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San Diego to Victoria – sea day 2

April 28, 2023 – Friday – Sailing from San Diego, California to Victoria, British Columbia – day 2 off the Oregon coast

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

We are sailing north offshore from the Oregon coast today. Bird watchers are setup on the Promenade Deck with their spotting scopes, binoculars and some have cameras. Apparently they are spotting seabirds, but I only see a few that are close to the ship.

I go up to the Explorations Cafe just after 7am for cappuccino and relax for awhile in one of the chairs facing forward. It’s quiet up here at this time of day – too early for the trivia or game players. I have breakfast in the Main Dining room, sharing a table with a couple from Surrey, who mainly go to Mexico all-inclusive resorts, but are trying cruising. They are finding Holland America doesn’t offer enough onboard activities, but they are otherwise enjoying their time aboard, especially the Panama Canal transit.

Ship's position off the Oregon coast at 5:30pm
Ship’s position off the Oregon coast at 5:30pm

I drop off my Canada Border Services declaration to the staff who are setup mid-ship on my floor this morning. I declared the Halley Hansen jacket and a Holland America 150th Anniversary 2-mug set. I didn’t buy anything while I was ashore on this trip! I give a gratuity to my room stewards this morning, after getting a couple of envelopes from Customer Service.

I watch a movie this afternoon: A Man Called Otto with Tom Hanks in the lead as a grumpy old man with a heart of gold. I enjoyed it, since he always brings so much subtle emotion to his roles. Mariana Treviño knocks it out of the park as his fiery new neighbour.

It continues to be cold, foggy and some rain is falling today as we sail up the coast of Oregon on our way to Victoria. As can be seen by the ship’s position map, there is lots of shipping traffic along this coast!

I go to the Main Dining Room this evening, and have some Prosecco with my Rack of Lamb. Later, there is a lovely sunset over the ocean, which I watch and photograph from Deck 10. I surprise myself with the good quality photo I take of the 9 day old Waxing Gibbous Moon directly overhead. Canon’s image stabilization works amazingly well, even from the deck of a cruise ship!

Sunset over the ocean
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San Diego to Victoria – sea day 1

April 27, 2023 – Thursday – sailing from San Diego to Victoria – day 1 off the California coast

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

I attend a cooking demonstration this morning, with the Captai along with the Pinnacle Grill chef making Dutch Pea Soup.Our cruise director Kimberly hosts the event. The Captain shares with us that when he is home, he cooks most of the meals for his family.

The Captain demonstrates making Dutch Pea Soup, along with the Pinnacle Grill chef and hosted by our cruise director Kimberly

I grab a coat and walk around the Promenade deck in the cold, foggy morning air as we cruise offshore from Lompoc, California, where the rocket launching base is located. There are supposed to be Humpback whales in the area, but I don’t spot any.

Since there’s no further events on the daily program that interest me, I decide to go to the shops to spend my remaining US$200 on-board credit. I buy a Helly Hansen jacket that is priced at US$178 in a size large. So essentially, Holland America bought me a free jacket!

I dine in the Pinnacle Grill this evening, with the food and service being superb. I order a Tanqueray 10 Dry Martini with olive as a pre-dinner drink, and then have the Jumbo Lump Crab cakes for a starter. There is no seafood sauce supplied, but the two crab cakes are very tasty. My main course is a 8 oz Filet Mignon, roasted baby beets with blue cheese, onion rings, and a loaded baked potato. The shallot and red wine bordelaise sauce is in a gravy boat, and is very good.

Not-So-Classic Bakes Alasks with Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream, Bing cherries Jubilee

The Not-So-Classic Baked Alaska using merengue-covered Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, Bing cherries jubilee is a very impressive substitute for the Cherries Jubilee which was previously flambeed at the table.

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Costa Rica to Mexico – Sea Day 3

April 21, 2023 – Friday – Costa Rica to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – sea day #3 offshore from Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

I share a table for six at breakfast in the Main Dining room this morning. It is such an interesting group, with the same couple from Nanaimo I shared with yesterday morning, a couple from Hamilton, Ontario, and a man from Seattle. We talk about electric vehicles, Boeing Software, and other geeky stuff. I share my start in mapmaking with pencil and pen and ink, progressing to digital, and others chimed in with their similar career stories.

Deaf Utopia cover - a book by Nyle DiMarco
Nyle DiMarco’s book Deaf Utopia

I finish Nyle DiMarco’s book Deaf Utopia, which I borrowed from the ship’s library on the day it opened. It is a very good non-fiction read, and a fascinating glimpse into deaf people’s world. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Nyle is such a handsome young man!

This afternoon, the tanker Talisman sails past our ship heading south with a load of automobiles (see banner image above). I look it up on the Marine Traffic app: Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ro-Ro Cargo auto carrier sailing from Long Beach, CA, USA to Balboa, Panama. Registered in Tonsberg, Norway.

I share a table for seven at dinner in the Main Dining room this evening. We have interesting conversations about a variety of subjects…it’s so nice to socialize with people onboard. I find many who are good conversationalists.

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Costa Rica to Mexico – Sea Day 2

April 20, 2023 – Thursday – Costa Rica to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – day 2 at sea 17 nmi offshore from Oaxaca, Mexico

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

This is my first day of not wearing a mask. Previously, I wore a mask when walking the hallways and venues, using elevators, and especially when I expected crowds during performances at Main Stage or B.B. Kings. I wouldn’t wear a mask in my stateroom or when outside. I’ve decided to accept the risk and go maskless everywhere for the rest of the voyage.

It’s great to have another sea day, where I don’t have to get up early for an excursion, so I sleep in until 8am. I go down to the Main Dining Room around 8:30am for breakfast at a shared table with two couples, one from Nanaimo and the other from the Napa Valley in California who I have had breakfast with before. Spinner dolphins appear off the stern of the ship, so I jump up to take some mediocre video through the windows with my iPhone.

Spinner dolphins off the ship's bow

After returning to my stateroom, my laundry is delivered – such a luxury! I spend the next hour out on my verandah spotting more Spinner dolphins and Sea turtles. I’m using my 100-500 zoom lens, so take some pretty good photos!

Beef sliders, coleslaw, sharp cheese

I go for a swim in the Sea View pool , and then return to my stateroom to keep checking for more turtles, but they seem to be behind us now. I wait until 1:30pm before going to the Lido Market for lunch. The beef sliders speak to me, so I have two along with some coleslaw and two kinds of sharp white cheese, finishing off with a slice of chocolate caramel cake for dessert.

After not spotting any turtles from my verandah, I go up to the Explorations Cafe for a cappuccino and find a quiet spot in the Crow’s Nest to work on my photos and journal, while I enjoy my cappuccino. At dinner this evening in the Main Dining Room, I learn from someone at the table that the ship has 1,899 total passengers aboard, with 894 Canadians and 839 Americans.

I attend the late show of Boy Band Evolution in Main Stage, which I enjoy a lot. The four young singers all have their harmonies perfected, and the nostalgia factor of their songs is appreciated by this mainly Baby Boomer audience. Before returning to my stateroom, I go to the Ocean Bar for a nightcap martini, where the server always makes a point of charging me $2 extra for the Tanqueray 10 premium gin I always specify. The surcharge never appears on my bill.

Boy Band Evolution
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Panama to Costa Rica – sea day

April 17, 2023 – Monday – sailing from Panama to Costa Rica

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

The ship is sailing from Panama to Costa Rica, arriving early tomorrow morning. I have a cappuccino from Explorations Cafe before going to the Main Dining Room for breakfast, since I can’t wait that long for coffee!

Brown Booby in flight

I spend the day taking photos of Brown Boobys, who are swooping around the bow of the ship all day. They are a striking bird, and strong fliers. I catch them in flight and feeding on the water using my new 100-500 telephoto zoom and the Canon R5’s active tracking. This system recognizes birds amazingly well, so I capture some pretty good shots – rating some of them 4/5.

Cooking Demonstration: Cornflakes Crusted Corvina & Tuna Poke

Our Executive Chef Bitta gives a cooking demonstration in the demo kitchen setup in the BB King’s Blues Club, hosted by Cruise Director Kimberly. He cooks Cornflakes Crusted Corvina and Tuna Poke, with samples being given to the audience afterwards.

The satellite Internet connection is down today, which gives me time to work on the photos and video I took during our Panama Canal transit yesterday.

Osso Bucco with creamed orzo and veggies

I go to the Canaletto Italian restaurant this evening, enjoying the Osso Bucco, which is amazingly flavourful and tender, served with creamed orzo.

There is an intense orange coloured sunset this evening (see banner image above), which reflects off the calm Pacific as we sail northward to Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas) Costa Rica, arriving tomorrow morning. It’s a beautiful tropical evening out on deck!

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Kauai to Vancouver – day 5 at sea

Oct 23, 2022 – Day 5 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i Cruise

I wake up to a dreary, wet morning, although the sunrise over the ocean is a beautiful study in blue (see banner photo above). We are obviously approaching Vancouver and sailing into the weather I took this cruise to escape!

Captain’s Report

  • 210 miles to Victoria pilot station
  • 2,145 nm from Nawiliwili
  • 18.9 kts average speed from Kaua’i
  • Arrivals
    • 8:15PM – Cape Flattery
    • 6:30AM sailing under Lion’s Gate Bridge
    • 7:15AM dock at Canada Place

HAL Your (wildlife) Shot – Naturalist Natalie shows passengers’ photos of wildlife they have taken while on this cruise. I tell her about finding the White-chinned Petrel resting on the Promenade deck on Oct 19th. If she had known, she would have picked the bird up using a towel, and thrown it overboard, where it would have had the best chance of survival. I wish I had known…instead of telling Customer Service about the bird.

Salmon filets with rice in the Lido
Salmon filets with rice in the Lido

I meet a friend in the Crow’s Nest Lounge for an afternoon drink while it pours rain outside. Even though it is a repeat performance, I listen to the Lincoln Center Stage ensemble one last time, and give them a positive review in the Navigator app. I go for dinner in the Lido, having my favourite salmon fillets with vegetables and jasmine rice. By the time I finish my meal, the server comes around to offer me water! Service in the Lido continues to be very spotty.

I pack all my non-essential stuff late this afternoon, pull out all the valuables from the safe, and empty all the drawers and closets so I don’t leave anything behind when I disembark tomorrow. I finish by 7PM, so I go up to the Crow’s Nest for one last drink, but the new server up there never comes by, so I go to the Dutch Cafe and have a brown ale while I sit working on my photos on my notebook computer. I verify with the barista Kaye that they will be open tomorrow morning, so I can go down there for my cappuccino and breakfast before I disembark.

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Kauai to Vancouver – day 4 at sea

Oct 22, 2022 – Day 4 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

I’m up in the middle of the night and look out the verandah window to see the stars of Orion shining brightly in a clear sky, and the brighter ones are even reflecting off the calm sea. So I try taking some night photos using my Canon R5 and manage to handhold a decent shot using high ISO.

I sleep in until just after 8AM, get dressed and go down to the Grand Dutch Cafe for my breakfast of cappuccino, bran muffin and yogurt, cereal and fruit parfait. My cabin steward thanks me for the cash I gave him yesterday to share with his partner for their good service.

EXC Talk: Catching Waves – The Story of Surfing – Cruise Director Jayme

Captain’s Report

  • 19.1 kts average speed
  • 631 nm to Victoria
  • 25 kt wind from NNW 
  • 4m waves
Triple Berry Pannenkoek
Triple Berry Pannenkoek

I go down to the Grand Dutch Cafe for a late lunch of Dutch Pea soup with buttered pumpernickel bread and speck ham, and finish with a Triple Berry Pannenkoek.

On Music Walk: The British Isles – interesting arrangements of Danny Boy for piano, Beatles for string, and they finish with Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen). Performed by the chamber music quartet at Lincoln Center Stage.

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail and sparkling rose French wine - Pinnacle Grill
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail and sparkling rose French wine – Pinnacle Grill

My last included premium restaurant with the Have It All package happens this evening at the Pinnacle Grill (see banner photo above). I start with the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with brandy-horseradish cocktail sauce and accompanied by a sparkling rose French wine. My main course is the rather large Boneless 12 oz ribeye steak with Bernaise sauce, onion rings, sautéed mushrooms and a loaded baked potato. Dessert is the Jacques Torres Chocolate souffle. I’m a bit uncomfortable by this point – too much rich food! The service is uninspiring, however the food is very good, although I played safe ordering the steak since I know Holland America is having supply issues with the seafood side of the menu.

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Kauai to Vancouver – day 3 at sea

Oct 21, 2022 – Day 3 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Sunrise over the ocean with the Crescent Moon high in the sky
Sunrise over the ocean with the Crescent Moon high in the sky

The ship’s clocks advanced an hour last night as we sail east. The sunrise this morning is beautiful, which I can see from my verandah since I’m on the southeast-facing side of the ship. The Crescent Moon is high in the sky, above the impressive clouds to our south at sunrise. As usual, I go to the Grand Dutch Cafe for breakfast: cappuccino, blueberry muffin, fruit & yogurt parfait. I spend some time in the Crow’s Nest Lounge this morning, chatting with my fellow passengers and working on my photos. The man I talked with yesterday who’s wife has COVID-19 and is in isolation, has tested negative for the second time, so he will stay in their original stateroom while she remains in quarantine.

I attend the Stanley Park: Vancouver’s Crown Jewel presentation by our new naturalist at 1PM, but leave after she gets a couple of facts wrong about the park. I go for lunch in the Lido, having two lovely grilled fillets of Salmon with some rice. It is a beautiful day outside with smooth seas (see banner photo above), so I spend some time on my verandah enjoying the 20ºC calm weather, although its no longer warm enough to stay out there too long.

Ask the Captain is presented by Captain Henk Draper at 3PM in Main Stage, with an intro before and questions after from the Cruise Director Jayme. The captain has a dry sense of humour, sharing that his wife is aboard with him, and he has plans to retire within the next year after having worked for Holland America as a bridge officer since 1994. He reveals they kept 92 crew on board the ship during the pandemic shutdown. He wryly observes that it would be nice to have faster Internet on the ship from SpaceX’s Starlink, considering Holland America’s current satellite Internet is down fleet-wide today. The ship is currently running at just over 20 knots to try to outrun a weather system that promises to bring much bigger seas and winds than we are currently experiencing unless we can get ahead of it. 

Yunita (waiter) and Himli (chef) at Nami Sushi, Tamaraind restaurant
Yunita (waiter) and Himli (chef) at Nami Sushi, Tamaraind restaurant

Since it is dressy night, I make a reservation to have dinner at Nami Sushi at 6PM this evening – my favourite specialty restaurant (along with Tamarind) aboard Koningsdam. I go early to have a martini in the bar before dinner, and then have the yummy Hamachi, Salmon and Scallop ceviche again – so good! My main course is the Thai Basil Szechuan Shrimp – giant-sized shrimp and such a lovely spicy dish. I have amazing service from my server Tunita, chef Hilmi, and the sushi chef. Such superb food, and the bartender was great too…sadly, only two days left. US$29.50 for the a la cart items, a saving of $10 over the US$38 standard charge for Tamarind. It’s a 3-martini night, but I only have to find my stateroom, so who cares?

I finish the evening in the Crow’s Nest, where it is quiet. I give my Jethro Mobile prepaid SIM to the barista in the Explorations Cafe, so she can call home when the ship is in USA ports. It has unlimited calling to most countries, and there is still 1.2Gb of data on it, even after me using it while in Hawai’i.

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Kauai to Vancouver – day 2 at sea

Oct 20, 2022 – Day 2 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Apparently there are 1,617 Canadians and 608 Americans aboard, which illustrates how appealing a return sailing out of Vancouver is to Canadians. It’s also appealing to many dedicated cruisers who are weary of cancelled sailings, and waiting over two years for pandemic travel restrictions to ease sufficiently so they can enjoy themselves.

The Wizard of Wireless - Marconi- an EXC Talk
The Wizard of Wireless – Marconi– an EXC Talk

The Wizard of Wireless – Marconi– an EXC Talk delivered by Cruise Director Jayme

  • 1901 first signal from England to Newfoundland
  • 1903 first signal from England to Boston
  • Marconi radios aboard the Titanic – new technology at the time

Captain’s Report

  • 18.1 kts average
  • 19 kts needed to arrive on time in Vancouver

I talk with a man in the Crow’s Nest who’s wife has COVID-19 and is in isolation in a separate stateroom, as well as a woman seated beside us who’s husband is on oxygen with pneumonia. The man who’s wife has COVID-19 tested negative, but he will be tested again tomorrow. I walk the upper decks this afternoon, taking some photos of the ship’s sports facilities: pickle ball (see banner image above), jogging, swimming. I’m impressed by the size of the bow waves from the big swells we are currently sailing through.

Grilled Blue Marlin in the Main Dining Room
Grilled Blue Marlin in the Main Dining Room

I have dinner in the Main Dining Room this evening with a couple from Kelowna I met earlier. The Grilled Blue Marlin main course is very good, accompanied with a couple of glasses of white wine. Marlin can be dry when grilled, but this is done to perfection, so it’s quite moist.

BBC Earth Presents: Planet Earth II in Concert – accompanied by the ship’s musicians. It’s a good documentary, but I walk out after the first two scenes since this is the same production I saw aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam earlier this year while on my Alaska cruise.

BBC Earth Presents: Planet Earth II in Concert - accompanied by the musicians
BBC Earth Presents: Planet Earth II in Concert – accompanied by the musicians
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Kauai to Vancouver – day 1 at sea

Oct 19, 2022 – Day 1 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Our first day at sea out of Hawaii is pretty rough. Although the outside decks are not closed, everyone is weaving a bit when walking. Most passengers are wearing masks today – a good thing! I have breakfast in the Grand Dutch Cafe: cappuccino, blueberry muffin and a fruit and yogurt parfait. 

Captain Cook – The often-surprising tale of a well-traveled explorer – an EXC Talk delivered by Cruise Director Jayme.

At noon, the captain reports we are averaging just over 16 knots but need to average 18 knots to arrive in Vancouver at the scheduled time. The 20 knot NE wind we are currently bucking is predicted to switch to a southerly later this afternoon, so that should help increase the ship’s speed. The captain also mentions there are cases of the virus onboard, “so be careful out there, wear a mask, and wash your hands often.”

Shades of Buble performing on Main Stage
Shades of Buble performing on Main Stage

This evening I listen to the two piano players playing pop tunes in the Billboard Onboard lounge while enjoying a Tanqueray 10 gin martini (see banner photo above), and then briefly listen to the adjacent Rolling Stones Rock Room musicians playing a good rendition of House of the Rising Sun while all us old folks get in the groove! I catch the late show of Shades of Buble performing on Main Stage – a 3-man tribute to Michael Buble’s music. They sound great, and put on a good show backed by the ship’s musicians.

Before retiring to my stateroom, I take another walk around the Promenade Deck, finding a White-chinned Petrel resting on the deck. I report it to the Customer Service desk, asking them to consult with the on-board naturalist to deal with the situation. White-chinned Petrels are known to follow ships out to sea, so this isn’t entirely unexpected.

Senior ship's officers and crew
Senior ship’s officers and crew