The morning the MV Explorer arrived in Hawaii, my roommate and I were up and out on the 7th deck eagerly waiting to see land. As we got out on the deck I remember seeing the outside areas filled with students, faculty, staff and children excitedly waiting to get off the ship in Hilo. I was happy to see so many voyagers enthusiastic about Hawaii, as famous and recognizable Hawaiian music rang over the ships speakers. As I looked over Hilo and saw the familiar sun rise, I was overjoyed to be home and to be approaching Hawaii on a ship. As the sun rose slowly over Hilo Bay, the reflection on the water was breathtaking. Pulling into the harbor, I was not able to eat any of my breakfast because I was too excited to get off and see family and friends.
When I walked off of the ship I was greeted with big smiles and hugs, as if I was coming back after a yearlong voyage. My family also expressed the same enthusiasm towards my new friends when I introduced them. As I introduced each of my SAS friends to my family members, all went around and gave each other bear hugs, just like they would a family member. It was great to see so much aloha in one place. One of my on ship “extended family” sisters also met my family and really enjoyed all the hugs, reminding her of her family back home. After meeting a few people, my family was more than ready for their personal tour of the MV Explorer, my new home for the semester.
As we walked closer to the ship, my sisters were in awe of how big the Explorer actually was. I loved the look on their faces as the entrance security called their names to get their visitor‚Äôs pass. Their smiles were from ear to ear. After getting through security, I immediately took them to my cabin on deck 2. Right when my family walked in, they went straight to the already made twin bed‚Äôs and lounged around in the cool air conditioning. Thanks to Rommel (my cabin steward) my room looked as presentable as it should for a family visit, I am very thankful for Rommel! Living in Hawaii there is no need for air conditioning, so living with AC is nice. I could tell my family really loved my cabin, as they all gathered around my tiny porthole looking out at the water. After lounging in my room for a while, I took my family to the 5th deck and introduced them to Academic Dean Mark Thomas and he was greeted with big hugs as well. As we made our way throughout the ship, my family took many pictures, which I will probably see on Facebook once I get Wi-Fi. I loved sharing my new experiences at sea with all of the family and friends that have supported me throughout my life and¬† I’m glad they all had the opportunity to tour the MV Explorer.
After the ship tour, we met up with friends from the Spring 2015 voyage and friends from back home in Hilo. It was good to see my best friend and have her along while I show my ship friends around the island. It was nice to be back home. I took my friends to the Farmers Market, Rainbow Falls, and the volcano. While I was making my way through Hilo at the farmers market it felt like it usually does, except I was showing and explaining to my friends what things they should try or see. Returning home to Hawaii with new friends made me feel like a family tour guide, which I actually enjoyed. I love sharing my hometown and culture with new people. One of the best experiences I had was introducing poke (raw fish) to my friends. As she took a small bite I noticed her reaction was not how I intended. Almost everyone I know loves poke but it was interesting to see others try new things for the first time. Being back in Hilo, I was also happy to have all my favorite foods nearby. Throughout the day I was eating all my favorites, Two Ladies Kitchen mochi, poke, an acai bowl, spam musubi, and the loco moco.
When I got back to the ship I enjoyed hearing the stories of other voyagers and how they spent their day in Hilo. It was a great day and I was glad Semester at Sea Spring 2015 voyagers were able to spend the day in the town I grew up in.