Thursday, March 27, 2014

Aloha From Hilo

Hello Faithful followers and Aloha from the beautiful State of Hawaii.
Today March 25th we have the great fortune to be in Hilo which is the first of two ports of call. For those that don’t know, Hilo is on the “Big Island Of Hawaii” and just so happens to be the gateway to a land of fire and brimstone, waves, waterfalls, lush forests and craggy coastlines.
Hilo is on the east side of the island and we ported here very early in the morning because U.S. Immigration was to commence at 7:00 a.m. for all passengers and crew before anyone could leave the ship. Needless to say it was a process, but a very painless one to say the least.
Because Rick and I had been to the island before we planned our day so that we could do the things we were unable to do on the last visit. Such as visit the west side of the island, Kailua-Kona and Kilauea one of two active volcanoes on the the island. The Last time we were here Kilauea was emitting noxious gases and was basically closed to visitors. I am happy to report though that this time we were indeed able to visit, yeah!
Since we’ve been on board it understandable that we have now made a variety of friends. So we hooked up with another Canadian/American couple presently residing from Iowa. They are so much fun and such a refreshing change from all the fuddy duddy’s on this ship. Naturally we are almost attached at the hip and it doesn’t take long for other people around here of the same mindset to be on the lookout for people like us too.
Anyway we shared the cost of a rental car and here are some photos from our day out together….
Aloha_Chevy_Hilo
Go figure we would rent a GM vehicle eh! Below is a photo Rick took as we entered the port of Hilo. Hilo_PortG
Kilauea and Mauna Loa make up The Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park and is actually a World Heritage Site. Kilauea is more volatile than Mauna Loa, which erupts occasionally and lava flows can be seen to this date flowing to the pacific ocean. Kilauea is its near neighbour (25 miles apart) has been erupting continuously for the last 20 years.
As we drove from Hilo to the volcano the island offers up the best of both worlds. Hilo provides the lush and typical rainforest climate which is were you will undoubtedly find an abundance of flowers and luxurious vegetation. We did not have enough time to do everything so as I previously mentioned we chose to do the things we didn’t do the last time. However as you travel the route 11 to the west side of the island the terrain turns to magma upon magna with very sparse vegetation and scrub brush. Below are a few photos from our visit to Kilauea.
Surprisingly enough beauty can be found even in the most harsh enviroments. 
Kilaua_Fauna
Below are a few photos of Kilauea’s crater which is also known as the house of everlasting fire.
Volcano_Crater
 
Crater_Closeup
steam vents are aplenty
Volcano_Vents
as are lava flow tubes
Lava_Tube
and the vegetation that surrounds them
Volcano_Fauna
 
Sandra_Fauna
As we continued our way to the west side of the island we made two pit stops for our friends Ken & Jane. We had been to them before but thought they should see these two as well.
We stopped into this roadside coffee shop of sorts. the big island is famous for it’s Kona coffee however this locate establishment.
John Bull’s ka’u pure Hawaiian coffee is spectacular and is just as good or not better for half the price. If you ever find yourself here please stop in for a free sample as it is about 2 miles east of the next must see location, Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.
Coffee_Stop_Sign
Some of their bumper crop
Coffee_Crop
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
Black_Sand_PalmTrees

Rick_Black_Sand

Sandra_Black_Sand
Well we will sign off here because we ran out of time and once again never made it to the the west side of the island. We needed to get our rental back in time to make our all aboard 4:30 p.m. deadline.
We will sail away at 5:00 and tomorrow morning will arrive in Honolulu, Oahu.
We will have more photos for you to enjoy once we get them uploaded to the blog. So take care friends, until tomorrow…
Love Rick, Sandra and Wee Shaemus
(who accidentally was left behind today)
xoxo

Thursday, March 20, 2014

American Samoa

Hello again from the Queen Victoria!
We were in the Kingdom of Tonga on March 17th and then spent another day at sea en route to our next port of call. Speaking of March 17th by the way, here’s a first for us. We just so happen to have had two St. Patrick’s Days. Yes indeed Wendy Johnson-Lapp we did in fact have two opportunities to celebrate your birthday two days in a row, so a very happy belated birthday to you. Wee Shaemus was only too happy to do that…..
Why? Well during the night of the first one we crossed over the international dateline and therefore woke up to another Monday, March 17th the next day. I’ll bet that doesn’t happen more than once in a lifetime eh? Oh and by the way we are no longer one day ahead of North America, and are now actually 7 hour behind you.
Today is March 18th as I type this and I’m sitting on our cabin balcony docked in Pago Pago American Samoa enjoying a glass of wine. My view at the present moment is a combination of the hustle and bustle of a busy portside pier along with a gorgeous backdrop volcanic mountains covered with lush vegetation which are dotted with many tiny rural houses.
We took a shore excursion around the eastern side of the island where we took in some of the island delights and some of its culture. It was a very interesting day as life is very different in this part of the world. The island itself is a lot more developed and scenic than Tonga was. I believe that is solely due to the influx of American dollars, hence the name “American” Samoa, otherwise it might look a lot more remote like Tonga I’m sure.
Pago Pago is a mixture of semi-urban communities, a small town, tuna canneries, which provide employment for at least one third of the population. The harbor is surrounded by dramatic cliffs, which plunge straight down to the sea. An earthquake struck off its coast in 2009 triggering a tsunami that hit the island which caused moderate to severe damage and an unknown number of deaths. You would never know that today.
When we leave here today we will be making our way to Hilo Hawaii, which is about 2250 nautical miles and will amount to 5 days at sea. We will be spending much of that time socializing and participating in events around the ship. Rick has already taken a couple of fencing classes to date, oh and let’s not forget swimming and/or walking around the open deck to help keep our waistlines in check.
So stay tuned for some ship photos to follow soon. Here are some pictures of our day in Pago Pago.
Love to all, Rick, Sandra, Wee Shaemus xoxo
Sheamus_Piano
The Wee Lad Getting In On The Action
We Had Lots Of St. Patricks Day Action Since We
Went to Bed On March 17 And Woke Up The Next Day On March 17 Having Crossed The International
Date Line That Evening.
Cheers
Samoa_From_Ship
Our View Waking Up During Docking
Pago Pago, American Samoa
7:30 am 28c 82f
Samoa_From_Ship2
Samoa_Bus2
Our Touring Coach Winking smile
For The First 3 Hours Of American SamoaSamoa_Bus
Samoa_Shore
Beautiful Coastline Around American Samoa Sandra_Coconut
Enjoying Fresh Coconut During A Samoan
Cultural Dance RitualMac_Ds
Yes Sir Even In The Middle Of No Where
A Couple Of Mickey Dee’s Shaemus_Beach_Relax
Some Much Needed R&R
On The Beach Kayak_No_LifeJacket
Yes Even In The South Pacific
Common Sense Is In Short Supply
This Fellow Had No Life Jacket In Large Sea Swells
And Of Course One Must Kayak
In The Main Channel In Front Of
One Rather Large Ship
 
Hope all is well more to come.
 
Rick, Sandra and wee Sheamus









Greetings From The South Pacific–Kingdom Of Tonga

Hello faithful followers. We are now in the South Pacific.

I previously mentioned the fact that we weren’t allowed to stop in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand as it would have put us right smack in the eye of Cyclone Luci. I must say that the following 3 days at sea sailing around Luci still proved a rough go for many. I personally didn’t leave my cabin very much given the difficulties in navigating oneself around the ship and/or running the risk of throwing up on someone or something. I finally had to start taking medicine instead of eating ginger and/or green apples that were suggestions given to me from crew members.

On March 17th we were in Nuku’Alofa, Kingdom of Tonga. What did I think of Tonga you ask? Well, let it suffice to say that the King of Tonga certainly lives a lot better than his people do that’s for sure.

His palace was directly across from where our ship docked, but we were told he was visiting the other side of the island that day. What’s with that? 1700 plus people come to give his kingdom a serious much needed influx of cash and he can’t even say hello?? This place is unbelievably poor and very dirty, and I truly wonder why it is part of any ships itinerary. What did stand out though was for everything the people of Tonga do not have I must say that they are the friendliest people I’ve met in my entire life.

Here are a few pictures to show you what I mean…

Victoria_Docked_Tonga

Dockage In Nuku’Alofa, Tonga

Is At A Premium

Our Ship Does Not Quite Fit The Dock

Kings_Palace_Tonga

Kings Palace

Nuku’Alofa, Tonga

Tonga_Welcome_Sign

Welcome To Tonga

Toyota_Average_Car

This Toyota Is In Very Good Shape Compared To

Most Vehicles In Tonga

Cookhouse_Chimney

Some Of The Smoke Actually Makes It To The Top

Smile

Fast_Food

They Even Have Fast Food

Why I Am Not Sure Since It Is Too Smoking Hot To Do Anything Fast

When It is

92f or 34c At 10am

En Route To

Pago Pago, American Samoa

Auckland Update

Hello faithful followers.

Sorry for keeping you all waiting for this update, but as you are already aware we have been having great difficulty posting because the internet on board the ship is painfully slow and it takes the majority of our purchased time allotment just to log on and off the darn computer never mind the time required to upload Rick’s gorgeous photos to the blog. The cost is inflated to say the least so we have been lugging Rick’s laptop on and off the ship in search of internet cafes where we can buy time for a more reasonable price, and then that in itself proves difficult most of the time.

We‘ve been unsuccessful during the last few ports as more often than not we are limited to free Wi-Fi locations like Starbucks or hotspots that a gazillion other people are sharing with you and you can’t even sign on to or its slower than the ships service grrrr.

So we are going to try something different…we will try making the photos size smaller files and will post just a few photos. So here goes…we are in Auckland, New Zealand here…

Auckland_Selfie

Selfie At The St. Patrick's Irish Pub

Auckland, New ZealandAuckland_Skyline_Dusk

Departing Auckland At DuskLido_Pool_Night

Aft Lido Pool

Our Favourite Hang Out At_Sea_Enroute_Tonga

Waking Up To Clear Skies

And Calm Seas

8am 28c or 82f

En Route To

NuKu’ Alofa

Kingdom Of Tonga

Signing Off At Sea

Rick, Sandra, Wee Shaemus

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We Love New Zealand

Hello faithful followers! We are still alive and well, but have been having great difficulty with the internet on board the ship. We have had to tote our laptop off the ship with us on each of the previous posts in order to publish which is a wee bit of a pain in the butt. So I hope that you’re enjoying our little blog. I understand from some of you that you don’t want to open a g mail account in order to leave a comment here on the blog, which we totally understand, but please feel free to drop us an email if you want to as we do check that from time to time.
We have completed our port visits in and New Zealand and are again at sea en route to Nuku’alofa, Tonga as I type this post. We totally loved New Zealand and will definitely return someday. We actually had one more port of call, the bay of islands, but are unable to visit it due to the approaching cyclone named Luci (Lucy).
Our Commodore regrettably made this decision yesterday in order to give us the smoothest ride around here as possible, but if the seas today are any indication of what is to come I’m very scared!!
We have heard the horror stories about the ships previous Atlantic crossing where all the common areas were locked to keep passengers from going outside. In other words they were locked to basically keep passengers from falling over board. We’ve been told that the waves were 35 to 50 feet.I’d certainly be green for sure.
We have posted a few favourite photos from our stops in Dunedin, Wellington, Napier for your viewing pleasure.
 
Don’t worry Mom she is a study ship though. This photo was taken in the port of Dunedin. It wasn’t the most pleasant weather, cool and grey which didn’t make for the best day to walk around.
 

 
Dunedin (Old Gaelic name for Edinburgh)

Dunedin Railway Station was built in 1906 by New Zealand architect George Troup, in the Flemish renaissance style. It happens to be one of New Zealand’s finest historic buildings, and one of the best examples of railway architecture in the southern hemisphere.
 


 
I totally had to have my picture taken in front of this local establishment, which was appropriately located directly across the street from the courthouse.


At each and every port we visited these pine tree logs were the most common site, as logging is one of the chief exports in New Zealand. They have the largest commercially grown forests in the world. Each tree cut is replaced one year later, pruned back at 10 years to keep their trunks straight and then eventually cut down again between 20-25 years of age. They are then shipped all over the world in this form as apparently it is cheaper. Since this changed New Zealand sawmills are closing putting many people out of work, only to eventually return to them in some other shape or form.
 
Wellington

A picturesque seaside tourist area where Rick and I walked around a bit at first and then eventually hired a car and driver to take us to the must see areas that were further away.

It is also where many scenes from the movies The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were largely shot.


How come my Lavender doesn’t grow this big???
 
Green Fern Tree
Wee Shaemus and Rick on the beach
 


View from mount Victoria


 
Tauranga/Rotorua
(Tauranga in Maori means an anchorage or resting place.)
Tauranga had to be one of our favourite ports. We took a private tour where we had the opportunity to experience New Zealand’s Maori culture at its finest.
 
We drove to Rotorua about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Tauranga where we saw hot thermal geysers, boiling mud pools, hot thermal springs, a Maori village and Lake Rotorua where we had lunch.
 

 boiling mud pool
 

 
It was the first time we saw a real live kiwi bird, but unfortunately we were not allowed to photograph it.
We also stopped into a kiwi Fruit orchard. Until yesterday Rick wouldn’t try kiwi fruit, but will now!

 
Norfolk Pine
 


 
For those that are not familiar with the Maori culture they are the aboriginals of New Zealand. Wee Shaemus definitely had to have his picture taken with this fellow.
 
We’re heading back aboard Queen Victoria for some rest.

The people of Tauranga come out to see our ship off


This beautiful sunset was taken from our balcony as we sail away towards Auckland.
 
Ok peeps we’ll sign off for now. When we have the opportunity we will post some photos from in and around the ship over the next three days at sea as well as some from Auckland. Also some from Napier because we forgot to upload when them when we were in the internet café in Auckland for this post. Oops!
We can only do so much with the shipboard satellite internet service.
Rick, Sandra and Wee Shaemus :