Hawaiian Islands - 2017
This cruise is a repeat cruise for us. We did this same cruise in April of 2013 with Walt and Janet Jamison of Seattle and Andi and Ed Myers of Livermore. We are cruising solo this time, but we will find many people to visit with most likely. Traveling together is always nicer, but traveling solo is very OK as well.
This is a bit of a Memorial cruise for us, actually. We lost Janet two months ago, so we will be thinking of her as we take this cruise. We are looking forward to having Walt stop by our home after we return from this cruise. It will be good to see him again.
We had a car and driver pick us up at the house and take us to San Francisco Pier 27, where we arrived early. We checked in rather swiftly, but had to wait in a seating area for maybe twenty minutes before we could go aboard. They have to do a certain amount of clean-up from the cruise that just disembarked, and the ship has to go through a cycle of security checks and get a clearance from Customs. It was a pleasant wait and we found folks to speak with while we waited. I know... imagine that.
We were able to walk on board and our cabin was actually prepared and we could drop our carry-ons in the cabin before we went up to Lido deck (deck 14) to the Horizon Court for lunch. Our cabin is B315, which is on Baja deck (deck 11) starboard (right side).
For lunch with sat with a couple from Canada and a fellow from the Bay area. We had a nice visit with them.
We have been experiencing at home what is referred to as a “Pineapple Express” which is a storm that is blowing in from the Pacific Ocean… from Hawai’i… which is coming in from the place to which we are going. That makes me wonder what we will be experiencing as we sail toward Hawai’i. Time will tell… soon.
We did not leave the dock before it was dark outside and cold, so we did not go topside for a 'Sail-Away'. We went to dinner around 1700 hours (5:00 pm). That is when they opened the Michelangelo Dining Room on deck five, mid-ship. That is where they have 'Anytime Dining' which means we can go in anytime after 1700 hours, and up until 2100 hours. We tell them "Party of two and we will share". That means they will seat us at a table with others. It may be a table for two, four, six, eight, ten or twelve. We never know. We prefer six, as you can easily talk with everyone at the table. If it is eight, and anyone has trouble hearing or speaks softly, you cannot communicate well.
They seated us at a table for six. It included Jane, a retail clerk from Denver and her sister Judy, a retired school teacher, Margaret, a retired Police Officer from San Francisco, and a lady that had a huge bottle of wine that she said she had in her cabin when she arrived. She said that somewhere in the past the cruise line got the idea that she has cruised with them 75 times, so they give her a bottle every cruise. She did not say how many it had actually been. She seldom drinks alcohol so she was looking for help to drink the wine. The officer from San Francisco helped her. She can have the dining steward keep the wine under her name for another night if it is not empty, so she had them keep it under Margaret's name, since she said she only has one glass per cruise. LOL.
Rosalee and I are on a Paleolithic diet that her nephew Ed Myers was told about by his doctor. Ed is diabetic, as I am, and also has some heart issues, and he has found success in the diet, so we have been on it for about two months, and I have also found it quite helpful. The question is "Can we stay on this diet and be on a cruise ship where the order of the day is to eat 24/7?" It will be a test, for sure.
The tough parts about the diet: No sugar. No dairy. No grain. No legumes. What is left you ask? LOL It really is not bad. What we CAN eat is quite good. I will try to share most of our meal selections with you as we do this cruise.
Tonight's choice... We chose Prime Rib, with a potato and other veggies, but started with shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, and then the dessert menu comes around. That is always our Waterloo. We selected a fruit plate which had a slice of watermelon, a slice of cantaloupe, a slice of honeydew melon, a slice of pineapple, and half a strawberry, with no sauce or chocolate or sugar or anything. Very good. That, believe it or not, is totally within our dietary plan. So far, so good. We are on track. Fourteen more nights to go.
We were finished in time to catch the night's entertainment: "Welcome Aboard Showtime" with Miguel Washington, a comedian. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE4SwXneVag (from YouTube).
We saw just a sample of his show which will be on at a later night in the cruise. The show was in the Princess Theater which is on decks 6 and 7 forward and holds nearly half the people on the ship. They have two shows tonight. There are other things going on all over the ship.
We retired to our cabin and tuned in a movie on our cabin TV. They have several dozen movies that are played at several times throughout the day. We selected to watch "The Intern" with DeNiro and Hathaway.
|DAY ONE - AT SEA
January 10th, Tuesday
We went to what Princess calls a Destination Presentation, where they talk a little about an upcoming destination. This one was in the Princess Theater, entitled: "The Big Island", and was presented by an Hawaiian woman (wahine - pronounced wah - hee - nay). She was very interesting, even though we had been to the Big Island a dozen times before.
We went up to the Horizon Court for a brunch and sat with Marci, another retired teacher from the San Francisco area. She indicated that she was friendly with Pat Brown, and that her Grandfather was a publicist for Newt Rockney in the past.
We went directly down to deck 7, the Promenade deck, aft, for an "Enrichment Lecturer" named Hal Tinberg https://www.facebook.com/Hal-Tinberg-Forensic-Science-Lectures-123511817696024/ , where he lectured on the subject: "DNA Testing: Cold Cases Solved". The theater was packed. His lecture was fascinating. He is very active in the forensics field, and told in simple layman's terms how research and techniques are enabling experts to solve questions regarding human remains decades and even centuries after the fact. DNA can be lifted from bone marrow, teeth, and even hair that may still exist in some conditions.
The afternoon was a relaxing break in the cabin where we watched another movie: "Kate and Leopold" with Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman. Some movies are a few years old but they are still good to watch... especially if we did not get the chance to see them when they were current.
We were having some rather rough seas, but the water did not really look bad at all. I know that people are concerned about getting on a boat 'way out there' on the 'big, bad ocean', with humongous waves and such, but this is what it looked like from our balcony.
People wonder how rough it is out to sea. This was taken three hundred miles out and the only waves are the ones that we are making as we glide through the blue water.
For dinner we were seated at a table for eight. There was another retired teacher and an electrical contractor from Canada, two women from San Jose, and a couple from just outside Boston. My menu selections were shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, leg of lamb, and a fruit plate for dessert.
The evening entertainment that we attended was in the Princess Theater where we saw a vocal impressionist Sean O’Shea. He had a very good show. This is a clip of his work that I found on the internet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8REFr5hgJc
|DAY TWO - AT SEA
Today was our first Naturalist Presentation by Mark Harris http://www.frugal-retirement-living.com/the-onboard-naturalist.html who spoke on the volcanoes of Hawai’i. He was fascinating. We learned a little fact... Grand Princess fuel mileage is 60 FEET per gallon, or 88 gallons per mile. Carrying 2600 passengers and a crew of 1150, that is 42.6 miles per gallon per occupant. Haven't we all wondered that? LOL
Sitting nearby was Wallace and Beverly from Atlanta, Georgia. We chatted with them for a little while after the lecture... until the folks asked us to vacate the theater as they needed to close it for rehearsals.
We went up to the Lido deck for brunch and sat with a couple from Kansas. They were on the Grand when it had electrical side-thruster failure in Honolulu within the previous year. It failed as they were entering Hilo and had to divert to Honolulu for repairs. Hilo did not have tugs large enough to move the Grand into position on the pier was what they were told. After three days of repairs in Honolulu they said they had to return to the mainland at a slower speed, and they offered anyone that wanted it a free flight home PLUS reimbursement of their full trip cost PLUS CREDIT for half their next trip. That is very unusual for a cruise company to do. This couple were doing their ‘make-up trip today. They said the trip back was very pleasant... all of the kibitzrs got off and flew home so the spas and theaters were not at all crowded.
We went to the Vista Lounge for Enrichment lecturer Hal Tinberg Presents: Forensic DNA: Landmark Cases. Very interesting. We sat with Wallace and Beverly.
We had a small lunch, to satisfy us until dinner, and then ran across Wallace and Beverly in Crooner’s Lounge and visited over an hour. He worked for GM in their financial section.
Tonight is our first Formal night. We enjoy the formal nights. The people act differently and they all look nice.
We were seated at a table for six tonight, with Bob and his wife from Fulsom, CA, and Liz and her husband from Lincoln, California. My selection was shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, Ono fish with carrots and Bok Choy, and the fruit plate.
Entertainment tonight in the Princess Theater was a vocalist named Cheaza who sang a tribute to Whitney Houston. https://www.starnow.com.au/cheazafigueroa She has a very dynamic voice and a very boisterous show. We sat next to Eldon and his wife from Chicago, where he is a retired carpenter.
We need to remember to set our clocks back an hour tonight. We will be on Anchorage time... Anchorage, Alaska that is.
|DAY THREE - AT SEA
A beautiful morning. The sea is as calm as a kitten and the sky is a beautiful baby blue and pink with the new sunrise. Nothing more beautiful than a sunrise and a sunset at sea. We are out of the California/Alaskan current and away from the remnants of the storm we have been experiencing.
This morning's Destination Presentation: Kaua’i with Kimo, the resident Hawaiian ‘local’, after which we went up to brunch.
Then we headed to the Naturalist Lecture: Whales – The largest animals on the planet. A very interesting presentation, as his lectures always are.
We stayed in the Princess Theater to view a video shot by the ship's videographer entitled "Hawai’i Above and Below". It was the best Hawaiian video I have ever seen. We spoke with the videographer afterward and he said that the music was taken from music the photo department has in stock. It was amazing. We ordered it.
Tonight's dinner was good, but we did not have the best tablemates. Two women from San Jose were fine, but a couple from Texas were a bit boorish. She was young and Vietnamese and he was an older Italian (their claims to their ancestry) that insisted on being the one that spoke… constantly. She spoke at the same time, with a very heavy accent and very quickly and very loudly. We could only understood about 1/3 of what she said. Both very loud. He asked for a plate of Chilean Sea Bass… along with his other selection from the menu. He insisted that everyone have a sample of the bass... and it was wonderful! He then complained about his other plate, and insisted on having a replacement for it... after he ate most of it... and then he ate the second one. He also ordered another plate of the bass.
I had shrimp cocktail, a soup with scallops, Mahi Mahi fish, and the fruit/melon plate for dessert. I had a few bites of Cherries Jubilee …just to make sure it tasted ok.
The show was one of the best from Princess. Called Stardust, the singers and dancers performed and did a handful of songs from the forties and fifties. VERY nice. With the average age of the passengers older than we are, I would think they would do more shows with that type of music. Of course, when the singers and dancers are trained and learn the shows, they have no idea which ship they will be placed on, but most Princess ships cater more to the older people. Very few young people on board. I don't think that we saw more than three teens, and maybe five pre-teens on this cruise.
We watched a couple of movies on the TV before going to sleep. One was “The Fault in Our Stars”, a wonderful movie about a couple of teens with cancer. Very touching. A real tear-jerker.
|DAY FOUR - AT SEA
The naturalist lecture was: Dolphins – The Mammals With The Endless Smile. Again we sat with Wallace and Beverly.
Shortly after that was Enrichment Lecturer Hal Tinberg Presents: Forensics and History: The Mystery of the Romanovs in the Vista Lounge. We walked to the other end of the ship with Wallace and Beverly and sat together to finish our conversation. The talk was about the mystery of the missing Romanov children, Anastasia and the boy, Alexia. I was not aware that a boy was missing as well. It has been determined that the actual missing child was Maria, not Anastasia. Maria and Alexia were buried 120 feet from the other members, to fool anyone that found either group of bodies into thinking it was not the Romanov family, because the number of bodies was not correct.
Up to lunch, where we sat with Eldon, the fellow we met in the Princess Theater on day two. His wife was not feeling well last night and missed the musical show, and was still feeling a bit ‘under’ the weather. He took her a cup of clam chowder.
Back to the cabin for the afternoon to rest, read and write.
Dinner was with Jim and Gail from New York, and two ladies that are friends from Fresno. I had shrimp cocktail, an entree of prawns, and the fruit/melon plate.
Showtime was Miguel Washington, the comedian we met the first night. He was loud… but good. We sat next to a gentleman and his wife from Morgan Hill that does land development, who is currently working with over 12,000 acres of land in his projects. His responses concerning water availability and the selling off of the agricultural land in California support our friend Bob Wheeler’s comments. Bob is an orange grower in southern California. We shared common complaints about Planning Commissions, Building Permit Clerks, and Building Inspectors.
|DAY FIVE - HILO,
We pulled into port in Hilo early in the morning. The sky was overcast. We have an excursion scheduled to go up to the top of Mauna Kea today. We cannot even see the mountain... and it is the biggest thing in the area. The sky is too cloudy. Well, we will soon be above the clouds.
Hotels Out On Banyan Drive, with Hilo, Hawai'i Behind Them
We got up around 0600 to get ready to disembark for our excursion. We went up to the Horizon Court for breakfast, and sat with an Asian couple from San Francisco. They were interesting to speak with.
We were supposed to meet on the dock by 0830 for our excursion up the mountain (Mauna Kea). We found our guide waiting in the terminal building. It was a party of 10 in a Ford F-450 bus. All of us were soon there so we headed across Hilo. First we stopped at the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i in Hilo that was very interesting, and it had a planetarium that allowed us to see a beautiful lecture on star navigation. The guide talked about how the early discoverers from Polynesia were able to 'read' the sky and navigate on the open seas.
Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i
in Hilo, Hawai'i.
Next we went up Daniel K. Inouye Highway to the junction that turns off to go up the mountain. Located at 6,600 foot elevation, we stopped and got out to look at some native plants and the geology of the area. The guide (Joel) was an excellent guide. He was very knowledgeable about plants, animals, Hawaiian history, ancient navigation, geology, volcanism, and astronomy. He worked for five years as a National Park Ranger on Mauna Kea. We were told that this short stop also allowed our bodies to become more acclimated to the change in altitude we were experiencing.
The Intersection of Daniel K Inouye
Hwy (between Hilo and the Kona side of the island) and Mauna
Kea Access Rd
We drove up to the rest stop at 9,050 foot elevation for restrooms, and a lunch he had brought. Water for drinking was abundantly available to us and lunch was good. Joel discussed problems we may encounter with “altitude sickness” and talked about how to prevent ourselves from having problems breathing. He advised us to “don’t forget to breath”. He showed us techniques with breathing deeply and every fifth breath take a deep breath and exhale with pressure against restricted lips… like blowing a trumpet, to force more oxygen into our blood. If we felt queezy to drop down to our haunches to force our body to use the oxygen more efficiently. Rosalee asked him who would help us to get back up. He told us that he carried bottled oxygen on the bus, and it was available, but he has never had to use it. He watched us closely, like a mother hen, and said that if any one of us had trouble with breathing "we're outta here!"
Near the rest stop was a complex of apartments that are available to those that work for the park service and work the telescopes and rest-area facilities. It should be noted that most of the scientists that observe the findings of the telescopes do not work up on the mountain. In the town of Waimea (Kamuela) a short twenty five miles away (as the crow flies) the Keck facility has the offices and observation facilities.
Beyond the rest-stop four-wheel drive was required on the vehicles. The road was steep and very rough gravel/hardpan that is graded twice a week, but was total washboard at the day after grading.
There are almost a dozen telescopes at the top of Mauna Kea (White Mountain), and our first stop was next to a radio telescope that is connected with half a dozen others that are spaced half way around the world. They all send data to someplace in Arizona, USA, where it is all compiled and compared on supercomputers and it tells scientists about movement of the continental plate shifting. There is a small building next to the antenna, but there is no one that resides or is currently at the site, and while we were there, the whole antenna started moving and it rotated about 180 degrees and also changed the angle of the antenna with relation to the ground. Joel said that all of the antennas automatically turned in the same exact way, all at the same time.
This Google Image Shows The Relative Size of The Radio-Telescope and The Road Leading To It
The Fence Posts In The Foreground Hint At The Size of This Antenna
In The Center of This Image, Above
The First Blue Sky Area, Above A Small Strip of White Clouds,
Next we stopped at the W. M. Keck observatory at 13,600 foot elevation. The building actually has two telescopes, Keck I and Keck II. You can see the 'twin domes' at the top center of this Google image:
This Google Image Shows All of The
Telescopes On The Mountain,
The telescope turned and moved around while we were in there. It has a 30 foot (10 meter) diameter main mirror, which makes it the third largest optical telescope on Earth. But, because the larger machines have limitations on how they gather light and process it, the two identical Keck telescopes are the largest steerable, optical/infrared telescopes on Earth. The mirror is made from 36 segments of glass material that is polished to an extremely smooth and possibly the flattest finish on Earth. Each segment weighs 1,000 pounds, and is clustered together to form the large ‘mirror’. Each segment electronically adjusts itself in relation to the other segments 2,000 times each second, and is able to be removed individually and replaced with a stand-by segment that only puts the telescope out of service for about half an hour.
This Internet Image Illustrates The
Size Of The Mirror And The Individual Segments.
This mirror has the capability of extremely high resolution. To compare it, Joel indicated that were the Earth’s surface flat, it could look at a newspaper in New York and read the small print clearly. Actually, the telescope cannot be lowered any lower than the horizon, and the mirror is so incredibly reflective, the dome is never open in the sunlight because a ray of sunlight would turn the mirror into a solar furnace and melt steel. The dome never opens in the daylight.
We were able to step into a small viewing area that was glassed in but inside the observatory dome. That was because it is quite cold inside the observatory, for better function of the telescope. They use cryogenics to cool some of the instrumentation all the way down to 3 degrees Kelvin… that is three degrees above Absolute Zero. Brrr. This equipment allows the telescope to detect a light that is ten times fainter than a candle burning on the surface of the moon.
This image was taken as we stood in the small, glassed-in room, and you can see the large dome up at the top of the image. You an see the crescent-shaped segment of the dome that opens when they want to see the sky. The White hexagonal frame that is supported on either side by the dark blue steel frames is the telescope, and the large mirror is at the bottom of the image, just out of sight. The light comes through that door in the dome, down through the white hexagon, down to the mirror.
The Telescope, As Seen From The
This reflecting telescope was the one that allowed the scientists to discover that Pluto was not actually a planet. However, since that declaration, they have re-thought the situation, and since there are multiple other objects that are very similar to Pluto in description, they are now referring to them as “dwarf planets”.
It is estimated that there are several hundred thousand complete solar systems out there in space. Some have been identified that are so far away that the light (images) that we see left those distant solar systems more than 18 million years ago, so it basically is like looking back in time. We are seeing what that solar system looked like that long ago. Who knows… it may no longer be there.
Our guide told us that there is a planet that is not in our solar system, but it is four times the size of Earth, and it appears… so far… to be similar to Earth in its temperature and atmosphere. Stay tuned.
Many images of these telescopes can be located at this address https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x7953bd801bccd375%3A0x3fca821c581a81bf!2m19!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i20!16m13!1b1!2m2!1m1!1e1!2m2!1m1!1e3!2m2!1m1!1e5!2m2!1m1!1e4!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FW._M._Keck_Observatory!5sKeck%20Observatory%20-%20Google%20Search&imagekey=!1e1!2shttps%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fthumb%2F1%2F10%2FKeckObservatory20071020.jpg%2F226px-KeckObservatory20071020.jpg&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj6xsCK2f7RAhUK3mMKHURPD_kQoioIzgEwDQ
There is a nice write-up and a beautiful short video about the telescope here... http://www.keckobservatory.org/about/the_observatory
"Anyone" can get time on the telescope, but it requires their filing an application with the consortium that operates the facility. There is no price listed for the use of the facility, but with an electrical bill of over $90,000 per month, it is definitely not cheap. Knowledge gained with the use of the facility is shared world-wide.
I was feeling a bit faint and light-headed, as were others. It was difficult to do very much moving around such as walking, etc. We were told to wear cold-weather clothing and jackets on this excursion, but the outside temperature was sweater weather, even though there was snow on the ground (but not blocking the road). Two teens had driven their pickup to the top and were shoveling snow into the back. They were no doubt planning on joining friends in building a snowman on the beach.
Then we drove on up to other telescopes, which were nearby, although they were not open to us. They are all on a loop in the road, and within a small area of land. They are within a circle with a diameter of about 3,000 feet or 2/3 of a mile. I had hoped, back when we considered signing up for this excursion, that we would have a grand view of 'our' island. A cloud cover made that impossible. But, we could see mountains that stuck up through the clouds. And image earlier looks to the north, and showed the tip of Haleakala on Maui, which peaks out at a couple dozen feet over 10,000 feet. The image below shows a view to the south, with the peak of Mauna Loa, which is only 120 feet lower than Mauna Kea.
It was an easy ride back down the mountain, and back into Hilo. We were back at the ship by a quarter to four, and we were sailing by five.
Dinner was at a table for eight. One couple was from Walnut Creek, CA, about ten miles from our home. Another couple were from Texas… he was a banker. They had a friend with them, and another single woman joined us.
The evening show was wonderful. It was called The Modern Gentleman https://www.themoderngentlemen.net/video , and was four male singers that had been back-up singers for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. They sang songs from the forties, fifties and sixties, from the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Motown. They were fantastic.
Sailing in the islands is smooth, with pleasant weather. Nothing like we hear they are having back at home. Glad we are here in this beautiful weather.
|DAY SIX HONOLULU, OAHU, HAWAI'I
Daybreak Over Honolulu
It is always exciting to come into a port. Honolulu is a beautiful city, and I was standing on our Balcony as we came into port. The sun was just breaking over the horizon, giving a little different view we usually have. Flying to our house-sitting gig on the Big Island was always a flight from San Francisco, past the Big Island to Honolulu, and then a two or three hour wait for a plane to fly back to Kona. We always enjoyed the cool breezes blowing through the Honolulu Airport complex, and we would have a relaxing lunch, so it was not bad at all. Recently, however, in the last several years, we have been able to fly directly from SF to Kona on Alaska Airlines. So, early mornings in Honolulu are something that is new to us.
Secured In Our Berth, With Aloha Tower Rising Before Honolulu and Pearl City
We only have the lectures on our sea days, so we thought that we might go up to the Horizon Court to have a bite to eat and then maybe walk out into town, just to look around. We had no excursions planned for this port. We sat at a table with a couple from Kent, England. They were nice, and we had a little chat, and then they had to leave.
A few minutes later, Vickie Waggoner from Redding, CA sat down. Redding is about 70 miles from Gridley, where we grew up. She even attended Chico State College where I attended. She was four years older than us. We had a wonderful time discussing anything and everything. She was widowed last October, and she served in the Air Force, where she met her husband… a career Air Force man.
She has two kids… boy and girl… and four grandkids… just like us. One lives in San Diego and she prefers to drive, but it is getting to be too far to do in one day, so we invited her to stop in and see us on her way through. She said she would bring her clock by for me to fix.
We ended up talking to Vickie all day and left her to go down to our cabin to dress for dinner. We never walked off the ship. But actually, being berthed where we are, it is more industrial in that area, and it is a mile or so to walk to shopping or a park, and it was not anything that we needed to do.
At dinner tonight a couple related an experience that they had had earlier that day. They had signed up for a snorkeling excursion where they were to go out on a boat with others and swim with a face mask and a breathing tube, where they can see the beautiful fish swimming in the area. As soon as she got in the water, her finger was cold and her wedding ring slipped off. Another swimmer said that she was watching a fish that was nearby try to bite if as it sank in the water, but it missed and the ring went on down. The water was 35 feet deep. That is just a little too deep to dive without scuba gear.
She told the fellows on the boat, and they were not sure they could do anything. A young deck hand said that he would try. He put on a face mask and dove in. He went down several times, but after about twenty minutes of trying, he came back up and ... he had her ring. As she told this story, I told her that she had witnessed a miracle. That was an amazing story. The husband said "That young deckhand got one heck of a tip, I tell you." LOL
The evening show is the one they usually do when in Honolulu… a troupe of hula dancers (actually a school class) and three adult singers come on board and put on a nice show. The kids (keiki) (Kay – ee – kee) were aged 8 to 12, with some that were teens. They were all female this trip. They were fantastically good. Precision timing. Always smiling. Dressed exactly the same. The three adults played stringed instruments and sang. They all leave the ship before we set sail, and we sail very late… 2300 hours.
Filming of performances is not allowed, of course, but this clip came from the internet that is a good example of what we saw on the ship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPb7eCh_n0A
|DAY SEVEN NAWILIWILI
HARBOR, KAUAI, HAWAI'I
We are scheduled to go on an excursion at this port, so we got up early and had breakfast.
Ninini Point Lighthouse
Nawiliwili Harbor is a rather tight fit, and our huge ship has to thread her way past a break-water to reach the harbor, and then do a 180° pirouette to lay up along her port side where we can disembark. That also leaves us set for departure in the evening.
The excursion was a visit to a private botanical garden that was over a century old. It has been turned into a consortium where a large volunteer force works the garden.
About 25 of us were picked up in two small busses that took us around the Southern tip of Kauai to a locked gate that led to a dirt road, and then another few miles over a primitive road to the garden that contains some extremely rare species of plants. The guide worked there for decades, and could cite genus/botanical/common Hawai’ian/common American names for any plant that we asked about, and many that we did not ask about. On the way there, we stopped to take a look at Spouting Horn, a hole in the rocky cliff at water's edge where the waves hit hard and are driven up through the hole, exiting in a vertical spray of water. Rosalee loves these 'blow holes' as they are called in some locations. This one got it's name from the noise the trapped air makes when forced through the hole.
The garden is called the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, which consists of four different garden locations. We visited the two that were adjacent to each other... McBryde Garden and Allerton Garden. The grounds may have a hundred acres, and we walked at a leisurely pace all around the gardens. Stopping and enjoying individual features allowed everyone to enjoy the walking. We sampled several species of fruits, including a cross between an orange and a tangerine. It was so juicy you could pour juice out of the fruit as you peeled it. It was very sweet and wonderful. We sampled breadfruit, and learned how it was a “canoe plant”, meaning it was a plant that the original settlers brought with them in their canoes, either as a seed or a cutting.
It was the beautiful Lawai Valley that lead right down to the sea. He talked about experiences they had with Hollywood, who would come into the park to film segments that were used in movies… some fairly recently. I asked if they allowed weddings to be performed there, and he said that the original owner decreed that when he was gone, the gardens were NOT to be used for weddings… unless an employee wished to be married there. Our guide (Bob) said that they have a wedding about every fifteen years. I would hate to try to drive a nice car into that area… the dirt road was very tricky, on the side of a small cliff, and ONE WAY!! They provided a light lunch, and we saw a dozen water features that were waterfalls, ponds, fountains, streams, etc. Absolutely beautiful, and a hearty recommendation to any serious gardener or botanist interested in visiting there.
This is our fifteenth Princess cruise, and tonight we had our first disappointing dinner. Rosalee and I, and several others at our table, ordered Beef Stroganoff as an entree, and the flavor and noodles were wonderful, but the beef was just a little tougher than we would have liked, and too many of the pieces had gristle in it. Not up to Princess standards at all. So disappointing. We have always lauded the Princess food as top notch. We spoke with Eldon, the carpenter from Chicago we have talked with multiple times on the ship, and he said that those at his table that ordered the stroganoff also complained.
The entertainment in the Princess Theater tonight was Dwight Blake, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYZzo0_IZF8 a singer that billed himself as “Elton John… with a tan”. He is a black singer. His show was “A Salute to Sir Elton John”. He was very talented, and played the piano and sang, with the 7-piece Princess Orchestra behind him. Elton John music fans were not disappointed at all.
We did our first attempt at downloading our e-mail tonight. We have to register our own account, and on this long of a cruise we are given 250 minutes online, and then you can buy more time for a fee. After you set up your account, then you have to go online (the 250 minutes are not yet being deducted) and register each e-mail address you want access to. We have three. And the response time is horrendous. Just setting up two e-mail names and downloading their e-mail required 30 minutes. Of course, when you sign off, you cannot look at your e-mail… each one has to be opened while you are online… tick…tock…tick…tock… and then you can copy and paste onto a word processor file any that you want to respond to, to be read later, offline possibly. Then you log off, respond to any e-mails you need to (into another word processor file), go back online, and copy/paste back from the word processor file to each new e-mail and send… tick…tock…tick… and then sign out.
When we went on shore earlier for the tour of the gardens, we turned on our phones and were able to download e-mail there. We did not get anything from the kids, but Rosalee saw some FaceBook messages back and forth between the kids and Ed and Andi that were talking about them all going up to Gridley to a funeral. Nothing was mentioned about who's funeral it was. When we downloaded tonight, we did get the chance to send a note out asking who it was that had died. We suspected since it was at the Gridley Mormon church that it might possibly be Rosalee's older brother, Ralph.
|DAY EIGHT LAHAINA, MAUI,
It is 0900 hours and we are
anchored off the West coast of Lahaina, Maui.
We rose without any haste and went up to have our morning meal. We were lying at anchor in the strait between Lahina, Maui, and Lanai. They were tendering people in to Lahina if they wanted to go. They take about sixty people at a time in one of four of their launches that are carried on the ship at all times. They are part of the emergency lifeboat system. Each launch can carry nearly 250 persons in an emergency, and are powered with a full-sized engine and twin screws, and are enclosed... unless you want to ride topside in the open seats on top.
We waited until most of those going ashore had done so (we thought) and ended up queuing up in the Monticello Dining Room, waiting for our turn to be tendered ashore. A couple sat next to us named Jack and Ione McKay… pronounced Ma – ki - ee… long ‘I’ vowel. They were Scottish-born. He taught and was Principle at a school in Milpitas, CA, just the next town below Fremont where I taught, and we had a lot of common acquaintances. He was close friends with John MacDonald, the Principal that first hired me. We ended up riding next to each other in the launch and met again on the Lido deck after we returned to the ship to have lunch.
We basically only went ashore because the e-mail system was so un-reliable on the ship that we wanted to download our e-mail to our phones. Of course, my telephone would not send out anything and so Rosalee was able to handle a few emergency calls. It was confirmed that Rosalee’s brother Ralph had passed away, and our kids were trying to contact us to tell us. Sadly Ralph’s service will be held in Gridley before we can return. Our kids and Rosalee’s niece and nephew, Ed and Andi, are planning on attending the service. He has been dealing with a serious case of Alzheimer’s Disease for a couple of years, and has been on Hospice for over a year. He had a stroke several months before. The end of an era. He was the man that was driving the school bus that picked up my brother and I when we were in our early school years. Our children had a great respect for their Uncle Ralph.
While in Lahina, we sat on a bench under the world’s largest Banyan tree (so we are told) that covers nearly a city block. While Rosalee went to find a quieter spot to call our kids, a lady named Eva sat next to me. She lived in Texas for half her life and in Panama for the other half. She was the only female-type person to have the job she had. Her task was to board ships that approached the Panama canal, measure the ship, determine what percentage of the ship was used for cargo, what percentage was used for utility (bridge, engine room, galley, etc.), and what percentage was used for carrying passengers. All but the passenger areas were deductible from the cost of passage through the canal. By the time the ship reached the other side of the canal she would have calculated the cost of passage and presented the bill. The ship pays an estimate when they enter the canal and then after having her calculation they settle up. She leaves the ship and bums a ride with a taxi or company vehicle back to the other end of the canal and does it again.
On the tender, on the way back out to the ship, we sat next to a couple from Eureka, California, where they both were teachers. They were about ten years our senior. Of course we had a lot to say to each other. LOL. A delightful couple.
Getting out of the launch and back onto the ship was a little bit dicey, and an older couple were waiting so they did not have to rush. I noticed that she was having trouble ‘navigating’ and probably does on dry land as well. We need to step from a moving launch (that’s up and down movement) to a relatively stable platform on the ship, and as she was trying to get up the stairs in the launch her husband was holding one of her arms, and I was behind her, so I placed my hand on her back and told her “I’ve got your back” and she was very relieved to hear that. Knowing she had support, she was able to negotiate the chasm with confidence.
As we were threading through the security checkpoint on the ship and up the first flight of stairs to the elevators, we were slowed by several older people that were not fleet of foot. I turned to a younger woman behind me and said quietly “I just love to cruise… it makes US feel so young!” She immediately understood and chuckled.
In the Princess Theater tonight we saw Jeff Burghart, a comedian. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyVy6pJB8Ak Afterward, we returned to the cabin for a movie or two.
|DAY NINE AT SEA
I ended up picking up a deep cough. Kind of a bronchial thing. This has happened to me before on cruises. So we skipped the lectures and stayed 'out of circulation'. No one wants to sit near a guy with a cough. We did not attend either of the lectures today.
We went to lunch and chatted with Robin, a Christian waiter from the Philippines. He was very interesting, and was basically pro Marcos… and pro the present Philippines President. He talked about examples of how the two leaders have been trying to help the Philippines people but have been getting judged incorrectly.
We spent the afternoon in the cabin, watching TV, and then went up to the Horizon Court for dinner. Tonight was our second Formal Night, but we did not dress formally… we did not want to infect others around our table with my cough.
We went back to the cabin after dinner and skipped the entertainment tonight. It was a singer/pianist/songwriter named Heather Sullivan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGMem2wjXyQ Instead we stayed in and watched a TV movie in the cabin.
|DAY TEN AT SEA
Sunrise At Sea
Went up to the Horizon Court for Brunch and sat with Ken and Marilyn… she was from Lincoln, CA and he was from San Ramon… just about five miles from our home. He and his nephew own the BigO tire stores in Dublin and in Pleasanton, which is about a mile from our home. That is where our daughter buys her tires.
We caught Enrichment Lecturer Hal Tinberg Presents: Forensics and History: The Lost Dauphin of France. Wallace and Beverly were there and we visited for a while until another lecture started in that room. We were not interested in being involved in the Art Jeopardy Game Show so we went back to the cabin and watched Sea Turtles – Nature’s Most Ancient Relics on the cabin TV. It was the lecture we missed yesterday when we stayed in our cabins.
At 1600 we caught on TV a replay of another lecture we missed: Enrichment Lecturer Hal Tinberg Presents: Forensics and History: DNA Profiling: A Genetic Eyewitness. We have thoroughly enjoyed this series.
We went to the Dining Room for dinner as my cough was a little better.Entertainment tonight was “The Comedy and Music of Gary DeLena”.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IXtXKcKMqA
|DAY ELEVEN AT SEA
The first lecture this morning was Mark Harris, the Naturalist, in the Princess Theater, speaking on Oceanography for Cruise Ship Passengers. We met Wallace and Beverly there. Later, after lunch, we caught the Enrichment lecturer Hal Tinberg speaking on Forensics and History: The Search for the Unknown Titanic Child in the Vista Lounge. It seems a small child was discovered in the sea after the ship sank, and a lot of effort was spent to learn which family he belonged to. One family was thought to be the relatives, and they erected a small monument for him. Forensics recently proved that his identity was wrong, so the family changed the monument from being for the one child to ALL of the children who were lost in the disaster.
After dinner we watched a second show from Jeff Burghart, the comedian we saw on Day Eight.
|DAY TWELVE AT SEA
Hal Tinberg offered Forensic Detectives: The Search For Jack The Ripper. He talked about how over the years the detectives have tried to find the person involved. Until they applied DNA research, and the current thinking is that they may actually be searching for... Jackie the Ripper.
Wallace and Beverly were there, and we just remained in the Princess Theater for the next lecture, which was Mark Harris, the Naturalist, with Sharks: The Predators of the Deep. He talked about the fact that many species of sharks are endangered, since they are mostly considered as predatory and dangerous, and they are killed indiscriminately.
After the lectures we got lunch in the Horizon Court, and returned to the cabin for writing, movies, knitting, etc.
Tonight is our third and final Formal Night. We chose the Lobster and Prawns for our entree.
For the night's entertainment, we went to the Vista Lounge to catch David Pengelly, a singer/humorist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5w-IxsCNCg He was quite energetic and a real kick.
The captain was talking about how they have been trying to avoid a rough sea by going several hundred miles south and east of the normal course. The storm is moving southward along the California Coast, so we will eventually have to get into it. He is hoping that he can go through when it is a little weaker. The ride is a bit rougher than usual.
|DAY THIRTEEN AT SEA
- and later ENSENADA, MEXICO
During the night we have turned our heading to head toward Ensenada, but we are being told that the water is rough enough that we may not be able to go into the Ensenada port. The waves are causing havoc with ships that try to tie up to their pier it seems.
The seas were rough last night, but not nearly as rough as they might have been. The Captain has done a good job of skirting around the heaviest part of the storm.
The "Jones Act" requires that all ships sailing from a U. S. port must visit a foreign port before it ends it's cruise in the U. S. That is the reason we stop in Ensenada.
The Naturalist, Mark Harris is in the Vista Lounge with Wildlife and City Secrets of Ensenada.
The Explorer's Lounge is where we found Hal Tinberg with Forensic Detectives: The Life and Death of Pharaohs.
Lunch in the Horizon Court, and then relaxing in the cabin. Movies, knitting, writing... relax.
The Captain is telling us that we will not be able to go into Ensenada. That is not a problem for us. We usually never leave the ship in Ensenada anyway. He said that the port will send out their pilot boat with papers to sign so we can be 'legal' for the Jones Act.
Dinner tonight, and then to the Princess Theater for Tommy Proulx, an Instrumentalist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6tciJS3qJA
|DAY FOURTEEN AT SEA
The sea was a bit rough last night. Rosalee said that it was rougher for her than I recall. I did not wake up. It is usually a bit rougher in this area... northbound off the coast of Los Angeles. It's a bit rougher this trip.
In the Princess Theater is Hal Tinberg with Forensics Detectives: Identifying the Famous and the Infamous. We had a chance to visit with Wallace and Beverly again, and we just stayed put and watched a presentation of a DVD that the ship's video photographers had put together on Pear Harbor Invasion. That was a good presentation.
Up to lunch, and then back to the cabin to pack. We put everything into the suitcases that we don't need for tonight and tomorrow when we walk off the ship in San Francisco. We keep out something to wear to dinner tonight that we can wear off tomorrow. Our suitcases have to be out in the corridor in front of our cabin door when we go to dinner tonight. So anything you need for make-up, cosmetics, toothpaste, etc., etc. will have to go into a bag that we carry off. We've done this enough times that it is just about second nature.
Dinner was enjoyable, and we went to the Princess Theater to catch Heather Sullivan, the one that performed on the Formal night that we stayed in our cabin due to my cough... which I am still working on.
Back to the cabin, where we found an envelop in our mailbox that told us that we finally had made the 'rank' of Elite. That will give us a few small perks that we hope to enjoy... some free drinks in the cabin refrigerator. We can exchange the alcohol drinks for soft drinks if we wish. They also provide a laundry service for no fee. We are supposed to also get priority tender service to shore when we are in a 'tender' port.
Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge ~ Suspension Section At Sunrise
I was up early this morning to try to get some good images of the Golden Gate Bridge as we came under it. We usually come in so early in the morning that it is tough to get a picture of the bridge. With the ship moving and the water rough, it is extra tough to try to catch it. I was not successful. But as we were tying up to the pier, we were blessed with a wonderful sunrise.
The crew need us to vacate our cabin at least by 0800 so they can get busy cleaning it up for the next people that will be boarding in a few hours, and we do enjoy being able to go to our cabin when we are boarding, to drop off our carry-ons, and so we can go on up to grab lunch.
San Francisco In The Sunrise
It was only about an hour and a half while we waited for disembarkation. We were waiting in the Wheelhouse Lounge for our luggage tag color to be called to disembark. We walked off, found out luggage that was waiting for us, and walked out to meet our driver for the trip across that bay bridge to home. Another wonderful cruise. We are ready to do it again.