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About VisionaryJax

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Houston, TX more or less
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    Scuba, snorkeling, reading, meditating, working out

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  1. Yes! James' lectures were fantastic! We had also booked with him for a tour, but of course, we didn't get to go. I think it was much better the way you did the cruise, with 2 days for EI. I am dying to go back now. James really gave you an idea of what amazing history and culture you were going to see remnants of ... So disappointing to miss out! I agree with you, it would be great to go back again, to FP. Thank you for reading! That cruise sounds like a more practical route for seeing EI, with 2 days there. I would have settled for a few hours ashore! Oh, that sounds so wonderful! Except for the bumpy ride in; my poor husband wouldn't have loved that, but he would have done it; he was really jazzed to see Easter Island, too. I am hopeful I can get him to fly back one of these days so we can stay a couple days and be sure to see it. Thanks you all for reading! I will update you when we choose our next Oceania cruise. I really loved having this forum to help me prepare and to follow along on the adventure. Y'all are a fun group of folks. Also I should say, I forgot to mention in the review that Carol (CarMill) from this forum arranged a Cruise Critica Meet n Greet on board, and we were about 80 folks all together. That was swell to meet so many CC people in person!
  2. Thank you! Y'all are such a lovely, supportive group. I appreciate it!
  3. Thanks y’all. Your kind words are a blessing. I feel like B probably felt it was easier to pass when there was no one there...which is ok, he could let go and not worry about us. That is some wild anthropomorphising, but it gives me comfort. And of course I think he knew he was loved, by everyone in his life. His vet just last night emailed me a video of him playing a puzzle game. Everyone loved Barney.
  4. First off, thanks everyone for all the encouragement! We are home from the trip, and I can say, you were all RIGHT. It was wonderful. Beyond imagination, really. The places we were looked like postcards. And our ship and suite were amazing. The hotel on Papeete was lovely, the vow renewal service went off far better than I ever thought it would (one of the highlights of the trip!), and the cruise was just fantastic. The one disappointment, we didn't get to land at Easter Island. But I am sure I will go back! We had asked our doggie sitter not to tell us if anything went wrong with Barney. We couldn't do anything so far away, and it would only be distressing knowing he was in trouble and we couldn't be there. She works at his vet's office, and we just left her a credit card and knew she would take care of him. I got a couple of texts from her saying he was doing well but struggling with an infection on his leg, the same place he had the IV for his calcium, etc. She was taking him to work with her, which he liked going to the vet's office, everyone there loved him, he was like a pet, and he was getting the infection treated and cleaned every day. Then the night we were heading home after the cruise, at the airport I received an email from her; the previous Saturday Barney had eaten a good breakfast and was "spry as usual" in the afternoon; Brittany was staying at the house with him and went out for a couple hours in the evening -- when she came back, she said, she had found him in his basket (his little bed), and he had passed away. She said he seemed peaceful and didn't appear to have been in distress, for which I was grateful. He was old, diabetic, and had been having a hard time recovering from his surgeries, so it wasn't a shock. But we will surely miss him. We were already sad our cruise was over ... and doubly sad our boy wouldn't be there to greet us when we arrived home. Thanks for the all the prayers and concern for him here. He was a goof and a good boy. Here he is in one of his final days, hanging out at the vet's office.
  5. I forgot to say, we also got 3 bags of laundry complimentary in the suite which was very helpful, up to 20 pieces per bag. We came home with some clean clothes, which is nice. And we got personalized stationery "From the Suite of" -- that was a hoot, and I used it to write invitations to our guests to come to happy hour. I've been looking at future possibilities, and it seems like only Marina and Riviera have the OceaniaSuite? When I Iook at pictures and layouts of the Vista and Owner's suites on the other ships, they don't look as nice to me -- but they must be, as they're both higher priced. I should say, we took advantage of the on-board promotional to put down a deposit on our next cruise. It locked in the guaranteed lowest price until the day of sailing, and we don't have to choose our next cruise for a year from now -- and then the cruise can be still further in the future ... So we have time to save and plan again. For doing this early deposit, we also got $100 ship-board credit off our bill on this cruise, which was nice. Between my spa visit, our bar bill, and a couple of excursions, we had a little bit of a tab. Let me get to disembarkation: it was quite easy and well organized. We were asked to be off the ship by 9 a.m., but we had to pick up our passports, which had been kept by Oceania since we boarded, in the Marina Lounge before exiting. When we arrived at 8:45 to the Marina Lounge, I think ours might have been the last two passports in the box! The lounge was full of people booked on Oceania tours waiting to be told to exit, but we were able to walk right off. We had booked a private tour for our day in Lima, because our flight did not depart until midnight. Oceania, aware of our flight, had also booked us a transfer to the JW Marriott, where they had set up a lounge for people in transit, and gave us tags to have our bags sent directly there; this service also included a transfer to the airport that evening. Our having a private tour kind of messed up the system; when we arrived a few hours later than other passengers to the Marriott, the folks receiving Oceania passengers there were happy to see us! They'd been worried when our bags arrived, and we did not. It was actually quite a nice system. We had the 4th floor of the Marriott with a conference room set up with drinks and snacks, the room next door had all the luggage in it, grouped by when people's transfer to the airport would be departing, and a projection TV playing CNN global news (that got old after a few hours but it was better than the movie they finally put on which had some gritty violence!) -- can't please everyone. Then at 8:30 that evening, we were in a van with another couple on our flight, driven to the airport by the Oceania staff or whoever they contract with in Lima, and the representative stayed with us while we checked in and walked us to the immigration/departure line. Very helpful and efficient. I believe this service was complimentary for all cruisers who had a long layover, not just suite people. This is a nice benefit. As for our tour in Lima: I booked with Tours by Locals-dot-com, and had arranged with our guide for a custom tour. My husband and I had read about Lima and decided we wanted to see the Inca market in Miraflores, the "Love Park" also in Miraflores, and the neighborhood of Barranco which is supposed to be scenic and touristy. Our guide had agreed to this and said she would also recommend a good place for lunch for us, and if there was time, show us the city center. Her regular half-day tour in Lima began in city center and included monasteries, museums and historic buildings that didn't interest us as much as the things we had prioritized. As the tour began, we were driven through horrendous traffic to the city center. I should have spoken up at that point and reminded the guide that we had arranged a custom tour with Miraflores and Barranco at the top of the list and the city center reserved for "if we have time," but I didn't speak up, so the rest is on me. The traffic as we took in the historic sites was atrocious, so the van stopped and starts in fits, and my husband got car sick! After a couple hours, I finally did say that we needed to stop by the hotel and let him get inside and to a bathroom -- but our guide fretted because the hotel apparently wasn't on the route she had planned, and if they stopped to let us out, they couldn't park or wait -- and as it happened the hotel was 25 minutes away and by the time we got there, my husband didn't want them to wait; he wasn't getting back in that van. So we didn't get to see the scenic sights in Lima we had hoped to see -- and had paid to see! So if you book with Tours by Locals, I suggest you be prepared to do the tour as they have advertised it, or if you arrange for a custom one, don't be afraid to speak up if it seems you're not getting what you arranged for. I feel like this whole day could have had a much nicer outcome if I had insisted we go to Miraflores first; it was a much less congested neighborhood and we would have been out of the car and touring the market with my poor husband feeling much better. We did pass the Love Park on the way to the hotel, and it did look beautiful, arranged along the sea with lovely tile work walkway and the centerpiece of a sculpture called, I believe, The Kiss. But by then my man was so ready to be out of that vehicle, we couldn't even stop! At the hotel, after he took care of his stomach problem, we walked across the street to a very modern and popular mall that's built into the bluff facing the coastline. It has a lovely children's playground and park on top, and all chic stores in the multi-level mall. It was a beautiful sunny day for a little stroll. I will post a couple photos from the park (me with Paddington!) and the coastline from the upper level over the mall. Very pretty setting. I would like to go back to Lima some day, and also continue on to Machu Pichu as some of our fellow cruisers were doing. I was there once (Machu Pichu) on business, but it is a long time ago, and I remember it as a mystical place. Thus ended our adventure. Our last day, in Lima, was a long one, and I feel like I made a misstep by not insisting our tour guide follow the plan we had agreed on. Otherwise, the system Oceania worked out to provide a space for us until our flight and transfers for us and our bags to the airport was great. If I think of anything I forgot, I will add to this. For the moment, I think this is the end of my review. Overall, I loved cruising with Oceania and will be back.
  6. Thanks for reading along. If you are considering Oceania and want to know if the price of a suite is worth it ... I will say it depends on what you want out of your cruise. My husband and I are older, we don't want to work too hard at anything, and we like having space and luxury and service ... Plus this was our 20th anniversary, and we wanted everything to be perfect. So for us, yes, it was worth it. You saw all the space we had in the photos on page 1, with 2 bathrooms and a separate bedroom and media room -- For old folks who want to watch tv while their spouse is in the bathtub or in bed, this was perfect. Plus it felt great not trying to cram empty suitcases into corners or under beds. The extra space was lovely. The amenities, in addition to the extra space, include: Early embarkation. I think everyone can board at noon, but we were invited to board at 11 a.m. Because my husband gets everywhere early, we arrived at the ship around 10 a.m., and they actually starting boarding early and we were in our room by 10:30 a.m. which was very nice for us. Dibs on tender tickets. I believe as a suite person with a gold key card, you get priority for tender tickets, however, we never needed this service as it wasn't crowded at all to get on the tenders on our cruise. I think maybe we also got to disembark a little later than others -- but that may have been because we didn't have an Oceania tour for the day of disembarkation. We didn't have to vacate the suite until 9 a.m. 6 bottles of wine or spirits plus a bottle of champagne upon embarkation. I don't drink much anymore. It's sad but I've gotten so more than a drink or two gives me a headache. So, although I had requested another bottle of champagne and a bottle of chianti for my part of the complimentary liquor, I never even opened them for days. My husband asked for gin and did his best to finish it off, but he even took home a bottle of Tanqueray in his luggage. Two guaranteed reservations for each specialty restaurant, which you could book far in advance online. I will say, this cruise was not full by any means. I think I heard the ship can hold 1,200, and there were only about 800 passengers. So I doubt getting reservations was a problem, but I don't know for sure. We enjoyed our specialty restaurant nights but we also enjoyed the Terrace and grand Dining Room. Also the reservations taker in the lobby told us we could walk into any of the specialty restaurants and wave our gold key card and get a table. That made me laugh, but we never tried it. Access to the Executive Lounge on deck 11 and the Concierge Lounge on Deck 9. Both of these were staffed for a few hours each day, but we never needed the concierge, so that was not a service we used. I did go there for snacks and colas several times. There were always cookies and little muffins and in the afternoons there were little sandwiches. I know you are thinking: there's so much food! Why did you need a snack? Because my husband didn't do some of the activities with me, our schedules got off on some days, so he wouldn't be hungry when I was -- and it was nice to be able to run down and get a snack. Also there were comfy chairs and newspapers and a TV and all in there. I often saw people sitting reading in there. The butler. Our lovely butler Logesh was from Madras, India, and he was terrific. He brought newspapers and ice every morning, and he brought canapes every afternoon. He was available to make reservations for us, although we never needed him to, and he was available any time by paging him (or if he wasn't, the duty butler answered and could help). Toward the end of the cruise, because I hadn't opened my bottles of wine, we invited in some people we'd met for happy hour -- when Logesy heard about it, be arranged to bring more canapes so we could offer snacks to our guests, and brought orange juice so I could mix up mimosas, and of course he had polished all the glassware. It was lovely. (Plus the friends we made helped to finish the jigsaw puzzle we brought along, which was fabulous! Also having the extra space allowed me to work this puzzle on a cruise.) This reminds me, we had our anniversary dinner at Polo, we were too full for dessert, and they had made us a little cake with happy 20th printed on it, and said they would send it to our suite for later. When Logesh and our housekeeper Valentina saw the cake and realized it was our anniversary, they filled the bedroom with helium balloons up on the ceiling and put towel swans on the bed making a little heart between them. It was a lovely surprise when we arrived back that night. I don't know if the attendants would do that for you in a regular room, but they certainly did us right in our suite. These little perks were delightful, and just what my husband likes, feeling special. We were in the Oceania Suite, which was great. I didn't see any other rooms or any other suites, so I don't know how they stacked up, but I felt like this one was perfect for us. When we do another Oceania cruise, I think we will get this same type of cabin. It was fabulous.
  7. Thanks! It was lovely. Yes, even though we didn't get to go ashore at Easter Island, the rest of the cruise was fabulous. Hoopster does a great job reviewing the food, and showing photos of it, in his review, which there's a link to it on the previous page, so please read that if you want detailed reviews. I will give my thoughts here, but I only took a couple photos. Terrace Buffet. This might have been our favorite place! It was a buffet, but you could get a lobster or steak grilled before your eyes, and there was always a pasta dish and a selection of great desserts. Anytime we didn't have a reservation we were happy to eat at the Terrace. Also there's lovely outdoor seating if the weather is nice ... No complaints here. And definitely enjoyed the local market night where they did some French Polynesian dishes. Yum. Grand Dining Room. This was the other place you could go for dinner without a reservation, and I found the food here to be delicious as well. In fact, the smoked ricotta risotto I had here was better (to my mind) than the lobster risotto in Toscano, the Italian specialty restaurant. Also they had a brunch here on the last Friday morning which was delicious. There was a crepe station with lovely Grand Marnier crepes, plus a carvery with roast beef, all kinds of breakfast dishes and percent-off mimosas and bloody marys. If they do this brunch while you're on board, highly recommend. Great start to another day at sea. Jacques. This is their flagship, with menu by Jacque Pepin. I do not know anything about French food, so I am not the best critic, but, I enjoyed the 2 meals we had here, very much -- and now I can't even remember what I had! I do know they had crepes suzette for dessert one night which were out of this world. So definitely eat at Jacques more than once if you have time. It was good. Toscana. I love Italian food, and my husband is not a fan, so I was really looking forward to Toscana. We got 2 guaranteed reservations to each specialty restaurant with our suite, so we ate here twice. The first night, I had the lasagne. It was good, no complaints, but I can't say it was better than lasagne at Olive Garden or Buca di Beppo, so it's probable the problem might be with my palate and not the restaurant! The second night I had the lobster risotto which was puzzlingly disappointing to me. I like lobster, and I like risotto, but somehow this was a miss. Again, it might just be I don't have a sophisticated enough palate. I will say the desserts were delicious. We had a chocolate lasagne that was quite rich, and the tiramisu, also very good. And the appetizers were nice; the gnocchi was wonderful. Red Ginger. This was my favorite of the specialty restaurants, and the only one that made me stop and contemplate the first bite, you know when it is a perfect bite, and you just have to stop and savor it for a moment before you can go on? The scallops 3 ways -- they listed it as bay scallops, but they weren't, they were 3 big ocean scallops, each one with a different glaze: sea urchin, miso and wasabi. I tasted the miso one first, and it was so delightful, I had to stop and ponder it. And the others were equally good! We were having dinner with another couple, and the woman had ordered the sea bass -- it looked delicious, and she said it was. I had determined to try that on our next visit ... but that night the special was barramundi, and the server encouraged me to try it as the sea bass is always on the menu and barramundi was the catch of the day ... So I went with the barramundi, which was fried in an eggroll wrapper. It was delicious, but we didn't get back a third time so I could try the sea bass! The server here also made me a side dish of the lobster pad thai, which is an entree, and it was delicious. Everything I had here was good but for the satay; the peanut sauce was delicious, but the chicken itself was bland. Do not waste your hunger on the satay. Polo. This is the steakhouse, and the restaurant my husband liked best as he is a carnivore. He got the prime rib both times, and enjoyed it -- it was rare and looked very good. I went for the surf and turf one night, and then the trilogy of sliders one night. The lobster and steak were fine, no complaints, but the trilogy of sliders was outstanding. I know that sounds silly, but it was true. The sliders were Kobe beef, lobster remoulade, and crabcake. Each one was very tasty. I followed this up with a dessert burger; I will show a photo -- it was a chocolate mousse topped with an apricot sheet inside an almond bun with a sweet glaze. It looks like a little burger! Yum. Oh, another standout here was the foie gras inside a pastry shell with mushrooms, which I will add the photo of that, too. I don't know that I have ever eaten foie gras before, but whatever was inside that pastry shell was over-the-top delicious. This is my recollection of the restaurants, and I can see why Oceania claims many "Best Cuisine at Sea" titles. Although I haven't been crusing in 15 years before this, I do recall the food on other ships, while plentiful, wasn't always great. This is was pretty darn good across the board and excellent a lot of the time. Tomorrow I will evaluate the benefits of the suite, and then I think you'll have the whole picture. The first photo is the foie gras and mushrooms in pastry shell, and the second is the dessert photo, both at Polo.
  8. Yes, I agree. This is what we will have to do. Thank you. Of course you are right -- I have no complaints about the rest of the cruise. It was fabulous. As others have said, the ship circumnavigated the island so we could at least see a few of the moai and a bit of the island before we started off across the Pacific. Then followed 4 days at sea to get to Lima. I thought these would be quiet and relaxing times -- and of course, to great extent, they were. But it also seemed like there was something to do all the time as well. We took a knife skills class in the Culinary Center, which was excellent. And I noticed the cooking classes were all full! Our friends who took those classes really enjoyed them. And then there were goofy activities on the pool deck on various days and other things to do: The Officer's Challenge had the ship's officers squaring off against passengers at the bean-bag toss, putting contest, ping-pong and other games. That was a hoot. The sea trials for the ship-building contest. Teams had to create a model ship from materials found on our ship, and then it had to carry a cargo of Pepsi cans across the pool and back. This was a riot as the pool had turned into a regular wave pool! A couple teams had someone int he water batting the boat along, some just ran along beside the pool, pushing their boats. It was cute and fun to watch. Country Fair day the crew had carnival games set up on the pool deck, and this time instead of winning Big-O points you could exchange for merchandise on the last day, you could win raffle tickets and they gave away prizes right then. We didn't go to all the shows, but the ones we did were entertaining. the dancers and singers of the entertainment team all seem quite young and enthusiastic, but they do a fine job. The comedian -- I want to say Kelly McDonald -- was advertised as clean comedy, and he was a good fit for this older crowd. The enrichment lectures that we attended were very interesting and informative. I mentioned already James Peterkin, the Easter Island expert, did a great job explaining Pitcairn Island, and he totally had us primed and ready for Easter Island. The other expert whose lectures I attended was visiting biologist Gloeta Massie, a young woman who talked about the sea life and wildlife we might see at the various ports, etc -- but with such enthusiasm and humor, everyone was laughing out loud during her lectures. Afternoon Tea. I am a tea drinker, so I loved the idea of afternoon tea! We were so busy, though, I only attended twice: Eclair Tea and Chocolate Tea. These were named for the focus of that day's snacks, and they did not disappoint! On Eclair Tea day, you could choose from a variety of eclairs and on Chocolate Tea day from a variety of chocolate desserts, and all were delicious! At the same time, of course, they were serving finger sandwiches and scones with cream and jam ... What a luxury! Quadrivium String Quartet provided lovely music for afternoon tea; it was just perfect. They also played in the bar opposite the casino in the evenings. I know this bar has a name, but it escapes me. It's really just loads of comfy chairs and tables without an actual bar, but you can get a drink and listen to beautiful strings. This is much more my style than the dance band which I read was playing most nights, later than I was up. Not sure if many of the old folks on this cruise were out very late dancing, but maybe they were. Hot-tubbing. Our suite had a champagne bubble tub on the balcony. In fair weather it was great to sit out there with a book and a drink and watch the ocean roll by! Also because we were in a suite, we got all access to the thlassotherapy tubs up on the spa private deck. These are warm hot tubs where the water swirls, but no bubbles and n noise. The salt water is supposed to be therapeutic. I don't know it if was therapeutic, but it was nice to be on a quiet deck in a warm tub. In the photo below, I had put a pink fizzy bath bomb in the balcony tub. Wonderful. Spa treatments were also great. I did a Nourishing Ritual which included a seaweed wrap, a therapeutic bath and a massage. It took about 2 hours and cost $289, which I never would do at home! But we were on vacation ... It was lovely. The therapist smeared a phyto-something paste all over me, then wrapped me in warm towels -- I had a mask over my face but then it sounded like she further wrapped plastic or foil over that, and I relaxed in my warm wrap cocoon for quite some time. Then a rinse and the bath! It was a giant spa tub (all this took place in one big room with floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows looking out on the sea) in the middle of the room, made up with a hot mineral bubble bath. Probably 20 minutes' soak, watching the sunlight kiss the ocean as we glided across it, followed by a deep tissue massage. So delightful! You can see why days at sea got so busy! Still, much of what kept me busy was also relaxing, and it was all fun. So days at sea were great. As I write, we are home -- it all went by very fast! I will add some photos, and then tomorrow give you my restaurant reviews all at once. Thanks for reading! Hope this is helpful if you're considering a cruise on Marina. First photo is as close as we came to the moai! They are lined up along the water -- with their backs to you!
  9. Sorry to leave you hanging! The morning we arrived at Easter Island we lost internet; it came back last night but very weak signal. i will complete this review when we’re back in the USA as photos won’t load right now, but: We did NOT get to land at Easter Island. Very disappointed!!! more next week. Thanks for sticking with me.
  10. I loved meeting the islanders, and I loved learning their history; funny thing, my husband would rather believe the movies (and that Pitcairn became a paradise where the beleaguered sailors could live with dignity!) than what the expert told us. Maybe it’s too sad to think of the reality. But if the descendants are at peace with it, and proud of their ancestors, then my opinion doesn’t matter. i am so hoping to see Easter Island!!!
  11. Yes, I am sure the change in weather was a surprise to Ato, especially because the morning had been so lovely. Ny girlfriend who went scuba diving also had dreadful currents and swells and got banged up getting into the boat, so I would say we caught Fakarava on a rough day. i would still recommend Ato’s tour. Our friends who didn’t have a tour and just walked around found it a bit hot. i am curious about the fish though, FloridaTravelers. What you describe has not been our experience in general here. I never noticed in the Caribbean that time of year affected how many fish—they were either there or they weren’t. And I had heard that FP had loads, and I haven’t seen it. Perhaps it is seasonal? Petoonya, thanks for your comparison and contrast with Wind Star. It sounds great; but we are loving suite life—not sure we can go back! on to the Pitcairn Island Experience. We anchored out with a great view of tha main island, which looked green, rugged and beautiful. we had learned from guest lecturer James that Capt Bligh was bipolar and not a great leader but certainly wasn’t a monster as he’s portrayed in the movies—and the adulation of beautiful Tahitian women wasn’t the only reason the sailors deserted. Apparently in Tahitian culture it’s unthinkable a person would be on their own with no family, so they adopted the filthy old salts into their own families, and that kind of holistic belonging was new and intoxicating for them so when it was time to continue their mission, they couldn’t go on. Mr Christian was not the hero either... he had borrowed money from Bligh and didn’t repay it, then he got offended when bipolar Bligh gave him a public dressing down over some minor thing... and agreed to lead a mutiny. It seems like about half the crew wanted to remain loyal to Captain Bligh, but the mutineers were putting him and his supporters adrift in a long boat, and there wasn’t enough room for all of them. They overcrowded it with about 20 people, and yet somehow Captain Bligh managed to keep all but one of them alive as he steered them over some ridiculously long course to the nearest European outpost. He was in fact a great navigator. In the meantime, the mutineers feared eventually the British would come after them, so they frantically searched for Pitcairn Island which had been mis-charted on the wrong longitude on all maps, so they felt they would be safe. And they were. But they were stupid and arrogant. They brought their Tahitian wives and three friendly Tahitian men with them, and also three Tahitian men were stowaways on the ship. So they wound up on Pitcairn with a severe imbalance of men to women, and the white imperialist mutineers divided up the island into nine sections, one for each sailor and his family, and completely left the Tahitian men out of the accounting, expecting them to be servants. Our lecturer told us they completely misunderstood Tahitian culture, that the men had come out of friendship and a desire to see healthy families working together on a new island, as they had done on islands across the Pacific. And of course they expected to be landowners as well. What happened next was just awful – – the mutineers and Tahitian men began fighting with each other, and if a woman didn’t survive, the widower would just try to steal a wife from the next place over. By the time they were discovered some 20 years later, only one mutineer yet survived. They had killed each other and I suppose some must’ve died from natural causes, but the one survivor was the leader of the island and trying to provide for all the surviving women and children. What a mess! the descendants of the mutineers are proud of their history and dual heritage of Tahitian and British. They make up most of the Pitcairn population which only numbers about 50 people. Probably 20 of them came aboard today! They brought their arts and crafts and curios to sell—and they were friendly, sweet and talented. One gentleman who had emigrated to Pitcairn from the UK in the early 2000’s lectured about life on the island. It’s very communal with holidays celebrated all together and activities like making flour of arrow root are still done by all, working together. they just got high speed internet, and its real expensive. But as one descendant if Fletcher Christian told us, now they can watch YouTube. LOL it was interesting and fun to learn about these islands and meet the residents. I would like to actually visit the islands some day.
  12. We saw it here...how does it compare to Oceania? I wish you were here; it’s been lovely. our next stop was Fakarava. Thursday, March 7 Fakarava kicked my ass! My husband wasn’t up to bouncing on a boat (or tender) and told me to go on the all day snorkel tour by myself as he would feel bad if I missed out on his behalf, and he was not up to making the tour. We had booked with Ato Lissant, along with several folks from this forum. ato actually rented an extra boat for the day, but several couples didn’t show, and we had to wait about 45 minutes on the dock while Ato tried to fill his second boat with walk-ons. I don’t blame him, but I feel like he should try to figure a way to collect deposits, to discourage people from not showing up, and also so he has some money from the missed trip. I had emailed him the day before about my husband’s not making it, and he was very gracious about it. The first four hours of the tour were awesome. The boat took us to a little shallow reef in the middle of the caldera with two sharks swimming around and more fish really than I have seen since we began this journey. It was lovely, and the water was clear, and warm. It was delightful. Sadly the boat anchored up by tossing their anchor onto a coral head! This would be completely unacceptable on Bonaire or in the Cayman Islands. I think French Polynesia has to get serious about preserving the reef. Our next snorkel stop did not have as many fish or coral, but again it was just nice to be in the water. Then our boat took us to the blue Lagoon, which was just gorgeous. It’s a shallow, wide Lagoon, with dozens of yards of water so shallow you could wade through it as you went to the beach. Which we did on our way to where our lunch would be served seaside. We sat on the beach as our dive guides grilled fish and set out a feast with sausages and chicken and rice and salad and coconut bread. Everything was just delicious. They broke open coconuts so we could drink the coconut milk, and also provided juice and water and beer. It was a lovely and relaxing lunch and then a refreshing dip in the beautiful blue Lagoon. We got on our boat to head toward the next snorkel stop which would also be at a shallow beach. Our captain Ato told us that the snorkel stop which was planned for the next stop was inaccessible because the wind was bad, and the water was getting rough, so we went to the sheltered spot, but there was not much reef or sea life here; I did see a good sized shark, but the visibility was not great for snorkeling. I actually got out before many of the others and just sat on the beach enjoying the beautiful scenery. We got back in our boats to head toward the next stop which was to be, according to Ato, like an aquarium where we could see big sharks. But he wasn’t kidding about the wind kicking up and the water being rough — I was toward the front of the boat, which was quite crowded. The website had said we would be in groups of 6 to 8 people, but there were 14 passengers on this boat, and there was no way for me to get under the canopy or to a seat toward the back. Thus I was at the front of the boat as it rose and fell over the bumpy waves, and it actually became quite painful each time the front of the boat reared up and then smacked down back on the water. I was thankful my husband wasn’t there because it would have been excruciating for him; it was bad enough for me. I wedged myself up against the woman who was seated behind me, because she was seated on a life vest, so I could share that and it provided something of a cushion, but it really wasn’t enough, and I was extremely uncomfortable, and sometimes in pain from being slammed down on the boat so often. The final stop, the aquarium, was just captain Ato feeding the sharks, which came quite close to the boat, so they could actually be seen and photographed. He and his deck hand even tried to grab the sharks by their fins and haul them out of the water for people to photograph. I found this whole thing to be just silly. And probably dangerous in the long run as sharks come to associate food with humans reaching down for them? But everyone else seemed awed by it, and I must admit I was already quite uncomfortable and ready to be back on board the ship. I was not looking forward to the bumpy ride back to the dock, and that may have colored my view of the stop. Ato offered to take us to one more snorkel stop on a nearby beach, but thankfully everyone said they were ready to return to the dock. I think even the people who were seated closer to the back of the boat were tired of being bumped around the way we were. I talked to friends later Who had been seated near the back, and the gentleman said he had back problems, and that it was very painful for him, too. I can honestly say this tour kicked my ass! I was happy to arrive back to the dock and get on the tender and be back to board our ship. I will say, the first four hours of the tour were delightful. And it’s very possible the wind had done a reversal and surprised everyone, causing all that bumping us on the ride back. I would not hesitate to recommend Ato’s tour, But be sure to secure yourself a seat in the back of the boat just in case. I apologize again for my lack of snorkeling photos! My camera in a bag just simply doesn’t work. I will give you a couple of photos of the beautiful beach and lunch setting. It was simply breathtaking. Like a postcard. I am so glad I got to see it.
  13. I wouldn’t be surprised! So far it is #1 in my book. next we had a day at sea on the way to Fakarava. I think we were worn out from Bora-Bora and didn’t do much that day! Our suite is sort of a sanctuary, and my husband loves the media room with a huge selection of movies (plus he had only French-language tv on Papeete!), we love being in the room or on the balcony. I did get my jigsaw puzzle going—the housekeeping staff adds a few pieces each day— I will include a photo of it as Of today (which as I write we are already halfway through our cruise! It is going so fast!). The ship does offer activities: trivia contest, putting contest, bean bag toss, bingo—it’s sll stuff old folks can do, and we did each of those except bingo. It’s fun, most passengers who play seem to be good natured and supportive of each other with only a few who are in it to win it dammit! (Sorry if that’s how you play! It just looks kind of funny to more laidback folks; no offense.) we dined at Polo Grill. I found it delicious: I had the Trilogy of Sliders: Kobe beef, lobster remoulade...and I can’t remember the third! They were excellent sliders, all. I think my husband enjoyed his prime rib more than the steak he had the first time we tried Polo. Tomorrow i I will add my Fakarava review: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times... thanks for reading along!
  14. Oh my goodness! You will have such a great time!!! I am so envious of folks wh cruise all the time! Thanks for asking about Barney. He’s had trouble healing from an infection where he had his I V but his babysitter and vet are watching him and treating him, so I feel pretty confident he’s going to be ok. Thank you! He got a kick out of his casual wedding clothes! ok, second day on Bora Bora... Day 7 Tuesday, March 5 we chose Oceania’s le truck tour. It was an open air bus that took us on the 20 mile road around the entire island. There was a narrator who told us a lot of interesting things about the island as we went around, and we stopped at the restaurant/bar called bloody Mary’s which is apparently famous from the movie South Pacific. We also stopped at a place they make Pareos, and it was cool to see how they dye them in such beautiful patterns. the tour was $99 per person, but we had some ship board credit, so that seemed all right, and I was glad we went so that my husband could get a nice overview of the island, As he had spent yesterday on board the ship. The scenery is simply amazing here. The aqua blue shallow water, the amazing greenery of the island and the imposing mountain peaks that rise above it all, also quite green… It’s simply breathtaking. We were back on board for a late lunch at Waves, which was tasty—I had a grilled panini with tomato and mozzarella; it hit the spot. Waves serves lunch until 4 and you dine al fresco; it’s nice. Tonight was our reservation at the French restaurant Jacque, and I thought the food was quite delicious. I had lobster gnocchi as an appetizer and then fillet for my entrée, and crêpe Suzette for dessert. It was all delightful. We haven’t cruised a lot, but so far this is the best cruise food we’ve had. The photos are Marina and Wind Spirit at Bora Bora, Mt Otemanu on Bora-Bora, a little Tahitian fellow I saw on Le Truck tour and petroglyphs on some ancient ceremonial stones that we learned about on the tour—I can’t recall how they were called, but I do remember the turtle was a symbol of power and blessing for the ancient Tahitians.
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