Circle Hawaii, Tahiti & Marquesas Cruise

January 3 – February 6, 2010

 

We left Vernon at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 3, 2010 for the Kelowna Airport, arriving at 10:10 a.m. for our flight to San Diego and the beginning of our 33 Day Circle Hawaii, Tahiti & Marquesas Cruise with Holland America.  Vernon was -2 C when we left home.  We had arrived early to allow ample time to get through security that had been beefed up following the Christmas Day incident near Detroit. The Alaska Airlines check-in had Richard repack his carry on bag to include the only our medications and travel documents.  Both Anita and Richard had to pack their cameras as well with their checked luggage as a camera was okay, the carry case was not!  Next we passed through two security checks and one physical pat down before boarding our plane.  Men and women were separated for the pat down.  All this delayed our departure by one hour.  Arriving in Seattle we got through passport control and rode the trains to our connecting departure gate only to find our gate had been changed and to learn we had missed our connecting flight to San Diego!  We were rebooked as stand by for the next available flight and had a firm booking for the last flight of the day.  Fortunately we made the stand by flight departing Seattle at 6 p.m. with an 8:30 p.m. arrival in San Diego.  The temperature was 18 C at 8:30 p.m. upon arrival in San Diego.  Our luggage was there too.  The airport shuttle took us to our hotel, Holiday Inn – San Diego On The Bay where, after check-in, we had a late [9:30 p.m.] dinner before retiring.

 

The Web Sites I have provided are to enhance the attractions we enjoyed and provide more background for you … enjoy!

 

Throughout this journal the metric system will be a constant to record temperature, distance and the like.  For those not using our metric system, below is an abbreviated conversion table to the US system of measurement:

 

Temperature                                                   Speed

 

20 C  =  68 F                                                   20 knots  =   23 mph

23 C  =  73 F                                                   90 knots  =  103 mph

25 C  =  77 F

27 C  =  81 F

29 C  =  84 F

30 C  =  86 F

32 C  =  90 F

 

Monday, January 4

 

We had a restful sleep and a late breakfast.  The morning brought a mixture of sun and cloud and it was pleasantly warm.  At 12:30 p.m. we took our 5 minute walk to the cruise ship terminal to begin our check in procedure and by 2 p.m. were onboard and in our stateroom.  We arrived at our stateroom to find it occupied by another couple!  It seems they did not read their card properly and so were in the wrong room.  Unpacking came next prior to the 4:15 p.m. mandatory lifeboat drill.  Next, to the Ocean Bar for Happy Hour and to meet Jim and Pat whom we had met on our last cruise to the Panama Canal.  Also, the bartender, Pat, who had been in the Piano Bar on the Statendam during our last cruise was working in the Ocean Bar. 

We had requested early dining but had not been approved yet so chose the Open Seating option and for our first dinner.  Our departure from San Diego was over one hour late due to taking on provisions.  Back in our stateroom – a gift, free dinner for 2 at the Pinnacle Grill which normally costs $20 per person.  We did not take in the opening show and instead chose to walk and acquaint ourselves with the ship, what it has to offer and where places could be found.

 

Our ship, the Rotterdam, 780 feet in length, carries 1,316 passengers plus a crew of 593 and has a maximum speed of 25 knots.  She has ten decks, served by 12 elevators. 

Onboard facilities include a pools and hot tubs, 6 bars, casino, gymnasium, greenhouse spa, medical centre, photo gallery and retail stores.  Entertainment is offered nightly in the Showroom At Sea and the Wajang Theatre offers daily movies.  Onboard dining is in the La Fontaine Dining Room, while buffet meals are provided in the Lido Restaurant.  The Terrace Grill also serves lunch and Canaletto offers Italian at dinner. The Pinnacle Grill offers an elegant, sophisticated dining experience featuring premium Sterling Silver beef, inspired seafood dishes and many select wines.

Our ship had just undergone a major refit in the Bahamas and returned to service 10 days earlier than planned.  Our voyage is the second since coming out of refit, the first being from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego.  Guests on this first trip encountered numerous problems and with some passengers continuing on with us, we heard all about them … flooded staterooms, electrical problems, malfunctioning elevators … to name but a few.  During our trip many of these problems continued.  One couple from Toronto, for example, on the Dolphin Deck, one below us, had their stateroom flooded twice.  Many folks directly affected vowed never to sail with Holland America again.  We were fortunate and encountered none of these inconveniences directly.

 

Tuesday, January 5

 

Our first night at sea provided calm seas and we awoke to mostly cloudy skies.  At noon it still was overcast with 14 C.  Encountered very slow service in the dining room as we spent almost 2 hours for lunch.  Happy Hour in the Ocean Bar offered 2 for 1 drinks from 4 – 5 p.m. and we met another couple who also had been on our Panama Canal cruise, making it 6 of us together on this cruise so far.  Service at dinner this evening was good as was the food.  Clearing skies developed as we sat down for the evening meal – can sunshine and warmer temperatures be far away?    Attended the late [9 p.m.] show featuring Viviana Guzman, “Queen of the Flute”.  She had appeared last year on our cruise on the Statendam and this evening she gave just another excellent performance.  We closed the evening spending time in the Ocean Bar enjoying the piano playing.  Back in our stateroom we found chocolates waiting for us on the bed.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Viviana Guzman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viviana_Guzm%C3%A1n

 

Wednesday – January 6

 

We awoke to mainly clear skies and sunshine following another calm night.  A great day to be on the outside decks!  Richard enjoyed his morning walk on the promenade deck than sat outside in the sunshine until lunch.  He spent the remainder of the afternoon outdoors until it was time to change for dinner.  This we do before attending 4 p.m. Happy Hour daily.  Tonight was our first of many Formal Dress nights.  Drinks again were 2 for 1 … a trend that continued throughout our cruise and a huge savings to our onboard account.  Comments at dinner focused on the reduced number of staff available to serve in the dining room resulting in slower service and numerous mix-ups when meals are served to us.  On this cruise there were no Maitre d’ in the dining room … that which we had on all previous cruises.  We attended the Captain’s Welcome Toast where he introduced the staff officers prior to the evening show.  The evening entertainment in the Showroom At Sea, “Love, Broadway” featured The Stars of the Showroom At Sea, the ship’s resident singers and dancers, singing a number of the old Broadway hits and all time favourites.

Into the early evening a few swells developed … our first actual motion felt onboard.  As was to become custom, we spent time after the show in the Ocean Bar watching people on the dance floor and enjoying the music they danced to.  Clocks were set back one hour tonight.

Today we received our first edition of The Canadian, headline news of events in Canada.  Until now, only the American version, Times Digest, eight pages of headline news from the pages of The New York Times, had been circulated.

 

Thursday – January 7

 

Mainly sunny skies this morning and there were more swells overnight but nothing that bothered us.  Richard’s morning walk on the outer deck a bit challenging with wind on the starboard bringing up sea spray at times.  By noon it was fully overcast with 20 C .  By 2 p.m. the sun reappeared while the sea swells prevailed.  An invite from friends Jim and Pat had us enjoy Happy Hour drinks in their veranda stateroom … a nice change and our first visit to a veranda stateroom.  Comedian Joe Vespaziani provided the entertainment in The Showroom At Sea and he was not all that good.  Back to the Ocean Bar where Richard ascertained the piano play was the same one who played in the Ocean Bar on the Statendam for our last cruise.

The Neptunes, a trio assembled by Holland America, played evenings in the Ocean Bar.  Playing piano:  Roddy Ferreira from Sydney, Australia, the base player hailed from San Francisco, CA, and the young man on drums came from Buenos Aires, Agrentina.

 

Friday – January 8

 

The sea swells continued all night rocking the ship somewhat but allowing for a comfortable sleep.  Another sea day and we awoke to partly cloudy skies.  Both sides on the outer decks were dry for Richard’s morning walk … a surprise considering the winds overnight.  At noon, 22 C and a return to sunshine and clear skies for the rest of the day.  A great day for spending time on the outer decks.  Formal dress for dinner this evening.  We learned that two of our Open Dining table mates from Edmonton, Alberta flying Air Canada had lost their luggage as early as Calgary, their first stop and hoped to have it returned sometime while in Hawaii.  Service levels at dinner remained low and mistakes with orders continued as the norm.  For the second straight night the entertainment provided by Lynne Rothrock & Ron DeWitte, hailed as “A Terrific Balance of Jazz, Blues and Cabaret” was not all that great.  Late night drinks in the Ocean Bar listening to the Neptunes and watching the dancing concluded our day.  We’re set to dock in Hilo, Hawaii on Saturday.  Clocks were set back one hour tonight.

 

Saturday – January 9

 

The swells diminished overnight as we approached land and we awoke to partly cloudy skies.  At 10 a.m. it was 23 C when we docked in Hilo.  We watched the ship approach the pier while enjoying breakfast and the scenery was most enjoyable.  We next made our way to the Promenade Deck to enjoy the sun and take in the scene of those going ashore early.  Cell phones were “dusted off” and numerous people were making calls to loved ones.  We made our way ashore at 11:15 a.m. to join the shore excursion we had purchased, “Pele – Goddess of Fire Volcano Exploration”.  On board a nice coach we drove to Volcanoes National Park to view the Kilauea Volcano with stops at the Jaggar Museum and the Kilauea Visitor Centre and later walk through the Thurston Lava Tube.  There were numerous great photo opportunities and we even got a chance to walk on lava rock.  Or driver/tour operator was great explaining many things and answering questions asked of her.  We enjoyed great sunshine on our tour and 4:10 p.m. saw us back on the ship.  We were a bit late for Happy Hour in the Ocean Bar.  Dinner tonight was done in quick order as not all seemed to show up, presumably because they were onshore.  No live performers tonight … instead, a movie we chose not to see.  Closed off our evening again in the Ocean Bar watching the dancing and enjoying the fine music of the Neptunes.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Hilo, Hawaii

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilo,_Hawaii

 

Volcanoes National Park

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaii_Volcanoes_National_Park

 

Hereunder is the Guest Manifest Nationality Breakdown for the first half of our cruise.

 

Nationality

Total Count

 

 

Austria

1

Australia

3

Belgium

5

Brazil

4

Canada

387

Switzerland

2

Czech Republic

2

Germany

16

France

3

United Kingdom

27

Ireland

1

Italy

3

Japan

2

Netherlands

17

Norway

4

Russian Federation

5

Sweden

4

Singapore

1

El Salvador

1

Turkey

2

Ukraine

10

United States

791

 

 

Total:

1,291

 

Sunday – January 10

 

In port today at Lahaina, Maui and this will be our first use of tenders on this cruise to go ashare.  No shore excursions were purchased as they were deemed too expensive.  Clear skies greeted us this morning.  We went ashore at 9:30 a.m. and walked through the ships closest to the pier.  Near the harbour, in Banyan Tree Square the landmark Banyan Tree, planted in 1873, was centre to a Sunday market that we enjoyed.  Lunch was outdoors at a neat restaurant Anita had spotted.  At noon it was 24 C in brilliant sunshine.  We returned to the ship at 1:30 p.m. following our leisurely lunch.  Richard then went to enjoy the sun at The Retreat on the Lido Deck before the 4 p.m. Happy Hour while Anita found a quiet place to read.  While at Happy Hour two whales were spotted prior to our departure.  Dinner was completed in time to allow us to take in the early show … Count Dimas, virtuosic pianist and multi-instrumentalist.  He was good on both piano and accordion.  A visit to the Ocean Bar following the show to enjoy the music followed and we made it any early evening.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Lahaina, Maui

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lahaina,_Hawaii

 

Banyan Tree

http://gohawaii.about.com/od/mauiphotos/ig/Lahaina-Maui-Photos/lahaina_018.htm

 

Many of the guests on this cruise are older that the two of us, many have extreme weight problems and we’ve noticed numerous numerous scooters and manual wheel chairs out and about.

The following table provides further the Passenger Age Breakdown, information that we found interesting.

 

Age Range

Number

 

 

0 – 2

0

3 – 7

1

8 – 12

0

13 – 17

1

18 – 21

0

22 – 35

9

36 – 50

52

51 – 65

370

66 – 74

504

> 75

354

 

 

Total:

1,291

 

 

 

 

 

Monday – January 11

 

We awoke this morning to find us in dock at Nawiliwili, Kauai and were greeted with clear skies and sunshine.  Kauai is the oldest inhabited island of the seven major islands of the Hawaiian Archipelago.  Following breakfast in the dining room, as is our custom, we went ashore and with four others hired a van for 4 hours at $75 per couple.  It was now 10 a.m., 28 C and sunny.  Our van driver, Freddie, was just a delight and very knowledgeable of his island.  From port we drove to the north beaches visiting along the way, a waterfall, site of the TV show, “Fantasy Island’, past sets where Elvis Presley made a number of his movies, to the bay where “Gilligan’s Island” was filmed, then on to a lighthouse located at the most northerly tip of the island to a beach that we overlooked to watch the surfers ride the waves.  We also stopped at a new resort opened this past September that appeared very exclusive with rooms running $600 U.S. per night.  The resort overlooked the beach where scenes from the movie, “South Pacific” were  filmed.

This  island has been featured in more than 70 Hollywood movies and television shows, including the musical South Pacific and Disney's 2002 animated feature film and television series Lilo & Stitch, Lilo & Stitch 2.  Scenes from South Pacific were filmed in the vicinity of Hanalei. Waimea Canyon was used in the filming of the 1993 film Jurassic Park. Parts of the island were also used for the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Other movies filmed here include Six Days Seven Nights, the remake of King Kong and John Ford's 1963 film Donovan's Reef.

 Freddie made numerous stops for us to take photos.  We arrived back to our ship at 2:45 p.m. with all 6 of us content with our outing just concluded.    This evening The Showroom At Sea  featured John Eakin.  He had performed on our last cruise, was not good, so we did not attend tonight.  We spent our evening after dinner in the Ocean Bar, listening to the fine music of the Neptunes and enjoying the dancers on the dance floor.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Kauai

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kauai

 

Tuesday – January 12

 

We encountered smooth and calm seas overnight even though the Captain had warned us that it could be a bit sloppy.  In port at Honolulu upon waking with clear skies and sunshine again.  We stayed onboard as we’d been here twice before, the last in April 2008 following our first visit to Australia.  We thoroughly enjoyed the outer decks, walking, reading and sun tanning … without the crowds as they all seemed to have gone ashore.  We had dinner at the Pinnacle Grill with our friends, Jim and Pat, tonight.  Service and food was just excellent!  Only Indonesian girls were used as servers … no men, and the meal lasted some three hours.  By this time all evening performances had begun so we had a leisurely drink in the Ocean Bar before making it an early evening.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honolulu

 

 

 

Wednesday – January 13

 

We continue to be favoured with calm seas as we slept and awoke to clear skies and sunshine.  Our schedule was for us to be at anchor off Kailua, Kona at 10 a.m. and for the second time, make use of tenders to go ashore.  Wind and resulting swells made it difficult for boarding the tender boats and the call that only those sure-footed and with good balance should attempt riding the tenders.  Next, at 11:45 a.m. the announcement that all remaining shore excursions were cancelled and full refunds would be given was made.  So, we did not venture ashore.  During all this the sky had clouded over yet it remained warm on the outer decks.  Leaving Kona shortly after 5 p.m. we said good bye to the Hawaiian Islands.  Waiting for our dinner to be served in the dining room we were fortunate to see two whales off the ship’s stern.  That evening, The Stars of the Showroom at Sea performed “It Takes Two”, singing the past hits of many well-known dual performers … Sonny & Cher, Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, Donny & Marie Osmond … to name a few.  The Stars of the Showroom at Sea are very talented!  Clocks were set back one hour tonight.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Kona, Hawaii

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kona_District,_Hawaii

 

Thursday – January 14

 

This morning we woke up to mostly cloudy skies.  This was a sea day heading for Fanning Island.  At noon, it was 27 C with mostly cloudy skies prevailing.  For dinner this evening it was Formal Dress and service was slow at our table of eight.  Dave Levesque was just a super entertainer this evening, providing a unique blend of violin music and comedy.  An evening drink in the Ocean Bar concluded our day.  We’re scheduled to cross the International Date Line overnight so Friday, January 15 does not exist for the Rotterdam.  Upon us waking up it will be Saturday, January 16!

 

Saturday – January 16

 

Sea swells overnight caused more movement than on previous occasions.  It was mainly cloudy upon waking although the sun appeared now and then.  Yet another sea day to enjoy and some white caps on the water were visible … the first seen on this cruise.  In our morning mail came individual certificates acknowledging our passing over the International Date Line and the time this occurred.  Richard’s morning walk was shorter than usual as the wind and the ship’s motions made for uneasy footing.  The clouds had dispersed by 10 a.m. and the sunshine that followed allowed for many to enjoy the outside decks as Richard found available lounge chairs to be scarce.  At noon, 27 C and the partly cloudy skies remained so all afternoon.  Rebecca Lowe and husband, Kuba took the stage this evening for songs from Nashville to Broadway tonight.  She was from Texas, he from Poland.  Her performance was satisfactory.  Once again, a visit to the Ocean Bar concluded our day.  Clocks were set back one hour tonight.

 

Sunday – January 17

 

Rain … Richard heard it raining at 4 a.m. and it continued after our waking up.  This, the first we’ve had so far on the cruise.  As well, our toilet was not working this morning … it would not flush/  Now the second time it has happened, the first time early on our first night aboard ship.  We are at anchor off Fanning Island and scheduled to remain until our 5 p.m. departure.  Richard went ashore on the tender boat at 10:40 a.m. while Anita chose to remain dry onboard ship.  The overnight rains had left the walking trails on the island wet and one had to walk around the numerous puddles on the trails.  It was a most primitive life style Richard observed and captured hopefully in the photos he took.  He returned to the ship an hour later only getting wet exiting the tender boat in a downpour!  The afternoon remained overcast while the 23 C was constant for the entire afternoon with more rainshowers at 3 p.m. occurred.  We attended the early show as dinner ended in good time allowing us to enjoy the physical skills, comedy and improve with Sideshow Bert in The Showroom At Sea.  After a short period in the Ocean Bar enjoying the dancers and music provided by the Neptunes we called it a day.  Clocks were advanced forward one hour tonight.

 

Monday – January 18

 

The rain and low cloud disappeared overnight leaving us with partly cloudy skies this morning.  That, and calm seas.  At breakfast in the La Fontaine Dining Room we continue to meet new people from the many States represented onboard.  It was scenic cruising from 9 – 12 this morning as we passed Christmas Island.  No morning walk was possible on the outer deck as too many guests were there enjoying this part of the cruise.  Changing weather today, sunny for an hour, then clouds and rain … this pattern repeating itself throughout the day while the outside temperature remained warm.  Richard spent just over an hour in the sun at The Retreat.  Following lunch in the dining room, Richard attended Trivia for the first time going only to observe but he soon was recruited to a team that managed 9 correct answers.  Entertainment tonight was great … Darren Williams, a singer native to Australia, presented Poperatic … everything from pop to opera.  The music and dancing that followed in the Ocean Bar was relaxing and a great way to end our day.

 

Tuesday – January 19

 

Today we are to cross the Equator.  We are two of many, we’re sure, “Pollywogs” on board … crew members that have not yet sailed across the Equator.  The ship issued Equator Crossing Certificates to mark this event.  Brilliant sunshine this morning mixed with a few clouds.  Richard enjoyed his walk on the outer deck then spent the balance of the morning at The Retreat soaking up the sun on a lounge chair.  Anita continues to spend most of her time reading in the library … each of us doing our own thing.  At noon, 29 C with high cloud cover shortly after and remaining with us all afternoon.  Formal dress this evening for dinner and the wait staff still continue to make mistakes while serving at our table for eight.  The 8 of us have been together from day 1 [our request for fixed dining never happened] and we’ve had the same servers as well.  Mike Robinson, ventriloquist , provided our live entertainment following dinner.  His act was different from those we’d seen previously and as such, quite enjoyable.  The balance of our evening was spent, as usual, in the Ocean Bar, enjoying the tunes performed by the Neptunes and watching those on the dance floor.  Tonight we cross the International Date Line and gain back the day we previously lost so there will be 2 Tuesdays, January 19.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday – January 19 … Number 2

 

Another sea day and morning brought with it more cloud than sun.  Waters remain calm and that’s fine with us.  With breakfast over sunshine had returned and remained with us until the noon hour when it was 27 C but the clouds returned for the afternoon.  Mistakes by the wait staff continued this morning at our table for four  and Anita received some free dry cleaning.  As we ended breakfast and staff were clearing the table, Anita’s back received a container of brown sugar spilled by one of the servers.  Her blouse and pants would be cleaned, courtesy of the ship.  We had yet another routine day which may appear hum drum to the reader but is all we wish to do.  Richard does his morning walk on the outer decks then moves up to The Retreat for some sun.  The sun’s intensity here is far more than at home so one need be careful on how much time is spent in the sun at any one time.  Anita enjoys her time in the library and, at times, on the outer decks.  The lecture topics offered daily are not appealing to us so we chose not to attend any.  The movie, “Surrogates” starring Bruce Willis, was tonight’s entertainment.  Our day concluded with a visit to the Ocean Bar.  Clocks were advanced forward one hour tonight.

 

Wednesday – January 20

 

Mainly cloudy skies greeted us as we opened our curtains to greet the day.  Yet another day at sea and wash day for the Dycks as clean clothes presently are at a premium.  By 10:30 a.m. we were all done with the laundry, the sun was out again and we could again resume what has become our normal routine onboard the ms Rotterdam.  After lunch, Richard enjoyed Trivia then read on the outer deck while Anita did her reading in the library.  Dinner this evening was in the Pinnacle Grill to celebrate our friend, Jim’s birthday today – he turned 78 years young!  The dining experience in the Pinnacle was superb once again as was the champagne at our table … part of the celebration.  We then attended in The Showroom At Sea where the ship’s female singers and dancers put on just a great performance for us in Dinner Belles.  They all have such great voices!  We then went straight to bed as come morning we’re scheduled to be in Rarotonga, Cook Islands and most everyone is looking to go ashore.

 

Thursday – January 21

 

We awoke to find us at anchor on the Cook Islands and with mainly cloudy skies at this time.  Tenders would be used to take us ashore.  After breakfast we were told our visit to the island of Rarotonga was not to be!  For the second time on this cruise it was deemed unsafe for us to board the tender boats, the call coming at 9:30 a.m.  Watching from the Ocean Bar we could see the high swells as the tenders came and went.  A medical emergency was announced at 10 a.m. to dispatch a crew member to hospital on the island.  That crew member was known to us … Rudi [Rodolfo] our server in the Ocean Bar and who also had sailed with us on the Statendam last year on our Panama Canal cruise.  Richard obtained a card and at Happy Hour will get signatures from our friends to pass on to Rudi for his speedy recovery.  For the first time the bow of the ship on Deck 4 was opened to passengers as the hip began a scenic cruise around the island.  Out on the bow it was sunny and very warm.  The rest of the morning and afternoon held no further appeal to us after not being able to make land to enjoy and explore the Cook Islands.  Today’s lunch in the dining room was not a pleasant experience for Richard.  He did not receive the soup he ordered when the other five had theirs – his came after all had been served the main course.  That he also had to wait for as well.  When it was time to order desert he was ribbed by his table mates … don’t order anything fancy as it may not arrive!

For missing the scheduled port call at Rarotonga we received notice from the Captain that our onboard account would be credited $7.80 per person as a revision to the port taxes and further, “as a gesture of goodwill” each of us would enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne with dinner this evening.

The Den West Show, featuring Den & Bobbie West, was this evening’s entertainment offering.  Den played the guitar, mandolin, steel guitar and banjo presenting tunes from Nashville.  The music was great and lively while Bobbie sang accompaniment.  Time in the Ocean Bar listening to the fine music of the Neptunes and watching the dancers once again brought our day to a close.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rarotonga

 

Friday – January 22

 

We awoke to mainly cloudy skies and yet another sea day.  As with all sea days there is no land visible on the horizon.  Richard’s one hour morning walk on the outer deck was most enjoyable save for the few folks that insist on walking in a counter direction to the established norm.  Skies remained cloudy with occasional showers and 27 C was the noon hour temperature.  Trivia was held in the Crow’s Nest following lunch in the dining room.  Dress code for dinner this evening was formal.  The skies had brightened by the 4 p.m. Happy Hour and on into the dinner hour.  Showtime entertainment presented an encore performance by ventriloquist, Mike Robinson and Aussie singer, Darren Williams.  Robinson’s act was better than his first performance and Williams also put on a great performance.  A visit to the Ocean Bar concluded our evening before retiring.

 

Saturday – January 23

 

We opened our curtains this morning to see hills, buildings and grass shacks … we were docked at Raiatea, Society Islands!  Raiatea is the second largest island in French Polynesia, and is located 120 miles northwest of Tahiti.  Skies were partly cloudy and we were ashore just after 9 a.m. encountering a hot and humid environment.  Most tours were to begin at 1 p.m. too late for us so we began our search for a taxi.  A lady from Ottawa joined us, she speaking French as well as English.  No taxis were to be found so our new friend approached a vendor and he called one for us.  We negotiated a price of $150 for 2 hours touring  for the 3 of us and soon were away.  Our fellow passenger, knowing French, was able to aptly communicate with our driver and interpret for us.  We drove west from our port for about one hour to one of Raiatea’s many marae [ceremonial meeting places] where its altar was used for human sacrifice until European missionaries put a stop to the associated rites.  The island is lush and green.  We had to talk hard to our taxi driver to stop for photo ops on our outing and the best ones were on the return drive.  We encountered a brief but strong rainfall on the return drive and we stopped at a vanilla plantation as well.  We had lunch ashore following the tour at a local restaurant that all three of us found to be tasty and enjoyable.  We had a most pleasant time here on the island of Raiatea.  Here, the months of January and February are considered the rainy season.  Back on the ship around 1:30 p.m. or so we were reading on the outer decks when about 2:50 p.m. another heavy tropical rain ensued, lasting for some 20 minutes after which steady rain prevailed until after dinner was concluded.  Kuba with vocalist Rebecca Low was the Showroom’s entertainment this evening.  Both had appeared previously on our cruise.  Kuba’s concert was outstanding with the many instruments he played and the vibraphone, a metal version of the xylophone, provided us with the most enjoyable sounds.  As custom dictates, we closed our evening with quality time in the Ocean Bar before retiring.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Raiatea, Society Islands

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raiatea

 

Kuba & Rebecca Lowe

http://www.rebeccakuba.com/bio.html

 

Sunday – January 24

 

Bora Bora, French Polynesia … at anchor just off this most beautiful island in the Pacific this morning!  Never had we dreamed before of being here, plus we’re here for 2 days.  The skies were partly cloudy upon boarding the tender boat taking us ashore.  Once ashore we chose to take the Circle Bora Bora by Boat Tour, one of the many local tour offerings available – 3 hours @ $70 per person.  This turned out to be our best outing to date!  Our group was 6 in total, all Canadians, 2 from Ladysmith and 2 from Parksville … both on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  Richard thoroughly enjoyed the two snorkeling sessions each about 40 minutes duration.  The first, in shallow waters, swimming with sting rays and what a sensation when they first brushed up against your body!  Among the numerous fish species was the colorful butterfly fish.  A shark even made an appearance but Richard kept his distance.  The second snorkel time was in deep water where no one could touch bottom.  The water colors were magnificent and ever changing in the bright sunshine as we toured around Bora Bora.  Along the way we were served vast quantities of watermelon, pineapple and other delicious fruits.   Later we had a third outing in the water, this time just for a brief swim.  We viewed numerous vacation villas and such built on stilts over the water.  Photo ops were numerous.  By chance we stopped at a residence where our guide knew the people and they turned out to be the same folk that the Parksville couple had met 47 years ago when they had sailed to Bora Bora on their own sailboat! 

There was no live entertainment this evening, only the movie, “The Informant”, rated R – Comedy, starring Matt Damon.  The show turned out to be good and we went directly to our stateroom when the movie concluded.  Having been outside in the sun and on the water earlier, both of us were dead tired.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bora_Bora

 

Monday – January 25

 

Day two of our Bora Bora stopover, and a great sunny morning as we awoke.  Walking to breakfast we saw another cruise ship at anchor, Regent’s Seven Seas Voyager that had arrived sometime while we slept.  The day was sunny and hot, Anita chose not to go ashore so Richard went by himself.  Competition for the available tours was much greater today with passengers from both ships looking for adventure.  Richard chose to return to the ship where he spent very little time in the sun at The Retreat due to it being extremely warm – this at 10:30 a.m.! 

We now had learned further news on the medical emergency of the crew member mentioned last Thursday.  Rudi, our server in the Ocean Bar, had his appendix removed, spent 2 days afterwards in hospital, then went home to the Philippines to recuperate.  He will not return to this ship during the time we have remaining but good news that he is on the road to recovery.

Reading on the outer decks in the shade occupied our time until afternoon Happy Hour in the Ocean Bar.  Dress code was Formal this evening.  Encore performances by Rebecca Lowe & Kuba and The Den West Show this evening and all of them put on a great performance.  After the show we again visited the Ocean Bar to enjoy both the music and dancing before retiring.

 

Tuesday – January 26

 

We were at dock in Papeete,Tahiti upon waking this morning.  Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean.  Partly cloudy skies outside when the curtains were first pulled back.  It was already well on the way to being another hot day when at 9:20 a.m. we left the ship to seek a suitable tour for the day.  Our choice was a Circle Island Tour on an air conditioned coach with some 30 + fellow passengers from the ship.  Our drive / guide chose to head west from the port to circle Tahiti Nui , “big Tahiti”, opposite that which every other tour did allowing us to enjoy stops along the way that were not crowded.  We paid $50 each, departed at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. saw us back onboard the ship.  The scenery and stops we made were just great!  We learned some interesting facts – tourism, coconut growing & selling, and the pearl industry are the 3 main industries on the island, Tahiti Nui.  Gasoline is $8.00 U.S. per gallon.  Not all the shores around the island are calm … some have crashing waves … good for surfing.  Photo ops were numerous and included 3 waterfall, only the first and highest [some 600 feet] was visited; the Blow Hole; and the island’s only lighthouse.  The sunny and hot weather made this tour all the better.  The Big Screen Movie, “The Boys Are Back” was our evening’s entertainment.  Set in Australia it turned out to be quite good.  Afterwards, back to our stateroom as both of us were tired and Richard had his journal to write up for the day.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papeete

 

Tahiti

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahiti

 

Wednesday – January 27

 

Bright sunshine greeted us as we awoke to be at anchor in Cook’s Bay, Moorea just a short distance away from Papeete.  Tenders will once again get us ashore and back today.  Service at breakfast again was lacking and part of our meal did not get delivered in a timely manner.  At our table for 6 there was first none, then later, limited coffee service.  Tea service was fine.  Halfway  through eating her omelet, Anita was served the bacon she had ordered.  Going ashore, our tender ride was very short.  We chose an excursion that would see us on the water again, to enjoy snorkeling, swimming and the magnificent colors the water offered up under sunny skies and a warm temperature.  The first stop for snorkeling with the sting rays and sharks lasted for over an hour in shallow, warm water.  The sting rays and sharks, numerous and far more than in Bora Bora and the many fish species were oh so colorful.  Then it was off to a nice beach, first for fruit, food and drink and later, swimming and some snorkeling.  And, for the first time Anita got into the water, not once but two times!  Our boat held some 40 of us, including some not from our ship – a young man from France, a couple from Japan and a couple from Melbourne, Australia and others as well.  Richard had occasion to speak with the two from Australia while snorkeling.  Our guide gave a demonstration on how to open a coconut to obtain the milk inside and this was followed by a competition first, between the French and the Australian and next between the Australian and the Japanese on who was the fastest to cut and open their coconut.

We had departed that morning at 10 a.m. and returned by 3 p.m. at a cost of $50 each … what a great experience we were part of!

At Happy Hour others at our table spoke of the hard economic times Moorea was currently experiencing and we had heard the same while in Bora Bora and Papeete.  While in Papeete a wholesale change of the ship’s entertainers took place, we believe.  Sarah Chandler from England, played the saxophone … 3 different ones during her live performance on stage.  She gave a great performance playing a number of familiar pieces.  We then spent time in the Ocean Bar before retiring.  We never seem to tire listening to the Neptunes perform and watching the dancers.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Moorea, French Polynesia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorea

 

Thursday – January 28

 

This morning finds us at anchor off Rangiroa, French Polynesia, the largest atoll in the Society Islands group.  A cloudy morning greeted us as once again we followed tender procedures to get to and from shore.  There was a brief rain shower as we enjoyed our breakfast, still meeting new table mates most mornings.  Richard went ashore alone and soon returned as there really was nothing to see or do for excursions or the like.  One thing remained constant, that of the available tables of local craft for sale once one exited the tender boat.  Perhaps the economy is to blame but Richard and others he spoke with believe something need be done here to make the tourists happy and welcome.  Just as Richard exited the tender boat onto the ship another heavy rainfall began.  It soon became a good day for reading as the heavy rains continued and by 11:30 a.m. the ship announced that all remaining shore excursions were cancelled.  The rains had ceased by 2 p.m. but the skies remained overcast while outside it was very warm despite all the rain … 27 C at mid afternoon.  Our sail away was interesting as the ship maneuvered through the small channel taking us out of this extremely large lagoon into the ocean proper.  Strong currents were quite visible and by this time, 5:45 p.m., the skies had cleared considerably and we were treated to a most spectacular sunset.  We were surprised to find very few seats remaining upon our arrival at The Showroom for the evening entertainment offering.  It seems that many were on hand to enjoy “Oh What A Night!” – a musical tribute to Frankie Vali & The Four Seasons.  George, one of the 4 performers, was a solo act on our last Holland America cruise.  The quartet put on a great show mixing comedy and dance with many songs originally sung by Frankie & The Four Seasons.  A visit to the Ocean Bar where the music of the Neptunes playes was a peaceful end to our day.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Rangiroa, French Polynesia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangiroa

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangiroa_(commune)

 

Friday – January 29

 

A sea day as we have made the turn and now begin to make our way back to San Diego.  Partly cloudy skies this morning after we had calm seas while sleeping.  Following yet another fine breakfast during which we’re seated with others, some we’ve met previously and a couple new to us, Anita was off to the library to read while Richard did his one hour “tour” of the outer decks.  He then spent an enjoyable hour in the sun at The Retreat and read until it was time for lunch in the dining room.  The morning weather was a mixture of sun and cloud with 28 C the noon hour temperature.  During the lunch hour it rained for some half an hour before the sun reappeared.  Richard attended Trivia following lunch and contributed two correct answers for his team.  Then came a first for both of us, and other we learned later … at 2 p.m. clocks were set forward one hour!  Our 4 p.m. Happy Hour came about rather quickly as a result.  Dress code for dinner tonight was formal.  We thoroughly enjoyed the comedy of Jimmy Carroll, our entertainer this evening in The Showroom At Sea.  Afterwards we relaxed in the Ocean Bar with the music and dancing.  Returning to our stateroom, as always our bed is turned down, our evening chocolates are waiting to be eaten and we get to see what animal has been made with towel creations by our cabin boy and his staff – a different one each night.

 

Saturday – January 30

 

We are at Nuku Hiva, Marquesas – at least at anchor off the island.  This is the biggest island of the Marquesas Archipelago, and the second largest island of French Polynesia.  Also, this is our last port of call on our cruise … the remainder of our days will be sea days until our arrival in San Diego 7 days from now.  Tender boats will see us ashore here.  We had partly sunny skies when the curtains were first pulled back and during breakfast rain showers.  At 9:30 a.m. Richard went ashore, there being not much to see, just shops and stores offering their crafts for sale.  This island has no coral so here the landscape is different and what one misses is the lushness that the other islands had offered.  Richard took a number of pictures before returning to the ship, returning in just  over an hour from when he had left.  The balance of the morning and afternoon were mainly sunny and at 11 a.m. it was 28 C outside.  Anita remains content spending her time reading in the library.  Richard did spend one hour in the sun at The Retreat after lunch then spent the remainder of his afternoon reading on the outer decks.  Tonight the Stars of the Showroom at Sea presented “Songbook”, a melodies lane capsule of songs we grew up with from the late ‘40s and ‘50s – a good performance for the ages of the passengers on this cruise.  Time spent in the Ocean Bar once again concluded our day.

 

 

 

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

http://www.pacificislandtravel.com/fr_polynesia/about_destin/nukuhiva.html

 

Sunday – January 31

 

The first sea day of many to come before disembarkation in San Diego.  Partly cloudy skies greeted us upon waking.  We finally were able to retrieve our passports from the Front Office as we had now left French Polynesia.  At the initial check in for this cruise we had to surrender them to the ship’s care and had been without them all these days.  For Richard, his morning walk on the outer decks was a short one as wind gusts and areas of wet surface made for difficult walking.  With the sun shining and despite the wind gusts, Richard spent quality time in the sun at The Retreat.  Trivia had by now been relocated to The Showroom from the Crow’s Nest as many players kept complaining about the smoke smell in the Crow’s Nest.  Master Chefs Dinner on tap tonight as we see our dining room stewards sing, dance and juggle tableside as they serve the meal.  Tommy Bond, piano showman, provided a superb piano concert together with The HALCats, an eight-piece party band, featured on the ms Rotterdam.  He offered selections from rag time, many pieces from musicals, music from Glen Miller & His Orchestra plus his melody of tunes from “Hooked on Classics”.

 

Monday – February 1

 

A new month begins at sea for us.  We greeted this day with partly cloudy skies.  While asleep overnight at 2:30 a.m. we again crossed the Equator on our way home.  As has happened many times, sunshine had returned by the time breakfast was over.  The outside deck on port side was slippery and wet so Richard walked inside this morning then spent more time in the sun at The Retreat before lunch.  It was 27 C at noon.  Another time change this afternoon at 2 p.m. when clocks were set ahead one hour, this following Trivia.  Happy Hour and dinner came early it seemed due to the afternoon time change.  Formal dress was tonight’s dress code for dinner and the dining room was somewhat empty … even our wait staff commented on this.  All at our table agreed that folks are getting tired of the required 2 formal dress nights each week.  Peter Fisher, virtuoso violinist, played for us in The Showroom this evening.  He played a good range of tunes – blues, rag time and numerous pieces from operas, ably assisted by The HALCats.  Another great show!  After the live performance we spent time in the Ocean Bar before retiring.  Both of us are pleased to advise that the seas remain calm.

 

Tuesday – February 2

 

Sunny skies greeted us for a change when we awoke this morning and we must enjoy this as not too many days left before we lose all we’ve enjoyed this past month.  Back to partly sunny skies at the conclusion of breakfast and Richard went for his morning walk outside where the winds were not too strong and the walking surface dry.  He spent more quality time enjoying the sunshine at The Retreat following his walk.  At noon, 28 C and Richard attended Trivia following lunch.  Both of us spent time reading until Happy Hour time.  Scotty McLean, a comedian, provided plenty of laughs during his evening performance in The Showroom and mixed in a bit of magic as well.  Our evening closed, as usual, with time spent in the Ocean Bar.

The Oceans:  Seventy-one percent, or almost three quarters, of the earth’s surface is covered by the oceans, leaving a meager 29 % for land.  The depth of the oceans is very small compared with their area.  The deepest part, in the Western Pacific, is only about 36,000 ft. [11,000 m] deep.  However, this is greater than the height of the highest mountain on land, Mount Everest.

 

Wednesday – February 3

 

Party cloudy this morning after another calm night on the sea.  This was the first time Richard noticed it to be cooler on his morning walk, especially the shady side.  Same thing later at The Retreat when the sun had occasion to hide behind the clouds with partly cloudy sky conditions at the time.  This may be the last visit to The Retreat for warm sunshine as, at noon, the temperature stood at 24 C with cloudy skies for the balance of the afternoon. 

At Happy Hour this afternoon, Richard was informed that there was no more Canadian Beer available – his beverage of choice on this cruise. Until then, Molson Canadian and Labatts Blue had been offered.

While waiting for desert to be served at dinner we witnessed another spectacular sunset.  The Stars of the Showroom at Sea presented “Amore” together with the Adagio Strings, violinists, and The HALCats orchestra.  Both the music and singing were great.  We closed our day with a visit to the Ocean Bar.

 

Thursday – February 4

 

After another calm night on the Pacific we awoke to partly cloudy skies.  What a difference a day makes … it was noticeably cooler on the outer decks for the morning walk and very few were sitting out in the lounge chairs.  Many of those who sat outside had coats or sweaters on.  We received notice of the U.S. Customs Procedure and of the disembarkation process for Saturday’s arrival in San Diego.

Today we have an invite to The Mariner Society Brunch with the ship’s Captain, Hotel Manager and some other officers.  This, as we now have accumulated a number of days sailing with Holland America.  There was no shortage of wine to be poured and the menu selections were outstanding!  We received our commemorative tile from the Holland America Line as we left the dining room.  At noon, only 20 C with plenty of cloud that the sun chose to hide behind all day long.  The ocean was calm, the smoothest we’ve witnessed to day on our cruise.  Today the final Trivia was held but Richard, true to his word, chose to be at Happy Hour instead as both commenced at the same hour.  Back with an all new show tonight, “Oh What A Night!”, the quartet paid tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons singing many of the groups’ well known songs.  Afterwards, a visit to the Ocean Bar with the Neptunes playing concluded our day.

 

Friday – February 5

 

We awoke to cloudy skies and following an always enjoyable breakfast in the dining room we attended a disembarkation talk that outlined the steps we would follow to leave the ship upon our arrival in San Diego the following morning.  During the lunch hour it was 18 C and we were off to do our packing after having eaten.  It’s back to long pants for Richard as shorts are not the thing to wear home on the plane.  Evaluation forms were completed and turned in.  Just one final Happy Hour later … time to bid farewell to our fellow passengers and new friends.  Fond farewells to our table mates followed dinner.  Only one show at 9:30 p.m. was scheduled in The Showroom at Sea tonight and we chose not to go.  We spent our last hours before bedtime in the Ocean Bar with friends, Ken and Judy, living in Grand Coulee, WA and who had also been on the previous cruise with us.  We arrived back in our stateroom to find the Cruise Log waiting for us with plenty of statistics.

 

Saturday – February 6

 

Morning showers came early for both of us as we had to be ready at 7 a.m. to visit U.S. Customs onboard the ship.  It was raining when Richard opened the curtains.  After Customs we had a hearty last breakfast in the dining room and went back to our stateroom to await the call to disembark.  We had an expedited departure as we took our luggage off the ship with us.  While waiting there was one call asking for passengers in 7 staterooms to process through Customs before we could leave.  At 9:05 a.m. we began to disembark and at 9:25 were onshore hailing a cab to transport us to the airport for our 12 noon flight home.  By now the rain had ceased and we stayed dry until we arrived inside the terminal when we noticed it pouring rain outside.  The rains continued until after our flight departed.  Waiting in the lounge we were joined by Don & Chris, two of our table mates, from Ottawa.  It seems their U.S. flight was delayed and uncertain once in Chicago due to snow storms on the east coast.  They chose to fly to Calgary, Alberta, overnight there and continue to Ottawa on Sunday morning.  Our Air Canada flight departed one half hour late and as the plane climbed after take-off we had one last glimpse of our ship the ms Rotterdam, our home for the past 33 days.  Upon our arrival in Calgary it was -12 C [10 F] and foggy with snow on the ground.  We passed through Customs quickly and then waited for our connecting flight to Kelowna.  We departed Calgary half an hour late as we needed to wait for our plane to be de-iced prior to take off.  Kelowna was 3 C with no snow when our plane touched down.  Our friends, Ulf & Friedl were there to meet us and drive us home.  We arrived in Vernon at 7 p.m. then walked to a local restaurant for dinner … our first food since breakfast!  Back home it was an early night in our own bed as both of us were tired from our long travel day.

 

Conclusions

 

This was our second cruise with Holland America and our longest ever.  We were extremely pleased with our ship, the ms Rotterdam and all that was available to us during our 33 day cruise.  While we found some short comings with service in the dining room compared to previous cruises, this, by no means, caused the two of us any major concerns.  We put the reduced service levels we experienced down to current economic times … cutbacks are necessary “to meet the bottom line”.  Fellow passengers were also subjected to minor and major inconveniences … flooded staterooms, no heat, no air conditioning … to name but a few.  We did not encounter any of these, perhaps we were lucky.  Would we take another cruise on one of these Dam Ships … most definitely! 

 

Cruise Log:   Monday, January 4, 2010

                        Depart San Diego, 6:08 p.m.

                        Saturday, February 6, 2010

                        Arrive San Diego, 6:00 a.m.

 

Ports

Mileage

Average

Speed

 

 

 

San Diego – Hilo

2,175 nm

19.3 kts

Hilo – Lahina

124 nm

10.8 kts

Lahina – Nawilwil

177 nm

13.6 kts

Nawilwil - Honolulu

96 nm

7.4 kts

Honolulu – Kona

150 nm

16.7 kts

Kona – Tabuaeran

970 nm

15.4 kts

Tabuaeran – Rarotonga

1,560 nm

12.2 kts

Rarotonga – Raiatea

560 nm

15.1 kts

Raiatea – Bora Bora

45 nm

3.6 kts

Bora Bora – Papeete

150 nm

11.5 kts

Papeete – Rangiroa

230 nm

15.9 kts

Rangiroa – Nuku Hiva

571 nm

15.9 kts

Nuku Hiva – San Diego

2,826 nm

18.2 kts

 

 

 

Total Distance

9,634 nm

 

 

1 Nautical Mile = 1.155 Statute miles = 1.85 Kilometer