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Arrival in Vancouver & home to Victoria

Oct 24, 2022 – Arrival in Vancouver, BC, Canada & flight home to Victoria

2022 Hawai’i Cruise

I’m awake as the ship passes English Bay and under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, sailing into Vancouver Harbour. The ship docks at Canada Place at 7:15AM – precisely as the captain predicted yesterday! I get dressed and go down to the Grand Dutch Cafe for my usual cappuccino, blueberry muffin and yogurt/fruit parfait. There is quite a line, so it takes about 20 minutes for Kaye to make my cappuccino, but I’m in no rush. After breakfast, I return to my stateroom and finish packing. By that time, the announcement is made that the ship is cleared and disembarkation is starting. 

Since I’m a 4-star Mariner, I can disembark anytime I wish up to 9:30AM. It feels pretty good to be able to bypass all the passengers waiting for their group numbers to be called as I have my keycard scanned for the last time, and roll my bags down the gangway and into the terminal. The CBSA agent welcomes me to Canada after I give them my declaration. They don’t ask to see my passport, so I walk out the terminal and turn left onto Cordova Street to walk the block in the rain to the Skytrain terminal to board the Canada Line to the airport. I mistakenly get onto the train to Brighouse-Richmond instead of YVR, but no worries since I get off at Bridgeport and board the following train to YVR three minutes later.

The South Terminal shuttle is waiting right outside the pedestrian bridge at the US departures, so I’m checked in at Pacific Coastal Airways in short order. Now I wait five hours for my 3PM flight departure to Victoria. I settle in to work on my travel photos, but have a cappuccino from the Galiano Cafe first, and then an hour or so later I have some delicious seafood soup for lunch.

Bombardier Global 6000 executive jet taxiing at YVR
Bombardier Global 6000 executive jet taxiing at YVR

I spend an hour or so this afternoon plane spotting from the platform outside, taking photos of each aircraft as they takeoff and climb out. A Bombardier Global 6000 executive jet taxis past the platform to the private terminal next to South Terminal. Perhaps there is a VIP aboard? My flight is delayed 20 minutes but otherwise the flight goes smoothly. The pilot must have had a takeoff time slot booked, since he really hustles down the taxiway to the button, not even stopping at the stop line before taking off! The flight to Victoria was a bit bumpy, since we were flying at 2,000′ below the clouds. We fly a straight in approach over Sidney to Victoria International Airport, and roll onto the taxiway 15 minutes after our takeoff from Vancouver. There is an Air North Boeing 737 aircraft on the apron in Victoria, reminding me of my flight to Whitehorse back in May.

My family is waiting for me in the baggage claim area. My checked bag is one of the first to appear on the belt, so we are out of there in quick order, driving home in the rush hour traffic.

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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
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Kaua’i

Oct 18, 2022 – South Shore, Kaua’i, Hawai’i, USA

2022 Hawai’i cruise

My excursion to the Allerton and McBryde Tropical Gardens doesn’t leave until 9:00AM, so it’s an easy start to the day. I get up around 7:30AM and go down to the Grand Dutch Cafe for a breakfast of smoked salmon, raisin bun, blueberry muffin and a cappuccino. I show up in the pier building ashore around 8:45AM and we are quickly organized into a line. Once the last two people arrive, we’re off in the excursion shuttle, but not before one man refuses to wear a mask, so our guide reads the riot act to him and he eventually puts a mask on. Our guide reveals that the ship let them know that there is some sickness onboard, so they are requiring masks for our group when in their shuttles.

Once that is sorted out, we drive to the gardens site, which takes the better part of an hour since the road into the property is quite rough, requiring slow going. It’s a beautiful area of the south shore of Kaua’i which I haven’t experienced before. The number of plants in the McBryde Garden is endless: 6,000 rare and endangered plant species collected from throughout the Pacific Basin and the world. The Allerton Garden is architecturally designed with outside ‘rooms’ which the Allertons originally used for entertaining guests – some rich and famous like Jackie Kennedy-Onassis. We have a nice lunch at the snack bar consisting of shredded chicken or shrimp with focaccia bread, potato salad, and soft drinks or bottled water. 

Spouting Horn blowhole, Koloa, Kaua'i, Hawaii
Spouting Horn blowhole, Koloa, Kaua’i, Hawaii

After lunch, we visit the waterfall in the McBryde property by driving deeper into the upper Lawai Valley, and then leave to return to the ship. We encounter a firetruck and ambulance doing a rescue on the way out of the Allerton and McBryde property, which delays us a bit while our guide sorts out passing the emergency vehicles on the narrow road. We make a quick stop at the Spouting Horn blowhole, which is putting on a good show today. All Aboard is 2:30PM, and we are the last to board with only five minutes to spare!

I go up to the Sun Deck to enjoy the sail away from Nawiliwili Harbour, and I have a beer with some friends while watching our ship maneuver out the narrow passage, taking a time lapse video handheld. Once the ship is in open water heading for Vancouver, I return to my stateroom to get cleaned up, and then I have a quick dinner in the Lido this evening: Beef Sukiyaki over fried rice, which is quite filling and delicious.

Sailaway from Kaua'i - Koningsdam departs
Sailaway from Kaua’i – Koningsdam departs

At 8PM I attend The Step One Dance Company Presents: Humanity Reprise. I thought it would be a different show than the one I already attended on our sea days to Hawaii, but it is exactly the same, which was disappointing. Our cruise director takes the stage ahead of the performance to make some announcements about upcoming events and activities, and to let us know that the ship’s time will change overnight (clock moves forward an hour). Some crank of a man yells at him from the audience as he is leaving the stage that he should be letting everyone know there is COVID-19 aboard the ship. He briefly stops, but he doesn’t respond and vanishes backstage.

I walk the Promenade Deck this evening for a circuit and a half, enjoying the warm, tropical air and the sound of the ship. I then go up to the Crow’s Nest Lounge for my nightcap of a Tanqueray 10 classic martini as I annotate today’s photos. I remove the Jethro Mobile SIM from my iPhone, which I’ve been using for voice calling and data in Hawai’i, since I won’t need that mobile service again. It worked very well, was reasonably priced at CA$35 prepaid on Amazon for 4Gb and unlimited calling for 30 days. I would buy service from them again when I travel to the USA in future. 

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Hilo & Volcano

Oct 15, 2022 – Hilo & Volcano, Big Island of Hawai’i, USA

2022 Hawai’i cruise

The ship arrives in Hilo harbour this morning in the rain, not unexpected on this wet, tropical side of the Big Island of Hawai’i. Once we are docked and I have breakfast in the Grand Dutch Cafe (cappuccino, smoked salmon, raisin bun, fruit parfait), I call my friend to let her know we are docked.

The Koningsdam docked in Hilo harbour as we approach
The Koningsdam docked in Hilo harbour as we approach

She drives from her home in Waimea to Hilo Harbour to pick me up around 11AM. We catch up with each other’s lives while she drives, and then have some lunch with her 90 year old friend, who lives in the little community of Volcano, near Volcano National Park. Cafe Ono is part of Volcano Garden Arts – a lovely tropical garden, gift shop offering original art, and a popular restaurant. I have a delightful day ashore with a good friend.

I fasten my GoPro camera to the rail on my verandah and take a time lapse video as the ship leaves the dock at 5:45PM, swings around in the tight harbour area, and heads out of Hilo Bay at sunset.

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West Maui

Oct 14, 2022 – Kahalui & Olowalu Bay, Maui, Hawai’i, USA

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Storm clouds over the West Maui mountains behind Kahalui and harbour
Storm clouds over the West Maui mountains behind Kahalui and harbour

The ship is docked in Kahalui harbour by the time I get up this morning. There is no rush, since my snorkelling excursion doesn’t leave until Noon. After breakfast, I spend the morning taking photos of the north shore of Maui, Kahalui and the harbour, and the storm clouds over the West Maui mountains from the top decks of the ship.

PacWhale Eco-Adventures’ Catamaran hosts the Turtle Snorkel Adventure excursion today. We leave the harbour terminal at 12:15PM by bus to Maalaea Bay boat basin, and board a large power catamaran just before 1PM. The captain chooses Olowalu Bay on the west side of Maui as our snorkelling location, which is the same bay I snorkelled at back in 2017 when I took an excursion from Lahaina. We have lots of time for snorkelling, and they provide beer, wine, other mixed drinks, along with a BBQ lunch afterwards. I’m glad this is a Holland America excursion, since the tour boat has some engine problems just before we dock, so it is a slow process to maneuver alongside and disembark our rather large group. We arrive about a half hour late to the ship, but they wait for us.

As the ship is about to leave port at 6PM, the storm clouds over the West Maui mountains behind the city and harbour become even more dramatic looking than in the morning, as they are now backlit by the setting sun. Likewise, the slopes of Haleakala are reflecting the light from the setting Sun, creating an intense red hue as we sail out of the port this evening on our way to Honolulu.

The slopes of Haleakela reflecting the light from the setting Sun
The slopes of Haleakela reflecting the light from the setting Sun
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Vancouver to Maui – day 5

Oct 13, 2022 – Day 4 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

I have a look at the Main Dining Room for breakfast around 9AM, but the line up puts me off, so I have a Cappuccino, blueberry muffin an a fruit/yogurt parfait in the Royal Dutch Cafe, which is not busy. I have a chicken burger, fries and a Dos Equis XX beer for lunch, eating at the Lido Bar, since there is no other nearby seating.

I booked this cruise partly to try out Holland America’s Pinnacle class ships, which Koningsdam is the first built, with capacity for 2,600 passengers. I’m finding this ship is significantly more crowded, with line-ups or no seats left at most popular venues. Even though Holland America’s smaller ships have fewer venues, I never encountered these problems on past voyages. Perhaps some of the crowding is due to inexperienced staff still learning how to be efficient when serving passengers, but I think they were generally doing a great job under the circumstances.

Turtle and coral in Olowalu Bay, Maui
Turtle and coral in Olowalu Bay, Maui

Guide to Hawaiian Reefs – Naturalist John gives another comprehensive talk, this time about reefs to be found in Hawai’i

  • Coral polyps are the living part of coral
  • 7,000 species in NW Hawaiian reefs
  • Fringe Reef
    • Lanidai, Oahu – pristine
  • Barrier Reef
    • Kanaohe Bay, Oahu – manmade harm
  • Atoll
    • Kure Atoll, NW Hawaiian Island
  • Hard Corals
  • Soft Corals – look like plants, no stoney skeletons
  • Species (Hawaiian names)
    • Trigger fish
    • Long-nosed Butterfly fish
    • Urchins (wana)
    • Surgeon fishes
      • Yellow tang
      • Convict tang
    • Parrot
    • Butterfly
    • Wrasse – 600 species
    • Morris Idol – looks like an angelfish
    • Trumpet fish
    • Lionfish – Dragonfly fish
    • Squirrel fish
    • Octopus (He’e)
    • Sharks (mano)
      • Black-tipped
    • Manta Ray (hahalua)
    • Jellyfish (olea)
      • Man-O-War
      • Nudibranch
    • Green Sea Turtle (Honu)
    • Monk seal
Joe with his 70th birthday cake in the Tamarind restaurant
Joe with his 70th birthday cake in the Tamarind restaurant

Today is my 70th birthday, the reason I’m on this cruise. I have a reservation at the Tamarind Asian Fusion restaurant for dinner, so I get dressed up before heading up to the Tamarind bar for a Tanqueray 10 Martini to start things off. Once seated, I have a glass of Proscecco sparkling Italian wine with my starter: Chinese Five Spice Baby Back Ribs with masago, pineapple, red chili, scallions. My main course: Mongolian Barbeque Lamb Chops with baby bok choy, toasted sesame seeds, mirin plum sauce with Oyster Sauce, Dungeness Crab Fried Rice. As usual, the staff are right on top of things, bringing me a chocolate happy birthday cake with some lychee sorbet.

When I return to my stateroom to freshen up, my room steward brings me a chocolate cupcake with birthday wishes from the captain. I end the evening in the Crow’s Nest lounge, where I meet some friends for drinks. What a wonderful birthday, celebrated on my terms aboard this beautiful ship!

Celebrating Joe's 70th birthday in the Crow's Nest lounge with Marilyn and Lyle aboard Koningsdam, sailing the North Pacific Ocean
Celebrating Joe’s 70th birthday in the Crow’s Nest lounge with Marilyn and Lyle aboard Koningsdam, sailing the North Pacific Ocean
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Vancouver to Maui – day 4

Oct 12, 2022 – Day 4 at sea aboard Koningsdam

2022 Hawai’i cruise

Apple and bacon pannenkoek - lunch at the Grand Dutch Cafe
Apple and bacon pannenkoek – lunch at the Grand Dutch Cafe

We are in rain and rough seas this morning, so the Promenade Deck is closed on both sides to passengers. A rainbow appears to the south of us this morning (see banner image above). I have a continental breakfast in my stateroom this morning, adding a cappuccino from the Explorations Cafe. Today’s lunch is an Apple and bacon pannenkoek (pancake) from the Grand Dutch Cafe – delicious!

Hawaiian Connectivity – Naturalist John shares a study of the Hawaiian islands and reefs found northwest of Kaua’i, which he participated in.

  • Active volcanoes are only on Maui and Big Island (youngest)
  • New island forming off the Big Island
  • Birds first to arrive to newly-formed islands
  • Nene goose (from Canada Goose)
  • Introduced species
    • Introduced birds have largely replaced native Hawaiian birds
    • Mongoose to control rats, ended up decimating native birds
    • Feral goats
    • Green gecko
  • Papahanaumoku Wakea – Marine protected area – Northwestern Hawaiian Islands – NW of Kaua’i
    • Ko Hawai’i Pae ‘Aina
    • Small islands and reefs
  • Species protected and population restoring
    • Yellow Tang 
    • False Killer Whale
    • Acropora – hard coral
    • Tiger shark
    • Red Snapper & Yellow fin tuna (Ahi)
  • Climate change will cause a 1 meter increase in sea level in Hawai’i by 2100

Captain’s report

  • 689 nm NE of Kahalui
  • 1,709 nm from Vancouver sailing at an average speed of 18.3 kts

I track the ship’s position and speed independently using the MarineTraffic app on my iPhone.

Made in New York – Lincoln Center Stage quartet play selections from:

  • Dave Brubeck’s Take Five
  • Billy Joel
  • Alicia Keys
  • Other New York artists
Pork ribs, french fries and broccoli in the Lido
Pork ribs, french fries and broccoli in the Lido

I go to the Crow’s Nest for a Martini, and then go to the Lido for a quick dinner of delicious pork ribs, fries and veggies before going to the early show: Step One Dance Company Presents: In Tandem – a fusion of latin dance, blues singer – a full house!

I have a Benedictine liqueur as I watch this very energetic show. I then spend a couple of hours up at the Crow’s Nest working on my photos and videos, and sipping on my second Martini of the day. Such a decadent life…

Step One Dance Company presents: In Tandem - full house in World Stage
Step One Dance Company presents: In Tandem – full house in World Stage