Friday, November 24 – Day 54
“Live, travel, adventure. Bless and don’t be sorry.” – Jack Kerouac
Dale: We were up around 6:30am to see the scenic sail in of Sydney. It was marvelous to witness the famous Opera House, Sydney Harbor bridge and other landmarks as the Amsterdam made its way to White Bay.
Pat: After breakfast we took the shuttle bus to Darling Harbor. Armed with a map, we walked everywhere! First to the Queen Victoria Building to catch an express bus to Lyn’s Needlework Shop. About a 30 minute ride to the suburb of Baucham Hills. I got to browse around this small place loaded with stitching and quilting supplies. It was hard to decide what to buy with my budget. The owner was away in Melbourne but the lady working was so nice. She brought Dale some coffee and pastries. We headed back downtown, had some lunch and walked through the Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park and various other landmarks before making our way back to Darling Harbor. We took a cruise of the Sydney Harbor and then enjoyed a glass of wine. We got back to the ship in time for dinner. The late show entertainment was a local performance by an outfit called “Diramu Aboriginal Dance and Didgerido” in the Queens Lounge.
Saturday, November 25 – Day 55
“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember and remember more than I have seen.” -Benjamin Disraeli
Dale: The weather was perfect for our second day in Sydney. Blue and sunny with temps near 80. Pat and I bought an excursion called “Sydney Sights and the Opera House from White Bay”. It was an all day tour that took us first to the famous Opera House. The walking tour was a wonderful experience. Our guide Tim was charming and educational about this iconic structure. I never thought I’d ever see this venue in person. The highlight of the day for me. Next stop was Mrs. MacQuarie’s Point just north of the Botanic Gardens. Some outstanding views of the city and Harbor. Back on the bus for Watson’s Bay and the Gap which provided spectacular vistas of east Sydney. We stopped at Bondi Beach for lunch. Not enough time to walk this famous beach but a great people watching spot! The bus ride back went through trendy neighborhoods, outside markets and Chinatown and Paddington shopping districts. The one disappointment was the driver didn’t have time for a visit through “the Rocks” at Circular Quay, an old village in an urban setting. Had we known we would’ve made The Rocks a stop on our first day Harbor cruise. If I ever get back to Sydney I want to walk up to the top of the Sydney Harbor bridge. It’s known as ‘the coat hanger”.
Pat: A spectacular day seeing the sights of Sydney. The Opera House was incredible. We had lunch at “The Chip Factory” and did a bit of shopping at Bondi Beach. The sail away party on top deck was at 6pm. Appetizers and cocktails. I had a gin and tonic, Dale a Blue Moon beer. After dinner we went to the 10pm main stage show, a comical singling ventriloquist Kieran Powell who very talented and hilarious…even Fred was chuckling!
Dale: This was our final port in Australia. I could have spent a week or 2 in this country. Although it’s an expensive place, we loved the people and their passionate personalities and all of the coastal cities on this itinerary. My only regret was not seeing a Kangaroo. We had chosen not to attend any of the Zoos so we only witnessed a couple of Koala bears (in Cairns). All in all, an awesome adventure here in Australia!
Sunday, November 26 – Day 56
“I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
Dale: On the move again, cruising across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. I’m not sure how we top Sydney, Hong Kong and Shanghai…but we still have new destinations to discover!
Pat: After breakfast in Lido we attended a presentation by Harry Strong on “Our One Ocean-The Planet’s Watery World”. Today was another Sunday brunch in the main dining room. We sat with John and Jean. I think they really like us from all their invitations to dine. At 2 we set our clocks ahead one hour. I think the brunch champagne affected Dale as he napped for a while. I went to the library and at 6 we watched the movie “The Holiday” starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black. Better than I thought it would be. At dinner one of Dale’s favorite dishes Chicken Marsala then on to the 10pm show, Bernard Walz an Australian pianist who was tremendous. I bought his CD!
Monday, November 27 – Day 57
“It feels good to be lost in the right direction.” –unknown
Dale: Well we aren’t lost but we are definitely in unknown waters and parts of the world we have never been. It’s about a thousand nautical miles to New Zealand from Australia so 3 days at sea. This is day 2. After breakfast we sat through a presentation on what to do and see at our 3 upcoming ports in New Zealand. I did my daily mile walk out the outside promenade then headed for the Sports bar to watch some Sunday NFL. God bless Pat for doing a load of laundry (at least I would help fold after the dryer, sometimes!).
Tonight is a Gala Night, White Night (the wearing of white symbolizes purity and elegance). Patty looks gorgeous in her white top, thin black leggings, wedges and new jewelry. The 6pm movie was “On the Wings of Eagles”, the true story of gold medalist Eric Liddell one of Scotland’s greatest athletes and his time in war torn China in WW2 Japanese prison camp. As you can imagine it was sad. 8pm dinner was once again excellent. Baked Halibut, Tiramisu. The wait staff were all decked out in white vests and bow ties with top hats. Very festive. We topped off the evening with the Amsterdam singers and dancers in a production called “A LA MODE-A Musical Journey Thru Europe”. Good night all.
Tuesday, November 28 – Day 58
“Travel is…getting to know yourself by facing new experiences.” – Sofie Cowenbergh, Wonderful Wanderings
Pat: Cruise Specialist hosted a Galley tour and it was interesting to see where all the food is prepared for the dining room meals. 96 persons work the Galley supervised by an executive chef. The service staff includes another 122 working the La Fontaine Room, Lido market and The Pinnacle. Quite a daily undertaking.
I’ve given up walking with Dale. I usually go to the Coffee Chat while he is doing his daily mile. At 3pm we went to a matinee performance of Bernard Walz. All classical music and wonderful. Before dinner we attended another Cruise Specialist reception. I got stuck with Anita the whole hour but at least I had 3 glasses of wine to get through it.
Dale: We just heard on the TV news channel that the volcano in Bali has erupted and all travel onto the island has been suspended. We were just there 15 days ago!
Another time zone change at 2pm (to 3). Veal Scallopini was entrée this evening. We sat with Dick and Michelle. The Queen’s Lounge show was “Rock Rhapsody” a tribute to the band Queen. Appropriate for the venue.
Wednesday, November 29 – Day 59
“Not I, not anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it for yourself.” – Walt Whitman
Dale: We had to tender into Waitangi from our anchored spot in the Bay of Islands. My first impression of New Zealand was some beautiful lush greenway with rocky shores and beaches. Kind of reminded me of a port on the Inner Passage of Alaska….only warmer! Pat and I made it into the small port town of Paihai around mid-morning. What a charming area. A great introduction to NZ. We walked around the village, did some shopping (of course). On the shuttle bus ride back to the tender, the driver actually sang to us! The sail away was at 4:30. We took in the views from the Crow’s Nest up top and we saw a lot of dolphins jumping in and out of the sea right in front of the Amsterdam! The sail away cocktail was called “Kiwi Rum Drink” but we moved on to a “Mango Margarita”. We visited with a couple from Louisville Lee and Ken. Weird when you meet someone for the first time 59 days into a cruise like this!
Thursday, November 30 – Day 60
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Cherkasy
Pat: I took the ship excursion to Hobbiton, the Movie Set. It was a 75 minute bus ride to this heavenly spot. The scenery in New Zealand matches the beauty of Ireland. Also, there are sheep and cattle all over the deep greenery of the countryside. The guided tour was very good. SO much fun to see where these movies were filmed. While there we got to have a drink at the Green Dragon. I’m anxious to watch the movies now that I’ve been here.
Dale: Tauranga was another gem on our itinerary. Patty and I went on separate adventures and loved this port! She left early for her tour of Hobbiton Movie Set. I walked over to Mt. Maunganui. It took me a little over an hour to walk around the base of this big mountain. The trail revealed some beautiful views of the sea, rocky cliffs and shorelines and those read blooming trees. A couple of locals stopped along the way to explain landmarks. They were very friendly and proud of their island/country. Halfway up the mountain I spotted a small sheep farm. I didn’t see any seals but when I arrived on the other side of the mountain, I was greeted with an awesome beach…the Mt. Maunganui Main Beach. Nice surfing waves and a lot of activity. Commentwealth Games on sand and water were happening. It looked like kayak racing and flag races between New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Great Britton. O walked the beach to collect sea shells for Patty. On my way back I stopped at a café to sample a New Zealand beer. I spotted a small RV park and thought to myself, I could spend a week or 2 here.
Back onboard, we had burgers on the pool deck, even played ping pong before enjoying the hot tub. Back in the cabin, Pat stitched and I read until Sail Away. The cocktail was a “Hobbitt Salute” in the Crow’s Nest. The band was 4 Japanese musicians that play some great American tunes, oldies from the 60’s and 70’s. It’s quite the visuals to see these guys perform.
Dinner again with Fred and Helen. Prime Rib, cake and coffee. Time for the 10pm main stage show, a special regional performance by Maori people. Male and female warriors dancing and singing in costume and telling stories of their culture. Patty was chosen from the audience to participate on stage. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera to capture her contribution.
Friday, December 1 – Day 61
“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.” – T.S. Eliot
Dale: I’m not sure I agree with this quote. It turns out Australia and New Zealand are expensive places to visit. We had coffee at 6:30am as we sailed in to Auckland. Known as “the City of Sails”. 1 out of 3 own a boat. It’s surrounded by coastline bays and harbors.
Pat: Had breakfast with Katherine and Eric. Then disembark the ship to find the Hop On/Off bus. We visited to Sky Tower for some spectacular views (higher than the Eiffel Tower) and then to Mt. Eden, the highest extinct volcano on the mainland. More sweeping views of Waitemata Harbor and beyond. Quite the uphill hike.
Dale: Obviously, we couldn’t see everything in one day. We skipped the Zoo or Aquarium which meant missing the Kiwi birds famous in New Zealand. All in all, a good introduction to Auckland on a beautiful summer day in December. We drove past the professional Rugby and Cricket venue. Very popular sports in this country. Gosh gas is expensive here at 2.20 per liter. Yikes!
We got back to the ship after some souvenir shopping near the terminal. Dinner was quiet as we sailed away from the city, watching the sunset from our table in the dining room. The late show entertainment was forgettable. Vlad Bond from Ukraine. Juggler and comic, thumbs down. Good night all.
Saturday, December 2 – Day 62
“If at some point you don’t ask yourself “what have I gotten myself into?” then you’re not doing it right.”
Dale: As we leave the Tasman Sea and cruise north into the South Pacific, I’m so glad New Zealand was part of our voyage. Loved what we saw on the itinerary over the last 3 days. Now on to Fiji Islands and the equator! A lazy day for me at sea. Relaxing on the outside promenade deck lounger. Lunch companions were Kathleen and Tony from Seattle. Pat played Mahjong this afternoon and I tried to sit through a lecture on “Pacific Polynesian Triangle”. Then our routine of movie @6, dinner @8 and late show @10. Amsterdam singers and dancers production of “Astoria”. As Captain Eversen says each evening…good night, rest peacefully and sleep well or in Dutch “Welterusten”.
Sunday, December 3 – Day 63
“All that glitters is not gold. All who wander are not lost.” -J.R. Tolkien
Pat: We had brunch with John and Jean from Cruise Specialist. Great food and company. I played Mahjong in the Hudson Room and later in the afternoon was the Christmas Tree Lighting in the Atrium. The staff sang Christmas carols. Plus cookies and cider were served not to mention fake snow falling from deck 5 to deck 3. After dinner the main stage entertainment was Katei, a young classically trained rock violinist from Japan/Australia. He was sensational. I bought his CD!
Dale: The South Pacific was angry today. 40 mph winds made it a bit bumpy. However, temps in 70’s as we cruise another day closer to the Fiji Islands. Patty passed on the movie “Tulip Fever” (at least the popcorn was tasty). Back in the cabin, I gave Pat a full body massage (her birthday is coming up). We met a new couple at dinner, Jude and Tony from just north of Boston. Retired nurse and school teacher.
Monday, December 4 – Day 64
“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”
Dravuni Island, Fiji
Dale: BULA! And sun-drenched we were today at our first stop in Fiji. This is how I imagined the South Pacific to be. Pat and I tendered in to shore and oh my God! What a beautiful spot. Clear turquoise waters, sandy beach and aside from the island’s population of 150 natives, all to ourselves! A dip in the refreshing ocean. Then we walked one side of the beach searching for sea shells and snapping photos. Later Dick and Michelle let us use their snorkel gear and we went out to see coral and fish. Afterwards we enjoyed a cold can of Fiji beer as we dried off waiting for the tender back to the Amsterdam. At one point Patty said, “WOW, we just snorkeled in the Fiji Islands”. A glorious afternoon. Back onboard, I went to a movie “Why Him” while Pat opted for the Crow’s Nest and a margarita at sunset. At dinner Patty had Rainbow Trout and I the chicken fetuchinni. The 10pm show featured Carl Strong. Part comedian and part singer. A former member of Gladys Knight and the Pips.
Tuesday, December 5 – Day 65
“The most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” -Unknown
Dale: Amen to that quote. There are so many older guests on this ship that can barely get around. I applaud them for being on this journey but it says to me ‘get out and travel and see before your body won’t allow it’.
Pat: Lautoka was messy and uninspiring. We took the shuttle bus in to town for limited shopping for local souvenirs. We returned to the ship for a late lunch. The sail away was mid-afternoon. I had mojito! The movie was Burt Lancaster in a movie filmed in Fiji “His Majesty O’Keefe”. The Queen’s Lounge featured Oceanic Ambassadors cultural song and dance representing New Zealand, Samoa and Tahiti. At dinner we began to hatch an idea of visiting a beach together in Suva (tomorrow) with Rob and Betty and Ron and Darryl.
Wednesday, December 6 – Day 66
“You don not travel if you are afraid of the unknown. You travel for the unknown, that reveals you within yourself.” – Ella Maillart
Dale: Today was a major disappointment. We planned to taxi to Pacific Beach with Betty/Rob and Darryl/Ron. Unfortunately, the negotiation on the dock with the taxi driver/guide became tedious and convoluted and so Pat and I backed out of the trip with no hard feelings. We later found out they ended up going at an agreeable price and had a great time. Our decision to stay behind and walk into town was not a good one.
Pat: After an hour of being harassed by private vendors, we turned around and headed back to the ship. What an awful way to remember a place I had been so looking forward to. These two towns were like slums-Suva and Lautoka.
Dale: We wanted to go to a salon and have Pat get a pedicure with her birthday coming up. That idea turned into a train wreck with the rude and pushy vendors following us down the street trying to browbeat us for a guided tour of shopping or sightseeing. In hindsight we should have taken a ship excursion to a beach. This cruise has been a learning experience about independent tours off the ship, transportation issues, etc. We (I) didn’t do enough research on individual ports to realize the options available. Later in the day I met with Patrick and discussed the 4 of us hanging together in Pago Pago on Friday. They have done this voyage a few times and know their way around (and at the least expensive angles).
Pat: At 5:30 we went to the Sports Bar for a Martini Sampler. That gave us both a little buzz! Jane Ritter was our featured entertainer in the Queen’s Lounge. A classical flutist, she was pretty good. But she talked too much. Dale said she was trying too hard to ‘sophisticate her audience”.
Thursday, December 7 – Day 67
“Who lives, sees. But who travel sees MORE.” – Anonymous
Pat: We slept in and went straight to the 9:30 “Coffee with Hamish” (Cruise Director). Guests included the Hawaiian dancers and Ukulele teacher. I was inspired to take the hula dance class coming up after Pago Pago on our way to Hawaii. After lunch I went to play Mahjong. We did the 3pm afternoon tea and sat with Margaret and Bill. At 4 a presentation on Great Cruise Liners. One slide and story was about the Norway which was originally called The France. That was the ship Dale and I honeymooned on! At 5 another Martini Sampling (3 for 9 dollars). Fun sitting at the bar and oh what a buzz! The movie was “Home Again” with Reese Witherspoon. Dinner was at a table for 10 and included Karen and Walt, Jose and Gigi, Bill and Margaret and Louise and her husband. Great fun! The 10pm stage show was a production called “At Midnight” by the Amsterdam dancers and singers. A Cinderella like storyline. Very good!
Friday, December 8 – Day 68
“Dream of traveling the WORLD? Only those who WISH they had your courage will tell you NOT to follow your dreams.” – Experience Travel. Experience Life.
Pago Pago, American Samoa
Dale: At midnight we crossed the International Date Line and we moved our clocks back 24 hours. Sooo, it is Thursday AGAIN! 2 December 7th. We received a certificate signed by the Captain marking the crossing.
Pat: After breakfast we met Patrick and Raina for a colorful city bus ride along the coastline of this American Samoan Island. Spectacular views of the ocean and the tropical rainforests. The bus was a super detailed Ford pickup truck with wooden open air seat. This is the city’s public transit system! The 4 of us had a blast and Dale captured beautiful video along the way. We came back to the ship for lunch. Changed into our swimsuits and went back out. This time heading in the other direction and in 15 minutes were swimming in the South Pacific! For 10 bucks we used the beach at Sadie’s By the Sea. We pretty much had the place to ourselves for an hour or so. We had a local beer and took a dip in the resort’s pool before heading back to the ship. It was a most wonderful day and nice recovery from Fiji.
Dale: Pago Pago is a small village on the island of Tutuila. About 6 thousand citizens for a total island population of 55K. It felt good to not have a currency or language barrier. Music was pounding from the rear of our city bus with Christmas tunes, very unique. Before we went to Sadie’s By the Sea there was a Park Ranger presentation on the ship. We learned about the American Samoan culture with slides and song and dance. By the time we returned to the ship for the Sail Away it was raining.
The movie was “Atomic Blonde”. Kind of a bomb. Dinner with Jean and John. What a nice couple they are. Jean gave Pat an early birthday gift and card.
Friday, December 8 – Day 69
“Traveling’s not something you’re good at. It’s something you do like breathing.” – Gayle Foreman
Dale: Our next 5 days are at sea, cruising to Hawaii. Pat to her Hula Dance class and me to my Ukulele class. A couple of lectures today for me. Magellan and his amazing world voyage and later Lighthouses around the world. I booked our Hop On/Off bus for Honolulu, then my daily mile walk around the ship plus some reading on an outside promenade deck lounger. Pat enjoyed some down time in the library checking the bank and email. We did another martini sampling in the sports bar around 5.
Pat: I could tell the Hula Dance class was going to be stressful but I was determined to see it through. I wanted to be in the graduating class show for the ship in a couple of days. After lunch I played Mahjong again, even one a game. Martini sampling with Dale at 5 (the bartenders Roland and Flores are very funny). We tried sitting through the movie but it was a stinker. On to dinner (nice when you have open seating, no time restrictions). Dale went to the 10pm main stage show but was back to the cabin in 10 minutes. Good night all.
Saturday, December 9 – Day 70
“No matter where you go, there you are.” – Buckaroo Banzai
Pat: Today was a celebration of crossing the Equator for some of the crew and staff for their first time. They went from pollywops to big fish with an initiation that included kissing a fish, being slimed and then dumped in the swimming pool. It was highly entertaining. Later in the morning it was my Hula lesson. After lunch I played Mahjong then met Dale for a movie “Battle of the Sexes” about Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King historical tennis match. We met Dot and Tom for dinner along with new people for us, Joan and Jim. We saw Elena Bosworth, a cellist in the Queen’s Lounge. She was very entertaining.
Dale: Today was another Gala Night. Time for the tux again. I had the Halibut instead of Surf and Turf. Delicious. The main stage featured a cellist from Ukraine who wore some sexy high heels while performing music from Bach to Rock! Interesting mix. Good night all.
Sunday, December 10 – Day 71
“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” – Herman Melville
Pat: at 11 I had my hula dance rehearsal and then the wonderful Sunday brunch. We set our clocks forward anther hour and we are now on Honolulu time. At 5 we went to the Aloha Sunset Music Hour at the Lido Dome. Then another round of Martini Samples in the Sports Bar. We arranged to have my birthday dinner with Fred & Helen and Rob & Betty, our favorite couples of the cruise. The dining room staff for our table including my favorite waiter, Aris sang a Polynesian happy birthday to me and served a small cake for the 6 of us. Fred & Helen gave me one of Fred’s paintings of Dravuni Island from his watercolor class. I was just stunned by the sweet gift. I will treasure it always! What a wonderful memory to have of this once in a lifetime adventure we’ve been on. Rob & Betty gave me a porcelain tea brewing cup from Hong Kong. Another treasure of this trip. This day was a wonderful birthday. Dale wrote a beautiful note to me on a card from the HAL card collection at the beginning of our cruise. After dinner we went to the 10pm performance of Lily Jane Young, a Scottish singer with a powerful and beautiful voice. The end to a wonderful 71st birthday on the 71st day of our cruise!
Monday, December 11 – Day 72
“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give. To roam the roads of lands remote. To travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Anderson
Dale: A lazy day at sea. More hula dance and ukulele rehearsals for the Tuesday graduation performance. Lunch at the Dive In by the pool. With Ice-cream cones of course! A Q&A gathering with the Captain, Hotel Director and Cruise Director for feedback on this particular voyage.
Movietime at the Wajang Theater-“Golden Years” about a retired british couple robbing banks to help others. Martini sampling at the Sports bar where we met a retired school teacher from Alberta, Canada. Very lively passenger. It was Tropical Night in the La Fontaine Room. Decorated with palm trees and wait staff in straw hats and Hawaiian shirts. We sat with Sherry and Mike, retired and living in Equador. They had lived on a sailboat for 7 years. Also dining with us was Spencer, the Test Kitchen host. Amsterdam singers and dancers performed “The Great American Songbook”.
Tuesday, December 12 – Day 73
“If you wish to travel far and fast…travel light, take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.” – Cesare Pavese
Pat: A light breakfast in Lido. Dale walked his mile and relaxed in a deck chair for a while. Then final rehearsal for our recital this afternoon. Lunch in the dining room. We had been given grass table skirts to use for the Hula dance. I trimmed and cut mine to fit. I sure hope I can pack it to take home! Dale asked Tim Vick to video tape both of us at the show. It turned out pretty good. I didn’t look too stupid, pleasantly surprised. Later in the evening we sat with Tim and Julie for dinner. Lots of laughs and stories. They are well traveled.
Dale: Fresh fruit and coffee in Lido before making Lauhala bracelets by the pool for us to wear at our afternoon graduation performance. It was fun being on stage and we both received our certificate of graduation for participating. Just before dinner we heard from the Captain that our stop in Maui was cancelled. Something to do with weather and high winds preventing safe tendering ashore. Bummer! Instead we will be in Honolulu 2 days. The entertainment was a combo of Patrick McCullagh and Lily Jane Young. Hawaii tomorrow, good night all.
Wednesday, December 15 – Day 74
“The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.” –Cherkasy
Dale: We were up at 6 for the sail in. This was the only destination we had previously been to on this entire voyage. And that was about 30 years ago! After room service and immigration inspection, we were off the ship by 8:30 to board the Waikiki Trolley. We thought this would be the best way to reacquaint us to the island of Oahu.
The Duke Kahanamoku statue stands out on the famous beach of Waikiki. We drove past the Zoo and Aquarium on our way to Diamond Head. We rode into the crater and stopped for photos. Spectacular views of the city and ocean with mountains behind. Another trolley took us further away from the city past Aloha Stadium and Pearl Harbor. Patty and I had already visited the Arizona Memorial plus the Punchbowl Military Cemetery. Back to change trolley lines and a snack break. Next to Hanauma Bay Lookout. This beach was the sight of Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii movie and it is breath taking. The coral and clear waters beckon to me for snorkeling. But no time and no gear so on to Halona Blow Hole near the “Here to Eternity” film location. Beautiful shorelines and beaches. I could have sat there all afternoon! Next was Sandy Beach. The Hawaii Kai Lookout was incredible. Back to the Galleria for the Red Line to Aloha Tower and the Amsterdam. We never made it to Chinatown.
The Lido was serving NY Strip steaks so we ate a little earlier than usual. Next some bar hopping for Martini samples at the Sports Bar, cocktails in the Crow’s Nest and a stop at the Piano Bar. Time for a special 9:30 “Drums of Polynesia”. Direct from Maui. Exotic music from Hawaii, Tahiti and Phillipines plus dancing with colorful costumes. It looked like a family group and one of the drummers couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. He was so cute in his get up and he was seriously playing the drums!
Thursday, December 14 – Day 75
“Travel is at its most rewarding when it ceases to be about your reaching a destination and becomes indistinguishable from living your life.” -Paul Theroux
Dale: It was a major disappointment to have Maui cancelled. As it was explained, a cold front with high wind swell conditions made it unsafe to run the tender operation to Lahaina. Maui was going to be the icing on the cake to this journey. We had found another couple planning to spend the day at the nude beach, Little Beach and we were going to split a rental car and experience it together. That plan negated by bad weather, DAMMIT! Plus it was the best port to spot whales as they migrate from Alaska to the islands. Double DAMMIT!
Pat: We met Fred & Helen at 8:30 to start the day. A long city bus ride through the center of the island up to the north shore of Oahu and around the north coast where the surf is so big and all the charming little towns along the way. And just 7 dollars for the bus fare! We saw coffee farms and the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Beaches and parks, it was jaw-dropping. The bus went through famous Turtle Bay golf course and resort. Past the Polynesian Culture Center. It was mid-afternoon before we returned to the terminal. I got to talk to Pam while we were off the ship and we walked to a nearby shopping district for last minute souvenirs.
Dale: Our sail away was about after sunset. By the way, we had beautiful weather in Honolulu which made it difficult to understand why Maui wasn’t doable.
Friday, December 15 – Day 76
“I would gladly live out of a suitcase if it meant I could see the world.” -Anonymous
Dale: For the first time in many days, I’ve begun to think of suitcases and packing as our grand voyage will be over in 4 sea days across the Pacific. We turned our clocks forward an hour and now only 1 hour behind California.
Pat: Coffee with Hamish featured Jack the artist/teacher of the onboard watercolor class group. Fred was announced as the most improved student. At 3 in the Queen’s Lounge we saw the Indonesian crew talent show. It was wonderful. At 7, another Cruise Specialist cocktail reception. On our way to dinner we decided to dine alone but when we got to the dining room a group was being seated and they asked us to join them. It was Walt & Karen, Rob & Betty, Bill & Margaret and Ken & Louise. I sat next to Karen to catch up since the Hula dance show. The highlight was Bill writing his diet menu form for tomorrow, he ended up writing on the table cloth without knowing. It was pretty funny and the waiters even laughed! The 10pm show was a tribute to ABBA. I begged off and Dale came back after 15 minutes. Just not into ABBA.
Saturday, December 16 – Day 77
“Do it NOW. The future is promised to no one.” – Kushandwizdom
Dale: I woke up this morning grateful for another day of life. Especially after last night. Rough seas in the Pacific halfway back to San Diego-WOW! The ship was pitching and swaying back and forth. Worst ride of the cruise so far.
Pat: Breakfast with Kathleen & Tony plus Helen. I’ve come to like eggs benedict on this trip. We decided to start the packing process today. Finally showed Dot some of my stitching at Coffee Chat.
Dale: The Mariner Society reception was at 6:30. Holland America recognizes the loyal cruisers and we all had champagne and wine in the Queen’s Lounge. Gala Night in the La Fontaine Room. Surf & Turf for about the 10th time, yum. We have been spoiled by all of these wonderful meals. We were provided masks for the Captain’s Masked Ball. Dancing to the Orchestra in our fancy duds. Patty and I had one stroll around the dance floor and called it a night. As we returned to our cabin, 2 beautiful commemorative plates were on our bed. Like a serving dish with a map of our itinerary of ports. Very cool.
Sunday, December 17 – Day 78
“To travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Bernhoft
Pat: A Mariner’s Society lunch today in main dining. Champagne plus another gift. Logo coasters of the Amsterdam. Amazingly, we sat with 8 other passengers we had not yet met! At 3 was the Fillipino crew show in the Queen’s Lounge. Different from the Indonesian crew show but just as entertaining! Sports Bar at 5 for some martini sampling. Joined by Keith and Mark from Scottsdale. The movie was “The Mountain Between Us” starring Kate Winslet and Idiris Elba. I thought it was one of the best we saw on the cruise. We sat alone at dinner and during our meal, Rob & Betty and Mark & Keith stopped by to invite us to a Canaletto dinner the next night. That will be fun.
Dale: It was “Dutch Night” and as always the food was outstanding. We were encouraged to wear orange. Patty had a coral wrap and I wore a pink shirt. Close enough! Patty skipped the late show so I sat through the Amsterdam singers and dancers doing Beatles and Stones and other British Invasion songs of past decades. Good night from the Pacific!
Monday, December 18 – Day 79
“We wander for distraction…but we travel for fulfillment.” -Hilarie Belloc
Dale: Cloudy and blustery today. Almost everyone including us devoted time to pack for disembarkation…well not everyone. Some are continuing on to the Panama Canal over to Ft Lauderdale and then staying on the ship for the 2018 World Cruise! At 4 the Captain’s farewell Finale with champagne. Working those tips!
Pat: We had dinner at the Caneletto with Fred & Helen, Mark & Keith and Rob & Betty. A great meal with our favorite people onboard. I got to tell them my ‘snake story’ and they loved it. The late show featured Terry Davis as the Piano Man….doing tributes to Elton John and Billy Joel. It was fairly entertaining. Then we called it a night.
Tuesday, December 19 – Day 80
”Maybe the best moment of your life will be on your next big adventure.” -Siya Zarrabi
Dale: And so we’ve reached our last day at sea and of this journey. The weather was nice. Calm winds and sea with mostly blue skies. Final Coffee Chat and a hug or 2 for new friends made on this voyage. Pat and I had one last visit with Slyvia and Ken. Both in their 70’s and constant cruisers from Colorado. The same 8 who dined last night met for lunch in main dining to exchange contact info and say our goodbyes, holiday wishes and safe travels. At 2 we moved our clocks forward one last time. Now on San Diego time. At 4, Patty went to the library to use her last minutes on the internet package to check us in for our flight on Southwest.
One final dinner with Helen & Fred. Tips for Aris our favorite waiter and Nannik our favorite hostess. Then envelopes for cabin steward Agus. Time to place our luggage in the hallway outside our room, brush our teeth and say goodnight.
Wednesday, December 20 – San Diego
“I don’t know where I’m going from here but I promise it won’t be boring.” –Unknown
23,400 nautical miles traveled/cruised
Even with ports cancelled in Alaska, Vietnam, Hawaii and South Korea…it was a glorious voyage. A lifetime trip like we’ve never experienced. We stayed pretty healthy for 3 months in spite of Patty’s eye issue and my brief head cold. Hauling 9 bags to the airport, waiting 2 hours to check 5 of the bags and sitting another 3 hours for the flight departure was exhausting.
Julie got us home long after Midnight. Whoever decides to read about our adventure, thank you and we hope you enjoyed.
Dale & Pat