Special moments at sea on our Heavenly Hawaii cruise

Watching the sun peek through the morning cloud cover.

Watching the sun peek through the morning cloud cover.

Our last evening on the cruise, I found myself reminiscing about all the highlights of our sea days, trip to Ensenada, Los Angeles and finally back home in Florida.

Dolly, Randy, Mary, Jane and Ron

Dolly, Randy, Mary, Jane and Ron

What we enjoyed most about this cruise was the enjoyment we received each and every day at the dinner table and crossing paths with other members of our group.

Enjoying lazy days at sea

Enjoying lazy days at sea

The first few days at sea we spent most of our time relaxing and reading and watching two classic movies, “Some like It Hot” and “Overboard” poolside and a wonderful talk about the Hawaiian monarchy by our Cruise Director Dave.

Diamond, Lee, Mary, Rosina, Frank, Max and Crystal

Diamond, Lee, Mary, Rosina, Frank, Max and Crystal

A really special day on the ship was Valentine’s Day.   We attended a fun wine tasting event with Diamond, Lee, Max, Crystal, Frank, and Rosina.   We enjoyed tasting a variety of white and red wines and one dessert wine.  All were tasty and, of course, we all had varying opinions of which one(s) was the best.

Max, Crystal, Randy, Mary, Frank and Rosina

Max, Crystal, Randy, Mary, Frank and Rosina

Later that afternoon Randy and I participated in a renewal of vows ceremony along with Frank and Rosina, and Max and Crystal in the Piazza conducted by the ship’s Captain Vincenzo Lubrano.

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The Piazza was filled with people participating in the ceremony and onlookers as Hawaiian enrichment ambassador Lelalhoa started the ceremony reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Hawaiian and then she and husband Dave performed the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” and “I Can’t Help Falling In love”.  The captain then conducted the renewal ceremony ending with, “So, I now pronounce your vows officially renewed.  You may now kiss”. As an added touch, each couple was presented with red velvet cupcakes topped with red hearts.  The whole ceremony was beautifully done and we were glad we participated.

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Linda, Larry, Richard and Mary

The next day we had fun watching Mary, Richard, Larry and Linda participate in a competition to build a vessel using only items found on the ship that would float across the pool carrying fix full cans of beer without sinking. Points for the competition were valued on construction, audience participation, and writing a cute little poem or cheer.

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IMG_5640IMG_5652bThe SS Hops was made from a variety of interesting items and indeed looked sea worthy. “Don’t be afraid, who no fear.  Our boat is here to hold the beer,” Mary and her group chanted as they paraded around the pool before the competition began. There was a sprinkling of our group among the many who gathered around the pool to cheer Mary and the SS Hops on to victory.  But, it was not t be.  The vessel was able to cross the pool with incident, but as soon as Mary placed all the beer cans on the vessel, it toppled over. It was a funny sight watching the beer cans bobbing up and down in the pool.

As always, our evenings were filled with attending shows, looking through the shops and stopping by the Piazza to people watch. We have two more days at sea, a stop at Ensenada, Mexico then home.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Heavenly Hawaii Cruise – Kauai – The Garden Isle

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Waimea Canyon, Kauai

Today was going to be very special because neither Randy nor I had ever been to Kauai.  We had heard so much about the island’s beauty that we were anxious to get on the road and head to Waimea Canyon.

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Waimea is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific on the western side of Kauai.  A quick stop to have a picture taken outside the ship, we were off to pick up our rental car and, what we hoped, would be a lovely morning ride up to the canyon.

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It was cloudy when we arrived, and it got even cloudier as we climbed up to see the canyon.  We worried that we would not be able to see the canyon.  As it turned out, the canyon was buried beneath a deep cloud cover and we really could not see much.

view from Kalalau Lookout

view from Kalalau Lookout

Not to be deterred, we kept driving up to Koke’e State Park.  As we drove along the sun started to peak through the clouds.  We stopped at both the Waimea Canyon Lookout and the Kalalau Lookout where you can see the Napali coastline.

Napali Coast

Napali Coast

The view of the Napali coastline was breathtaking.  We were up about 4,000 feet above sea level.  The water below was so blue; the mountainsides were so green, even the clouds looked bright white.

We were encouraged that the cloud cover was lessening and decided to stop at the canyon lookouts on our way down.  What a sight!  The canyon is beautiful with reds, greens, browns and blacks.  We spotted several mountain goats relaxing on a ridge at one lookout.

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While visiting the canyon and stopping at the various lookouts, we notice there were many roosters and hens around.  Someone told us that they were feral chickens that had been brought to the islands by the early Polynesian settlers.

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IMG_5499bDuring Hurricane Iniki the chickens were thrown around the island and have become a tourist attraction.  We both thought this was very funny and yet, there I was taking pictures every time I saw one.

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As we worked our way back down, we spotted several cars pulled off the road, so we did too.  What everyone was looking at was a beautiful waterfall on the other side of the canyon.  We spotted a helicopter flying around the waterfall giving their passengers a bird’s eye view.  I can only imagine how they felt.

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We took a different road down so we could stop at a restaurant recommended to us by a friend of Randy’s called the Wrangler’s Steakhouse in Waimea along the coast highway.  We had a business card with the distinctive Paniolo (cowboy) feel to it.

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DSC02121Randy was intrigued by the Kau Kau Tin lunch.  The lunch came in a 3-tiered tin lunch pail.  When he took it apart one tier had Beef Teriyaki, Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura and Rice and Kimchee.  What a meal.  Randy loved every bite.  I had a little of the beef and it was tender and delicious.  I ordered a Paniolo burger.  It too was delicious.  We had a sinful dessert and vowed that we would not much for dinner.

We had to make one last stop before getting on the ship, Hilo Hatties.  Hilo Hatties is the store to buy any and all Hawaiian souvenirs and clothing.  I promised Kristine that I would bring back refrigerator magnets from every island; and I did.

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As we left the harbor and just past the breakwater a whale was playing.  We watched with amusement as the whale flicked its fluke over and over again.  Then we spotted a whale gliding along, not too far from the ship, as we passed through the channel.  We only caught a glimpse of his dorsal fin.

The coastline as we sailed away from the island.  Beautiful!

The coastline as we sailed away from the island. Beautiful!

We met our friends at dinner and had a wonderful evening full of conversations about what everyone had done on the island.  A sad note was that Jane had lost her camera while on a zip-lining trip.  We all hope that it would be found.

The rest of the evening, Randy and I just wandered around looking in the shops, stopping at the Piazza to people watch and turned in early.

Tomorrow we are back at sea and heading to Ensenada.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Heavenly Hawaii Cruise – Oahu -The Gathering Place

USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial

We arrived in Honolulu Harbor before the sun rose.  I was up early and was treated to the site of the beautiful Aloha Tower.  The tower looked so majestic standing sentinel as we approached our berth.  I loved the fact that the beautiful Hawaiian greeting of “Aloha” was etched into the stone.

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I learned the meaning of the word during one of Dr. Gaff’s talks about the Hawaiian Islands.  Aloha breaks down this way:

Alo, sharing or in the present

oha, joyous affection, joy

ha, life energy, life, breath.

What a beautiful word for a visitor to these beautiful islands to be greeted with.

I was very excited about our day in Oahu.  For a very long time, Randy has wanted to visit the USS Arizona Memorial.  He did not want to go as a part of an excursion because, once again, he had rented a car, and wanted to be free to explore other parts of the island on his own.   Unfortunately, he was too late to order tickets on line.

Fortunately, during a wonderful gathering at Antoinette’s home at the beginning of our journey, Randy mentioned his dilemma to Antoinette’s friend Lailan, who is originally from Hawaii.  Lailan told Randy she would reach out to family in Honolulu and see what they could do about securing us tickets.   The first thing Randy did when in Maui was to check his email and was delighted to see that Lailan’s brother had indeed gotten two tickets for us and would be at the ticket window.

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A quick breakfast, shuttle to the rental car lot and we were off to the memorial.  Out tickets were for 10AM and we at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites ticket booth just in time. We met the wonderful park ranger who put our tickets aside.  We were standing in line when Randy noticed the name tag on the park ranger standing in front of us.  Happy, Randy introduced himself and thanked Park Ranger Lau Saulevai for making this long dreamed of visit to the memorial a reality.

Oil slick at USS Arizona Memorial site

Oil slick at USS Arizona Memorial site

Our first stop on the tour was a short movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.  Then we took a short ride in the harbor to the USS Arizona Memorial.  I visited the memorial in 1979 with my family and yet, I found that my eyes started to tear and my chest got just a little tight as we approached.  The first thing I wanted to do was walk over to one of the windows and look down at the water.  I was amazed to see that oil is still seeping from the Arizona after all these years.

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We quietly walked through the memorial stopping by each window to catch a glimpse of the visible reminders of the ship below, the wall with the names of all 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on that terrible day, other plaques and a diagram of the ship.  I did not know at the time but learned later that there are 21 windows in the memorial symbolically representing a 21-gun salute or 21 Marines standing over the fallen structure.

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We also learned that many USS Arizona survivors have made arrangements to be interred with their fellow crewmen upon their death.  This piece of information brought tears to my eyes.

USS Arizona Anchor

USS Arizona Anchor

We spent some time walking about the memorial grounds reading the many plaques explaining in detail the events as they happened on December 7, 1941 and looking through the gift shop.

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We returned to our car and I asked Randy, “How do you feel now that you have finally visited the Arizona memorial?”

“It was just a reverent and surreal feeling I got with the visit to the Arizona and to know that so many navy and marine servicemen are entombed in the wreckage below your feet,” Randy replied.

“The bubbles of oil still escaping from the wreckage of the Arizona is a reminder to us all of what happened so suddenly on that day.”

“My dad was at Pearl Harbor that December.  But, his ship had departed either late the evening of December 6th or early morning on the 7th, to supply a military outpost on Kauai,” Randy explained.

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IMG_5443Our next adventure was a trip to the North Shore.  Randy wanted to see the waves that so often grace that part of the island and make dreams come true for so many surfers.  The ride was lovely but once we arrived at the beach Randy was a little disappointed.  The beach was beautiful but the waves were small.

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The ride back to Honolulu along the east side of the island was pretty, but very congested.  A small consolation for Randy was stopping in a small beach town and enjoying a great lunch at the ”The Best Kua-Aina” restaurant.  The burgers were juicy and cooked just right; the fries were thin, crisp and delicious.

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DSC02040cIMG_5439As we traveled along the road, we received a call from Lailan’s brother Malcolm inviting to pick us up at the dock and going out for drinks.  We turned away from the shoreline and took a quicker route back to the ship.

(Clockwise) Randy, Mary, Ian and Malcolm

(Clockwise) Randy, Mary, Ian and Malcolm

Malcom picked us up at about 6:30pm and whisked us away to a great restaurant overlooking the marina called Kincaid’s  featuring classic American dining.  Malcolm’s brother Ian joined us a little later and from the moment we started to talk we having a great evening.  Rather than order dinner, we ordered a number of pupu’s (appetizers) that were all delicious.

As we walked back to our cabin Randy talked  about our visit with Malcom and Ian:

“Our meeting, drinks and dinner with Lailan’s brothers in Honolulu was amazing.  Both brothers were wonderful to us.  The conversations great and I loved all the dishes Malcolm ordered.  I really learned a lot about the island, customs and how the local’s feel about what is going on with the local government”.

I agreed, the conversation was interesting and lively and the cause of much laughter.  Malcolm and Ian were wonderful hosts and look forward to our next visit to Honolulu and say, “Aloha” to our new friends.  We were enjoying the evening so much, before we knew it, the time had come for us to return to the ship.

These three gentlemen, Park Ranger Lau Saulevai, Malcom and Ian Yee were the epitome of the word etched on the Aloha Tower.  They were full of joyous and affection for a visitor to their islands and made our day memorable.

Tired after a busy day, we returned to our cabin and settled in for a night of sweet memories.

Tomorrow we will dock in Nawiliwili, Kauai.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Heavenly Hawaii Cruise – Hawaii – The Big Island

Kilauea Caldera as seen from Volcano House

Kilauea Caldera as seen from Volcano House

The sun spread a red glow on the Mauna Lea Observatories.

The rising sun spread a red glow on the Mauna Kea Observatories.

By far the Big Island of Hawaii is my favorite.  I have been to this island twice before over the years and hope to return again in the future.  In those earlier visits, I visited the Kilauea Caldera, Thurston Lava Tubes, Devastation Trail, Wailuku River State Park, Rainbow Falls, driven the entire Kona Coast and snorkeled in Kealakekua Bay.

Hilo, Hawaii

Hilo, Hawaii

This trip Randy wanted to rent a car and drive to Volcanoes National Park and, if we had time, to the Waipio Valley Lookout.  It took us a while to catch the courtesy van to the rental office and then some time to get out car so we were off to a later start than anticipated.

The drive to the Volcanoes National Park was an easy drive.  We arrived and spent some time listening to a park ranger talk to a group of tourist who were preparing for a hike around the crater.

Lobby of the Volcano House

Lobby of the Volcano House

Trail from the visitor's center to Volcano House

Trail from the visitor’s center to Volcano House

I spotted a sign for the Volcano House and was curious to look over this long-standing historic lodge that started out as small thatched structure in the 1800′s.  The interior of the lodge was beautiful especially the bank of windows at the back of the lodge overlooking the Kilauea Caldera.  There was a row of couches and rocking chairs all facing the windows, the view was wonderful.

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We spent a considerable amount of time reading all the information about the volcano and taking pictures before heading out to do the drive around the crater rim.

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DSC01949DSC01960We stopped here and there stopping to observe different view of the volcano, steam vents and flowers along the road.  When here in 1979, I remember the overwhelming smell of sulfur, but the odor of sulfur was almost indiscernible.  We noticed that people toss money into the steam vent and we could not help but wonder how the park retrieved the coins and bills.  It really was amazing to be driving along and seeing smoke rising from both sides of the road.

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On our way back to Hilo we suddenly came to a screeching halt as a mother hen and her chicks crossed the road.  Very funny.  We also got a better look at the snow on the summit of Mauna Kea.  According to what I read Mauna Kea is the home to the Mauna Kea Observatories and according to what I read is, “the world’s largest observatory for optical, infrared, and submillimeter astronomy”.

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DSC01967Once we arrived back at Hilo we turned north toward Waipio Valley.  On our way we noticed a sign that read, “Scenic Road 4 miles”.  The road was slow going and a bit interesting in places and pulling off was a bit tricky but once we stopped we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the shore.

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

Once back on the main road we realized that to continue to the valley lookout would be too far and imperiled our return to the ship so we turned around decided to go instead to Akaka Falls.

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It was quite a walk to the falls down many stairs but definitely worth the walk.  The falls was beautiful and completely surrounded by such lush vegetation.  The view was just wonderful.  The route was actually a circular route and led us to another falls called the Kahuna Falls.  This falls was a little harder to see there was so much vegetation but still wonderful to see.  I read that the falls are easier to see after a good rain.

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We loved the trees, flowers and stream we saw as we walked the circle.

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Happy, we made our way back to the ship and a late lunch at the International Café.  I fell in love with their grilled chicken sandwich.  Back to the cabin for a quick rest, and then get ready for dinner.  I was in the mood for comfort food and ordered the chicken pot pie.  Oh, my, what a wonderful choice.  The crust was beautiful and flaky, the sauce was light and the meat and vegetables perfectly prepared.  After all that walking, I decided to order dessert.  Everything was delicious.

After dinner we went to the Princess Theatre to see comedian and musician Steve Moris.  Moris kept the audience engaged and laughing with a combination singing, talking about his career and family, playing guitar and videos.  He skill on the flamenco guitar was amazing.  Once the performance was over, we spent a little time walking around the shops and then headed back to the cabin for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we stop at the Island of Oahu.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Heavenly Hawaii Cruise-Maui – the Valley Isle

The skies were cloudy and spread a shadow over the island of Maui as we approached.

The skies were cloudy and spread a shadow over the island of Maui as we approached.

I was so excited about finally making land and the prospect of seeing whales that I got up early, grabbed my camera and position myself on the balcony railing in hopes of getting some great pictures.  I was not disappointed all day.

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DSC01893DSC01884As we were traveling through the channel you could see whales in the water.  However, even with my telescopic lens I could not get a clear shot of these wonderful mammals.  As we drew nearer our anchor point we finally saw several whales close to the ship.  We were able to see their dorsal fins, pectoral fins and many blowing a fine mist as they swam through the blue waters of the Pacific.

Maalaea Bay

Randy and I had honeymooned in Maui in 1999 and were anxious to be back on this beautiful island.  One day during our stay on the island we rented a car and drove the Road to Hana this year Randy wanted to drive the northwest side of the island on the Honoapiilani Highway.  We started at Lahaina to the Rt. 30 to 35, 40, 340, 311, 31 to Wailea and eventually back on 30 back to Lahaina.

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Honolua Bay

Randy and I have very divergent views of driving these roads, so I asked him to describe our ride.

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“We had been to Maui on our honeymoon and drove the Road to Hana.  I wanted to drive somewhere we had never been on the island.  Since we were near the northwest side of Maui, I thought about driving to the end of the road on the north end.  What I discovered is that the road is open all the way around the north end to the east side of the island,” Randy began.

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Beautiful view from pull-off

“Driving this road was quite an experience, with good road for a while and the degrading to a potholed one to a one-lane road.  The scenic views were amazing and fortunately, we were on the inside of the road with the drop-off on the other side.  The road was challenging due to a heavy rain the day before and rocks and boulders washing down on the road.  There were also a lot of landslides on the road.  The interesting thing was that the speed limit on this road varied from 40 to 10mph, and at Mary’s insistence, usually half of that.”

“It was a great road trip!” Randy exclaimed.

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We were amazed at all the different kinds of vegetation along the road.

The road was, at first, paved and marked.  Eventually as the road narrowed the center line disappeared.  Eventually, the road narrowed even further making it necessary for cars to pull off to the side to let a car pass before continuing.  Seeing mud, rocks and boulders in the road did not help my skittish attitude towards the ride.  For me it was a really scary road but the ride was definitely worth the goose bumps I experienced all along the road for the vistas we saw at every pull-off.  The scenery was breathtaking.

Cool Cat Café on top floor.

Cool Cat Café on top floor.

IMG_5269Once back in Lahaina, we walked along the streets looking in many of the shops along the way.  Eventually, we stopped for lunch at the Cool Cat Café.  The café reminds me of a ‘50’s drive in or diner offering many burgers and other sandwiches with names like, the Marilyn Burger, the Duke, Sh-Boom, Jailhouse Rock and many other fun names.

I chose the Frisco burger served on grilled sourdough and covered in pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.  Randy ordered the Betty Boop BLT on grilled sourdough.  Both sandwiches were big and tasty.

The Banyan Park Tree

Banyan Tree Park

IMG_5272IMG_5273After lunch we meandered across the street to The Banyan Tree Park.  The Banyan Tree covers much of the area that is Courthouse Square.   There was an art fair in progress on the day the ship anchored.  There were so many tents, tables and people it was hard to really capture the majesty of this beautiful tree.

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Leaving Lahaina

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View from the tender: Whales blowing

We finally made our way back to the dock to get on a tender and head back to the ship.  We were so excited when several whales appeared in the bay.  Most of the whales were saw were young whales.  Every camera on the tender was clicking away.

We met our tablemates at dinner and exchanged experiences while on shore.  Some took excursions, some just walked around town but all were very happy.  Tired, we spent a very quiet evening people watching at the Piazza.

Tomorrow we dock on the big island of Hawaii.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Heavenly Hawaii Cruise on the Star Princess at sea Day 4

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Cloudy, threatening sky, but beautiful!

Today was going to yet another lazy day at sea.  The morning started shrouded in cloud cover and a sprinkling of rain.  But, at a little after eight in the morning it was already the warmest day of our trip.

Aren't we cute?

Aren’t we cute?

We started this wonderful day with a continental breakfast of juice, coffee, fruits, and pastries out on the balcony enjoying the slow roll of the swells and an every clearing sky.  Just for fun, we joined the rest of selfie generation and took a picture out on the balcony.

I loved the wood deck chairs, lockers and door fames on the Promenade Deck.

I loved the wood deck chairs, lockers and door fames on the Promenade Deck.

The weather was so inviting that we decided to take a walk around the Promenade Deck to get some exercise and perhaps, just perhaps help mitigate the effect of all those wonderful foods we are enjoying each and every day.   One thing I really love about this ship is the warm feeling and atmosphere that is created by all the wood enhancements on and around the ship.  Lovely, just lovely.

Our first appointment of the day was to see photography Mark Emery to look at the photographs he had taken two days before.  We stopped at the International Café so I could get a flavored coffee and sit for a few minutes enjoying the comings and goings at the Atrium.

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The day of our sitting, Mark had taken 61 shots of us.  After a short explanation of how the viewing would proceed, he turned on a slideshow of the photographs.  I immediately loved all the photographs even though some shots brought a smile to my face.

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After the slide show, Mark put a series on the screen from which we had to choose our favorites and then move on to the next series.  We managed to get our number down to 23.  Now the hard part, we had to choose a package.  Once the package was chosen we then had to choose the number of photos that matched the package.

We narrowed our choices to 8 different poses. Mark was very happy because several of the final eight were his favorites too.  The photographs would be shipped to our home and arrive in several weeks.  These were two of our final choices.

“The pictures he took were amazing.  Mark is quite talented,” Randy remarked later.  Randy agreed that it was very hard to pick the ones we wanted but was reassured at the end when Mark agreed with our choices explaining that he would have been disappointed if we had not chosen one pose in particular.

We barely had time to run from the viewing to get to the next naturalist presentation, “Islands in the Sea – Isolated & Ever Growing” by Naturalist Dr. Sharron Faff.   Dr. Faff once again gave a wonderful talk, aided with slides and videos, of the formation and continuing growth of the Hawaiian Islands.  Dr. Faff also talked about the Hawaiian Archipelago that includes smaller islands, atolls and reefs.  I did not know that Midway was an atoll.  The talk was very informative and interesting.

“I knew quite a bit about the islands but I learned much more about the history of the island and really enjoyed the presentation,” Randy remarked as we left the theatre.

We stopped for a quick lunch at the International Café.  We planned to go to Neptune’s Reef & Pool to watch “Wet, Wild & Wacky Pool Games”, but frankly I was really tired and went back to the cabin for a little relaxation and read.

Randy decided to go to the pool so, I was surprised when he returned after only a short time.  When asked why he returned so soon he said, “There were so very few people participating and watching the games, I decided to come back and take a nap”.  Randy attributed the low participation to the weather.

Simple dinner of grilled chicken with vegetables.  Yummy.

Simple dinner of grilled chicken with vegetables. Yummy.

I think we both drifted off for a while because when next we looked at the clock it was time to prepare for dinner.  Dinner was delicious and, as usual, the conversation was fun and lively.

After dinner Randy, myself, Ron, Jane and Dolly all headed down to the Vista Lounge for see a production show called, “Motor City” starring the Star Princess singers and dancers.  The show was fast, colorful and featured the music of The Supremes, Tina Turner, The Jackson Five and Stevie Wonder.  The show was fun.

As I said, our day was designed to be a very lazy day.  We decided to head back to our cabin and get a good night’s rest but not before we watched the daily showing of a rerun of the fun show TV show “Love Boat”.   It is always good to fall asleep with a smile.

Tomorrow we anchor at Lahaina, Maui.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Heavenly Hawaii Cruise on the Star Princess-At sea day 3

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We started our day with a gray sky filled with low lying clouds that would periodically spit down little droplets of rain and so, we retreated back into the cabin.  We were enjoying a continental breakfast and noticed that not only one but two rainbows had formed just off our balcony.  I thought to myself, it is going to be a wonderful day.

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DSC01812DSC01814We were not disheartened because each day it was getting a little warmer.  And, besides, today is my birthday.  Randy and I decided to take a leisurely walk around the ship stopping her and there to admire a piece of artwork, stopping in many of the shops at the Atrium.  There had been a fruit and vegetable carving demonstration earlier that morning and we stopped to look over these wonderfully whimsical carvings. Eventually we found a seat in the Crooners Bar and spent some time people watching.

Eventually, Rosina Burke and her husband Frank, walked by and we talked a bit about what they were up to.  Rosina told us she had just come from a Scholarship@Sea: Progressive Ukulele class.  I was excited to learn that the participants in the class would be featured in an end-of-the cruise production in the theatre.  I thought that was very exciting.

DSC01842bDSC01821bRandy wanted to go back to the cabin before heading up to cabin before lunch.  As we approached the cabin I saw that the door had decorated with a “Happy Birthday” wish and balloons.  When we entered the cabin I had yet another surprise, 6 long stem red roses with a note saying, “Happy Birthday Sweetheart”.  What a nice way to start my birthday.  Hugs and kisses followed as I was overwhelmed with emotion.

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A quick lunch at the International Café and we were off to our second Scholarship@Sea talk called “The Underlying Spirit of Hawaii: Customs & Traditions” with Naturalist Dr. Sharron Faff.  The talk covered where the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands came from to how they developed their customs and traditions.

Dr. Faff

We learned about all the state symbols, facts about the islands, several Hawaiian sayings, and the colors and flowers for each island.  The talk was very informative and I made a mental note to be sure and use the Hawaiian word, Mahalo, whenever I needed to thank someone on the islands.

Our next stop was the second more advanced Photography@Sea class.  Mark went a little more in depth about the workings of various cameras and then opened the floor for a question and answer period.  Again, it was a good class.

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Then it was time for tea.  Every day at 3:30pm there was a Musical Afternoon Tea tea in the Portofino dining room.  Randy and I were seated at a table for six and enjoyed a selection of small sandwiches, scones and desserts along with our tea.  I love the teas because it gives you a chance to meet new people and have very interesting conversations.  The mellow sounds of the resident keyboardist filled the room as we enjoyed our tea and conversation.  I must say I was really impressed that there were so many men at the tea.

We headed back to our cabin to prepare for dinner.  Tonight we were meeting other members of our group to celebrate mine and Diamond’s birthdays at the Crown Grill.  What a great choice.

(l-r) Max, Crystal, Diamond, Mary, Randy and Lee

(l-r) Max, Crystal, Diamond, Mary, Randy and Lee

Marinated Goat's Cheese and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Opal Basil Vinaigrette

Marinated Goat’s Cheese and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Opal Basil Vinaigrette

My favorite filet mignon, mashed potatoes and asparagus

My favorite filet mignon, mashed potatoes and asparagus

Each of us ordered our appetizers, salads and main dish.  As each person voiced their choices for sides we were told that the sides would be brought to the table family style so that everyone could enjoy more than one.  They even brought out extra lobster tails in case anyone wanted to enjoy a surf and turf meal.  According to everyone at the table, every dish was perfect.

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DSC01829When it came time for dessert, no one could make up their minds so, the waiter said he would bring out a sampler plate.  What a great idea.  Then we realized we were not done yet.  They brought out two birthday cakes and proceeded to call over the rest of the wait staff and sang a wonderful version of “Happy Birthday”.  The food was delicious, the service impeccable and I loved the singing voices of the wait staff as they sang happy birthday to us.

After dinner we did a little boot scootin’ at the Explorers Lounge and then turned in for a good night’s sleep and pleasant dreams.

The pot of gold at the end of the morning rainbow was my wonderful birthday.

Tomorrow is another day at sea.

Enjoy,

Mary

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