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

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Report # 23   Day At Sea   February 9, 2019   Saturday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees

 

Our fifth day at sea found us with blue skies and the most pleasant breeze.  Finally, it is beginning to feel like we are in the balmy South Pacific.  We are a little puzzled about the actual time zone we are in.  Currently, we are consistent with Eastern time, however, looking at the map, we should be more like Pacific time.  Perhaps someone out there reading this has an explanation why Easter Island is not following the rules as we see them?

 

While some lectures are happening to prepare the guests for the visit to Easter Island, Captain Mercer is preparing all of us to expect anything the day we arrive to the island.  That is, if the swells are too big to tender us ashore, it will be a no go.  Most of his 12:30pm talk was dealing with the possibly dangerous conditions that might cause the port to be cancelled.  And if it is a go, only the able-bodied passengers will be allowed to go over in the tenders.  And it is understandable that no wheelchairs, scooters, or walkers will be able to get off of the ship.  On past cruises that we stopped here (there have been five visits for us), many folks did indeed need these devices, and the crew complied.  However it may have taken four crew members to pack someone in a wheelchair down the steep steps to the platform.  And the fellows did it with a smile.  No more…it is simply too dangerous for everyone.

 

Anyway, Captain Mercer used the same message the last two times he came here, but he was successful in getting all of us there and back.  He was a hero to most every guest on those Easter Island days.  Keeping our fingers crossed, especially for those who have never been there before.

 

Last night, we all got another health advisory letter, and knowing that several of our buddies have been taken ill with the “ship bug”, it has become apparent that there is a problem.  We do know that there is a magic number when sick guests report their illnesses.  It is a certain percentage where the proper authorities have to be informed of an outbreak of the virus.  So instead of waiting for that number to arrive, the ship’s crew has to begin sanitizing procedures immediately.  About 10 days ago, we noticed disinfecting going on in all of the hallways and public areas.  Dining room and Lido furniture was wiped down, as well as every surface people touch.  Restrooms were under constant cleaning.  This second letter to remind all to wash their hands, use sanitizers, etc, confirms our suspicions.  If the symptoms are extreme, you are requested to report it to the medical staff, where they will treat you, then quarantine you.  The quarantine part is not written in this warning letter, but we know this is what has happened to some of our friends already.  Hope this does not blow up into something bigger, but it seems to be part of traveling these days as it occurs on all cruises ships at one time or another.

 

As for us, we are really liking the new Ocean Quartet, especially their lead singer.  She is British and has the most unique voice we have heard in a long time.  It feels more like a nightclub act than the usual merry-go-round music of the past.  Every evening before the dinner times, the lounge is filling up with more customers.  The guests that have begun the dance lessons during the afternoon were invited to the Ocean Bar tonight to practice their steps.  You would be surprised how many people attempt the complicated ones like the tango or quick step.  Some of the more accomplished dance couples are in their 80’s too.  Pretty good to be able to do this on a moving ship.

 

This evening’s menu had at least four entrees that we really liked.  Our waiter is so good, he always suggests a solution.  We can order appetizer sized entrees, and be able to taste it all. 

 

A group by the name of The Knights entertained the folks in the show lounge.  The trio of performers came from London’s West End, and sang tunes of the British singers, Elton John (one of our favorites) and Paul McCartney.  We agree that the shows have been drawing bigger crowds every night….a definite change for the better so far.

 

So will it be a go or not tomorrow?  Time will tell…..

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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I have no idea why Eastern Island is not following the rules for time zones -- so can't help you.

 

Sorry to hear that the ship is starting to show signs of the Noro Virus.  Hope the crew can get it under control.

 

Great rreport.

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I will take a guess that Easter Island's time is set to not be too different from the rest of Chile.  It's already 2 hours earlier than Santiago and making it a 4-hour or more difference might cause problems.

 

Roy

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4 hours ago, WCB said:

We are a little puzzled about the actual time zone we are in.  Currently, we are consistent with Eastern time, however, looking at the map, we should be more like Pacific time.  Perhaps someone out there reading this has an explanation why Easter Island is not following the rules as we see them?

Easter Island's current time is the same as US Eastern Standard Time. At 109°W longitude (same as Yellowstone National Park), Easter Island should be in Mountain Time Zone. Daylight savings time puts Easter Island an hour closer to the Eastern Time Zone. I would guess that the missing hour is to keep Easter Island closer to mainland Chilean time.

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We were at Easter Island on the Maasdam last fall. It is part of Chile so is on Chilean time even though it is 5 days sailing or over 2000 miles west of Chile.

When we continued west another 2000 miles to French Polynesia we had to change back an hour every night to get on their time since Tahiti is far west of the western US.

 

We managed to tender in to Easter Island both days we were there. The captain avoided a big storm by keeping north and taking an extra day before he headed south to the island. After the two day visit he sped up to make up the day and so we spent little time at Pitcairn.

 

 

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Report #24   Easter Island, Chile   February 10, 2019   Sunday   Chance of showers & 80 degrees       Part #1 Of 4       80  Pictures

 

Finally, after five days at sea, the Amsterdam arrived to Easter Island, belonging to the country of Chile. It is rather small with only 63 square miles. There is somewhere in the neighborhood of 8000 locals, but Easter Island’s most famous residents are the mysterious moais, almost 900 of them in fact.  When the crew of a Dutch ship discovered this island by accident on Easter Sunday in 1722, they found a civilization that was comprised of people from Polynesia.  They called themselves Rapa Nui, and were more Tahitian in nature than anything else.  That is why their custom of carving the volcanic rock in the moai statues we see today, can be also seen throughout French Polynesia. 

 

The theorists have decided that this island was so limited in resources, namely forests and food crops, that the population had decreased to a bit over 100 people in the 1800’s.  The introduction of rodents from European ships also decimated anything that grew here, especially food crops.  Now a protected World Heritage Site, this Chilean-run island has earned its reputation for one of the top spots for personal “bucket lists”.  In fact, this is what we have been hearing from fellow passengers that have never been here before.  We can relate to that excitement ever since the first time we visited here too.  And for the following times we have been lucky enough to come back, which we counted to six.

 

Every evening at bedtime, our room stewards leave a “good night” card with a saying that gets us thinking….usually travel-related.  Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that SCARES you.”  OK, that is how we began the day going to Easter Island.  On today’s newsletter, the entire front page was dedicated to tender operation procedures going and coming back.  At 7am, tender tickets were handed out in the Lido pool area for those who were not booked on ship’s tours.  The funny thing was that passengers were lining up at 4am!  That’s how passionate they were to getting ashore.

 

We were lucky not to have to get tickets, since our ticket was our cruise card with the President’s Club logo on it.  So we got up very early, skipped breakfast, watched the sunrise (gorgeous), and went down to deck A at 8am.  Only the officers and crew were there to set up the landing site.  Karen and Hazel appeared, and obviously, as the two top famous ladies onboard, they did not need tickets either.  So the four of us became the first guests to go ashore this morning.

 

This is when the SCARY aspect took place.  The swells were more than unpredictable entering the tender boat.  One of us made it aboard easily, but when the other attempted the jump, the boat dipped 3 feet up, then 3 feet down, eventually breaking 3 feet away from the platform.  Two crew guys waited with outreached arms, but said either no or yes before jumping.  Really expecting to give up and go back onboard, the boat hovered for 2 seconds, enough time to make it inside.  Later in the day, we did hear of a few accidents during this process.  So glad it was not one of us.  And it least we made it over.  Not everyone did.

 

The best part of being first was that we had every site we visited mostly to ourselves for the day.  Having done all of the tours at one time or another, we enjoyed our very long hike today.  We found the shore excursions were much more costly than 20 years ago, but then, we do not believe the price to gain entrance to the Rapa Nui National Park was $80 USD.  So that added to the total price of the tours which began at $250 to $350 for 3 to 4 hours.  It is more understandable, since the guides (mostly college students) fly here for the day from Chile when a cruise ship is in port.  So their costs have to be passed on to the participants.  However, if you have never been here, we still recommend a tour.  One that includes a visit to the quarry really tells the story of the moais existence.  Their method of transporting them down the slopes to the shore’s edge is still controversial.  Moving them on logs makes the most sense.

 

There are many areas where several statues are placed in a row, facing inland, as if to protect the residents from harm.  We figured that volcanoes created this island, the Rapa Nui may have been fearful of devastation from eruptions. Just thinking out loud.  It really creates an eerie site, especially if you picture that all of the statues had white obsidian stones for eyes.  All but one have no eyes these days.  You still have the feeling you are being watched.  Now if only they could talk and tell the real story.  But then, the mystery that surrounds this island would be gone forever.

 

We could also call this island one for the dogs.  No matter where we roamed today, we had a big dog accompany us.  They all seem to know their boundaries, and will not cross into another’s territory.  And they’re friendly, only because the locals must feed them.  In the heart of Hanga Roa, their one small town, groups of dogs roamed the streets and waterfront restaurants.  Speaking of restaurants, there seemed to be many more than we remembered.  However, today being Sunday, it appeared some of them were closed until dinnertime.  Signs showed happy hour two for one sales, but after 7pm.  Looks like this is a major pastime for the vacationers that stay here.

 

There were a few places with souvenir tents, but the locals were slow in setting up their wares.  We would check this out on the way back.

 

Continuing on, we made our way to Tahai, the ceremonial site with several moai statues standing at attention, including the one with the eyes intact.    It is a spacious area, and we did have it to ourselves until a few small buses of tourists arrived.  Talking to Ginger and Bill on tour, we found out that the tendering process had slowed to a crawl around 10am, due to the swells.  In fact we noticed that no tender boats went ashore for 45 minutes.  There was a brief moment we all thought there was a possibility we would not make it back to the ship.  Highly unlikely, we do know this has happened in the past.  One good reason to carry a credit card with you just in case.

 

Remembering that a small park was further up the coastline, we found our way there, and rested for a bit on a nice bench.  A shrine was placed on a cliff here and was dedicated to a priest that must have lived here years ago.  We assume a nearby museum with artifacts from the island’s history may have been dedicated to this priest. It was so nice and peaceful sitting here, that one of us stayed behind, while the other continued exploring more moais and the coastline.  Sure was wonderful enjoying the peace and quiet as well as the pounding surf on the rugged cliffs below this area. 

 

It was getting close to lunch, and our water bottles were running low.  Time to move on.  Back in town, we picked the nicest restaurant built right on the water called Restaurant Pea..  It was advertising upscale Latin-influenced seafood with spectacular bay views.  It was all of that, but not as expensive as we originally thought.  We ordered Heineken beers, one cheeseburger with fries, and ended the meal with a shared slice of strawberry cheesecake.  The burger was giant, and also delicious, more so because we had skipped breakfast.  More room for a little dessert right?  We probably spent near two hours here, mostly because the waiter did not rush us.  Sitting at a table on the railing of the outside patio, we spotted something moving in the surf below.  Couldn’t be a seal or an otter….they don’t live here.  Turned out to be sea turtles, probably green ones, and all different sizes.  They would surface briefly, then dive under the waves, making photos quite difficult.  Locals were actually snorkeling here, and also surfing.  Part of our fun while in these ports is people watching, and interacting with them too.  Even one nice fellow offered us a ride to the little beach here, and gave us the thumbs up when we thanked him, but declined.  That’s the kind of place Easter Island can be…..friendly.

 

It had begun to drizzle with some massive black clouds drifting over the island.  Really felt good, but we stayed longer under cover of the patio before heading back to the tender area.  We still had a long walk to get there, but we needed to check out the souvenir tents on the way back. Not needing another statue or t-shirt, we were able to pass by without buying anything today.  Items of possible interest were wood-carved oars and turtle platters. Knowing there is no wood here, all of these items are probably imported.  And besides, we have no more wall space at home.

 

Reaching the little boat harbor, we found a large group of passengers seated under a tent with tender tickets in hand.  Everyone, regardless of being on tours or independent had to take a tender ticket to keep the order.  Great idea, as there are always a few that rush the boats, whether they are first in line or not.  The wait was brief for us, giving us a chance to re-hydrate with iced cold lemonade from the ship.  Only about 40 of us got on the boat for the 15 minute transfer back home.  This was perfect, since usually there are many more guest on these boats. Well, yes, we got back to the tender landing, but there was already another tender there with the slowest unloading of people we have seen for quite some time.  We all bobbed up and down for over ½ hour, many dealing with impending seasickness.  Sure would have been better to be held on land for a while, then brought over when the gangway was almost clear.  But what do we know?  Only one elderly man lost his cool, right before it was his turn to be helped off.  What’s the point in complaining when the crew was doing their utmost best to get us off safely?

 

As we went through the xray checkpoint, a line of about 30 “sticky” people, or those who were going on an HAL tour, we lined up to go ashore.  Since this was not a tour time that was in the brochure, we figured they added this later one a few days ago, because every spot had been sold out.  They would be the last group allowed to go, and the line of waiting guests waiting on deck one were out of luck.  Right before 4pm, Captain Mercer wisely cut off the rest of the transfers due to such unsafe swells.  Apologizing profusely, he stated that in order to get the remaining guests back to the ship, he had no choice with this decision.  We did hear of one lady that fell head first into the tender, leaving her legs dangling over the entrance.  More than one of our friends said if the boat had drifted back suddenly against the platform, she might have lost her legs.  One of the quick-thinking sailors had rolled her over, and tossed her legs into the tender.  Yikes.  What a memory of a visit to Easter Island……

 

Around 6pm, we went to deck 9 to take some panoramic shots of the coastline.  Most of the dark clouds that produced passing showers were gone, and the color was just right.  With three of the ship’s new tender boats still in the water, we knew that the Captain was correct about the final loading of passengers, which would have to happen before sunset at 9:05pm.  We are still curious about the strange time zone here.

 

The time of departure had already been extended an extra hour, from 5:30 to 6:30pm.  With the late tour, we knew we would not be departing until much later.  At our late seating dinner time, the setting sun made us all blind, shining like a laser beam.  Barb always sits in a chair facing the aft of the dining room, so our waiters did drop several of the new curtains.  Still not good enough, Barbie put her napkin over her head, and slipped low in her chair.  Her friends at home will appreciate her humor.  It did get the waiters to move faster with lowering the shades.  It helped a bit, but when the Captain finally turned the ship to leave at 8:30pm, we headed west while the sun went down.  And we had notes on the table saying due to this cancelled transfer, we were treated to a glass of “almost” champagne called sparkling wine or a soft drink.  The three of us opted for a can of Coke Zero, with Barb donating hers to us.  She is sweet that way.  Like her reason for not attempting to go on land today.  Knowing that there were many guests that have never been here before, she gladly gave up her spot for one of those guests to have the chance to make it over today.  As for us, we knew this could happen, and we went early in the day. 

 

The best thing to happen tonight was setting the clocks back an hour.  It had been a marathon day for most everyone, including the staff.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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So glad you were able to make it to Easter Island again.  Getting there early gave you plenty of time to explore the places you wanted to see again.

 

Sorry to hear that because of the seas some people never made it there.

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Report # 25   Day At Sea   February 11, 2019   Monday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees

 

The Amsterdam has two days or 1,289 miles to reach the equally remote island of Pitcairn.  This will not be a port for us, but a stop for a short time with the hopes that some of the inhabitants of the island will be able to board our vessel.  Some of the natives are actually descendants from Fletcher Christian and his crew who mutinied on the Bounty hundreds of years ago.  A unique experience for everyone onboard, we hope all goes as planned on Wednesday.  One good thing is that no one has to worry about tendering procedures with this upcoming stop.  By the way, we received certificates from our visit yesterday in Easter Island.  We highly doubt that the folks who were denied that trip to shore were not in such a receiving mood.

 

The day was just about as perfect as the weather.  Gentle breezes and mostly sunny skies stayed with us the entire day. While we were enjoying the outdoors and visiting with friends Leta and Bill, others were busy with the needlework corner.  Project Linus has begun, which we believe is creating quilts, blankets, clothing, and the like to be donated at the end of the cruise.  Kind of reminds us of the days of old when ladies belonged to a quilting bee.  Usually on a long voyage, the items created are displayed for all to see.  There are many talented knitters and crochet artists onboard for sure. 

 

Barbie reports that her team has been winning at trivia.  She credits their success to the fact that each member of the team knows something the others might not.  The biggest plus is that they have trust in that knowledge and they seldom question an answer.  There is no reward for the winning group, only respect or jealousy from the opposing teams.  Oh yes, and everyone still gets the 10 cent voucher simply for showing up. 

 

Ukulele lessons are happening in the Crow’s Nest, but with it out of sight, it’s almost like it’s not happening.  On the Hawaii cruises, these lessons are given in the pool area, where all can observe.  It is surprising how many folks really like this activity, but why not?  Some repeat passengers even bring their own instruments and learn more every chance they get.

 

The Hal Chorale group has begun practicing.  We recall the days years ago when the cruise director, Bruce, conducted this group of guests.  In time after he moved on to another ship, there was no one to take on this activity.  So the passengers joined forces and got together anyway.  By the end of the first half of the cruise, they should have a concert.  Then they will do it again until the end of the voyage with a finale performance.  We always go to cheer them on, since several of our buddies are part of the group.

 

At dinner time, we heard many more stories about yesterday’s port of call.  One of the most unusual tale was about one of our tender boats that accidently tangled up with a local boat at anchor, causing them to stop outside of the harbor.  Someone had to send a diver equipped with snorkel gear to dive down and untangle the rope that wrapped around the propeller.  Funny coincidence, we had another good night card with a suitable saying.  TRAVEL. It leaves you SPEECHLESS, then turns you into a STORYTELLER. – IBN Battuta.  This is turning out to be so true…..

 

Another hour back on the clock made us all happy campers.  And thanks for the several responses why Easter Island has a time zone that makes little sense, logically-speaking.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Report # 26   Day At Sea   February 12, 2019   Tuesday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees

 

 

Another beautiful day greeted us this morning, although looking out the window, we did notice some rain falling in the distance.  This is just what you can expect in the tropical part of the South Pacific.  Most times, the navigation team can steer around the individual clouds, and avoid the worst of a downpour.  As the intensity of the sun gets stronger, the occasional rain showers can be welcomed. 

 

Today is actually # 22 of the grand voyage, and some of the “glitter” has been taken away from some of the guest’s expected experience.  We are referring to the less than ideal conditions that caused the tendering to shore to cease while at Easter Island on Sunday.  Stories are cropping up with disappointed guests who followed the directions for procuring tender tickets, only to find the line had begun forming at 4am, not 7am.  Today, while having a private conversation with four friends in the Lido, a disgruntled couple interrupted us with their story of woe.  Many people had tickets that got them nowhere, because they were cut off early on.  Their biggest gripe was that all of the ship’s tour groups went off eventually.  Folks…..that’s the way it works, and that is the reason we booked tours in places such as this.  We know from experience that tender service can be stopped in places like Ascension Island, St. Helena, The Falklands, even Maui in Hawaii.  It is just part of the cruise world.  Lots of new guests do not  understand this, but if they read the contract we are supplied, it is stated that successful landings are not always possible.  If you have arranged a private tour, you are taking a chance that you might not get there.  If you can insure these independent excursions, then perhaps the scene we saw today might not have occurred.  Anyway, this couple got hot under the collar because they lost their tour money, so we left before it got worse.  We could hear them arguing with a couple of our buddies all the way to the elevator.

 

Another strange story we heard was about a couple that were scheming to disguise the number on their tender ticket to show a 6 and not a 16.  One gal we know warned the staff, and this couple got caught trying to jump the line.  Golly, this sounds like kindergarten.  Can you believe the couple threatened to get even with her sometime during the rest of this cruise? 

 

Later in the afternoon, everyone received a letter from Captain Mercer going into details why he ceased the transfer at 4pm.  One thing we already knew was that a 15 minute ride, turned into a 45 minute ride to shore, and again, coming back.  The delay built up.  Another attempt to open the starboard platform, ended up with that side flooded under 2 feet of water. 

 

What a shame that so many passengers made their disappointment clear in writing and verbally.  Once again, the Captain offered his sincere regrets, but that is the way it is…..period.  The Master has spoken, and we hope that is the end of this dissatisfaction. 

 

However……tomorrow’s “port” is not really a port, but a unique stop where the locals are allowed to come onboard for a short duration.  No one onboard the ship will be going anywhere on the island.  But it was pointed out by our friends that the Port Guide shows the map of the island with the things to see (the square, church, post office, caves, cemetery, museum, etc.) marked like all the other ports we go to.  It even talks about the food and shopping, but we never are allowed to go there, and we all know it.  Whoever writes these booklets added this:  Our award winning shore excursions provide convenient access to these sights.  See Shore excursions to fill out the order form.  Not happening folks.  This might turn out to be another day of complaints. 

 

On a lighter note, the flowers are back.  Obviously, the florists got their delivery on Easter Island, and the displays have shown up in the public areas and the dining room.  Eddie and Calista must have worked through the night to create arrangements suitable for Valentine’s Day, which is coming soon.  This has to be one of their busiest times, because guests buy many floral gifts for their significant others.

 

America’s Test Kitchen has been operating full speed ahead.  We have been invited to a cake decorating session on Friday at 11am.  Since there are so many guests that have high Mariner status, it has been impossible to have “hands on” classes.  So, we have been invited with a group of 5 star Mariners to the Wajang Theater to get the recipe cards and special aprons.  As requested, we called to confirm that we would be present.

 

For those that are anxious to part with some big bucks, there was a seminar on tanzanites and diamonds mined in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Tomorrow, the Tahitian pearls will be on sale for 2 hours.  This is a whole new concept to motivate the folks to buy on a whim, although it is part of a trunk show, and will only be onboard for a short time.

 

Barb and her trivia team won again today, actually getting 15 answers correct.  They are on a roll…..At dinner tonight, she told us a story about a group that ordered two Tomahawk steaks from the dinner menu to be served for lunch in the dining room today.  They had a group of ten, and the staff made a huge deal out of the presentation of the glorified monster-sized steaks.  What a good way to advertise this $75 x 2 meal-deal.  Anyway, her lunch buddies decided to move to a table a bit further away from the noise.  Guess some of the steak group will be leaving in Auckland, and this was a celebration for them.  Our morning waiter, Gan, told us that they serve the big steak much more often on the cruises of shorter duration more than on a grand voyage.  Interesting.

 

The Mainstage show was a brand new performance from The Knights once again.  They filled the room once again too.

 

Tonight the clocks went back another hour – the third time in as many days.  OK with us.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

 

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Report #27   Adamstown, Pitcairn Island   February 13, 2019   Wednesday   Chance of rain & 81 degrees       Part #1 Of 2       80  Pictures

 

Waking up sometime in the middle of the night, we realized that we were having a huge downpour. With today’s forecast predicting a chance of rain, we were fearful that our short visit to Pitcairn Island might be a “wash”.  But as the morning progressed, the showers decreased, and the sun was actually shining for the remainder of the day.  Lucky, we guess.  Lucky in more ways than one, as it would turn out.

 

Making us happy at breakfast, Gan rounded up three Bounty rolls, really Panama rolls, to enjoy with our breakfast.  Since they were not on the pastry tray, he brought them quietly.  These would only be served on the outside decks at 9am.  He is spoiling us for sure.

 

As always, we have done a little research on this remote island to share with everyone.  There are four islands in the Pitcairn group.  One is called Henderson, (untouched by humans with only bird life), while the other two are atolls.  The archipelago belongs to the United Kingdom and are considered a British Overseas Territory.  One of the most remote destinations in the world, the island is a mere 1.737 square miles.  It is steeply sloped with desolate cliffs and lush tropical hillsides with a population of about 50 Anglo-Polynesian people.  We have read that one time there were over 200 natives, but the current info has the number from 50 to 100.  But the most interesting fact is that most all of the natives are descendants from the mutineers of the HMAS Bounty, which sought refuge here in 1790.  Surely most everyone knows the movie, Mutiny on the Bounty or The Bounty.  The remains of the burned ship is sunk in the waters off the cliffs.  Her anchor, a rusted cannon, a faded old bible, and other artifacts are on display in the small museum in Adamstown, the lone settlement on the hillside.  Too bad none of us will ever see any of this town, because the island is inaccessible for our tender boats. There are some tourists that do come here on smaller vessels for hiking, fishing, or riding a quad bike on the red-dirt volcanic slopes.  Star gazing must be fantastic here too.

 

A random fact is that the islanders are 7th Day Adventists, although few go to church.  Food and supplies are imported by ship from New Zealand and French Polynesia.  The General Store carries everything they need.  Their source of power is from diesel-powered generators.  And they do have satellites for TV, radio, and internet.

 

This is not our first time here.  Years ago, we had the pleasure of meeting some of the same folks that came onboard today.  Many are related to Fletcher Christian.  Most notably, we met Erma Christian, a many, many times great grandmother of Fletcher.  When the group of the locals, usually numbering 25 or so, arrive in their long boat, they all have to climb a rope ladder to access the Amsterdam.  That included Erma, who at the age of almost 90, could still do it.  We wondered if we would see her today.

 

At 9am, the narration of the EXC guide, Ian, began on all outside decks.  We went directly to the bow, and discovered that the island was indeed in sight, looking the same as we remembered.  Some white birds were flying here and there, but were too far away to get an identity on them.  But the camera sure did, as we would discover later.

 

Once we were as close as we could safely get to the island, we could see the boat come out of the sheltered cove, and make her way to our ship.  By 10:30am, all were up the ladder and headed towards deck 8 and the Lido dome area.  The islanders set up their craft market, and the rush was on.  We watched the melee from deck 9, and soon found that it was like a bargain basement sale.  The items that were offered were t-shirts, hats, carvings, paintings, island jewelry, and more.  The most sought-after curios were postcards, stamps, and honey.  The honey is famous for being the most pure in the world.  As for mailing the postcards, their $2 stamp would work worldwide.  Mail would be posted in Adamstown, then be picked up by the next mail boat in March. That must have been the most reasonable item sold, because we heard they ran out of them, as well as the jars of honey.  Those went in 5 minutes.  Few souvenirs are actually made here, but we do know that there is a wood carver, who creates small replicas of the Bounty to sell.

 

Squeezing in between the anxious guests to view the tables was not easy.  At one end by the Dive-In grill, there was a table set up with two officials who for the price of $10, you could get your passport stamped. Heaven help you if someone thinks you are cutting the line here.  Then the next table of souvenirs had just who we were searching for……the son of Erma, Dennis Christian, who we had met 5 years ago.  It was our lucky day, because we had brought our Lonely Planet travel book with us, as well as a pen.  The 2 page description of Pitcairn Island had a photo of a relative of Fletcher Christian.  Taking a chance that Dennis would recognize him, he smiled and said, oh that is my uncle Tom.  Unfortunately, he had passed away since that photo was taken in 2012.  We inquired about his mom, Erma, and sadly learned that she had died 2 ½ years ago too.  He did appreciate the story we told him about meeting his mom, and buying her signed cookbook.  Then he kindly autographed our book by Uncle Tom’s picture, and that sure made our day.  No souvenir will ever be as special as that.

 

By 12:30pm, the islanders packed up their few things left, and departed down the ladder.  They did not go back empty-handed as the Captain saw to it that they filled their boat’s hull with food items such as flour, eggs, potatoes, onions, perhaps ice cream, and fresh produce.  On one visit, we saw cases of alcohol loaded in the hull, as we have read that everyone drinks alcohol on the island, including the kids.  Medicinal purposes, of course.

 

They motored back to shore by 1pm, and shortly thereafter, we continued our journey, watching the sparse bird life as the island got smaller and smaller on the horizon.  Needless to say, the afternoon was dedicated to working on photos and the report.  It was nice to cool down in our room, since when the ship stopped near the island, it really was hot outside with little breeze.  Even though Captain Mercer said he could not circle the island due to undependable charts, he did take the ship part way around the opposite shore. 

 

Good thing we went to the Lido at 3pm for lunch, because Doreen, the sandwich-maker, had saved one ciabatta roll for us today.  They are really the best for sharing, so she did not want to disappoint us by running out.  Getting spoiled here too.

 

Barb agreed with us that the menu has been overly-creative for our tastes the last couple of days.  If in doubt, there is always the choice of many alternates that are served every day.  Chicken or turkey, steak, or salmon and one vegetarian entrée are the usual choices.  The 4 prawns with cocktail sauce and the French onion soup are always delicious.  Tonight we shared a lemon torte, thinking it was a tart.  It was tart and really too sweet, so 2 bites was sufficient.

 

Piano man, Tim Abel, was on the stage once again.  With three days in a row of the clocks going back, we passed on this performance.  Then once again, we found the message in our room that we go back again tonight.  That means that four days ago, it was midnight, but now it is 8pm.  It certainly does a number on your sleep pattern.  At least we have two sea days to adjust our body clocks before we get to Papeete, Tahiti.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Enjoyed reading about Easter Island.  Glad that the rains stopped and some of the islanders were able to come aboard the ship.

 

How wonderful you got your book signed and met your friend from a few years ago.

 

Those Panama Buns are my favorite.

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Report # 28   Day at Sea   February 14, 2019   Thursday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees   Part# 1 of 1   13 pictures

 

And of course, today is Valentine’s Day, and we wish everyone a most happy one.  From the Captain and the entire staff and crew, we each received a set of three assorted candy bars from Seattle’s Best.  It came with a quote : May chocolate be your umbrella.  One long-stemmed red rose bud was placed by the chocolate bars.  There would be more special treats at dinnertime as well.

 

The dining room was highly decorated with hanging heart mobiles……red.  Lots of shiny red hearts, and it sure looked nice.  And this was just breakfast.  Later tonight, they added red strip lighting along the floor, adding lots of color to the room.  Everyone appeared to have a sunburn, not just those who really did.

 

We had to chuckle after listening to Hamish’s 9:30am talk on the ship’s speakers.  His request for the day was to PLEASE return all tender tickets that were handed out on Easter Island day.  We know what the folks are thinking, especially when they were denied disembarking that day.  Trust us….the staff has this tender process figured out pretty well now.  It is not possible to slip through the line for the next tender port with previous tickets.  The color and the rotation of the tickets will be different.  They may begin the numbers with # 50, and hand them out backwards, for instance.  Is it really worth the embarrassment of getting caught?  We think NOT.

 

Now that French Polynesia is quickly approaching, the themes for cooking, dancing, dressing, and jewelry are strictly Tahitian.  The history of this part of the South Pacific was the subject of lectures. The Polynesian Cultural Ambassadors only have a few days left to entertain the guests until they depart, more than likely, in Tahiti.   And a great way to attract customers into the Shops is to have a contest, such as guess the size of a Tahitian pearl.  And of course, if you filled out the little slip, you had to be present to win.

 

Everyone got a request concerning visa info for Sri Lanka and India.  Prior to leaving home, if we wanted to get off of the ship in Colombo, Sri Lanka, we needed to go online and get our own visas for that country.  The ship’s staff would not be able to do this for us this year.  Without the visa, you cannot leave the ship that day.  Many chose not to get off there, and saved the costs. Since we hold the e-visa copy, we need to show that to the front desk people. As for India, the same rules apply.  Our 10 year visa had expired last fall, so we had to get those new 10 year visas last summer.  Not easy to navigate their website, we were happy to get them done.  Now we are good to go in Cochin and Mumbai.

 

Due to tonight’s special agenda, the guest performer, Annette Wardell, sang at earlier times in the Mainstage.  We could hear her entire show, labeled Amazing Grace, while sitting around the atrium across from the silent Ocean Bar during her first performance.  She has a set of pipes that travels for miles.

 

Tonight was gala, naturally, which means we had a host join us for the meal.  Our guest was the head security officer, and his first time traveling on a world voyage.  When he asked the three of us if this was our first world cruise, we all said no.  But when he heard how many we and Barb have done, he looked in disbelief.  No, we don’t make these things up, and truthfully, few people ask this question.  Anyway, he was most interested in the ports we have visited, and what he could expect coming up on this trip.  If we heard right, he might only be here until Singapore, and then it will be time for his vacation.

 

None of us ordered dessert, but Slam had brought silverware after we finished our entrees.  Then he came with plates of 2 chocolate-covered strawberries.  That was a nice touch.  Most all of the guests were leaving the dining room by 9:30pm, for the start of the Valentine’s Ball in the Mainstage.  We were still deep in conversation, so we lingered until closer to 10pm.  Most balls require the officers to be present to dance with the lady guests, and this may have been the case with our host.  Some are game for the experience, while others are not.  When a host hesitates to leave the table, we are certain he was one of the “not” game for it.

 

There was a chocolate surprise following the ball at 10:15pm, but strictly in the show lounge.  That saved the mess that must have happened when the chocolate treats were handed out in the public areas around the ship.

 

The dancing resumed in the Crow’s Nest at 10:30pm with music from the Station Band.  Barb claims they are the best ever.

 

And believe it or not, the clocks went back for the fifth day in a row tonight.  We suspect this time will be good for all of French Polynesia…at least we all hope so. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Wonderful report.  Glad the ship was all decked out for Valentine's day.

 

Know what you mean about people trying to keep tender tickets for the next tender port -- have seen it happen all too often.

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Report # 29   Day at Sea   February 15, 2019   Friday   Rain & 75 degrees       Part #1 Of 1      26  Pictures

 

Rain was the name of the game today.  Not light either…..heavy showers, off and on all day.  So after breakfast and a walk, we had a date in America’s Test Kitchen (Wajang Theater) for an invitation-only session with Abby, the kitchen’s hostess.  This took the place of a “hands on” demo we have done on past cruises.  The reason it was a regular group class was because on this grand voyage, there are far too many 5 star and President’s Club members to conduct smaller-sized classes.  We still got the gifts of the recipe cards and the ATK red aprons.

 

Beginning with baking, frosting making, and decorating were the subjects.  The demo began with creating a white cake without a boxed mix.  Good info to learn what gives the cake flavor and perfect texture.  Chocolate frosting was done with a Cuisinart blender, and most were shocked to see the amount of butter that was used.  Not to mention that light corn syrup was substituted for the powdered sugar. Last but not least, was the frosting and the method of using a pastry bag and a tip.  You are never too old to learn some new tricks in the kitchen, we say.  Abby kept it interesting, with one exception.  We missed being able to taste that rich creamy frosting.

 

The other job of the day was to present our copy of the e-visas we got for Sri Lanka.  They made copies of the front page, and also took note that we do in fact have Indian visas already in our passports.  Without these, we would have been denied access to the ports of Colombo, Cochin, and Mumbai. 

 

For the first time ever, our host at dinner last night sent us a thank you note for letting him join us.  In addition, he inquired about our question regarding bringing flowers onboard in Tahiti.  Terry, the security officer, said at this time, the answer was yes.  Barb also confirmed she had received a card too.

 

We parted with some of our shipboard credit by purchasing a couple of cameras in the photo shop.  While on the last few cruises, we did some research on their products, and decided that it was money well-spent.  And since the photo staff was trained with the use of these new cameras, we will have someone to go to for any help with the operation.  We know where they live, so to speak, and they happily said they have the time to do it. 

 

The busiest place we saw today was not the lectures or activities, but the Lido at lunchtime.  The best thing folks can do in this type of gloomy weather is eat, of course.  So we joined the crowd around 2:30pm by visiting the salad bar and the sandwich creator.  Doreen has been saving the bread we prefer, so we did not want to disappoint her.  It is not easy keeping it light, but we needed to do just that.  This evening, we have reservations for the first Tamarind dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, and want to be able to enjoy it.

 

The afternoon was more suitable for movie-watching, than spending time at the pool.  It also gave us some time to get acquainted with both cameras.  One came with instructions, but the other did not….go figure?  Everything we would need to know is online.  So it will be hit and miss, or make several trips to the photo shop onboard.

 

And as we expected, the dinner was fabulous in the Tamarind.  The place was full of guests too. First we began with the little disc that blows up into a wet napkin.  That always makes us chuckle.  We ordered our favorite starters of Thai salad and spring rolls.  Shrimp crackers and three assorted dips went well with that.  During the meal, a hot jasmine tea was poured in small glass to sip.  Both of us had the beef filet, which was listed under the wood section of the menu. Normally we do not do dessert, but tonight was an exception.  There is a chocolate mousse and a fortune cookie that are not to be missed.  And we didn’t miss them.  It appeared to us that every course was slightly down-sized in the amount we normally see.  This is probably a good thing, because we did not leave there over-stuffed.

 

The good news is that we will begin our visit to French Polynesia tomorrow, but the bad news is that it may rain the whole time.  Hopefully not.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Sorry that you had a gloomy sea day.

 

We bought our first digital camera on the Zuiderdam many years ago.  It is long gone and been upgraded to a much higher quality one.

 

We always eat a few times at the Tamarind on ships that have this restaurant.  The beef is among our favorite and I love the fortune cookie.

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Report #30   Papeete, Tahiti   French Polynesia   February 16, 2019   Saturday   Chance of rain & 84 degrees     Part #1 Of 3    80  Pictures

 

To say that it was a rainy day in Papeete today, was an understatement.  The Captain had warned that the next three days would have chance of showers, but we had hoped it wasn’t so.  Tropical, or liquid sunshine, is what we got for sure.  But first, here’s a snippet of info about French Polynesia.  The 117 islands that make up French Polynesia are spread out over a marine area equal to the size of Europe.  The major archipelagos are the Marquesas, Society Islands, the Australs, and Gambiers, as well as the vast lagoons of the Tuamotu atolls.  In our opinion, there is no other place exactly like it on earth.  The islands are known for diving, hiking, exotic foods, fragrant flowers, luxury resorts, and everything French.  More comes to mind such as Tahitian dancers, ancient temples called maraes, creative shell necklaces, and over-the-water huts at high-end resorts.  You can swim up close with sting rays and sharks, see waterfalls, dig your toes into the black sand beaches, drink Hinano beer, buy pareos and black pearls. A random fact is that 300,000 tiare flowers are harvested daily for the traditional leis.

 

So today our port of call was the commercial, industrial, and financial center of government of Papeete, on the island of Tahiti.  It is the capital of all of French Polynesia, and probably the most densely populated.  Tours offered through shore excursions included sight-seeing, certified scuba diving, and a sunset catamaran ride.  These ran from $100 to $260 per person.  For those that wished to spend a romantic overnight at either a bungalow hut or an over-the-water hut in nearby Moorea, they offered a trip on the ferry and hotel stay starting from $800 to $950 per person.  The ship re-positions to Moorea after 4:30 am Sunday morning.  Wonder how many takers they had for this experience?

 

We sailed into the port area early, but due to the winds, rain, and a ship coming into the harbor ahead of us, the Amsterdam was not alongside until after 8:30am.  The local authorities would not clear us until an hour later.  Since we were in no hurry to go ashore in the rain, we lingered over breakfast, and glad we did.  Barb surprised us with a visit, which she rarely does.  Her breakfast usually consists of orange juice and coffee.  Today was no exception.  At least we had a chance to catch up on yesterday’s news, since we missed the dining room dinner last night.

 

We were not the only ship in port, as the Paul Gauguin was docked across from us.  This ship stays in French Polynesia, we think, and holds up to 332 passengers.  A small ship at 19,200 gross tons, she offers a different type of cruise for the active-minded passengers.  It has a retractable aft marina platform where the guests can water ski from two small boats, or use the two zodiacs.  Kayaking, windsurfing, scuba and snorkel gear are all provided complimentary.  And the dress code is totally relaxed for the entire cruise.  There is limited entertainment, but they do have excellent lecturers we have read.  It looked like it was off-loading passengers today, and will begin with new folks tomorrow.

 

Getting off the ship, we ran right into a lady passenger being loaded into an ambulance.  She seemed to be alert and was saying goodbye to Henk and Christel and Renee, the spa manager.  Sure hate to see this again, as five people that we know of have left the ship so far.  Maybe she was going to the hospital for a more thorough check up.  One guest we know had an accident in her new scooter, and broke her leg.  She had to have it xrayed today as well.

 

Lucky for most everyone, the rain let up, and the sun actually peeked out for most of the morning.  That gave us enough time to walk to the Marche Municipale or the marketplace that has it all.  For a change, it was not crowded, but the tables were half empty.  That’s when we remembered they were only open until noon, since today is Saturday.  Listening to the port lecturer, he did not include this info in his talk a few days ago.  (In case Barbara H, our retired port lecturer, is reading this, we sure want you to know you are missed.) 

 

The first stop we made before it closed, was the fabric shop across the street from the market.  Wearing a blouse of a fabric we purchased last year, the store workers recognized the print immediately.  Even though their English was limited, they seemed pleased to see it made into a shirt.  So of course, it was not difficult to find another piece to add to the collection.

 

At the market, we strolled the lower level, taking lots of photos, and then up the escalator on the upper level.  We ran into Eddie and Lee, our 90 plus year old friends.  They had made their way there to also take pictures, and look for internet.  They are incredible.  The only items we were interested in were flowers.  There were not a whole lot of them this time, but we found some bird of paradise blooms, greenery, and some assorted daisies.  Not wanting to haul them through town, we decided to stop and buy them on the way back to the ship.

 

Walking through downtown, we made our way to the church, some familiar shops, and McDonald’s.  Close to here was the Queen’s Palace and gardens, but it was closed today.  Very disappointing.  Even though the rain was holding off, the humidity was almost thick. If it did rain, it might be refreshing.  We back-tracked, and found a small hardware and nursery we have visited before.  Looking for some liquid fertilizer for the sunflowers in our room, we could not find anything suitable.  But the shop salesperson suggested that we buy a small bag of compost, which should do the trick.  It was cheap, and would not burn the young seedlings.  Then we stopped for the fresh flowers and went right back to the ship.  And just as the security officer promised, we had no problem bringing them onboard.

 

Cooling off in our room for an hour, we headed back out at 1pm.  That is when it began to drizzle.  No amount of rain would stop us from searching out the best pizza in town. We did need the umbrellas by the time we reached the semi-outdoor restaurant.  Sure was nice to sit down with mostly locals, ordering a Margherita pizza, large Hinano beers, and a shared banana split for dessert.  During our meal, the rain increased to the point we thought it would come through the metal roofing.  It became so heavy, we could not see across the street.  Since the ship would not be leaving the port until tomorrow morning, we were in no hurry to leave.  It was around 3pm by the time the rain let up.  The streets had flooded, and we hoped the passing cars would not soak us.  However, the local drivers in Papeete have to be the most polite.  Each and every time we crossed the street, all the cars stopped immediately.  How often do you see that?

 

Back onboard, we spent the late afternoon working on photos, while watching the storm pounding the ship.  We highly doubt that the roulette carts will be set up in the square tonight.  The crew really likes to eat the local food from these carts, but it might not happen. 

 

Dinner was back with our buddy Barb.  Not really starving, we had starters of shrimp and a tater tot (not exactly), and a bowl of chicken noodle soup.  Perfect on a rainy night.  Grilled tuna salad was the perfect entrée, and Slam insisted we share a small slice of a chocolate mousse tart.  At 9:30pm, a local cast of Tahitian singers and dancers put on a rousing show.  We think this group was on last year with Paki, one of the Polynesian Ambassadors onboard, as the host of the show.  The name of the group is Mana, the Spirit of Tahiti.  With only one performance, the Mainstage was full to capacity from where we watched.

 

We sure hope tomorrow is not quite as wet, as it is a tendering port with little shelter at the shore side dock.  Time will tell…..

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Report #30   Papeete, Tahiti   French Polynesia   February 16, 2019   Saturday   Chance of rain & 84 degrees     Part #1 Of 3    80  Pictures

 

To say that it was a rainy day in Papeete today, was an understatement.  The Captain had warned that the next three days would have chance of showers, but we had hoped it wasn’t so.  Tropical, or liquid sunshine, is what we got for sure.  But first, here’s a snippet of info about French Polynesia.  The 117 islands that make up French Polynesia are spread out over a marine area equal to the size of Europe.  The major archipelagos are the Marquesas, Society Islands, the Australs, and Gambiers, as well as the vast lagoons of the Tuamotu atolls.  In our opinion, there is no other place exactly like it on earth.  The islands are known for diving, hiking, exotic foods, fragrant flowers, luxury resorts, and everything French.  More comes to mind such as Tahitian dancers, ancient temples called maraes, creative shell necklaces, and over-the-water huts at high-end resorts.  You can swim up close with sting rays and sharks, see waterfalls, dig your toes into the black sand beaches, drink Hinano beer, buy pareos and black pearls. A random fact is that 300,000 tiare flowers are harvested daily for the traditional leis.

 

So today our port of call was the commercial, industrial, and financial center of government of Papeete, on the island of Tahiti.  It is the capital of all of French Polynesia, and probably the most densely populated.  Tours offered through shore excursions included sight-seeing, certified scuba diving, and a sunset catamaran ride.  These ran from $100 to $260 per person.  For those that wished to spend a romantic overnight at either a bungalow hut or an over-the-water hut in nearby Moorea, they offered a trip on the ferry and hotel stay starting from $800 to $950 per person.  The ship re-positions to Moorea after 4:30 am Sunday morning.  Wonder how many takers they had for this experience?

 

We sailed into the port area early, but due to the winds, rain, and a ship coming into the harbor ahead of us, the Amsterdam was not alongside until after 8:30am.  The local authorities would not clear us until an hour later.  Since we were in no hurry to go ashore in the rain, we lingered over breakfast, and glad we did.  Barb surprised us with a visit, which she rarely does.  Her breakfast usually consists of orange juice and coffee.  Today was no exception.  At least we had a chance to catch up on yesterday’s news, since we missed the dining room dinner last night.

 

We were not the only ship in port, as the Paul Gauguin was docked across from us.  This ship stays in French Polynesia, we think, and holds up to 332 passengers.  A small ship at 19,200 gross tons, she offers a different type of cruise for the active-minded passengers.  It has a retractable aft marina platform where the guests can water ski from two small boats, or use the two zodiacs.  Kayaking, windsurfing, scuba and snorkel gear are all provided complimentary.  And the dress code is totally relaxed for the entire cruise.  There is limited entertainment, but they do have excellent lecturers we have read.  It looked like it was off-loading passengers today, and will begin with new folks tomorrow.

 

Getting off the ship, we ran right into a lady passenger being loaded into an ambulance.  She seemed to be alert and was saying goodbye to Henk and Christel and Renee, the spa manager.  Sure hate to see this again, as five people that we know of have left the ship so far.  Maybe she was going to the hospital for a more thorough check up.  One guest we know had an accident in her new scooter, and broke her leg.  She had to have it xrayed today as well.

 

Lucky for most everyone, the rain let up, and the sun actually peeked out for most of the morning.  That gave us enough time to walk to the Marche Municipale or the marketplace that has it all.  For a change, it was not crowded, but the tables were half empty.  That’s when we remembered they were only open until noon, since today is Saturday.  Listening to the port lecturer, he did not include this info in his talk a few days ago.  (In case Barbara H, our retired port lecturer, is reading this, we sure want you to know you are missed.) 

 

The first stop we made before it closed, was the fabric shop across the street from the market.  Wearing a blouse of a fabric we purchased last year, the store workers recognized the print immediately.  Even though their English was limited, they seemed pleased to see it made into a shirt.  So of course, it was not difficult to find another piece to add to the collection.

 

At the market, we strolled the lower level, taking lots of photos, and then up the escalator on the upper level.  We ran into Eddie and Lee, our 90 plus year old friends.  They had made their way there to also take pictures, and look for internet.  They are incredible.  The only items we were interested in were flowers.  There were not a whole lot of them this time, but we found some bird of paradise blooms, greenery, and some assorted daisies.  Not wanting to haul them through town, we decided to stop and buy them on the way back to the ship.

 

Walking through downtown, we made our way to the church, some familiar shops, and McDonald’s.  Close to here was the Queen’s Palace and gardens, but it was closed today.  Very disappointing.  Even though the rain was holding off, the humidity was almost thick. If it did rain, it might be refreshing.  We back-tracked, and found a small hardware and nursery we have visited before.  Looking for some liquid fertilizer for the sunflowers in our room, we could not find anything suitable.  But the shop salesperson suggested that we buy a small bag of compost, which should do the trick.  It was cheap, and would not burn the young seedlings.  Then we stopped for the fresh flowers and went right back to the ship.  And just as the security officer promised, we had no problem bringing them onboard.

 

Cooling off in our room for an hour, we headed back out at 1pm.  That is when it began to drizzle.  No amount of rain would stop us from searching out the best pizza in town. We did need the umbrellas by the time we reached the semi-outdoor restaurant.  Sure was nice to sit down with mostly locals, ordering a Margherita pizza, large Hinano beers, and a shared banana split for dessert.  During our meal, the rain increased to the point we thought it would come through the metal roofing.  It became so heavy, we could not see across the street.  Since the ship would not be leaving the port until tomorrow morning, we were in no hurry to leave.  It was around 3pm by the time the rain let up.  The streets had flooded, and we hoped the passing cars would not soak us.  However, the local drivers in Papeete have to be the most polite.  Each and every time we crossed the street, all the cars stopped immediately.  How often do you see that?

 

Back onboard, we spent the late afternoon working on photos, while watching the storm pounding the ship.  We highly doubt that the roulette carts will be set up in the square tonight.  The crew really likes to eat the local food from these carts, but it might not happen. 

 

Dinner was back with our buddy Barb.  Not really starving, we had starters of shrimp and a tater tot (not exactly), and a bowl of chicken noodle soup.  Perfect on a rainy night.  Grilled tuna salad was the perfect entrée, and Slam insisted we share a small slice of a chocolate mousse tart.  At 9:30pm, a local cast of Tahitian singers and dancers put on a rousing show.  We think this group was on last year with Paki, one of the Polynesian Ambassadors onboard, as the host of the show.  The name of the group is Mana, the Spirit of Tahiti.  With only one performance, the Mainstage was full to capacity from where we watched.

 

We sure hope tomorrow is not quite as wet, as it is a tendering port with little shelter at the shore side dock.  Time will tell…..

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Our guest was the head security officer, and his first time traveling on a world voyage.  When he asked the three of us if this was our first world cruise, we all said no.  But when he heard how many we and Barb have done, he looked in disbelief.  No, we don’t make these things up, and truthfully, few people ask this question.  

 

I am curious about this statement.  When meeting new people, I would think cruising history, especially world cruises, would be a topic of conversation?  Is there an unwritten rule in the President’s Club or world cruise etiquette that makes asking such questions rude/verboten?  Enjoying your blog and pictures- been reading for years.  I’m still working/raising kids, but dream of a world cruise one day!  Would you ever sail a world cruise on another cruise line?  Do you ever get bored with HAL?

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Report #31  Not Opunohu Bay, Moorea, but Bora Bora, French Polynesia   February 17, 2019   Sunday  Partly cloudy & 78 degrees   Part #1 Of 2    74  Pictures

 

A very short distance from the island of Tahiti, is the sister island of Moorea, home to 16,000 people.  Sometimes it is referred to as the Magical Island. Moorea is a real paradise.  Laid back with several high-end hotels, this heart-shaped island created by an extinct volcano has much to offer.  We have lost track of the number of times we had the pleasure of visiting here, but we do know that we have done most all of the tours offered.  The viewpoints from Belvedere and Magic Mountain are stunning on a good day.  A trip to Tiki Village reveals what this area looked like in Captain Cook’s days.  Artisans and craftsmen make wooden handicrafts, dye sarongs, and demonstrate the art of tattooing the old fashioned way.  Decades ago, we met “Mr. Tahiti” who was tattooed from head to toe…..his claim to fame.  All we could think was how much that must have hurt.

 

Too bad we are NOT going there today.  Captain Mercer made the announcement during breakfast this morning, much to the disappointment of the guests and crew also.  No surprise to us, as the seas were angry, as were the 55 knot apparent winds howling across the decks.  It would be too dangerous to navigate through the narrow opening to access Opunohu Bay, let alone attempt tendering the guests ashore.  And with the recent problems with canceling the tendering process in Easter Island, the Captain made a wise decision we think. 

 

Come to think of it, the Moorea tour vendors were not so pushy trying to sell their pre-paid excursions in Papeete yesterday.  One lagoon tour they offered was to swim with the sharks and sting rays, then enjoy fruit and drinks at picnic tables on a sandy beach.  All this for $50 per person, and you could stay from 8:30am to 3pm if you wished.  So the locals probably knew our stop was going to be cancelled.

 

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.

 

At least the EXC tours will be refunded.  They included site-seeing, scuba diving, a dolphin encounter, photography expedition, snorkeling, and a 4 x 4 safari ride.  Prices ran from $100 to $240.  And we expect the port charges will be refunded to all of us.

 

So, we were on our way to the next port of Bora Bora, and since the distance was not all that far, we should arrive around 4 or 5pm.  The seas remained choppy with some pretty good swells as the ship headed into the driving storm.  Rain fell heavily off and on most of the day.  There was a brief clearing, when we went to the pool to catch some rays.  The pool was over-flowing and picking up enough speed to send light showers our way.  This gave us the idea it might be a good time for lunch in the dining room.

 

Barb was surprised to find us at our table, but glad to be able to catch up on news.  We had a dinner planned in the Pinnacle Grill, so we would not see her the rest of the day.  The theme for the casual meal this evening was tropical paradise dinner.  That meant decorations of shiny green palm trees with golden streamers hanging to the tabletops.  Philip had seen to it that every trunk of streamers were cut in half, mostly because the ends hung in the food and drink of the guests.  We kept lunch light, then shared a small sandwich at 3pm.

 

New daily newsletters had to be printed with today’s revised itinerary.  Now we were scheduled to arrive to Bora Bora and be anchored at 7pm, spending the night in the lagoon. 

 

Around 4pm, we went to deck six forward to watch some of the other islands we never get to see during the day.  The first one was Huahine, followed by Raitea and Ta haa.  Rain showers completely covered the islands at times, but the wind is what we will remember.  No way could we go to the front of deck six and be exposed to that strong of a gale.  Now we were thinking it will be a miracle if we make it to Bora Bora also.  Sure would hate to miss that one.

 

Within the hour, we began to see the tall peaks of Bora Bora as the clouds parted.  There were a few sea birds, possibly brown boobys, then some small flying fish, but the best was seeing three dolphins jumping near the ship.  They appeared so quickly, then dove down just as fast.  If you blinked, you would have missed them.  It was then, that the pilot turned the ship to very carefully enter into the lagoon.  The coral reef here is well marked, but if we veered off track, there could be damage for sure. 

 

By 6pm, they dropped the anchors in the lagoon, and announced that the tenders would be operating until 1am.  There was a problem with that, since today was a Sunday, and we know that most everything is closed, especially at night.  Going over to shore tomorrow will be good enough for us.

 

Dinner was good, as always, in the Pinnacle Grill.  The food was cooked perfectly, and the service was seamless.  Walking around the outside deck, we discovered the rain was coming down in buckets.  We doubt too many people will go over to shore tonight.  But at least we made it here.

 

Wishing for a nice dry day tomorrow…..but it is like wishing for a miracle.

 

Bill & Mary Ann 

 

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