Disney Cruise Line returning to West Coast in fall of 2015

In the fall of 2015, Disney Cruise Line is returning to popular destinations and home ports for limited-time engagements. Two Hawaii cruises, a return to the West Coast with departures from San Diego and a Galveston, Texas homecoming make up a season of special sailings.

Bookings open to the public on May 21, 2014. More details on 2015 itineraries can be found on the Itineraries and Ports for 2015 section of disneycruise.com.

Hawaii Sailings

Disney Cruise Line will explore the Hawaiian Islands with two special 10-night cruises in September. The Disney Wonder will sail through the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, where guests can experience the famous beaches of Waikiki on Oahu, see the views from high atop the summit of Haleakala Crater on Maui, take in the lush tropical gardens and waterfalls of Kauai and, on Hawaii Island — the Big Island, explore the natural wonders of the world’s most active volcano.

10-night Hawaii with two days in Honolulu – Vancouver to Honolulu

Ports: Vancouver; Hilo (Hawaii Island); Nawiliwili (Kauai); Kahului (Maui) and Honolulu (Oahu)

Departure date: Sept. 7

10-night Hawaii with two days in Kahului – Honolulu to Vancouver

Ports: Honolulu (Oahu); Kahului (Maui); Hilo (Hawaii Island); Nawiliwili (Kauai) and Vancouver

Departure date: Sept. 17

Rates start at $1,650 per person for 10-night Hawaii cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

San Diego to Baja

Disney Cruise Line will return to the West Coast for a limited time, offering six cruises from San Diego aboard the Disney Wonder. The five-night Baja sailings depart Oct. 4, 11 and 18, stopping at Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico. A three-night cruise on Oct. 1 stops at Ensenada. Two-night Weekend Getaway voyages depart Oct. 9 and 16, giving guests the perfect weekend retreat aboard their Disney ship.

Rates start at $404 per person for two-night cruises, $435 per person for three-night cruises and $625 per person for five-night cruises departing from San Diego for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

 

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Outrigger announces $100 million renovation of Waikiki hotel

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Outrigger Enterprises Group today announced a $100 million investment to revitalize the oceanfront Outrigger Reef on the Beach in Waikiki.

The planned renovation will open vistas to the ocean at Outrigger Reef on the Beach by razing an existing five-story structure located on the beach. It will be replaced with 34,000 square feet of open recreation space, inclusive of enhanced swimming pools, landscaped lounging areas and open-air dining facilities.

A new tower, set back from the shoreline along Kalia Road, will add more than 200 full-service hotel rooms to the property.

“Outrigger is committed to its Hawaii roots and recognizes the importance of creating more full-service hotel rooms in Waikiki to support our state’s number one industry – tourism,” said David Carey, president and CEO of Outrigger Enterprises Group.

“Our company’s expansion into Asia-Pacific and beyond has heightened our awareness of the steep competition that Hawaii faces from leisure destinations across the globe,” Carey said. “The quality of our hotel product, destination and service standards must continue to improve in order to keep pace with the evolving expectations of our guests. We’re now in the early planning stages of this much-needed revitalization and will be working closely with state and city officials for proper approvals.”

The revitalization is the capstone to the Outrigger-led transformation of Waikiki Beach Walk, stretching from Kalakaua Avenue to the sands of Waikiki Beach. Authentic incorporation of Hawaiian culture, music and history will remain prominent throughout the property and guest experience.

In addition, removal of the existing building along the shoreline will dramatically increase ocean vistas and open space. The new hotel structure will incorporate materials, features and technologies that increase efficiency and sustainability.

Outrigger Reef on the Beach will also add 15,000 square feet of new meeting facilities to accommodate the currently underserved small to mid-size meetings market.

The revitalization will provide much-needed, new hotel rooms in Waikiki at a time when hotel room reductions are regularly being announced and is estimated to result in 400 new construction-related jobs, 100 new hotel operations jobs, $235 million in new spending and $700,000 in additional real property taxes for the City and County of Honolulu.

Entitlements and permits are expected to be completed in approximately three years, with construction beginning in 2017 and slated for completion in 2019.

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Book It, Danno: Kualoa Ranch is a popular site for filming Five-0

Photo by Karen Weber The open spaces of Kualoa Ranch are popular sites for filming movies and TV shows.

Photo by Karen Weber
The open spaces of Kualoa Ranch are popular sites for filming movies and TV shows.

By Karen Weber

Finishing our Five-0 adventure, we visit the other side of the island.

One of my favorite Five-0 places is on the opposite side of Oahu from Waikiki. Kualoa Ranch on the windward side is a working cattle ranch, historic site and a popular movie and TV filming location. The very first scene in the Five-0 pilot is a flyover where you see a military convoy leaving a bunker.

Photo by Karen Weber The first scene in the Five-0 pilot episode shows a military convoy leaving this bunker.

Photo by Karen Weber
The first scene in the Five-0 pilot episode shows a military convoy leaving this bunker.

It’s supposed to be Korea, but is really Kualoa Ranch. Many of the jungle scenes in the series were filmed at Kualoa, along with episodes of “Lost” and scenes from movies such as “Jurassic Park,” “Godzilla” and “Windtalkers.”

The Movie Sites and Ranch Tour is my favorite of the activities at the Ranch. I’ve also been on the Jungle Expedition, which is a wild ride that charges up jungle trails in a six-wheel-drive vehicle, pauses briefly at the top of the mountains and then charges down again. Boy, does it bounce.

Other Kualoa adventures include a horseback tour, an ATV tour and a catamaran voyage. I’ve taken half-day trips out there, but it wouldn’t be hard to spend a full day and even then you probably still couldn’t see everything.

So, my advice is to pick something you love, do a little research and build a vacation around it. And it doesn’t hurt if what you love is based in beautiful Hawaii.

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Book It, Danno: Many places to visit on Oahu

By Karen Weber

Away from Waikiki, there are more Five-0-related places to visit.

In downtown Honolulu, you can visit the Ali’iolani Hale, which is the building that stands in for Five-0 headquarters on the show.

Photo by Karen Weber Statue of King Kamehameha in front of "Five-0 Headquarters."

Photo by Karen Weber
Statue of King Kamehameha in front of “Five-0 Headquarters.”

The famous statue of King Kamehameha stands in front of this court building at King and Punchbowl streets. You can go in the Ali’iolani Hale, but you’ll have to go through a metal detector because the building houses the Supreme Court of Hawaii, the court administration offices, a law library and the Judiciary History Center.

The Iolani Palace is across King Street, which was the headquarters in the original “Hawaii Five-0” series. It was a government building then. Now it’s a stunningly restored museum with the most gorgeous koa wood staircase, one of the first telephones on the islands and the quilt that Queen Liliuokalani embroidered while she was under house arrest by the people who overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy. Beautiful building, sad story.

And if you want to see the Hawaii State Capitol, that’s one more block over, behind the palace grounds, facing Beretania Street.

 

Aloha Tower in Honolulu

Aloha Tower in Honolulu

Make sure to visit the iconic Aloha Tower, a city landmark at the Honolulu waterfront, and the site of the International Market Place in Waikiki. Alas, Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) will no longer race between the banyan tree trunks, knocking over carts in pursuit of bad guys. The longtime tourist attraction closed for redevelopment on New Year’s Eve.

On a trip to Pearl Harbor, visit the USS Missouri, the battleship where the Japanese surrendered during World War II and where an entire Five-0 episode was set. The USS Arizona Memorial also was featured on an episode this season. I found it fascinating and moving to see representations of the start of World War II (for the U.S.) and the finish, virtually side by side in Pearl Harbor.

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Book It, Danno: Set sail from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

See Waikiki Beach during the boat ride out and tropical fish and sea turtles beneath the waves. Hope you don't find a body like they did in season 1 of Five-0.

See Waikiki Beach during the boat ride out and tropical fish and sea turtles beneath the waves. Hope you don’t find a body like they did in season 1 of Five-0.

Story and photos by Staff Writer Karen Weber 

On my vacation on Oahu, I tracked the footsteps of Hawaii Five-0, looking for locations where the show has been filmed. I didn’t have to go far from the Hilton Hawaiian Village to find them.

Out at the beach is a dock where you can catch a boat out to the Atlantis submarines (which appeared in a first-season episode of “Five-0”). The ride out is just as good as the sub ride, giving you a lovely view of Waikiki all the way to Diamond Head. Then you take a dive in a real submarine to see colorful fish and sea turtles gathered around a couple of artificial reefs.

The Spirit of Aloha catamaran also sails from the dock, offering snorkeling and scuba cruises as well as evening trips with a dinner buffet and a view of the Hilton’s Tuesday and Friday night fireworks.

Up on the roof of the Pacific Conference Center is the Waikiki Starlight Luau with a dinner buffet and terrific Polynesian music and dance.

That’s just the tip of the shaved ice at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. There’s so much to see and do there, you hardly need to go anywhere else. And yet, it was just the beginning of my Five-0 adventure.

View from the boat to the submarine shows a Five-0 set from season 2. Can you see Danny and Chin walking down to the beach at the far left?

View from the boat to the submarine shows a Five-0 set from season 2. Can you see Danny and Chin walking down to the beach at the far left?

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Book It, Danno: Hilton Hawaiian Village plays starring role in Hawaii Five-0

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStory and photo by Staff Writer Karen Weber

The Hilton Hawaiian Village was my hotel choice, because it is a production partner for the show. The cast and crew film there a lot. Sometimes it’s used as an anonymous beach, but the Five-0 team likes to celebrate at the Tropics Bar and Grill, and Danny and his daughter have gone swimming in the hotel’s Paradise Pool. I’ve done both of those.

The Paradise Pool is the most fun of the resort’s five pools. It has water slides and a tunnel under a bridge and a hot tub. In the morning it even has shade, thanks to the hotel’s celebrated Rainbow Tower.

The Tropics Bar is nice, with a patio right on the beach or inside seating if you’ve gotten overheated in the sun. The menu changes, but I’ve enjoyed the fish-and-chips and the lilikoi crepes there, and the Hawaiian staple, the loco moco — a hamburger served on rice covered with gravy and a fried egg on top. Don’t knock it till you try it. Oh, and I had to get a Hawaii Five-0 cocktail (a blue Hawaii with a swirl of strawberry puree).

I like the Hilton. The people are nice, the rooms are clean and it’s so big. (This was very handy on the trip where bad weather made it hard to go anywhere else.) Other restaurants I liked were CJ’s Deli with New York-deli sandwiches and several kinds of eggs Benedict all day. The Rainbow Lanai has an enormous breakfast buffet and Lappert’s offers delicious ice cream and baked goods. The resort is aptly called a “Village” with six towers of guest rooms, a whole raft of stores in multiple shopping areas, two ABC stores for all the little things you forgot to pack.

There’s also a store where you can buy “Hawaii Five-0” T-shirts and “Book ’Em, Danno” key rings.

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Book it, Danno: Following in the footsteps of Hawaii Five-0

The Ali'iolani Hale is the building that stands in for Five-0 headquarters on the TV series. Photo by Karen Weber

The Ali’iolani Hale is the building that stands in for Five-0 headquarters on the TV series. Photo by Karen Weber

By Staff Writer Karen Weber

I’m not a stalker, really I’m not, but when I went to Oahu I had every hope of seeing some filming of “Hawaii Five-0,” one of my favorite TV shows. And I did.

I also made a point of visiting many of the tourist sites that also have been on the show. It’s like two-for-one touristing. Here’s the famous statue of King Kamehameha and, look, Danny Williams (Scott Caan) was kidnapped out of that parking lot right there (season 2, episode 22).

It’s easier to build a trip around “Hawaii Five-0” than many other shows, because it is filmed in Hawaii and set there too, unlike “Lost,” which was filmed in Hawaii but set on a mysterious island, or “CSI: NY,” which was filmed mostly in Los Angeles.

I started my plot by choosing dates during filming — production goes on hiatus around April and starts again in late summer. I picked March 2012 the first time and wound up in a front-page-news storm with flooding on most of the islands. But I saw Caan and Daniel Dae Kim filming a scene on the beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village (season 2, episode 20). The crew was very nice, allowing spectators to take photos, as long as they stayed outside the coned-off area.

For my “do-over” trip in 2013, I picked the end of September, much better weather for touring, but, alas, no sign of filming.

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