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Enjoy the "Treasures of the World" with Bill & Mary Ann on the 2014 World Cruise

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Jeff is really irritated and getting impatient with both the Harris Corp and with HAL. He can't post pictures now, and that is the essence of his blog. He seems about ready to abandon HAL in the future. I hope not, and I doubt it!

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You can understand his frustration though


Sandy in Spain

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Report # 26 Sailing Towards Pitcairn Island January 23, 2014 Thursday Partly cloudy, some showers, 77 degrees


Seems like we have run into some showers this morning, if that was really a rainbow we saw while eating breakfast this morning in the dining room. Of course, the rain comes with the territory down here in the South Pacific. Speaking of down here, we are so far from any land mass, we can say we are in the middle of nowhere. We have not seen one ship of any kind sailing in this direction. Sort of lonely, although, we are sure there may be company out there. Just can't see them. The only sealife we have seen are a few flying fish, and nothing bigger. Another sign that we are far from land is the fact there are no birds following us.


Guest speakers continued their talks on Pitcairn and digital photography. Barbara gave a talk on things to do and see in Papeete, Tahiti. It is not too late to sign up for tours in French Polynesia, or any other future port on this trip. Something tells us that few excursions are selling out, and more people are doing their own thing.


We have been invited to another wine tasting session, but once again, it was held at 11am in the dining room. Of course, if we were interested in drinking wine, we could buy a ship package with a 50% discount, a Mariner perk. We are certain that we would be reminded of this if we attend the tasting. Wish this tasting was offered around 1pm instead. Sipping wine at 11am is too early for us since we just finished breakfast.


While some folks were indulging in Polynesian high tea, we were blowing away at the aft pool. The winds had become rather gusty. You know, the kind that lifts the towels off the lounges with you on them. We finally got smart and purchased heavy duty clips at our Home Depot to secure the towels. Small bungee cords help keep the backs of the lounges secure so they don't beat you on the head and back when you sit up. One by one, most sunbathers gave up and left. Henk, our hotel director, was out for some fresh air, and came back to talk with us. Actually, he can barely talk, because he has been dealing with a case of laryngitis for the last couple of days. Must be something going around with the staff, because the librarian also has the same malady. She has a sign on her desk saying that she has misplaced her voice, and hopes to find it soon. Oh we sure hope this is not the start of a shipwide problem. Would not surprise us.


Every sea day at 12:45pm, Captain Jonathon delivers his daily ship report on the speakers. He states all the facts of our position and weather first. Then he gives an idiom always related to ships or ocean travel. On past cruises, he admitted that these interesting facts have been the idea of his wife's, who does the research on them. Karen has traveled the full world cruises in 2012 and 2013, but family matters have kept her home until Hong Kong this time. We do have a feeling that she is still supplying these idioms by email. Where else would we find out where a square meal, a clean slate, or a slush fund originated from? A square meal was food served on a square cut piece of cedar wood, such as a shingle. A clean slate was actually a smooth stone that was used to list ship jobs for the day. Wiped clean at the end of the day, you started the following day with a clean slate. A slush fund is something you may not expect. Wooden barrels that were used to hold preserved meats or fish would be scraped of the excess build up of fat. This fat would be sold onshore and the money was kept for a slush fund for the crew. Interesting.


We had company for dinner tonight, since two of the regulars went to Canaletto. Friends Ellen and Aart were brought by good buddy Barb. They seemed very comfortable with our friendly group, and will be welcomed anytime. Dinner was good with the entrees we ordered of good ol Thanksgiving-style turkey and gravy with mashed sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. Real comfort food.


We have fallen behind on the entertainment. So we can report that Peter Neighbour, a clarinetist, had some problems on stage. The Amsterdam singers and dancers performed That's Life, with tunes from Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. We heard that the costuming was much better for this show. This evening there was a game show at 7:30pm....Battle of the Sexes. And the later show featured a man by the name of Michael Bacala, a violinist.


The clocks went back again tonight one hour. This is going to get habit-forming.


Bill & Mary Ann

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Thank you for the very interesting updates. I especially liked the detail of the Easter Island information. I usually pick up tips along the way in reading blogs and in this one I had to make a note of large clips to hold down the towels. Towel-shifting is so annoying when you're trying to turn or just sit up. Thanks!

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Report # 27 Pitcairn Island January 24, 2014 Friday Chance of rain, 80 degrees


Well, what a better way to spend a birthday than with a visit to Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific. Or, actually, a visit around the island. It was about 7am when we spotted this 2 mile long volcanic island, famous for being the home for the mutineers of the HMS Bounty in 1790. We are sure you recall the movie (there were actually three of them), Mutiny on the Bounty, where an intolerable Captain Bligh was invited to leave his ship by Fletcher Christian and his band of men. Right or wrong, once the mutiny took place, the Bounty had to be sailed back to Tahiti in order for the men to gather their new loves and a handful of natives. Captain Bligh would never rest until he found this group that set him and some of the loyal sailors out to sea in only a small sailboat. In order not to be found, Mr. Christian accidently found tiny Pitcairn Island, and realized it was not charted correctly on any British map. This island had everything they needed to survive..... fresh water, game, plenty of fish, root vegetables, and tropical fruit. It worked, they survived, and obviously left a number of descendants to tell the story.


Today, there are around 45 residents, most all related to shipmen Christian, Warren, Young, and Brown, of course, many generations removed. Pitcairn Island is one of a group of four volcanic islands all belonging to the British Overseas Territory. As far as isolation goes, this island has got to be one of the most remote places on earth. Even at that, the locals make their living from tourism and shipping. Exports are a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Wood carvings from local trees are a big seller here. As is their unique brand of honey, Delectable Bounty. They boast a variety of bees that produce a high quality honey, that is shipped to New Zealand and the United Kingdom. We found that it is pricey too, since a 4 oz bottle was selling for $10. at the Lido pool. Have to admit their labels are cool.


We watched as the longboat sailed from Bounty Bay to the Amsterdam. At least 20 people were in that boat, along with hundreds of pounds of souveniers. In one section, they had bunches of those tiny delicious bananas. They quickly boarded using a rope ladder. The entire bottom of the longboat was filled with boxes of t-shirts, cookbooks, caps, costume jewelry, carvings, postcards, teatowels, and honey. The most popular item was their pre-stamped postcards, $3. for one, or $5 for two. Everyone was filling them out, and turning them in to be mailed from the island. Believe it or not, several of our security guards were strolling around the outer edge of the crowd, obviously watching for any sign of theft. Yes, stealing. The ones that would be watched are those that carried large purses or shopping bags with them. Why would you need those when you can take your purchases down or up to your room? We have seen stranger things on cruise ships over the years. As for us, we quickly found a t-shirt, an embroidered visor, and 2 postcards. Be interesting to see how long they take to get mailed home.


We located Mr.Christian, one of the descendants of Fletcher Christian. Years ago, we had met his mother, who at the age of 80, was still climbing the rope ladder to get on the ship. We bought her cute cookbook at the time, the same one her son was selling today. He said she was fine, and still doing well. Just not climbing ladders anymore. As a matter of fact, nobody from the island came onboard last year. They were all sick with a gastrointestinal bug they got from a visiting cruise ship previous to our stop. Shows you how powerful those bugs can be.


Another different type of souvenier to purchase was the opportunity to have your passports stamped with a Pitcairn stamp. This took place at the Wine Bar on deck four, where folks stood in line to be handed their passports, then have an immigration officer stamp them for a $10. charge. Perhaps this is a collector item, but something that has never interested us. Our old passports reside in the safe at home, never to be looked at again. Maybe we are missing something??


By 11am, the visiting Pitcairners gathered their stuff, and loaded up the longboat with supplies from the ship. They had placed an order with us for some staples, as well as special treats like ice cream, fresh fruits, and wine. Can't have enough of those items on hand. Prior to filling the boat, some of the men handed over a 4 or 5 foot fish, which could have been a tuna. It was quickly hauled onto the Amsterdam. Many of the passengers, including us, hung over the outside railings to wave farewell to them. As we resumed sailing in a westerly direction, the island became smaller and smaller. By the time an hour had elapsed, the island was out of sight......a reminder of how the band of mutineers were able to live undetected for the remainder of their lives.


The afternoon activities continued as if we were at sea, which by now, we were. The day evaporated for us as we spent it at the aft pool. Thankfully, the breeze picked up as we resumed sailing, because while in Bounty Bay, it was quite hot and muggy. No rain, however. It was obvious that it did rain before sunrise, since the outside decks were soaked. But lucky for us, the day was nice and dry.


Tonight was formal, and we sure crossed our fingers that the air-conditioning had been fixed since last night. The back end of the lower dining room had become stifling on the last couple of evenings. We hate to complain, but if you do not speak up, nothing happens. All of us mentioned the problem, and thankfully, it was much better tonight. When we arrived at the table, we found Barb already sitting with four gifts at each couple's seats. It looked like Christmas, mostly because she used brightly-colored red and green wrapping paper to wrap the presents. She had gotten us a nifty luggage tracking battery-powered unit. You attach one piece to your luggage, and you have the tracking button. They are supposed to help you identify your luggage as it comes out on the belt at the airport for instance. We certainly hope that security realizes the flashing red light and the beeping noise does not resemble a bomb. Anyway, what a sweet thing to do for all of us. That way, she has all the birthdays covered ahead of time, starting with the one tonight.....mine.


The beautiful cake we had asked for arrived with a bunch of waiters and head waiters ready to sing the Indonesian happy birthday song. Everyone around us clapped and sang the song, which always does not happen. These folks seem to be very nice this year. The eight of us just about polished off the entire lemon-filled three layer white cake topped with gobs of whipped cream and sweet pink roses. Bet some of us will be ordering jello for dessert for the next week........ Anyway, it was a great way to end a memorable day.


Mary Ann & Bill

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Sounded like a marvelous, and very memorable, way to celebrate a birthday. :)

Happy Birthday to you!:D

Edited by localady

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Thank you for writing about Pitcairn Island and the history. (Now I have to actually go watch the movie). It was very interesting to read about the people. Belated Happy Birthday! Glad you had a nice celebration for your birthday and the cake sounds very delicious!

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Report # 28 Sailing Towards Papeete January 25, 2014 Saturday Partly cloudy, pretty windy, 77 degrees


The first thought of the day is to wish our lovely daughter-in-law, Monica, a very happy and wonderful birthday! .


By changing the clocks back one hour for four evenings now, lots of passengers are waking up earlier and earlier. The Lido restaurant has been crowded by 6am we understand. We sure have noticed a difference in the dining room, because they do not want to wait until 8am to have their breakfast served. It has worked well for us, since our waiters have been very attentive. Our coffee cups never go empty. Nor do we have to ask for anything, because the waiters know exactly what we want and how we like it. Don't know if we have mentioned this, but almost all of the wait staff are new to us on this world cruise. We doubt that this is a coincidence, with most of the waiters having their contracts end at the beginning of this cruise. After getting to know many of these waiters, we are finding out that many of the upcoming ports will be new for them. They seem to be more excited about that than most of the passengers.


The Tahitian group has more activities happening today with kukui nut bracelet making and a Tahitian zumba class. We'e still trying to figure out exactly what zumba is. A few years ago, our travel group hosted a zumba cruise to Mexico. This was supposed to be pool zumba. But due to bad timing and bad weather, all the pool zumba days were cancelled. Not only did we not participate, we never saw anyone actually do it. Pareo wrapping seems a lot easier, and that was demonstrated by the Tahitian gals today as well.


Shore excursions talks continued on the upcoming ports of Pago Pago, America Samoa to Cairns, Australia. We have pre-booked a tour in Fiji, because we know there may not be too many places to walk on our own. So we are going on a sailboat to an island close by for swimming and a chicken BBQ. As for the other ports, we intend to wing it.


Camera guru David is winding up his talks, we assume, as we approach Tahiti. The timing of his visit to the world cruise has been good, since many folks had the chance to learn a lot for the rest of the trip. You would be surprised how many people bought new cameras at Christmas time, and arrived to the ship without knowing how to use them correctly. The same goes for the new computer gadgets such as Ipods and Ipads. Lots of parents and grandparents received these as gifts, then came onboard with them without a clue how to use them. Eventually, the passengers taught each other.


We had a few jobs today. One was at the book exchange in the library, where you bring a book, and take a book. Really, no one moniters this corner, so if you do not have an exchange book, it does not matter. One of us is starting book number six, so it won't take long to go through many of the best sellers available in the library. One nice thing is that there is no designated due date on the borrowed books. Unless, of course, someone has requested what you are reading.


Our next port will be Tahiti, so we needed to buy some Polynesian French Francs. We could use a credit card at any restaurant, but we prefer cash. You can bet that we will be going back to the pizza place we visited last fall. For some reason, we do not remember asking them if they accepted US dollars, since at that time, we did use our credit card.


Finally, we got a reminder that we had a cooking class tomorrow. However, only one of our names was on the letter. For some reason, we had asked for both of us to attend, but that must not have been understood. Since both of us could not be included, we cancelled and will re-book this complimentary activity later on in the cruise.


Few folks were sunning or swimming at the aft pool. The winds were ferocious. Of course, it was much cooler due to the winds. Over the years, we have figured out a way to keep the towels put and the lounge fixed in one position. Clamps for the towels and little bungee cords for the chair back works perfectly. We lasted until 4pm, then headed down to the room. Have we mentioned that some of the new channels added to the TV programming have remained working, when some of the usual channels have gone blank? For many days now, we have lost CNN, TCM, and ESPN. But in their place, we have BBC and CNBC. Both have good programming with interesting series. They have been a good choice, because the four movie stations have been repeated more than once already since we began the world cruise. Will have to do some research into why this is happening again. There have got to be more than a dozen movies that can be shown, with no need to repeat at all.


It was printed in the daily newsletter that we have a dentist onboard. We assume that has always been the case on the grand voyages, but maybe not. It is nice to know if we needed a qualified dentist, we do not have to go off the ship in some of these remote ports to find one. Of course, we do have a doctor, but going to see him can be taking a chance whether or not you are allowed to stay onboard and continue your trip. So far, two people in our group have been sent home along with their spouses. The good news is that we have had no reports of any deaths. Hope we never do.


Dinner was good again. Sometimes it is nice to keep things light with soups and entree salads. With the over-indulgent cake yesterday, small desserts fit the bill tonight. The show after dinner was performed by the Unexpected Boys singing Broadway tunes. We have been told that the newly added 7:30pm short show has been filling the Queens Lounge. Tonight's artist was Romany, with no explanation whatsoever. Will report tomorrow on both shows.


And once again, the clocks went back one hour tonight. That makes 5 hours back in as many days. What was midnight last week, is now 7pm. No wonder so many folks are having a hard time going to sleep, and waking up early. One big difference that we have noticed is that it is finally dark when we go to dinner.


Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 29 Sailing Towards Papeete January 26, 2014 Sunday Chance of rain, 78 degrees


Today was actually day number twenty three of the world cruise, and also happened to be Australia Day. Guess we have been very lucky to have had mostly sunny days so far. Rain was definitely on the agenda, because during breakfast, we watched the huge windows at the back of the dining room dripping with sheets of it. Something tells us this is not going to be a pool day.


A walk was in order on the promenade deck, but that was interrupted when we ran into host, Tom. Occassionally, he takes some time to relax on a padded teak lounge before he has to attend the chat time on deck five for an hour. We ended up having a private chat with him, as we caught up on old and new happenings with our travel agency. Since meeting and sailing with Tom and Ellen back in 2005, we share a lot of fond memories and experiences. It's always a pleasure to visit with him.


It appeared that the rain clouds had passed over us, and perhaps the sun was on its way out. Our timing could not have been better to arrive to the aft deck, set up our chairs, and watch the skies turn black and start to rain. About the same time we were getting settled, another nice couple we have come to know were doing the same thing. After three weeks, our routines have become established, and the regulars have their spots staked out, more or less. Funny how that works. Anyway, when the rain began, we migrated to the overhang near the back wall. So we ended up sharing a table while we waited out the storm.


Happening at the same time, was an Aussie BBQ in honor of Australia Day, something similar to our Fourth of July holiday. Now usually, this BBQ would have been held in the middle pool area, but for a change, it was back here on the aft deck......right out in the pouring rain. The chefs, who were not happy campers with this situation, pulled the large BBQs near the staircase, but also closer to the tables and chairs. They were cooking large shrimps, steaks, and some fish.


We stayed out there for over an hour, soaking up the smoke. The rain never did stop, but at least we had some time to visit with Cheryl and Larry, the friendly couple from San Diego. If we had not eaten breakfast, we may have sampled the BBQ, since it did look tasty and smelled equally as good. The water that began flooding the deck, did not stop the guests from lining up to get their food.


The Tahitian team wrapped up their entertainment with a show at 11am in the Queens Lounge. They will be leaving the ship tomorrow in Tahiti. We think that many people appreciated their visit, and this new style of On Location entertainment. What a better way to learn the native crafts, dances, and traditions of the Polynesian people than from the locals themselves.


For a change, we ordered room service lunch. Watching the BBQ in progress, made one of us crave a steak sandwich. However, the room service steak sandwich came fairly slathered with a ton of mayo and oil-sauted peppers and onions. Probably, the BBQ meat would have been the better choice. For another change, we were able to watch an excellent movie, although older, in our room from the very beginning. Turned out to be 2 1/2 hours long. That was a good thing, because today we are finally feeling the effects of changing the clocks for five days in a row. Do you know how long it takes to get accustomed to a one hour change back or forward? Well, try five hours. What is our dinnertime let's say tonight at 8pm, was literally 1am five days ago. No wonder we are all dragging a bit.


We never did go back to the pool, although the sun did peek out later in the afternoon. Perfect time for a PM stroll before dinnertime. It was obvious that the lower promenade deck was being cleared for it to be scrubbed down. Lately, we have noticed that all of the outside doors have been cordoned off for walking while they are hosing the decks. Nice to know they are being kept clean. Can you believe we saw an elderly lady smoking a cigarette without an ashtray on that deck? She was flicking the hot ashes on the teak floor. What was she thinking? Our friend Cheryl handed her one of the stainless steel ashtrays that are hung on the railing to use. Instead of thanking her, she requested that she moved the ashtray to her other side, since she had trouble lifting it. Later in the day, this same lady came out for another smoke, opened her little purse, and pulled out a ship's ashtray. How about that? She did the right thing.


There was a section on the front page of the newsletter today with a "did you know" question for all. It was disturbing to say the least. It read: Mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever, chikungunya, and zika fever are a possibility in tropical climates including some of the ports on our itinerary. Common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Oh boy, this is a first warning like this we have ever seen. The CDC has advised that we wear long sleeves and pants with covered shoes with socks. Using tons of insect repellent high in DEET is highly advised. We will take this warning seriously, since recently our oldest son came down with something bad while in Thailand. Although never diagnosed with dengue, the symptoms were quite similar. The culprit.....mosquitos in the hotel rooms. We do have the anti-malarial meds for Africa, but have never taken them in this part of the world. And truthfully, we are not sure they are of any use for these other fevers. Pretty scary...........


We kept dinner light and turned in as early as possible. The performer tonight was Naki Ataman. Last night, the Unexpected Boys did Broadway. We heard mixed reviews on that show. Some loved it, others did not. Can't please everyone all of the time.


It will be nice to be in Tahiti tomorrow........nicer if it does not rain.


Bill & Mary Ann

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I work at a medical centre in Melbourne and we have had a few patients and also 3 friends come back from both Thailand and Bali with Dengue fever. One friend spent 5 days in isolation in the infectous diseases section at the Royal Melbourne hospital in October with it. They are daytime mosquitos so often catch people unaware so do cover up and spray well with a DEET preparation.

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Report # 30 Papeete, Tahiti January 27, 2014 Monday Cloudy, chance of rain, 88 degrees


Tahiti is the largest island of French Polynesia. Papeete is the capital city and primary center of government, commercial, industrial, and financial hub. It is also our port of call for today. Many years ago, Tahiti was one of the most intriguing places we had wished to visit, after Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. From the first time we set foot off of the jet and were greeted with leis of frangipani, we have never tired of our repeated trips to this part of the world.


Obviously, many other folks around the world feel the same way. The ship, Amadea, that happened to be right behind us as we transited the Panama Canal, pulled into the berth across from us. Guess they have been sailing in the same direction that we have been going all this time, and we did not know it. Anyway, it's nice to have some company.


Having taken just about every tour available, and seeing the island from top to bottom, we are content to stay in town, enjoying what the city has to offer. Some folks have commented that Papeete is another fairly large city, crowded with traffic, and chock full of tourist traps. We do not see it that way. For one thing, the ship was docked right in town. The locals at the very nice tourist center greet you as you walk towards the gate. Tables of Polynesian shell jewelry and t-shirts wre set up outside the center. While you are checking out the pricey items, you can watch Tahitian dancers vibrate to the sound of the drums and ukeleles.


A string of vendors also entice you to book a tour of some sort tomorrow in Moorea. It can be a good deal if you are looking for a snorkel tour to see the tropical fish, sting rays, and friendly? sharks. The going price ran from $50. to $60. depending on if you wanted to include a BBQ lunch buffet. A similar tour with the ship was running around $150. or more. So the savings can be great. Perhaps accident insurance would not be included, but that is a chance many folks are willing to take.


A couple of items not to be missed in Tahiti are fabrics and flowers. The first stop we made was at a fabric store about a block away from the gate. Took about 5 minutes to chose a couple of lengths of floral and geometric rayon blend for blouses. Searching for a special t-shirt proved to be difficult. We located the perfect one last fall, but could not find the correct size. Today, we could find none of that particular type. Oh well, maybe next time.


A delightful place to spend some time is at the Municipal Marchee, or marketplace. The lower level is full of trinkets, food items, a veggie and fresh fish section, and a flower area. Upstairs, you can find a cafe in the middle of clothing stalls, jewelry displays, and pearl sellers. The decision not to purchase another pareo fell by the wayside when one particular one stood out among the many being sold. The backround color was a soft turquoise green with pale peach-colored hibiscus on the border. These versatile pareos last forever and are quite useful where we live in the summertime.


Downstairs we located the bunches of tropical flowers for sale. They consisted mostly of ginger, ferns, and some flowers that do not look real. An added addition were a few ants, but not as bad as we have had in the past. Sometimes these bouquets are sprayed with insecticide when we enter the ship. Not so today.


Too early for lunch, we slowly made our way back to the ship to stash our purchases, and cool off with lots of ice water. Going back out after noontime, we walked the promenade along the waterfront. Part of it was being remodeled, and it was closed off with a metal fencing. A nice park has emerged little by little over recent years along this shoreline. It includes numerous wooden benches, many tropical plants and trees, restrooms, but little areas of shade. A couple of playgrounds for the little ones are also there, and are well maintained.


About where the large, pink, copper-topped Eglise Evangelique Church (1818) is located, is the best Italian/pizza place in town in our humble opinion. It is called L Api-

Zzeria, and could easily be passed by, since it is located behind a high concrete wall with only two large wooden doors in the center. It is not your typical restaurant, since most of the tables are set on a floor of gravel, surrounding the wood fire ovens and kitchen. Perhaps this building was once a private home and gardens. Now the garden area is covered with roofing, like an outdoor patio, with overhead fans and some umbrellas as well. But it is the food that draws us back. They have one of the best pizzas (margherita) we have tasted. Of course, they offer two dozen varieties, as well as pastas and other entrees. We prefer to keep it simple. To compliment the pizza, we always order the local beer....in this case, Hinano draft. Great way to spend the warm and humid afternoon, while waiting for the breeze to cool us off. We have never been rushed here, since we always arrive after the busy part of the day. In fact, the owner/chef was visiting at a nearby table of guests, with no hurry to go anywhere. Neither were we.


All aboard time was late....really late, because we were scheduled to leave during the wee hours of the morning, floating to nearby Moorea for tomorrow. Because of this, the ship held a Polynesian BBQ in the Lido Pool area. With camera in hand, we checked out the roasting piglet, steaks, and skewers of shrimp, chicken and pineapple pieces being cooked. The affairs always draw a big crowd, much to the delight of the dining rook and Lido waiters, we are sure. If we had tasted any of the fare, then we would not be able to enjoy dinner. We always go to the dining room, no matter what, since the food is more to our likng and our waiters are beyond excellent. Guess most of our tablemates felt the same way, because all but two of them showed up at 8pm.


A very special treat this evening was an award winning dance group by the name of Tahiti Ora. Having seen their show in October, we made it a point to return for an encore performance. Yes, it was the same, but just as well-performed as before. The drummers of this group also deserve special praise, since they outdid themselves. Great way to end the day.


Tomorrow, or sometimes tonight, we will be in Moorea, the most beautiful of the islands, we think.


Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 31 Moorea, French Polynesia January 28, 2014 Tuesday Very cloudy, rain, 96 degrees


No wonder it felt so darned hot today. We had no idea that the temperatures would have climbed so high today, along with the humidity. If it does rain, it would probably feel pretty nice. Honestly, there was no warning of rain printed in the daily newsletter, and why we believed that is beyond us. We know better, and should have brought umbrellas with us.


The Amsterdam floated over to the Opunohu Bay from Tahiti sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. This bay, as well as Cook's Bay are located on the northern tip of the heart-shaped island. If Tahiti is described as a pretty island, then Moorea can described as dropdead gorgeous. This is where the most spectacular scenes from the movie South Pacific were filmed. Legendary Bali Hai, not really located here, was filmed here in Cook's Bay in Moorea.


Excursions to the top of Belvedere lookout can present views of both bays. Tours can also take you around the island on 38 miles of narrow, but well-paved roads. Once you have seen the flora and fauna of the island, the best place to head is in or on the waters and surrounding reefs. Moorea and Bora Bora are all about the water. Snorkeling, swimming with the sting rays and reef sharks, and dolphin spotting are favorite activites here. Needless to say, they are expensive doing them from the ship, but can be affordable booking onshore, as many people did today.


We were at anchor, instead of docked. And we may have been closer to civilization had we been anchored in Cook's Bay. But that spot went to the Amadea, more than likely because she is a much smaller ship, and they took priority. Tendering to shore was done quite efficiently with excursions going first, then those with tender tickets following. Four and five star Mariners, suites, and President Club members could mix in with the ticketed people.


As for us, we were in no hurry to go ashore, since our day would be used for walking, bird watching, and photo-taking. By 10am, there were few folks going ashore, and the boat was not full. The ride was short as we were taken to a village by the name of Papetoai. There was a group of natives to greet us with song and dance, much like what we saw at the show last night. Other than a small church and a corner store, there was not too much here to see. What they did have was a series of tented tables with a variety of black pearl jewelry and island clothing. We always seek out one elderly local lady who sits for hours creating shell necklaces and earrings. On past visits, we have bought two sets from her. Today, we saw a pretty necklace that would match the pareo we bought yesterday. However, she did not have matching earrings. So she asked us to come back later with her limited English, and she would have them made. Sounded good to us.


So off we went, turning right at the end of the road. We knew of a spot where we could sit on the water's edge and watch birds diving for fish. We are afraid to report that the easiest way to find the hidden trail is by following the crushed soda cans, juice containers, and ice cream wrappers left by the islanders. Better than it used to be, littering is a way of life, and the young citizens never learn to pick up their trash. Although we saw few today, with a population of over 16,00 residents, there must be a lot of kids living on the island.


So from the private perch, we watched the birds as they dove for fish. Even a hawk came around to snatch their catch, but as a flock, they kept him away. They have a lot of dogs as pets, and even they were frolicking in the surf. What was cool was being able to listen to the thunderous sound of the waves breaking on the nearby coral reef that surrounds most of the island. You would swear it was the sound of jets flying overhead. It is the simple things like this that keeps us traveling to beautiful places like this.


We continued walkng up the road, but not until a brief but heavy rain cloud went over us. Taking shelter under the nearest coconut palm tree worked well. It was then that we discovered the numerous holes in the sand, where the coconut crabs live. Right after the rain, they came out of those holes by the hundreds. Got some great photos there too. We did come across a roadside house/cafe that served beer and sodas. There were no customers from our ship, since most folks were on tours. So we continued on our way back. Even though the rain had cooled the breeze off, it was getting increasingly hotter and far too humid. Both can zap your strength in a hurry, and even though we were drinking water, it was not enough.


Passing the stand with our nice jewelry lady, she called us over and proudly presented the earrings to us. They were an exact match, and she gladly took my handful of coins I had saved to spend here. The price was more than right. As for the black pearl creations sold here, some are expensive, and some are not. We do not know enough about the quality of black pearls, so we are uncomfortable about buying them outside a qualified jewelry store. Many of our friends feel the same way.


We got back to the ship by 3pm, in time to enjoy a delicious hamburger and hot dog from the Terrace Grill. The rest of the afternoon was spent downloading photos until it was time for sail away. Rain had obscured the highest peaks, but cleared up by the time we left. The skies turned increasingly black as we headed towards Bora Bora.


There were only six of us at dinner tonight. Sometimes, this is nice, because there is less competition for visiting with each other. Also, relaxing for a couple of hours gave Margaret and Keith and us a chance to get to know new tablemates Bill & Marianne better. Although they have been on many cruises, this is their first world cruise, with numerous new ports for them. They are smart to gather as much info for everyone regarding some do's and don'ts for unknown places.


During a conversation regarding the internet packages onboard, the subject of extra bonus minutes given for each plan was discussed. Since we pre-paid for a 1000 minute package prior to the trip, we received the 100 bonus minutes as soon as we logged on. On past cruises, the same deal had been offered for the first few days of the cruise. Not so on this trip. The special deal was only for those who bought the plan before the cruise. Yes, another cutback has occurred that was not announced. Usually, we run out of time halfway during the cruise. Guess there will be no special deals for those of us who need to buy more minutes. Darn!


Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 32 Bora Bora, French Polynesia January 29, 2014 Wednesday Cloudy, chance of rain, 88 degrees


Bora Bora is another "big wow" for sheer beauty....one of the best nature provides. It only took us sailing overnight from Moorea to arrive here, since it is located around 170 miles from Tahiti. Depending on the source, there are anywhere from 5800 to under 9000 folks that live here. They work primarily in the tourist and hotel industries.


The island is reportedly over 7 million years old, and considered one of the oldest of the Polyhesian Islands. It is not large, with only 32 kilometers of road that circles the island. This volcanic island is surrounded by a wide reef with only one opening into the massive lagoon. It would be really difficult to find waters so gorgeous in multiple shades of blue to turquoise anywhere else in the world. The lagoon itself is three times larger than the land mass of the island. Seven hundred species of tropical fish, manta rays, gray sharks, turtles, dolphins, and barracuda reside in these waters. And one of the most outstanding areas in which to snorkel or dive.


In 1942, the American armada arrived to this island to set up a military outpost after being drawn into the war after the Pearl Harbor attack. Roads were built, and the water supply was renovated. Eight canons were fixed on the hillsides, and an airstrip and base were completed in 1943. Some of these signs of war relics are still visible today.


We tendered to shore once the main portion of the crowd was already over there. Gosh, it was going to be a hot day, although rain was in the forecast. Of course, we brought the umbrellas to be sure the rain would stay away. We walked up and down the main street via the handicraft market by the tenderboat landing. Most all of the seashell jewelry was the same as what we have seen for the last two days, only it was more expensive. Did we mention that the Amadea was also anchored in the harbor? Well, that meant at least 400 or 500 more people here today. The craft market was stuffed with shoppers, so we made our way out the back door as soon as we could.


Compared to Moorea, Bora Bora is much more suitable for the tourist crowds with shops and boutiques in the town of Vaitape. Certified pearl stores will guarantee authenticity and quality, but the pieces come with a hefty price. When you see a pendant with a perfect black pearl, set in gold, and surrounded with small diamonds, nothing else will compare to it. One such necklace we saw in a store window ran about 162,000 French francs. Matching earrings were even more........184,000. That would be a grand total of about $3900. Hmmmm, maybe next time......


Our destination this morning was Matira Point, where Matira Beach is located. The best way there is by shuttle for a mere $5. per person. You can walk the highway, but it would take a couple of hours one way, carefully navigating on a narrow seaside road. In this humid heat, it was not a wise choice to attempt this. So we joined the convenient shuttle bus that stopped right by the tenderboat landing. We had a short wait, while the driver tried to pick up more folks going our way.


The ride took perhaps 15 minutes, and we were dropped off right at Matira Beach, reportedly the nicest white sand beach on the island. It is also a public beach, even though the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort and Spa is built right there. We discovered that if we wanted to use the resort's lounges, towels, restrooms, and beachfront, it would cost about $40 per person on a day pass. That did not entitle us to the pool area or provide any drinks or food. All we wished to do was walk in the surf on the beach as we made our way back towards Bloody Marys, the most popular stop on the island. Had we been thinking, we should have brought our aqua shoes with us, because the white sandy beach was full of sharp coral and broken shells. Even accessing the water to swim was dicey. But once the sunbathers got into the deeper water, they simply stayed there. The beach water was so warm, you barely felt it when you walked in it. This is one of those places where the sea temps equal the air temps. We remember it well with all of the snorkeling excursions we have done in the past. Bet we see a lot of sunburnt folks back on the ship this evening.


Many private bungalows lined the shoreline. Some even had patios where they served the tourists beverages....the most popular being Hinano beer. Sure looked appealing to us, as by now, our water supply was dwindling. We finally reached the end of the sandy beach, and the end of the shoreline. From there, we popped back up on the road, and followed it to famous Bloody Marys. Expecting it to be over-crowded with diners, we were pleasantly surprised to find most of the tables were available. As the friendly waitress took our order, we did see busloads of people coming inside to take photos, buy a drink or t-shirt, and use the restrooms facilities. The restrooms are a novelty in this establishment, because they have interesting decorations and fountain-like wash basins. The "decorations" can be considered x-rated, and for that reason, the tourists line up to take photos.


Well, we were there for the beer and the food. Usually we indulge in their hamburgers, but today we wanted to try something different. So we went Mexican with an order of a chicken quesadilla with guacamole, sour cream, refried beans mixed with melted cheese, and a tangy salsa. We were in heaven......about as good as having a margherita pizza. The best part was sitting under an overhead fan, and not being rushed. We do know that we are in a lot of photos and video from the Amadea crowd, who stumbled inside and did not hesitate to snap away. The time flew by all to quickly, and we knew we had to start back to the pier.


One of the shuttles was waiting to transport guests back, so we hopped on. All aboard time today was at 4:30pm, and we did not want to wait until the last tenderboat. Did we ever use the umbrellas? Of course not, even though the rain did pass overhead while we dined. Like we said, if you bring them, you will not need them.


The sun was still penetrating when we went to the aft deck for the sailaway. The Amadea tenders were stilling running back and forth, obviously staying later than us. It was fun watching the local kayakers paddle to get in the boat's wake, and ride the wave. By the time the Captain was heaving anchor, the sky opened up and the rain came down hard. That sure cleared the decks. We took refuge down on deck seven aft on the narrow strip of balcony overlooking the back. It's a nice place to sit and stay out of the elements. Not that we minded getting wet, but the cameras don't like it. We stayed there, blissfully relaxing on one of the teak lounges until the magic was broken by a lone passenger who decided to crowd us out.


Some of the choices at dinner were not really to our liking, so the alternate steak entree worked OK. One of us had the poblano and cheese stuffed chicken breast, which was hot and spicy. This is the first time we have noticed that the cooks are not afraid to season the food. You just have to have a full glass of ice water on hand to counteract the hotness. And the double scoop of rocky road ice cream for dessert helped also. Great excuse, right?


We now have two days at sea to relax before reaching American Samoa....Pago Pago to be exact.


Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 33 Sailing Towards Pago Pago January 30, 2014 Thursday Partly cloudy, lots of sun, 77degrees


After spending three days in a row in port, we needed today to rest up. There were a few things going on, such as a talk on upcoming ports in American Samoa and Fiji. Two guest speakers have joined the ship. John Gascoigne spoke about the cultural history of Tahiti, before and after European contact. In the afternoon, Dr. Denny Whitford., a retired US Navy Captain and oceanographer presented a photographic introduction to ocean waves. It would be useful to learn how to read the waves as we sail. One thing we do not ever want to spot is a rogue wave. We are sure that the folks on the Prinsendam have some frightening memories of the waves that hit them out of Punta Arenas a few years ago.


It took quite a while today to download photos from yesterday, and even more time trying to send emails. The internet on the ship is still not working correctly. There has been a notice in the newsletter for those who are having problems to bring their computers to the techsperts, and signing a waiver for them to check it out. We sure are not comfortable with doing that, since we have a very old computer, and it is extremely sensitive to any tampering with settings. We don't see an end to this any time too soon, and the natives are getting restless, we hear. It's no wonder that so many passengers are taking their computers to each and every internet place along the route so far.


The dining room was decorated for a formal evening with the theme of Tropical Paradise. Emerald green palm trees with gold streamers for the trunks hung from the ceiling, along with mobiles of parrots swinging in the breeze from the air-conditioning. At least the dining room has been much more comfortable since we reported how hot it has been in there. Bet the waiters are happy for the cooler temps, because tonight they were wearing vests and heavy felt parrot hats during the entire dinnertime. It could have been much hotter for them too.


We had a special birthday celebration for Margaret tonight. When our waiters brought her cake, two of the Pinnacle Grill waitresses came to our table and presented Margaret with two yellow Asian lilies for her birthday. Since she and Keith are in a room on deck seven, they eat breakfast and lunch on the starboard side of the dining room every day. It is reserved for deck seven passengers. And their waiters are from the Pinnacle Grill, so they have gotten to know them well. We were happy to be able to celebrate this special day with her.


The group Black Tie from Australia had their first cabaret performance this evening. We will give a review tomorrow on them and the latest entertainers for the previous week.


And, tonight the clocks went back one wonderful hour.


By the way, our windowsill garden is thriving this year. Should have sunflower blooms before springtime at this rate.


Bill & Mary Ann

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I want you to know that I just booked a cruise to Alaska because of you and all the world cruise bloggers..,especially also Jeff F.


I have been HAl Lurker for years after one very positive Caribbean Cruise on the Veedam.


We have been on many lines from Carnival to Regent. We pick cruises pretty much based on Itinerary.


I like cruise critic and check several lines every day i can. Through the years I have found that I really like the HAL posts. People are open and honest without being "cheerleaders." or "negative Nelly's." People seem to be fun and have a good attitude. Things aren't perfect...but then thats life.


And when the worst posts are about the internet (no small thing to us these days..but I have found it to be an issue on many ships and even a lot of hotels.) life sounds pretty good on the ship.


And so when I had to choose between lines to Alaska, I chose Hal..:)


So if HAL is reading this...encourage those world cruise bloggers..!!!


Again, Many thanks!

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Report # 34 Sailing Towards Pago Pago January 31, 2014 Friday Partly cloudy, a very warm 85 degrees


Two messages on the front page of the daily newsletter caught our attention this morning. The first one dealt with the ongoing mess with the internet service. Those of us having problems with log in and log out are required to fill out a form in the Explorers Cafe to get our mysteriously missing minutes refunded back to us. A shoreside team of IT experts are working on the fix. And this should be accomplished in the next couple of days. Hmmmm, we have heard this before......


The next message was too long in coming......it's about wearing bathrobes in public places on the ship. We don't know how you feel about this, but it is unnerving to see people in the elevators, sometimes shoeless as well, as they make their way to the Lido pool area, for instance. Then they pop into the Lido restaurant to get food, and that's where they get busted, we hope.


Other events of the day included another Mongolian Cookout for lunch, which was held in the Lido Pool area. We heard that the line was quite long today, although, it must have been unbearably hot in there with the wok cooking and all. Now that we are sailing in a hot and humid zone, the outdoor areas of the ship have been very uncomfortably warm and sticky. At least, we had a good breeze blowing across the back deck all afternoon.


We have a strange story to tell regarding a most unusual passenger. Perhaps we need to begin with two great experiences we have had with clergy members on previous cruises. Specifically, Catholic priests on a holiday. One such man was on a cruise with his nephew, and they happened to be our tablemates. Dressed like the rest of us, we never knew the elder of the two was a priest, although, being Catholic ourselves, we suspected that to be the case. He was afraid that the conversation at our table of eight may have been stiffled knowing that he was a man of the cloth. Not the case with any of us. We welcomed his knowledge and stories he had to share. Our other experience was with a traveling Canadian priest, whom we have kept in touch ever since that Caribbean trip several years ago. So you know where we are coming from.


This case is far from a good experience. Absolutely no one believes this long-hair, bearded man is truly a Russian Orthodox priest, even though he dresses the part in a long black robe every day, wearing open-toe sandals. We doubt that he would pack a large soda bottle full of wine, and drink it all day in public places around the ship. We doubt he would curse passengers having a friendly game of cards in the Hudson room, telling them they were all damned. Nor do we think a priest would approach other passengers and solicit money for his church. He has even been heard doing the same begging onshore while in French Polynesia. It is no wonder that the security team was summoned to the grand opening of a pearl exhibit today, where he made a scene and was escorted out by two officers. Why in the world is this man still on the ship, we ask? It must take a lot more to legally debark him, or HAL could be sued. If we heard correctly, he should be ending his trip in Sydney, the end of the first segment. We have only touched on a few of the nasty things he has done, since some of it has been too disgusting to put in print. Let's just say he has a habit of putting food in his robe pockets and leaving it there forever. Pity his poor room stewards, who reported that his room was so filthy, a team had to go in and strip it of rotting food stuff. No kidding...........


Changing the subject (probably forever), there was a special Pinnacle Polynesian Dinner in the Pinnacle this evening. Six courses were paired with suitable wines....all for the price of $79. per person. At that price, we are not certain how many folks dine there, but a clue to that is the fact that we received the menu and an invite to join them a day ago. Since the Pinnacle is closed for regular diners on these special days, they are probably having trouble filling it.


We have been trying some different items on the menu at dinner in the main restaurant. Last night, we had the spicy chow mein entree, and tonight, we shared a rice ringed Schechwan(sp?) vegetarian entree. We have to have a new cook in the kitchen, because these items were simply delicious. So far, the food choices have been very good, well, except for the Maine lobster which was not a Maine lobster on formal night. Something tells us that they ran out of those, and we were served a substitute.


The entertainer tonight was a mystery one....a lady by the name of Liz Layton, who will tell it like it is. So, what is she? You have to attend to find out.


Bill & Mary Ann

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AH HA!! The mystery problem passenger mentioned in the Captain's blog.:eek:

That is a strange one for sure. Let us know when he has been tossed off the ship.

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