28 October 2019 ~~ Day Seventeen

We arrived at Pago Pago, American Samoa at eight a.m.  It’s actually pronounced, “Pango Pango.”  Our lecturer, Joseph Kess, has explained the pronunciation and spelling similarities of the various languages spoken in the part of the world.  A few other tidbits of information include:

  • Samoa is 98% Christian, 8% of that is LDS, and 20% Catholic;  
  • In early seafaring days, it held a much valued position as a strategic coaling station;
  • The Tripartite Convention of 1899 concluded the Second Samoan Civil War, resulting in the formal partition of the Samoan archipelago into a German colony and a United States territory;
  • The U.S. Navy took possession of the island;
  • During WWII, there were more U.S., Marines there than Samoans;
  • The Apollo 14 astronauts Commander Alan Shepard, Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa, and Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell launched on their nine-day mission on Sunday, January 31, 1971.  The command module Kitty Hawk splashed down in the South Pacific Ocean on February 9, 1971 at 21:05 [UTC], approximately 760 nautical miles (1,410 km) south of American Samoa. After recovery by the ship USS New Orleans, the crew was flown to Pago Pago International Airport in Tafuna for a reception before being flown on a C-141 cargo plane to Honolulu. The Apollo 14 astronauts were the last lunar explorers to be quarantined on their return from the Moon.
  • They have the highest per capita recruitment for our U.S. military;
  • A seventy-two foot tsunami, on September 29, 2009, (generated by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake that occurred about 190 km southwest at 6:48 a.m.)  killed thirty-four people in American Samoa and caused more than two-hundred million in damage;

We hoped to visit their Ocean Center, but found it closed for renovations.  So, we flagged down on the many colorful buses and boarded.  Average fare was one dollar, but since the driver was continuing past the cruise terminal, we stayed on board and had a nearly private tour over a good portion of the southeast portion of the island.   We didn’t stop at “Two Dollar Beach,” and understand it’s now five dollars to go there.  We didn’t stop at Tisa’s Barefoot Bar, though it’s been recommended by friends.  It also has high ratings on Trip Advisor, so maybe we’ll try it if we make it back to Pago Pago.

Captivating Pago Pago

A number of booths were set up at the port by entrepreneurs.  We browsed and managed to just buy a magnet.  We’ve cut down on purchasing souvenirs . . . especially for this long of a trip. 

Back on the ship, I was able to have a form printed at Guest Services that I needed to sign and send to our financial advisor.  She said the photo I snapped and sent to her should work ok.  A premium internet package is ridiculously expensive at $263.99 for the cruise, but worth having.  Those who don’t purchase one, spend a lot of their time in ports seeking free wifi, that is usually REALLY slow with so many trying to access it at the same time.  

In our present location we knew tomorrow would never come . . . at least not October 29th.  We’re crossing the International Date Line and jumping ahead to October 30th.   

26 October 2019~~ Day Fifteen

Woo hoo!  Today was Five Star Cooking Show Day.  Last night two aprons were delivered to our cabin, neatly tied with a ribbon.  Though there are frequent cooking demonstrations, this one was only for those with Five Star Mariner Status.  It’s not nearly as much fun as it was when we could actually help with the cooking, but it’s a nice perk.  Up until a couple of years ago, “celebrity chefs” were on board to present classes and do private classes for a fee.  The fee included an apron.  We were given recipe cards at every program.  At the public classes, samples were served to the audience.  After the private classes, we went into the Pinnacle Grill and were served the same items we had just prepared, although the food was prepared in the kitchen.

Since  Orlando Ashford became President of Holland America Line gradual changes have been made.  We no long have celebrity chefs, and they’ve nearly eliminated providing recipe cards.  Instead the classes are presented by someone from “America’s Test Kitchen.”  I’ve watched episodes of their television show, probably, since it started in 2001.  On the ship, the program starts with a video from their Boston, Massachusetts set with hosts, Julia Collin Davison or Bridget Lancaster.  The chef then proceeds to prepare several recipes.  At least we can download the recipes to try them at home.  They also share tips, via video, about gadgets.  Today’s program was “Beyond Pasta,” and provided some great tips for making gnocchi (Italian potato dumplings.)  I might even try this one at home!  

The afternoon program by Joseph Kess, was on “Mapping the Unknown Pacific.”  Hearing these lectures on multiple cruises does help the info sink in a bit more.  This cruise is called, “The South Pacific Crossing.”  Hawaii, considered part of Polynesia, is north of the equator, so it’s not part of the South Pacific.  

Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia refer to three distinct sub-regions of the Pacific region (Oceania) which have been divided based on their cultural significance. These three regions consist of a vast number of islands and are home to a variety of people.  Polynesia is home to a large number of people coming from different cultural backgrounds.  In Polynesia, a number of languages are spoken as well.  Polynesia includes many islands such as the Hawaiian Islands, Easter Island, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Samoan Islands, Marquesas Islands, Niue Island, Tonga, etc. Did you know the name Polynesia denotes many islands in Greek?
Melanesia includes New Guinea, Maluku Islands, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Santa Cruz Islands, and Norfolk Island.  The word ‘mela’ in Greek denotes black and refers to the complexion of the people in the islands.

Micronesia consists of a large number of small islands and is home to many indigenous people.  Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the Marianas, Caroline Islands are some of the islands of Micronesia.  They are north of the equator.   Micronesia in Greek denotes small islands.
How early settlers found their way, guided by the stars to these distant islands is truly amazing.  It makes me wonder how many perished during their attempts.  And, how early explorers were able to map the islands, before satellite imagery, and advanced navigation techniques is equally amazing.  

As we chatted with new friends, Tim and Lynn, at Happy Hour we discovered we shared another common friend.  It was someone she had dated in high school and I worked with forty years ago.  His sister is a good friend of mine, so we snapped a photo to send to her.

For the evening program, Ace Mc Dermott was billed as a “mentalist.”  He WAS very entertaining.  (Click on his name for a clip of another performance by him.)  However, the woman sitting near us, with her bare feet on the seat was not.  Her behavior reinforces what we learned on our first cruise . . . many people leave their brain on the dock.  

25 October 2019 ~~ Day Fourteen

 After a lazy morning, I was happy to see they had meat loaf in the Lido!  One of my favorite sandwiches is a leftover meatloaf with ketchup.   Sometimes it’s just nice to have a comfort food, even though there are many choices!

We skipped attending the King Neptune ceremony for crew members who were crossing the equator for the first time.  We’ve seen it before and it was fun, but we just didn’t want to bake in the sun at the Seaview Pool.  This ceremony is fun for those graduating from pollywog to shellback.  It’s considered an initiation rite that may have originated as a “folly” that was sanctioned to boost morale.  It makes sense that it was a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates could handle long, rough times at sea.  Typically the initiates are brought before someone portraying King Neptune.  The “King” pronounces a sentence upon them and most are smeared with colorful foam and either directed to lay in the sun for a specific period of time, or jump in the pool.  I understand that some military ceremonies were rather brutal, so it’s good that doesn’t happen here!  The British Royal Navy has had well established ceremonies since the eighteenth century.  

We were provided with a certificate to commemorate our crossing.  Hubby has a really colorful one that he received when he was on a troop transport ship with his mom on the way to Guam after WWII.  Ours was not so elaborate.

Following a little time to catch up on the computer and Happy Hour, we opted for dinner in the dining room.  We were seated with Tanis and Robert from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Rosie and Mike from Ohio.   Depending on the menu, we have had dinner there more often and the opportunity to meet new people.  We had a nice chat afterward with our favorite bartender, Pete.  We met on our Alaska cruise in 2018, and we were astonished he remembered us when we saw him on this ship.  We spent our ten dollars in the casino and were ready to head to slumber-land.  

24 October 2019 ~~ Day Thirteen

We were up and together in time to have breakfast and make it to the first talk of the day, ” Are we Alone in the Universe?” Alan Wright tackles one of humankind’s biggest questions as he explores the chances of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, outlines what alien life forms could be like and discusses how we are presently attempting to make contact with them. And what will happen when we do. He is another highly qualified speaker and we’re fortunate to have heard him on two previous cruises.

Alan Wright has been a professional research astronomer for over 50 years, much of that time as the Chief Astronomer & Head of Operations at the world-famous Parkes Observatory in Australia, known to many as “The Dish”.  He is a multiple graduate of London University and has worked in Canada, the USA and several European countries, as well as in his home of Australia.

In 1982 he co-discovered the most distant known object in the universe and has also been involved in many other major discoveries and projects, including:• how stars are born;• what happens when galaxies collide;• the search for alien intelligent life &• the quest for the edge of the Universe
In addition, he has also collaborated extensively with overseas organizations, like NASA and the European Space Agency on such projects as the Giotto Mission to Halley’s Comet in and the Voyager II fly-bys of the planets Uranus and Neptune.

One of the things we greatly appreciate about Holland America is the caliber of speakers, especially when we have a lot of sea days. Today was no exception.  Alan shared some pretty detailed information about the timeline of the earth and the evolution of homo sapiens.  He shared that in our universe some stars are too hot and some are too cold to support life as we know it. The Kepler Telescope has found other exo-planets.  Three hundred earth-size planets have been discovered.  He concluded that there may well be life out there, but at too great a distance for us to reach.  If you really want to learn more, here’s a link: https://www.nasa.gov/kepler/discoveries.

In the afternoon, we watched another fascinating presentation by Joseph Kess on “Peopling Polynesia.”  He shared that Austronesians went to Taiwan five thousand years ago; ethnic groups went from Philippines and Indonesia to Micronesia three-thousand five-hundred years ago.  Samoa and Tonga were settled about 1000 B.C. That was two-thousand years before the Vikings!  He also went into the history of the Bismarck Archipelago being a protectorate of Germany from 1885 until the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, when Germany lost all its colonial possessions, including German New Guinea.

The history of WWII in this area would take a lot of space and there are many references for those who want to know more about the control of the various island groups.  Just this year, the Solomon Islands established diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China.  The Chinese wanted to lease an entire island for seventy-five years to have access to a deep water port.  Apparently the deal has been nixed because the Solomon Islands province and Chinese company were not legally qualified to enter such a lease.

It was a gala night, but Hubby didn’t feel like dressing up, so we had dinner in the lido. The World Stage has become more like a petri dish with people freely, and inconsiderately, sharing their cough.  We’ve decided not to attend shows unless we can sit in the area to the right or left of the stage that is somewhat secluded from the rest of the audience.  

23 October 2019 ~~ Day Twelve

Ahhhhh . . .  another luscious sleep in!  My ideal cruise would be a day in port followed by a day at sea.  After lunch in the Lido, the afforded time to hear another great lecture by Joseph Kess.  

“Emeritus Chair in Japan and Asia-Pacific Relations and Professor Emeritus (linguistics) Dr. Joseph Kess has been chosen as one of four Canadians to receive Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun—the highest honour bestowed by Japan on foreign nationals.  Kess is widely recognized as a leading scholar of psycholinguistics, the study of the native and learned mechanisms that enable humans to acquire, use and understand language. His primary theoretical interests have focused on psycholinguistic aspects of language processing and language performance. His research interests also encompass sociolinguistics and the relationships among language, ethnicity and the discourse of identity. He has worked on a variety of languages including Tagalog and other Philippine languages; Japanese in Japan and Hawaii; Motu and Kuanuan from Papua New Guinea; Slovene in the former Yugoslavia; and Ahousaht and Haida in BC.”

He’s an excellent speaker and shares a tremendous amount of information at each presentation.  It’s like a mini-college course in Pacific History.  
Did you know that “kamikaze” means “divine wind?”  I didn’t either until today.  It was a “kamikaze” that saved Japan from Kublai Khan’s  invasion in 1274 and 1281. It is believed that it was the weather and/or a flaw in the design of his nine-hundred ships (that were based on river boats without keels), and his fleets were destroyed.   The Mongol Kublai had succeeded in building a powerful empire, created an academy, offices, trade ports and canals and sponsored science and the arts. More than 20,166 public schools were created during his reign. He successfully conquered China and had dominion over a large portion of Eurasia.  But failed to conquer Japan.

Did you know that the Treaty of Portsmouth ended the Russo-Japan war?  Or, that Teddy Roosevelt was instrumental in the negotiations and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.  You never know when it could be a Jeopardy question!

I enjoyed a little writing and reading time followed by happy hour with Tim and Lynn.  I’m so glad we finished dinner in time to make it to the show! David Meyer played everything from “Pacabel’s Canon” to “Flight of the Bumblee” on a xylosynth.  (Click on the link to see a performance.)  It was definitely one of the more unusual shows we’ve seen.

David Meyer

22 October 2019 ~~ Day Eleven

Kona . . .  this visit was a drive down memory lane.  Our first time here was in 1981.  Back then there were no traffic signals or Costco.  Today we were off the ship via tender before nine a.m. Cousins MaryBeth and Wendy were waiting at the dock to pick us up.  It was so fun to get to spend the day with them.  I hadn’t seen MaryBeth since they moved here in 2012.

We drove to the Captain Cook Monument, City of Refuge, and Painted Church.  When we got back closer to town, we stopped so I could take a photo of the Kona Billfisher, where we’d stayed on our first trip here.

Poke bowls and MaiTai’s  for lunch at Umagies was ono!  (delicious).  Thankfully there were items on the menu that MaryBeth and Wendy liked too!  

We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights of the Kona area again and are so glad we’ll be back in March for another visit!

We made it back to the ship in time for Happy Hour with new friends, Tim and Lynn, followed by dinner in the Lido.  We didn’t finish in time for the show, so we watched the movie, “Downsizing.”  It has quite an interesting concept!  After three ports in three days, we’re ready for some vitamin sea!

21 October 2019 ~~ Day Ten

We anchored off Lahaina, Maui and thanks to having Five Star Mariner status, we could board a tender without a ticket.  After a brief ride to shore, we stopped in the shade to see if the local musicians were going to play again.  As we waited a local woman approached and started a conversation.  She very sweetly presented me with a lei!  We enjoyed chatting with her and learning that her husband graduated from the University of Colorado and she had been a nurse for forty years.  We hugged and continued on in search of more shade.  

Lahaina Memories

I had read about the transit bus, so we headed to where we thought we could find it.  Thankfully there were signs at the Wharf Cinema Center, across the street from the ancient Banyan Tree.  To help expedite things, two ladies were selling tickets that were good for the day for $4.00 each.  They weren’t offering the senior discount today.  We boarded and headed for a trip down memory lane.  

We had a timeshare condo in Honokowai, Maui for about ten years, and spent at least two weeks here every year.  We had an offer we couldn’t refuse on our last vacation there by someone who owned the two weeks after ours.  As much as we enjoyed the time every year, we wanted to visit other places,  So we jumped at the chance to sell and believe it or not, actually made money.  That’s highly unusual when it comes to unloading a timeshare.  On this trip, we enjoyed the journey up through town and past our old condo.  Happy memories arose at various places along the way from Lahaina to Honolua.  With stops, the trip took nearly two hours.  

Honokowai Memories

Once we got back to Lahaina, we walked up Front Street to relive more happy times at Cheeseburger in Paradise.  It’s where Hubby had wiled away time while I shopped.  We bellied up to the bar and ordered Mai Tai’s that were done right by Chris, the great bartender.  We savored the view and the memories until we headed back to the tender.  Our evaluation will reflect the torturous journey as the crew continued to pack people in like sardines.  By the time we got to the ship, we were sweltering.  The air conditioning in the Crow’s Nest wasn’t working properly, so we got our adult beverage and headed to the comfort of our cabin.  

Noordam view from Cheeseburger in Paradise

Once we cooled down, we opted for dinner in the dining room where we sat with two couples from Canada . . .  one from Alberta and one from British Columbia.  It was interesting to hear their take on the election results for their prime minister.  Although they’re good friends, their political opinions differed . . . and yet we all got along!

We were tuckered out and ready for bed soon thereafter with vision of Kona in our heads. 

20 October 2019 ~~ Day Nine

Early in the morning the ship moved to Pier Two, where we were originally scheduled to dock.  We were glad we weren’t there yesterday since it was considerably farther from WalMart.  We had a late brunch, and made our way to the pier.  It appeared that Uber drivers had to pick up passengers a bit farther away, so we took a cab to the Honolulu Elks Lodge.  We lucked out that it was Sunday.  Hubby indulged in football and I was able to catch up a bit thanks to a good internet connection.  I booked our flight to Perth and flights to and from Hobart, Tasmania and shared our plans with the friends who will pick us up there.

Honolulu Elks Lodge

Once Hubby had OD’d on football we returned to the ship.  The Captain had come through with fresh leis for everyone!  That was a first!  The Lido had a beautiful display of colorful fresh fruit, Moonfish and an array of seafood delights . . . poke (a Hawaiian delicacy) made with tuna, salmon, shrimp, and scallops.  Per Wikipedia, “Poke is diced raw fish served either as an appetizer or as a main course and is one of the main dishes of Native Hawaiian cuisine.”  We fell in love with it on our first trip to Hawaii in 1981. 

Tonight’s entertainment was traditional and Tahitian hula and music provided by locals.  The ship wasn’t leaving port until eleven p.m., so we drifted off to sleep ready to wake up in Maui.

19 October 2019 ~~ Day Eight

We arrived in Honolulu and docked adjacent to the iconic Aloha Tower at ten a.m.  The ship was quickly cleared by customs, and disembarkation was easy since it was via gangplank and not tender.  

As carefully as I’d planned for the trip, I still managed to forget a couple of things.  So, our first stop was at the conveniently located WalMart . . . . just two blocks from the ship.  As we waited to cross the street, an ambulance carrying the critically ill patient announced its presence with a siren and sped toward the hospital.  The humidity and heat soon had me dripping with perspiration.  We trekked back to the ship with our diet tonic water, distilled water (for my cPap machine) and the vitamin supplements we’d forgotten to pack.  Thankfully the prices weren’t as bad as we expected.
After re-hydrating with iced tea, we set out to explore a bit. 

What looks like it used to be a shopping center is now the Aloha Tower Marketplace and home to Hawaii Pacific University as well as The Old Spaghetti Factory, Gordon Biersch, Nashville, Pier 9 by Sam Choy, Hooters, and a Barnes and Noble College Store that is open to the public.  We opted for Hooters because it was open air and had a nice view.  The sign that said, “Caution . . . Blondes Thinking,”  made perfect sense once our server took our order.  She was sweet, pretty and well endowed, but not the brightest bulb.  

We were entertained by the industrious pigeon!

Industrious pigeon!

Aloha Tower is a welcoming sight at all hours.

We enjoyed dinner in the lido followed with entertainment by Nathan Samuelson, a very talented young trumpet player.   We enjoyed the evening view of Aloha Tower.  Walking in the heat sapped our energy and we were ready for bed early!

18 October 2019 ~~ Day Seven

Ahhhhh . . . another luscious day that didn’t have to start too early.  This sort of day makes me very happy that my Hubby isn’t one of those people who gets up at the crack of dawn!  After a leisurely brunch in the Lido, we had a little reading time before the two p.m. presentation on the World Stage by Astronomer Alan Wright.  

This was a thought provoking program titled, “Born in the Stars.”  Just a couple of things he said to consider are: “All hydrogen atoms were made when the universe was born . . . we are all stardust.” “In the early universe, there were no stars or galaxies . .  . just hydrogen and helium.  Stars are where the other 37% of matter comes from.” 

After his presentation, the passenger participation ukulele and hula show took place. It was scheduled for the next day,  but since we were arriving in Honolulu early (due to the medical emergency) the date was moved up.  It gave the participants less time to be nervous.  The Hawaiian team, that joined us in Seattle, had hosted several classes.  One of the teachers was Don Ho’s nephew!  An audience participant was one of Don Ho’s original dancers from Waikiki.   She looked great and had wonderful stage presence.  I sat next to a couple of men from Wisconsin who filmed their wives.  It really was fun and entertaining.

At Happy Hour we met a couple from La Mesa, California.  Of course it turned out that we had a mutual acquaintance.  We had a late dinner in the dining room with very attentive service.  But, consequently missed the evening entertainment.  It was nice to look forward to a leisurely evening.