Two days at sea

Total Solar Eclipse & Mexican Riviera 10-day cruise aboard Discovery Princess – April 3-13, 2024

Thursday, April 11, 2024 – day at sea off the Baja California, Mexico

John and I go to the “Cosmic Update” presentation by Professor Shelly Bonus this morning in the Princess Theatre (see banner image above). Although her presentation style is very light-hearted and humorous, she conveys quite a bit of good information about complex subjects such as black holes, the subject of her talk this morning.

Just after lunch, the ship drifts through a huge number of sea turtles, so John and I take some photos using our long lenses and Canon cameras from my balcony for most of an hour.

Sea turtle

My dinner this evening is Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Ka Murgh over rice with some vegetables, which tastes just like my old South Asian neighbour’s chicken curry, which she would share with me along with some roti. I compliment the chef when he comes around to check on food and hot tables.

Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Ka Murgh over rice with some vegetables

Friday, April 12, 2024 – day at sea off the Baja California, Mexico

Professor Shelly Bonus presents “Want to be a space tourist?” this morning covering: sex in space, orbiting hotels, Mars, Moon, current low Earth space flights, and Chris Hadfield’s “Space Oddity” recorded from the ISS.

This afternoon, Steve & Janet Wozniak present “Changing the World!” – a grand title for an exceedingly boring talk which highlighted him as a very insecure individual by repeatedly telling everyone how brilliant he is/was. We hang in for the first half hour, but eventually leave when we simply can’t stand any more of it. It was billed as an “enrichment presentation”, but it was not enriching.

My friend and I spend a significant amount of time trying to check in for our flights home tomorrow. The combination of the slow Internet aboard ship, and our tickets being issued through Princess Cruises using Delta Airlines code-shared with Westjet flights makes it exceedingly difficult to complete all the required steps. We eventually both get our boarding passes issued.

I pack and put my big bag out by 8PM so it can be collected and moved off the ship tomorrow morning. We have arranged for a transfer to the airport with Princess Cruises, so hopefully that goes without a hitch, and our flights home are stress-free.



Tuesday, April 9, 2024 – Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Total Solar Eclipse & Mexican Riviera 10-day cruise aboard Discovery Princess – April 3-13, 2024

We take a walk along the harbour front Malacon near the pier after breakfast before it gets too hot. There are lots of big tugs in this busy freight harbour – Mexico’s largest as it turns out. The shops are as expected – t-shirts and trinkets, OTC medications from numerous pharmacies, restaurants and snack bars. My friend is looking for a gift to take home, but he finds nothing to his liking. The gift shops on the pier are actually the most appealing, but no sale from either of us.

We spend the rest of the day aboard ship. I take lots of photos of birds circling in the harbour, mainly Magnificent Frigatebirds and Laughing Gulls. I also explore the ship. The Promenade Deck is essentially not usable for walking, since it’s so narrow and it doesn’t go all the way around the ship. The harbour traffic provides me with lots of photo opportunities – in addition to the seabirds, there are lots of tugboats, pleasure craft, and other working boats to watch.

The Piazza is the 3-level atrium midship on Discovery Princess, which is very impressive with marble floors, brass and glass everywhere, and big chandeliers and staircases. Lots of activities and performances happen in the Piazza. The International Cafe, Gelato Dessert Cafe and various bars are located on the various levels. The problem is that it’s very noisy, otherwise I would spend more time here. We both have free access to the Gelato Dessert Cafe, so we sit down and have some ice cream, which is very good. They also serve amazing 12-layer cakes, and dessert concoctions that would put me to sleep, since they are huge and loaded with sugary treats.

Impressive multi-layer cakes in Gelato Dessert Cafe

We both have the curried fish in the International Marketplace on Lido for dinner, which is probably the best-tasting meal we’ve had on the cruise. I had the fish over coconut rice, which made it extra fine IMHO.


2024 Total Solar Eclipse

Monday, April 8, 2024 – at sea 150 nmi SW of Mazatlan, Mexico

Total Solar Eclipse & Mexican Riviera 10-day cruise aboard Discovery Princess – April 3-13, 2024

I am up at 6:30AM, but wait an hour before going for breakfast in the Lido buffet. The pastry chefs have baked some lovely eclipse cookies with a shortbread base, icing and then a chocolate and white top depicting a partially eclipsed Sun. Although busy, there is lots of room and available tables, so we have no issues getting food and cappuccino.

We setup our eclipse gear on my balcony and wait an hour for the event to start just after 9:45AM with First Contact. It is hot out on the balcony, so we’re careful to stay hydrated and duck inside the stateroom to cool off now and then. The temperature moderates as the Sun is eclipsed and afterwards. We have just over 4 minutes of Totality, but as always this time flies by quickly. My friend struggles a bit with his camera gear during totality, but unlike 2017, I have no issues with my Canon R5 camera and 100-500mm telephoto lens, recording some outstanding detail on the Sun as the eclipse progresses. We also make good use of our binoculars equipped with solar filters to observe the partially eclipsed Sun, and then take the filters off to fully appreciate the spectacle before us during totality!

I have my GoPro 12 Hero Black action camera attached to the deck rail, taking a time lapse video throughout the event. My Kestrel 5500 weather station records a temperature drop of 10ºC over the course of the eclipse from 35ºC down to 24.7ºC. I make these temperature readings in memory of Jim Low, who I shared my first solar eclipse with in the middle of the Libyan Sahara Desert back in 2006.

Solar Eclipse Viewing Certificate for Joseph Carr from Princess, signed by Captain Tony Ruggero

After Totality ends, we go to the coffee bar on Deck 5 to have some lunch, picking up some beer from the nearby pub. I have a mug of a lovely Newcastle Brown Ale draft with my quiche and a piece of pound cake for dessert. My friend has a deli sandwich and another eclipse cookie along with his Heineken bottled beer. We both agree this is a nice alternative to the buffet. We then retreat to our respective staterooms to get cleaned up and recover from the heat and stress of the morning’s eclipse observing.

We go to Sabbatini’s Trattoria at 7:30PM for dinner this evening. It’s a good restaurant, however my veal parmigiana is gooey instead of being crisp, and it tastes very bland. My deep fried shrimp and calamari starter is very good, as is the tiramisu dessert. My friend’s choices are outstanding, so I think I just ordered the wrong Secondi.



Sunday, April 7, 2024 – Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico

Total Solar Eclipse & Mexican Riviera 10-day cruise aboard Discovery Princess – April 3-13, 2024

Captain’s Eclipse Report

Planned position of Discovery Princess offshore from Mazatlan on Eclipse Day
Planned position for Discovery Princess offshore from Mazatlan on Eclipse Day
  • Forecast 28% cloud cover
  • Eclipse announcement at 9AM tomorrow
  • Ship’s speed will be 11 kts, then drifting during the eclipse
  • Heading 35º to 55º
  • SW course intercepting track of totality
  • 9AM announcement tomorrow morning
  • Tune in to the Bridge Camera on the TV for eclipse announcements and narration
  • HAL Koningsdam & Zaandam will be in the area, and Emerald Princess will be 1 mile away from Discovery Princess

I go ashore around 11AM for a walk through the historical district, returning at 12:30PM after covering about 3.4 km. Walking in the morning is very pleasant, with a nice breeze and it’s only about 24ºC. I follow the “Blue Line” route from the cruise terminal to the Plazuela Machado and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. I pass by the Topolo restaurant where my travel buddy later shares that he had a superb 2-hour lunch with friends this afternoon.

There is an impressive sunset as we sail out of Mazatlan harbour headed for our position on the path of totality for tomorrow’s Total Solar Eclipse. I am favoured with a spectacular Green Flash, which I observe and photograph from my balcony!

My friend and I have dinner in the Juneau Dining Room this evening. The meal and service is fine but really not comparable to the Main Dining rooms on Holland America. On the way back to our rooms, I stop at Sabbatini’s Trattoria to ask the Maitre’d if there is any seating available, since the Princess app indicates nothing available. He cheerfully gives us a 7:30PM time for tomorrow evening. I’m glad I asked, since this restaurant comes highly recommended.

Eclipse viewing glasses and information is distributed to all passengers and crew today. I’m particularly glad to see the crew will have a chance to view the eclipse tomorrow.


Depart San Pedro

Wednesday, April 3, 2024 – board Discovery Princess in San Pedro and leave port

Total Solar Eclipse & Mexican Riviera 10-day cruise aboard Discovery Princess – April 3-13, 2024

My friend and I wake up around 8am, having got about five hours sleep after our long-delayed flight. We have a nice breakfast in the Marriott Courtyard hotel, return to our room to pack, and ask the front desk call us a taxi. The Yellow Cab driver takes us to the cruise ship terminal in San Pedro – about a 20-minute drive, where we join the chaos for boarding the ship. Unfortunately, in the confusion we miss the baggage drop off, so have to wheel our bags onboard. My bag is selected by security since I travel with safety razors, which they insist I remove before boarding since they judge them to be “weapons.”

We are aboard and settled into our staterooms by 11:30am, and have some lunch from the Slice and Salty Dog Cafe beside the main pool. I have some time to quickly explore the ship, and discover the USS Ohio historic destroyer on display next to the cruise ship terminal behind our ship. We pass by the impressive US Coast Guard Station Los Angeles – Long Beach, as the Discovery Princess departs the harbour at 3pm by backing all the way out of the navigation channel to turn around inside the breakwater before sailing into open ocean.

I’m pleased to see there is already an Eclipse info sheet from the captain left in my stateroom. My friend and I have a very nice dinner in the World Fresh Market on Lido Deck 16, and then we have our first Martinis while enjoying the Ian Bacon Trio playing jazz classics in the Take Five Jazz Lounge this evening. It’s nice to finally relax and settle into the cruise after the stressful start with our flights to Los Angeles yesterday.

Ian Bacon Trio plaing jazz classics

Vancouver Arrival

2023 Vancouver-Hawai’i Cruise

Oct 24, 2023 – Arrival in Vancouver, BC, Canada and onward to home in Victoria

The Koningsdam arrives in Vancouver harbour in the dark before sunrise. I have my usual light breakfast in the Grand Dutch Cafe return to my stateroom and do some last minute packing, leaving around 8AM. Since I’m a 4-star Mariner and I’m pulling my own bag, I can leave the ship whenever I want. I walk down the gangway, clear Canada Customs and Immigration, and walk one block to the Waterfront station to catch the Canada Line Skytrain to the airport. I take the free shuttle bus to the South Terminal, where I check in with Pacific Coastal Airways. Now the long wait begins for my 2:45PM flight back to Victoria.

It’s 8ºC and raining at the airport, so there’s no way I’m going outside to spot planes as I usually do. I have a couple of scrambled eggs, toast and potatoes at the Galiano Cafe before lunch to tide me over until dinner time at home. I manage to while away the hours working on my journal and travel photos on my MacBook Pro until it is finally departure time.

Pilots and instrument panel in cockpit

The flight is delayed for over an hour due to a number of factors: late arrival from Victoria due to weather; and after we are loaded, it is discovered the aircraft is overweight, so the last passenger on the roster has to leave along with her luggage to wait for the next flight. Once we roll off the apron, for some reason the pilot performs a thrust test before we take off into some pretty dreadful conditions all the way back to Victoria. Thankfully, after flying through clouds the whole way, there is enough visibility to land at Victoria. My family has waited for over an hour for my eventual arrival, but I’m finally home!


Honolulu to Vancouver – day 5 at sea

2023 Vancouver-Hawai’i Cruise

Oct 23, 2023 – Day 5 at sea – Honolulu, Hawaii to Vancouver, Canada

This is our last full day at sea before arriving in Vancouver tomorrow morning at 7AM. I have a cappuccino, blueberry muffin and fruit parfait in the Grand Dutch Cafe, a light breakfast. I spend the morning in the Crow’s Nest Lounge browsing online and I have a second cappuccino.

Noon Captain’s Report

  • 2,138nm from Honolulu, 158nm to Vancouver
  • Winds: 30-35kts – force 8 gale
  • 8′ NW swells
  • Winds: 25-30 kts overnight
  • The ship should pass under Lion’s Gate Bridge at 6:30AM tomorrow
  • Gangways should be in place by 7:30AM at Canada Place

As I am having lunch, an announcement is made that there is a fire in engine 3. Shortly after, the captain announces there is no fire, however they have shut down engine 3 to investigate further. He assures us our arrival time in Vancouver should not be delayed.

I go to the Main Dining Room for dinner. I’m seated at a table for two with a view out the stern windows, so I have a table to myself. I have a Boston lettuce salad with green beans, walnuts, dried cherries and feta cheese to start, and a Macademia Crusted Opakapaka Fillet, kalbi sauce, sweet potatoes for my main. I finish with a cappuccino…a lovely last dinner aboard Koningsdam.

The last day of a cruise is often a melancholy time for passengers, but the serving staff do their best to cheer us. They parade through the main dining room at dinnertime – a huge number of staff!

A large parade of serving staff in the Main Dining Room

I go to see a singer Sonia Selbie’s show “Drops of Jupiter” at 8:00pm on the World Stage. “Back with a brand new show! Her personality and voice will spill past the doors!” Her fine singing voice must cover at least 4 octaves, but her show wasn’t one of my favourites. We are now less than 100 miles offshore from Vancouver.


Honolulu to Vancouver – day 4 at sea

2023 Vancouver-Hawai’i Cruise

Oct 22, 2023 – Day 4 at sea – Honolulu, Hawaii to Vancouver, Canada

This morning I attend A City on the Sea on the World Stage, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at life on board Holland America ships. We have some glimpses into how the ship operates, with vignettes from the crew. Stephanie our Cruise Director states that we have 2,024 passengers and 850 crew aboard on this sailing. The crew finish with a “Thank You For Sailing With Us” performance on the Main Stage afterwards.

Thank You For Sailing With Us - from the crew

Noon Captain’s Report

  • We are 1,696 nm from Hawaii, with 591 nm to Vancouver
  • Currently we have 8′ swells, which will build to 9-12′ swells as we approach the coast tomorrow. Waves will calm once we enter Juan de Fuca Strait.
  • 30 kt northerly winds will continue

I go to the Pinnacle Grill this evening for dinner, which is covered by my Have-It-All package. This is classic French cooking with an emphasis on surf and turf, so lots of rich sauces and desserts are featured. My choices:

  • Crab cakes – not much crab, but filled with salmon?
  • Filet Mignon with sautéed mushrooms and loaded baked potato
  • Not-So-Classic Baked Alaska – with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream inside, baked meringue, and cherries on the side
My 3-course dinner in the Pinnacle Grill
My 3-course dinner in the Pinnacle Grill

Later this evening, I go to the Crow’s Nest Lounge to have my usual Tanqueray 10 Classic Gin Martini. The room is empty when I arrive, and it remains sparse. Since the ship lurching through heavy seas, perhaps people are staying in their staterooms, or everyone could be attending the Orange Party being staged in the BB Kings Blues Club.


Honolulu to Vancouver – day 3 at sea

2023 Vancouver-Hawai’i Cruise

Oct 21, 2023 – Day 3 at sea – Honolulu, Hawaii to Vancouver, Canada

The ship’s clocks moved forward another hour at 2AM this morning. We have one more shift forward in a couple of days, and we will be on Pacific Daylight Time. It is noticeably cooler on the outside decks this morning, and some rain showers are wetting the Promenade Deck as I walk around the ship after breakfast.

Poached Lobster, Pressed Red Beet

I attend the Mariners’ Lunch in the Main Dining Room at 11AM this morning. There are some ship’s officers and crew greeting everyone as we enter, however there are no speeches, presentations or even a toast, despite the sparkling wine in glasses on every table. I start with Poached Lobster and have Seared Seabass in a lovely Saffron Butter Sauce for lunch. Pretty well the whole lower floor of the dining room is filled – a lot of passengers are 3, 4, or 5 star Mariners on this sailing! A Mariners collector Delft tile is waiting for me back in my stateroom.

Holland America Line Delft tile-Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam & Rotterdam

I have dinner in the Main Dining Room with a couple from Sun City, Arizona who are gamblers. They were given a stateroom for only $300 each and upgraded to a balcony room. She has won $7,000 and he has won $3,000 so far. I then go to see a magician in the Main Stage, but his show is pretty lame so I slip out early. I find the BB King Blues Club to be much more entertaining. We have a great collection of talent on board!


Honolulu to Vancouver – day 2 at sea

2023 Vancouver-Hawai’i Cruise

Oct 20, 2023 – Day 2 at sea – Honolulu, Hawaii to Vancouver, Canada

I wake up at 6:30AM to a beautiful sunrise over a much calmer ocean as I get ready for the day (see banner image above). I have a cappuccino, blueberry muffin and fruit parfait in the Grand Dutch Cafe this morning, which is not busy at 7:30AM.

Noon Captain’s Report

  • 765nm from Hawaii
  • 1,517nm to Vancouver
  • 2-3m swells

I spot some small flying fish from my balcony late this morning. There is also a fair amount of small debris floating in the water, which may be from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch since we are on a more southerly course than normal to avoid two low pressure storms either side of us.

It is Dressy Night, so I put on a dress shirt, tie and jacket and go to the Main Dining Room for the Gala Dinner: escargot, beef tenderloin, and chocolate lava cake with a glass of Pinot Grigio. My table has three Canadian couples from Truro, Nova Scotia, Sidney, BC, and the Fraser Valley. One man is a former Canadian Air Force pilot who worked for Air Canada before retiring, and another volunteers at the Oshkosh Airshow, so many stories are told and discussion ensued.

After dinner, I once again enjoy the great-sounding music in the Rolling Stones Rock Room and the BB King Blues Club. The ship’s clocks continue to be adjusted every night or two as we sail east back to Vancouver.

An elephant towel art announces a ship's clock time change, along with two chocolates