Sunday, March 29, 2020

January 7, 2020 – The not so pacific Pacific Ocean – Partly Cloudy – 78F

Another rough night – lots of rock and roll – up several times.

Even though the clocks changed, I was still up early and finally for good at around 6:45 AM.

I had the omelet cook make me a scrambled omelet with cheddar but only ate the parts without cheese.  The rest of the breakfast was the usual and the coffee was hot. The Solarium area was a bit chilly this morning even though the air temp was probably warm.

I made reservations for dinner tonight at 5:15 PM.

I once again went through today’s presentation over an iced latter at a window table in Alfredo’s Pizzeria.  The best seats in the house in the morning for coffee - a window and plugs.  

At 11:15 AM, I set up for my talk – “Forensic Detectives: Identifying America’s Fallen Heroes”.  It was my largest turnout of the cruise – more than half full and well over 400 people.  




I recognized veterans and military personnel at the outset of the talk.  The talk went very well and there were two rounds of spontaneous applause during the session and a nice round at the end.  

We had lunch down in the International CafĂ© – I combined the tuna salad from two sandwiches into one and also had the Baked Potato Soup and Greek Salad (first appearance this cruise).

It was a bit cooler today up on Deck 15 and people were a lot chattier so it was more difficult to read.  


About the middle of the afternoon, the winds really picked up (howling in fact) and the rain started to fall. We headed for the cabin to warm up and get ready for dinner.

We got a nice table against the wall and the initial dishes came quickly – I had the tempura sushi (actually California Rolls), a garden salad with Ranch, a side order of Fettuccini Alfredo and Salmon with wilted spinach.  The problem was that the dishes all came separately making the dinner really long – we should have mentioned that we wanted the two main dishes together.  We decided not to wait for coffee and dessert and instead went to the theater to get good seats.

We found two seats up in the “Royal Box” on the starboard side of the theater (usually good seats).  The viewing is good but the tobacco smoke escaping from the Smoking Lounge nearby wafted into the theater neutralizing our fine seats.

Tonight’s Entertainer was Anne Martinez, who is a Las Vegas vocalist (currently in the Terry Bradshaw Show - really?) at the Luxor Hotel.  She is young, flashy, and animated – she has a huge mop of ironed and thick red hair and she was dressed in a wild Vegas style outfit.  



Her first two songs were "jump around the stage rock songs" and the urge to leave was strong. But her act diversified and she sang a Disney Melody, “On my Own”. “The Power of Love”, and an obscure song from Jekyll and Hyde.  She is married to a Cirque performer and had a lot of stories to tell – she was probably pretty funny but I had trouble understanding her jokes – she spoke very softly and downward.  Bottom line – she had a terrific voice, was not too loud, and really knew how to move around the stage and get into the emotions of her songs.  Besides, she is our very quiet next door neighbor.

We went back to our room, where I finished “Unseen”.  The book was so strange and confusing but in the last 20 percent, everything now made sense and the book redeemed itself.  I am now reading “Memory Man” by David Baldacci (a recommendation made by a passenger many cruises ago).

It is beginning to look like we will be rocking and rolling for the full four and half sea days enroute to Enseneda, Mexico.  Anybody taking this cruise for the first time and a little prone to the motion of the ocean will most likely not book this as a future cruise.

Seas are far from smooth.

January 6, 2019 – On the Bumpy Pacific Ocean – Mostly Cloudy – 78F

The ride continues to be rough and we are using earplugs to muffle the “cannon shots” caused by waves hitting the sides of the ship. The shimmy and shudder are still pretty intense and sleeping is certainly not peaceful.

I was up in Horizon Court about 6:15 AM and had my usual quiet and good breakfast sitting in the Solarium. The sun came up before I left so I could see the ocean – it didn’t look as lumpy as you would think considering the ride. 


The middle of the ship is not really feeling it as much as both ends.  I brought Ellen her breakfast and made reservations for dinner tonight at the Michelangelo Dining Room for 5:15 PM.

I got to the theater about 8:40 AM for "Forensic Detectives: The Search for Jack the Ripper" and there were already a few people already in their seats.  Before I got started one of the guests came up to the stage and gave me some very positive feedback.  Another guests said she changed her usual wakeup time to be at the early talk.  Nice to hear things like that.

The talk went very well – I am almost completely recovered from my voice impairing bronchitis – and the attendance was pretty good considering the early hour – maybe half full.  Quality not quantity.  The talk ran 48 minutes and the AV worked perfectly.

I stopped off at Lee’s Office to give him my list of talks for the next cruise.

We basically had the whole day ahead of us and we decided that we would try the seats on Deck 15 Aft.  


There were already a lot of people there but we did find two seats and settled in.  The movement of the ship continued to be significant even though the winds were light and the sun was out.  I am nearing the midpoint of “Unseen” and I am a little disappointed in the overly complex nature of the book as well as the minimal role being played by Will Trent’s partner, Faith.  In previous books, Faith and Will made an interesting team – they are both brilliant detectives but Will’s dyslexia always plays into the story.  Not so in this book.  Still an interesting work and Karin Slaughter continues to throw out some nice dialogue and zingers.

We had a quick lunch in Horizon Court and then back up on Deck 15.  I changed seats because the ships movement combined with a not so level seat made for an interesting ride.

At 4:30 PM, we went to the cabin to get ready for dinner.  When we got to Deck 5, we noticed that the photographers were out in force and that some people were dressed.  While waiting to get seated, it hit us that tonight was formal night 2.  So back to the cabin for a quick change and then to dinner.  Tonight’s dinner choices were Spicy Tomato Soup (like gazpacho but not as thick – good; Cesar Salad; Pad Thai (different but good); Ellen had salmon on a Cesar Salad – the salmon was well done and good.  I had a nice sundae but Ellen was not happy with the Macadamia Chocolate Brownie.  The service was the best of the cruise tonight as demonstrated by my getting two cups of hot coffee.

We spent the evening in the Wheelhouse Bar listening to the Pacific Trio.  The group did a lot of easy listening dance tunes mostly in Spanish.  But the venue was comfortable for reading and just relaxing.

Clocks move forward one hour tonight as we pass out of Hawaiian Time.

The seas are anything but smooth – the cannons are out tonight.

January 5, 2020 – Lahaina, Maui – Mostly Sunny – 78F

A picture perfect day in Maui.

We both have to be in the Princess Theater at 7:00 AM to assist in the dispatch of passengers on excursions – this is earlier than usual because this is a tender port, which adds to the lead time for excursions.

I beat my wake up call of 5:30 AM so I both tried to cancel the call and I unplugged the phone.  The sun was just rising.



At 5:30 AM, I was in Horizon Court.  One of the staff volunteered to make me a waffle and I was able to access the cottage cheese and other items, including a biscuit.  I had a nice quiet breakfast in the Solarium and was back to the room by 5:55 AM.  Ellen had already received her room service breakfast and I brought her some additional goodies.

We were both in the theater on time and seated passengers until 8:00 AM, when we joined our group going to the tender pontoon.  The tender was there and the ride was both smooth and short. 


I did get a good shot of Maui from the tender.


We found our bus and took our seats in the back of the large bus. 

Our tour – “Maui Tropical Plantation and Maui Ocean Center” – left on time and headed Southeast down Highway 30 (Lahaina is on the Western coast of Maui).  


The mountains were on the left and the Pacific Ocean on the right.  About 30 minutes later, we pulled into the Maui Tropical Plantation complex.  From 9-10 AM, we had free time to shop at the “Made in Maui Country Store” or check out the outbuildings.  






I wound up trying a 20 oz. coffee at the Coffee Shop for $4.00.  It’s a little humorous that the coffee served was only 10 percent local coffee and 90 percent Central American, South American, and Indonesian Coffee.  In any event, I had it iced and it was pretty good – as good as the pure Kona and Kauai coffees I had earlier in the cruise.


The Plantation used to be a sugar plantation and some of the machinery and other industrial pieces have been repurposed as art installations around the buildings.  


One of the most interesting is an installation composed of massive gears used at one time to turn equipment to make sugar syrup and sugar. 




There is also a small lake inhabited by several types of water birds.  It’s definitely a photo op type of place.


At 10:00 AM, we boarded a tram and took an hour tour of the grounds – the narrator, a young woman, did a nice job of explaining the various plants on the grounds (they were labeled as well).  One of the plants was Red Ginger.


We also saw banana trees (I recognized them) and all types of tropical flowers.  The views of the mountains were also spectacular.






The tour was interesting and relaxing. When we finished, we were offered a complementary cup of Maui Gold Pineapples.  The pineapples were good but I just couldn’t finish the big cup.

Our final stop was the Maui Ocean Center.  On the way there, we could see Haleakala, the impressive volcano we've visited on earlier trips.

 


We’ve been here before and I recall that it was an interesting visit.  It was this time, also. We spent more of our time checking out the coral (actual living coral in an aquarium setting) and the fish aquarium.  Lots of sharks, tuna, amberjack, rays, various smaller fish, and, of course, bioluminescent jellyfish.  




 
We didn’t see the fish feeding today but seeing the fish swim over our heads was still fun.

At 1:00 PM, we started back to Lahaina on highway 30, which afforded a view of the Grand Princess at anchor, as well as the island of Lanai.




We arrived at the Tender Port about 15 minutes later than expected.  We were able to get on a tender right away and were back on the ship a short time later.  We were hungry so we went straight to Horizon Court where salads, pizza, fish, and assorted other items sufficed as a late lunch.

The view of Maui and Lahaina from the ship was fantastic - I also got a panoramic shot of the island.





In the room now resting up – we are both tired.

We got a bit of a late start for dinner so when we showed up at the Michelangelo Dining Room (we had already eliminated Horizon Court for tonight), there was a huge line.  The seating process is very slow on this ship as the Maitre D escorts each guest to their table then returns and fetches the next group in line (other ships have several staff showing people to their tables).  Instead of waiting, we went to Alfredo’s Pizzeria.  Along with some Baked Potato Soup and Caprese Salad, I had my usual Vegetariana Pizza.  I still haven’t been able to clearly explain the concept of extra sauce (it always comes as a topping instead of a base) so next time, I will speak to the pizza chef directly.  The pizzas were OK.

It was too late to see “Handsome Jack”, the magician (not a big fan of magicians anyway), so we found seats outside the Explorers Lounge, where we took in a set by Supersonics and then listened to a game show.  I am making progress on “Unseen” and am finding it interesting that Karin Slaughter has done a crossover with her two protagonists, Sara Linton and Will Trent.  The author uses a bang-bang style of dialogue and it’s difficult to follow but so far, the book is interesting.

Checking out tomorrow’s Patter, I found out that I have been moved from the afternoon to the “coveted” 9:00 AM slot in the Princess Theater.

The seas are starting to get a little testy as we make our way to the cabin for the night.

January 4, 2020 – Nawiliwili, Kauai – Mostly Cloudy – 78F

We did not hear the thrusters last night.

However, the ride in the middle of the night was just north of medium rock and roll – enough to make it difficult to sleep.

I was in Horizon Court at 5:45 AM so I could help them “open” the buffet.  I had my usual good breakfast and was still back in the room by 6:20 AM.

I took a picture of our sail in from our stateroom window.


I helped with dispatch in the Princess Theater and then had a coffee in New Grounds.  We both had a late breakfast (bagels and lox) in Horizon Court before joining our tour – “Waimea Canyon” at 11:05 AM on the pier.

It was dark and cloudy in the port.


Lisa was our guide and she is from Texas via Central California. I always get nervous when our guide is also our driver (especially when we are in a big bus with 53 passengers).  She cracked a lot of jokes but was also very informative.

We drove through Nawiliwili, a small town with all of the requisite fast food places and some shops, then through Lihue, the main city on this island and the location of the airport.  We then proceeded through the countryside.


The weather improved as we made our way along this major (and only) highway. Our first stop was a photo stop at Hanapepe Valley - the bus covered the 19 miles or so in about a half hour. This is where Jurassic Park was filmed – we saw the gorge where the helicopter experienced turbulence in one of the early scenes.  I could see why Steven Spielberg picked this location for the movie.  I took a lot of pictures of the valley (including panoramas) and even caught a rainbow stretching across the valley.








We made a comfort stop at a store in Hanapepe Town where I tried Kauai Coffee (couldn’t tell Kona from Kauai or from my coffee back home).  Hanapepe has a population of 2630; Hanapepe means "crushed bay" perhaps referring to the landslides in the area.

Our main stop was Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”.  


The canyon can reach depths of about 3500 feet and features an array of colors and rock formations.  Two special treats on today’s visit. First, the visibility was perfect – you could see across the whole canyon and even view the two waterfalls on the far side. 






Second, the mist rolled in and a nice rainbow connected two locations on the far side. All of this was captured in photos and panoramas.  


Two other attractions at the Canyon – bullet holes (of various caliber) in the metal signs 


and a lot of chickens.

Our final stop was at “Spouting Horn”.  In the past, the horn has spouted quietly but today, the giant lizard trapped under the lava rock also roared.




As we started our trip back to the port, Lisa told us that there had been a car fire on the only road back to Nawiliwili and that we would encounter traffic.  Indeed, we were stopped for almost a half hour with no movement – then traffic started moving from the other direction and only one lane was open at a time. Eventually, we did start moving.  We were the last bus to come back – about 30 minutes late and past the all aboard time - getting to be a habit.  We were in the last group to board the ship and while we were going to the cabin, the Captain indicated that everyone was here and we would be departing.

Dinner was later than usual in the Michelangelo Dining Room.  We were assigned Table 50 but, while the service at this table was very good, we will not sit here again as there was as there was too much traffic passing by the table.  Dinner was excellent – garden salad with ranch, pasta with pesto and potatoes and green beans (the last two items did not contribute to the taste), Pan Fried Orange Roughy (excellent except for the fennel it was sitting on) and tempura veggies (soggy but OK). Ellen had the Baked Potato Soup, Cesar Salad and the Roughy.  A sundae finished it off.

After dinner, we found seats outside the Explorers Lounge and did some reading.  I started a new book, “Liar, Liar” by Lisa Jackson.  A few pages into it, I realized I didn’t like her writing style and the subject matter – in fact, I had no idea what was actually going on in the story.  I returned the book to the Library and started “Unseen” by Karin Slaughter.  I chose this book because Will Trent, an unusual FBI agent, was the main character and I like the last Will Trent book. So far, so good.

At 8:00 PM, we went to the Crooners Lounge to hear guitar vocalist, Michael Kneafsey.  After a couple of songs we decided he was not our type of singer and the volume was a little high so we retreated to our previous seats. 

Our evening became an early one because we were assigned to an early excursion tomorrow morning so we headed back to the cabin to just settle down.

Seas are smooth.