Monday, May 20, 2024

Having Fun in Fiji!

We were excited to reach Fiji because we had signed up for a zip-lining adventure early on and was really looking forward to doing this.  Jack and I had done zip-lining a few times in San Diego, but nothing like what we were going to be doing in Suva.  Here, it was going to be seven rides over the jungle canopy going from one platform to another, each one longer and steeper that the last!  

The day started out with a bumpy bus ride out to our destination, there were about a dozen of us in the group. It was an early morning trip, but humidity and temperature and were already rising.  Once we arrived, we had a short walk...uphill, to get our gear and suit up! I only took a couple of picture en route, and of us (all ready to go) - but nothing else - as I handed my phone to Jack to put in his deep pockets to make sure it was safe!  I had this crazy idea that he would be able to take a picture of me as I traveled from platform to platform, hah!  First off, we all were pretty tightly squeezed together on those platforms, and secondly, there wasn't much time from getting onto them, before we were sent off again!  Not much time for "friendly photo shoots"!  Every time the guide offered to take someone's picture, Jack wasn't there with my phone, so I was out of luck...Oh well, I was there for the experience anyway.  ;-). 


The next day was a relaxing day on the island of Dravuni Fiji.  It's a small beach island (only about 125 inhabitants) that we had to be shuttled into.  Warm, clear, delicious water to swim in, with white sand to sit back and just relax the day away...ahhh.

The locals were there with their goods (of course), lovely linens (I had to have one!), as well as a variety of shirts and dresses.  Several people went out on a boat tour of the island as well as enjoyed their BBQ offers.  Unfortunately, the excitement of the day turned out to be a shipmate who ended up being life flighted out due to a medical emergency.  Our captain kept us informed and all ended well with him in the end. 

Here's a few pictures of our day there...

Views coming into the island

Enjoying the warm ocean!

Sandy beaches and lovely things to buy

 Sun, sand and shopping, what more can a person ask for?  ;-)

...catching up from our cruise,  Marie

If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can go to my Flickr account and it's under the Pacific Islands Album.


Sunday, May 19, 2024

Having fun on the sea!

People always ask what everyone does all those days at sea?  One thing I can tell you, is the cruise director and his staff are kept extremely busy!! There was (many) something(s) going on board from 7a.m. until well past midnight every single day!  You couldn't get bored! That's not including all the swimming pools, lounges (to sit and read or just chat), gym, spa, casino, ping pong, pickle ball courts and eateries!

Beyond all the quizzes, table games, arts & crafts classes, art auctions, etc. they would occasionally come up with some wild and crazy fun thing to really get our attention.  One such time was "The Egg Drop Challenge".  This evidently was a tradition, as a number of guests expected it to happen at some time and were waiting for it to be announced.  If my sister-in-law hadn't told me to look for it, and be sure and go to it, I wouldn't have given it a second thought.  

The "Piazza" was inside and in the center of the ship where music and food (cafe) was "happening" 24 hours a day.  This is where "it" was going to take place...

Let me try and set the scene...The Piazza is surrounded by two large, spiraling staircases that go up three floors.  Each of those floors over-look the Piazza.  The Piazza floor is about 25' round with chairs and small tables surrounding it.  They placed a plastic sheet down over the stationary piano and the floor as well as an "egg" decal that would serve as the target.  

Once it was announced that there would be The Egg Drop Challenge, tons of people gathered all around, in every possible spot!  Anyone interested in participating in the challenge had to use "available" things, to secure the raw egg given to them (by the staff) and come up with a name for their piece.  They had seven challengers.

Each challenger showed their piece, described it, gave it a name, and then went to the third floor, leaned over the railing, and did their best at dropping it to land safely onto the egg target on the floor.  One of the staff was appropriately dressed in a blow-up chicken, who then checked to see if the egg survived.  

Each contraption was ingenious, funny, cute and all but one survived!  The "winner" was a teddy bear who was all dressed up in small life jacket (holding his egg) including eclipse sun glasses! He landed bottom up right on the target!  His owner got a rubber chicken as his prize!  We all got lots of laughs and  a great time.

 Who says you can't have silly fun at sea! ...and we weren't eve gone two weeks yet!  ;-)

...catching up from our cruise,  Marie

Saturday, May 18, 2024

A quick stop at Pago Pago, American Samoa

 The following morning we headed over to the next island, Pago Pago American Samoa.  Here, we were greeted with one of the beautiful Samoan long boats with at least 49 rowers swiftly rowing by us at full speed!  What a sight!  I was so glad I was on our balcony at the right time to catch sight of them!  It was so cool! 

It's always fun to look at the coastline as we sail into the island...

It was interesting to see the differences between the "American" and the "Western" Samoa.  The American island looked so much more their buildings, in their housing, even their port.  One thing noticeable was their large tuna boats and canning buildings as they have a large tuna industry here.

These are some of the buildings of their downtown area, with the Governor's home (upper left) at the top of the cliff as you arrive to the island; the large white building is their main Government building which is right at the cross section downtown. The other large buildings are all shopping markets! 

As we docked at the port we were entertained by a delightful student group from a local school.  What a wonderful treat!  They were so cute, all sizes (one really little one) and all so very talented.  They really put on a great show of quite a number of dances for us, ending with a lovely number that their teacher explained was a traditional one that honored the home and was a way of saying "welcome to my home".  It brought tears to my eyes and made me feel very special.  Such beautiful people here.  

 After enjoying the wonderful welcome, we disembarked and took a walk around town and did some shopping.  In all honesty, we felt there really wasn't much to see and do here, so after our stroll through town and the shops, it was back onto the ship for us!

...catching up from our cruise,  Marie

If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can go to my Flickr account and it's under the Pacific Islands Album.


Friday, May 17, 2024

Sailing to Samoa!

After leaving Hawaii, we would have five days at sea, including crossing the International Date Line.  The Princess Cruise staff made sure we were fed and entertained every minute of our trip, so for those five days, it was smooth and fun sailing! 

One of the things I noticed during our days at sea, was the lack of sunrises and sunsets...but as we began to get closer to Western Samoa, that all changed!  The early morning sky greeted us with it's full beauty!  

Not long after we were pulling into port and were greeted with our first group of singers and dancers!  What a wonderful sight!  So fun to stand out in our balcony and watch and listen to this welcome!  

It didn't take us long to check out the many lovely items for sale after we exited the ship and we were greeted with many friendly guides anxious to show us the island as well.  Once we decided on a driver, off the four of us went on a tour of the island!  Joe assured us that he would take us to all the spots on my list, including some he had I didn't know about!  

Joe didn't disappoint....I wanted to see churches, and boy did we!  Samoa (and and all of the Pacific Islands) are very religious and have just about every place of worship you could think of.  

Some of the ones we took the time to really visit though were the beautiful Immaculate Conception Cathedral, the Gardens and distinctive Baha'i House of Worship, the Mormon Temple as well as some local parishes.  I saw so many more as we whizzed by that I couldn't take pictures of...all so different!

 Did you know that the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson once resided here in the 1890's?  He was having problems with is health by that time and found the climate and the people met his needs.  He only lived here a few years, but did manage several writings during that time.  His home is now open to the public.  It was quite beautiful with a large, lovely garden.

Apia has two, easily accessible waterfalls that were beautiful to visit.  One was the Sopo'aga Falls that plunge through a deep green gorge.  

 The second is in the O Le Pupu-pue National Park (means from the coast to the mountain top).  This spectacular  park encompasses the summits of Mt. Le Pu'e, Mt Fito, and the magnificently rugged O Le Pupu lava fields besides the 328' majestic Papaitai Falls

 We spent most of the day with Joe, and there is no way I can include it all here...but let me just say, he and his island were most charming.  I spent three years in the 1950's on the island of Guam when I was young and my Dad was stationed there.  This island reminded me very much of that time.  So natural and still undeveloped to what today is considered a fast-paced and "modern" tourist area.  I loved it.  Here are few fun pictures:  Their "Town Clock"; their round Parliament Building; a new Courthouse, the view of our ship from the top of the mountain and a view of the "jungle roads".

...catching up from our cruise,  Marie

If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can go to my Flickr account and it's under the Pacific Islands Album.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

32 Day Pacific Island Cruise to Tahiti - How It All Began...

It all started with a phone call.  Jack called his sister to find out how her latest cruise went and while they were talking, one thing led to another and he began asking her about their next one and just how expensive it was, etc.  They were going to Tahiti, a 32 day cruise out of Los Angeles in April.  He turned to me and said, "so, Marie, do you want to go to Tahiti for your birthday?"  I responded with "you know I've always wanted to go to Tahiti, sure."  A couple of sentences later, and before we knew it we were sitting with our friend who is a cruise travel agent making the arrangements!  Oh my gosh, we were joining his sister and brother-in-law for a 32 Day Pacific Island Cruise to Tahiti! Wow, and Happy Birthday to me!

We had just a little over a month to shop, plan, pack and prepare for the trip, which was probably the best thing - not much time to really let it all sink in.  I had meetings to attend and prepare the staff for while I would be away as well, as we wouldn't have any WiFi.  I could get texts while on land, but nothing else.  I contacted my sister and asked her if she and her daughter would like to house-sit and get away from Washington for a month, she jumped at the idea, so that was taken care of. Next was to review the various tours offered and make reservations on the ones we really wanted.  

We have friends and a cousin in Honolulu (our first stop), so we quickly contacted them to see if we could meet up with them.  Our friends, usually come to the mainland to vacation and we always try to hook up, but the last few years, every time we are traveling on the eastern states they are on the western, and visa versa, our timing has been awful, same when we are traveling to the islands, they are here!  Well, guess what?  Because of the scheduled eclipse, they were going to be in TX when we were going to be there! Dang.  However, we did luck out with his cousin, and made arrangements to meet up with him, yea!

Two days before we left, my sister and niece arrived and we were able to spend a little time together.  Enjoyed showing them around and teaching my niece how to drive our golf cart!  It's always a fun thing when you haven't driven one before.  ;-)  Before we knew it, we were off to the airport!  

Arriving in LAX was a breeze...but then the "fun" began.  Oh my.  When I started in my career, it was working for a company that arranged all the free time that conventioneers had - starting when they arrived at the airport, transferring them to their hotels.  So, I KNOW airport transfers and how they SHOULD be done - and this WASN'T it.  What a disaster.  1. Two Princess Cruises were being transported.  No signs saying which line was for which ship.  Only the guests telling each other (no communication from the transport company).  2.  We all stood in line for over 3 hours (no communication from the transport company).  3.  After 3 hours they finally started checking off names of people who had signed up for the transport, so those who had not (the couple behind us hadn't), and didn't realize it, had to leave at that point and find a cab.  4.  They finally began loading us on busses, but again no communication from the transport company.  5. Upon arrival to the port they unloaded us, but didn't tell us where to go, or what to do with our luggage - some left it for them to handle, some took it, some knew where to go, some of us just wandered around until we found the right tent (again, no communication from the transport company).  We finally figured out that THEY would handle the luggage and get it to the ship - no thanks to their communication.  6. Four hours later, we arrived aboard the ship from LAX that was 30 min. away.  Crazy.  Horrible.  Unnecessary. 

From that moment forward, the trip was smooth sailing...

When we arrived in Honolulu, we had arranged to meet up with Jack's cousin Patrick for an early evening visit with drinks and dinner.  He drove us around to a couple of his favorite sites to view the island first.  We had been here before visiting our friends, but this particular spot can be super windy and when we were here the last time, Jack was nearly blown away and I have a fun picture of that!  This time it was lovely.  It also is the spot where my most favorite tree it.  ;-)  

Nu'uanu Pali with my favorite tree

From there we went to a fun "local" restaurant for wonderful drinks and a great meal.  It was super to be able to catch up with Patrick as it had been over a year or more since we had seen him and a lot has happened since then.  A new job, and new lady, a new life, all going great, life is good!  Yea! 

Harbor outside the restaurant, our cousin Patrick at Restaurant 604, view of downtown Hononlulu as we pulled into port

Our next stop was to Maui.  We've been many times and the ship was offering a super discount on massages, so we opted to stay on board and I got a full-body 90 minute massage instead!  mmmm Great way to start a vacation...

Now, we were out to sea for a week.  So glad we had a balcony room.  Loved that we could sit outside when we wanted - and that it was covered too, so when it did rain, it didn't matter!  It was also on the side where we pulled into port, so we always got to see that action every time.  Very cool.  Best cabin ever. 

Our room, Captain on the Bridge, view of Maui, Kathy found a "hidden duck", and enjoying the view from our balcony

...more to come as we continue with our South Pacific Adventure,  Marie