Friday, November 30, 2012
This was our only port that required tender service, and Princess had a decent tender system. When we were ready to go, we went to the Capri dining room to get a tender ticket number, and then waited maybe ten minutes before we were called to board our tender. Even though the seas were only moderate, it still required a bit of agility to jump from the ship to the tender, and there were two nice strong young men helping folks with the timing of the leap.
The first thing we saw right behind the court house was a lovely park with huge banyan trees. The day was warming up perfectly and the shade was wonderful. I lived in Hawaii on Oahu from 1950 to 1952 and my favorite memory of living on the islands as a child was the banyan tree where I climbed and played to my heart's content.
The path to the beach at the north end of town goes in between houses in a residential area, and we almost missed it until a nice woman sitting in her front yard motioned us back to the path. We saw lots of babies and young children and thought maybe it was called Baby Beach because it was shallow and gentle, with no waves at all. The island in the distance is Lanai, and we could also see Molokai to the north.
The water felt cold at first, but once we were in it was fine. There was very little wind, and we snorkeled from the beach with shallow canyons of coral between sandy bottoms so we could stand up on sand any time we needed to rest. Our reward was Hawaiian Trigger fish and some lovely yellow and white butterfly fish. There weren't a lot of them, but I would imagine if we had gone farther out on the reef we would have found more.
After a couple hours on the beach we decided it might be prudent to get out of the hot tropical sun. We were both ready for a cold beer, and within a few blocks of the beach we found Bubba Gumps. The restaurant is one of my favorites and the open air atmosphere was perfect. We settled in to a booth with a view of the water and our ship in the distance and had beer and an appetizer of fries for Mo and fabulous coconut shrimp for me. I tried a Kona amber ale that was a bit hoppy but settled in really well after the first few sips.
I had always imagined Maui to be more like the hi rise beach, and was delightfully surprised to find this old town so lovely. It of reminded both of us of Key West, which we love. We decided that when we come back to the islands, we will plan on spending at least a week on Maui. We will then drive the famous narrow, crooked road to Hana and go to the top of the Haleakana volcano. I had no idea that I would like Maui as much as I did.
Sail away was at five and we were on board in plenty of time to relax and clean up before dinner. Our towels, swimsuits, shoes, and everything else we had with us was covered in fine, sticky sand. We dressed for dinner and were treated to another great meal. I had prime rib that was excellent, with a mushroom tartlet and a perfect green salad. Mo had a pork chop with a fig demiglace and a caesar salad. I tried the cheesecake for dessert and Mo once again had "nothing" . Our waitperson Elena decided it was time to actually give her nothing, and surprisingly above the "nothing" word was a delightful fresh strawberry sweet thing.
Our day on Maui was very nearly perfect. Tomorrow, Honolulu.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
We know from past cruise experiences that a one day port stop anywhere doesn't really give any kind of a true picture of a place. This seemed especially true to us on our day in Kauai. Back in the spring of 2008, Mo and I spent 8 idyllic days on the island of Kauai. I have yet to figure out how to post a link with blogsy, so if you are interested, search the archives for "Kauai" from March 2008.
We knew from experience that the best way to see Kaui was with a rental car and decided that since we had already seen the island, we would just hang around Nawiliwili Harbor, check out the local beach nearby, and visit the town of Lihue on foot or by free shuttle. As the ship docked, the free shuttles appeared, Hilo Hattie's, Walmart, K Mart, all want your shopping dollars and are more than willing to take you to town.
The walk to Nawiliwili park looked simple, and the only beach in this part of the island was just beyond the park. It was a simple little beach, but the air was still chilly and the winds were stirring up the water too much for any decent snorkeling.
Instead we decided to walk up the hill the 2.5 miles to Walmart, hoping to maybe find a shave ice or something interesting along the way. The walk up the hill from the harbor wasn't too difficult except for the very narrow road, no sidewalk, and heavy traffic. By the time we got to Lihue proper, we were quite happy to find sidewalks.
Lihue is a real town when you reach the top of the hill. Down below near the cruise dock, the Anchor Cove shops are a little bit touristy, but up in town it is very straightforward. Car dealers, grocery stores, and the post office. Hilo Hattie's is about the only interesting place we found, but everything in there is so very expensive that we just drank our free sample of juice, took our free shell lei, and walked over to Walmart.
Walmart had a great selection of Hawaiian shirts and dresses for about half the price, but the quality was about half as well. We didn't buy anything, but made good use of the Hilo Hattie shuttle to return to the ship. We had time to snorkel a bit, but the wavy beach didn't look all that inviting some settled in for some gorgeous sun time on our very own deck with some gin rummy, the card kind.
The really beautiful parts of Kauai are on the north shore near Hanalei, the broad beaches are on the south shore at Poipu and the shave ice is far away on the west side at Queen's beach. We love Kauai, but know that in just one day you can't even come close to experiencing the beauties of the island. We also realized that even though we were here for more than a week, we avoided Lihue and never once drove down the hill to Nawiliwili harbor.
Nawiliwili is a very small, tight harbor built long before cruise ships were so big. Up on deck for the sail away was great, with good music and plenty of entertainment watching the captain negotiating our huge ship out of the tiny harbor.
We enjoyed dinner again in our dining room with orange roughy for Mo, not particularly great, but my pork roast in fig onion saute was delightful. Overall it was a pleasant day, but certainly not a memorable one. After dinner we went to a snow so forgettable that neither of us can remember what it was!
Our sailing routes through the islands are interesting. We are going back and forth from one island to the other and doing a lot of backtracking, crossing our previous routes repeatedly. Tomorrow we will arrive early in Maui the only port where we will need to tender to shore.
Monday, November 26, 2012
We watched the sail away from our balcony, and felt the ship speed up. According to the captain, we had to sail at the ship's maximum of 22 knots in order to cover the 230 miles or so from Hilo to Nahwilliwilli Bay on Kauai.
Our dinner was beautiful, Mo's favorite so far, with two versions of chicken, Mo's in a simple roasted thyme butter and mine in a magnificent Alaskan Beer onion sauté, with caesar salads to begin, and some kind of apple pie in the form of spring rolls and a raspberry dipping sauce. The only down side was my soup, supposed to be a corn chowder with sweet potato that tasted exactly like something that came out of a Gerber baby food jar. Blech!!
None of the entertainers seemed like they were worth the trouble, and we just wandered through the ship back to our room to settle in with our books and a good night's sleep to get ready for our day on Kauai.
Once again we returned to our late seating dinner in the Amalfi dinig room for a lovely dinner. We both had orange roughy in a red curry sauce, with fresh veggies and we finished our bottle of dry Riesling purchased on a previous night and saved for us by our waiter.
Stay tuned for our port day on the big island of Hawaii.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Our huge floating town hold 2600 passengers and 1100 crew members, a ratio of one crew for every two passengers. So far the service has been wonderful. It is all contained, a huge hunk of brilliantly lit survival in the middle of the ocean. In the midst of this huge blue space lie the Hawaiian Islands. Two more nights and another day at sea before we land in Hilo.
With our late dinner seating we have to go to the latest shows, and the production show, Stardust, didn't start until ten fifteen. I am truly surprised at how almost everyone on this ship seems to be in the mood to dress. I saw some really lovely dresses floating around.
Formal night between dinner and the show is always a nice time to play in the casino, and we both did our usual visit with the penny slots. We like the casino, but neither of us are particularly big gamblers. I used to love black jack, but I am too cheap to plop down five bucks per bet for that one. I couldn't remember how to play craps if I tried, although Maryruth and I had a home version that we enjoyed several decades past. Still the slots were decent to me and I came away with my twenty bucks intact and then some.
The show was entertaining, not spectacular, with most music from an era even before mine. It was definitely geared to the older cruise set.
The rest of the day was marked only by the occasional event marked off on our Princess Patter sheet. An at sea fashion show in the Piazza? The show was cute, with cruisers modeling stuff that was sold in the boutiqueson board. The old men with bellies got the most cheers except for a spiffy lady in red, who had recently lost 101 pounds. Folks really cheered for her.
More reading and more knitting in the comfy chairs in the Crooner's Lounge, this time with Mo. A special British Pub lunch in the beautiful Crowne Grill, where we were seated with two women from California who weren't very happy with the trip. The one lady said, "I just am not enjoying THAT!" as she pointed to the rolling ocean. Hmmm, did you think a cruise with ten sea days wasn't going to have ocean? The lunch had several British items on the menu, including steak and kidney pie, but Mo and I were both quite happy to have fish and chips and a good Bass ale to wash it down.
Our treadmill workouts are really fun, with views out over the bridge as we try to get the heart rates up for half an hour or so. Burns a whole 150 calories, I hear, but still feels really good. So far the decks have been too cool and windy to be really conducive to walking outside. Maybe tomorrow, although no matter how much we walk the decks, I still want to keep using the treadmills.
During the lull time in the afternoon we regrouped a bit in the stateroom before wandering out to see what in the world "elevator roulette" might be. A large group of people gathered at the aft elevators to bet on which door would open first. Sorry, crew, but that was major stupid! We laughed and left to go play in the casino before dinner.
Tonight, since we had enjoyed such a great lunch we opted for an early light supper in the Horizon Court. Our plan was to the go to the 7 PM show, but the venues had a ventriloquist in the theater and a magician in the big Vista lounge. Our stateroom seemed much more inviting to is. I carried a plate of cookies and some more of that yummy pumpkin stuff to our room and we ordered after simmer coffee from room service.
All is quiet now except the sound of waves breaking against the ship. I am finishing up a Patricia Cornwell mystery very impatiently, since I have Barbara Kingsolver's newest novel "Flight Behavior" waiting on my Kindle. it takes discipline to keep reading and not jump right I to a book by one of my most favorite authors. Time to read, time to knit, time to do nothing, time to think about what a blessing it is to have time unfettered by all that "stuff" of everyday life.
Tomorrow promises warmer temperatures and hopefully a bit less wind. I am definitely ready to have some pool time! Also, since a couple of people have mentioned it in comments, nope, we forgot to take photos in the fancy duds. There are two more formal nights, so I'll try to remember then. Thanks for following along and taking the time to comment!
Thursday, November 22, 2012
It was 2PM, and the agenda had nothing of importance until 4. We went back to the stateroom to put on workout clothes and then up to the 15th floor to the fitness center. All the elliptical and treadmill machines look out over the ocean at the front of the ship. The machines are pretty high tech, and it took awhile to get them going, but once we did it was a great workout, better than walking the windy decks on the track above us or on the coldish promenade deck below us.
An easy day at sea, and I am feeling great.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
We began this trip with a nice drive to San Francisco, west coast departure was nice since we didn't have to fly anywhere. It took us just over seven hours to get to the City and Pier 35 where the beautiful Star Princess dominated the skyline. I am not yet jaded enough to keep from getting excited at these big ships. They truly are an amazing wonder of ship building and they are just getting bigger and more shiny all the time.
We climbed to the top decks in the chilly air for the sailaway party, which ended long before the actual sailaway. With a two hour delay, we sailed in the dark, but it was still magical. Accompanied by Paul McCartny on the big screen and the lights of San Francisco, we sailed underneath the bridge in the dark drizzly skies, and raised our glasses and cheered with everyone else when we went under the bridge. Above us on the bridge, people were cheering as well.
It had been a long day and by 7 or so we were both running down and decided that a buffet in Horizon Court would be just fine. Nothing fancy. Some kind of pork cutlet with rice, our standard watermelon, salad, and topped off with a really good cup of coffee. The bed felt great after that and in spite of the rocking I slept great.
Today has slipped by easily, especially after I quit being sick. A nice perk on this cruise is the $250 credit that Mo gets for being military. We can have a drink a day each and just barely use it up. The extra helped us to decide on a night at the special steak house some time during the trip.
The swells coming from the northwest are huge and the ship is still rocking crazily. Don't let anyone tell you there isn't much movement in a big ship! Tonight we are going to the dining room for dinner.
Just a little side note. This afternoon I took the iPad down to the Internet cafe and discovered another good reason for not upgrading to iOS 6. It isn't compatible with the ship satellite Internet system. Lucky me and unlucky for a lot of folks standing there with ther shiny new iPads.