Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hawaii


Sep 28, 2010 – Tuesday – Volendam at sea, enroute Seattle to Kauai – The captain announced that we would be arriving in Nawiliwili on Kauai tomorrow at 5pm, so we will be staying overnight, leaving tomorrow afternoon. This is great, since it will give us more time on Kauai, and makes our car rental the following day more appealing, since we will be able to get away from the crowds.

It was formal night again this evening. We had reservations at the Rotterdam Dining Room for 5:30pm, and my laundry came back this afternoon just in time for me to use my only white dress shirt for this evening. They had pressed all my clothes, including the t-shirts. My socks and underwear were wrapped in tissue paper, sealed with a gold sticker, delivered in a woven basket. Pretty deluxe!

At 8pm this evening, John and I joined Donna Giesler and some others up on the top deck for observing the night sky. Donna had already requested that the deck lights be extinguished, so it was pretty dark up there. We observed the sky below Sagittarius into Scorpius, so that was a real treat as compared with our usual northern skies. The Summer Triangle was directly overhead, as was Cygnus. The Milky Way glowed brightly, especially in Sagittarius.

Sep 29, 2010 – Wednesday – Volendam at sea, enroute Seattle to Kauai – I got up around 8:30am and went for breakfast in the Lido. I had an omelette made to order, and ate my breakfast on the outside deck; the first al fresco dining for me on this trip, since it is now 24°C in the morning.

We docked in Nawiliwili this afternoon at 5:20pm, and don't leave until the following afternoon. The Rotterdam is docked as we arrive, and departed about an hour later – a lovely sight. As the gangway is put in place, complete with red carpet, a rain shower starts up – "welcome to Kauai". We all stay aboard the ship this evening.

We dine in the Canaletto, an Italian menu restaurant on the Lido Deck. We are dining a couple of tables away from the Captain. Afterward, we go to the Frans Hals Lounge, where Lance Ringnald is doing an acrobatic performance. He is a past Olympic winner for the USA, and is now 40 years old, but is still in great shape and puts on a very entertaining show. He uses hanging silks like Cirque de Soleil does, along with some jokes and banter to the audience since he is wearing a microphone. I shoot some video, since is says he has no problem with flash photos or video. Normally both are forbidden during performances in the show lounge.


Sep 30, 2010 – Thursday – Kauai – I set my alarm last night and got up around 7:30pm. I was out the door and up to the Lido for breakfast: scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and toast. We then caught the Hertz shuttle to the airport, where I rented a very nice Nissan Altima. We drove up the eastern and northern coasts of Kauai to a bit past the Hanalei Valley, stopping for a swim near Anini Beach, and to see the Kilauea Lighthouse. We were back into town by 3pm and back onboard the ship by 3:30pm…well ahead of the 4:30pm All Aboard deadline. John, Wendy and I have visited Kauai before, so this visit brings back good memories, and was a most enjoyable day. I was driving today.

The Grand Nawiliwili Sail Away was a party hosted by Holland America held between 4:30pm and 5:30pm as Volendam sailed out of Nawiliwili Harbour. There were free drinks and snacks, so I had a couple of gin and tonics. The headlands of Kauai were beautiful as we sailed away while the sun set. I sure didn't need any wine with dinner when we dined later at Canaletto.

Oct 1, 2010 – Friday – Honolulu – I set my alarm to 7:30am again last night, but woke up a few minutes ahead of the alarm. Volendam was already docked in Honolulu harbour at Pier 11, right beside the Aloha Tower. We thought we could catch a free shuttle to Waikiki, but instead had to take a taxi to pick up our rental car for the day. This was a hassle and delayed us, but eventually we were off in our upgraded rental car - a Cadillac CTS – another very nice vehicle for Marg, John and I to tour around in. John is driving today.


We headed out to Diamond Head, but after paying to get inside the crater, found out it is an hour and a half hike to the top and return. We didn't stay long, driving a bit further to Hanauma Bay, which is a very pretty bay where there is lots of coral growing. It is very popular and costs $14.50 to go down to the park and use the beach, but only a $1 to park and look around. We did the latter and then moved on to Koko Heads – another spectacular sight – a blowhole and beautiful shoreline along the south coast of Oahu.

As we turned the corner to the eastern shore of Oahu, it started to rain. The vegetation was more tropical of course…the south shore is like a desert in comparison. The coastline around the Kaneohe area is very pretty, and the mountains are deeply grooved similar to the Napali Coast on Kauai. I guess the same processes are at work since they are both north coasts – wind and water erosion. We had some lunch at the Crouching Lion Bar & Grill in Kaaawa, and then headed back to Waikiki to return the rental car and get back to the ship.

Volendam departed Honolulu at about 11pm, bound for Kailua-Kona and the Big Island of Hawaii on a slow overnight cruise. We had a lovely dinner in the Rotterdam Dining Room.

Oct 2, 2010 – Saturday – Kailua-Kona, Big Island of Hawaii – We were scheduled to go ashore today, and were planning to drive a rental car down to Pu-uhonau o Honaunau – Place of Refuge. Unfortunately the tendering process took far too long this morning, so we cancelled our plans and stayed onboard the ship. I went for a swim in the Sea View Pool in the stern, which was very nice – a salt water pool with very few people around.

We had lunch in the Lido, which is the only restaurant open when the ship is in port. I had Indonesian chicken on rice, which was spiced just right. I listened to an e-book while reclining on the Promenade Deck, and took a few photos of the tenders and Kailua-Kona shoreline. We departed on time and sailed around the Big Island to see the volcanic flow off the coast by Kilauea, however no lava was visible from the ship. I'm glad I had such good success seeing the lava flow last October when I visited the Big Island.

We dined at the Canaletto Italian restaurant again this evening. The pasta is simply superb:
  • Penne Alla Vodka (spicy vodka sauced penne)
  • Linguini Fruitti di Mare (seafood linguini)
  • Baked Meat Lasagna Pomodoro (delicious classic lasagna)
  • Cod Putanesca (cod marinated and coated with a spicy tomato concasssée and sautéed – my favourite)
  • Veal Milanese (breaded veal scaloppini with porcini mushrooms)
  • Chicken Marsala Scaloppini (the classic made with Marsala wine)
Desserts include:
  • Three flavour Tiramisu (espresso, lemon & Amaretto – my favourite)
  • Limoncello Crème (lemon crème with lemon liqueur)
  • Mille-Feuille of Madagascar Chocolate (layers of chocolate cake, walnut praline & ice cream on top – another favourite of mine)
  • An assortment of gelato ice cream

We are going to be so spoiled when we return home. Not having to prepare our own meals or clean up after ourselves is wonderful!

Oct 3, 2010 – Sunday – Volendam at sea, enroute Hawaii to American Samoa – I slept to 8am this morning, since this will be a lazy day at sea – the first of five days until we reach Pago Pago in American Samoa on Oct 8th. We had both lunch and dinner in the Lido restaurant today, so it was casual all the way. We avoided the formal night this evening as best we could. I picked up a slight burn yesterday from my time out on deck and in the pool.

I attended two lectures today – this morning Donna's "Excited about Exo-planets", where she talked about the discovery of a new exo-planet that appears to be Earth-like. Of course, she also described the history of the hunt for planets outside our solar system, and added her usual pop and sizzle to the presentation. This afternoon I attended a lecture by Dan Ostler (Donna's husband) where he described how the Polynesians navigated across the open Pacific Ocean; and also described how the ancestors of people of the South Pacific migrated across the world eastward from Africa. They were both good lectures which I enjoyed.
This afternoon I made a presentation to the Astronomy Club group hosted by Donna. I showed Victoria Centre's 2010 Calendar photos and gave a brief explanation behind each photo. I also added a shot of a sunset viewed through the Kikis from Pu-uhonau o Honaunau – Place of Refuge, and finished off with a photo of the lava flow into the ocean. Both photos were taken last October, and both represent opportunities missed on this voyage due to cloudy weather.

John and I went up to Deck 6 forward to do some astronomical observing. There are no lights on this small deck located right in front of the bridge, so it is very dark, and the views of the night sky are superb. Despite some cloud cover, the Milky Way was just as bright as we observed on September 28th, and Jupiter's four most prominent moons were all lined up on one side of the planet (8pm local time). Speaking of time, our clocks are set back another hour this evening, making us five hours ahead of Pacific Time.

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