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.


Nawiliwili, Kaua’i

2023 Vancouver-Hawai’i Cruise

Oct 14, 2023 – a day in Nawiliwili, Kaua’i, Hawai’i, USA

Nawiliwili is the first port of call for Koningsdam, spending 5 days sailing across the North Pacific Ocean to Hawai’i. The ship is delayed a bit by another ship leaving the harbour this morning, but once we are tied up passengers are soon ashore and off on their excursions, despite some having to be cancelled due to our later arrival. I have nothing planned, so I have a leisurely breakfast aboard ship at the Grand Dutch Cafe: muffin, fruit parfait, cappuccino.

Joe wearing his new Aloha shirt featuring Frangipangi flowers on a dark red background.
Joe wearing his new Aloha shirt featuring Frangipangi flowers on a dark red background.

I then go ashore, walking 10 minutes to the two resorts and shops on the nearby shores of Nawiliwili Bay. I find a shop selling 100% cotton Aloha shirts, so I buy a nice-looking one with Frangipani flowers on a deep red background. I think it looks quite classy, and I think it will match the Ultra Red on my new Tesla Model S! After taking a few photos along the beautiful beach, I walk back to the ship, and have a Tribeca pizza and Heineken beer for lunch outside.

Le Boreal, a Ponant premium cruise ship docks in the harbour midday. It is quite small with a 264 passenger capacity, and a very sleek design.

After our departure from Nawiliwili Harbour around 4PM there is a spectacular sunset as the ship sails overnight to dock in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai’i tomorrow. I have dinner in the Main Dining Room, but order a light entree, since the pizza at lunch filled me up.


Vancouver Departure

2023 Vancouver-Hawai’i Cruise

I have a coffee and a cereal bar in my hotel room before checking out and rolling my bag the few blocks down to Canada Place, stopping for a quick selfie before going inside. I am through the check-in at the cruise terminal shortly after my10:20AM boarding time, however it takes about an hour for the ship to start accepting passengers aboard. Since I roll my own bag aboard, I’m soon settled into my stateroom #5023.

I then head to the Grand Dutch Cafe for lunch: Beenam’s ham sandwich and a bowl of Dutch pea soup. The couple ordering ahead of me insist on loading up with two giant sized chocolate-covered cream puffs and two slices of Dutch apple pie each! The server and I have a chuckle about their greed. I take a cappuccino and a Perrier bottled water back to my stateroom.

Dutch apple pie, Chocolate vanilla cake, bran, chocolate and blueberry muffins, giant-sized chocolate covered cream puff. Dutch pea soup, Beenam’s ham sandwich. Grand Dutch Cafe aboard Koningsdam
Dutch apple pie, Chocolate vanilla cake, bran, chocolate and blueberry muffins, giant-sized chocolate covered cream puff. Dutch pea soup, Beenam’s ham sandwich. Grand Dutch Cafe aboard Koningsdam

It’s a lovely sunny day in Vancouver as the ship pulls away from the dock at about 4:45pm, which is a bit late due to a passenger having to be taken off the ship at the last minute for medical reasons. I never get tired of being aboard a ship at it sails under Lion’s Gate Bridge, passing Stanley Park and the North Shore heading out into the Strait of Georgia. It is dark by the time we pass my home city of Victoria, so rather than spend time on deck, I have my first Martini on this voyage and enjoy the jazz, blues and rock on the Music Walk venues this evening.

Harbour Air seaplane taxiing to the dock in Coal Harbour with pleasure craft and Chevron fuel dock, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Lion's Gate bridge and the North Shore mountains

San Diego

April 26, 2023 – Wednesday – San Diego, California, USA

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

I am up at 7AM and out on my balcony this morning as the ship enters the harbour. It is an overcast day to start, but the clouds clear off later. I go down to the Main Dining room for breakfast, since I’m in no rush to go ashore because I don’t have an excursion booked.

It is a frustrating morning once we dock in San Diego, since US Customs and Border Protection insist on clearing each and every passenger and crew in person this morning. So despite docking at 7:30AM, I’m not allowed off the ship until 10:30AM since I have a 10AM time slot to see the CBP officers. It appears passengers with shore excursions booked and those who are leaving the ship by rolling their own luggage ashore are first in line. Next are passengers debarking, and then those of us who are “in-transit”, followed by crew leaving the ship. There are nine CBP officers, but the lines of passengers extend most of the length of the ship.

USS Midway

Once that hassle is over, I disembark the ship and walk over to the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, an historic US Navy warship docked close by. It is an interesting way to spend about three hours by both exploring the inside of the ship, as well as the flight deck, where many historic aircraft are displayed. There are lots of helpful and friendly volunteers around to ensure people don’t get lost, and also to give information about the amazing systems and historic equipment they are seeing. I photograph every detail of this warship, so view my photo album for those who want all the details!

Our sail away out of the harbour is interesting as we pass the airport, marinas, US Navy and Coast Guard facilities, Sea lions, and the city itself. I have dinner this evening in the main dining room, but we are moved upstairs since it’s so busy. I go to Guitarist Nester Santurio‘s late performance in the Main Stage, but walk out before he finishes since I can’t stand his cornball antics. I end up in the Ocean Bar to have my usual martini, since I think I need an attitude adjuster.


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.


Panama Canal 2023

April 16, 2023 – Sunday – Nieuw Amsterdam transiting the Panama Canal from the Caribbean to the Pacific

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

This is the day most passengers are on this cruise for: transiting the Panama Canal. I’m up before sunrise as the ship waits offshore from Colon in Limon Bay to enter the canal at the Gatun Locks from the Caribbean Sea. Although we enter the locks on time at Gatun, by the time we emerge from the last lock at Miraflores on the Pacific side, we are an hour late. The Sun is set by the time we sail under the Bridge of the Americas and into Panama Bay, emerging into the Pacific Ocean.

Panama Canal Transit map

Although this is my fifth canal transit, I’m always fascinated by the process of lifting ships up to the level of Gatun Lake, and then lowering them back to sea level. This is the first time I’ve observed the new locks in operation: Agua Clara locks on the Atlantic side, and Cocoli Locks on the Pacific side. Since our ship uses the old locks, we don’t get great views of the new lock system, however I can see the massive ships beside and above us as we go through the old locks. In addition to bigger container ships, the new locks also enable LNG and PNG tankers to now use the canal, which apparently is a big revenue stream for Panama.

Our cruise director Kimberly is on the bridge all day narrating as our ship transits the canal. She shares that the captain has confirmed that today’s toll for the Nieuw Amsterdam is US$444,000, or just over US$300 per passenger!

I watch the ship transit the canal from three main areas of the ship. My own stateroom’s verandah is on Deck 7 Forward, so it offers great views from the right side of the ship and happens to be on the shady side since it faces west. I also pop out to the Deck 7 Forward deck, which is very close to my stateroom and is open today, since it offers great views from the front of the ship. Finally, once in awhile I go up to Panorama Deck 10, where I can get views from both sides of the ship and be higher up.

While I take photos of the transit from various locations on the ship, I also setup my GoPro action camera on the rail of my balcony this morning to shoot a time lapse video, capturing all the interesting parts of the process of moving through the canal and locks. This 3-minute video captures the 12-hour process quite well!

It is Sunday, so there is a big crowd of Panamanians at the Miraflores Visitor Centre, who are waving at us as we move through the locks. On the other side, there is a big Alligator on the canal shoreline. Panama Bay and Panama City are beautiful in the darkness with the city lights shining.



April 13, 2023 – Thursday – Oranjestad, Aruba

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

I ordered room service breakfast for this morning at 6:45am, since I’m signed up for a Sail and Snorkel excursion that leaves at 8am. I enjoy my favourite bagel and lox, along with a continental breakfast and coffee. I’m at the appointed check-in spot outside the cruise terminal by 7:45am, and we walk to the catamaran tied up just down the dock from the Nieuw Amsterdam.

Although I forget to bring the floating handle for my GoPro, I manage to hang onto it, not dropping it to the bottom as I snorkel today! I take 4k video underwater of the fish at the first snorkel stop at Boca Cathalina, and of the ship wreck at the second stop. The Antilla shipwreck site is a challenge, since the wind is up so the water is rougher, there are crowds of people swarming all over, and some of the excursion boats are literally right over the wreck! Despite all these odds, I manage to shoot some video and survive the experience, however I’m glad to be back safely onboard the excursion boat. There is unlimited Rum punch and other beverages on the return to town.

I had thought I would wander around Oranjestad town, but it is already too hot for me, so I return to the ship. After dropping my snorkel stuff in my stateroom, I first grab a table in the shade beside the Lido pool and have a beer, a Dive In Impossible burger and some fries for a late lunch. I then return to my stateroom to get cleaned up and relax while transferring my photos and video to my MacBook Pro.

My dinner this evening is in the Main Dining Room at the same big table as two nights ago, where I join a mix of Americans and Canadians. We enjoy back and forth banter, recollections of past travels, and even some more serious subjects. I have shrimp crostini as a starter, and roast chicken with stuffing for my main – both very tasty with a glass of Pinot Grigio wine. I finish with a chocolate torte for dessert and a cappuccino. After dinner, I go to the B.B. King’s Blues Club to enjoy some great performances by the troupe of musicians and singers.


Departing Fort Lauderdale

April 9, 2023 – Sunday – boarding the Nieuw Amsterdam in Port Everglades and our departure

2023 Panama Canal Cruise

I have a wonderful sleep, waking up just before 9am to a cloudy but warm day outside. I have lots of time before I need to leave the hotel to board the ship at Noon, so go downstairs for breakfast. Bistro 17 is open but they are offering a full breakfast which I’m not wanting, especially since they only have regular brewed coffee. I’m happy with a cappuccino and a muffin in the R Lounge before going back to my room to pack and get ready.

I planned to ask the valet to call me a taxi, but I meet an English couple riding the elevator down to the lobby with Nieuw Amsterdam tags on their bags, and find out they have a transfer booked for about the same time I need to leave for the cruise terminal. They are happy to share, and as it turns out, there are several people in a shuttle all boarding ships, so we each pay US$8 plus a $2 tip for the short ride over to the cruise terminal. That was easy, and cheap!

I decide to roll my big bag onboard with me, so I don’t drop it with the valets at the entrance to the cruise terminal. It only takes about 15 minutes to clear security, check-in using facial recognition, and walk up the gangway, making the boarding process so simple and low stress! It paid off for me to upload my ID photo ahead of time using Holland America’s Navigator app, and my COVID-19 vaccination certificate using the VeriFLY app. My stateroom is easy to find, since I was on this same ship last year on my Alaska cruise, and as on previous HAL cruises, my room keycard is tucked into my stateroom mailbox.

I order an Impossible Gainer burger with fries at the Dive In burger bar, and enjoy an IPA beer while sitting beside the Lido pool. It’s so nice to have warm, shirt sleeve weather already! Returning to my stateroom, I unpack my big bag and get cleaned up before exploring the ship while the rest of the passengers board. I check into my muster station and watch the safety video in my stateroom, which every passenger must do before the ship leaves port. There is lots of activity to watch shoreside, as the last of the supplies are loaded onto the ship.

The last of the supplies being loaded onto the ship

The Celebrity Reflection is docked beside us and Holland America’s Eurodam is also docked nearby. We leave port about a half hour late due to weather and “other factors” according to the captain. I’m always amazed at how these big cruise ships maneuver through the narrow navigation passage out into the open Atlantic Ocean at Port Everglades. There is a tropical downpour as we push away from the dock and head out into open ocean.

Having learned on past sailings that the Main Dining Room is a bit of a zoo on departure day evening, I go to the Canaletto Italian premium restaurant for dinner, since it is mostly empty. I have Beef carpaccio for a starter, Chicken parmigiano as a main course, and finish off with an Afogato for desert. An older couple from California is seated at the table next to mine. They are obviously both quite drunk, as they argue about complete nonsense throughout their meal, peppering the server with questions that make little sense. Ultimately, they leave to find their stateroom…I’m sure the staff are glad they are gone.

After settling into my stateroom for awhile after dinner, I go up to the Crow’s Nest Lounge to have my first Martini nightcap just before they close. The room doesn’t close, but the Explorations bar and coffee staff are off duty at 10PM once they clean up. I’m in a good mood as I head back to my stateroom to go to bed.

Joe enjoying his first Martini nightcap in the Crow's Nest lounge

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.


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