Before boarding your Hawaiian cruise at the port on Oahu, a pre-night night or two in Honolulu and a late flight home post cruise is a wonderful way to experience “Honolulu in a Nutshell” and see the natural and cultural treasures of this capital city of Hawaii. Honolulu includes a multicultural mix of people, a beautiful landscape of greenery and ocean, and a place where amazing events have unfolded—many of them recounted in the city's historic sites and museums. By picking a coastline hotel along Waikiki Beach, you can take a quick dip in the warm waves before heading out for sightseeing.
In the early 1800s, British sailors found calcite crystals in the rocks on the slopes of this extinct volcanic crater. Thinking the crystals were diamonds, the sailors named the crater Diamond Head. Today, the crater is a state monument where the summit offers a spectacular panorama of Oahu's south shore.
Iolani Royal Palace
Built by King David Kalakaua as a royal residence in 1882, the palace also served as the home of Hawaii's last queen, Liliuokalani and became the state's first Capitol in 1959. Now the restored palace and grounds are opened to the public as a museum. Visitors can take the grand tour, which includes a memorable 45-minute, docent-guided excursion of this elegant palace as well as seeing the Hawaiian crown jewels and regalia.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Hidden inside Punchbowl Crater in the heart of Honolulu, this memorial is the resting place of more than 50,000 U.S. war dead. The memorial also offers a panoramic view of Oahu's leeward coast.
USS Arizona Memorial
A visit to Honolulu would not be complete without paying homage to Pearl Harbor. NCL offers a visit to the memorial as an optional post cruise excursion and transfer to the airport for passengers with later afternoon or evening flights.
During the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, more than 1,000 men were entombed when the USS Arizona sank near Ford Island. Today, weather permitting; a Navy launch takes you to the brilliant white memorial that spans the still-visible sunken ship. A 20-minute documentary film re-creates the attack with other engaging displays. If traveling with your family, consider bringing a lei to place at the base of a memorial marble wall engraved tightly with the names of all the brave men who died there.
For those wishing more time to visit the information center, interact with veterans and docents, and combine with a tour of the USS Missouri, a full day should be planned.