Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sunday, December 30, 2018 – Maui, Hawaii – Sunny, Warm – 80s

Distance from Honolulu to Lahaina, Maui, HI 96 Nautical Miles – Speed 14.2 Knots

Just a short hop to our next port.

A tender port today.

No tour today but Dova has put together a beach getaway.

I got out of the room for breakfast before the thrusters engaged and the anchor
deployed.  I wanted to avoid the crunch caused by the passengers headed out for their tours.

The tender process was delayed due to swells so the tour folks got underway late and the rest of us waited in the Michelangelo Dining Room for our ticket numbers to be called.

We got underway around 11:00 AM and while it was tricky to get on the tender, the ride itself was pretty smooth. The trip to Lahaina was only about 10 minutes. 

Once there, we hired a taxi to take us to a snorkel shop near Kaanapali Beach (our ultimate destination). The ride costs about $20 including the tip. We rented chairs, umbrellas, beach gear. From the shop, we made the walk to the beach about 15 minutes.  The walk was tough because of the gear and the heat. We finally got to the beach behind the Kaanapali Beach Hotel and found some nice spots near the water. The beach was very nice with views of both nearby islands – Molokai to the right and Lanai to the left.



The kids swam and we sat and relaxed in the shade for about 2-3 hours. The return trip was different. We took the free green trolley to the snorkel shop and returned the gear.  We never could have walked back to the shop.  I got some nice pictures from the trolley of the golf course across the road from hotel.

We hired a taxi to take us back to Lahaina, where we got in line for the tender. Soon, we were back on the ship.

We had dinner in the Michelangelo Dining Room because they had my favorite soup, gazpacho, on the menu tonight. We also have a wonderful server, Beatriz, from Peru, who is both cheerful and efficient. I had two bowls of gazpacho (still wonderful) along with a green salad and an order of fish fingers from the kid’s menu.

After dinner, we caught Todd Alanson’s show in the Princess Theater. It was exactly the same show that we saw on the Mexico Cruise earlier. He seemed not as sharp today but it could have been the mic or sound systems.

Still not feeling all that good so I went to the room early.

December 29, 2018 – Honolulu, Hawaii – Sunny, Warm – 75F

Distance from Hilo HI to Honolulu HI 205 Nautical Miles – Speed 16.7 Knots

The ship is docked at Aloha Tower, a more convenient location with access to downtown and Chinatown.

Grand Princess is joined here today by NCL Pride of America, one of the few remaining US Flagged ships.  It is an one off design and is outfitted with patriotic livery.  The Pride of America is the only US flagged ship in the world.

We are all touring today – “Oahu North Shore and Pali Lookout”. It is not an early tour so we can get some sleep and I can get a decent breakfast. 

We met the bus just outside the terminal area and we started heading through the city.  The tour took us through the touristic area of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach and past Diamond Head Crater. 

We passed by the Hawaii Kai neighborhood (named for the Kaiser of Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company) and extinct Volcano Koko.  V. Koko was hard to capture from the bus but I managed to get the picture below.

We also got a view of Punchbowl Crater, an extinct volcano, and home to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  

This cemetery honors the men and women of the US Armed Forces who gave their lives in the defense of the country.

Making our way up the coast, we stopped at Haumana Bay, a incredibly scenic bay and beach. 

There are a lot of chickens roaming the island and some of them can climb trees. 

There are also still phone booths on Oahu.

From the Bay, we headed to Halona Blowhole and today, the blowhole was performing rerouting waves and turning them into mist. 

We tried to spot some whales offshore with no luck. Next to the blowhole are two famous locations – the first in the rocky beach where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolled around the surf and sand in “From Here to Eternity”. 

On the other northern side, there is dangerous “Sandy Beach”, home of nasty rip tides.

Our next stop was a shopping stop at a small strip mall – more of a bathroom stop for me. A lot of folks went to Mike’s Ice Cream Store to overpay for a cone($3.85 for a single scoop). We were really looking for a snack so I bought chips at the trinket store for a $1.30 and passed on a Coke for $2.99 (we bought those at Mikes for $1.00).

The Pali Lookout is the spot where King Kamehameha forced his enemies to jump to their death back in the day. 

The last time we were here it was a perfect day – today it is cloudy and very windy so the stay is a lot shorter. A couple of days ago, Oahu has torrential rains and the road to the Lookout was closed – the place was still pretty wet. The pictures weren’t as pretty but it is still an impressive vista.

We got back in time to get lunch in the Horizon Court before heading back out to check out the Chinatown Area. Two factors limited out time there – the first was the heat and the second was the fact that the neighborhood seemed a little creepier this time  around. We walked back to the ship stopping at the Walmart to pick up some meds and a thermometer. This Walmart seemed more claustrophobic than ours and the layout was very different. We got our stuff and headed back to the ship.

After dinner, I was the only one who went to the Halau Hula Olana folkloric Show – we’ve see the girls from this Hula School many times before but I like the hula dancing and the Hawaiian songs.  The cast changes all the time because the girls "age" out of the group and are replaced by younger students.

We passed on the Alley Cats – I didn’t feel up to it.

It’s a late sail away tonight (10:30 PM) so we couldn’t really sleep until the thrusters died down. We decided it would take too long so we stuff those earplugs in tight and called in a day. I was awakened by a nasty hum at 1:45 AM – I couldn’t tell what time it was at first because my watch and phone went wacky and indicated that it was 11:45 AM. I called Guest Relations and they said they would send someone by – as soon as the agent knocked on our door, it stopped but I’m sure she heard it out in the hallway. We have heard that same noise as part of the thruster system but this didn’t make sense since the thrusters had been shut down hours ago. 

Let’s hope it doesn’t return.

Friday, December 28, 2018 – Hilo Hawaii – Sunny – 75F

Distance from San Francisco, CA to Hilo, Hawaii – 2,005 Nautical Miles – Speed 18.0 Knots

A picture perfect day in our first stop in Paradise. 

The island of Hawaii sports five volcanoes.  We are witnessing a rare phenomenon today as two of these volcanoes, Mauna Kea ("White Mountain)(with the Observatories on top) and Mauna Loa ("Long Mountain") are both cloud free today.  We usually are unable to see either volcano when we visit the Big Island.  Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano and is the tallest mountain on Earth (Over 10,000 meters from ocean floor to peak) and the tallest point in the Hawaiian Islands (13,803 ft above sea level).  It gets it name from the snow appearing on its upper elevations.  Mauna Loa is an active shield volcano and is the largest volcano (mass and volume) on the planet.  

The whole crew is touring today – “'Akaka Falls, Macadamia Nut Factory and Tropical Gardens”. The timing is good because we don’t have to be on the pier until 9:50 AM, which gives me enough time to run upstairs and get breakfast. When I got up there at 6:30 AM, the place was full – doesn’t anyone sleep in anymore. I found an interior table for two and was able to enjoy a quiet breakfast.

Still cannot talk so I started a Z Pack as a preventative measure – probably viral but just in case.

Our guide and driver, Earl, is interesting enough but he speaks in a slow monotone and he can put me to sleep pretty quickly. We’ve never been to our first stop ‘Akaka Falls

You can't see the falls from the entrance to the site - just luscious vegetation everywhere.  To get a close-up of the falls, you need to use the walkway and stairs, which will lead you to a lookout. 

The place was crowded but not packed so we got some nice pictures.

Our next stop was the Vayera Zoo and Tropical Forest. Not feeling so hot, I opted not to walk the grounds.  Everyone else checked out the animals and plants.

The bus then took us to the Lili'uokalani Park and Gardens in downtown Hilo.  The beautiful Japanese Garden themed park (the largest outside of Japan) was donated by Queen Lili'uokalani and built between 1917 and 1919.  It features ponds, bridges, statues, pagodas, and a Japanese Tea House.  We had some free time here to explore the gardens and take some great shots.



Our final stop was the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factorywhere we spent 45 minutes trying all flavors of nuts. We got our escort goody bags and Macie took her chances with the oysters and came away with two black pearls.

We rested in our room until dinner which was interesting tonight. We pre-ordered Kosher meals – 6 Prime Rib and one Salisbury Steak. We also got, but did not order, three orders of vegetarian stuffed cabbage. Everything came wrapped (airline meals).

Opening the packages was not as difficult as it generally is. I think everyone liked the meat and I made a hamburger out of the Salisbury steak and the challah the MaĆ®tre D made for the table (two in fact). Fries with my burger and a starter of a salad with Thousand Island made for a pretty good meal. All in all, although the staff worked hard to smooth the process, overall satisfaction was low so I don’t think we will be going that route too often.

Showtime tonight was “The Alley Cats” – A Capella Quarter from Southern California. I'm pretty sure we have seen them before – maybe under a different name - but they were entertaining.

Back to the room to rest. Still can’t talk.

Thursday, December 27, 2018 – At Sea Pacific Ocean – Warmer and cloudy – 70s

The seas were rockier last night but manageable.  It is getting warmer outside and the skies are clearing in the afternoon.

I’m developing some kind of laryngitis – so speaking will need to be at a minimum today. I took in a little of Gloeta’s presentation on volcanoes. She showed lots of interesting NGS videos of the recent eruption of Kilauea and how the lava leaving the caldera caused its collapse and the formation of new rifts and lava rivers.

Lunch today was in Da Vinci Dining Room, where I had a Cesar Salad and Pasta Oglio along with Fish Tacos (as only a cruise ship can make them).

I joined Leo and his posse for ongoing trivia up in One5 and today we got nine out of 
ten right (missing the Rocky Movie theme).

I did some reading up on Deck 15 before heading to the Princess Theater for Talk 4 –“DNA Testing: A Genetic Eyewitness” at 2:30 PM. I am sucking on those restaurant mints to keep my sore throat at bay. The turnout in the theater was good – hard to estimate but the crowd would have been SRO in the Vista Lounge. The computer froze for the sixth time in a row – this time the PC shut itself down and rebooted. The tech disconnected the HMDI/VGA cable and reattached it and it didn’t freeze by the time I started. The talk went well and end up right on time. I talked to some people in the hall afterward. One thing about these cruises on Grand Princess is that people are telling me what a neat job I am doing on my PowerPoint Slides – not something I hear that often. Oh, yes, I just had enough voice left to finish the talk and answer a couple of questions.

Another round of trivia with Leo et al. – this time we were losers (8 out of 20) (e.g. capital of Armenia?).

Dinner was in the Michelangelo Dining Room – Tempura Sushi, double Cesar Salad, baked potato soup, salmon with a baked potato and veggie fried rice (made especially for us by the Asst. Maitre D for the table.

We were able to get seats for the 7:45 PM show starring Comedian Johnny Cardinale. This show, funnier than his first show, was an absolute hoot.

After dessert with Dova and Danny, we went back to the room (I could no longer talk).

Clocks turn back one hour tonight to put us on Hawaii Time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018 – At Sea Pacific Ocean – Windier – Mild – mid 60s

The seas are calmer but there is still a little chop.  It's a gray and bleak day as we sail toward Hawaii.

I was up in Horizon Court for another early and quiet breakfast.  Because of the unavailability of both cottage cheese and sour cream, I have a new paradigm for breakfast – pancakes and an egg (along with the mandatory oatmeal). I did try the Mueslix this morning and it was good but too sweet.

I went to Gloeta’s talk on Jellyfish and Corals this morning.  Her attendance numbers continue to reflect either the early hour or the passenger demographic.  I introduced myself to Gloeta after her talk and told her we are in her old room.  She seems personable enough.

This afternoon, I am once again in the Vista Lounge for my third talk – “Forensics and History: Mystery of the Romanovs”. This time the theater was more than 90 percent full with only a few seats over by the windows unoccupied (can't see the slides from there).  My computer froze twice (very annoying and requiring a reboot) and I ran five minutes over. The freezing up must have something to do with the Princess AV system since freeze-ups don't happen with my laptop and other systems.  I answered some questions out in the hallway as the theater was being used for a rehearsal.

Dova and crew had dinner in the Dining Room while the two of us had dinner up in the buffet – the walnut ravioli was very good and my homemade Cesar Salad (I tossed the Romaine and dressing myself) was also good.

We finished dinner pretty quickly so we went to hear Johnny Cardinale, Comedian and Guitarist, in the Vista Lounge. I thought he was pretty funny and his show was longer than most Princess shows. 

We went from there to the Princess Theater to hear Elena Bosworth, Rock Cellist. Hard to describe her show – she was decked out in Goth Rock/Superstar gear and her Cello was a narrow space age thing that looked more like a blaster than an instrument. She had a huge light show on the back screen and the orchestra supplied a big time rock beat. She is from Ukraine so she is a little hard to understand but we stayed long enough to catch a terrific version of “Hallelujah” during which she sported angel wings (seriously). 

The rest of the evening was spent with Steven in Crooners Bar.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Tuesday, December 25, 2018 – At Sea Pacific Ocean – Warmer and Sunnier – mid 60s

The sea has finally calmed down and it is warmer outside.

After breakfast, I went to hear Naturalist, Gloeta Massie, in the Princess Theater talk about birds and dinosaurs. She is very glib and entertaining but I thought a bit technical at times. The crowd was not large (150 plus) but the early time – 9:30 AM – was certainly a factor. She has this thing where she asks the audience a question and asks them to discuss before answering (like the SNL Skit with faux Barbra). Gloeta must be a regular on the Hawaii run (like Gary) because we are in the room she had on the last run to the islands.

The big event of the morning was the gift giving with Santa and his helpers in the atrium.  There are a lot of kids on board so it's a perfect holiday event for them.

I played Science Trivia with Leo and his friends in One5 before lunch, which was in the Buffet Pool Area – Salad and quesadillas today (Mexican Buffet Lunch).  The food was pretty good and the pool area is a good place to eat if you have a lot of people and need a big table.  Also, it's always warm in there.

The rest of the early afternoon was spent up on a now warmer and comfortable Deck 15 Aft.  

This gave me a chance to make some progress on my book.  Mostly, though, I like watching the ocean go by.

My second talk – “DNA Testing: Cold Cases Solved” was at 3:30 PM in the Vista Lounge.  There was a significant improvement in attendance over yesterday – about 80 percent full (about 400 passengers).  Danny and Dova were in attendance.

We had dinner in the dining room - our head waiter continues to make sure we are happy campers.  He is amenable to bringing us some special items if we request them ahead of time.  This should be interesting.  We also had some fun with puzzles during dinner.

After dinner, we listened to the music of Ami and Finesse in the Atrium.

The show tonight is a Christmas Themed item called “Around the Fire” with Cruise Director Steve Campbell. We opted not to go and instead spent the evening in the Crooners Bar.

Clocks went back an hour tonight.