriendly, and awesome.

Historically, the plate lunch is attributed to plantation workers combining leftover rice with whatever meat or fish was available. It was the 1880s; sugar and pineapple magnates imported laborers from the Philippines, Portugal, Japan, China… they had to eat. The meal has evolved over time to include a green salad (probably with Thousand Island dressing) or brown rice in a nod towards taking the cholesterol count down a notch. On your plate lunch you can get fried chicken or teriyaki beef or kalua pork or any number of things. Can’t wait for lunch? There’s the breakfast plate lunch, loco moco. White rice, fried eggs, a burger patty, all smothered in gravy. I pass on that and go for either garlic shrimp or my favorite, poke — marinated raw tuna.

It’s easy to fall into metaphors that use the plate lunch as an analogy for life in Hawaii. A combination of cultures, all hanging out together and making something better for their merging. I don’t necessarily buy that happy idea. I think plate lunch is more of a delicious mess than a expression of cultural harmony. And wrapped up in that delicious mess is an experience that is quintessentially Hawaiian islands.

The wind picks up your napkins and hurls them down the beach, you have to run after them. Stuffed on rice, you bring your coffee milkshake the to car and leave it in the cup holder and then, in the mini-fridge in your room. Your fingers are sticky from peeling shrimp so you wash them in the surf and they are sticky from the ocean. You’re wracked with guilt over the staggering amount of mayo in the mac salad, and yet, you eat every last elbow shaped mayo coated piece of pasta. You swear that you will take a long walk to make up for the unbelievable amount of calories you consumed that afternoon, but when you get back to your rented condo or hotel, you are lulled into indolence by the evening light on the beautiful beach boys and girls. Somewhere, a kid who looks like a total bad-ass is playing the ukulele like an angel, the sweet sound of it floats on the breeze. Dinner time is coming and the L&L, Hawaii’s infamous takeout chain is right there.

“Plate lunch,” you think. “I could have that for dinner, right?”

Image: The Even More Legendary Giovanni’s #2 by Permanently Scattered via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Maui on a budget – tacos, trailers, and cheap cars


Staying in a trailer, driving a 2003 Nissan Sentra, and eating tacos from a roadside truck may not be the first visual that comes to mind when you think “Maui vacation,” but budget travel does exist on this expensive island. Most would-be visitors think the words “Maui” and “budget” are somewhat of an oxymoron, and for the most part, they’re right. But in this land of expensive lunches and overpriced trinkets there are buried bargains to be discovered. The island is a haven for rich retirees, and this culture drives the cost of just about everything with a price tag. If it’s expensive dining, golf, and shopping you want, Maui will surely please. But for those who can barely afford the plane ticket from the mainland, here are a few tips that might make your Maui dream vacation seem a little more like an affordable mainland getaway.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user adam*b)

Cheap eats

Each of the main towns has its own affordable eateries that can keep you on track with your food budget. Hawaiian tourists know that there is phenomenal cuisine to be had on the islands, but sometimes you just need a quick bite while on the go that won’t bite back at your wallet. Fast food staples like Taco Bell, Subway, and McDonald’s can be found in all the more populated areas. Prices are close to that of the mainland and these less-than-par culinary stops can save you, since a typical lunch at a local cafe could run you $15-$20 per person.

Jawz TacosIf fast food isn’t your style there are local joints that offer alternatives to cardboard burgers and mass-produced tacos. In south Maui, try Cinnamon Roll Fair in Kihei. A cup of joe and a gargantuan sticky cinnamon roll will only set you back a matter of dollars and start your day off right. For lunch, swing down to the Big Beach area and look for the food trucks. The Jawz Tacos van will satisfy your Mexican food fix, and they even serve alcohol if you’re in the mood for a mid-day cocktail. If you’re in west Maui head to Star Noodle in Lahaina. Grab a bowl of Udon for just seven bucks and get your belly filled for the entire afternoon.Dining in – Costco

As soon as you sit down to your first meal on Maui you realize that eating can be one of the most expensive things you do here. An age-old budget strategy is to load up on groceries and eat in the room when on vacation. While this is certainly the way to go for saving you some coin, groceries on the island will cost more than elsewhere in the U.S. The thing to remember is that most everything needs to be imported from the mainland, whether that be Asia or North America. A long ocean journey means that you pay a premium so things can be transported to the islands.

Costco saves the day when it comes to budget grub. The wholesale grocer somehow gets things to the island with minimal up-charge. They also buy local when possible so seafood is not only affordable but of amazing quality and taste. If stocking up for a two week stay, or a family to eat on, this warehouse of food can save a bundle. When leaving the airport in Kahului, Costco will be on your left as you exit.

Two-for-ones

Maui, and Hawaii in general, are expensive places to live. But not everyone who plants their flag on this remote island chain drives a Land Rover and eats lobster every night. Much of the population is made up of transplants from the mainland U.S. and other countries around the pacific rim. These people are the ones who make this island tick by working in the restaurants, guiding the tourists, and harvesting the sugar cane. Where do these people go out to dinner if they don’t have a platinum Diners Club card?

Many restaurants offer two-for-one deals that are quite popular. Some restaurants run these specials on certain nights of the week and pack the place with locals and tourists alike hunting for an affordable meal. Some hotels even pass out coupon booklets to guests that feature the local two-for-ones. There are also twofers that go unadvertised. Residents ask for them by name. If you find yourself in a restaurant, have already been seated, and are smacked with sticker shock when you open the menu, simply ask what their two-for-one special is. If they have one, you’ll be glad you inquired.

Economy car rentals

Put simply, taxis are not economical on Maui, and public transit buses offer little flexibility. When visiting the island for more than a day, just rent a car. Shopping around for online coupons is one way to cut your rental expense, but if you aren’t picky about what you drive there are other ways. Local renters like Kihei Rent A Car, for instance, will rent an older model car for less than $150 a week. If you don’t mind rolling in a 2003 Nissan Sentra, you can save some serious cash.

Choosing a rental car that gets good mpg will also help you stretch your island dollar even further. Gas on Maui is expensive and pump prices are often $1-$2 higher per gallon than they are on the mainland. Choosing an economy or compact car will keep you on track with your budget, not to mention give you an advantage with parking since the island is filled with compact spaces.

When renting a car on Maui, the rental agency will most likely try to scare the living crap out of you. We endured a five minute lecture on how our first-born child would be confiscated if we brought the car back with dings or scratches. Your best strategy here is to listen politely and then scan the car for all existing damage. Use the crude automobile sketch the company provides and make sure you find a scratch on all sides of the car. This will prove priceless when you bring the car back and the person who checks you in finds a gash in the fender that wasn’t recorded by previous attendants.

Lodging

Condos and resorts dominate the lodging landscape of Maui. But don’t reel too hard at the sticker shock you’ll experience at these high-end hotels. Consider mainland staples like the Days Inn. Directly on the beach in Kihei and convenient to shopping and eating, this clean hotel is a hidden gem. Catching a room for $100 a night is not unheard of here.

If you want to go even cheaper and create a unique experience for yourself, check out Maui Bamboo Beach Cabanas. It may be a mouthful but it will save you a pocketful. These trailer-like beach huts are tucked into a private setting near Makena Beach. You won’t be beach side or have an on site masseuse, but you will be looking at $65 per night, which is as cheap as it gets on Maui.



When planning your Maui vacation, budget travel is not impossible. Spending a few hours delving into the web for bargains and taking the time to research your local restaurant options could keep you from breaking the bank. Reading through travel guides like Maui Revealed and website like AndHawaii.com will help you prepare for your budget trip to Maui ahead of time and allow you to avoid some of the expensive spending pitfalls to be had on the island.

Hawaiian airlines offers free flights to the mainland

Hawaii seems like a beautiful place to live – great coffee, awesome surf conditions, nearly perfect weather at all times. But, hundreds of miles out in the Pacific, I imagine it starts to feel a bit isolated, especially with the high cost of flights from the islands back to the mainland US. But for those Hawaiian islanders looking to get away to the rest of the US for a while, Hawaiian airlines, has a pretty great deal.

For every inter-island round trip flight you book on Hawaiian Airlines, you’ll get a discount on your flight from Hawaii to other destinations in the US. The discount starts at 10% (for one round trip flight) and goes all the way up to 100% (yep, a free flight!) after you’ve taken 10 round trip flights around the islands.

Inter-island flights began racking up points towards the discounts on August 3 and will continue through December 31, 2009. The discount can be applied towards flights booked for now through June 15, 2010.

The discount applies to flights to select cities in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.