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Kaua’i, Hawaii

Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 – Nawiliwili Harbour, Kaua’i, Hawai’i, USA

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

We arrive in Nawiliwili harbour at 7AM this morning. I am taking an early snorkel excursion to Poipu Beach, but I have time to grab a cappuccino in the Explorer’s Cafe and some scrambled eggs from the Lido before clearing the ship and finding my snorkel tour group in the terminal building. We are soon off in two 9-passenger vans to the assembly point where we are given fins, a wet suit, and snorkel and mask for those who need it (I always bring my own snorkel and mask)). We are then driven to Poipu Beach, but after some serious discussion by the tour leaders, they decide to cancel the snorkel. The water is too rough and the waves breaking onto the beach are too aggressive for our group to safely enter the water.

My group of snorkelers waiting to enter the water at Poipu
My group of snorkelers waiting to enter the water at Poipu

Actually, I’m relieved, since even before they told everyone about the cancellation, I was concerned about the wave action. In any case, if we had gone in, there would be nothing to see with all the sand being stirred up from the bottom by the big waves.

I peal off my wetsuit and pull on some shorts and a shirt so I’m more comfortable. Apparently this is the first time in four years they have had to cancel a snorkel tour. We help ourselves to the soft drinks and snacks they provide before we are taken on a scenic drive, and then back to the ship to say our goodbyes to the good folks at Sea Fun Kauai. There’s always next time!

My friends and I have dinner in the Lido this evening. Two of us have the Filet Mignon and another has thick-cut roast beef. It was all very good…perhaps one of our best meals on this cruise. Despite being a casual, buffet-style restaurant, the Lido serves excellent food, which is especially appreciated when you want to skip the formal table service available in the other restaurants aboard ship.

Slide show of the South Coast of Kaua’i (2010-2017)

Photo galleries of Kaua’i

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Lahaina, Maui, Hawai’i

Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017 – Lahaina, Maui, Hawai’i, USA

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

We go ashore to walk along Front Street on Lahaina’s shoreline. The tenders take a long time to move people ashore…in fact, we initially give up on it, but eventually take a number and wait almost an hour to leave the ship. Returning to the ship just before noon presents no problems. We are glad to leave the hot and crowded Lahaina street for the air conditioned ship.

After having our afternoon beer, we have dinner in the main dining room. I have Kauai-Style Poke, which is raw tuna and salmon marinated in sesame, tomatoes, ginger, avocado with a sesame kalbi dressing – very good! My friends find the Macademia Crusted Lamb Leg is also very tasty.

The glitzy production on the main stage tonight is called One World, featuring Eurodam’s singers and dancers. It doesn’t appeal to me much, despite being well-performed with some aerial spinning. The concussion sounds they use finally drive me out of the theatre. Back in my cabin, I pull out my snorkel and mask, and prepare my GoPro camera for underwater use, since tomorrow morning I’m taking a snorkel excursion on Kaua’i.

Slide show of Lahaina (2014-2017)

Maui photo galleries

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Honolulu, Oahu, Hawai’i

Sunday, Oct 8, 2017 – Honolulu, Oahu, Hawai’i, USA

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

I go to the Explorations Cafe this morning for a cappuccino, muesli, and blueberry cake, and then I disembark the ship early. I walk a few blocks to Kaka’ako Waterfront Park, however I really have to screw up my courage to walk through this park, since there are so many homeless people camped out. The shoreline is beautiful, and when I get to Panic Point, I’m rewarded with a beautiful view of the Honolulu boat basin, Waikiki Beach, and Diamond Head in the distance (see above banner image). A local guy tells me the park will be closed this evening at 10PM by the city until further notice while they evict the squatters and clean up the park. I see the eviction signs as I leave the park and head back along Ala Moana Boulevard to the ship, which is only a few blocks away.

My lei floating in Honolulu harbour
My lei floating in Honolulu harbour

I have brunch in the Lido after returning to the ship, and then go for a swim in the Sea View Pool. I buy a dozen beer from the bar on my way back to my cabin, since they are selling some pretty good beer from Alaska 2 for 1, although at $6/bottle, it is still expensive! I toss the lei I received upon landing in Hilo into the harbour. It floats, which tradition tells us means I will return to Hawai’i some day – a pretty sure thing!

Melanzane Ripiene - eggplant roulade - Canaletto
Melanzane Ripiene – eggplant roulade – Canaletto

My friends and I have dinner at Canaletto Italian restaurant aboard ship this evening. I have the Melanzane Ripiene – eggplant roulade as a starter, and Banzino al Fiere – grilled Sea Bass as a main course.My friends share some antipasto and Mozzarella Bufala – buffalo mozzarella with salad for starters, and Costoletto alla Griglia – lamb cutlets and arugula salad. They also have a carafe of Montepulciano D’Abbruzzio.

After dinner, I go to see the main stage show : This is Hawaii – a show troupe from Maui. It is a pretty good modern song and dance showcase of the islands.

Monday, Oct 9, 2017 – Honolulu

Throne Room in the Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii
Throne Room in the Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii

This morning, we walk the few blocks to see the Iolani Palace, which is quite spectacular inside. Last time I cruised to Honolulu, the palace was closed because it was a Sunday, so I”m glad I have lots of time to see it this time. We also walk around in the vicinity, seeing the outside of the State Legislature, the Mission Houses and Kawaiahao Church.

We are beat by the time we return to the ship just before noon. The heat and humidity are building, so I am glad for the air conditioning aboard ship. I’m turning into quite the wimp! My friends and I have a beer before we go to the main dining room for dinner. It is Canadian Thanksgiving today, so we order turkey dinner and pumpkin pie along with our other Canadian table mates from Quadra Island, West Vancouver, and Brandon, Manitoba.

We don’t leave port until late this evening, bound for Maui.

Slide show of Honolulu (2010-2017)

Oahu photo galleries

Honolulu
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Hilo, Hawai’i

Oct 7, 2017 – Hilo, Hawai’i, USA

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

I luck out this morning, since I’m facing northwest as the Eurodam enters Hilo Bay early this morning. I have a perfect view of Mauna Kea as the Sun lights it up from the top down to sea level. The bonus is a Full Moon shining brightly above the sacred mountain with so many telescopes at the summit. Despite the early hour, I call my friends to come over to my verandah to share in the wonder. I setup my GoPro to capture a 4k time lapse video of the sublime view while I take still photos with my dSLR. The Eurodam slips into the dock and ties up while many are still asleep, however the Sun has risen and the day is warming.

Eurodam arrival in Hilo at sunrise from JoeTourist on Vimeo.

Joy, Joe and John having lunch at the Hilo Bay Cafe
Joy, Joe and John having lunch at the Hilo Bay Cafe

A mutual friend who lives on the Big Island picks us up at 11AM  just outside the gate to the wharves, and gives us a beautiful lei to welcome us to Hawai’i in the traditional manner. Our first stop is to have lunch at the Hilo Bay Cafe. Our table on the patio gives us a wonderful view of the bay while we have a beer and fish and chips as we catch up with each others’ lives.

After lunch, we walk along the shoreline by the Lili’uokalani Gardens and over the foot bridge to have a look at Coconut Island. Since it is Saturday, there are lots of families enjoying picnics and swimming and paddling in the bay. We have a look at the tsunami flood levels marked on a coconut tree, which illustrates just how high the water level has risen in past years within the shallow bay.

We decide to go see the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which is along the coast just outside Hilo. It is quite a hike down to sea level and then back up the hill to the parking lot, however the foliage, spectacular flowers along the walls of the gulley are breathtaking. I remember this spot from my previous visits, however I used the public access to the shoreline, so missed the best parts.

We return to the ship by 4PM and sail out of Hilo Bay at 6PM, on our way to Honolulu tomorrow.

Slide show featuring Hilo, Hawai’i (2009-2017)

Big Island of Hawai’i photo galleries

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Vancouver to Hilo – day 5 at sea

Oct 6, 2017 – Fifth day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

There is a Deck Sale this morning beside the Lido Pool, which is always a good time to buy Holland America Line apparel at discounted prices, but I don’t find any t-shirts or golf shirts I like. The ship’s photographers are also there selling photo albums and cameras – a new sales angle for them!

Ginny Stibolt’s talk this morning: How Modern Farming Changed a Civilization –  Beginning in the 1800s, farming crops such as sugar, pineapple, and others changed Hawaii in many ways. What I learned:

  • The last sugar mill  in Hawai’i closed in 2016
  • Pineapples don’t ripen after being picked
  • Not much pineapple is commercially grown in Hawai’i now – new crops have taken over the lead, including Roundup-ready crops, GMOs, seeds, papaya, Macadamia Nuts, Cacao (source of chocolate), coffee, floral crops – native and exotic.

I go for a swim in the Ocean View pool in the stern of the vessel after lunch today. It is the first day which is warm enough outside for swimming. The water is cool, but I enjoy the exercise!

Atlys quintet at the Lincoln Center Stage - biographies
Atlys quintet at the Lincoln Center Stage biographies

My friends have been raving about the quartet playing chamber music at the Lincoln Center Stage venue aboard ship (see banner image above), so I join them this evening. The Masterworks by Brahms is an absolutely stunning performance! People are raving about this group, and the venue is full for virtually every performance.

I have been setting my clocks back an hour most evenings before I go to bed since we are sailing westward. As of 2AM we will now be on Hawaii Local Time, so there will be no more time changes until we start sailing back to Vancouver.

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Vancouver to Hilo – days 3 & 4 at sea

Oct 4, 2017 – Third day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

Ginny Stibolt’s talk this morning: Hawaii: A Timeline of Paradise – The origins of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, the nature of their plants and animals, and how the natural aspects of this paradise have changed over time. I learn that native species in Hawai’i are rare, and even rarer now that many invasive species of plants and animals have been brought in by settlers.

Anti-crepuscular rays at sunset
Anti-crepuscular rays at sunset

My friends and I go up to the Lido for lunch, but can’t find a table, so we go down to the dining room and have a very nice lunch with a couple from Langley, BC, and a woman from south Florida.

Oct 5, 2017 – Fourth day at sea

As is my habit while aboard ship, I go up to the Explorations Cafe for Continental Breakfast: the essential cappuccino, a blueberry cake and some muesli. I find a chair in the adjacent Crow’s Nest Lounge with a forward-facing view and chat with a woman from Parksville and a man from Seattle. The man from Seattle is folding US Dollar bills into origami figures he invents. One is a dress shirt and a tie – very clever!

I meet my friend in the Explorations Cafe for coffee at 10:30AM, and then sit outside on the Upper Promenade Deck 3 to listen to the first four chapters of my Margaret Atwood Audible book The Handmaid’s Tale. I go down to the main dining room for lunch, and sit at a table with the woman from Richmond and her mother from Sidney again – even on a ship this big, you can bump into people more than once! I have a lovely spinach and mushroom salad with grilled salmon on top and some frozen yogurt for dessert.

Ginny Stibolt’s talk this afternoon: Ancient Farming: Roots of a Civilization – she follows up yesterday’s talk by describing how Polynesian wayfarers brought seeds, cuttings, and root stock of plants they’d need in unknown lands (Hawai’i).

This evening, my friends and I have dinner at Tamarind, a Pan-Asian restaurant featuring the cuisine of Southeast Asia, China and Japan. We are all very impressed with the food and service. Our selections:

  • Jewels of the Sea – shrimp-filled wontons with sliced baby bok chop, lemon grass-sesame broth
  • Crisp Fried Soft Shell Crab with Thai dipping sauce
  • Hoisin-Lime Glazed Sea Bass – pan-seared, wok-cooked Asian greens
  • Penang Red Curry Coconut Chicken – spiced chicken, snow peas, eggplant, zucchini, pimientos, opal bail, lemon grass, lime juice, red curry, coconut milk
  • Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly – soy-egg, pickled vegetables, sticky rice, bok choy with oyster sauce
  • Mango Cloud – light egg white soufflé mango sorbet
  • Thai Mini Doughnuts – chocolate, mango & ginger sauces
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Vancouver to Hilo – day 2 at sea

Oct 3, 2017 – Second day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

At Ginny Stibolt’s talk this morning: Rainforest: The Most Diverse Ecosystems in the World, I learn:

  • Photosynthesis and respiration are equal and opposite natural cycles
  • Only about 20% of oxygen produced is supplied freely to outside the rainforest, 80% is consumed internally to the rainforest
  • Forests only temporarily sequester carbon, unlike oceans where carbon is more-or-less permanently sequestered
  • In Borneo, 700 tree species are found in 25 acres
  • 80% of insect species are found in tropical forests
  • Old cellphones are being used in the Amazon to detect the sounds of chainsaws cutting trees, and transmitting reports back to authorities. They are powered from solar panels.
  • Costa Rica is restoring their rain forest by planting at least 15 native species of plants and trees

It is 19ºC at noon today, but when I was outside on Promenade Deck walking four circuits, I was wearing my fleece jacket zipped up because of the cool breeze. I go to the Explorations Cafe at noon for a cappuccino and have a chocolate chip cookie and a couple of little cocktail sandwiches for a lunchtime snack, since I’m skipping having a big lunch today. This afternoon the mv OOCL London container ship sails very close to the Eurodam (see banner image above).

I go to see an hour-long video this afternoon produced by the BBC: Earth Inside Earth: A Privileged View. This is very interesting, highlighting wildlife photographers working in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Desert in Jordan, with Capuchin monkeys in SE Asia, and with breeding Adela Penguins in Antarctica.

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Vancouver to Hilo – first day at sea

Oct 2, 2017 – First day at sea – enroute from Vancouver, BC to Hilo, Hawai’i

Hawai’i Cruise 2017

I have breakfast in the main dining room this morning. I am seated at a large table with five other British Columbians from Sidney, Richmond, Nanoose Bay, and Vernon. Obviously this cruise appeals to Canadians, especially those of us from the west coast, since it departs and returns to Vancouver.

Speaker: Ginny Stibolt

Speaker: Ginny Stibolt

My friends and I are very pleased with presenter Ginny Stibolt, a botanist, naturalist and dedicated gardener. She gives wonderful talks about the natural world around us almost every day we are at sea on this cruise. This morning’s presentation is: Oceans: The Real “Lungs” of the World. – “We can thank the oceans’ plants for the oxygen in our atmosphere”.

This afternoon, there is a presentation “Make the Most of Your Visit to Hilo and Honolulu” by the onboard EXC Guide Eve. I’ve visited Hawai’i so many times, I could probably give this presentation, however I attend anyway so I can pick up any updated information about our first two ports-of-call in Hawai’i.

Joe sipping some Prossecco in the main dining room on Gala Night

Joe sipping some Prossecco in the main dining room on Gala Night

It is Gala Night this evening aboard ship, which means most people are dressed in their best. My friends and I go to the main dining room at 5:30PM, and although there is a long line to get in, we are given a window table on the top level normally reserved for fixed seating guests. I order escargots, arugula salad, and beef tenderloin steak with prawns (see photo in the banner image above). We have a bottle of Proscecco sparkling wine, which goes nicely with pretty well everything we order, including Beef tenderloin steak with prawns (banner image above) and a vegetarian entree.

After dinner, we go to the main showroom to join the captain in a toast to a successful voyage, and then stay for the Off The Charts – Billboard Hits Rewind show, which is excellent…performed by the ship’s entertainers. The show is quite a big step up from the ship-board shows I’ve seen on other Holland America ships. I don’t know if HAL is upgrading all their shows, or this is unique to their larger ships like the Eurodam.

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Victoria to Vancouver & Eurodam departure

October 1, 2017 Sunday – Victoria to Vancouver and Eurodam’s departure

2017 Hawai’i Cruise

My friends and I take the BC Ferries Connector bus service from Victoria direct to the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal. This is a great service, since once your checked (and tagged) bags are on the bus, they will be delivered right to your cabin on the ship! Since there are quite a few tour groups jamming the public areas, we go to the Seawest Lounge aboard the BC Ferry Coastal Celebration. A modest fee is charged in this area, but it is nice and quiet, getting us away from the crowds, and snacks and beverages are included.

It is a cool and cloudy morning as we cross the Strait of Georgia to Tsawwassen Terminal. The bus goes directly to the cruise ship terminal at Vancouver Harbour and takes us right to the entrance, where we pre-clear US Customs and Immigration, go through ship’s security, and finally check-in to receive our cabin key cards. Boarding the ship after that is simply a matter of walking the gangways until we are aboard the Eurodam and have ship-board security scan our cabin key cards for the first time. Within 10-15 minutes after entering my cabin, my checked bag arrives at the door, so I’m all set for the upcoming trip!

Wendy and Joe on Deck 5 Forward as Eurodam departs Vancouver
Wendy and Joe on Deck 5 Forward as Eurodam departs Vancouver

I meet up with my friends in their cabin this afternoon while the ship is still docked. My friends found the bars aboard ship have a dozen beer on sale today, so we sit on their verandah watching the loading activity before our departure. I decide to find some lunch in the Lido, bringing a nice vegetarian sandwich back to their cabin to eat and have a beer with it!

Later, we go out onto Deck 5 forward to watch Eurodam leave the dock and depart Vancouver harbour under Lions Gate bridge. I try out my GoPro Hero5 Black camera by taking a video time lapse all the way until we clear the bridge and sail past English Bay into the beautiful sunset. I’m also shooting with my Canon 6D dSLR since it is so beautiful as we leave port.

When we go for dinner in the main dining room by 7:30PM, there is quite a line of people waiting, however we are seated within about 10 minutes or so and have a lovely dinner as the ship sails down Georgia Strait and the Salish Sea. I return to my room and work on my computer since I still have LTE and later 3G connection with my Canadian cellular service as we sail past Victoria to drop off the pilot and continue out the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into the open Pacific Ocean. The signal from the 3G lasts a surprisingly long time past Sooke! I guess it’s because I’m on the side of the ship facing the Canadian shoreline.


Eurodam departs Vancouver from JoeTourist on Vimeo.

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2016 Solar Eclipse Cruise in SE Asia

Feb/Mar 2016 Solar Eclipse Cruise map in SE Asia aboard the Volendam

2016 Solar Eclipse Cruise map in SE Asia aboard the Volendam

In March 2015, I booked a Holland America cruise in southeast Asia, which takes me to the southeast Asian countries of: Singapore, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The Volendam leaves Singapore on February 16, 2016 on the 30-DAY ASIAN ADVENTURE & INDONESIAN SOLAR ECLIPSE COLLECTOR cruise, sailing north to Malaysia, Burma/Myanmar and Thailand before returning 15 days later to Singapore. We spend two nights in Singapore, and then depart again on the Solar Eclipse portion of the cruise, which sails south to a variety of ports in Indonesia. We observe the solar eclipse on March 9th in the Makasar Strait, between the islands of Borneo and Sulawesi. Weather permitting, our ship will be positioned on the eclipse centreline, which will give us 2 minutes and 45.5 seconds of totality. The cruise terminates in Singapore with an overnight at the dock on March 16 & 17.

My booking is actually two back-to-back cruises, both departing from Singapore. I am paying the Single Supplement (150% of one fare) for a cabin on the Main Deck. As I write this in November 2015, Holland America indicates some classes of cabins on this cruise are Sold Out.

The Sun in eclipse totality - 3rd contact & diamond ring

The Sun in eclipse totality – 3rd contact & diamond ring

Sky and Telescope are running their solar eclipse tour aboard the same ship, however I did not book with them since I wanted a 30 day cruise, and their arrangements are for either 9 days or 15 days. I board the Volendam two weeks earlier in Singapore than the S&T tour’s departure date and visit three more SE Asian countries, which appeals to me. The downside to booking directly with Holland America instead of through S&T is that I won’t be able to attend their enrichment presentations while aboard the ship. To be honest, I don’t much care about this, since there are only two or three of their presentations I would want to attend. I don’t really need any coaching on the technical aspects of observing a solar eclipse while aboard a ship, since I have experience from the 2012 Solar Eclipse Cruise aboard the Paul Gauguin in the Coral Sea.

In May 2015 I booked my flights from Vancouver to Singapore through Cathay Pacific airline. This is optimum timing from the departure date to get the best fare possible. If I booked this fare today (some six months later), the airfare would cost many hundreds of dollars more, since it is closer to the departure date.