Friday, November 29, 2019

Luke's a Winner!

Happy Thanksgiving!  The ship tried to be festive with decorations, but Thanksgiving on the Grand Princess just wasn't the same as sharing it with family and friends and smelling the turkey roasting in the kitchen.  Don't get me wrong, we had one of our best days at sea- but it didn't feel much like Thanksgiving.  There was a big turkey, cornucopia display in the Piazza, and turkey with gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce was on the menu for dinner, but...  just not the same!

Line dancing in the Vista Lounge
But there was plenty to do.  I went to another line dance class which I really like.  After seeing all those young people up in the disco lounge last night doing line dance moves all together, I'm thinking I might like to try to find a line dance class back in SF when I return. 
Then I had my Pop Chorus rehearsal.  We're singing a whole new repertoire of songs:  Blue Bayou, Under the Boardwalk, Edelweiss, Somewhere Across the Sea, and a Beatles song.  We will have another concert on Monday evening- our last day at sea.
Then Luke and I went to a Cha Cha class which was really fun.  We learned a routine with 6 different ChaCha steps in it.  I wrote them down so we could practice!

We had dinner with two other couples, one of whom was from Iowa, so Luke had fun talking to them.  They were from a small town wet of Davenport where they had 200 acres which they farmed with corn and soy beans.  The farm is small and not self-sustaining so they had jobs in town.  He worked in a manufacturing plant and she was an elementary school principal.  They retired at 55 and have been on over 20 cruises!!  Carolyn told an interesting story about her retirement.  The school district was offering early retirement to the principals.  Carolyn didn't know what to do so she prayed heavily.  In the morning, she decided that if one other principal retired, she would also;  she didn't want to be the only one.  So she went off to school and a principal, whom she knew only slightly, met her in the hall and said, "I have something to tell you.  I am going to retire."  She went home and that afternoon her mother called and said, "I have been having a strong feeling all day that I needed to call you.  What's happening?"  Carolyn told her mother that she was thinking of retiring and her mother said, "You should definitely retire!" ... and she did!.

Dick, her husband, was a man of few words, but even though they are both retired, they still work the farm and love it.  They have two children both of whom would like to keep the farm, but neither of the spouses are interested in farming.  So they have put the land in trust and stipulated that they can do nothing with the land until three years after their death. That way they will have to think about it.  The land is worth about $7,000-$8,000 an acre, so with 200 acres it's quite valuable.  Once again here is this average couple from the Heartland who have been on 20 cruises.  They do about two a year.  They've been to Tahiti, Tasmania, Alaska- they've seen the world and intend to continue exploring!  (Only in America!)

The other couple didn't talk much so I didn't get any thing interesting from them!!

After dinner we went to the Vista Lounge to see a Motown concert with the Princess singers, dancers and orchestra.  They were really good with fancy lighting, amazing costume changes and a very talented routine.

Then, at 9:30, we went to the Explorer's Lounge for a Rock and Roll Party with a different band and the entertainment staff.  It was a lot of fun as we knew all the old songs and there are some very good dancers on this trip.  Some of the old people really know how to rock it!  When the band took a break, they had a Hula hoop competition.  Luke was picked out of the crowd to go up.  He had three tries to keep the hula hoop off the ground.  After the hoop dropped to the ground the third time, you were supposed to stop and strike a certain pose. It was so funny to watch, and HE WON!!  He had no idea he had won, but I think the reason was that we took much longer to pick his hoop up off the floor each time, so he was the slowest and therefore the last to strike the pose at the end!  They interviewed him and presented him with a bottle of champagne!!  I was laughing hysterically!

We stayed in the Explorer's Lounge until the band stopped playing around 11:00.  It was a very fun day.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring!!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Heading Home

Tuesday Night - November 26th

Before I write about today, I have to share our conversation with our last night's dinner guests.  We were joined by Nikita and Victor.  Victor only spoke Russian, but Nikita's English was quite good.  They live in San Francisco having come from their homeland of Ukraine eight years ago.  Their son lives with them in San Francisco, but their daughter lives in Ukraine.  It is very hard for their daughter and 21 year old grand son,  "Ukraine is a hard country."  They are very anti-Putin and Nikita says he is trying to grab all of Ukraine back.  I asked her if she liked the new president and she said no- he is a terrible man.  Her daughter teaches Latin and Greek and her grandson is a baritone in the opera and is in the Netherlands touring with Aida right now and then will go to Spain.  Her eyes lit up when she mentioned her grandson.  We asked if her daughter might be able to come to San Francisco and she said no.  "Everyone wants to come to America, but it is impossible."  Then I asked "what about Trump?"  and I sensed fear cross Nikita's eyes as if she didn't want to say anything about him.
We asked if they liked San Francisco and they said, "Oh yes.  America is the best country in the world."  We also asked them if this was their first cruise.  "Oh no, this is our 5th.  We have been to Alaska, Mexico, The California coast and Hawaii two times."

It's fascinating to think Ukranian immigrants have lived in this country for 8 years and gone on 5 cruises!!

After dinner we went to hear an Elton John concert performed by an Irishman who was very good.  Then we watched the beginning of the Voice of the Ocean auditions.  There was a line of twenty or more people who are auditioning tonight and then the finals will move to the theater where they will have actual chairs that will turn around just like on the real Voice.  It's really fun seeing older people enjoying themselves.  The place was packed for the auditions!  Stay tuned for the finals- apparently they even have judges in the swivel chairs!

Wednesday- November 27:

OMG! IT'S THE PEOPLE STUPID! - Are you ready? . . . There was no free table for breakfast, so we asked if we could join a couple at a table by the window.  They were from Bayshore, NY on Long Island - originally from Colombia.  They both had thick Spanish accents, and but Blanco spoke better English than her husband.  We asked how long they had lived in Bayshore and the husband, (I can't recall his name) launched in to an emotional story about how he got his house.  They had originally lived in Queens, but they could never find a parking place in Queens and there is no restricted parking in Long Island, so the real estate agent brought them to this house.  "My wife looked at this house and said, 'No! Oh No!'"  It was falling apart and had been owned by an old lady who did nothing to fix it up.  But when he opened the front door and saw the huge living room, he knew he had to have it.  There were two dining rooms, and it was "beautiful" -even though there were leaks and paint peeling and it needed a lot of work.  This was in 2002 and the price of the house was $380,000.  He knew it would need about $100,000 to fix up, so he told the agent he wanted the house but could only pay $300,000 for it.  The owner would not negotiate so they forgot about it.  Then months later he gets a call from his agent, "Are you still interested in the house?"

"Yeah, I'm still interested in the house, but not in the price!"  Well the owner will take his offer!  He wsa so excited,  but there he was with a house he couldn't move in to because he put $80,000 down for the downpayment to keep his payments lower and he didn't have any money to fix up the house.

But a friend told him that there was a bank that when you got a credit card, they would give you free interest for six months.  Free interest for six months - why that's a miracle.  I can borrow $20,000 and fix up the bedroom and move in, and that's just what he did.

Then a neighbor saw him fixing up the stairs and asked what he was doing.  He told him he didn't have the money to fix up things so he was trying to do some of it himself.  Why don't you just go down to the bank- they are giving loans- it's easy.  When he went to the bank and the banker asked him how much money he wanted, he didn't want to screthe guy off so he said, $20,000.

"$20,000!!  Why waste our time with $20,000.  We make money when we loan to you, but you need to ask for more."

Well, what do you suggest, he asked?  When the banker said, $100,000 he choked.  $100,000- you will give me $100,000?  Okay, Okay!  So he took the $100,000 and paid off the free interest credit card that had come due, and used the rest to fix up his house!

He ended his story by saying, "Only in America!  This is the greatest country on earth!"

Blanco and her husband have gone on a lot of cruises, but they don't go in the winter time because they have to stay home to shovel their walk when it snows.  If they don't, they get fined.  They have a young boy do it, but he does a lousy job, so they need to stay home from cruises in the winter to shovel their walk!  (Only in America!)

After they left, we were joined by a couple from Southern California.  She had been a librarian, So we got to talking about books and the changes technology had brought.  He said, well I know the power of words and reading.  He had gotten a $450.00 ticket for going through a red-light.  He went to the library and looked up everything he could and discovered that the Town of San Mateo had not asked for the proper permit to install the cameras, and they had not notified the public when they installed them.  So he told this to the judge and got his ticket erased.  When he told this to a friend of his, his friend told him that he had used the 7th amendment to got out of a ticket.  The 7th amendment states that if a fine is over $20.00, we have the right to a trial by jury.  So this friend insisted on a jury trial, and his case was thrown out.

So who our breakfast mate got a second ticket for going through a red light, he used his 7th amendment rights and asked for a trial by jury.  He was denied twice, but this guy persisted and resubmitted his claim for a jury saying he was being denied his constitutional rights and his case was thrown out.  When I said maybe he should just stop when the light turns yellow next time, he laughed, but he was clearly proud of avoiding paying his first two tickets - and it was only because he could read and research that allowed him to do so.

Loren went off to a lecture about Picasso after breakfast, and I sat out on the deck and watched a movie.  We met at the Crown Grill for an English Pub lunch where we had beer and fish and chips.  We were joined by a Chinese couple who were from San Mateo, CA.  They had been on cruises with their family, but this was the first they have taken by themselves.  They don't like to fly, so they only take cruises that they can drive to- so they have been on this Hawaiian cruise four times!  The British luncheon was very popular and we had to wait in line for about 15 minutes before we found a table.  This couple said they don't usually share because they like to sample a lot fo the food and they need room on the table.  She went on to order fish and chips and shrimp and chips.  Since the food is "free" you are allowed to order whatever you want.  I wonder how many other people take two or three appetizers, entrees or desserts just to try them.  Seems incredibly wasteful, but...

We had dinner at the little pizzeria, then went to hear a new singer in the theater who was very good.  Since we had been crashing around 10:00 or so every evening, Luke wanted to stay awake to see what the night life was like on the ship.  We wandered the ship from fore to aft.  There was Karioke just finishing up in the Vista lounge;  The Crooners Bar was quite full as people sat in their lunge chairs and listened to a kind of Tom Jones look alike.

As we passed through the mid-ship, a few hearty souls were watching the Lion King under the stars in the outdoor pool area.  A live band with a singer played in the Wheelhouse Bar and there were lots of couples on the dance floor.  We talked with a couple who used to live in San Francisco - on Telegraph Hill.  He owned a corner grocery store, but when he retired, they had to move because it was too expensive.  They now lie in Fremont, but here again is an immigrant couple who ran a little corner store for their whole lives who are now on The Grand Princess on a 15 day Hawaiian cruise.  (Only in America!).

At the 115 Lounge on the top deck at the stern of the ship  there was a crowd of young people who were all doing a kind of line dancing to the various DJ songs.  It had disco style lighting, and they all seemed to know the different steps to each song and it was fun to watch.

It was about 11:30 when I gave out, but there were definitely party revelers who had more in the tank!  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I wonder what they'll do for that!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Maui - our last Hawaiian Island

I got up around 5:00 this morning and went out on the balcony and say an island with some lights.  It turns out we were just going by Molokoi on our way to Maui.  When we arrived in Maui around 7:00 we saw a very brown arid hillside.  It runs out that each Hawaiian Island has a wet side and a dry side.  It was explained to us- something about the hot air brining the moisture up and then the winds blowing westward sends the rain over to one side.

We anchored off the coast of Lahaina which doesn't have any piers, so we were shuttled to shore by launch boats.  It is quite a procedure.  We watched as the boats were lowered from the boat.  We were told to go to a certain deck to receive a number and when our number was called we were to proceed down to deck 4 either fore, middle or aft deck to catch out launch.  There was a notice we received which said, "Please note that with 3000 guests, water shuttles can only hold 50-100 persons at a time, so it will take about 4-5 hours to put the entire ship ashore.  We suggest gibing yourself plenty of lead time for any plans you may have.  The last water shuttle from shore is 5:00 pm.

We had planned to take an hop-on-hop-off bus around Kauai yesterday but got waylaid in the museum with Jim Jung, so we decided we would take one of these buses around the island of Maui today.  We got on this bus with two young guys who seemed a bit disorganized.  We paid $20.00 each and they told us they were going to four stops: The outlet, Black Rock, Whaler's Watch, and The Harbor.  The full tour took an hour but we could get on and off anywhere we wanted.  Sounded good so off we went.  Well the first stop was literally at an outlet mall so we stayed on the bus.  The second stop was at a Sheraton hotel where  they told us there was a beautiful beach and we could watch the divers jumping off of black rock.  We got out, walked through the lobby of the Sheraton, and went out back to see the beach.  It was quite magnificent with the Sheraton hotel looming over it.  The divers were jumping off black rock in the distance.   About 10 minutes later we had taken it all in, and the bus didn't come back for us for an hour, so we took a local shuttle to the next stop which was Whale's watch.  Well, that turned out to be another shopping center- with just rows and rows of stores.  So we discovered that another city bus could take us back to the Harbor and we ended up leisurely walking along Front Street where there were more shops, but at least it was quaint.  We had lunch at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company.  Luke found himself another museum to prowl around in while I sat in a beautiful Banyan Tree grove and read my Hawaii book.  So we spent $40.00 to ride 1/2 mile on a bus that seemed to only go to shopping malls.  Oh well- maybe that means we'll just have to come back to Maui someday.

We took the launch back to the boat, got a refreshing mojito, and retired to our balcony to read.

I am getting a bit of a feel for the Hawaiian experience.  I know we made some missteps along the way, and haven't really gotten a good feel for each island, but a large part of the culture here for tourists is sunbathing, eating, drinking and SHOPPING!!!  In Hilo and Honolulu, there were shuttles that took you to Walmart, and they were filled with people.  Walmart?  Why would you come to Hawaii and go to Walmart?  I asked some people and one said they had great, cheap Hawaiian material;  most people just said, "Cheap."  Then at each stop there were free shuttle services to the local malls.  It just seemed very weird to me to take a cruise ship to Hawaii and go shopping.  But by the number of bags brought on board the launch this afternoon, it is clear that the materialistic world is alive and well.

I must say that I am very happy our land excursions are over and I can just stay on board the ship and have a good time.  We leave this afternoon and will be at sea for four days before arriving at Ensenada, Mexico.  There is some regulation that a non-American ship (This one is from Hamilton, Bermuda) has to go to at least one international port in order to stop in the USA, thus Ensenada.  But Ensenada is a tourist trap so we aren't planning to get off the ship for that stop.

Not sure what we'll do tonight-  The entertainment is a comedian which doesn't really interest me.  Maybe well do a little dancing after dinner.  Aloha.

Kauai - The Garden Island

I love waking up early and going out on the balcony to see how close to land we are.  Around 6:00 there were lights in the distance and then by 7:00 we were entering the harbor of Kauai and were greeted by a beautiful, lush green uninhabited mountain.  As we started to snuggle in to the dock we were serenaded by three ukulele players and a hula dancer.  It was beautiful.
After a leisurely breakfast we disembarked and decided to walk the 1/2 mile to the beach.  Kauai apparently has the fewest tourists visiting it, and I think it's because  there aren't as many beaches.  Most of the coastline is very steep, but near the harbor is a lovely beach.

 We decided to get on an on-and-off bus to tour the island and get a sense of the lay of the land.  We were told to take a public bus to a certain shopping mall and get our tour bus from there.  However, along the way, someone was getting off at the Kauai museum, so we got off to check it out, and we ended up staying there for over an hour.

We met Jim Jung right away and when he found out we were from San Francisco, he said, "I have a San Francisco story for you."  Jim had been a layer in Boston and came out to San Francisco to work with Melvin Belli.  Melvin was known as the King of Torts.  One day, Melvin met up with Carol Doda, a lady of renown known for her topless attire.  For a long time there was a likeness of her in neon lights flashing along Broadway near North Beach.  Carol poured Melvin a drink and raised her glass and said, "To the King of Torts from the Queen of Tarts!"

Jim ushered us in to a small room where he was giving a lecture on the Hawaiian migration and how the islanders got from Micronesia around 1100.  He had a replica of a canoe that was used, and it was really fun for me to hear all about the early settlers because I had just finished reading about that time in my James Michener book, Hawaii.  Jim was quite the storyteller.  Another memorable phrase he quoted was from Christopher Columbus who said, "You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of land."  And these early Islanders certainly had a lot of courage.  Another interesting fact I learned is that the Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated land mass on this earth.

By the time we had finished looking around the museum, it was much to late to take the on/off bus, so we asked the gal in the gift shop if she could recommend a nice place for us to have lunch.  When she said, Duke's Barefoot Bar and Grill, I knew that was where I wanted to go, so we got back on the bus and went over to the harbor where we found this great place.  It was right on the beach and we sat outside under thatched umbrellas.  I ordered car and macadamia nut won tons and a man tai, and Luke couldn't resist the Hula pie which was the biggest thing I'd ever seen!

We came back to the room and took a short snooze.  When we woke up, the ship was just leaving.  A tug boat was following along side, and we saw some beautiful condos, a golf course and two very picturesque light houses as we glided out of the harbor.

 We really loved Kauai.  It resembled our idea of what Hawaii should be - more than Hilo or Honolulu.  We really didn't get very far, but what we saw was lovely.  I'd like to go back sometime and explore some more.  It's on to Maui tomorrow.

Monday, November 25, 2019


It is such fun waking up and going out on our balcony to see lights of the next island twinkling ahead.  The city of Honolulu is vastly different from Hilo with its hi-rise buildings.  There were other ships in the harbor, but none the size of this mammoth thing that we're on!

We had to be aware of the time this morning as our tour for Pearl Harbor left at 8:00.  There must have been over 25 different tour groups going to various places and the ship had it down pat.  We were issued a sticker, ushered into groups and led to our particular van.  We were first driven to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial where we got a head set and walked around to the various exhibits while Jaimie Lee Curtis led us on a tour.  Her father, Tony Curtis, was on the USS Missouri when the peace treaty was signed with the Japanese.  Afterwards we went in to a theater and saw a film about the fateful day of December 7th.

The Tree of Life -
a symbol that is prevalent all around Pearl Harbor

USS Missouri where the peace treaty was signed

Then we got on a launch and were ferried over to the USS Arizona by two Navy sailors.  The Arizona was one of only a few of the battleships bombed on December 7th that were not raised and repaired and brought back in to battle.  When the Arizona was bombed it ignited the fuel tanks onboard and the explosion destroyed the ship.  They have erected a very beautiful memorial over the wreckage, some of which can still be seen from the surface.  The men that went down with her are still buried below and many of the crew who survived have chosen to be buried with their fellow sailors after they die.
We were then given the choice of touring the USS Missouri or going to the Air Museum.  We had just seen the movie, Midway before coming Ono ur trip, so we chose to go to the Air Museum.

A quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt

Seeing those planes up close gave you a sense of just how primitive and dangerous it was compared to war today.  I can't imagine dive-bombing enemy ships in these flimsy planes with open cockpits as the enemy guns are shooting at me.   It was a long day, from 8:00-2:30 and we were very glad we went, but all in all I was under-whelmed with Pearl Harbor.   I think I was expecting to be more emotionally moved and I wasn't.  

We came back to our room and had a short turn-around time before we were to meet Luke's college friend, Phil, who lives in Honolulu with his wife, Liz.  We met them at Nico's restaurant and had a wonderful dinner with non-stop conversation as the two men caught up after many years.  Liz was born in Honolulu and remembers Pearl Harbor.  She lived in what she called the Pineapple Camps, and the Japanese flew over and strafed her village with a barrage of bullets.  Her family was Korean and they had no love for the Japanese, and she remembers her mother and father cursing the planes as they flew overhead.  Phil and Liz drove us back to our waiting ship and we were both asleep before the Grand Princess left port.  Kaua'i is next, we'll be pulling in to Nawiliwili around 8:00 in the morning.   Aloha.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Land Ahoy!

I was so excited to see how we would come in to port that I was awake from 4:00 on!  We have had to put our clocks back two hours since we left San Francisco.  I talk to my sister in Florida every day and now there is a five hour difference- that's hard to fathom!  It turns out that we weren't due into Hilo until 8:00, so I needn't have worried about missing it.  Around 5:00 am I could see lights in the distance.

It was a very overcast, humid morning and around 6:00 it started to downpour.  A large tug boat appeared off of our Portside balcony and we turned in towards the harbor.  This ship is enormous, and she just slowly snuggled up to the dock as people on the land caught the ropes.  There is quite an orchestrated dance that began after we were tied up.  Two gang planks emerged with signs and awnings.  The dock began to get peopled with tour agents and photographers and the disembarkation began.

We hadn't signed up for any tour, so we went back up to have some breakfast.  Once again our system worked.  We were joined by a couple from Oregon- Craig and Laurel.  Once again they offered a lot of information about themselves:  They have been on 27 cruises-Mexico, Panama Canal, Tahiti, Dubai, Bombay...etc, etc., etc.  She has macular-degeneration and has been getting shots in both eyes for ten years with a drug that was affective for cancer but found to deter macular degeneration.  They have very good insurance and only pay $20 each time she gets the shots which is every 5 weeks.  They have one daughter, and just days after they retired, her daughter announced she was getting married.  That put Mom into overdrive and she made all the bridesmaids' dresses from scratch.  Then her daughter, who never liked kids, had a son, but the daughter wanted to go back to work, so Mom took care of the baby.  Then the daughter announced she was having triplets!  Needless to say, that upped the ante and the mother moved in with the daughter.

I asked the how they ever had time to take 27 cruises and they said that Laurel's best friend got breast cancer 30 years ago and was dead in 3 weeks.  At that point, Laurel vowed she wouldn't wait until they retired to travel and have fun, so their cruise adventures go back a ways.  Then,  whenever her daughter could get vacation time, Mom and Dad went on a cruise.

We got all this, and guess what?  They never even asked us where we were from!  Luke thinks maybe we're not very interesting people so no one needs to ask...  I think there are many people who are just interested in themselves.

Craig and Laurel left and we were shortly joined again by a mother and her daughter from Lake Placid.  The daughter had been on about 8 cruises with her husband, but she left him home this time and she brought her mother on her very first cruise.  The mother, who must have been in her 70's, was having a great time, although yesterday she fell coming down the marble staircase in the Piazzo.  she was alright, and later in the day she received a beautiful, large bouquet of flowers from the ship with a card saying, "Hope you are feeling better."
While we were having breakfast, the clouds cleared and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day, but when we got back to our room, it was raining again.  Since we weren't in any hurry, we read for a while.

Around 11:00 the sky was clear again so we decided to venture forth.  We found a free shuttle that took us to the Farmer's Market in downtown Hilo.  We had been told that this side of the island is the "poor" side and the other side is where the volcano National Park is with luxury condos and hotels.  The Farmer's Market was full of Hawaiian things like jewelry, t-shirts, dresses, flowers and shawls.  There was also a section with just food and we saw some very exotic fruits we had never seen before.

We went into a Ukulele store and asked if they carried Kamaka Ukes- this was the kind that Luke had been given from his co-workers when he retired and we were told it was one of the best ever made.  They said they didn't have any Kamaka's in the store- They had ordered some, but they wouldn't be there for three months.  Luke asked if they were indeed the best made and the woman told us that they were the oldest man-made company, but until recently when they re-toooled their design, her husband couldn't play one because the neck was too small.    
We were going to go to the botanical gardens which sounded quite lovely, but the clouds rolled in again and we got back to the ship just before another heavy downpour which lasted for most of the rest of the afternoon.  It was actually quite nice to go back to the room and read and relax.

We ran in to Sheri and Jon as we were leaving breakfast and made a date to meet them in the piazza at 6:30 and have dinner with them.  I don't think I mentioned that Sheri is writing a book.  She has a fascinating history- her father was a Grand Sergeant in a Motorcycle gang before both he and Sheri's Mom became born again believers- so needless to sa she had an interesting childhood.  Then she trained to be an investigator, so she has a background in the crime world.  She's writing a book called The Deliverer and she had the first 20 or so chapters bound and gave us a copy for us to read and give her some feedback.  It is really very good- a kind of Criminal Minds combined with what reminds me of an English crime series.  The evil in it is very deep and the main character is Kate who is a detective and we discover her mother had been brutally killed.  It was really fun for us to be let in on the beginnings of Sheri's adventure and she is going to send us installments as she finishes them so we can see the story unfold- so long as we continue to give her feedback.

We had told Sheri and Jon that it was my birthday yesterday, so when we met up with them they told us they had made reservations at the fancy Crown Grill and wanted to take us there for my birthday.  I should have revealed right then that it really wasn't my birthday, but I didn't think about it because I really feel this whole cruise IS my birthday.  This is my birthday present and I'm still celebrating.

At any rate, we had a wonderful dinner, and I will be thinking of our conversation for a long time to come.  Sheri and Jon run an educational training service for businesses and I can understand why they are successful.  Sheri has a wonderful way of turning a topic of conversation into a lesson learned while telling a wonderful story.  For instance, he talked about three levels of relationships;  she mentions we have 22 states of emotions;  and she said curiosity is the basis of love. There is so much of this dinner conversation that I want to revisit.  And guess what?  They were interested in our lives as well, so we felt a lovely two-way street of sharing.  At the end of dinner, the waiters showed up with two cakes for Sheri and me and they sang Happy Birthday in harmony!  It was so much fun.


Tomorrow we arrive in Honolulu which will be a very busy day for us.  We have signed up for the tour of Pearl Harbor and we are also going out for dinner with Luke's college friend, Phil who lives here with his wife.  Aloha for now.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Last Sea Day Before We Reach Hilo

I'm not sure that I'm looking forward to landing in Hilo tomorrow.  Of course I am, but I haven't tired of being on this ship, and there's a part of me that just wants to stay on board and never get off.

But today is going to be a fun day.  Before we set sail, Princess asked if there was anyone celebrating a special occasion.  Since this whole trip was Luke's birthday present to me, we decided to say it was my birthday.  We had to pick a day that we wanted to celebrate and we picked today.  So as I was leaving to go get our morning coffee, I found a birthday card under the door and a big poster stuck on to the door wishing me a happy birthday.   Very nice!

We have developed a little routine for breakfast.  We like a seat by the window, so we walk along the aisle looking for an empty table, and then wait for a couple to ask if they could sit with us.  This morning we were joined by Nancy and Randy, a couple from Oregon.  They have just become Elite Princess Passengers having gone on 17 cruises.  Luke asked what they got for their new status and they said their refrigerator in their room was stocked with wine, beer and champagne and they got free laundry service!!

We learned a lot about Nancy and Randy.  They have two daughters.  Randy used to ????? but then when his grandson was born with six fingers and six toes on each hand and no separation between his heart, he was so taken with the care that he received that he decided to train to become a pediatric pulmonary technician so he could make a difference.  The smaller premie he saved was Joshua, who weighed 12 grams at birth.  Joshua is now 20 years old and has seizures and is partially blind, but other than that he's doing okay.  Randy also has lost 130 pounds since March.  He had the gastric by-pass surgery and can only eat one cup of food at a time.  A side effect of that kind of surgery can be that your gallbladder fails, and just before coming on the cruise he had his gallbladder removed because it was looking cloudy.  He also has a pinched nerve in his neck and he went to an acupuncture class that was given by the spa here on the ship and they told him that pinched nerves respond very well to acupuncture.  The course of treatment costs $1,400 and he's doing it daily and his pain is much less.  His wife, Nancy, said, it is very expensive, but so worth it if it will take the pain away.

I am sharing all this information with you because Luke and I have noticed that for the most part, the people we have met are real talkers, but they mostly talk about themselves.  Very few have been interested in us or asked us questions about our lives.

After breakfast I went to the line dance class.  That is so much fun.  We learned two dances, one to a Megan Trainer Song and the other to Footloose.  It's a great workout and everyone is having a great time.

I came back to the room to collect Luke and found another birthday card and an elephant, created out of towels that Roberto, our cabin boy had made for me for my birthday.  We say him later in the hallway and thanked him so much.  We asked if he went to towel folding school to learn how to do that and he laughed.  Luke asked him how long it took to make the elephant and Roberto said only 15 minutes!  Amazing.

We hadn't been to a restaurant for lunch yet- instead -picking up a slice of pizza or sandwich at an outdoor kiosk.  Today, Luke wanted to try our breakfast routine on the lunch crowd.  We have both affirmed that the most fun on this cruise are the people, so we left for the dining room in search of some new characters.  This time we didn't find an empty table so we had to shake up our routine a bit and invite ourselves to join another couple.  Ceci and Carl were from Arizona and they were a really fun couple.  When we said we were from San Francisco, Carl said, "I've been reading about your city and seeing it on the news, and it's not good."

When I asked him what he had been hearing. he cited the homeless problem with waste in the streets and used needles on the sidewalks.  It's really too bad, because we have to own up to those issues, but the press makes it sound like the whole  city has gone to seed.  Homelessness is a huge problem, and I don't know the answer to it, but SF is still an amazing city and we feel very lucky to be able to live there.

Then Ceci asked, "Isn't Nancy Pelosi helping the homeless?"  I really didn't know what to say to that question!!!

After lunch I went to my Pop Chorus rehearsal.  It went very well and we're doing much better.  Our Director says we are ready for our big public concert this afternoon.  We are all to wear tropical, colorful dress.  The lady next to me said she didn't have any tropical clothes.  I asked her if she had anything with flowers on it.  "No, I'm not a flowery person."  So I said, "Just wear your brightest color."  She was dressed in a brown/olive green dress and I can't wait to see what she shows up in for the concert!

...  The concert was a smash hit!!

Our Director, Jonny, from South Africa, got the crowd going, and our first song, The Eye of the Tiger got rousing applause.  Our next to last song was Sweet Caroline, but Johnny said it was our last.  So then the crowd started yelling, "More, More, More!!"  and then we sang The Love Boat!!-  It was so much fun.  We were given pins that say, "Princess Pop choir" on them, and were treated to champagne and mimosas in an adjoining bar.  They are going to have another choir on the sea days on our way back.  I'm definitely going to join and I'm going to try to get Luke to come too.  By the way, the drably dressed lady is the one sitting in the walker in the front row on the right.  I told her she looked lovely in her flower dress, "but I thought you didn't have any flowered clothing."  
"Oh, she said, I bought this in the shop so I could look tropical."  I told her she looked lovely and should wear more flowers!  This might be the start of a new life for her!

We decided to celebrate the success of the concert and went up to the top deck and had a caipirinha and a margarita-  the real thing.  We had been drinking "Mock cocktails" up to this point, and I have to say I think I like the mock ones better!!
We went to the DaVinci restaurant for dinner, and Luke presented the waiter with a card saying that it was my birthday.  Our waiter was very attentive and made me a turtle and a samurai out of dinner napkins!  They also brought a beautiful chocolate cake with a candle and five waiters came to sing to me.  It was all very fun, and I love that my birthday celebration continues from July-  It's been quite a celebration.

Looking forward to our first adventure in the islands of Hawaii tomorrow.  Stay tuned...