Part 2…Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia…A tour at sea…

A scenic view during our visit to Moorea.

Let’s face it. We’ve seen a lot of islands, most volcanic, some less so, some stunning, others with similarities we’ve seen on past cruises and in our travels. Getting off the ship at every port is less important to us than some others who are on vacation/holiday.

This is the interior of the lifeboat which tendered us to the pier in Moorea.

For us, we happen to be living on a ship for 18 days, using it as a means of transportation, as we’ve always had, and sightseeing is not on our radar every day in our travels.

Huts above the water.

As I write this we’re sitting in the cool and comfortable Schooner Bar on deck four with air conditioning, comfy chairs, and a nice little table onto which I can set the laptop as I write.

More huts above the water often for rent for higher prices than a regular hotel rooms

After we’ve uploaded today’s post, we’ll be going ashore to grab a taxi to take us to see some sites and take photos to post here tomorrow. 

Mountain scenes in every direction.

We’re in Papeete, Tahiti. As much as one thinks of Tahiti as girls dancing in hula skirts, palm trees, and icy drinks, when we look outside, we see only a city with tall buildings, traffic, noise, and smog. Surely, a drive away from the city one would easily find that the tropical image we have in our mind exists.

When most tourists visiting a destination such as Tahiti, they grab a taxi or shuttle to take them to their tropical resort which most likely will be a paradise-like environment of all that bespeaks tropical vacation. Only leaving the resort for tours and dining, its an entirely different experience than for our way of life.

Another boat passing us as the sky darkened and it began to rain.

In any case, we’re loving this cruise for the people and the friendships we continue to build each day at breakfast, dinner, and the other venues around the ship.  How we got so lucky, we’ll never know. But, we continue to revel in our surroundings on all terms and during all conditions.

Tom is seated at a table a few tables over from me with a favorite couple we’ve met, Renee and Jeff, older than us, more fun than one can imagine. 

The boat stopped to pick up debris floating in the ocean.

After the game and my uploading today’s post, the four of us are heading out to take a taxi to see the sites for an hour or two. I have to stay away from their table while they play due to my open computer which may broadcast to the other players that potentially we could “cheat” looking up answers online. Of course, we’d never do such a thing but, we certainly understand the possible perception.

Huts built into the hill with a sandy beach below.

Last night, we avoided the show after another fabulous dinner with new people we met at a shared time and again this morning at breakfast meeting another lovely couple. We were almost the last of the diners to exit the dining room.

Lots of parasailing.

Today, we’re completing the posting photos from yesterday’s boat tour in Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia. We were able to take a good video of spinner dolphins but, when I attempted to upload it to YouTube, the timer stated it would take 2462 hours to finish.  We may post it on a future date when we have a stronger signal. Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos from today’s tour of Papeete, Tahiti.

Finally, we were back on the ship.

As of today, we’ve been on the ship for one week. With many days remaining and the level of enjoyment, we’re experiencing this may go down as one of our favorite cruises for the social element. As for the ports of call, they are proving to be similar to many other ports we seen to date and more we’ll see in the future.

A close-up view of a hut over the water.

Have a restful Sunday. We’ll excitedly be back tomorrow.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, May 31, 2014:

Tom was relaxed in Madeira while we were out to dinner in Ribeira Brava, the closest village to Campanario where we lived for two and a half months. For details from that post, please click here.

Part 1…Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia…A tour at sea…

Vacation/holiday huts set into the side of the mountain

With few tour options that appealed to us on the island of Moorea, located in the chain of islands, Society Islands, which is a part of French Polynesia, we opted for the Eco Tour on a three hour boat ride that was intended to tour around the entire island.

The ticket we purchased for the tour.

Unfortunately, a giant wave/swell was expected to hit the north and west sides of the island later in the day today and our eco tour guide, Terry, informed us that we’d need to stay away from that side of the island.

View of the shore from the boat.

However, once we got going, somehow we ended up on the west side. The waves were huge and the boat with only 11 of us passengers and two crew rode the waves quite well, although we bounced about considerably throughout the “three-hour tour.” This boat ride would not have been suitable for the seasick prone.

The pier where passengers exited the tender boats to go ashore.

Tom wrote about the three-hour tour on his Facebook as we’re sitting in the Schooner Bar at the present and one of his FB friends commented, “You know what happened in the last three-hour tour?” (Gilligan’s Island). We sure laughed out loud over that comment.

Most of the homes in Moorea are located along the water, although some appear to be located in the mountainside.

Waves and swells aside, the hard pounding boat tour made taking photos very tricky when it was nearly impossible to hold the camera steady. 

The cost of the tour was listed at $129 per person which we booked yesterday morning. Later in the day, Tom had heard another passenger at the “Shed” guy’s get together, that he had received a 10% discount card left in his cabin earlier in the day. We hadn’t received such a coupon.

More homes along the coast.

With a bit of pressure exercised by Tom at the tour excursions desk, he was able to convince the rep that we should be entitled to the 10% discount as well. As a result, our cost for both of us was down to about $235 making it slightly more palatable.

The greenery in the hills reminded us of Kauai.

With the high cost of extras aboard ship, we continue to watch our budget being highly selective as to what we charge for our onboard account. Preferably, we can go on tours we arrange on our own or with other guests at a considerably lower cost than those offered on the ship. However, this particular cruise’s ports of call appear to have certain safety risks in one going out on their own. 

Moorea, like most islands, were created by volcanic eruptions.

Plus, if we choose a private charter tour, if there’s a breakdown, flat tire or it runs out of gas, we could conceivably not make it back to the ship on time. The ship won’t wait. However, if we’re on a ship sponsored tour, the ship will wait. 

A fisherman headed out fishing.

We can only imagine how difficult and stressful it would be to miss the ship, having left passports, money, and digital equipment on the ship. I can’t imagine this is a risk we want to take in countries that may have had a few less reliable private tours.

House along the shore.

We made it back to the ship on the “tender” which in this case, is the ship using its lifeboats to ferry passengers back and forth to the pier when there’s no port large enough to accommodate the ship’s massive size. Using a tender has been the case in about half of the ports of call we visited on our previous 10 cruises, this being the 11th. This doesn’t bother us at all.

The huts for rent along the shoreline in Moorea.

As for last night, we attended a fabulous comedy show in the main theatre enjoying every moment after another engaging dinner in the Romeo and Juliet dining room. At this point, we can honestly say that every meal we’ve had in the dining room has been delightful. Again, the Aussies, are a fun lot of people.

Terry, our marine biologist had a sense of humor and was a good teacher.

This morning, we had to be ready to board the tender by 8:15 which required an early breakfast. We made it in plenty of time, each having a light meal to avoid feeling too full. The food continues to be acceptable for me with the special accommodations the restaurant staff is providing.

Tomorrow will be one full week we’ve been on the ship with 11 more days until we arrive in Sydney. The time isn’t moving too quickly that it’s getting away from us. We’re absorbing and relishing in every moment, living one precious day at a time, never for a moment forgetting how grateful we are for these experiences, never for a moment, taking any part of our lives for granted.

These huts are located in the ocean which is very popular with tourists.

We’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2, Moorea, Society Islands, and some facts about the island and again, we’ll be getting off the ship to tour the next port of call, Tahiti. Gosh, this is such fun!

It’s Saturday night! Have a good one!

                                                    Photo from one year ago today, May 30, 2014:

A weather phenomenon in Madeira grabbed our attention as dense could be rolled into the island created an interesting scene of the village and mountains.  For more details. a video and photos, please click here.

Cruising…Lost in the minutia while out to sea…Late posting tomorrow due to morning tour in Moorea…

View of the sea before the seas became rough.

Today’s our fifth day at sea. It’s been easy to get lost in a pleasant routine of building relationships, eating reasonably good food, watching seminars, movies, and presentations, and lounging poolside for short stints.

The past few nights we’ve added the 9 pm live shows to our routine and have thoroughly enjoyed each of them.  By 11 pm, we’re ready to retire to our cabin for a hopefully good night’s sleep to begin again the next day.

We’re never bored or antsy. We spend little time in the cabin other than to sleep, shower, and change clothes for the evening. Since neither of us is able to nap, we never stop to lay down or snooze as some cruisers do.

Rough seas have precipitated the closing of the swimming pool.  Walking about the ship has been tricky the past 24 hours as the rough seas have increased.  Of course, neither of us suffers from any seasickness.

Overall, the majority of the passengers are over 50 and Australian, as I mentioned earlier, some of the most lively and animated people we’ve met anywhere. We’ve also spent time with equally fun Americans, we’ve met of the 200 onboard.

The overall Australian theme aboard the ship has been an excellent intro for us into Australian life and lingo.  Tom, who’s had a blast at the men’s club, the “Shed” will attend again today after missing yesterday when we attended a movie with our new friends, Pat and Charles.

After finally watching the highly acclaimed, “The Imitation Game,” we highly recommend seeing this superb movie, which particularly appealed to both of us, me for the technological aspects and Tom for its World War II era. 

The casino, which we continue to ignore preferring not to lose any money.

By the time the movie was over, we wandered about the ship, eventually heading back to our cabin to dress for the party we were invited to for all Crown and Anchor members, a priority points club comparable to “frequent flyers.” Oddly, the party was held in the theatre, not necessarily a good venue for a party. 

A smaller ship such as this, Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas, with a capacity of 2076 passengers is in the category we prefer. With fewer people, it’s actually easier to make and maintains friendships when it possible to find each other again, as opposed to the much larger ships where it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.

Again last night, we had dinner at a 10 seat-sharing table sitting next to older travelers with much more experience than us. Hearing their stories encourages us to consider locations we may have dismissed in the past. How brave many of them are who are well into their 80’s and 90’s, giving us hope that we may be able to carry on for years to come.

View from an upper-level balcony overlooking the Centrum, the center area of the ship.

After dinner, we watched a fabulous comedian at the theatre. It was interesting to hear so much of the humor geared toward the Australians and how quickly we are picking up their humor. 

Although I prefer not to stereotype people, in general, the Australians are one fine bunch of people. Their sense of humor leaves us roaring with laughter and easily getting in on the fun with our own quips.

Tomorrow, we’re going on a fabulous tour on the island of Moorea with a marine biologist. After reading many reviews on TripAdvisor for suggested activities on this small island, this seemed most appropriate for us.  Many comments we read suggested we chose tours offered by the ship for safety reasons. Although we prefer small tours arranged on our own or with others, in this case, we feel this was a better decision.

Returning to our cabin, this pin was awaiting us.  We are now officially Platinum members with a long way to go on Royal Caribbean to reach a tier with many benefits.

As a result, we won’t be posting until after we return from the tour. Please be aware that tomorrow’s post won’t be available online until later in the day than usual. Good signal providing, we’ll be back with exciting photos and stories of our tour.

Also, if you do not see a post on a specific day, it is due to the fact that the ship’s Internet is down which we’ve been warned could but may not, transpire at some point between now and June 11th when we arrive in Sydney.

These mechanical devices are used for the aerial acrobats.

Thanks to all of our readers for following along with us on cruises. We realize our photos are not as exciting while out to sea as at other times, but as we come to several great ports of call over the next several days, we hope to amp up the adventure.

Happy Friday!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2014:

Ironically, one year ago today we posted information on this cruise we are on at the present while we were living in Madeira, Portugal. For details from that post, please click here.

Crossing the Equator in a few minutes…Hilarious King Neptune Celebration poolside…

King Neptune is getting ready to start the Equator crossing ceremony.

Soon we’ll be crossing the Equator and the ceremonies poolside is about to begin. We’re sitting at a table near the pool with new friends with Pat and Charles from Missouri, USA and having a blast.

The dancers heading out to the main area.

From Wikipedia, here’s info on the crossing of the Equator:

“The ceremony of Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the British Merchant Navy, Dutch merchant navy, Royal Navy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, Russian Navy, and other navies that commemorates a sailor’s first crossing of the Equator. The tradition may have originated with ceremonies when passing headlands, and become a “folly” sanctioned as a boost to morale, or have been created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates were capable of handling long rough times at sea. Sailors who have already crossed the Equator are nicknamed (Trusty/Honorable) Shellbacks, often referred to as Sons of Neptune; those who have not are nicknamed (Slimy) Pollywogs (in 1832 the nickname griffins were noted.”

There he is, King Neptune, the festivities have begun.

Soon the polliwogs will participate by the swimming pool as a celebration of our crossing the Equator. I’d never heard of a pollywog until this cruise which refers to those who’ve volunteered to be indoctrinated through a ritual that includes breaking eggs on their heads and tossing them fully clothed into the pool.

The human resource manager getting “egged.”

As the participants kneel to have the raw eggs broken over their heads the crowd is roaring and laughing over the fun antics. It couldn’t be more fun. At the moment, the hosts of the party just dumped cups of flour on top of the heads of those that had been egged. The crowd roars some more.

One of the hosts of the ceremonies, the Cruise Director.

The inclusion of various staff members in the festivities only adds to the frenzy of the crowd; the human resources manager and various ship officers. It makes us all laugh at how it must have been Roman times when people were mocked in the square especially when the staff members are being beaten with wet pasta.

It appeared that every passenger was watching the festivities.

Why is it we humans get a kick out of such festivities, I’ll never know. Perhaps, part of our humor is over the fact that we’re just happy it’s not us out there being egged, floured, and beaten with wet noodles. In any case, it’s rather humorous and neither of us is exempt from this good humor.

The “kiss the fish” ceremony.

Now, the environmental managers are having to “kiss the fish” which is hilariously followed by more egg breaking and flour dumped on their heads and down their shirts, and finally, full bowls of cost red pasta sauce dumped over their heads.

The second cruise director getting egged.

Now, passengers are volunteering for the final part of King Neptune’s Equator ceremony as a dozen seniors and a few younger passengers kneel on the floor to be indoctrinated as “pollywogs,” as those who are experiencing crossing the Equator for the first time in their lives. 

Getting “floured.”

Again, the broken eggs, the flour and the wet pasta, and finally, the red pasta sauce and the crowd is going wild.

Getting “pasta noodled.”

Today, we share these photos, tongue in cheek, admiring the brave souls who volunteered to be spectacles of themselves. The final volunteer was one of the cruise directors who are hilarious and a great sport.

Pasta and pasta sauce on the head of a brave passenger.
The Cruise Director getting floured.

As of this moment, we have crossed the Equator and are in the southern hemisphere for the next almost two years to come. The adventure has just begun!

What a brave guy!

Photo from one year ago today, May 28, 2014:

An ocean view in Madeira, Portugal one year ago.  It was at this time one year ago we began making some new plans for the future. Please click here for details.

“Sexiest Man Aboard Ship Contest”…Tom and the “Shed”…

The ceiling fixture in the main lounge area, the Centrum.

Cruising is ideal for us.  We love the routine we naturally slide into within a few days, hanging out with new friends, meeting more people at meals each morning, evening, and when wandering about the ship.

Yesterday afternoon Tom attended the daily “Shed,” an Australian tradition whereby men get together and shoot the breeze. He had a great time and most likely will return again each day. How unusual for us to be apart for a few hours. I easily filled the two-hour time slot working out and taking photos.

In three days, we’ll reach our first port of call, Moorea, Society Islands, where we’ll get off the ship to check out the island. It’s especially enjoyable for us when we have an opportunity to visit new locations to see if it’s a place we’d return to someday for an extended stay.

Tom refused to partake in the “Sexiest Man Aboard Ship Contest” that transpired yesterday afternoon. We both got a kick out of watching the contest poolside.

If not, it’s still interesting to see other parts of the world, the local customs, the way of life, and the dedication many islanders must exercise to fulfill the expectations of tourists constantly flooding their area.

We’re very sensitive to that fact and we make every effort to be kind, patient, and appreciative when services are provided to us. Many island nations have lived off the cruise business and tourism to sustain a quality of life that may be impossible without it.

Part of the competition was pushups. This passenger did the most number of pushups, 66, and eventually won the competition with his excellent dancing skills.

Most of the islands we’ll visit between Saturday, May 30th and June 11th have small populations, high poverty levels, and struggle to make it through life. It is through the naivety of us travelers that a simple beautiful life can be had living on a tropical island. 

But, for the masses living on these islands, life is hard, fraught with poverty, illness, and strife often without running water, electricity, and modern comforts and conveniences.

This poor guy couldn’t do one pushup.  This made Tom especially happy he hadn’t participated.

We have no delusions in our pleasant way of life of following the sun, that the people that serve us in any manner share in what appears to them to be an affluent life. For us, it’s hardly affluent when we’ve made many adjustments and sacrifices in order to live this life we’ve chosen. 

We’ve often said this and continue to remind ourselves…we are humbled by this life we live. Humbled by the beauty of the people, the environment, the way of life, and how simply one can live and find happiness at every turn.

This guy did a “moon shot” while the dancing part of the competition took place. 

Sure, it’s easy for us to say this as we lounge on a cruise ship writing to our readers today using modern technology, eating good food, and having all the “creature comforts” one could want.

From one laugh fest to another, one great philosophical conversation to another, to one enriching expose of our lives to theirs, we strive to maintain a degree of gratitude and humility.

One of the buffet tables in Romeo and Juliet, the main dining room.

However enthusiastically we share our story that often leaves mouths agape as to how we could possibly manage to let go of all of our worldly goods, the people we love, and a place to call “home” we don’t forget for a moment that is could change on a dime.

As each day comes, we find ourselves being grateful for one more opportunity to become engaged in our surroundings whether its people, scenery, or wildlife, and when, on occasion, it’s all of these.

The dining room as it was being set for breakfast.

At the moment we’re sitting outdoors near the pool in a dining area with tables and chairs drinking cold beverages on a hot, humid day and a somewhat overcast day at sea. We don’t have a complaint in the world.  The seas are relatively calm so far and that too could change on a dime. If it does we’ll be ready to take on the challenge with aplomb.

Please bear with our less than perfect photos aboard the ship. There are only so many photo ops on the ship.  However, in a few days, we’ll have more exciting photos to share of the many islands we’ll visit on the journey to Australia.


                                              Photo from one year ago today, May 27, 2014:

At night the island of Madeira became a cacophony of lights and magic as we enjoyed this view from our veranda. In the entire two and a half months, we never tired of either the daytime ocean views or the lights. For details, please click here.

Sorry for late posting!…Too much fun!…Update on posting while cruising…Cruise itinerary…Making new friends aboard the ship…

Please excuse the blurry photos. I’d accidentally changed the setting on the camera effecting the quality of some of the photos. Also, with the weak wifi signal on the ship, our formatting and line spaces may be inaccurate.

Tom’s miniature lemon meringue pie for dessert at last night’s dinner.
For details for this cruise itinerary and details regarding the ship’s amenities, please click this link.

Over the next number of days while cruising our daily posts will be arriving a few hours later than usual, although we’ll continue to post every 24 hours or so. Once we arrive in Australia on June 11th and get settled, future posts will be available every 24 hours.

My breakfast this morning.

With the upcoming crossing of the International Dateline, we’ll be losing a day having experienced multiple time zone changes. We’ll cover more of that later as the time zone changes.

Last night, Tom at the bar, enjoying his unlimited cocktails, wearing his white dress shirt for dress-up night. 

The reason we’ll be running late in posting is a result of our having too much fun! What can I say? These 1400 Aussies and 200 Americans on board are the most fun group of people we’ve ever encountered on a cruise. 

They’re everywhere, ready for sharing a good story and having a good laugh. How did a nation of people have friendliness and good humor in common? Maybe we’ll figure it out over the next few years.

I ordered a small salmon plate and received this extra-large salmon plate. 

We’ve discovered that we have a lot of language nuances to learn and are making an effort to pick up everything we can in the hopes of “fitting in” into the Aussie homeland.

My view while working out on the elliptical machine.

In an effort to avoid germs and have better service, for organizing my breakfasts, which I do have when cruising, it’s easier to order my specific meals from the helpful dining concierge, Cecelia, who’s in charge of all the passengers with special diets who dine in the main dining room. She’s got mine figured out. There’s no such a service in the Windjammer Café, the buffet-style venue.

Although the Windjammer has a specific “gluten-free” buffet area, it has a few items that work for me when many are high carb gluten-free baked goods and sugary items none of which work for me. Last night at dinner, I ordered my breakfast and tonight’s dinner in advance, giving the chef ample time to make the items suitable.

More equipment in the fitness center.

This morning we had breakfast in the main dining room. Thus, in the future will avoid the Windjammer buffet entirely. Tom was able to order what he wanted both in choices and portions and my choices worked out perfectly.

The theatre where seminars and shows are performed.

However, while dining at a “shared table” which we always do, it’s impossible not to become friendly with our table mates. The lengthy delay in posting today and most likely on most days going forward as we continue on the cruise. 

We’re out to sea with no land in sight in any direction. An announcement was made that there will no access to satellite TV for the next several days from the ship will be too far out of range. We don’t watch TV anyway while cruising. We stay out every night until we’re ready for bed, exhausted from loads of fun. 

Cruise ships often have peculiar décor.

During the day we only go to the cabin to change clothes, put away our laptops or grab an item we may need.  Today’s a busy day. As I write this now, it’s 1:30 pm. At 2:00, Tom will head to a history seminar while I visit the fitness center the second day in a row.

Having lost a degree of fitness in Kauai after being sick for a few weeks, I’m finding that working out is helping me restore my former self. Over the next few weeks I’ll continue to improve and then, when we arrive in Trinity Beach I’ll join a nearby health club for the three month stint which I’ve already contacted for rates.    

Cha cha lessons in the centrum.

Today, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm Tom will attend a men’s group called “The Shed,” an Australian tradition where guys get together and shoot the breeze over cocktails. This morning Tom explained that in Minnesota, its comparable to “Garage Logic” (his favorite radio show, which he still listens to each day when we’re on land).  I’m thrilled that he gets to do this and tomorrow he’ll fill in the details in the post.

While he’s in “The Shed” I’ll sit by the pool and read a book on my phone. Wow! This is the life! No wonder we love cruising.

It was fun to watch the dancers carry on.

When we meet back at the cabin at 5:15, I’ll be showered and dressed for dinner and Tom will do the same. Shortly afterward, we’ll head to the bar for happy hour and later in the main dining room for more lively banter and fun. We haven’t yet been to an evening show. 

We seldom find the arranged activities and shows quite our cup of tea instead, preferring to meet up with our new friends for happy hour, breakfast or dinner. 

This towel character, an elephant, was sitting on our bed last night when we returned for bed.

One more item regarding posting while on the ship: we will only be able to post eight to ten photos each day. Although we have an unlimited data wifi package, photos take too long to post, often almost two hours for more than a dozen photos. With fewer photos, we can upload the post in a more timely fashion, albeit a little later each day while cruising.

Have a terrific Tuesday! See you again soon!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2014:

The ocean view from our house in Madeira where we lived for two and a half months, having a fabulous experience. For more details, please click here.

Sailing takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be…Ship couldn’t leave…

Balcony view of our cabin.

With a party to attend at 9:30 am today, I wanted to be able to stay and enjoy ourselves without leaving early to upload today’s post. Thus, I’m rushing a bit. We’ll check back later for error corrections.

Consistency means a lot to us and to our much appreciated worldwide readership which last night grew well over 300,000 reads. Perhaps, that’s nothing compared to millions of other sites but, for us who aren’t necessarily bogged down by these numbers, it’s astounding.  hanks to all of our readers for the dedication to following along with us.

As for today’s heading, this song has been running through my brain over the past few days. The next few lines in this 1980s song continue with:

“Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free

Well it’s not far back to sanity, at least it’s not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find serenity
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Believe me”

Our cabin, small but well equipped.

Ah, these words not only bring back memories from another era of my life when I was single at the time, owned a 26′ Chris Craft cabin cruiser that I kept in a slip on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, had two kids, owned a house and a business and life was a combination of raging responsibility and occasional carefree fun at age 32.

This song also holds true today for the joy and freedom we experience in our daily lives. We’ve already met and made friends with a lovely couple from Australia, Judy, and Mal, whom we’ll surely see again. And last night, at dinner we had an excellent time with Michael, Allison, Jenny, Jenny, (two named Jenny), and Ken, again all from Australia.

View of Honolulu.

The ship is supposed to be on it’s way to Australia and the South Pacific, where we’ll live for the next almost two years. However, last night there was an announcement regarding mechanical problems. Here we are at 9:00 am Monday and we still haven’t sailed away. We’re still in the harbor in Honolulu.

This morning the captain announced we’ll be ready to sail by noon, 13 hours later than last night’s schedule 11 pm departure. We’d never experienced a late departure of a cruise ship. Hopefully, it’s not a sign of things to come.


Boarding the ship was painless. We arrived at noon and within 30 minutes, our bags were whisked away (we kept our carry on with us on the cart). By 4:00 pm when the bags hadn’t yet arrived, we grabbed our laptops and headed to the bar. 

Before it was time to dress for dinner, the bags were awaiting us outside of our cabin door. I’d been wearing the same clothes for two full days and was anxious to unpack and freshen up to get ready for the evening. 

Lobby bar.

Two things are different on this cruise than on the 10 cruises over the past 27 months. For one, this time Tom purchased the drink package for the first time at $57 per day, $1026 for the entire 18 night cruise. 

At the ship’s prices of $10 to $12 a drink (in a small glass), economically it made more sense. Tom is generally a lightweight drinker but why shouldn’t he splurge a little and have all he wants? Besides, that’s part of the fun of the venue; cruising, schmoozing, and whooping!


Luckily, this cruise ship doesn’t require both of us to purchase a package or he wouldn’t have done it. That rule prohibits the “sharing” of one package. All I drink is water, iced tea, plain coffee, and hot tea, definitely not worth a “package” when all of these are included in the fare.

What precipitated Tom’s decision to purchase the drink package was the second item that’s different on this cruise. We were able to purchase an unlimited wifi package for the entire cruise, suitable for two devices concurrently, for a grand total of $299! 

A barge and tugboat from our balcony.

A package such as this had never been available on any past cruises when we often paid well over $1000 for metered wifi, jumping off and on to avoid ringing up a bigger bill. We’d sign up for two $400 packages, using every last minute. Writing and posting alone would eat up most of that.

You may ask, why would we be online when we’re on a cruise? When we’re not eating, participating in activities, going on tours, hanging out with others, attending parties, seminars, and movies, or reading books, our lives continue as always. 

A view looking up.

A cruise for us is not a vacation/holiday. It’s a continuation of our worldwide travels and daily lives that happens to be on a ship which we use for transportation when possible. The tasks we continue to document and the searching for future locations continue regardless of where we are, on a ship or on land. Tom enjoys Facebook, email, and I enjoy researching our travels and my other interests.

Plus, we particularly enjoy staying in touch with friends and family wherever we may be. Yesterday while we were relaxing in the main lobby bar, I received a Skype call from my dear friend Chere. I admit the signal was bad and will be worse out to sea but we had an opportunity for a few minute conversations to be resumed once we’re on land.

Luckily, we can’t be pressured into buying art aboard a ship. We don’t own a wall!

As for the ship, Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas is old and a bit worn in spots. A toilet overflowed before we boarded and there was an awful stench in the hallway outside our door. We addressed it with the maintenance department. They explained that they’ve made the repairs but, the smell remains until the carpets are all cleaned this morning. We shall see how that goes.

Otherwise, it’s not unlike the other ships on which we’ve sailed in the past. The cabin is small as always but has a full-sized sofa and coffee table which makes us happy that we don’t have to sit on the bed when we stop in to relax, unwind or watch the news. 

A short time later, the band began to play.

More on the ship later as we continue on and become more familiar. We’re content, excited to spend these 18 days and night aboard ship, see the sites and ports of call along the way, and to interact with the many people we’ll meet during the days and at dinner. 

The view from the main lobby area.

So far we haven’t met any Americans. This cruise ends in Sydney. In speaking with many Australians, they arrived in Honolulu early for the beginning of their vacation, then taking the cruise back home.

Tom, shortly after signing up for unlimited drinks. Check out his eyes!

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a reminder of the upcoming itinerary, more ship photos, and perhaps people photos.

We hope our US friends and readers have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day especially in remembering the powerful message on this important holiday.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2014:

Gina, the property manager, brought us this gorgeous rose. For more details on our post from one year ago, please click here.

Synonyms for “Hopefully”

Back in Honolulu after a 21 minute flight from Kauai…Out and about for shopping, fun and food!

Crossing over a bridge in Honolulu.
Yesterday, we left the condo at 10:30 am to drive to the airport in Lihue. As always, Tom drops me off at the curbside with the luggage while I grab a skycap to take away our three prepaid checked bags while he returns the rental car.

We’ve got this routine down pat for check-in only. When we’re leaving an airport, we haul the bags ourselves, which we’re able to do with me pulling the wheeled cart with all the carry on bags and wheeling the smallest of the three bags while Tom wheels the two heaviest bags. This way, we only have to pay for assistance part of the time. 
We took the Pink Trolley to the shopping mall in Honolulu.

After the flight as we made our way to baggage claim, Tom suddenly realized he didn’t have his driver’s license in his pocket. Having to show it several times to board the plane, he kept it in his shorts pocket.

When he realized he must have dropped it on the plane, he left me outside with the carry on bags while he ran back to see if it could be recovered. Losing his license would be a fiasco when at many ports of call, showing it is required to get on and off the ship.

And, what about the rental car in Cairns, Australia which requires a driver’s license?  How would he get a replacement through the mail from afar? It was a dreadful thought. Again, “safari luck” kicked in. A kindly baggage agent ran to the plane moments before it was taking off again to recover the license, refusing to take the generous tip we offered.

The fare was $2 per person each way.

After the 25-minute taxi ride, we finally arrived at our hotel, Hyatt Place Waikiki by 3:00 pm. It was hard to believe it took so long considering the short flight. It’s all the “monkey business” in between that takes up the time, typical on every flight regardless of its actual flying time. The hotel room was small but conveniently outfitted with a big-screen TV, free wifi, and a comfortable king bed.

As I write this now, the Indy 500 just ended and before too long we’ll check out and head to the pier. Having not seen the race in a few years while living outside the US, it was exciting to see how the presentation of the race has escalated with newer video technology making it all the more exciting.

Over the past several days I’ve been thinking about purchasing a pair of white pants to go with the many tops I purchased a week ago in Kauai. To avoid putting pressure on our time, I threw it out there as a possibility if time allowed.

The exterior of our hotel, Hyatt Place. 

Yesterday, once we were settled in the room, I looked online and called Old Navy to see if they had white jeans in my size. With a few options in stock, Tom who despises clothes shopping agreed to go with me to the Ala Moana Shopping Center a few miles down the main road. 

Instead of spending $50 for the round trip taxi, we decided to take the Pink Trolley that travels directly to the mall and back. All we had to do was walk two blocks to the trolley stop in front of a hotel down the road. Within minutes we were riding on the open-air Pink Trolley, thrilled that we’d decided to do this enjoying the scenery along the way.

A ukulele store we passed on the ride.

When we were in Honolulu/Waikiki last October for 11 days, we walked everywhere instead of taking the trolley. But, as the day wore on and wanting to have dinner at our favorite local restaurant, Cheeseburger in Paradise, taking the trolley ensured we could accomplish it all.

And we did accomplish it all. Not only did I find a pair of white pants, modeling them for Tom while he sat in a chair in the fitting room, but I was also convinced I’d found exactly what I wanted when he smiled and gave me the thumbs up. I think that the first time Tom had ever been in a fitting room with me.

A blurry photo of a Banyan tree which lines the boulevard in Waikiki.

The only item I needed to complete my wardrobe for the cruises was a pair of high-heeled shoes, preferably with a cork wedge-type heel for added stability. Recently, tossing a pair of shoes, I was down to five pairs. I had no qualms about replacing the sixth pair with something new and attractive in light of three upcoming four dress-up nights on the cruise.

In no time at all we found the shoes and were back on the return trolley, getting off at the correct stop for the restaurant.  It was 7 pm. All had worked out as planned, we had a great time and didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes to get a table. The dinner was great as expected. I had my usual Cobb Salad and Tom splurged with a burger and onion rings.

Before dark, we arrived at the restaurant for another great meal.

By 11:00 am, we’ll be checked out of the hotel and shortly on our way to the pier taking a shuttle arranged by the hotel for $17. Cruise check-in begins at noon.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with ship photos and more. Please check back then!

Have a safe Memorial weekend!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2015:

A breathtaking view from our veranda of the private home we rented in Madeira, Portugal for two and a half months. We were never tired of this view. For details from this date, please click here.

Off we go!…Final expenses for Kauai…Over budget in one category only…

Our final video of the Laysan Albatross.  Great for a huge chuckle. Nature is amazing!

Today, we fly away to Oahu to stay overnight at Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach. We used points we’d accumulated to pay for the hotel using the link on our site for

We chose this hotel when our intent was to be close to Cheeseburger in Paradise, our favorite Waikiki restaurant, and to have easy access to walking along the beach boulevard, Kalakaua Avenue.

Tom had wanted to have a photo with the car since we first noticed it in downtown Hanalei. Finally, during our last few days, we got it done.

Tomorrow around noon we’ll grab a taxi to take us the short distance to the pier in Honolulu, where our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas will be ready for boarding. Need I say, for the zillionth time, we’re kind of excited?

The final packing and cleaning of the condo are complete, and we’re all set to go. Check-out time is 10:00 am but our flight isn’t until 1:30 pm so we’ll take our time getting out the door when the cleaning people aren’t due to arrive until 10:30.

After the first half-hour, the clouds rolled in and it began to rain in the mountains.

Yesterday, I began calculating the final expenses to share here today. These calculations include every expense we’ve incurred in Kauai for a total of 128 days with the exception of clothing and supply purchases we’ve made during the lengthy stay.  Here they are:

Rent (128 nights):                           $ 9,000.00 (special rate for long term stay, web exposure)
Car Rental & Fuel:                              3,492.32
Airfare to and from Kauai:                     576.00
Tours & Entertainment:                         450.00
Dining in Restaurants:                           905.92
Groceries & Household Products:          5,679.79
Total Expenses:                            $20,104.03

Average Cost per Day:                  $     157.06
Average Cost per Month:              $  4,777.24

We are pleasantly surprised with the totals although we were over on the budgeted amount for groceries by $579.79 when originally we estimated food costs at $5100. (Tom says that we were only over budget by $4.52 each day. No big deal, right?)

Most of our food purchases include mostly organic vegetables (when available), grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, free-range organic chicken and butter and bake a few items with expensive coconut flour at $8.95 for 12 ounces and almond flour at $15 for 12 ounces. Of course, the extra costs for these added considerably to the totals.

A group of tourists from a couple of tour vans walked along the pier with the guy in the blue shirt singing and playing the ukulele. Most likely they were cruise passengers out on a day tour from Norwegian’s Pride of America.

As an alternative view of our food expenses, we never eat more than two meals per day and purchase no snacks or munching type foods other than quality cheeses, meats, and nuts.  

We use organic real cream in our coffee. We’ve fed the birds no less than $25 of raw nuts. We buy no canned or bottled sodas (other than Sprite Zero for Tom’s occasional cocktail) and we only drink iced tea. Also, we’ve replaced most of the staples we used during our stay that were on hand when we arrived including paper products and cleaning supplies.

The point in Hanalei with the shape of a dragon on the side facing us inspired the song “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

When you consider the above grocery bill, it averages $44.37 per day. Considering the quality of the food we’ve consumed, we find this total to be acceptable, especially when dining out wouldn’t guarantee food quality with an average cost of $68 including tip, for a meal at a casual local restaurant without cocktails, appetizers or desserts. 

If we’d eaten dinner out every night, we’d have spent another $3,024.64 and still had to purchase household goods and miscellaneous items for breakfast and snacks.  

If one lived in Kauai long term and enjoyed making quality meal, occasionally dining out, and visiting various sites, we estimate the monthly cost with a modest rent, food, dining out, and a car rental it could be approximately $4500 a month.

This was the view when we sat in our chairs in the sand.

We didn’t have to include the cost of the hotel in Poipu for my birthday when this room was also booked using a “free night.” However, we did include meals, fuel, and miscellaneous in the appropriate categories.

As I upload this post, within minutes, we’ll be running around checking every nook and crannies for any items we may have missed. We’ll place the door key back in the lockbox and be on our way.

We’ll be back tomorrow morning from the hotel in Oahu with an update on the flight, dinner in Honolulu, and an assessment of the hotel. If time allows and we get connected on the ship’s wifi, we may write a short blurb with a few photos of our first impressions aboard the ship. If not, we’ll be back on Monday morning with the scoop.

As the chick’s fluffy feathers fall away, the new feathers quickly fill in. We’d love to see as this progresses and will be able to do so by watching this live webcam from Cornell Labs.

Dear Readers, thanks for hanging in there with us all of these months. We realize at times, our stories were a stretch and perhaps a bit mundane. Let’s face it, daily life in itself isn’t always exciting and eventful. It was a long haul we may never repeat in one location. Also, it was a long stretch  coming up with stories and photos during the eight months in Hawaii.

Please stay tuned and look forward to new adventures to begin aboard ship for 18 nights, across the International Dateline, the equator and living in Australia beginning on June 11th.

Bye, bye, Birdie!  You’ve made it all the more wonderful!

Birdie sitting on the railing of the lanai trying to get us to bring out the nuts. How could we ever refuse when we heard this song?

Have a safe Memorial weekend!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, May 23, 2014:

The entire village of Campanario is built on the side of a mountain.  The roads are steep and winding like nothing we’d ever seen.  There were tunnels everywhere, older ones made with stone walls.  For more details on that date, please click here.

One more day until departure!…Saying goodbye to friends and wildlife…Last Kauai photos…Links to other Hawaiian Island photos and total expenses….

We seldom are able to get a photo of us together without imposing it on others. On occasion, when appropriate we’ll offer to take a photo of a couple or a family hoping they’ll also take ours.

Yesterday, at noon we put on our swimsuits and headed to the beach at Hanalei Bay to sit in our Costco chairs, one last time, gaze at the sea and walk on the pier. The sun was shining when we arrived and, not surprisingly, gone by the time we left. We took some photos and languished in the beauty surrounding us. We’ll share those photos tomorrow.

This green anole has begun shedding its skin. We were excited to see this at the overlook across the street.

The beach was quiet, perhaps due to the fact that permanent residents may have gone to the mainland or other islands for the upcoming Memorial weekend. Other than a few tour vans that arrived loaded with tourists, it was peaceful and quiet except for our own endless chatter on plans for the future. It was perfect!

This partnership that we’ve watched daily between Birdie and Ms. Birdie reminds us of the partnership we share, always looking out for one another. This is a favorite photo.

In a prior post, we’d mentioned that we’d share some favorite photos from the three other Hawaiian islands we’ve visited over these many months. For expediency, instead, we’ve listed the links to the final posts that include some of our favorite photos from each island. Plus, these links include the final expenses for each location. Please click here to view:

Big Island:

Tomorrow’s post will include the total expenses and final photos of our time in Kauai. Please check back.

Another exquisite view from the hilltop at Princeville Ranch.

Communicating with the many friends we made over the past several months while living in Kauai continues up over these past few days via email and in person. This afternoon, we’ll visit Richard and Elaine at their home to say goodbye and give them our two Costco lawn chairs that we certainly can’t take with us. Who better than Richard to inherit these chairs who will undoubtedly use them at upcoming Full Moon Parties?

An ocean view from the highest point at the Princeville Ranch when we toured the property with Curlie, the owner.

This evening, we’re meeting Alice and Travis for dinner at Hideaways across the road, giving us the opportunity to say goodbye to them in person. We’d planned to eat leftovers, but when Alice asked if we’d like to meet for dinner via Facebook messenger, we were thrilled to be able to see them one more time.

We’ve gotten a kick out of all the feral chickens, chicks and roosters found everywhere in Kauai.

Yesterday, our new next-door neighbors followed us to the neighborhood so we could show them the albatross families and take a few final photos. To our delight, we ended up taking a hysterical video that we’ll be posting tomorrow on our final Kauai post, along with an expense breakdown. If you’d like a good chuckle, make sure you watch that short video in its entirety.

There are an estimated 1100 Hawaiian Monk Seals left in the world. Having the opportunity to see this one was pure “safari luck.”

I’m mostly packed. Tom will pack later today. Now, we’re doing our final loads of laundry. Today, Tom decided we should wash all of his shirts so they’ll be hanging all over the condo to get the wrinkles out before he packs.

At times, the wildlife staff will fence off the Hawaiian Monk Seals to avoid curiosity seekers from getting too close. The morning Julie and I spotted this one, she/he was comfortably at peace, longing on the beach without a fence enclosing her/him.

Usually, each day we wash one load of clothing and towels. Once we board that ship, we’ll have to accumulate dirty clothes until the ship offers a deal on laundry, usually $30 for one grocery sized bag. This bag usually arrives after the first week. 

Another breathtaking sunset in Kauai.

It’ll be tricky waiting until that paper bag arrives when we have few clothes. In the interim, we’ll be washing underwear and swimsuits in the bathroom sink. We could have them done piece by piece, but at the ship’s cost of $5 for a single tee shirt, it makes no sense. Wearing most items more than once or twice will be necessary.  Then again, this is not unfamiliar to us.

View over Hanalei Bay.

Fortunately, our clothes never smell of body odor even if we wear the same item twice. Neither of us sweats that much and freshly showered a few times a day, in the morning and after the pool, our clothes stay fresh for a few days. 

Hanalei Wildlife Refuse.

The bigger problem is spilling food on our clothes, particularly Tom, who really doesn’t appear to be a messy diner. But, invariably he has coffee, iced tea, or food spots on the front of his shirts. I’m not exempt from this issue either.

This Jackfruit is known for its medicinal value. 

Packing and flying have a few nuances we have to consider, especially the no more than 3-ounce liquid rules.  Although the flight is less than 30 minutes to Oahu, all the rules still apply. Thus, we’ll pack our toiletries we’ll need overnight at the hotel and pack larger liquid containers in the suitcases which we don’t plan to open until we get to the ship.

I spotted this gorgeous rhododendron on the tour of the Princeville Botanical Garden.

Yesterday, I threw out my worn purse. It had heavy metal buckles. The only purses I have left are two tiny evening bags, one black, one beige, that I use on occasion when we go to dinner which I am planning to give away today. Otherwise, Tom carries my few items in his pockets. Why women’s clothing doesn’t have ample pockets baffles me.

This bottlebrush type of flower was a mystery to the tour guide and the owner of the Princeville Botanical Garden.

Instead of a purse in which to carry my small black cosmetic bags, a brush, and comb, my wallet and camera,  going forward I’ll be using the big yellow insulated Costco bag as a carry on which has multiple uses as a grocery bag or beach bag.

Another view of the Hanalei Wildlife Refuge. 

I can fit my purse stuff and the pill bag inside the Costco bag so it will appear that I have only one carry-on bag instead of two. Tom will carry one computer bag, a duffel bag, and the rolling cart. With this average of two items each, we’re good on all flights going forward. Minimize. It’s a way of life for us.

Could these orchids be more beautiful?

That’s it for today folks! We’ll be back tomorrow morning shortly before we depart for the airport. On Sunday, we’ll be posting in the morning from Honolulu as we wait for the appropriate time to grab a taxi and head to the pier. Yeah!

Happy Friday! Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, May 22, 2014:

Zooming in to quite a distance from our veranda in Madeira, we could see this man on his roof near the clothesline. Dryers are unheard of in many other countries. Once again we were hanging our clothes outdoors.  For details, please click here.