17 October 2019 ~~ Day Six

 We’ve settled into our sea day routine.  This morning was the Mariners Brunch.  Those who have achieved number of days sailed milestones are awarded “medals” by the Captain and other staff members.  And, the three, four, and five star Mariners are treated to champagne, mimosas, bloody Mary’s, orange juice, and appetizers during the ceremony.  We then proceed to the main dining room for a special brunch with more champagne.  At this one, we enjoyed chatting with more Canadians.  Ramona and Roland, who were seated opposite us, were from Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.  It’s an area we’ve visited a few times, so we enjoyed chatting with something else in common.  

The cruise director announced over the PA that a critically ill patient was in need of blood Type O Negative, or A Positive if other passengers could help.  Neither of us have that type, but we were very happy to hear that many passengers responded.  We’d never had that type of request on board before!

I had a little time to write and Hubby had some reading time, nap time, and workout time before Happy Hour.  Today we ended up chatting with Tim and Lynn, from La Mesa, California.  Since we’d lived in that area for many years we had fun getting to know each other and reminiscing about areas we’d all seen develop over the years.  We’ll have to chat more and see if we know someone in common!  While having dinner in the Lido, a solo traveler, Donna from Chicago, sat with us.  She seemed to need to chat, so we listened politely and diverted the conversation when it became apparent we had different political views.  

The scheduled performed was not feeling well, so we enjoyed another show by comedian Tim Kaminski.  This one didn’t involve onstage audience participation, but was equally as good as his previous show.  We were happy to have time to watch a movie before it was bed time.  It’s much easier than it used to be!  On previous cruises we checked out DVD’s from the Front Office.  As the ships have been upgraded, movies are available right from the TV.  There are also three news channels, MSNBC, Fox, and BBC World News.  As well as HGTV, Travel Channel (which seems to be a supernatural-type shows), ESPN, ESPN2, and a channel called Prime One that alternates between news and shows such as “Blue Bloods,” “Fresh Off the Boat,””Modern Family,” and similar shows.  The TV Shows channel has “America’s Test Kitchen”, “Cook’s Country”, and “Ocean Videos”, which are teasers to entice travel. 

We’re enjoying the calmer seas and ready for a gentle sleep.  

16 October 2019 ~~ Day Five

The ocean was definitely active overnight!  The captain announced that we’d had seventy-seven mile per hour winds and six meter seas.  A complex low pressure near Hawaii was affecting us as well.  It was the tail end of the devastating typhoon that hit Japan.  Once things get this rocky. sea sick bags magically appear near each of the elevators.  And, it’s really important to hang on and walk carefully.  

We went to the Lido and did hear quite a few things fall a break.  What a mess for the crew to clean it all up.  I attended the “America’s Test Kitchen” program to learn more about chilies.  I did learn one trick about making jalapeno poppers.  After cutting them in half and scooping out the seeds and membranes, sprinkle them with a little salt and bake them, cut side down,  for five minutes in a five-hundred degree oven to help pull out some of the moisture.  Let them cool slightly, turn them cut side up, fill them, turn the oven down to four-hundred-fifty degrees and bake for nine to eleven minutes.  I’ll have to try them when we get home!

I met Hubby at the World Stage to listen to, Joseph Kess, the speaker talk about “Hawaiian Icons.”  We’ve heard him on at least one other cruise and he’s a very good speaker.  Though we’ve been to the various Hawaiian Islands many times, we actually learned a bit! The tradition of tossing your lei into the ocean to ensure your return is now discouraged.  The last time I did that was nineteen years ago, so I didn’t feel too bad.   As much as we’ve learned about Darwin over the years, we never knew he’d written a book about the, “The Fertilisation of Orchids” in 1862.  

The origin of “Lomi Lomi Salmon”  had never occurred to us, even though we’ve enjoyed eating it many times.  Of course they don’t have salmon in Hawaii.  However, in the 1880’s mainland sailors brought salmon from the Pacific Northwest that was preserved in salt.  The Hawaiians rinsed it thoroughly, massaged it (lomi-lomi means massage) into pieces, added tomatoes, onions, green onions, and made a delicious taste treat!  
Did you know-

  • macadamias aren’t native to Hawaii?  They’re actually from eastern Australia;
  • the Aloha shirt was born from leftover material from making kimono’s?  They grew in popularity thanks to tourists. 
  • the ukulele was brought to Hawaii by the Portuguese?
  • the pineapple was brought from French Guiana? 

You never know when one of these could be the correct answer to a Jeopardy question!

We had dinner in the main dining room and were so thankful we don’t have an assigned table.  We’re not sure we would want to sit with the people we had dinner with.  There were two widows and a couple, all from Canada.  We’ve met LOTS of Canadians who are wonderful, but there’s always an exception, right?  They weren’t particularly unpleasant.  They just weren’t as friendly as others.  

We didn’t finish in time for the first show, so we went to the nine-thirty one.  We met Belinda and Al from Wisconsin and thoroughly enjoyed chatting with them before the show began.  Our cruise director, Christopher, is far better than the one on our last cruise.  He introduced tonight’s performers and we were so glad we were there!  The Alley Cats were fabulous!  Their website says, “With their tight, four-part harmony and delightful antics, these musical comics have been Jay Leno’s opening act for the past seven years. Additionally, they have opened for Jerry Seinfeld, Joan Rivers and have appeared on numerous television shows for NBC, CBS, and PBS. The Alley Cats have performed in concert all over the world alongside iconic groups such as The Coasters, The Drifters, and The Beach Boys. Most notably, they were featured with Jay Black as The Americans on the television special Pop, Rock and Doo-Wop. Proudly, The Alley Cats have had the special honor of entertaining US military troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have had the great privilege of being invited by The President of The United States to perform at The White House.”  Along with the rest of the audience, we were dancing and singing in our seats!  


The ocean calmed considerably and we were ready for a restful night’s sleep. 

15 October 2019 ~~ Day Four

It was a treat to sleep in and have a leisurely time getting ready.  The Lido was serving lunch by the time we made it to the ninth floor.  We were going to need a bit in our tummies before the two o’clock wine tasting.  This event is designed to get you to buy a wine package for the cruise.  The prices are exorbitant, but with the discount that is a perk of being a Five Star Mariner, it’s a bit more reasonable.  I feel bad for the passengers who don’t get the discount.  Years ago bringing your own wine on board was permissible.  We miss those days!

Wine tasting

At any rate, we had a good time.  The Cellar Master was not only knowledgeable, but entertaining as well. And, we had a nice chat with John and Cathy, from British Columbia.  Later, in the Crow’s Nest, we enjoyed meeting Linda and Bill from Ocean Shores, Washington.  We spent a week there a few years ago, so it was nice being familiar with the area.  We were joined by Mike, Dee, and Donna from Marysville, Tennessee.  We spent several days visiting friends there a few years ago too.  It was fun to chat with people from areas we knew.

Tonight’s show was a comedian name Tim Kaminski.  I really think he was one of the absolute best ever.  It’s refreshing to be entertained by someone who can make you laugh hysterically without profanity or politics.  He was a master of audience participation.   We’re glad he’ll be doing another show this week.  He performs on a LOT of cruises, so we were surprised we hadn’t seen him before.  The short clip you can see by clicking on his name will give you an idea of his style.

The ocean was getting a bit rocky as we made our way to our cabin.  We were definitely going to be rocked to sleep tonight!

14 October 2019 ~~ Day Three

Our morning started with room service breakfast, followed by our first “Meet and Greet” for this cruise.  One of the perks of joining the “Cruise Critic Roll Call” is the opportunity to connect with others who will be on your cruise before you even board.  There is usually someone who organizes a get together via this website, often the first full day at sea, that provides the time to meet up and get acquainted.  It’s fun to finally put faces with the names and find out more about what you have in common.  
Though my dear Hubby wasn’t entirely happy being singled out, he did seem to appreciate it when the group sang Happy Birthday to him at my prompt.  And, we enjoyed conversations with quite a few attendees . . . two of whom we have shore excursions booked with. Following a light lunch, we found the area that had board games and played a lively game of cribbage.  

We’ve enjoyed Alan Wright’s programs on two previous cruises, and were delighted to learn he’s presenting again on this one.   Not only is he a retired astronomer from Australia, he’s an amazingly polished speaker who imparts very complex information using  analogies and visuals that make sense. So, at two p.m.  we attended his first lecture.  Appropriate music, such as “Fly Me to the Moon, ” played as we waited for him to begin.  Since we’ll be sailing to the Southern Hemisphere, we look forward to a reminder on the constellations we’ll see, how best to find them, and a refresher on understanding our incredible universe.  

At four p.m, we went to Happy Hour in the Crow’s Nest.  Although we’d been there in the morning we hadn’t really looked around it yet.  We were very happy to see it hadn’t been changed as some have on other Holland American Line (HAL) ships.  It’s always been one of our favorite places to meet new friends, enjoy the view, and get to know staff members.  The last two HAL ships we were on had remodeled the area and removed the seating that invited people to generate conversations, while enjoying the expansive view.  One of the bartender’s, Pete, recognized Hubby from our last Alaskan cruise!  It was a delight to reconnect and catch up with him.  We were thoroughly surprised he remembered us!  

Tonight was a gala evening.  Since it was Hubby’s birthday, I’d made a reservation in the Pinnacle Grille for his special occasion.  The service and food was impeccable, as always.  Though we were disappointed that king crab legs weren’t on the menu.  We both  enjoyed the  Sesame Crusted Tuna Tataki appetizer, the Birthday Boy savored the Seared Jumbo Scallops and my Baked Alaskan Halibut was delicious.  The staff presented Hubby with a decadent chocolate cake and sang to him.    Since he’d ordered the Chocolate Soufflé, they wrapped the cake for him to enjoy later.

Our leisurely dinner wasn’t complete in time for us to make it to the seven-thirty show, so we relaxed in the comfort of our cabin, very happy that we’d gain an hour and have a luscious sleep in.  

13 October 2020 ~~ Day Two

The bed at the Delta Hotel Townplace Suites, a Marriott brand, was just what we needed.  Thank goodness we could sleep in a bit!  Their “Pop Up Cafe” breakfast buffet was better than most and we had a delightful conversation with our server.  I had time to book our flight from Melbourne to Hobart, Tasmania for January, and we were ready to check out and head for the ship.

Our cab driver was surprised and happy with the generous trip . . . he earned it after handling our luggage!  A porter whisked our four bags away on a cart and we headed into the terminal with our carry on.  We proceeded through security screening and could see we weren’t the only ones waiting to go through the boarding process.  We were directed to the Disneyland-type maze to go through customs.  Much like going through customs at the airport, the process was as smooth as it could be when hundreds were in line.  We scanned our passports at a kiosk, had our photo taken, retrieved the automatically printed receipt, and proceeded to the customs officer who took the receipt and waved us through.  

Finally onboard!

We headed to the Five Star check in line and greeted by a friendly Holland America Line staff member, who checked us in, took our photos for our boarding cards, and we were on our way to the gangplank . . .  after stopping for the obligatory photo by the ship’s photographer.   Within minutes we were in our cabin.  On of our cabin stewards arrived and introduced himself.  Soon thereafter our luggage was delivered.  We unpacked and had time to explore the ship and make our way to the three, four, and five star private reception in the Crow’s Nest.  There were so many people, we took our champagne back to our cabin and waited for the mandatory safety drill.  

Leaving Vancouver

The ship had just finished being refurbished yesterday and was moved from dry dock on Vancouver Island overnight.   The crew was doing a great job of meeting everyone’s needs as soon as they could.  Though some things were a little disorganized.  

Following the captain’s announcement about getting underway, we headed to the main dining room for dinner.  We were seated with a couple we chatted with while we waited to be seated (Bill and Sandy), and four women . . . a mother and daughter (Maryann and Ursula)  from Germany, and two ladies from Canada,  who were traveling together (Suzanne and Brenda.)  It turned out that Bill had worked with our good friend Keith in Chilliwack, B.C.  I love small world stories!  

We enjoyed the conversation and delicious dinner.  Feeling totally pampered, but tired, we headed to our cabin to relax.  It’s hard to believe that my Hubby turns eighty-two tomorrow!  We are so blessed to have this special time together.  

12 October 2019 ~~ Day One

After a restless night at the hotel, we had a very nice driver, Mary, to the Eugene Airport.  All went smoothly for our first flight to Seattle, with a couple of hour layover for our next flight.  Seattle to Vancouver is a two drink flight . . . and that’s rushing it. 

Ready for takeoff!

Once we arrived the customs experience was much smoother than our last time through this airport.  A multitude of self serve kiosks were available to scan your passport and ask a few questions before we proceeded to the customs officer who quickly assessed that us old folks were safe.  From there a porter accompanied us to the baggage carousel, retrieved our bags, and delivered us to a very nice taxi driver. 

We were amazed at how much Vancouver has grown since our last visit . . . and the number of cranes contributing to many more high rises.  Our taxi driver, who has been here for twenty-four years from India, was fantastic.  With excellent English, he shared tidbits about the city and the area where we were staying overnight.  The hotel staff was true Marriott quality!  Henry, who checked us in, was a delight. The bellman who delivered our luggage was so adorable and friendly I wanted to take him home!  Krista, at the front desk , provided concise (and easy) directions to a liquor store so we could buy a couple of bottles of wine to take on board for a fun, private wine tasting event. 
The view from our eighteenth floor room at the Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites was panoramic. And, were very surprised when a staff member delivered a pastry treat welcoming us. I don’t remember ever having that happen before.

The hotel was conveniently located to LOTS of restaurants.  We headed toward one that was recommended by Krista, but diverted to Browns Crafthouse that appealed to Hubby as soon as I started reading the menu.  He was hooked when I said “Maui Poke.”  Fully satiated after a Steel and Oak Dark Lager and the aforementioned poke bowl we waddled back to our hotel to relax.