A Travellerspoint blog

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Random thoughts and notes about our Sea Days

An 18 day cruise with about 12 sea days was lots of fun.

sunny 27 °C

We have our last hot tub and pack up. The drive in from our sunny north shore leads into darker skies. We arrive at the car rental place just after 11. The shuttle to the cruise ship runs on the hour however as we stand out front a bus arrives, we board and are whisked away. I am always amazed by the amount of luggage people have. Our bags are small in comparison and I always feel I over packed. Boarding isn't until 12, but we just move through the process and are on the ship by just minutes after 12. Well done!

The ship is mostly Aussies and the level of noise and parties is bumped up a notch. (The last cruise we were on was really quiet!) The karaoke is loud and mostly off key, but enthusiastic. There are only four at dinner at our table for 10. June from L. and her friend Ann from a town between Manchester and Liverpool. They are quite the pair and we have a good time at dinner. Our waiter is Sunny from the Philippines and Co from Indonesia.

We take in the Polynesian show and walking out there is a dance class in the atrium. Of all people our friend Tanika is the leader. We don't say a thing but quietly join the class. She spies us and in mid instruction, breaks off and runs over to give me a hug. We talk for a while after the class before joining the band for some dance. We are now in our room waiting to cast off.

The ship has about 1200 Aussies, 700 Americans, under 200 Canadians, we have met about 10 of them, Canadians that is including one who lives down the block from us.

My new walkers I bought at MEC broke! That sucks totally!

Entertainment:

Michelle Merlin, a Broadway singer performed one night. The first show she ever did was Cat. She does a mean Bette Midler and a sexy Marilyn Monroe. Following this was the Newlywed not so Newlywed game. Funny!! Best laugh was a lady in the first row left to go to the washroom. The MC, Paul, had the three people who were seated next to her switch seats with another group then added a random man in her seat. When she came in we gave her a standing ovation, then she went to sit down only to find she was on her own. Lol

Chad Cheswick a comedian magician was very entertaining. We sat up close to watch....we really don't know how he does it! He swallowed a balloon sword and when he coughed it up it was tied into a poodle.

The band is awesome! Their voices are great and they have as much fun as all the cruisers. The dance floor is filled until they quit playing, and still want more.

A 70s party followed. So many people and all up dancing, actually too many people, but fun anyway. We ended the evening with Tanika for a nightcap.
The show last night was the Circ de Sole type. Different than the one on the Equinox, but so so good.

Musician for another evening show was excellent, he played the Xylosynth. David Meyer.

Last nights show was excellent again a comedian, Steve Caouette, who worked with the audience and just went wherever he was lead. Pretty funny.

Next night was a concert pianist, Simon, wonderful. Next night we got all three great entertainers, Steve, Simon, and Mario. We chatted with Steve and the pianist the other day. Steve has a son in Abbotsford so comes around Vancouver as often as he can.

The ship dancers have a new show, Pulse. It has great music, aerials and high high energy. There is a mime who interacts with the dancers through the whole show and did a segment in the middle. Tanika set Roger up to be chosen to go on stage with the mime and it was funny. The mime likes to chose his own guest, but Tanika assure him that Roger would be an excellent choice. After the show the mime told Tanika we would love Roger to join the next show as well.

It is such a busy night. After dinner is a very entertaining show by Mario D'Andrea with vocals, humour and fantastic guitar skills.

Tonight's entertainer was Sean O'Shay from Vancouver. He was a lot of fun with some good and some just ok impersonations, but his energy and humour had us entertained. He came out as Elvis near the end and was kissing women in the audience. One of the stage hands came out dressed in goggles, mask and coveralls with a hand sanitizer. From Sean and the band's reaction, this was a surprise! At one point he leapt off the stage in front of a lady sleeping in the audience and she stayed awake for the rest of the show. He also climb on the seats to the four row where a man was not swaying his hands when Sean was doing Neil Diamond and made him join in. Too funny.

This time we get a pianist and the Celebrity orchestra. He is very clever and mashes up all styles of music.

Activities

Shellback ceremony was on Tuesday as we cross the Equator. King Neptune is paraded in with staff dressed in off the wall costumes. The flags from the northern hemisphere are raised and lowered then the Australia flag is raised. As we cross some guests got in the hot tubs and walked counter clock wise to signify how water goes down the drain in that direction in the Southern Hemisphere. Then it is our turn to become turtle backs, we had a glass of ice poured over our heads and then had to kiss a fish. Done! Several people got quite heated as most of the ship population crowded around the pool deck to watch the ceremonies and people got in other peoples site lines. We just stood on our chairs and we were fine.

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The stars are all different now, Dad is really excited. No Polaris, but we get the Southern Star.

We met up with the group from cruise critic and have there is a games corner every sea day for those who want to play. And the first game we played was the game Nana brought back from the cruise called Five Crowns. Taught some people Settlers of Catan. Two got it, one hated it and one did well with Roger's help.

New games Dominoes: Chickenfoot. Nine Card Golf, Five Card Golf, Five Crowns.

Having a veranda is great. We spend a lot of time just enjoying the quiet and watching the blue blue water rush by.

Tanika got us invited, or rather just slipped us into the elite members sail away party with the officers. Free drinks and a chance to chat and watch the sail away from the heli pad.

We rocked trivia today. First with 14 points, second had ten and third had 8. What animal's baby is sometimes called a puggle. A platypus. We are only doing one trivia a day. Third place the first day and four way tie for first the second. We got 100%. We are remaining in the top three so we are happy. Okay we didn't rock them all.. be we did okay.

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Tanika convinced us to join the flash mob for thriller. We got it down quickly and we did it today. People who missed it were sad, but you can't actually advertise a flash mob. I came up through some guys and got some great reactions when they turned to see who was pushing through.

We skip Tuesday the 15 and go right to the 16th.

We sat in the molecular bar where they make some pretty unusual and amazing drinks with Tanika and her fiancé Dwight. Tanika got called away to work and Jo and Lou joined us until the bar shut down. I had a Black Mamba and a brown Russian. Roger had a drink made with liquid nitrogen on the top.

Tanika is Jamaican of Irish, Indian and Jamaican descent. Dwight is from St.. Vincent. Tanika's sister is Lisa Marie and her brother is Elvis, her kids are Samantha and Dominica and her and Dwight's son is Savant.

Family Feud in which I got chosen to be in the second game and we made a clean sweep, a sixties dance party with the ship,dancers and then Liars Club at 11:30. Good thing the time changes and we get an extra hours sleep, I can use it.

Still lots to do. Dance, play games, visit, sleep, big production show, immigration, pack.....

Dinner Stuff

Dinner options include SPE Sanitas Per Escam or health through food.

Dinner convos still tend to be quite entertaining. I said something quite Canadian and quite innocent and Anne just about died as it is very rude in England. Every time she spent to take a drink I would repeat a variation on the theme....

Rocky day at sea, but really not bad, the ship has stabilizers, but Anne has been sick all day and just popped in at dinner to say goodbye.

Anne and June has us in stitches at dinner, we have such a good time. They have traveled so much and have the best experiences, such as the lady they stayed next to in India who was getting FULL body massages, crossing streets in Singapore and India, train travel in the non European cars in India next to a man with chickens in his pockets......

Anne from England knew Shirley Valentine. The story was written based on her friend.

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We went to karaoke and Roger sang a couple of numbers each night, there was the usual really bad, ok, almost there and a couple of really good ones. We danced with the Dj, but big mistake as the music got so loud and I hadn't brought my earplugs with me.

Other Stuff

The first weather we had rolled through and the seas a wee bit bumpy. We are seeing more people with leg injuries from falls. Some on ship and some off, one apparently fell on her face. I know they left one behind with a broken leg to fly home, she fell down the main stairs on the ship. That is def not the way to end a trip.

We spotted whales coming out of Moorea.

Anne and David from Sidney are going to store our luggage in Sydney for us. Yippee. That will save us a few bucks and I was annoyed with the company for not answering emails anyway. They live by Manly beach.

We are into the Tasman sea and the ship is rolling...I slept like a rock!

Thinking about our plans. There are huge fires in the Blue Mountains so we may have to revise that portion of our trip. I will know more once we get to Sydney and contact the owner of our accommodations in the Blue mountains. We splurged for internet and have heard back and all should be okay, if anything there will be more smoke and haze in Sydney.

We can see Orion in the sky. We can now see the southern cross. Once we are in the sailboat Roger will have a ball looking at the sky, however the southern sky is nothing on the northern sky and that is from Milosh the naturalist.

Posted by Mari Anne 18.12.2013 19:16 Archived in USA Tagged sea ship cruise dance band activities days trivia Comments (0)

Takeoff

Vancouver to Oahu

sunny 23 °C

And so it begins on a sunny South Surrey day. Time to go and what is at this point is. We have connected with all our accommodation owners/managers, confirmed flights, train and tours and.....time to go. As exciting as this is I feel sad when we say goodby to Nana at the airport.....but I got over that.

As always with air travel each time we go it is different. We are told we don't need to fill in a customs form...great. The bag check line is blocked off so we join the dozen or so people in the other line. While standing there we learn we could have printed our luggage tags from the kiosk and when another agent came they opened that line. We learned that because we will use Nexus to bypass the longer lines we do need to fill in the declaration for customs. Our bags are underweight unlike the groups ahead of us and we move quickly ahead. I then am reminded that toothpaste, a paste, is a liquid and that my crystal deodorant looks suspicious when our bag is scanned.

Our wait for our flight is uneventful with a game of cards and a late lunch. Roger dared to eat Burger King after that crap we had driving to Spokane and I went for noodles and veggies.

The flight was unremarkable, except we had to pass through the first class with all their nice roomy pods, sigh, it's only six hours we'll be fine. The flight is mostly smooth and we follow the setting sun across the Pacific. We have our bags and call the hotel shuttle and are in our room in less than 1/2 an hour. Of course it is time to eat again. The sister hotel has the dining room, but we ask at the desk where they would go. The answer is the Big Kahunas. Number one in Oahu. A short walk from our hotel we find this little place that can squeeze 21 in snugly and order. No one cleans your table, you serve your own drinks and enjoy the Hawaiian decor that is quaint and dusty. The food....well they dropped a aluminum tin at our table with these homemade bread balls with cheese, garlic and salt that were amazing. Then the pizza.... Wow it was awesome. I asked for a container to take some of mine with me and the server looked worried and asked if there was something wrong. No! Just full!

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Posted by Mari Anne 18.12.2013 19:16 Archived in USA Tagged airport dinner Comments (0)

A week on Oahu

Exploring the North Shore.

sunny 25 °C

I am up before dawn so I can watch the sun rise....okay..not so spectacular today but the hot tub was 102! Oatmeal on the lanai with dried fruit and a cup of tea. We walk out to the point where they locals are fishing and I decide this is where I am coming for sunrise tomorrow. We head down the other way as far as we can go making note of all the places for sale. I checked them out later and they ranged from $699 to $10 million. I Guess we are not buying a vacation home.

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We spend the morning wandering the beaches south of us and watching the local wildlife.

On on off chance we stop at the Polynesian Cultural Centre to see if they have openings for their new Island Luau even though the internet shows them booked for the week. We learn there are lots of spaces because you can't book them online. Yippee. That's what we are doing Monday. We make our way back home for a fruit salad. Non nom.

The afternoon is spent heading further north. We stopped at various beaches and the location of the Kuhuku Sugar Mill which closed in 1971 and was torn down in 2004. All that Remains are big parts of the machines that are set up as monuments that are quickly rusting like all metal in this area.

We made one more stop to explore the Turtle Bay Resort. Quite the upscale location, but public access to the beach. We watched the surfers, scoped out the lay of the resort and found where the first radar location was for the US. They tracked the incoming flight of the Japanese for Pearl Harbour, but did not recognize them until too late. The was no protocol to get the information where it needed to go.

The hot tub was 100 tonight so it was much more comfortable to watch the stars pop out.

Sunday September 29

Another early morning. Sunrise a little more impressive, but still not....well not amazing. So back to the hot tub and watch the morning blossom. We packed up today to drive around the North shore and walk to Kaena point. We passed the pipeline and many other beaches with bigger waves. The further we went the quieter the beaches were.

The paved road ended and we parked. The walk in from this side is not as wonderful as the walk in from the Honolulu side. That one follows the edge of the ocean. This side has wide areas and lots of off road tracks. They can actually drive with a big truck or 4 wheel drive to the Bird sanctuary fence. Being a Sunday there were more people at the point than the last time we were here and there were people in the water where the monk seals were playing last time...so no seals. We enjoyed the big action where the waves from Alaska meet the waves from New Zealand. Impressive. When walking back we avoided the main track following the ones closest to the ocean. A more challenging walk, but prettier and nice ocean breezes. We passed an old support for the railroad that originally ran around the point. We come to a little bay and I was saddened when Roger pointed out what he thought was a dead seal. As we by passed it, it decided to stretch and roll over. It was amusing to see Roger react.

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It is very rugged and beautiful along here. There are pockets of local families who have driven in to fish for the day. In the bigger parks there are many huge tents where people gather on the weekends to enjoy the beach and the friendship. We stopped at the first quiet beach to cool off before we finished our drive back. One more stop for fresh pineapple, mango and dragon fruit. She also forced fresh fried bananas on us and they were good. I actually wanted coconut water, but I am happy with what we got. Time to head home, clean up, supper, play backgammon, and hot tub while we watch the sun set.

Monday September 30 here on the north shore is beautiful again. It appears we get rain each night and sometimes a sprinkle drifts by, but it is more refreshing than anything. I suppose I must confess I spent most of the morning lolling about and reading my book in the hot tub and a couple of games of Backgammon and Ticket to Ride. I have a lucky streak a mile wide.

We headed over the PCC! The Polynesian Cultural Center for the opening and enjoyed a canoe ride through the site. Our guide was an entertaining young man. 18 years old, engaged to a Taiwanese woman, 23. He speaks 5 languages, well six, but one is a dialect. He plans on moving to the mainland when his fiancé graduates and continue his studies there. 70 percent of the staff at the PCC are Latter Day Saints and students of Brigham Young University. There are some non LDS as well.

We find there have been additions since we were last here. They have more interactive events and we find the time passes quickly and there is still more to see. The Samoan Island Luau is cancelled and they upgraded us to the other luau. We stopped and chatted with Kap, the Samoan Chief and expressed our disappointment and thanked him for his entertainment.

The luau is entertaining and we are seated with a couple from San Fran, a couple from Utah and two guys from Ecuador. When it came time to say grace they asked us to hold hands around the table. No way were the guys from Ecuador going to hold hands until I smiled at them and laughed. They laughed then and held hands. It was a luau...the food was good and very basic, but...good.

We had seats for the show Ha, the Breath of Life. We saw it last time, but I think I was more impressed this time. The choreography was amazing and the energy carried throughout the show. They do one segment with fire where men wearing grass skirts sit in the fire, catch their skirts on fire...I can't describe it to do it justice, but in the end they five of then jump in a sitting position and put the whole fire out.

When we leave we find the rain has started. We put on our green 2010 Vancouver Olympic plastic capes and walk home. I felt like the jolly green giant.

Hot tub, rain stops, the stars start to appear.

Tuesday October 1 is our day to rent bikes. We pick them up from a place on the Turtle Bay Resort site. $25 for the day, but it took some time to get the seats adjusted and get used to the very wide handles. We head west along trails. We are where a lot of Lost was filmed and there was a geocache hidden in the banyan tree that featured in the tv show. We see one group out on a horseback ride and a lady walking her dog, some turtles, but the beach is ours.

We stop briefly to get another seat for my bike and that makes riding much easier. We are grateful we saved the East ride for later as the trails are much sandier and we are sweating. When we appear to have run out of manageable trails we just locked the bikes up and set out on foot. Walking in the dry sand is a really good work out, but we make it to Macaroni Point where the estate of. G. Marconi lays in disrepair. We find a geocache here and work out a way back to the bikes avoiding some of the deeper sand.

After turning the bikes in we have depleted our water and stop at the beach bar for a drink....wow, a wonderful drink with a rum float on top, but now Roger needs to eat so we have a salad and a Kalua Pork sandwich. Nom, Nom. The cove here is supposed to be good snorkelling. We realize it is way to murky once we get in, but the water feels so good. Just as I comment to Roger about the poor snorkelling a huge turtle swims just inches beneath me. He was huge and scared me for a moment.

Okay, so I found a mistake in my planning. I broke off planning flights when Papa fell and then finished them forgetting that we cross the international dateline. Ooooopppps, the good thing is we will have to stay in Waikiki over night on the way home since we have to wait an extra day for our flight to Vancouver. Darn!

Wednesday October 2. Sun, hot tub, read, backgammon, ticket to ride, beach, last episodes of Breaking Bad, hot tub, read, steak, wine, hot tub. Repeat as needed.

Thursday October 3, after our oatmeal and backgammon on the lanai, we decided to check out Shark's Cove. When we arrived there were some people in the water and we chatted to a local. We had picked the best spot to enter and while the waves were active it was not a high swell day. That being said the current was strong, the water murky, and I did not feel comfortable here. We came back in and opted for the tidal pools. They were clear, the current manageable and we were able to enjoy the turtles and fish. The waves in the cove came up and there was now no one in the cove, I'm glad we came out. Another local said the waves were calmer yesterday and lots of fish, today not so nice.

After lunch we headed up to Waimea Valley. It has had some improvements and some areas are in disrepair, but it is a lovely place for a walk and we enjoy poking around. The place is busier than last time and the swimming is open up under the waterfall. That being said they have a huge sign warning of the bacteria that come from the farm life and can be contracted through the fresh water.

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Tonight we continue to watch Pearl Harbour. The first part is pretty slow, setting up the romance part of the movie, but we finally get through it.

Posted by Mari Anne 18.12.2013 19:16 Archived in USA Tagged rental bay sharks bike lost oahu snorkel turtle cove pcc Comments (0)

Honolulu to Laie

An easy day

semi-overcast 25 °C

I guess we slept okay. The noise from the airport or freeway was muted by the solid windows and the very loud fridge. White noise is good right? We did get an early wake up call thanks to the last guest who left the alarm clock on and set for and early start. Oh well.

We had a breakfast in the hotel cafe. Fruit salad and it was sooooo good. The fruit had so much flavour. We walked down the block to pick up our rental car. A great deal from hot wire. We could have got a convertible for.....$200 more and I must say I was tempted, but that covered our groceries and beverages for the week. Then it hit me....my pizza was back at the hotel in our fridge....no..no..no. We circled the block, smiled at Mena at the desk and she let me go up and get it, she understood, after all it was the Big Kahunas.

Now to find our way to the Punch Bowl with no map. Out comes my iPad and using google maps we are able to make our way there. It is a pretty impressive memorial/cemetery for US Military. The view is amazing from Diamond head behind the city to the southeast and up past the airport.

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Roger wants to go to Bishops museum so we find it's general direction and again using google maps we find our way there. Perhaps not the fastest route....but we get there. We arrive and discover it is much more expansive than we thought. We okay our admission and head to the first building that has just opened. We are invited to a guided tour....the guide must have been in his late 80s. He knew his history, but he was very sllloooowwwww and kept losing simple words. This building focused on non Hawaiian culture. He lead us across to the original building which was absolutely beautiful. There another guide took over who was quick and so excited about the Hawaiian culture.

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From there, and this was the best part, it was time for a story. A young man told a story about three brothers. One who was nice and normal and two who could become birds. This man told the story with such flair and drama you could see each character as he became them.

It was a not so quick trip to the grocery store where I made Roger buy local stuff instead of brands we get at home. Yummy, yummy I hope. And away we went.

It us about an hour to our place, but....using google maps I get us there....okay Roger did a nice job driving as well. The place is rather rusty and dusty....but oh what a location. We are sitting here now, Roger in the hot tub watching the stars and me, all dried off catching up on my notes. I can see a few lights across the bay to my left and nothing to the right. The houses on both sides are dark and empty. I can hear the waves, and maybe a plane coming in or maybe not.

We polish off the day by trying to watch Blue Hawaii. After I fall asleep for the third time we call it a night.

Posted by Mari Anne 18.12.2013 19:16 Archived in USA Tagged rental museum house oahu bishops bowl punch Comments (0)

First Port - Maui

Not such a great description

sunny 27 °C

Maui. So I won't bore people with mundane stuff. Just know we will sleep well, walked the deck, breakfast, bocce, games, and hot tub at some time during the day.

We tendered at Maui and geocached. The first took us to a prison on Prison Street in Lahaina was built in 1852, during the reign of King Kamehameha III, to lock up rowdy sailors who failed to return to their ships at sundown. The walls are built of coral. The Hawaiian name for the prison is Hale Paahao, which means "stuck in irons house."

Some of the original rules posted on the prison wall are:
Tobacco, opium, or intoxicating drinks may not be used by prisoners unless the physician determines they are necessary for health.
Prisoners must not spit on the walls or floor.
Singing, whistling, and laughter are prohibited.
Prisoners who violate the rules my be flogged, or have their food reduced, or their head shaved.

They were allowed to roam the compound by day and were locked up by night. They were given only a loaf of bread a day, but were welcome to provide more food at their expense. The same went for any creature comforts.

We found the Japanese mission and the church where the Hawaiian royalty were buried.

From the Lahaina Historical Guide:

"Established in 1823, Wainee was the first Christian cemetery in Hawaii. Here are buried the great and obscure of Old Lahaina.

Notables include the following:

King Kaumualii, the last king of Kauai.
The sacred Queen Keopuolani, the highest royalty by virtue of bloodlines in all Hawaii, born in Wailuku in 1780; she was the first Hawaiian baptized as a Protestant.
High Chief Hoapili, a general and King Kamehameha the Great's closest friend; Hoapili married two of Kamehameha's queens, Keopuolani and Kalakua.
Hoapili Wahine (Kalakua), governor of Maui from 1840 to 1842, who donated 1,000 acres of land to start Lahainaluna School.
Kekauonohi, one of the five queens of Kamehameha II, born in Lahaina in 1805, who served as governor of Kauai from 1842 to 1844
High Chiefess Liliha, granddaughter of King Kahekili; Liliha visited King George IV with her husband, Boki, Kamehameha II and Queen Kamamalu. In 1830 Liliha started a rebellion with 1,000 soldiers on Oahu while she was governor there. Her father, Hoapili, forced her to give up her office and return to Maui.
Princess Nahienaena, darling of the high chiefs and the Hawaiian people, sister to kings Kamehameha II and III.

Many missionary children are buried in Wainee Cemetery, as is Rev. Richards. The oldest Hawaiian Christian gravestone in the Islands is that of a Mauian who died in 1829 from "fever." A Hawaiian man who died in 1908 at the age of 104­- living through royal rule, the breaking of kapus, constitutional government and the establishment of Hawaii as a U.S. territory­-is also buried here. Visitors should be aware that Hawaiians consider this site sacred."

We will look for some free wifi and quickly checked our mail and that will be it for a while.

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Posted by Mari Anne 18.12.2013 19:17 Archived in USA Tagged maui prison tender Comments (0)

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