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Seek Timeless Treasures with Bill & Mary Ann - 2019 World Cruise -131 days


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There was a bigger problem, since we heard that about 45 people had gone over to Moorea on the ferry yesterday for either an HAL tour or an independent tour.  The plan was to spend the night at one of the resorts, then join the ship when we got there.  Surprise….now they would have to return by the ferry today, and hope to book a flight to one of the next ports.  And this would depend on available flight space on small planes.  Sure hope we see these folks sometime soon.  Surely we will hear some stories through the “grape vine” when they do return.



Air TAHITI has 5-6 flights a day from Papeete to Bora Bora for $273




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Report #32   Bora Bora, French Polynesia   February 18, 2019   Monday   Chance of showers & 82 degrees   Part #1 Of 4   80  Pictures


Bora Bora is part of the Leeward group of the Society Islands, an overseas collectivity of France.  It is located 143 miles northwest of Papeete and has a population of around 8,900 people.  Not only is this volcanic island one of the oldest and most beautiful, the lagoon that surrounds it is stunning.  We have had the experience of swimming in these emerald waters, actually feeding sting rays and sharks more than once.  Yes, it did take nerves of steel the first time we did this, but when we discovered gaining access back into the boat wasn’t so easy for the ladies of the group, the thrill turned into fear with the sharks right under our dangling feet.  Oh sure, they tell you that the reef sharks are harmless, but what about those huge lemon sharks that suddenly appeared?  Needless to say, we have not repeated this excursion again for quite some time. 


Deciding that we would tender over to shore a bit later in the morning, we went to breakfast as we usually do.  That’s when we discovered another vessel had entered into the lagoon.  And it was a pretty one…..the Windstar Spirit, part yacht and part cruise ship.  Entering service in 1988, she is 5350 gross tons, a baby compared to the Amsterdam at 62,735 gross tons.  She holds over 150 passengers, reportedly in their 50’s or younger, with a crew of 88.  The four giant masts are 170 feet above the deck, and are outfitted with computer-controlled sails.  The cruise living here is without entertainment, silly parlor games (the book’s words, not ours), structured activities, or ship’s photographers.  So the vacation is unregimented and relaxing.  However, they have that retractable marina with water sports such as banana boats, kayaks, sunfish sailboats, windsurfer boards, water skis, and scuba and snorkel gear.  Last but not least, there are 4 zodiacs.  It is quite possible that the ship stays in each Polynesian port for more than one day.


Tours offered here today included an island drive, snorkel and swim, scuba, and a glass bottom boat ride.  Or you could go to a motu islet with a swim in the lagoon, or opt for a 4 wheel drive in the mountains, or maybe do the shark/sting ray tour, like we did.  Prices ran from $70 to $246. Many smart folks we know pre-arranged private tours online, and did pretty much the same tours, but for a lot less.


Timing our departure in between tour groups and tender ticketed people, we went right down to deck A, and got on the boat.  This lagoon is so protected that there was barely a wave in the water, making access to the boat a piece of cake.  Nothing like what we did in Easter Island.  With a 10 minute ride, we stepped on the island at about 10am.  Did we mention it was going to be one very hot day?  Although rain was in the forecast, we never saw any.  What a huge difference from yesterday, when passing showers came every few minutes. 


Our plan for the day was to take the local shuttle all the way to the Intercontinental Hotel at Matira Point.  We knew exactly where to find the bus, and some other folks followed us after asking about the transfer.  For a mere $5 or 500 francs, we were dropped off after the 20 minute ride.  Passing in front of the Intercontinental Resort, we read the day-use sign which read that for 6500 francs, you would be able to use the hotel’s beach and restrooms.  A lunch was also included in that price.  So for 13,000 francs or about $130, you would probably spend the entire day there. 


Not for us, we like to walk, and see some of the island and the local people.  We continued up the road for a mile or so, and ended up at the Sofitel Resort, which offers the water bungalows or hillside suites.  It is a beautiful property that we have visited on tours in the past. It appeared to us that we are here during the low season, since the drier time of year is from May to October.  Few guests were out and about, so when we inquired about getting cold beers at the outdoor bar, we were told that it was not chilled yet. 


Heading back, we strolled through the equally as nice Maitai Resort.  They have a really nice covered outdoor restaurant with a variety of dishes.  The menu just happens to feature pizza.  We have dined here before, and can report the pizza was great.  Only today we were a bit too early and they were not opened yet.  All we did was take photos, then continued on our hike.


The next stop was at Matira Beach, which is about as pristine as they get.  The best thing is that it is a public beach where all the locals go.  And for good reason….the lagoon waters are shallow enough to wade out for many yards where you can see small fish and even some sting rays.  But it is the gorgeous colors of the water that is so mesmerizing.  Looking a half mile towards the reef where the waves were breaking, it was almost impossible to tell the sky from the water.  It just blends together as one.  And the fun part of strolling the gentle surf barefoot, is being able to watch the little kids frolic in the 85 degree water, their moms and dads watching from the white sandy beach.  By the way, we did pass by many friends from the ship that came to the couple of cafes and bars along the beachfront, waving as we strolled by.


At the end of the mile-long stretch of white sand, we popped up to the road, and hiked the rest of the way to Bloody Mary’s, the famous restaurant visited by hundreds of famous folks over the years.  Needless to say, it was crowded, because most of the tours stopped here on their way back to the pier.  The guests have the option of staying here, and making their way back on their own.  Lunch and anything ice cold to drink was in order.  We did have to wait to be seated for a few minutes,  but soon got a nice table for two with the funny wooden stool seats set in the white sand floor.  We watched as a couple of groups of impatient people walked in and sat down at tables.  That is, until the waiter came and asked them to go wait back at the entrance.  This is not your typical café.


We ordered the Mexican chicken quesadilla with dips and chips.  Really tasty, but the Hinano beers were the best.  Actually lifesavers today.  Recalling that dessert was good here, we added one plate of profiteroles to share.  Yep, just as good as we remembered.  After relaxing for an hour, it was time to move on.  Across the road here is the pier, where small boats can tie up to dine here.  It doubles as a great photo spot as well.


The shuttle arrived, and we were back in Vaitape within minutes.  There were still some vendors to check out, and a couple of local shops.  We had better luck at the street tables where we purchased a very reasonable pair of black pearl earrings.  These will match a carved shell pearl pendant that was purchased a few years ago, probably from the same lady.  The next bargain was a bunch of tiny bananas for $4.  They are tangy as well as good for us.  While here, we ran into friends Howard and Gyl, who seem to enjoy the same type of self-tour like we do.  Quite often, we will run into them in most every port, walking about town.  It has become so frequent, we have all decided the day is complete when our paths cross. Kind of like  good luck charm.


A tender boat was waiting as we exited the souvenir shop near the pier.  At least they were not over-filling the boat before they left for the ship. Sure felt good to get back to the air-conditioning.  It was already 4pm, and we spent some time working in the room on photos of course.  We could see that the skies were clouding up, but rain never occurred.  It may have felt good.


Dinnertime was fun, sharing our exploits with Barbie.   One of these days, she will leave the ship and go ashore.  There are many folks that stay onboard, enjoying what activities are still happening.  Barb heard that all of the stranded passengers on Moorea made it to Bora Bora today.  Or we should say, that all of the HAL tour folks made it back.  Not sure about the independents. 


All aboard was 10:30pm, but we heard the platform being closed down at that same time. Obviously, everyone was back onboard. The ship left the reef before 11pm.  What a wonderful day we spent here….and lucky too with no rain.


With three days at sea ahead of us, we will be in Tonga after crossing the International Dateline.


Bill & Mary Ann


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Report # 33   Day at Sea   February 19, 2019   Tuesday  Partly sunny & 75 degrees       Part #1 Of 1     15  Pictures


It was not a surprise to us that most everyone we talked to today was most grateful that we have a few days at sea now.  After yesterday’s marathon in Bora Bora, the outdoor folks, like us, had come close to over-doing the swimming, walking, hiking the mountainside, and beach-combing.  The biggest factor with outside activities has to do with the extreme humidity.  If you are not accustomed to it, you’ll feel zapped at the end of the day.  It will take us all day just to re-hydrate, and perhaps enjoy some of those tangy bananas we bought yesterday.  Potassium helps with leg cramps we heard.  Barbie confirmed that when she paid us a visit in the afternoon. 


Shipboard life continued as normal, but we now have a new speaker, Neville Peat, who lectured about atolls that are at risk.  Phil Creaser is talking about our earliest ancestors, while Ian has launched ahead to the up-coming ports in New Zealand.  He shares the stage with Nyron, the EXC tour manager.  That way they kill two birds with one stone,  combining tour suggestions with the port talk.


A different angle the shop salespeople are doing is offering one day sales on some special items.  For instance, their pick of the day was the Citizen Satellite Wave GPS Controlled Watch, with a $280 savings.  This sounded like a one day sale, so we checked it out later in the day.  We were told there was only one left, but that particular model was too hard to read the hands and the numbers or symbols.  We’ll wait and see if they get more on during the course of this cruise.  Something tells us they will.  Another flash sale was for Tahitian pearls, but it was for two hours only.  Really?


The most exercise one of us got today was at the Seaview pool when a gigantic yellow wasp landed on the lounge, crawling up the blue and white pareo.  It refused to leave, until it was shaken out of the fabric.  Now we had to keep watch in case it had more friends nearby.  Some must have come over to the ship from Bora Bora yesterday.  Some years back, there was a swarm of equally as big furry bees that invaded the aft pool.  Hundreds of them in fact. They fell in the pool and on the decking while we sailed out of the port.  Needless to say, that was a short-lived sail away.


We got our delivery of sodas and flowers for our Mariner PC amenity.  It is really convenient to receive this every two weeks.  Today’s flower arrangement was a tower of blossoms….really nice.  Eddie and Calista have been quite busy with these orders.


Captain Mercer announced that this evening, the ship’s clocks will go ahead 24 hours, thus causing us to lose one whole day.  The reason is that we will be crossing the International Dateline, where we are going into the next day.  We actually miss February 20th, and the day becomes the 21st. And to complicate the matter even more, the Captain said the real date we will be crossing that line is the 22nd.  But since we are at sea, he can make this day any one he chooses.  Or a day that works better for the staff, crew, and passengers.  As we continue sailing westward, we will get all these hours back one at a time, more or less.  Confusing, huh?


We’re sure liking the new band with their lead singer in the Ocean Bar.  It has become more like a nightclub, instead of the “merry-go-round” music.  They have attracted many more dancers and people taking advantage of happy hour, either at 4 or 6:30pm.  A major improvement.


We could see from the Ocean Bar that the sky was taking on some color.  Going up to deck nine, we had the treat of seeing a most beautiful sunset, perhaps the nicest one of the cruise so far.  Later after dinner, we saw the full moon shining in our wake.  What a sight.


The dinner menu had several good choices, but we settled on a cobb salad and sweet and sour pork.  Even though both are a repeat entrée, they are among our favorites.  Even Barb agreed.  Slam insisted on bringing a sample of two desserts, which we were just going to taste.  One was so good, a flan, that we cleaned the plate.  This could be addictive, but also fun if we have kept our meals to a minimum, like we did tonight. 


The Soul Sisters of Motown, a three girl group, was the entertainment featured this evening.  They sing the tunes of the Supremes, Mary Wells, Aretha Franklin, and the Velvelettes.  Yesterday while at Bloody Mary’s, we passed by a young gal with lavender-colored hair, heavily made up.  We figured she was not a local, and we were correct.  Their show sure brought back memories from the past.


We’re not sure, but this evening, a pre-show event was held in the Mainstage at 7:15pm.  It was the Majority Rules Game Show, and since so many people go early to see the first performance, now they have something to do before the main show starts.


Bill & Mary Ann


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8 hours ago, WCB said:

Report # 33   Day at Sea   February 19, 2019   Tuesday  Partly sunny & 75 degrees       Part #1 Of 1     15  Pictures


It was not a surprise to us that most everyone we talked to today was most grateful that we have a few days at sea now.  After yesterday’s marathon in Bora Bora, the outdoor folks, like us, had come close to over-doing the swimming, walking, hiking the mountainside, and beach-combing.  The biggest factor with outside activities has to do with the extreme humidity.  If you are not accustomed to it, you’ll feel zapped at the end of the day.  It will take us all day just to re-hydrate, and perhaps enjoy some of those tangy bananas we bought yesterday.  Potassium helps with leg cramps we heard.  Barbie confirmed that when she paid us a visit in the afternoon. 


Magnesium oil is excellent for leg cramps - they really do disappear like magic



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Report # 34   Day at Sea   February 21, 2019   Thursday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees     Part # 1 of 1   26 Pictures


When we headed off for breakfast, the carpet in the elevator told us that today was Thursday, not Wednesday.  Not that it really matters all that much, since every day is a “Sunday” to us, ever since retiring 16 years ago.  Plans for the day would be similar to yesterdays. But keeping in mind that Captain Mercer mentioned thunder showers in his talk yesterday, we were prepared to change those plans.  Yes, the late morning did begin with partly sunny skies, but it became obvious that isolated black clouds were dumping rain all around us.  They can navigate around and in between showers some of the time, but not all of the time.  Once we had set up our lounges, it began to spritz.  Sure it felt great, but when it became heavier, we knew it was time to go.  Watching the deck attendants usually tells us what is up ahead.  When you see them collecting the rolled up beach towels off of the lounges, it is time to pack up and run for cover.  That’s what happened ½ hour after we went outside.  We gave up around 11:30am. 


Back in our room, we took the time to catch up on recording info from the ports we have visited so far.  Specifically, we keep track of the currency exchange rates, souvenir buying, eating out, credit card purchases, time changes, shipboard account activity, and many other details that occur daily.   Best kept daily or the task can get away from you.  Also, it is important to monitor the shipboard account, as we have already found some mistakes posted.  One of those was a posting of three lunches in the Pinnacle Grill, when we have never eaten lunch in there yet.  Our go-to girl, Barbara, at the front desk has already taken care of getting it taken off of the account.


Barbie also told us that the second channel of ESPN has been showing favorite TV series now that we cannot get that signal.  It’s called Prime. This is nice, because usually, all we get is the blank screen, saying no signal.  Now we can watch Blue Bloods, Elementary, or Bull and many more during the day.  Good option to all of the news channels.


Even though the weather improved, we caught up on lectures we have missed on the TV instead of going back to the pool.  It was also a good time to do the homework on the upcoming ports of Tonga and Auckland.  Lunchtime was spent in the Lido, while listening to the arts and crafts instructor.  There is such a large group, all we really heard was the constant chatter of the crafters.


The first photo competition is in full swing.  Passengers are encouraged to submit photos into any of the five categories.  We think the  only way to submit these is by bringing your camera to the photo department, where they can be transferred for printing.  There is a $5 fee per photo., but they are yours to keep after the contest is over.  Also being promoted is the video of the Pacific Islands on a ship USB for $19.95.


While listening to the Ocean Quartet, the clouds outside the windows began to take on some colors of the sunset.  We made our way to deck six forward, and stayed outside until 15 minutes before dinner time.  The sun was dipping behind a bank of dark clouds, as it often does in this part of the world.  But on the horizon, we spotted some isolated clouds with rain coming down here and there.  One such cloud had a vertical rainbow right beneath it.  That sighting was even better than the real sunset. 


They had the best rack of lamb tonight in the dining room, but it was covered with a tomato-like sauce, which we thought was odd.  Even more so, when Slam brought the mint jelly on the side.  Slam reported that one guest had ordered nine chops, and another lady had the lamb for dinner, and the lamb entrée for her dessert.  They were that good, although we shared one serving of a cream puff for dessert.


Going outside for a short walk, we saw the moon rising in the cloudy sky, attracting the more serious photographers to capture it.  Other folks went to the show featuring the Sand Man, Marcus Winter, a New Zealand performer.  He reportedly brought stories alive in sand and sound.  Mesmerizing was the description.  Maybe we will see it next time, since we had finished dinner before 9:30pm. 


The clocks went back one more hour, making us 3 hours ahead of Pacific time, and a day ahead as well.  Still confusing…..


Bill & Mary Ann


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Report #35   Day at Sea   February 22, 2019   Friday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees     Part #1 Of 1    22  Pictures


Today we all received certificates confirming that we had officially crossed the International Dateline around high noon.  Simply put, it is the line that divides two consecutive calendar days.  We always joke that we felt the “bump” of the line when the ship crossed it.  Much like the first time we flew to Tahiti, and the pilot said we were crossing the Equator.  If we looked down at the ocean, we would see that line.  Funny how many people remarked that they did indeed see that line, but back in those days, when you flew on a chartered flight, they offered an open bar….help yourself.  And boy, did they!


Compared to yesterday, the weather was most agreeable.  The sea swells and winds had increased during the evening, but at least the late night showers had disappeared.  Proved to be a good pool day, and a chance to catch up on reading.  This particular world voyage has been quite different in that there are few folks that spend time outdoors.  Remember the days when you could not find a lounge at either pool?  Well, now you have the pick of anywhere at most anytime.  Not that we’re complaining, it has been nice.  One odd thing we have noticed is that the bar staff at the Seaview Pool does not offer drinks or even ice water like they used to do.  The only time we have been asked to buy the drink of the day has been at a few sail away gatherings. Again, we are not complaining, but just voicing what we see.


Tomorrow’s port will be in Tonga, so a lecture from Ian was appropriate on how to make the most of our day there.  It will be a Saturday, so we are not sure what will be opened or be closing early.  The main market should stay open at least until noontime, and we sure hope we can find the place up the road that has pizza.  If nothing else, we will get in a good long walk.


A special dinner will be coming up tomorrow in the Pinnacle Grill.  New Zealand’s guest chef, Jonathon Rogers, will be cooking yellowfin tuna tartare, deep sea roasted langoustine, smoked duck breast, Kiwi sorbet, lamb loin, and poached pears.  If you want the meal with no drinks, the cost will be $49.  With wine pairing, the meal will run $79. 


Barb has told us about a new activity that happens occasionally.  It is guest chef sip and savor, and has turned out to be a big hit.  At 5pm, a special appetizer is served with wine in what they call the Crystal Terrace (deck five between the shops).  The cost is $5, which is far less than a regular glass of wine at $9. 


Happy hour continues to be offered at least twice before the main meal times.  And today we saw an ad for National Margarita Day, where you buy one at the regular price, and get the second one for $2 – available all day long in all bars.


Some of our day was spent visiting with friends Bill & Leta in the Lido during a late lunch.  We had lots of catching up to do.  They went to their Captain’s Dinner two nights ago, and reported that the food was really good.  We asked if anyone had tried leaving with the unique rose bud vases, and they said yes, they did.  But not in the numbers that happened the night we attended.  We’re still laughing about that.


The sunset was not as exciting as the last couple of nights. But we stayed in hopes the after sunset would develop into something spectacular.  Nope, but we did enjoy the company of Susie and Eddie, friends from a previous world cruise. They are also excellent photographers, and we see them mostly at sail away parties.  And now, sunsets.


Barb was a happy camper at dinner, because liver and onions was on the menu.  One of us had the niscose salad, and the other linguine with chicken.  But the best was the plate of thinly-sliced biscotti cookies that Slam, our waiter, dug up in the kitchen.  Even though they were not a dessert item on the menu, when we ask, Slam always says why not?  Then makes it happen.  Boy are we lucky to have him as our waiter for the third year in a row. 


Bill & Mary Ann


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Report #36   Nuku'alofa, Tonga   February 23, 2019   Saturday   Partly sunny & 81 degrees   Part#1 of 4  80  Pictures


Our port of call was Nuku’alofa, on the island of Tongatapu, Tonga.  It is the capital of a country that has 171 islands, 44 of which are inhabited.  These islands have a population of 119,000 people.  In reality, Tonga can be called a monarchy, because it has been ruled by one royal family for over 1000 years, and was never colonized.  


The best time to visit is from May through October, when it is cooler and drier.  You won’t find the ultra-luxury resort package vacations here.  What they do offer are bed and breakfast, and beach resorts that are quite laid back.  One of the big attractions has to be whale-watching, which occurs from June to November.  This is when the migration of humpbacks takes place. 


Due to the appearance of the 19th century missionaries, Christianity became the religion of most natives.  A visit here on a Sunday gives you the authentic experience of hearing the church choirs singing the hymns.  What a thrill we had a few years back, when the king and his family left the packed church in their limo, waving to us through an opened window as we crossed in front of the car.  Simple luck of being in the right place at the right time. 


This capital city is very walkable with the friendliest people.  We would find that out as we hiked for several hours from one end to the other….well almost.  Beginning the day with a light breakfast, we set out to listen to the entertainment of the local welcome singers and band on the pier.  Traditionally –dressed, they made a lively group.


We left the ship around 10am, picked up a local map, and made a bee-line to the Talamahu Market.  We understand it would be closing early today, since it was Saturday.  Lots of places will close at noon.  Later in the day, we ran into Eddie and Calista, who told us they had just ordered coffees and a pastry, when the waitress at the little café in town began pulling the tablecloths and cleaning up.  She informed them they had 5 minutes to finish, then she would lock up.  Surprised, they left, disappointed.


Anyway, back at the market, we found it bustling with locals shopping for the weekend.  Part of the first floor was dedicated to typical Tongan souvenirs such as tapa cloth items, paintings, purses, fans, and coconut jewelry.  Their arts and crafts are unique to these islands, so therefore, they were not exactly a bargain.  Part of the lower level is for produce of all types.  Up the ramp at one side of this building, takes you up to the second level, where they sell mostly clothing – t-shirts, sarongs for men and women, shoes, and some coconut jewelry.  We are now owners of one set of orchid-painted coconut jewelry.


From there, we followed the streets that had the most interesting sites in town.  One was the restaurant that boasted the best pizza in the South Pacific – Marco’s Pizza.  Except, it looks shuttered up.  Even their sign was gone.  We continued on to the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua, the first one of its kind in the South Pacific Islands.  It was completely constructed with volunteer labor between 1977 and 1980. 


Across the road, was the Royal Tombs with Tongan royalty all the way back to 1893.  King George Tupou I was the first to be buried here in 1893.  The park surrounding the tombs is considered sacred, so it has been fenced off.


Facing the tombs is the oldest church here, the Centennial Church, the Free Church of Tonga.  It was built of coral in 1888 and has massive stained glass windows.  Or we should say “had” stained glass windows, as it appeared this church was recently damaged by storms, we assume.  Today this church operates three high schools, one here in Tongatapu, Ha’apai, and Vava’u.  We have seen that one in Vava’u, and it was also named Tailulu College, as are the other two.


From here, we walked back towards the ocean to the newer church, the Centenary Church, originally called the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.  Today it is known as the Royal Church, as the king and his family regularly attend Sunday services here.  Directly across the street is His Majesty’s Army Forces, and next to that is the Royal Palace, once the official residence of the king.  This white Victorian wooden palace was pre-fabricated in New Zealand, then shipped here to be erected in 1867.  These days it is used for official functions, and a is a museum containing the royal archives and artwork. It is not opened to the public, but sure is a fine subject for photos.


The trees surrounding this area have always been full of the flying foxes, or fruit bats.  But today, we watched like forever, and never saw one.  So we figured whatever these creatures eat must not be in season now.  They are actually considered sacred in these islands. 


From here, we began the long trek along the shoreline, with the intentions of stopping at  Little India Restaurant for pizza and beer.  Lots of beer, since it was plenty warm outside today.  This scenic roadway has been cleaned up as the Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) has donated trash cans along the stretch of beachfront for miles.  They call it going green.  And it is working, as far as we could see.  And convenient benches have been added, which we made good use of.  One of the nice things about today being Saturday, was that many families were out enjoying the afternoon.  They park off the road, open the car doors, blast their music, and have a picnic on the grass.  Mostly under the trees.  They eat what looked like fast food, but Tonga-style.  Some of the little kids were swimming, but not the adults.  We felt that it was really warm, but many locals had on sweatshirts with hoodies.  Must have felt cold to them.


The tide was up, so there were not many people fishing in the waters. A few were carrying buckets in waist-deep water, looking for the sea worms in the coral sands.  Later in the day, when the tide went out, lots of folks were out to the reef fishing.


We looked for the “fishing” pigs, that go into the shallows here to forage for sea food and shellfish.  How strange is that?  Today the high tide kept them out of the water, but we did see some hefty hogs in people’s front yards.  One of the sows had a load of babies that insisted it was time for lunch. What we saw more of were the dogs. Mostly females with pups somewhere.  You have to be careful of the roaming dogs here, since one of our friends got bit badly several years ago.  He and his wife were riding their bikes, and a stray dog attacked him, causing enough damage that he needed stitches and antibiotics.  We have never forgotten the story, and make sure we have no contact with any dog anywhere.


So we got close to the restaurant, and lo and behold….it was closed, like forever closed.  The entire front was boarded up, as if they had also had storm damage.  Since we saw no more cafes up ahead (only mangroves), we turned around and  made our way slowly back to town.  There was a very nice establishment along the way called Little Italy.  But we knew they did not open until dinnertime.  Bet they had good pizza too.   There was one place left called the Seaview Restaurant, but no one was inside, and it looked almost closed as well.  Guess we were out of luck.


On the way back to the Vuna Wharf, which was renovated in 2011, with the help of the Chinese.  Before then, we always docked in the container port further up the road.  We passed by the Nuku’alofa Club, a private men’s club where the elite met to play pool and drink beer.  Closer to downtown, we went by the post office,  Raintree Square, the Treasury Building, and the newly-completed Parliament. 


By now, we had built up a powerful thirst, having only bringing one bottle of water with us.  Ice cold sodas sounded marvelous to us.  So we by-passed the souvenir tents, and cooled off in our room for a while before going to lunch in the Lido.  Doreen had saved the ciabatta roll, and made our favorite sandwich to share.  Adding glasses of ice tea, we were still surprised how much we needed re-hydrating.


Sail away was at 4:30pm, and today there was a real one at the Seaview Pool.  We talked to friends who had taken tours to the Hina Caves, where a traditional Tongan feast was cooked.  An outdoor underground oven called an umu was used to cook suckling pig, chicken, corned beef, and fish or shellfish.  Sides were taro root and sweet potatoes. Other tours included site-seeing, kayaking, relaxing on a small atoll with a lunch, or swimming where you may see turtles or dolphins.  Tour prices started at $60 to $240 today.


We tried for another sunset, but tonight, it was not so great.  During the sail away, Captain Mercer mentioned that a storm was tracking its way towards Tonga by Monday.  At least 60 MPH winds were expected with driving rain.  Sea swells were predicted to be rather high, so we are lucky we are heading towards Auckland, New Zealand now.  Although we are outrunning the storm, we can expect strong swells and perhaps some rain in the following week.  In fact while we were watching the sun go down, a fellow camera guy said that he had a cousin that lived in Tauranga, and they were expecting much needed heavy rains in a few days. So we are planning on some rock and rolling soon.


It had already begun during dinnertime, as the swells became deeper and the ship began pitching.  Barb loves it, especially during the night when we are sleeping.  Like being rocked in a cradle so to speak.


So the three days it will take to reach new Zealand may be an adventure.


Bill & Mary Ann         



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Report # 37   Day at Sea   February 24, 2019   Sunday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees   Part #1 of 1  16 Pictures


First things first – Happy Birthday Ken (our son) who turns 48 today.  Really, it is tomorrow, but who’s counting.  Hope you have a super great day!


Well, here we are, enjoying another fine day at sea as we sail in a southwesterly direction.  We seem to have dodged a bullet, as the Captain warned of a storm headed towards Tonga, that might affect the seas we are in right now.  All through the evening, the ship was in motion with some rolling, but not extreme.  By morning, the skies were clear and it appeared all was OK.  How long this will last, we don’t know.  We would find out more later in the day…..


There were two jobs to deal with today.  The first one was getting a preliminary shipboard account statement, now that we are nearing the end of the first segment.  Since we are obviously staying onward, our only homework was to make sure it was correct.  We would have until 6pm today to fix it.  There had been a few mistakes, but it was corrected in a timely manner.


The second job was to take the time to fill out the survey for the future Grand World Voyage in 2021, although we feel strongly that the itinerary has already been decided. Perhaps some of the ports can be added or deleted by popular request.  Instead of receiving the four itineraries in paper form, it is all done on the computer or cell phone.  It is on the Navigator homepage, which is a free site.  No need to go online to do it anymore.  The only route we did not care for was the one going eastbound.  The last time that was done was in 2010, and we did not go that one time, choosing the South America Grand Voyage on the Prinsendam.


A big event for some folks is the Sunday Brunch at 11am in the dining room.  Barb loves it since every item comes in a tiny serving….right up her alley.  The only appetizer she prefers in a larger quantity, has to be anything with caviar.  Today she went to the brunch a bit later, and they must have been running out of the caviar.  She said her serving was almost invisible.


Talks went forward with what to see and do in Australia, Indonesia, and Singapore.  Shore excursions has been sending flyers for tours that need to be filled.  With a lot of these ports being repeats for many longtime guests, we are not sure if their buses have been full.


We spent a relaxing day at the Seaview Pool with about 10 other people.  No kidding, the busiest place on the aft deck is the smoking section.  The majority of the lounges have gone unfilled for most of this cruise.  Now that we are going to New Zealand, we expect the temperatures to drop somewhat for a while.


Tonight was another gala evening.  We stayed out on deck nine until 7:30pm to watch how the sunset would develop.  Each and every one has been different for the past week, but the only difference we notice is that once that sun dips below the horizon, it is over.  Must be the area we are in right now.  So we ran off to change with a few minutes to spare.  Phillip had not mentioned if we were to have hosts this evening, so we figured it would be the three of us.  But as we entered the room, Phillip was there to ask if we would like two guests….the staff captain and the doctor.  Of course, we gladly said yes, and he escorted us to our table with both of them.  The last four years, we have seen Thomas, the Staff Captain, quite often, coming and going, but never meeting him.  In fact, the last two years, he has had his wife and young daughter onboard for some segments.  Lily, now 2 ½ years old, was the most precious child, enjoyed by many “grandmas and grandpas” onboard.  We have watched her learn to walk on a moving ship, as well as learn to dance.  Thomas reported that he recently moved his family to Spain from Holland, and Lilly will be starting day care soon.  Doubt we see them onboard on this cruise.


During the dinner conversation, we asked about the possible rough sea conditions the Captain brought up in his PM talk today.  Thomas confirmed that we will be feeling much deeper and higher swells during the evening.  There is no avoiding it.  He also added that the basic info they receive on all of the weather and sea conditions is computer generated.  Sometimes they will prepare you for the worst possible scenario, just in case.  If it turns out to be less, then it is fine.  Most times, it is.


The doctor, we discovered, is a young lady by the name of Kristen, we believe.  She hails from Cape Town, South Africa, and has been a doctor on many ships with HAL and other cruise lines as well.  She was a wealth of information concerning the spread of germs around ships.  Between the two of our guests, we talked and shared stories until well after 10pm.  Thinking that the three of us would like to attend the show, we confessed that none of us go very often.  Tonight the Soul Sisters of Motown were giving their final show, but we did sneak in a preview of their practice, so we think that counts, right?


And just like Thomas said, we were rocking and rolling by 11pm, hoping it doesn’t get worse.  And we’ll end this report with a cool saying:  Fill your life with adventures, not things.  Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.


Bill & Mary Ann


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