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Stow Away with Bill & Mary Ann for 181 days on Amsterdam's So. Pacific & 2020 WC

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Love this post to catch up with all the news and your adventures.


Many thanks for taking the time to write these.


We may not respond often but have enjoyed your trips for years and is a great way to prepare for the many we do.


Keep safe & well



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Report #7   Day at Sea Enroute to Hawaii   November 1, 2020   Friday   Rain & 78 degrees   15 Pictures   Part #1 Of 1


What a difference a day makes when it comes to the weather.  Of course, this is the Pacific Ocean, and the closer we get to the tropical zone, the more humidity we will see and feel.  That came in the way of showers and rain this morning and into the afternoon.  We recall while on a cruise in French Polynesia in early December, we encountered downpours of historic amounts.  That’s when a tour operator reminded all of us that this is their wettest season of the year.  Usually, it does not last forever.


Anyway, here is a little info on our first stop on this trip, namely the state of Hawaii, which is America’s 50th state.  The population is 1,211, 537 (2018).  The capital is Honolulu, one of the most remote and largest of US cities.  The highest point in the state is Mauna Kea at 13,796 feet in elevation, with the lowest point being the Pacific Ocean.  There is no daylight savings time here, so their time remains the same.  They are three hours ahead of the west coast, and six hours ahead of the east coast of the USA.    The temperature in November ranges from 64 to 84 degrees, and the tropical showers can be expected year round.  Some of the islands get more rain than others, such as Kauai.


A few interesting Hawaiian facts include  the history of the hula.  It was a sacred ritual for the ancient Hawaiians.  Each move had to be precise or the slightest mistake could be punished by death.


Pele, the volcano goddess, is part of the folklore of Volcanoes National Park.  She resides in the Kilauea Caldera according to the locals, spitting fire and lava steadily since 1983.  Hopefully, we may see signs of this as we sail from Hilo after 8pm.


Thirteen hours of daylight graces Maui’s valleys and grasslands, thanks to their demigod of the same name, Maui.  Rainbows grace every island thanks to the “liquid” sunshine.  It contributes to the lush gorges, plummeting waterfalls, green valleys, and teal waters to name a few.  There is a myriad of things to do and see, followed by feasting on island specialties such as kalua pig and poi.  Our first stop will be at Honolulu on the island of Oahu on Sunday.  Can’t wait.


Following up with some price changes, the dinners in the Pinnacle Grill are now $39 per person, while the Sel de Mer remains $49 per person. Of course, your Mariner discounts are still in effect.  We booked our 10 complimentary dinners with manager Arlin.  She was well prepared to fit us in between the specialty dinners, although we may try Sel de Mer once. 


We heard through the grapevine that there are 1275 passengers on this trip.  The staff has prepared a full daily schedule to keep everyone busy and well-fed on these sea days.  Passing through the Lido pool area, we noticed that the favorite pastime here is relaxing while reading.  Or perhaps, catching a few winks.  Nothing wrong with that.  With the passing showers, this is a good place to be.


There is a guest chef onboard by the name of Kate AcAloon.  She was described as chef to the stars.  Team trivia stumps the folks, and the arts and crafts class keeps the ladies (some fellows too) busy.  Frankly, we see little difference between this trip as compared to a grand voyage as far as daily shipboard life is concerned. 


Between walks, lunch, catching up on emailing, and listening to the band, the day flew by.  Since there is no aft pool time for us yet, we have taken advantage of our veranda.  Even with the light rain, the depth of the veranda kept us out of the dampness.


We did learn today the explanation of the power outage a few days ago.  Seems that a transformer located in the galley failed, despite the fact it had been installed shortly beforehand.  This is probably not technically correct, but the story goes that the failure shut down everything.  It was more than likely a one-in-a-million chance that it would blow, and they doubt it would happen again.


At dinner tonight, we ordered one fish entrée and a cornflake-crusted turkey breast dish.  Both were new to us, and were very good.  The fish dinners do not have the sauce drowning them so far.  Much better.  We shared a hot fudge sundae, which was also good.   We were done by 9pm, but still too early for a show at 9:30pm.  There was a singer by the name of Michelle Montouri, and we certainly remembered her from this year’s world cruise.


After dinner, we found two little Poppy Lapel Pins to wear on Veteran’s Day.   This will be a tribute to the veterans and their dedication to world peace.  Wearing the pins on November 11th will be in remembrance of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure freedom and peace.   We are now proud owners of about eight of these pins, as they are always gifted when we are on the ships in the month of November.


One more day at sea, and we will be in Hawaii and we are all ready…….


Bill & Mary Ann



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Report #8   Day at Sea Enroute to Hawaii   November 2, 2019   Saturday   Mostly sunny & 78 degrees   42  Pictures   Part #1 Of 1


We were greeted with a most unique sunrise early this morning, but the good news is that we could see the sun.  The rain was gone and sunny skies should be appearing after the strange low dark clouds dissipate.  During our AM walk outside, a nice lady asked if we saw and heard the thunder and lightning last evening around 7pm.  Actually, no we had not.  Must have been around the time we were visiting with Shiv across from the Ocean Bar, where the band was playing.  The lightning was blocked by the heavy curtains the staff had drawn over the windows.  Darn……we love to experience nature at its most dramatic, but something tells us, there may be more of this activity ahead of us.  In other words, be careful what you wish for.


While having breakfast in the dining room, we got the sad news that retired CEO of Holland America, Kirk Lanterman, had passed away.  We have had the distinct pleasure of being on a few special cruises with him and his wife, Janet.  The most memorable occasion was an Indonesian lunch in the King’s Room for Janet’s birthday.  We must have had 18 or more courses of spicy Indonesian specialties, served by their top waiters dressed in native garb.  Surely, he will be missed, but the good memories will live on.


It sure was warm today on the lower promenade deck during our hour stroll.  Judging by the number of people out and about, we would take a wild guess that this is a slightly younger crowd than we are used to.  There are a handful of kids onboard including chef Peter’s two boys, who are both getting taller than their dad.  We have seen a darling 3 year old boy, and one baby as well. And guess what?  We have one service dog here.  We have only caught a of glimpse of her? here and there, and can say she resembles a small cocker spaniel.  What her specific job is, we have not heard.  So far the pooch has been well-behaved and quiet.  No barking.


Having the veranda has sort of changed our habits, because we seem to spend more time sitting outside.  Instead of baking at the aft pool in the wind, we find the veranda has sun, but we also are more protected from the strong breezes.  And it has proven to be more productive for reading and note-taking.  After lunch, we did venture to the back pool, mainly to see how crowded it would be.  There was a good size group, but not as jammed as we expected.  One thing we did notice, was that the discarded lounges with piles of used towels sat there for what seemed like hours before it was picked up.  We did not recognize any of the bar staff or deck crew, as these workers seem to be moved around to other ships in the fleet.  Since the sun was out with a nice breeze, we stayed back there, visiting with friends Denise and Howie.  They are so much fun.


We found that if we don’t go early to the Ocean Bar before the first dinner call (5pm), our seats are taken.  Studying the When & Where, we found that the only live music at this time of day happens in the Ocean Bar and the Piano Bar.  We heard that there is no band in the Crow’s Nest, and there is no music, let alone dancing up there.  In talking with the hotel manager, Henk, the other evening, he re-assured us that the Crow’s Nest will never get the overhaul like the other ships, where the EXC centers and Explorations Cafes have been inserted.  Twinkle did say that the Station Band will come back to the Crow’s Nest for the grand world voyage.  Good news for those who love to dance there.


The passengers are more than ready to begin the five days of ports in Hawaii.  All of the islands we will visit have been covered in daily talks, and the tours have been well-promoted, of course.  Tomorrow, there will be 20 tours offered in Oahu.  We have done at least half of them, so we will be on our own exploring the best of Honolulu.


Tonight at dinner, our waiter, Zaki, announced that he will start training with the head waiters for a different job in the dining room.  He seemed very excited about it, but we will miss him.  Our assistant waiter, Dede, will probably take over for him, and we will have a new helper.  Tonight one of us tried the alternate steak entrée with a small baked potato.  It was perfect.  The other entrée was shrimp jambalaya, a new treat neither of us has ever tried in the past.  Spicy, with a hint of heat, it was tasty.  When Philip, the head honcho, stopped by to chat, we made it a point to compliment him for the almost totally re-vamped menu items.  Yes, it is the same food, but in our opinion, improved as to the taste and presentation.  In the last couple of years, we have gone through too salty, too saucy, overcooked, or too rare.  But like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, they seem to be just right on this trip so far.  Philip admitted that the menus have been worked on quite closely, and it shows.


Showtime featured Jim Short and Louie Shelton with an all new performance.  Guess they will jump ship tomorrow.  We find it interesting that while we sit in the atrium area outside the Ocean Bar around 6:30pm, how many folks head for the Mainstage to get seats for the 7:30pm show.  Our guess is that if they go back to the room, they might not leave.  So getting a good seat and perhaps chatting with other passengers is a better way to spend that time while waiting. 


Back in our room, we found a funny note about Fanning Island.  It appears that the nautical department in Seattle got the incorrect date that we will be crossing the International Dateline.  So our visit to this small island will be November 10th instead of the 11th.  And the gala night scheduled for one of those nights, is now November 12th.  Actually, looking closer at the itinerary, we will be crossing that line four times on this voyage.  That means we won’t know what day it is, or whether we lose a day or do a day twice.  Confusing?  Yes, but as long as we get fed on time, no one seems to mind.


Speaking of time, the clocks will go back one more hour tonight.  Being that the clocks go back on the continental USA tonight, that may confuse the folks even more.


Looking forward to firm ground under our feet…….


Bill & Mary Ann


PS  To answer the question asked, yes, Dolly is here.


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Report #9   Honolulu, Hawaii   November 3, 2019   Sunday   Partly cloudy & 85 degrees   75  Pictures   Part #1 Of 2


Our first port of call was Honolulu, Oahu, arriving early this morning.  If one happened to be up at 6:30am, you could go to deck eight aft, and participate in the traditional hula welcome.  Wonder how many people showed up?  As you might guess, we were not among the crowd.  Setting the clocks back another hour last night still tends to mess with your body’s time clock.  After three of these time changes in a week, it has caught up with everyone we know. 


Did you know that the word “oahu” means the gathering place?  It became just that when workers from Japan, China, and the Philippines to name a few, arrived here to be employed in the sugar and pineapple plantations.  They stayed along with the Polynesians and Europeans to create a society that is quite diverse.  It shows in their cuisine, shopping, and entertainment.  Seventy percent of the total Hawaiian population live on this island, and one million visitors come here annually. 


Oahu has 597 square miles of pineapples, formerly sugarcane fields, and two mountain ranges.  But they are better known for the best beaches like the two-mile long Waikiki Beach and also the North Shore.  One is for tanning your hide, while the other is for extreme surfing.  Most of the natives are employed in commercial, governmental, and military jobs.  Tourism has to be high on the list as well.


Among the most visited attractions has to be Pearl Harbor, where people pay homage to the 3581 Americans killed or injured on December 7, 1941.  A total of 20 various shore excursions were offered on the ship, many of which we have done on past cruises.    For us, we love walking and taking in the sights at our own pace.


So after breakfast, we headed off of the ship around 9:45am, which was docked at Pier Two today.  The weather was questionable as to whether there would be rain or not.  You know that if you decide to pack umbrellas, it will not rain.  That’s what we did, even though our newsletter said partly cloudy and warm, the skies told a different story.  On the horizon, we could see a series of isolated showers.  However, they never did come onshore.  Lucky, and even more lucky that we had a nice breeze for most of the day.  When the sun did peek through the clouds, it was darned hot.


Heading towards Ala Moana Beach, we followed the sandy beach all the way past the Ala Moana Center, the largest outdoor mall in both Honolulu and the state.  There are 220 stores there with gardens, pools, fountains and sculptures.  Our plan was to stroll through there on or way back.


On the beachfront, we saw two different couples that had just gotten married, perhaps yesterday.  The girls were dressed in their wedding gowns, while their grooms had on shorts with dress shirts and bowties.  Most all of them wore tennis shoes.  Made for a nice setting.


Many families were out and about on this lazy Sunday.  There were ball games and barbeques beginning all around us.  We made our way to the Hawaiian Hilton complex, then walked down to Waikiki Beach.  We had just missed the end of the Sunday morning church service on the beach.  The music and singing is the big draw here.  Another group of tourists were getting ready to board the Atlantis Submarine to view the sea life under water.  The beaches were filling up with the serious sunbathers, like we said previously, tanning their hides.  With those clouds overhead, one can be fooled into thinking you are safe from sunburn.  But we think that the worst case of sunburn will happen on days like these.  


From here, we headed towards the Hard Rock Café for lunch and t-shirt shopping.  It sure felt wonderful sitting at a high top table, while sipping ice cold beer and soda.  Since it was Sunday, a group of teenagers had taken to the stage, singing to the lunch-goers.  They were really good, and performed the whole time we were there.  A new burger showed up on the menu, a BBQ bacon cheeseburger, so we decided to share one.  It was delicious from the first bite to the last.  We had saved a little space for a shared slice of cheesecake before moving on.


Next door is the Tommy Bahama store, where, just by chance, a special “Hawaiian” shirt caught our eye.  Only two types of Hawaii-only shirts were sold here, so we bought one with a most unique palm tree and hula girl design on it. 


The next stop was at the Ala Moana Center, where we had planned on doing some supply shopping at the drug store.  But the more we thought about it, a better place to pick up stuff would be at Kauai or Hilo in a few days.  There are always shuttles running to these shopping venues, and we would not have to lug the bags for miles back to the ship.  


Taking our sweet time, we got back to the ship around 4pm.  One of us is being stopped by the xray checks, due to the metal in the new brace.  But it a small price to pay, since the longer it can be worn, the better chance it will do what it is designed to do.


Bet we drank at least a quart of water and soda before it was time for dinner.  It sure was nice to sit on the veranda watching the traffic in the harbor, and eventually enjoying another sunset.


Usually, the ship overnights in Honolulu, but not this time.  For that reason, both dining rooms seemed to be full of guest, even at 7:30pm.  Our waiter, Zaki, announced last night that he had been chosen to be trained for a head waiter.  So a new waiter appeared this evening by the name of Tama.  He said he had been on three world cruises, and while he remembered seeing us, we did not recall seeing him in the dining room.  Perhaps he worked in the Lido back then, where we seldom ate our meals.


One of us ordered a fish entrée, and the other huli chicken, a Hawaiian specialty.  Both were tasty, and we were glad to have tried something new.  Then we shared a peach cobbler with one scoop of ice cream.  Double desserts today……hope it does not catch up with us.   Walking the lower promenade was pleasant until showtime started at 9:30pm.  One performance only, a local group of dancers and Nohelani Cypriano, an Hawaiian singer, entertained the folks with a great show.  All aboard was 10:30pm, when we headed towards Maui.  Hope conditions are good for tendering ashore for our second Hawaiian port.


Bill & Mary Ann


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Report #10   Lahaina, Maui   November 4, 2019   Monday   Mostly sunny & 87 degrees      84 Pictures   Part #1 Of 2


The Amsterdam arrived to the bay outside the town of Lahaina early this morning.  The warmest morning yet, it was promising to be a fine day.  Better yet, the swells were minimal, and the tendering process  was going to be OK.  There have been times when we had difficulty entering the boats, and even harder getting back later in the day due to deeper swells.  At times, this port can be cancelled, as all tender ports can.  But not today.


The process for getting tender tickets was spelled out last night with a note left in our rooms.  Those on tours would not need tickets, but most everyone else did.  There was one priority ticket station for 4 and 5 star members, and another station for the rest of the guests.  We understand this took place in the Ocean Bar around 8am, or earlier.  As President’s Club members, all we would need to do is join the line on deck one, show our cards, and go down to deck A.  And that is what we did after having a light breakfast.


Maui, the second largest Hawaiian island, is known as the valley isle with most beautiful beaches. There are 145,000 residents with 2 million visitors a year.  One of the biggest attractions to this island is Haleakala, a mountain of 10,023 feet in elevation, with a volcano that has not erupted for over 200 years.  It is the world’s largest dormant volcano as well.


Sunsets from Maui’s leeward shores rule and that’s where you can find the majority of the island’s lodgings.  The sun-and-fun seekers will be found at the lively restaurants, bares, and high end shops. 


Contrasting the glitzy part of the island is the town of Lahaina, our destination today.  It was once the capital of King Kamehameha’s kingdom, but now is the seat of the touristy place to visit.  Did you know that the king served 300 pigs at his luau?  What a feast that must have been. The population is about 11,700 people these days.  Once the whaling capital of the mid-Pacific, humpbacks were hunted extensively.  This area is the calving grounds for the humpbacks that migrate from the Arctic from December through May.  We have been here when the bay was chockful of whales and their calves.  Quite a sight, even seen from the decks of the ship. 


The old wooden buildings in town have been converted to art galleries and restaurants.  If you are looking for tasty appetizers, just ask for pupus.


Nearby islands include Lana’i, with only 30 miles of paved roads and 3000 residents.  Molokai is 260 square miles, and from 1860 to 1940, it was used as a leper colony.  Finally, the smallest island is Kaho’olawe with 45 square miles.  It was a former naval bombing range and is closed to the public.


Our plan was to walk the old town with visits to the Banyan Tree Park, where their one huge tree, planted in 1873, shades 2/3 of an acre.  It measures ¼ of a mile in circumference.  And is undoubtedly, one of the coolest place in town with the shade it provides.  Walking down Front Street, we passed the old wooden buildings that house a variety of small businesses.  The shop owners were busy recruiting potential buyers into their stores.  One such place was a cosmetic boutique promoting miracle face treatments.  Stopping for a brief moment was a mistake, because the vendor began demonstrating her products to erase wrinkles around the eyes.  This never happens to us, but for some reason, it did today.  She put on the product, then lured one of us into the shop for it to dry.  Really, we could not get out of there fast enough, especially when we learned a one year bottle of serum was in the $8,000 range.  Lessons learned…next time make no eye contact, and keep walking.  And besides, the wrinkles are not a huge priority, something you earn with time, whether you like it or not.


Restaurants were just beginning to open for lunch at 11am and the streets were full of potential customers from the ship.  It was already pushing 85 degrees by now, and many folks we know were in search of ice cold beers.  Walking slowly up the main drag, we found our way to the Outlets of Maui, where the Hard Rock Café used to be located.  Closing their doors a few years ago, the building is still empty.  We did a little shopping at Hilo Hattie’s, and with buying a shirt, we got a free box of chocolate macadamia nuts.  Another tidbit of info:  it takes 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate. Who knew?


Then made our way back for lunch.  Our intended restaurant was going to be Kimo’s where they serve a killer hula pie.  But, we had a birthday reward at Bubba Gump’s also.  Checking out their menu, the seater fellow told us that the Bubba Gump’s in Kona was closed.  So that sealed the deal, we would need to dine here today.  Seated at an open window, we enjoyed a cheeseburger, beers, and soda.  Their key-lime pie was looking good, so we ordered one to share.  Our waitress added strawberry sauce, which was perfect.  Even better, most of it was free.  While we were chatting with the manager, she told us that the new Lahaina Bypass had reduced the traffic through Lahaina, and the businesses were suffering.  And with the high end resorts in the Kaanapali area, visitors tended to stay in that section exclusively.  So having the cruise ships stop here in Lahaina, is a plus for their local economy.


It was still early, so we made the decision to walk up the road to Baby Beach.  We used to think it was much further, but it wasn’t.  Nothing compared to the hike yesterday in Honolulu.  So many more new houses had sprung up in this area in a year, we were surprised.  The beach was not crowded, and the sands were saturated enough to make walking with a sore knee OK. The little kids love this beach, because it is shallow surf.  Our walk ended at the remains of the old Mala Wharf, now closed off due to the fact it is falling apart.  Must be good snorkeling here, because boats had dropped off the swimmers right under the pier.  If we had gone up to Front Street here, we would have run into the Lahaina Cannery Mall.


Back at the tender landing, we did not have to wait long for the boat to head back to the ship.  Their operation appeared to work quite smoothly today.  Could be that the passengers are more nimble on this cruise, compared to the world cruise guests.  And the crew members that assisted the guests today were so helpful in keeping us all safe. 


Relaxing on our veranda was priceless, then working on pictures and reports took up the rest of the afternoon.  The sun began going down shortly, and we had hoped to get photos.  But the island of Lana’i was blocking the horizon, so we did get some color, but not the actual sun going down on the horizon. 


By the time the dinner hour arrived, we were hungry.  One of the most popular entrees was the marlin, which one of us ordered.  Salads, chicken tenders, and a bowl of smoked chicken and corn soup were excellent.  Chicken piccata and spaghetti with marinara sauce was another good choice.  A tiny chocolate tart was shared at the end of our meal. That ended a near-perfect day for us.


Tomorrow will be the third port in Hawaii, and it is Nawiliwili, Kauai. 


Bill & Mary Ann



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Thank you for taking us along. Please say hello to Arlin, mgr in the PG from Doug and Jill (she is from England). We were onboard the Amsterdam for 28 days in Alaska during June and July. We found her to be an exceptional manager and well respected by her staff. Have fun! Thanks.


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Report #11  Nawiliwili, Kauai   November 5, 2019   Tuesday   Scattered showers & 84 degrees   86 Pictures   Part #1 Of 2


Our third stop in Hawaii was Nawiliwili, Kauai.  Kauai is known as the garden isle, and for good reason.  The fourth largest island, it is located the furthest north of the rest of the islands.  The lush conditions have always been outstanding for agriculture, so you will find sugar, coffee, papaya, taro, and pineapples as the major crops.  Beef is high on the list as well, but tourism still rates as number one.  The population is about 65,000 happy people, who are employed in all of these industries. 


Despite their beauty, most all of the Kauai’s beaches are unsafe, due to powerful undertow and tricky currents.  There are many protected coves where snorkeling is excellent.  Other things to do and see are numerous, as there are 19 various tours offered by the shore excursions here.  Among the choices are helicopter rides, Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and waterfalls, rivers, and garden settings like the Fern Grotto.  Many Hollywood movies were filmed here too.


Located in the center of this island is Mt. Waialeale at 5148 feet in elevation.  But the most interesting fact is that this area gets up to 460 inches of rain in a year, making it the wettest spot on earth.


Our port of call was Nawiliwili, the island’s chief port, and the starting point for all of the tours.  Just as the Amsterdam was approaching the harbor, the NCL Jewel was exiting for their next port.  This was a bit unusual, since most cruise ships do not overnight here.  Maybe in Honolulu, but seldom in the other islands.  


The weather was really “iffy” as there were many clouds, but also some blue skies.  The daily newsletter predicted scattered showers, but lucky for everyone, it did not happen in town.  We do remember that Waimea Canyon could have fog and rain at any given moment.  You see the deep gorges one minute, then the next, it will be shrouded in fog.


Anyway, last night we had a note telling us that all of the verandas would be cleaned tomorrow between 9 to noon.  A good time for us to leave, and not be in the way.  As we were gathering our stuff to go, we saw the outside workers opening all of the partitions between the cabins.  No need to access the verandas through the rooms, they had the full run from stern to aft.


We decided to stay in this area, taking one of the complimentary shuttles to do some shopping.  There were three choices.  Kukui Grove Mall with Costco nearby, Hilo Hattie’s, and finally Walmart.  The line of guests waiting for the mall was three times longer than the rest.  So we chose the Hilo Hattie’s shuttle, which said “no Walmart” on it.  Then secretly, the nice bus driver pointed out the shortcut to Walmart from Hilo Hattie’s, a short walk away.  She teased us all that we better not be wearing our free shell necklaces on the way back on the Walmart shuttle, or the driver would not let us on his bus.  Of course, she was just kidding. 


The big store had everything we needed, but the wait for the shuttle back was longer than we expected.  The driver told us that Walmart only hired one shuttle for the size of our ship, which they consider small.  He admitted that they missed the boat here, because they did not know we were on such a long cruise.  We all knew that these two ports of nearby Lihue and Hilo tomorrow would be the last chance for everyone, including crew members, to pick up things we need.  What would you guess was one of the most sought-after item for many people?  It was soda, either cans or bottles.  That may be on our list tomorrow.


Next on the agenda, after stashing our purchases, was a walk to the Marriott Hotel area at Kalapaki Beach.  Located a short distance away from the pier, the walk was easy.  A shuttle or a cable car also was available for those who did not  wish to walk.  As well as a beautiful beach, there are some restaurants and shops to explore.  Lunch for us was at Dukes, as they have great burgers and cold beer.  But the best feature there was their famous Hula Pie, a gigantic slice of vanilla ice cream with a chocolate crust, warm fudge syrup, and a “hula skirt” of whipped cream.  If that’s not enough, it is topped with bits of macadamia nuts. So, so good…..On weekends, it could be an hour’s wait to get a table, but today, we got in without the wait. 


We walked the beach, and found many folks we knew from the ship enjoying the white sands and the warm water.  Did a little shopping on the way back, finding another sea glass necklace and earring set.  These same ladies were selling their handmade crafts in the same area last year.  We purchased a set then, and it is one of my favorites.


It was good to be back onboard in the air-conditioning by 4pm.  All aboard was 4:30, and sail away on the aft  deck eight took place around 5pm.  This was the first real sail away we have had so far. And boy, was it crowded.  Nice to see so many folks coming for the appetizers and drinks-of-the-day, while listening to the music as we left the port.  We spent two hours chatting with friends Denise and Howie while waiting for the sun to go down.  With so many clouds in the sky and on the horizon, we did not expect the spectacular sunset we witnessed.  What a treat, and the best one we have seen in a long time.  And we all spotted some fish jumping out of the water, although hard to identify.  Wishing to see dolphins or whales would have been pushing our luck a bit much.  But who knows?


Dinner came quickly by 7:30pm, and once again, we were not disappointed.  The wahoo entrée was reportedly the best, while one of us ordered the sliced tenderloin with Yorkshire pudding.  Both delicious.


Our next stop will be Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii.  The 10am arrival should give us a little more time to sleep in.


Bill & Mary Ann



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Report #12   Hilo, Hawaii   November 6, 2019   Wednesday   Cloudy & 85 degrees    79 Pictures     Part #1 Of 2


The “Big Island” of Hawaii has it all. With 4,028 square miles, it is larger than all of the islands combined.  You’ll never see it all in one day.  Most visitors stay on the western coast around Kona due to the fact there are nice beaches, restaurants, and shops located there.  On the eastern side is the island’s capital, Hilo  Their population is about 43,000, and they get around 130 inches of rain a year.  That’s what creates the brilliant green rain forests, waterfalls, and fertile valleys. 


Kilauea Volcano and Park is a must-see.  It is only 30 miles from Hilo.  Just don’t take a piece of volcanic rock for a souvenir, or you may be haunted, according to Hawaiian folklore.


Our port of call today was Hilo.  Looking from the top deck of the ship, we could see both Mauna Kea at 13,796 feet in elevation, and Mauna Loa, the most massive mountain on the planet.  Who knew???  The summit rises 56,000 feet located beneath the floor of the Pacific Ocean.  Then Mauna Loa rises 13,677 feet above sea level.


Another famous event occurred here back in 1779, when Captain Cook met his fate with an attack by the natives.  A monument marks the spot where this occurred, and just happens to be one of the best places to snorkel.  We recall having a meeting with spinner dolphins while snorkeling here in Kealakekua Bay many years ago.  Exciting, but we had to get out of the water since it could be dangerous.


We left the ship somewhere around 10am, and took the free shuttle bus to Walmart.  There must have been 100 people waiting for that bus.  We picked up the few things we missed yesterday, and got back to the ship by noontime.  Seems that every time one of us goes through security, the beeper goes off.  Must be the new brace, and it will be something to get used to….like it or not.


Then we were off once again to walk to lunch at Pond’s Restaurant, located on Ice Pond.  This is a spot where fresh water rises from beneath the lava beds, we have been told, and mixes with the sea water.  It is much cooler and clearer in this little cove.  And the restaurant happens to be built right over the pond, where one can lean out the opened windows and even feed the koi carp that are caged underneath.  Not a fancy place, it is good home cooking at its best.  Again, we shared a burger and fries, then added a brownie and ice cream dessert.  A walk was in order after this meal.


The skies had clouded up by now, and it had turned hot and muggy.  Although we packed the umbrellas, it never did rain until later in the day around 6pm.  It came down quick and heavy, then it was gone, cooling things down briefly.  Our hike took us to Banyan Drive and the hotels that line Hilo Bay.  Our guess is that these were built in the 1950’s or 60’s, and are the least touristy places compared to some of the other islands.  Swimming here has to be done in the hotel pools.  Lining Banyan Drive are over 50 old banyan trees, planted from 1930 to 1950 by famous people.


Liliuokalani Gardens is located in this area.  It is a 30 acre Japanese garden with fish ponds, pagodas, and stone lanterns.  We would save this for last after we stroll over the walking bridge to Coconut Island.  This little spit has a pavilion and picnic tables and a place for the boys to show off their jumping skills for the young ladies.  Today there were few kids, since it was Wednesday and a school day.   


Back in the gardens, we took our time walking around the meandering streams and ponds.  Many benches are placed here and there, so we sat on one near a grove of volcanic rocks and ferns.  We spotted a mongoose briefly, then suddenly saw a mature one running with a little critter in their jaws.  Thinking they landed a fish, it turned out to be a dove.  Guess they will eat anything that moves too slowly.  Out of the ferns came a dozen more fighting to get a bite of the catch.  Years ago, these mongoose were imported to help get rid of the rats.  What they did not realize was that rats are night creatures, while the mongoose are day hunters. So both species flourished.


We got back to the ship by 4:30pm, and relaxed in our room for the rest of the afternoon.  Dinnertime found us ordering mahi-mahi and leg of lamb….both excellent again.  The Captain had announced that we might be able to see some activity from Kilauea Volcano between 10:30 and 11:30pm, and it would be viewed from the starboard side of the ship.  As recent as 2018, there has been massive lava flows, ash plumes, and earthquakes.  Not sure that we would see any activity tonight, since that has ceased.  Many years ago, while on a Royal Caribbean ship, we witnessed the cascading streams of lava at night.  It was a thrill to see.  As this is being written (10:45pm), we are far from the shore, and it is raining hard outside.  So doubt there will be anything to see under these conditions.


Tomorrow we will be in Kona, or last stop in these lovely Hawaiian Islands.


Bill & Mary Ann



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