Follow by Email

Monday, 25 December 2017

Auckland to Vancouver cruise - March 23 to April 30th/2017.....

Holland America reached Victoria, Canada about 2 pm on April 29th.  There was a shuttle bus to take us into the city - $11 US round trip for about a 20 minute ride.  Many people took the bus, but a lot of others walked. 

Victoria is a beautiful city, based on it’s English history.  The Parliament Buildings for the Province of British Columbia are located right downtown.

First, we walked to Fan Tan Alley, which is a narrow street located in Chinatown, about a 20 minute walk.  It was starting to rain, so we walked back.

We stopped for coffee and cake at a coffee shop, and sat on their patio.  Even though it was raining, it was quite warm out.

Then to the Empress Hotel – a magnificent hotel in a perfect setting....
As it was raining even harder, we were back on the ship by 5 o'clock, and for dinner that night, I had my favorite dessert, Baked Alaska.
Holland America sailed across to Vancouver that night and on April 30th at 8 am, I disembarked the Ship, and flew home to Jacksonville via Houston.  There was a few hours delay in Houston because of high winds, and I arrived home about 1:30 that night.   

A most interesting cruise – good tours and entertainment, delicious food, and excellent company for dinner. 
Be sure to Follow to pick up Holland America cruise and Trafalgar bus tour around Japan published late January/February/2018.

Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Auckland to Vancouver cruise - March 23 to April 30th/2017.....

Holland America then had 5 sea days sailing between Honolulu and Victoria, Canada - April 24th - 28th.

Again, lots of activities on the Ship, but if you would rather rest in your room, you can watch a movie from Holland America, plus the Library has lots of books. 

There was quite a bit of shopping on the Ship – a few of the shops were high end – the price of the above Faberge Egg was $30,000 US.   

On the 28th, was the final Gala night dinner –I had escargots, chicken and orzo soup, two lobsters tails with rice, a flourless chocolate cake, and Grolsch beer.

We looked forward to dinner every night – we found Holland America’s food to be very good with lots of variety, and it is nice to be served in the Dining Room, with white tablecloths and attentive waiters.  

Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Auckland to Vancouver cruise - March 23 to April 30th/2017.....

On Sunday, April 23rd,  the Ship docked right downtown in Honolulu.  Because we had both been to Hawaii many times, we did not take a tour today, but instead walked downtown – about 20 minutes.  It started to rain but we still enjoyed the walk.  

We walked to Ross and Longs Drugstore - along with other stuff, I bought Kona coffee and some black lava salt ($8) made in Hawaii. .  After shopping, there is a MacDonalds there, so we had milkshakes and fries in the bench area behind Ross.  There used to be a Macy's store here, but now it is Walmart.
On the walk back, it had stopped raining and was very hot out.  We took some pictures on the way back, but it was so hot, we were glad to get back to the Ship.   

Then at 2 pm, we went to the Foster Botanical Gardens - we took a cab there and back ($15 each way) and admission was $5.  The Gardens are a collection of trees on 14 acres - the trees are numbered and you are given a map to follow. 

Very nice - there is a butterfly garden, statues and a greenhouse.  The park closed at 4 - very nice, and the trees cast a nice shade. We recommend this garden in Honolulu.

For dinner, chicken and corn soup, quail with apricot stuffing, snicker cake and a coke. 

 Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Friday, 22 December 2017

Auckland to Vancouver cruise - March 23 to April 30th/2017.....

On Saturday, April 22nd, after arriving in Hilo, Hawaii, we took the Holland America tour Volcano and Tastes of Hawaii ($169.95 US).   First, we had to go through US Customs on the Ship at 7 o'clock and then after that, we met in the terminal at 8:30 and departed in a large van at 9. 

First, we stopped at the Hilo Coffee Mill and had a small talk about coffee with a sample, and then some shopping there to buy Wasabi and chocolate macadamia nuts. 

Then we drove to the volcano at the Jagger Musuem - the volcano was erupting and we got to see some eruptions.  The Park Ranger had two telescopes set up - very nice.  A very good day to see the volcano, and quite busy because the Park had a free day to everyone. 

Then we went to the steam vents just beside the road -  rain goes down, hits the hot rocks, and comes back as steam.  Then on to the Crater - we were on the road above, but saw some people walking down on the crater. 
Then to a lava tube - this was a tunnel about 1/3 of a mile long - stairs at the beginning and at the end- very interesting, and then on the way back, the tour guide talked about the rain forest and explained some plants to us.

Then we went to volcanic rocks - some of the rocks were quite colorful because of the mineral content.    We then stopped at the Visitors Centre – the one shop catered to local artisans, and had very nice stuff. 

For lunch, we ate at the Volcano Garden Arts - an artist lives here, and everything in the store is produced by local artists. White wine was served as soon as you got there. The gardens were very nicely decorated - they have a small restaurant, and different tents set up outside to eat in.  We had lunch in the tent outside - wraps (chicken, pork and vegetable) with fruit - good lunch. 

Then we drove back to Hilo and stopped at a local candy factory - they make candy in the back - this was a shopping stop, with mainly macadamia nut products and Kona coffee.   There were coffee samples, so if you did not want to shop, you could just have a coffee outside on the bench while you were waiting for the bus.  Then back to the ship at about 4 o’clock - a good tour (Tip $3US). 

For dinner, I had potato soup with shrimp, roast turkey dinner, whiskey chocolate cake and a glass of red wine ($11.20) - should just have had a Grolsch beer. 

Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Auckland to Vancouver cruise - March 23 to April 30th/2017.....

Holland America then had 5 sea days (April 17th - 21st) as we sailed up to Hawaii.
The Ship crossed the Equator on the 18th - the Captain kissed a fish to bless it, and then everybody who wanted to swim across the Equator, jumped in the pool, and lots jumped.

During the sea days, there were two or three lecturers in the Vista Theater.   One of them was an Astronomer, dealing with space and the galaxies. 

The Astronomer's lectures were full, and he also held a star gazing night on the Ship. 
April 20th was Gala night..... .
I had  jumbo shrimp cocktail, chicken and orzo soup, two lobster tails, almond orange cake, and a Groschl beer.

Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Auckland to Vancouver cruise - March 23 to April 30th/2017.....

On Easter Sunday, April 16th, Holland America docked at Pago, Pago and we took their tour, the Taste of Samoa life ($54.95 US).  The tour left at 10:30 and lasted till about 1:30. 

We went on an old bus - the drivers seat was on plywood, not raised, and his legs were under the bus floor. The tour guide, a younger woman, looked after two of maybe eight buses.  It was very hot, but they let the windows down and kept the door open.
After 10 minutes, we came to a flowerpot rock, and some got out and took pictures.  Back on the bus, after 5 minutes, the bus ahead blew the tire out, so the two buses waited there while another bus was sent.  We waited in the shade next to a park for about 20 minutes. The third bus had a gasoline leak, so the tour guide called for the 4th bus, and stayed behind, while we took off on the first bus.  After about 15 minutes, we stopped at a golf course.  
Although the golf course was very lush, the bathrooms were not - run down, the doors did not lock, there was reams of  toilet paper, but only on the floor. 
There was a waiting area outside with 6 - 8 tables, but the building was very run down.  The tables and benches were shabby and very dirty.  We bought a coke while we were waiting ($3 US).  We stayed here for 30 - 40 minutes.  After taking photos, we killed time.  Finally, back on the bus - after about 10 minutes, then we came to the Samoa village.
When we went to wash our hands, the taps did not work in the bathroom.  There were no tables and chairs set for lunch - you stood in line and they put a banana leaf with a little piece of paper in your hand, and served you breadfruit, banana, chicken and coconut with tuna.  I preferred not to take the coconut/tuna, and the chicken was greasy - fortunately, very small portions. There was no coffee, tea or soft drinks, even to buy. 
This village was not besides the ocean, but rather inland, with lots of bushes around, so absolutely no breeze.  When they put on their show, they showed us how to skin a coconut, how to put food on the cooking fire, and then was one little dancer, only about 7, who did a 7 year old dance for about 5 minutes.  You sat outside in the heat, taking shade where ever you could find it.
We stayed here about an hour and then back to the ship.  We missed a stop on this tour - we were supposed to stop at the beach and see the Tsunami monument - we were looking forward to the breeze.  But look at what we seen.....

We did not mind the bus breaking down, but the stop at the golf course and the Samoan village were both disappointments.   However, we did tip the tour guide $5AU, cause with the bus breaking down, and having to phone for two buses, she had a hard day.
We think that we wasted the money for this tour, and when we put in a complaint to Holland America, they refunded half the money.

For dinner, on Easter Sunday, I had king crab devilled eggs, caramelized onion and shiitake soup, roasted lamb with navy beans and spinach, and for dessert, nutella cheesecake, and a Grolsch beer.
The South Pacific islands are so hot, that the men wear a skirt called the sulu.

 Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Auckland to Vancouver cruise - March 23 to April 30th/2017.....

On Friday, the Ship docked at Fiji. We took the Holland America tour ($99.95 US) leaving at 9 am and the tour lasted 4 1/2 hours.    

We drove by a mountain - the Sleeping Giant - and then went to the city of Nadi, where we toured a Hindu temple from across the street.

After about twenty minutes, we went to Jack's Souvenir Shop - two floors.   Everything you could possibly want for a souvenir, and lots made in Fiji.  

Then a tour around town, and then to the Boatshed, a resort which was right besides the ocean, so a nice breeze – fruits and a pop were included here.  Besides being a relaxing spot, the native men put on a show about skinning a coconut.  When we first started out on the bus, there was so much garbage on the highway, but if you ignore that, this turned out to be a nice tour (Tip $5 Aus). 

For dinner, I had Ceaser salad, short ribs with black pudding (did not care for that), and for dessert, raspberry mousse tort, and a vodka matinee.

April 15th was a sea day, and so was the second April 15th.    On the first day, we crossed the International Date Line, which gave us the extra day, which we lost while flying to Auckland.   


For dinner on the first sea day, strawberry soup, molasses lamb chops and for dessert, carrot cake.  And on the second sea day, Jumbo shrimp cocktail, chicken soup, duck with scalloped potatoes and cabbage, and for dessert, linzer tort.

Tapioca is grown here in Fiji....

 Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Monday, 18 December 2017

Auckland to Vancouver cruise - March 23 to April 30th/2017.....

On Wednesday, Holland America docked at Port Vila, Vanuatu.

We took the Holland America Tour ($64.95) to tour the Lagoon Cruise at 8:30 - the tour lasted about 2.5 hours and was on a little boat called the Barge. 

We went on the bus to the lagoon - the Tour Guide was interesting, and we learned about their history (Tip $3Aus).    

The boat was covered and held about 40 people – they had a bar set up, and an alcohol drink was included. 

There were hundreds of starfish in the lagoon.   A very nice tour with a gentle breeze……

The Port had maybe 50 tents set up outside, but fenced in next to the Ship.

For dinner, I had bacon and cheddar soup, Yankee pot roast, lemon custard trifle and melon sorbet. 

Thursday, April 13th, was a sea day.  There are many activities on the Ship, including games, a library, and activities that the Ship has scheduled.  You will never be bored, especially sailing across the South Pacific.

For dinner, I had Boston lettuce with gorgonzola cheese, prime rib with stuffed baked potato, and for dessert, cream Brule.  I also had a Grolsch beer.

 Photos belong to Phil Bianco  

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Auckland to Vancouver cruise - March 23 to April 30th/2017.....

Ship picture by New York Times Archive
Holland America then had three sea days (April 9th, 10th and 11th) after we left Australia and travelling up to Fiji.  Gala night on the 9th – for dinner, escargot, chicken soup, roast duck w/lobster tail, lemon cheese cake and lemon sorbet.  I also had a Grolsch beer.
On Monday, we were invited to an Indonesian lunch.  I had chicken noodle soup, then a spicy vegetable appetizer, fried rice with shrimp satay, chicken drumstick and chicken satay, beef satay, spicy beef stew, and for dessert, rice pudding with palm sugar.   A delicious, huge lunch…

For dinner that night, chicken soup, baked ham with scalloped potatoes, peas, and for dessert, apple strudel and raspberry sorbet.  

On Tuesday, April 11th, because of Cyclone Debbie, the ship missed Noumea, New Caledonia.  We also missed Easo, Lifou, New Caledonia and instead docked at Port Vila, Vanuatu.   We signed up on a Holland America excursion, which we will tour tomorrow.

 Dinner was potato soup with lobster, weiner schneitzal with fried potatoes and for dessert, chocolate whiskey cake with orange sorbet and a glass of white wine.  The Captain also served a complimentary glass of champagne for missing the ports.   

Photos belong to Phil Bianco