We have arrived in Honolulu, our final port. Since we'll be staying here for almost two weeks, we did not feel pressed to see all we could today. Rather we moseyed around, found our hotel next to Mike & Sara's, and checked out a few stores. I especially liked the T-shirts featuring the state fish named Humuhumunukunuuapua'a. The bike with a surf board carrier also tickled my fancy. Our time on the ship passed much too quickly and we want to savor our last few moments aboard before some other stranger is sleeping in our bed tomorrow night.
One thing we will not miss is the security checks we have endured these last two weeks. President Bush may have instructed us to live our lives as we always had post 9/11, but when you go through three security checks every time you get on board, tempers can get a bit short and you sometimes wonder if it is worth getting off at all. I was psyched for lots of checking at the airport, but that was mild compared to the gauntlet we run here. When we first started cruising, you could walk on to any other cruise ship in port. It was fun to see what other ships were like. You could even stop by and sample their buffet lunch. No one cared. It would have been easy to stow away with such a lax system, so I understood when you had to have a ship card before they would let you on. The card is matched up to a digital photograph taken the first time you board and that should suffice.
Now you cannot enter the harbor area without showing a ship card and another photo ID. If you are meeting a tour guide, they cannot come near and must wait for you to find your way to them. Once inside the harbor area we show our ship card and photo ID again to local Hawaiian security personnel who also had search our bags and wave wands over our bodies. Then we board the ship where we show our ship's card again and run our bags through an x-ray machine. As you might imagine when you are moving 2,300 people this takes a mighty long time. Does it make me feel safer? No, it makes me feel annoyed and I struggle to hang on to that Aloha feeling.