MY FAMILY OF FIVE (AGES 55, 49, 21, 21, 18) ARE SAILING TO HAWAII FOR A WEEK OVER CHRISTMAS. THE SHIP STOPS AT MAUI AND KAUAI FOR TWO NIGHTS AND FOR ONE NIGHT AT HILO AND KONA. THE SHIP OFFERS EXCURSIONS BUT IT MIGHT BE MORE ECONOMICAL TO HIRE A CAR AND DO SOME OF THE TRIPS OURSELVES, OR WITH A LOCAL OPERATOR. CAN YOU ALSO RECOMMEND SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR NEW YEAR'S EVE IN HONOLULU?
J. EYNAUD, TURRAMURRA
Hiring a car and driving yourselves around is a great idea. Car hire rates are modest throughout most of the Hawaiian islands, driving is easy and with that many people, you'll save heaps over a guided tour. You can also tailor your travels exactly to your own interests.
Since the ship is on the Big Island for two nights, in Hilo and Kona, you might be better off driving from one side of the island to the other rather than sailing.
Hawaii is a no-fault state, and you need collision-damage insurance or you will be required to pay for all damages before you leave the state in the event of an accident, whether or not you are at fault. This insurance will add $US12-20 to your daily hire cost.
On New Year's Eve, Waikiki is the place to be in Honolulu. Waikiki Beach hosts a midnight fireworks show from a barge. The show is free, but there are also plenty of pay-for events, such as the "Party of the Year" (nyehawaii.com) at Kaka'ako Waterfront Park, which offers live music and DJs, at a moderate price. Or you could go upmarket with the Pink Party at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel (royal-hawaiian.com). The legal age for drinking is 21.
I HAVE FRIENDS IN THEIR 60S, BOTH HARD WORKERS. SHE NEEDS A HOLIDAY, HE ISN'T INTERESTED. CAN YOU SUGGEST SOMETHING WHERE SHE CAN RELAX BUT THERE WILL BE THINGS TO DO TO KEEP HIM BUSY? TWO OR THREE WEEKS JUST TO PROVE THAT TAKING A BREAK ISN'T SUCH A BAD THING, WITH VALUE FOR MONEY AS A PRIORITY.
J. HUDSON, SYDNEY
A cruise would be perfect. Most cruise ships offer heaps of activities. You get to see some amazing places without having to unpack more than once, relaxation is easy since you don't have to make too many decisions and prices are low. Princess Cruises are offering 12-14 day New Zealand cruises at a starting price of $1499 a person. For that you get live shows, dancing, karaoke, bars, nightclubs, zumba classes, a casino, theme night parties, fitness centre, swimming pool, spa and a look at both the North and South islands. Or perhaps the 14-day round trip from Sydney to New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu aboard the Sun Princess, starting from $1599 a person. Pick up some cruise brochures from your nearest travel agent to get your friends interested.
After they have sampled life in cruise control, you can bet there'll be no stopping them.
I'VE PAID IN ADVANCE FOR A CRUISE FROM ST PETERSBURG TO MOSCOW. A CAR FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE PORT WILL COST $266 WITH DRIVER AND ENGLISH-SPEAKING GUIDE. A CAR WITHOUT THE GUIDE WOULD BE $120. WHAT ABOUT OBTAINING CURRENCY? WILL TRAVEL INSURANCE BE DIFFICULT?
K. WHITTLES, BROOKVALE
The car fee does seem expensive but according to Jayne Thomas of Sydney's Eastern Europe Travel (eetbtravel.com), the pricier option means you'll be met at the airport by an English-speaking guide, who will ensure the driver will take you directly to the vessel on which you are booked. The cheaper option means you will be dropped off at the port by your non-English-speaking driver, but not necessarily right at your vessel. You can also take a taxi for a much lower price but this is not something I'd recommend. You can safely use ATMs to access whatever cash you need. Most cards will charge a currency conversion fee, which is usually about 2-3 per cent. You would only find it difficult to obtain travel insurance if visiting Ukraine.
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