A Travellerspoint blog

Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii

Monday, 16 September 2013

View 2013 Polynesian Cruise on greynomadm's travel map.

We sailed into the bay at Kona at about 0600 and shortly after dropped our anchor. We have booked a ship's tour and have until 0915 to assemble for our tender trip to the pier. On arrival we were shepherded to a big green coach and were driven to the Sea-Horse Farm on the coast near the airport.

The aim of the farm is to grow domesticated seahorses that will be long lived creatures that will survive in captivity and will eat readily available dried shrimp. Wild caught seahorses die within weeks because they cannot adjust to captivity. The farm claims their cultivated seahorses has reduced the world-wide catch from over one million to about twenty thousand. The tour of the farm was interesting and informative and we were invited to immerse our hands and have a seahorse attach to our fingers. The coach captain was very friendly and a great character. There must be a school they attend as their jokes and patter have a degree of similarity.

When we returned to the pier we decided to walk briefly though the beachfront stalls and shops. Very hot and little breeze so we didn't go very far and returned to the pier and boarded the tender. Back on the ship we changed out of our 'go ashore' gear to something cooler.
Quick lunch and back to the cabin to start this epistle.

Right on time the ship weighed anchor and we proceeded to our next port, dawdling along at a mere 10 knots. Great dinner again and I've established a standard order for desserts, not only for me but the 90 YO who sits next to me. I have two scoops each of the two featured ice-creams and my mate has a half. He finds it easier than trying to decide for himself.

Tonight's entertainment was Danny McMaster who provided us with impressions of many famous people and a good few cartoon characters. He sang one song using almost a dozen voices without missing a beat. The image of the person being impersonated on the screen helped with the illusion. Fantastic quick-fire show that kept us all entertained.

Off to the Horizon Court to post this and then recharge my battery for tomorrow.

More tomorrow.
My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 00:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Nawiliwili on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii

Sunday, 15 September 2013

View 2013 Polynesian Cruise on greynomadm's travel map.

We approached our second port in Hawaii early this morning and managed a quick breakfast before we berthed. Once ashore we congregated with others who had decided to take up an offer we'd been made aware of back in Honolulu. Alex offered a small bus tour to four of the most significant attractions.

Our driver introduced himself as Uncle Ben, a Vietnam Veteran and maintained a constant flow of information about the history of the island and other facts pertaining to island life.

First stop was the Wailua Falls inland from the East Coast. The falls are fed by an area which is among the wettest in the world.

Then the Kauai Coffee Plantation which is the largest in the USA and is situated close to the Southern coast. Many flavours of coffee available for tasting and an extensive gift shop. A lengthy video presentation provided extensive details of all aspects of their operation.

Next we travelled further around the island to the dry Western section to the majestic Waimea Canyon, the road up to the viewing station was in good repair but had more twists and terns than any road I've ever travelled. The Canyon was quite awesome with features that rival and exceed the Grand Canyon of Arizona.

Back to the South Coast for the Spouting Horn, a natural blow hole that makes a sound before blowing water into the air. The calm sea deprived us of anything spectacular and I think it was an ultimate piece of 'marketing' to promote this as an attraction.

Back to the wharf after almost five hours, great value tour for just US$45 each.

We were amazed that of the 22 people aboard the bus, five individuals had not brought any photo identification and claimed they hadn't been told. Without a photo id the security guards have to call in for the individual's date-of-birth and have them confirm it. With two checks to be performed, one at the gate and one at the screening station, this causes considerable disruption.

It was almost 1400 by the time we'd had lunch and returned to the stateroom to freshen up. Started to write this entry and found I was overdue for a 'nana nap'. Up and dressed in time to see the ship sail away at 1645. Our numbers at the table were reduced to only five and as we had no intention of going to the show there was no urgency and we had a leisurely dinner.

Finished writing up this note and started reviewing the photos for today.

More tomorrow.
My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 23:38 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Saturday, 14 September 2013

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Land ahoy !! We were up and about very early to prepare for the US Border Protection inspection. First thing, down to the Theatre before 0600 to collect a group card. Group A due to present to the inspectors at 0730. Off to the Horizon Court for breakfast and back to the stateroom to collect our documents. The inspection is in the Vista Lounge, Deck 7 Aft. The queue stretches all the way down the Starboard side back to the Wheelhouse Bar. We stand in the queue for a while until advised that 'independent' (not on a ship's tour) travellers should assemble in the Theatre, Deck 7 Forward. We sit there until well after 0800 and finally all Group A are invited to join the queue.
The front of the group found the end of the existing queue before all of the group had left the Theatre. Step by step we advance towards the Vista Lounge. Multiple checks by ship's staff and US Officials to ensure the forms are correctly completed. Hasty detour to fill in two boxes on the green form that had not been completed.
We arrive at the Lounge and various checkers relieve us of one document after another, finally our passport is stamped and were given a 'Checked by Immigration' card which is required when leaving the ship. After all that it was a tick after 0900 when we were in the Horizon Court for a pre-disembarkation cup of coffee.
Back to the stateroom to pick up our money and backpacks then off the ship. Most of the group tours had cleared the ship so there was no delay. A final check in the terminal building and we are accosted by a lady offering a 'Free' shuttle. One small string attached, you have to visit the Maui Divers Jewelry Centre. After a short conducted tour and a promotional video show we are escorted into the display room. Millions of dollars of exquisite jewelry and dozens of eagre staff are awaiting the six of us in the group. A smiling lady of Korean heritage presented pendants and rings of gold, diamond and coral for Jenny to feast her eyes on.
Piece after piece was removed from the display case to provide a closer look and each time Jenny moved along the counter, smiling Sally was there to show her the items. Finally Jenny succumbed and tried on a gold coral ring, correct size and not outrageously expensive. While Jenny procrastinates, Sally pulls out two more rings, each more beautiful than the last - and more expensive too. Finally Jenny settles for a gold coral and diamond ring just a shade under US$1000. It is her birthday in a few weeks !! We are shown to a waiting room and offered refreshments while the ring is enlarged one size. A most professional and slick operation from the lady at the pier to the guide who shepherded us onto the shuttle for our next stop.
Next stop is the Ala Moana Mall where we find a Pharmacy and gain directions to Jenny's main reason for visiting Honolulu - the dreaded Wall-Mart. I elect to sit outside while she finds those 'craft' essentials that will just make her day. Back to the Mall and we find the shuttle pickup location. The next three shuttles are for Waikiki but finally there's one to take us back to the ship.
Back aboard and we lunch in the Horizon Court and then brave the afternoon heat to visit the Aloha Tower Marketplace directly beside our ship. The place looks like it has seen better days with many of the shops empty and facilities that are closed or inoperable. Back to the ship for a shower and a rest.
Found our way to the Theatre at 1800 for the 1900 show featuring the 'Halau Hula Olana' dancers. A total of 18 young girls danced to a series of chants and songs. The school teaches girls as young as three and a half not only the dance but the culture that is Hawaiian. For the younger children there is a need to teach them the language which generally is not spoken in the modern Hawaiian home. The packed Theatre was thoroughly entertained by these lovely and elegant young ladies.
After the show we headed up to the Horizon Court along with almost the entire audience. The result was an overwhelming of the limited serving and seating space and it was difficult to collect a considered meal. Found enough to keep the wolves of hunger at bay :-)
Back to the stateroom to complete this story and prepare to upload it to the web.
More tomorrow.
My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 01:09 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Sea Day Ten, Honolulu Tomorrow

Friday, 13 September 2013

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Up on deck searching for the sunrise. I waited and waited, largely in vain. It was a good 10 minutes before there was any significant sunlight breaking through the clouds. I was treated to some words of wisdom from another gentleman on deck;

"Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is Reality, Live Today"

Back to the stateroom then up again for breakfast in the Horizon Court. After breakfast I tried to upload yesterday's images to the 365 Project because that had filed last night, it failed again. The fault was not in the connection, other sites worked fine. Strange spooky internet gremlins !!
Returned the lap-top to the stateroom and spent an hour or so in the Wheelhouse Bar reading the Kindle. Attended the Port Lecturer presentation on Lahaina. He claims the local golf course charges $500 for an 18 hole round. Bloody ridiculous. Quick visit to the Horizon Court for a cup of coffee and to take some snaps of today's lunch theme. There were some cakes and the American flag but obviously I was much too early.

Back to the stateroom and brought the lap-top down for another upload attempt. Perfect, uploaded in about 5 minutes what failed over 15 minutes last night. Returned the lap-top and made my way to the Theatre again to hear the last of Bruce Petty's lectures, this time on the subject of submarines. One revealing fact for me was the mention of Dutch submarines operation out of Australia.

Joined Jenny for lunch and my favourite American food - BBQ Glazed Pork Spareribs. Finger licking good. With some 'On Board Credit' remaining we've booked a special dinner at the Sterling Steakhouse for the 22nd at 1800.

Back to the stateroom to fill out the American paperwork. At least part of it a complete duplication of the ESTA Visa Waiver we completed some weeks ago. Ridiculous red tape duplicated.

Attended a concert by the Passenger's Pop Choir, about 100 men and women all smartly turned out and presented a number of songs from some of the most famous musicals. They received a well-deserved standing ovation from the packed audience.
Spent part of the afternoon bringing this story up to date. Jenny noticed that the ship is just drifting along at just over 12 knots. We must be well ahead of schedule.

Another enjoyable dinner and with the later start for this evening's show, plenty of time to make our way to the Princess Theatre. Tonight the featured artist was Wes Anthony, the saxophonist with the band. He played his way though a great collection of music on the saxophone and the flute. Great fun and lively entertainment.

Will now take the lap-top to the Horizon Court and try to upload this little lot.

More tomorrow.
My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 00:41 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Sea Day Nine, Getting Close to Hawaii

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Usual routine for this morning with a sunrise, shower and breakfast all over and done by 0715. Spent an hour or so exploring the Princess Cruises Web Site - free but still slow Internet access. We're looking at a cruise to include the Panama Canal for some time in late 2015. We'd take a repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Ft Lauderdale of about 18 days and also do the last two 7 day Alaska (North and South) cruises from Vancouver to Anchorage making a total of about 32 days plus flights to and from North America.

Jenny went off to craft and I helped fill the Theatre to listen to the Port Lecturer as he covered the two ports on the 'big island'. We'll be visiting Kona and Hilo. I ducked up to Deck 14 to snatch a few pictures of the Mexican Theme lunch presentation. The display was still a work in progress but looked quite spectacular. Then I dashed back to the Theatre for Bruce Petty's lecture on the personal stories of Naval Officers who served in the Pacific.

Met Jenny for lunch in the Horizon Court and then retired to the stateroom to start this document and sort through this morning's pictures. Jenny's just returned from a spend-up on gold chain. As we're still working our way through the On Board Credit there is only minimal pain.
Just heard that Mike Kelly, our local Federal Member for the past six years, has conceded defeat. I always thought he was a very good local member and I'm sorry to see him go.

Joined our dining partners for dinner and managed to finish in record time so we had a choice of seating in the Theatre for the performance by John Bressler; a singer in the Rod Stewart style, a piano-player with great vigour and a very funny man to boot. Great entertainment.
Clocks go forward another hour overnight and we've received the official documentation for entry to the USA. Just as well Jenny's here to fill out all those forms.

More tomorrow.

My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 01:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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