Hawaii/South Pacific: Traveling Home

April 4, 2022

We walked to the Little Italy section of San Diego. We had not decided on a restaurant but there were plenty to choose from on both sides of the street. It was cold so I wanted to eat inside. We found the Princess Pub and Grille, an Irish Pub. Bold move to have an Irish pub in the middle of all of those Italian restaurants. We ate there.

There was a rowdy group inside, but the food was very good. Chuck had the fish and chips and I had pork bar-b-que sliders. When we got back to the hotel, we picked up our breakfast to-go bags and put them in the room fridge.

It was hard to go to sleep and I tossed and turned until the alarm went off at 2:45 a.m. We were ready to leave the room at 4:00. I was surprised but I found an UberXL that was available to take us to the airport.

It was only a 10-minute ride. The driver said that if it was 5:00 instead of 4:00, we would be crawling to the airport. I was happy to see that Delta had an outside luggage check-in.

There was no CLEAR kiosk and the TSA pre-check people and the regular line people were all merged. The only difference between them and us was that they didn’t have to take their shoes and coats off. The line was long and hectic even at that time of day.

We took off at 6:20 just as advertised. There was no turbulence. I watched Ghostbusters – Afterlife. It was a cute movie and a nice tribute to Harold Ramis. I still had time to watch another movie and I found – Groundhog Day. As I mentioned before, I’ve never seen that movie so now would be a good time. I didn’t realize it was a Harold Ramis directed movie too. Sweet movie.

We arrived about 15 minutes earlier than expected. We still had 45 minutes before our shuttle arrived. It arrived right on time. Luckily there was no traffic problem, and we were back in record time.

Happy that the car started after all the days of inactivity. Covered in thick pollen but no other problem.

Was glad to see that all was well when we got home. Pumpkin was furious with us, but he was fat and sassy and well taken care of for us. Home Sweet Home.

Great trip. Great memories.

 “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

Hawaii/South Pacific: Disembarkation

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Before we went to dinner in the Lido, it was time to say goodbye to our room stewards. They have been wonderful to us. We know that the customer satisfaction surveys are important to the staff, and we plan to give them and many others glowing marks – they deserve it. I hope we get to sail with them again one day.

Went up to the Sea View deck and was able to see one of our favorite staff members. Wish we could have found the other ones, but they must have been on their dinner break.

Had a big crowd again for Pete’s last night. There were lots of pictures and exchanges of information. We called it a night and got our biggest luggage out to the hallway to be picked up.

When we woke up at 6:00, we were already docked in San Diego next to a Disney cruise ship. It was a very gloomy day. We went for our last breakfast in the Lido.

At 7:45, they started calling people to bring their ship ID, and passports to have a face-to-face with Customs in the 3rd floor dining room. This process was a new on. Typically, you are called to leave the ship, find your luggage at the port, and then get in line to see Customs. Can be a very long line.

Once we cleared Customs, our ship card was stamped, and we went back to our room to get our carry-on luggage and backpacks. We walked off the ship at 9:30, found our luggage in the port, and were at the Best Western Bayside by 10:00. Hope they keep up the process of seeing Customs on the ship. Very quick.

Of course, the room was not ready but they were able to store our luggage. Chuck had strained his neck dealing with the large luggage so he took one of his muscle relaxers and tried to relax on the lobby couch.

There are three cruise ships in today and there was a big country music concert here on Saturday night, so the hotel check-ins and check-outs were crazy. I was glad we were able to find a place to sit.

The strain in Chuck’s neck started to ease up. We thought about taking an Uber to Balboa Park, but the weather did not seem to want to cooperate. Instead, we walked back to the bayside and walked about two or three blocks in a big square. We knew we could duck into any one of the many restaurants if it started raining. We had never walked in this area of San Diego. Interesting artwork, statues, and parks.

By the time we got back to the hotel, a room was ready for us. The front desk attendant told us not to worry about getting a ride to the airport in the morning even if it is 4:00 a.m. There will be an Uber, Lyft, or a taxi available. Okay, hope she’s right.

Hawaii/South Pacific: Sea Day #19

Saturday, April 2, 2022

We ate dinner in the Lido so we could attend both sets of Pete’s sessions in the Ocean Bar. He drew big crowds again. Hope HAL is taking notice.

After the last of the two sets were over, we stayed in the Ocean’s Bar and chatted with Pete and the other passengers for a while. We found out that two of them are also booked on our upcoming South America / Antarctica cruise. Earlier in the cruise we met a couple who are booked for the upcoming Voyage of the Vikings cruise. It will be nice to see familiar faces.

We slept late and had a late breakfast in the Lido. Walked a mile around the promenade. The Internet finally sped up so my back-logged photos quickly uploaded to the Cloud. Wish it would have done it before the last day of the cruise. Oh well.

The inevitable could no longer be ignored, and it was time to pack up and tag our bags for pick-up tonight.

The packing task took a couple of hours, with time for a cookie break, and then some balcony time was definitely in order even if it was still chilly outside.

Hawaii/South Pacific: Sea Day #18

Friday, April 1, 2022 – April Fool’s Day!

After listening to Pete’s first set which was early afternoon, we went to the Sea View. Wasn’t as windy as it was earlier that day. We chatted with people until time for our Canaletto reservation.

On this ship, a separate area in the Lido restaurant is dedicated to the Canaletto. During the day, it is part of the Lido restaurant. At night, they put tablecloths on the tables and a nice table setting. They cook the meals in an area of the Lido buffet set aside each night for the restaurant.

Chuck had the antipasto plate and lasagna. I had the minestrone soup and the spaghetti with clams and shrimp. For dessert, we each had a small scoop of vanilla gelato with chocolate sauce and espresso poured around it. All of the food was very good, and the service was excellent.

We went to the first set of the BB King band, and we wanted a good seat to the HAL Orange Party. Orange is the color of the Netherlands and on each voyage, HAL has a party honoring its heritage. You are supposed to wear something orange. I had a scarf with orange in it and Chuck had a shirt.

Ian came in about 8:45 to get the party started. The BB King band started playing at 9:00. Then the Bar Hop group got there and the dance floor was packed. Most people in here that I’ve seen all cruise. Everyone stayed until they finished their last set at 11:00.

We had to set the clocks forward another hour, so we didn’t get up until 8:00. I went for coffee and then pulled a great prank on Chuck. I had the disembarkation papers in my hand and told him that there was a problem with the azipods and we would be back in San Diego a day early and we had to get off the ship. I had him going until he wanted to actually read the letter I was holding. April Fools!

There were lots of silly jokes around the ship including today’s When and Where.

Gym and mile around the promenade again. It has really started getting chilly again and we have started wearing jackets outside.

At 2:30, we went to the Crew Talent Show. In the past, the show has been presented late at night and been sparsely attended. Today, the room was packed. It was Standing Room Only.

People from all different departments showcased their talents – singing, dancing, or instrument-playing. We were told all who wanted to participate had to audition and, if selected, attend formal rehearsals, and practice – all during their time off which they don’t get much. They were amazing. Very talented. I hope they keep doing these shows in the afternoon.

Hawaii/South Pacific: Sea Day #17

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Pete was playing and singing solo tonight in the Ocean Bar so we decided to eat early so we could see both sets. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out. One – because 5:30 – 6:00 pm is a very popular time to eat and two – tonight is our last Gala night and filet mignon and lobster tail were on the menu again.

We went to the dining room at 5:45 and asked for a table for two. They said there was a table available in the upper dining room.

The dining room on Deck 3 is for set dining at 5:30 and 8:00 – you have the same table and the same waiters every night. I have to assume the people who usually sat at that table for two were eating at the Pinnacle or the Canaletto restaurant. Since we weren’t there exactly at 5:30, we were kind of throwing off the flow of the waiters for that section, but they never acted exasperated. They acted like we ate with them every night. Got to love HAL’s service.

I had the shrimp cocktail, the coconut chicken soup, and the pan-fried sea bass. Chuck had a salad and the filet mignon and lobster tail. We skipped dessert. They weren’t going to fool me with that Crème Brûlée again.

Pete played his first set at 7:15 and drew a large crowd. His second set at 9:00 drew an even larger crowd. HAL should take note that people like to dance and sing along to songs that they know. Pete sang songs from Elvis to Beatles to Dire Straits. He would even take requests even if he thought the song was “rubbish.” Who doesn’t like Sweet Caroline?

A fun time was had by all. After the second set was over, we called it a night. We got a rabbit towel animal tonight.

Slept until 7:00. Had a late breakfast in the Lido. Went to the gym for some weight training and then did a mile on the Promenade. It is getting chillier and is very overcast.

The Captain announced that a ship had been spotted in the distance. First one since we have seen since we left French Polynesia. You can really feel isolated in the Pacific. I hope to see some birds soon.

I spent the afternoon catching up on the blog narrative whenever I could get the Internet to work. Chuck spent his afternoon talking with friends at the Sea View deck. Too cold for the pool.

Hawaii/South Pacific: Sea Day #16

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Dave had the whole day off which is unusual for the Band members. They usually have to work either the afternoon or evening or both. Chuck invited him to eat dinner with us. I was surprised he accepted. The ship performers are always being interrupted during their meals, by the pool, at the gym, etc. by guests who want to talk, or praise, or complain. I thought he would want more non-guest time.

He said he usually ate dinner with Pete, the lead guitarist and singer who is also from England, so we said the more the merrier if Pete wanted to come also.

We met at the Ocean Bar and then went to the main dining room at 7:00. Chuck ordered a bottle of wine for the table. I don’t like red wine, but the three guys enjoyed it with their steaks. I had a salad and the lamb chops and the strawberry mousse for dessert.

We were having a lively conversation and then realized we were the only people left in that dining room section. The waiters were standing around picking up random glasses and wiping them. When we made a move from the table, they were all over it – clearing the dessert plates and coffee cups away. Guess they get to leave when their section is cleared. Oops.

Pete and Chuck went to the BB King band’s set but Chuck didn’t last long. The sun and wine caught up with him. However, he lasted longer than me. I was already asleep before he came back.

However, I sat straight up in bed in the middle of the night when I heard the medical emergency announcement – calling for the medical response team for a cabin on the 7th floor. This was the third time this cruise I have heard this announcement but not always to the same cabin. We’ve also seen ambulances waiting at more than one port. And I still wonder about the status of the woman who had to be life-flighted from Raiatea to Tahiti because of a heart attack. Guess all the emergencies are to be expected for a cruise this long but it is still scary. Hope this episode is not too bad.

We skipped breakfast because we had the Mariner Brunch at 11:00. The brunch is HAL’s way of saying “thank you” to all its repeat guests. There are so many of us on this cruise that they have had to spread this brunch over three days. Our invitation was for today.

Officers greet you at the dining room entrance. The Captain gives a speech. The Cruise Director gives the toast – There are good ships and wood ships, ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are dam ships, may they always be!

We were at a table for six. The menu has limited choices. The champagne was not bad today. Usually, it is very bad. I had the soup, the quiche, and the pie. Chuck had the salad, the salmon, and the pie.

We received our commemorative Mariner Society Delf tile. We have used them as coasters. I’ve seen pictures of people using them as borders or backsplashes. Some frame their collection.

After the luncheon was more time for the pool. The Captain announced the weather would be getting rainier and cooler as we got closer to California so enjoy the Sea View pool while we could.

Hawaii/South Pacific: Sea Day #15

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Tried to go to the Sea View deck for a cocktail but they were pressure washing the area. On to the Ocean Bar. It was very slow too. I wondered where everyone was.

Dinner was a shared table for six – two Canadian solo passengers and a couple from Washington state. I had the mango & papaya appetizer, the turnip and mango salad, and the eggplant parmigiana. Chuck had the roast beef in wine sauce.

We went to the first set of the BB King band. Played some blackjack. I am still Queen of the 16’s. Doesn’t seem to matter – casinos or cruise ships – if there is a way to draw a 16, I’m your girl. The dealer was the Queen of the 21’s so you know how that story ended. Chuck peeked in to listen to the piano player/singer on the main stage – he didn’t care for her.

Stayed for the second set of the BB King band and then called it a night. Set clocks forward one hour. Hate to lose that hour of sleep.

I set the alarm for 7:00 but I woke up at 6:30. I went to the Lido for a quick breakfast because I had a class to attend at 9:00.

The Excel class was presented by a fellow passenger who organized some of the independent tours we took. He kept a pretty elaborate spreadsheet of the roll call members, their tours, and any activities people had in common. It was very helpful for getting in touch with other passengers.

I keep a spreadsheet for our cruises, but I promised Chuck I would never volunteer to manage or organize for other passengers. Not a problem – too much responsibility for a vacation. But I did learn some tips today to make my spreadsheet more efficient.

At 10:00, there was another crew drill. Those blaring sirens make me jump every time. I know the drills are necessary but I get such a headache.

Chuck and I met up at the mainstage for the 11:00 presentation on the Galapagos Islands. Our on-board lecturer took his son there a few years ago and he put together a photo journal that he was showing today. His photos were outstanding. The islands are definitely on the bucket list before we are too old to hike and snorkel.

We ate in the Lido for lunch and it was featuring a fruit bar along side the salad bar. I tried star fruit for the very first time. Hard to describe. Neither sweet nor sour. Very juicy. It was good but papaya and pineapple were still my favorite.

The afternoon was spent by the pool. Warm with a nice breeze. Chuck spent most of the time talking with Dave, the bass guitarist from the Dance Banc. Very nice guy from Manchester England. The band members will be leaving the Zuiderdam at the end of this cruise but, after a short vacation, he and the piano player will be joining the Rotterdam in Florida for her transatlantic to Europe. they will be joined by a new singer and a new drummer.

Hawaii/South Pacific: Sea Day #14

Monday, March 28, 2022

The attendance at the sunset hour at the Sea View deck was very sparse. The staff was even taking up the sun loungers for the evening.

It did start to sprinkle so we moved under an awning and talked to a couple from Michigan who cruise during the winter months instead of going to Florida. Thought it was a great alternative to being a Snow Bird.

Dinner was a table for two. We both had the grilled pineapple spears and Thai spring rolls. I had the grilled shrimp with marina sauce. Chuck had the Thai pork.

We went to the see the last 20 minutes of the performer tonight – an instrumentalist. He was good but we decided to skip the full show. We went to the first set of the BB King band and played some slots.

Up at 6:30 and found our invitation to the Mariner Brunch on the 30th. It is HAL’s way of saying “thank you” to its repeat customers.

After breakfast in the main dining room, we went to the Neptune Ceremony. Tradition is for all crew members who have never crossed the Equator to pay homage to King Neptune, his Queen, and Royal Fish.

Their crimes are read by the Prosecutor and they are anointed with special ingredients and must wait for judgment – not guilty: jump in the pool to wash off; guilty: sit in the sun and bake on the ingredients.

The officers of the ship were the judges.

There were about 20 crew members from different departments who took part in the ceremony.

At the end of the ceremony, they all jumped into the pool except the officers who all quickly left before anyone thought they should go into the pool too.

What about first time passengers? We got a fancy certificate.

After lunch, Chuck and I attended a presentation on the Orion constellation. It was very interesting.

  • Orion is used as a directional device to other constellations.
  • The Giza pyramids are set to the Orion Belt stars.
  • A million Earths can be put inside our Sun. One billion Suns can be put inside the star Betelgeuse – part of Orion.

Two events on one sea day – time for a nap.

Hawaii/South Pacific: Sea Day #13

Sunday, March 27, 2022

At 4:30, HAL sponsored the Grand Finale sail-away because Nuku Hiva was our last port. They set up more tables, put out more chairs, set up another bar area for the daily drink special, and had the Dance Band set up to play. Promptly at 4:30, the Captain made his announcement with a follow-up by Ian.

The appetizers came out by the dozens, the Band started playing and singing, and drinks were flowing. The Sea View Deck was packed with people. I think they should always have a band to play at sail-away instead of a DJ.

Dinner in the main dining room was a table for two. Well, make that a table for one. Chuck ate his appetizer and then started feeling queasy. He couldn’t stay for his main course and decided to go back to the room.

Went back to the room and he was in bed. Said he was feeling better in the cool room. Too much sun and didn’t drink enough water.

We got several notices in our mailbox: (1) set our clocks forward by 30 minutes; (2) the Internet will be slow and intermittent during voyage back (hard to believe it can get any worse); (3) if you use the laundry, they will not be processing new loads after 9:00 a.m. on Thursday. (I am sure they are swamped and have to get all laundry back by Saturday afternoon.)

The laundry service is really nice. They usually have all your laundry back no later than 24 hours after your steward gets it to them. Everything is always nice folded or pressed. They wrap your underwear in tissue. Plus, they give you a note thanking you for using the service.

Woke at 6:00 a.m. but then moved the clock to 6:30 as instructed. Found our Pinnacle Gala picture in our mailbox.

We started our first of our seven sea days back to San Diego. Chuck is feeling much better today. We had a Lido breakfast, went to the gym, and walked a mile around the promenade.

Packed up the snorkeling gear and copied my photos from my camera to the laptop. The Internet has stopped working twice already.

Spent the afternoon in the pool. Had to tell several people that Chuck was fine – he just floats with his hat over his face. Sometimes he falls asleep floating. He doesn’t sink. He looks dead. I asked him to stop – he was freaking people out.

Hawaii/South Pacific: Nuku Hiva

March 26, 2022

On embarkation day, we were approached by some staff from the Pinnacle dining room touting their special dinners – Rudi Sel de Mer, the Pinnacle Gala, and the Sommelier Dinner. Typically, we do not go to these extra upsell dinners. However, the Pinnacle Gala was to be held on the night of our anniversary. Since we had spent the last two years celebrating our anniversary at home on the back deck in sweatpants and t-shirts, we thought “Why Not?”

Chuck was worried that he would be under-dressed since he did not bring a tux or suit and tie. However, the invitation said “gala attire.” His collared long-sleeve shirt and dress slacks were fine. Yes, there were men in tuxes and suits, but there were others dressed the same as Chuck. I didn’t have a long gown or a cocktail dress. I just wore a knee-length dress.

We shared a table with two sisters – one from upper New York state and one from Arizona, and a gentleman from California traveling solo. We had a lively conversation.

They served champagne cocktails and appetizers in the Ocean Bar prior to our being seated. Once we were seated, we were treated to a six-course meal – caviar and tuna tartare appetizer, tempura squash salad – these two courses were paired with Prosecco.

Next was lobster tail and halibut paired with Chablis. Then, an iced cucumber concoction to cleanse the palette. Next, was filet mignon paired with Cabernet Sauvignon.

The last course was dessert – small glass of orange sherbet mixed with cola, two round biscotti cookies, and a white square that I thought was cake but turned out to be a marshmallow. I liked all the courses except the dessert. It was weird. Everyone just kept poking at the marshmallow, not sure what to do with it. Dunk it in the ice cream soda? Eat it between the two cookies? Slice it? We all just left it sitting there.

They took a photo of us after the dinner which was included in the overall price as was the wine.

The dinner was not over until 9:30. We had an early excursion in the morning so we called it a night. We got back to the room and found that our room stewards had made us swan towel animals and a heart made of flower petals with a note wishing us a happy anniversary. Such a sweet gesture and totally unexpected.

We were up at 6:00 with breakfast delivered at 7:00. Just wasn’t sure how this day was going to shape up. I had signed up for an independent island tour with a company that another couple had found. Eventually, there were 8 of us who had signed up.

However, the original couple cancelled the cruise so one of the other 8 members contacted the tour provider and he was still willing to do the tour. The last email I had received indicated that the tour started at 9:00. However, one of the tour members said she heard 8:30.

We got our tender tickets and got on the first available tender when our number was called.

We would just get over there and hope for the best. Just like yesterday, the tiny dock could only hold one tender at a time so our tender kept going around in circles. I was glad I had taken a Bonine.

I thought worst case scenario, since we hadn’t paid any money for the tour yet, we could just walk around if we missed the tour or the tour operator didn’t show up.

We got there and a guy was holding up a big sign that had our names on it. Yay! Small victories! There were 14 people on the tour. We left the dock in two open-air trucks – 8 in one truck and 6 in the other. I was glad the seats were padded and had seat belts which is not always the case with these trucks.

We stopped at several places along the road for photos and information about Nuku Hiva and the Marquesas islands in general. Nuku Hiva is the island that Survivor was filmed on in 2008 and our guide was hired by them to be their site locator. He said it was an interesting experience.

Weird to see random horses and cows tied up along the road. I couldn’t see any houses but the animals did not look malnourished, so someone had to be looking after them. There were also large pigs and some chickens running loose. One chicken did not make it across the road.

There were some pretty flowers all over the island.

Lots of birds but the only one I got a picture of was the Imperial Pigeon. He is as large as a crow and can make sounds like pigeons and crows. He is endemic to the Marquesas.

It was a four-hour tour and very informative. The only negative was that riding in the open-air truck, you get whiffs of diesel fuel which kind of made me nauseous.

Once we returned, we looked around the craft market. I thought everything was expensive. I believe they would have sold more if more items had been priced between $10 and $20 instead of $50 – $100.

We were back on board the ship by 1:00 and decided to spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool.

We talked to people who had gone over to Tahuata the other day. They said there was not much to see or do. Beaches too rocky to swim or snorkel. The carvings were nice. There was a nice church. One man offered to give you a tattoo the ancient way – using fish bones and ink made from plants, etc. Didn’t think he had any takers. I was glad we made the decision to stay on the ship. I liked Nuku Hiva today.

Travel Trivia

Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Nuku Hiva pronounced:  “New-coo-ee-vah”

Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

Herman Melville wrote his book Typee based on his experiences in the Taipivai valley in the eastern part of Nuku Hiva.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s first landfall on his voyage on the Casco was at Hatihe’u, on the north side of the island, in 1888.

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