2014 Hawaii/Tahiti Cruise Log

 

May 14, 2013

Regent just announced the itinerary for late 2014. Added was the Mariner doing a Los Angeles to Auckland cruise. As both Matt and I love this area, we decided to add this cruise onto our already booked Venice to Miami cruise. That means we will be getting off the ship in Miami, coming home for 18 days, then heading out again. We will have the same cabin on both cruises... 989, which is an corner aft suite. It has 561 square feet of suite space and 286 square feet of balcony space. Very excited to have this suite, especially on this cruise. Being able to lay out on the lounge on the balcony in Tahiti and Fiji will be great! This cruise will include many ports in the Tahiti and Fiji areas that we have not been to.


November 18, 2014 - Long Beach

We were picked up by Vintage Limousine at 6:00AM and at the Sacramento Airport just before 7. There was nobody in line for the Jet Blue check-in, so that went VERY fast. There was also nobody in line at the TSA check, so that went quickly also, except for the man in front of us who had every type of bathroom product in his carry on. He said he was "a great packer", and did not want to give anything up, so he was escorted out of the area. Looks like he missed his flight.

Our flight to Long Beach was on time, but the TV screens were out of order and there were no magazines in the seatbacks, so it was a "stare out the window" flight.

Long Beach airport is not much to write home about. No jetway, and the baggage carousels are outdoors. We got our bags and caught a taxi to the Westin Hotel. We were able to check in at 11:15 when we arrived, so that was nice.

We took a walk down to "The Pike" area which has a lot of nice restaurants. We chose PF Chang's for lunch. From there, we walked to the downtown area and found a Walmart store. Matt needed a few things for the trip and we were able to find them there.

We went back to the hotel to rest up a bit before having a wonderful dinner and getting caught up with Michael Grenie at Cafe Piccolo, an intimate Italian restaurant.


November 19, 2014 - Embarkation

We awoke at 7:30 and had the breakfast buffet at the Hotel. Nothing exciting about it, but it was free, so really can't complain.

After breakfast we made another run to WalMart to get some hair mousse for Matt as his did not work after the flight.

Back to the Hotel and waited until 11:00 to catch a taxi to the port in San Pedro. It was a 15 minute ride and we had to wait at the port until 12:00 to board the ship.

We were welcomed aboard by many familiar faces and we met up with Marsha and Cheryl, passengers who read this log faithfully and with whom I had been e-mailing with. We all had lunch together outside of La Veranda until our cabins were ready.

We were nicely surprised to see a beautiful bouquet of flowers that were sent to us by Brenda, our travel agent. Our stewardess, Kathlynn (who we had last cruise) then showed up with one of the orchid plants that we purchased in Rome and had passed along when we got off the ship in Miami. That passenger has now passed it back to us.

My suitcases were in the room and only one of Matt's showed up. I unpacked quite quickly, as we know where everything goes in the room. I also ironed the slacks and 3 shirts I need for tonight and tomorrow. Matt ended up calling to check on his luggage at 4:00 and was told to go down to the 4th deck, as they had his luggage with security. They saw something when they scanned his luggage and needed to go through it with him. Turned out it was the wire cutters he brought to cut the stems of the artificial flowers he brought with him. They saw what it was and let him keep it.

We had 2 laundry bags of "quick" pressing that went out, and 8 more of regular laundry to go out while we are at dinner. It was at this time that we found out that Zahid was once again our butler. Even though he was assigned to a different part of the ship, he is also assigned to our cabin. Nice to have him back.

Boat Drill was at 5:15. This is the first of what we think will be 5 of them that we will go through on this cruise. If the leg of the cruise is more than 14 days, there are 2 drills during that leg. This first leg is 18.

Dinner was at 6:30 in the Compass Rose. I ate way too much, but it was very good. I had to have the New Zealand Lamb Chops.

The casino opened at 8:30, so we had to go down to see everyone. We stayed for about an hour before calling it a night.

The ship started to rock a bit just as the evening came to a close.


November 20, 2014 - Sea Day #1

Matt was the first up this morning at 7:00, so we were up early with Breakfast in La Veranda. We followed that with a game of Rummikub while our cabin was being made up. We then went back to the room and worked on the computers for a bit.

The ship is still rocking. It is a front-to-back rock instead of the side to side and Matt is the one who is feeling the ocean. I seem to be ok with it. It is overcast, so no tanning time today.

By watching the navigational channel on our TV, I learned that this leg of the cruise (to Papeete the first time) is 5,959 nautical miles.

We had lunch in La Veranda. Matt did not have much due to not feeling well.

After lunch, I went to the casino and Matt rested. I ran into Iria and Alex from Destinations and we had a nice visit. I then went back to the cabin and decided to rest a bit too.

6:00 brought the Captain's Reception in the theater. There are a few new faces on the executive crew, including a new food and beverage manager and a new Future Cruise Consultant.

We were invited to a very nice dinner in Compass Rose with the Executive Concierge Giampaolo Savonitti and joined by William and Shirley Fenton from Canada.

Due to the rocking of the ship, tonight's production show was cancelled and a comedian put in it's place.

After dinner, it was off to the casino where we both did ok. I wore a new Mickey Mouse travel watch (tells both time at home and on the trip) that was sent to me by Lily Howes, who was on our last cruise, and received very nice compliments.

We turn our clocks back one hour tonight.


November 21, 2014 - Sea Day #2

I was the first one up at 6:30. The time change was the reason. Matt got up at 6:30 and we went to breakfast in La Veranda. Matt is feeling a bit better today. Still no internet to speak of.

I went out to the pool deck to sun, but most of the chairs were taken. I found one in the front row just as they were filling up the pool. When it was half full, and because the ship is still rocking, the water started hitting the ends and splashing 10 feet or so in the air. The wind would catch it and drench the front row, me included. I gave up at 10:45 and went out on our balcony to continue to get a bit of sun. Matt was unpacking all of the artificial flowers to get ready to decorate the cabin.

At 11:00, the Captain came on the speakers and told us that due to our course, the internet satellite dish was pointed directly at the smokestacks and that he would alter course a bit for an hour so that we can get internet.

We had lunch together by the pool and I went back out by the pool (they drained the pool) to tan and Matt continued to decorate. I got cold at 2:30 and came in and then went down to the casino.

Matt finished decorating at 4:45. He even set up a small Christmas tree. I did not know that he had brought one.

6:00 brought the Block Party, where we met our neighbors in the hallway. We found out that there are not too many guests with us in the rear of the ship, so everyone met in the stairway area. This cruise only has just above 500 of 700 possible guests.

Dinner was in the Compass Rose followed by gambling where I got a straight flush (playing 3 card poker) with $15 bet. The payout was $600. Made for a nice end of the evening.


November 22, 2014 - Sea Day #3

I was up at 7:00, Matt at 8:00. Breakfast in La Veranda. I am trying to cut back my breakfast meal a bit to only fruits and cereal. We shall see how that goes.

The ship is still rocking a bit, but not as bad as the past few days. In the morning there was sunshine, but gave way to overcast in the afternoon.

We played a game of Rummikub while the room was being prepared, then I spent the rest of the morning by the pool (which they drained again due to ship movement). I am listening to an Audiobook...Bill Cullen's biography, and Matt has started to read" Uncle Tom's Cabin", something he has wanted to do for quite some time. He was out on our balcony reading when I came back for lunch.

The pool deck is more crowded this cruise than the last. I guess more passengers are ready for the sun on this one.

Forgot to mention that the other day we noticed that all of the umbrella stands have been changed out on the deck. They are full stands that run all the way from the deck up to the tabletop. They are more secure and we should not have a repeat of the incident last cruise.

Lunch today by the pool was the "Asian Delight Buffet". The captain, during his daily noon announcement, told us that we had just past the half way point to Hawaii.

The afternoon brought more tanning for me and reading for Matt. I also went to the casino to donate part of my last night's winnings back.

We then went to play Bingo. Not enough people to play for the big money, but they did play 4 regular games.

Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by gambling where I learned that LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE! Yep, I got a Royal Flush on a different $1 video poker machine for another $4,000 payout!


November 23, 2014 - Sea Day #4

We woke at 7:30 and had breakfast in La Veranda at 8:00. We are still rocking a bit. The temperature at 7:30 was 75 degrees and we are in and out of clouds.

We played Rummikub again on the 6th deck before returning to our cabin. I went out on the pool deck for an hour of sun while Matt continued his book. It sprinkled lightly while I was out. Not quite enough to move, but very close.

We took in the "American Express Galley Tour and Lunch". We have been on the tour before, but it is always interesting to see what is happening there. We were shown our special lunch options being finished. Beef Tar Tar for appetizer, salmon or steak for entree and crepe for dessert. We opted out of the lunch and went up to the pool deck for the "Ribs Extravaganza" with 4 different types of ribs (Hawaiian, Louisiana Cajun, Asian and Regular.

After lunch, it was back to tanning for me while Matt continued his book in the cabin. After a half hour, I noticed that the skies were getting very dark, so I decided to go back to the room. Shortly after I got there, the rain started. We were in rain/fog for short time.

I went to play Bingo, but did not win. At least I was close. There was a new group of players...4 women and one man...who did nothing but talk loudly during the games and had to repeat numbers to each other that they missed out on hearing. They were also trying to explain to each other what the winning combinations were. It took them 5-6 numbers to explain that they only needed the corners. Got a bit irritating.

Dinner this evening was in Signatures, the French Restaurant. Still not my favorite, but that is because they offer a bit too many seafood dishes. None of the appetizers nor soups fit what I can/will eat, so I had to have an appetizer portion of a main course in addition to the veal. Their menu varies a little bit, so we will see what happens when we go back on the 8th.

After dinner we both went to the casino to give some of our money back.

Clocks go back another hour, so we will be on Hawaii time, 2 hours behind West Coast time.


November 24, 2014 - Sea Day #5

The ship slowed down a bit during the night, so we got the room rumblings which made it hard for me to sleep. I moved out to the couch for a bit, but things were creaking and clicking just as bad as the bedroom, so after a few hours, I moved back.

I was up at 6:30, Matt was up at 6:45. We had the usual sea day breakfast in La Veranda followed by Rummikub. We chatted for a while with Marsha and Cheryl before heading back to the cabin.

The Captain came on the speakers at 9:45 to tell us that we are between a low front and a high front and have 45 mph winds at our side. The ship is listing just a bit and the swells are giving off a good mist. The top decks of the ship are now closed, but he hopes things will be better by mid-afternoon.

I spent a bit of time in the casino before lunch and came out $200 ahead.

Lunch was poolside, but under the covered area as it was still windy.

After lunch, I went back to the casino and won another $200. Matt watched a movie in the cabin.

We played Rummikub in our cabin (we brought a set) before going down to Bingo. By this time the ship was REALLY rocking and I was wearing my sea bands AND I took Bonine.

We both did not feel like eating dinner, so we stayed in the room. I watched TV and Matt watched another movie.

We called it an early evening as we finally get to Hawaii and have a tour in the morning.


November 25, 2014 - Nawiliwili, Kauai, Hawaii

Matt was up at 6:30, and that meant I was up then too. We had breakfast in the room at 7:30 and were out at 8:30 in preparation for today's 5 1/2 hour excursion: "Gardens and Waterfall Tour at Allerton  and McBryde Gardens":

Horticulture buffs will love this limited participation tour of idyllic McBryde and Allerton Gardens, which National Geographic's Traveler magazine named one of the world's top 50 must-see attractions.

Departing from the pier, you will drive to the southern tip of Kauai, home to the Allerton and McBryde Gardens, which were created by a Congressional Charter and are now governed by the National Tropical Botanical Garden. First, you'll meander through Allerton Garden, which was initially designed in 1938 by millionaire Robert Allerton and his adopted son, John Gregg. The garden includes open meadows, shady ravines and rugged cliffs, all consisting of fertile volcanic soil. Certain areas are devoted to exotic palms and tropical gingers and you will find hillsides blanketed with fragrant plumeria trees. Colorful bougainvillea spills over the cliffs, and star fruit, Ceylon gooseberry, and horseradish trees flourish in the orchard.

It's a veritable paradise, as is neighboring McBryde Garden, which began to take shape in 1970. It contains the largest collection of Hawaiian plants in existence, many of them extinct in the wild. Several species of plant, such as the "canoe plant," are descendants of ones brought to Hawaii centuries ago by the founding Polynesians, who wanted to ensure that they had plants for food, buildings and medicine.

A tasty deli lunch will be served in the Canoe Gardens, before setting off to see other sights found here, including a serene waterfall and Spouting Horn, a 50-foot-high spray of saltwater caused by the ocean waves rushing under a lava shelf and then exiting through a small hole.

Following your visit, you will rejoin your transportation and return to the pier in Nawiliwili.

This was a very nice tour with only 13 people. We loaded into a small 25 person bus and went to the Gardens. Our guide, Sam has worked in the park since he was a child, as did his father, so he knew everything about the plants and their medicinal benefits.  We also saw where a segment of "Pirates of the Caribbean 4" was shot. It is a scene where Johnny Depp crosses a bridge (which had to be built) and sword fights his way to the tribe city (also had to be built). Because there are so many chickens on the island, they had to shoot the scene at night with lots of lights to make it look like daytime. We also saw the banyon tree(s) where the raptor eggs were found in "Jurrasic Park". Those photos are on the photo page. Our lunch there was turkey wraps, Maui Chips and fresh pineapple.

We had very nice weather, just a bit overcast with a high of 77.

We were back aboard shortly after 2 and I went out onto our balcony to get some sun and rest until 4. Everyone was aboard at 5 and we were off to Honolulu.

Dinner was in Sette Mari (La Veranda) followed by donations at the casino. One of the very minor downfalls of Sette Mari is the music played. In the 75 minutes we were there, we heard "Volare" five times.


November 26, 2014 - Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

The ship woke me up at 5:45 as we ported in Honolulu. It is a shame that we arrived so early as this is a great port to be able to be up on the top deck watching us come into port. We will leave after dark tonight, so the same disappointment.

This unique journey of discovery allows you to encounter the abundant gifts of nature and tumultuous volcanic past that have shaped the Oahu of today.

Starting off from the pier, you will first traverse the busy city of Honolulu, en route to the crater at Diamond Head. Upon arrival, you will hear captivating stories about the origins and history of this world-famous landmark, all while standing within its extinct volcanic crater.

From Diamond Head, you will next journey along the southern coast to Hanauma Bay, which was created by an ancient eruption. During your stop, your guide will explain the Bay's origins and history as you savor its stark beauty.

Continuing on, you will make your way to the famous Halona Point blowhole, where seawater pushing through a volcanic vent erupts into a large fountain. Be sure to keep a close watch for the giant Humpback Whales that occasionally frequent these waters. A short distance away you will find the Makapu'u Lookout, with its incredible panoramic views. Learn about this area's volcanic origins as your expert guide points out its many interesting bird and plant species.
A dramatic change in the island's topography can be observed as you travel toward the windward coast. While pausing at a former war temple, now a wonderfully preserved archaeological site, your guide will explain many of the important food plants of the early Hawaiians.

Before returning to the ship, a final stop will be made at the Pali Lookout located high in the Koolau Mountains. Although often windswept and cloud-covered, the views are nonetheless magnificent and provide an unforgettable grand finale to your
excursion.

The excursion was as described with one extra stop on the tour at a beach where we could spot a turtle in the ocean.

We were back aboard the ship just after 1:00 and we had lunch on the back deck of La Veranda. We followed that with time on our balcony in the sun...yes, Matt too. He lasted about an hour, I was there for 3. I did take a quick break in the middle to get some ice cream.

Matt watched movies the rest of the afternoon and I worked on the photo page.

6:00 brought the "Titanium, Platinum and Gold Members" party in the theater with "an exclusive performance by one of Hawaii's most famous and beloved singers - Danny Couch". He performed with 3 musicians and 4 female hawaiian dancers. They did a sort of hula, but it was choreographed rather than using the "hand motions" that I am used to.

This was followed by dinner in Compass Rose and I did the usual casino visit while Matt watched a movie in the room.


November 27, 2014 - Kahului, Maui, Hawaii

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

The ship did it's usual wake up shake at 5:30 and we got up at 7:00. It was misting and raining and there were rainbows (even doubles) out our back windows.

Breakfast in the room at 8:00 before our 9:30, 5 hour excursion "Rainforest Waterfall Hike":

After driving through some of Maui's most spectacular countryside, you will get to experience it up-close by hiking into an exotic rainforest dotted with waterfalls.

Leaving from the pier, you will first travel along Maui's magnificent coastline, through the isthmus and then follow the Hana Highway. Stunning hardly begins to describe the landscape. The highway is not only a National Millennium Legacy Trail, but it also has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. It's narrow, winding and incredibly scenic, a perfect introduction to Ho'olawa Valley.

Upon arrival, you will enjoy of round-trip hike of approximately 2 1/2 miles along a trail that parallels several streams and then enters a dense rainforest. The variety of species is outstanding as you walk among majestic trees, stands of bamboo and past vibrant flowers flourishing in their natural habitat. Several waterfalls of heights up to 40 feet beckon you to take a refreshing swim in their large pools, so be sure to wear your swimsuit under your hiking clothes. At one of these marvelous waterfall locations, you will be provided with a light lunch consisting of fruit and a sandwich.

Your guides are exceedingly knowledgeable and will happily tell you about Maui's history, geology, and botany. Depending on the time of year, guides may offer you wild fruits and herbs picked along the trail. You might even condition your hair with the liquid found within the flower of a Giant Shampoo Ginger (Awapuhi).

Following approximately 3 1/2 hours exploring this glorious environment, you will re-board your coach and make the return journey to the pier in Kahului.

This was a great tour. The rain let up and it was just overcast, which was perfect for hiking. We were given a backpack and walking stick (if you wanted it) along with our lunch. Once again, there were only 12 passengers in our group. There were 3 vans total and each took different routes, so we only ran into the others at the waterfalls.

The trails were quite muddy and some places slippery, but seeing the forest and the waterfalls made it all worth it.

I did lose my walking stick in the irrigation ditch as I was walking over the grate. Oh well.

We were done with the tour and back on the ship just after 2 and I spent the next 20 minutes getting the mud off the bottom and sides of my tennis shoes, but they finally came clean.

It was ice cream time. My usual 2 scoops of chocolate with chocolate sprinkles and cherries.

We rested up and then at 5:30, it was time for the "Mini Thanksgiving Day Parade" from Deck 5, up the staircase, through the Garden Promenade on Deck 6 and ending in the Horizon Lounge. It was quick and fun to watch. Lots of photos on my photo page.

Thanksgiving dinner in Compass Rose which included Turkey, Dressing, Gravy, Cranberry, Sweet Potato with Pumpkin Pie for dessert.

We followed that with a bit of time at the casino.


November 28, 2014 - Hilo, Hawaii

Up at 7:15, breakfast in room, then off for our longest excursion of the cruise, at 6 1/2 hours, "Secrets of Puna":

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Puna district, where you will explore areas created by volcanic eruptions, snorkel in a thermal pond and dine at a macadamia nut farm.

Depart from the pier and drive through historic Hilo following Banyan Drive, a scenic thoroughfare lined with dozens of banyan trees. Celebrities such as Babe Ruth, Cecil B. DeMille and then-Senator Richard Nixon planted many of the trees, which have since grown into massive specimens.

Driving farther south into the Puna district, you will notice that much of the terrain is covered in stark volcanic rock, the result of numerous eruptions. The most recent one was in 1990, when the volcano Kilauea destroyed the former fishing village of Kalapana. Fortunately, the historical Star of the Sea Painted Church was relocated in time to avoid the slow-moving lava.

After visiting the church (which has now been moved twice) and walking across the hardened lava flow that nearly engulfed it, you will view even more areas where the volcano engulfed everything in its path, even completely filling in Kaimu Bay with molten lava and covering what was once the islandís best swimming beach. Back aboard your van, youíll pass through MacKenzie State Park, which is notable for its volcanically formed cliffs before traveling to a private macadamia nut farm where a BBQ lunch awaits you.

Stunning scenery isnít the only attraction left in the wake of Hawaiiís volcanic eruptions, as there are several coves nearby that are heated by the inferno underground. Stopping at one of them, youíll have the opportunity to take a quick swim or snorkel before heading into Lava Tree State Park, an area known for its unusual lava molds of tree trunks from a centuries-old volcanic eruption.

After a short walk among the bizarre, chimney-like structures, you will return to Hilo, stopping en route in historic downtown Hilo where you will have some free time for shopping before continuing on to the pier.

This is one of the excursions that we paid for. We went the opposite way as described, missed the Lava Tree State park and the shopping time in Hilo. The BBQ lunch was very nice with ribs, chicken, corn, vegetable salad and a pineapple coleslaw. Eric Leifer (28 years old), our guide, is a contracted photographer with National Geographic and was very knowledgeable on volcanoes and the area...and yes, I did swim in the 80 degree thermal pool. We drove through the town of Pahoa, which they figure will not be there next year as the lava is heading in it's direction. There were a total of 15 on the tour with 7 in our van and 8 in the other.

We were back on the ship at 3, everyone was aboard at 3:30 and we were off to Tahiti. The ship began rocking quite a a bit again. Bonine time!

We rested in the room before dinner in Compass Rose (where we both did not like the Fillet Mignon), then off to the casino where I did quite well on both the slot machine and 3 card poker. Matt not so much.

Matt watched a movie before bedtime.


November 29, 2014 - Sea Day #1

First of four sea days. We are back in sea day mode. Up at 8:00, breakfast in La Veranda followed by a Rummikub game. Matt chatted with the Destinations Director as I went and made our haircut appointments for the 12th of December.

I went out to the pool deck to tan in the overcast. The ship is still rocking and the seas are a bit high.

We met up for lunch, a Greek BBQ on the pool deck, which had pork, beef and steak kabobs. They were a bit dry. Matt did not have any and opted for the food in La Veranda. I did a combination of both.

After lunch, it was back out to the pool deck for an hour for me. It was sprinkling off and on, so was not a lot of fun to be in. Marsha and Cheryl were both out, so I had someone to chat with.

There was a bit more sun in late afternoon and I went out on our balcony for another hour of sun. Matt continued to read his book.

Tonight was the Seven Seas Society Cocktail Party. There are just under 60 Platinum members on this leg and only 10 Titanium members. The couple they singled out have just over 600 nights.

Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by the usual casino visit where Matt did very well and me...not so much.

We are supposed to have calmer seas in the overnight hours. Oh...and it's 79 degrees outside at 9:30PM.


November 30, 2014 - Sea Day #2

Up at 8:00, breakfast in La Veranda, 2 games of Rummikub, then our Safety Drill refresher. We all went to our muster stations, put on our life vests and listened to the safety speech. At least we did not have to go out to the deck again. It is already 82 degrees (at 10:00) and it is getting a bit humid. Glasses fog up for a few minutes when going out of the room.

Marsha and Cheryl came up to the cabin after the drill to compare cabins. We then had to wait a half hour until lunch, a "Backyard BBQ", which we both passed on. Chicken looked a bit too dry. I had a hot dog and Matt had fried chicken.

Matt stayed at the table by the pool and chatted with Marsha and Cheryl while I went by the pool to lay out and it began to sprinkle. I went back to the table for a bit while it cleared, then went out on our balcony for an hour of sun and then a quick donation to the casino.

Dinner was in Prime 7, where I had steak and Matt had crab. Always a nice dinner there.

Casino time after and then back to the room where we had to fill out our French Polynesia "Visa" form.

The Captain mentioned today that we are crossing the Equator tomorrow, but instead of an Equator ceremony tomorrow, they are having the "Country Fair". I think the ceremony will be held on Tuesday instead.


December 1, 2014 - Sea Day #3

I was up at 7, Matt at 8, breakfast in La Veranda and Rummikub. Then it was off to the pool deck for tanning for me and Matt doing some computer work. The ship has calmed down in the rocking department, and I have most of the room creaks fixed (by putting some of my foam earplugs into cracks and grooves).

We met up for lunch...Indian Buffet that Matt had and I passed on (hamburger instead).

We both tanned on our balcony for awhile and then went up to check in on the "Country Fair" at 3:00. Took a few photos, then back to the room, where Matt watched a movie.

Dinner in Compass Rose and casino rounded out the usual sea day.

We crossed the equator shortly after 8PM this evening.


December 2, 2014 - Sea Day #4

The usual...me up at 7, Matt at 8, breakfast in La Veranda and a game of Rummikub.

We followed that with Matt working on my thumbnails. He put acrylic on them before we left (as I have weak thumbnails) and the acrylic had to be removed. That was about an hour process.

At 11:00, it was time for the "Equator Crossing Ceremony", where those who have never crossed before (pollywogs) become shellbacks. The ceremony was like the last two I have done, except this time I decided to make it official and finally "kiss the fish" at the end of the ceremony. (See photo page). Matt has yet to do it.

After lunch "Tex-Mex" by the pool, I went on the balcony to tan while Matt finished his book ("Uncle Tom's Cabin"). We then watched some TV in the room and decided to have a light dinner there instead of the restaurants.

I followed that with a visit to the casino while Matt watched a film and we called it a night.

We move the clock ahead one half hour...yes a half hour...to match Nuku Hiva time.


December 3, 2014 - Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

I was up at 7, Matt at 8 with breakfast in La Veranda, as we were anchoring in Taiohae Bay. We then went back to the room to play Rummikub before our 11:40 tender ride to Taiohae and our 3 hour tour, "Visit to Taipivai Valley":

Nuka Hiva's spectacular beauty and photo opportunities are yours to discover during this off-road adventure in the Taipivai Valley.

Depart the pier for the drive to the Taipivai Valley, one of the richest archeological sites in the Marquesas Islands. The Taipivai Valley is a location made famous by the American writer and former sailor, Herman Melville (1819-1891), who deserted his ship and hid in this valley. Captured by the indigenous natives, he lived in the Taipivai Valley for three weeks, a period during which he observed their way of life. This experience was the inspiration for his novel, Typee. This landmark was most recently made famous by being the base camp for the Survivor TV show filmed here in 2001.

En route to the Taipivai Valley, you will drive on a steep trail lined with lush flora and vegetation through the island's interior, then traverse the exquisite mountain terrain. Along the way, several stops will be made to take in spectacular vistas and photo opportunities of the coastline, bays and valleys. At one particular stop, you will see your ship anchored in the Bay of Taihoae. Next, you will drive through Taipivai's small agricultural villages, then proceed to a long stretch of beach at the end of the village. Upon arrival, a stop will be made to take in splendid vistas of the valley and surrounding mountains. Handicraft items are usually available at the beach; however, please make sure to have small denominations of cash. Credit cards not accepted.

Following your visit, you will re-board your 4WD vehicle for the return drive to the pier.

This is where "Survivor, Marquesas Islands" was filmed. They used 5 locations, although we did not see any of the specific locations. The road around the island has been paved since my visit in 2006. We still had 15 4X4's with 4 passengers each. Ours only had 3 of us. We were in Jeep #1 with the English speaking (sort of) guide, Kimi. He was born in Nuku Hiva and is a volunteer firefighter.

After the tour, Matt and I walked to the Cathedral, which was skipped over during the tour as children were letting out of school next door at the time we were supposed to be there. As we were walking back to the ship tender area, it began to sprinkle. Right after we got there, it started to downpour for about 5 minutes, then cleared.

We came back to the ship right at 3 and Matt had lunch while I had a bowl of fruit salad. We then went back to the room to relax a bit, and play a few rounds of Rummikub.

Quick dinner in the Compass Rose and a donation at the casino rounded out the evening.


December 4, 2014 - Sea Day

Typical Sea Day with breakfast in La Veranda, Rummikub, then tanning time, while Matt stayed in the cabin.

We did play Bingo this morning, but neither of us won.

Lunch on the pool deck, more tanning for me, movie for Matt.

Dinner in Sette Mari (La Veranda) as we both wanted Italian food, then casino.

Sorry that we are not more exciting on sea days.


December 5, 2014 - Fakarava, French Polynesia

I awoke at 6:30 and got Matt up at 6:45. It was pouring outside as we came into the Fakarava atoll. We were anchored at about 7:15 and the rains had stopped. We had breakfast in our cabin and got ready to take the tender to shore.

We caught the first tender at about 8:20 and were ashore by 8:30. We were greeted with flowers (for behind our ears, as we were in Nuku Hiva) and by musicians. We walked down the only street and stopped in at two of the pearl shops, a little store, the church and finally the dive shop where Matt bought a snorkeling mask and tube. He left his other set at home.

We then walked further down the road until it ended and found Dr. Ed Sobey (a cruise lecturer) and his wife, along with Dan, the Casino Asst. Mgr. They were getting ready to snorkel, so we joined them. Not a lot of fish around the coral, but what was there was really nice. We spent just over an hour in the water before heading over to the other side of the atoll, the ocean side. We had heard of the pink sands on this atoll, but only found coral and rocks on the ocean side. By the way, the walk from the inner side to the outer side is about 2 minutes. I tanned for a bit here and Matt took photos. There were a lot of hermit crabs here too. The ocean crashes quite a distance from shore onto a shelf...then it makes it's way to the "beach".

At 11:45 we made our way back to the tender. Matt stopped back by the small shop and bought 2 bars of Tiare soap.

We were back aboard the ship at 12:30 and had lunch before the 1:15 Bingo game, where Matt won the 3rd game for $46.80. While we were playing the ship made it's exit of the atoll on the way to Bora Bora. We will be back to Fakarava on the 16th.

We went back to the room to sort out all the photos.

After we crossed the Equator on the 2nd, we received a certificates stating that fact. I took the certificates to the Reception Desk and asked if they could have the Captain sign and stamp them as we have had done in the pass. Those certificates have been delivered back. (See photo page).

We have kind of odd next door neighbors. I only saw the lady once on the first night of our cruise. I asked her how she was and she said "not good...we don't like our cabin". I have only seen the gentleman once during the cruise when he emerged from the room. They do not come and go. They just hang out in their room all day and night. Our stewardess said that they don't like to come out. They must open their door at least once a day because things left on their door for them disappear. There is a constant "Do Not Disturb" sign on their door. Last night, the engineering department came in to change out the door closing mechanism of our door because it "has been leaking oil" (which it has). It has also caused the door to shut a bit loudly. We found out that the neighbors complained to the front desk that our door is too loud for them and keeps waking them up. Remember now that we are back in the room usually around 9 at night and out at 8:30 or 9 in the morning. No noise overnight. Well they now have a note on their door from housekeeping that they (housekeeping) wants in their room to maintain it. I guess they don't even let them in. All we picture is them going out in the middle of the night hoarding food and bringing it back in and locking the door.

Before dinner, we noticed the full moon out the back of the ship and I snapped a photo of it. We did not attend the Crew Kapers show. We will probably catch it on the last leg. Dinner was in Compass Rose with the casino visit following.


December 6, 2014 - Bora, Bora, French Polynesia

8:00 wake up with breakfast in La Veranda. We played a game of Rummikub downstairs and came up when the room was ready and played a few more games in the room as we came into Bora Bora. We were greeted by a school of dolphin. More than I had seen in one place before. Everyone was out in their back balconies watching and taking photos. We then had an early lunch poolside before our 12:30, 3 hour "Lagoon Cruise with Beach Break" excursion:

This wonderful combination tour allows you to explore Bora Boraís magical lagoon on board a covered boat, snorkel and relax on a pristine beach.

Heading out into the lagoon, youíll cruise from Vaitape Bay, past beautiful Raititi Point and the enchanting islets of Motu Toopua and Motu Tapu. During your cruise, you'll be treated to some wonderful views on the crystal clear lagoon as well as some exclusive sights of the island highest peak, Mount Otemanu. Upon reaching the motu (coral islet), you'll enjoy a typical island beach break. For the next ninety minutes or so, you are at your leisure to relax on the or dip your toes in the shallow waters. Refreshments will be available.

We did this excursion backwards which was fine. We thought it was going to be a catamaran, but was just a covered boat with seats, no layout places. The beach was nice and the snorkeling was good, but it did have a current going that you had to be aware of. Marsha and Cheryl were able to exchange their 1:30 tour tickets to be on this tour with us.

The stingray stop was also good, although they really did not want you touching them too much (unlike our past stingray tours. We will see what Thursday's stingray tour brings.

We were back ashore just before 4:00 and we went shopping for a bit just to check prices. Matt did see a black pearl necklace that matches his bracelet. We will do more price comparisons as we will be back here two more times.

Caught the tender back to the ship, got washed up just in time for the "Local Tahitian Folkloric Show" in the theater followed by dinner and casino, where I got a straight flush at the 3 Card Poker table for a $600 payout.

Back to the room to edit all the day's photos.


December 7, 2014  Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

I was awake at 5 with the ship coming into port in Papeete. I got Matt up at 6:45 and we had breakfast in the room, then packed our Regent bags for our 9:00, 3 hour excursion, "Tahiti Sail by Catamaran". This was one of two excursions offered today to those who are continuing on the cruise, which I understand numbers 74. We only have an overview of the excursion:

Board a sailing catamaran directly from the pier and start cruising out of Papeete harbor, then set sail along the reef (1 hour). Sail back in the lagoon, drop anchor, receiving safety and snorkeling instructions and enjoy time for snorkeling and swimming (1 hour) before heading back to the pier (1 hour).

We were a bit late getting out of the theater (where we all meet) and had to work our way through the passengers getting off the ship at the end of their cruise to get to the dock. Once there, the catamaran was waiting for us, but we had to wait for one passenger to get something from the ship. Once underway, it was a nice excursion. Relaxing on the front of the catamaran, it took us out to near the reef and then, as stated, took us to a snorkeling area. There was a bit of a current, but not bad at all. It was very shallow, so you had to watch where you were snorkeling. Back up to the front of the catamaran and back to the ship just after noon.

We ate lunch at the pool deck, then went out into town to the market, which we were told was the only thing open on Sunday. It wasn't. So we went back to the ship, got some ice cream and went to our cabin. On our door was an envelope with our Society pins in a nice bag (see photo page). I had heard that they were going to be giving out the pins on this leg of the cruise. We both got the Platinum pin.

We played Rummikub until our Safety drill at 5:15. For whatever reason, it took awhile. Many of the passengers were not aboard yet and so I think that caused confusion. They have to go to their own drill tomorrow.

Dinner was in Compass Rose (it was raining outside at dinner time) and afterwards we went out to what we thought was the outdoor market, but it turned out to be all food trucks. So, back in we came and went to our room to call it an evening.

We are in port overnight and leave at 5AM and will arrive in Moorea at 8AM.

This leg of the trip will be 1,921 nautical miles over 11 days with 2 more overnight stays.


December 8, 2014 - Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia

Last night, the phone rang at 10:00, then at 11:00, then at 11:10 and again at 11:20 when I finally decided to see who was calling so late. It was the lady at the gangway calling to see if Matt was aboard the ship. I guess they scanned his card wrong, or double scanned it, but it was still showing him off the ship. I told her that he was in the room and was asleep. She apologized and I went back to sleep.

The ship noise (pulling away from the pier in Papeete) woke me at 5:00, then again at 6:45 as we were getting ready to anchor in Opunohu Bay. We had breakfast in the room and then caught the 9:15 tender over to the town of Papetoai to take our 3 1/2 hour excursion, "Catamaran Sail and Snorkel":

Explore Moorea's beauty from above and below sea level during this relaxing sailing and snorkeling excursion aboard a catamaran.

Depart the pier aboard the Margouillat, a beautiful 43-foot sailing catamaran named after the Tahitian gecko. You will ride to Moorea's northern coast, then on to a pair of French Polynesia's most beautiful bays: Cook's and Opunohu. En route, you can sit back and relax on the nets located in the bow, or savor a fruit juice under the canopy astern while listening to the sounds of Polynesian rhythms.

Upon reaching Opunohu Bay, the captain will drop anchor in the clear blue waters of a coral garden. After receiving your safety and snorkeling instructions, your crew will guide you on an interesting and refreshing snorkeling discovery. Your crew will provide you with assistance in the water, and throughout the tour.

Afterward, you will set sail along the beautiful coral reef towards Cook's Bay before returning to your ship.

Because there were 2 sets of our excursion, we did not get the Margouillat, but instead, we got the same catamaran that we had yesterday in Papeete. They sailed over this morning (18 nautical miles) to do the tour. So we knew the captain and the crew member. It was a nice sail with just a bit of sprinkles. The snorkeling was better than yesterday and they have some carved "Tiki's" underwater. Not sure who carved them. I saw some new fish and one cute yellow boxfish that can be seen on my photo page.

Back on land at 12:30, we shopped the tents that the locals had set up. Matt got a black pearl necklace (the same as he saw in Bora Bora at less than half the price) and I got a bracelet that matches my necklace. I was also stopped by a nice couple who have read this blog and thanked me for information about the ship. It is nice when someone recognizes me from this web page and says hi.

We then caught the tender back to the ship in time for lunch in La Veranda. I then went out on our balcony (between rain showers) to sit and look at the scenery.

The ship left Moorea just before 5:00. We will be back in Moorea again on the 19th.

Dinner was in Signatures, where there was a bossy lady in the table behind us. She demanded that table (a 2-top even though she had stated that she wanted a shared table). She was yelling at the maitre d' about it as he was trying to explain what she had asked for online. She got her seat...and I am sure it was at the expense of some other couple that had to sit at a 4 top. Then she got demanding about the wine, then she wanted a salad, which they do not offer at that venue, then she wanted the heal of the bread they were serving, which they did not have. Then when they served the main course, she told them that the food had better be hot before she even tried it. I think it was the several martinis that she had that got her in that mood. We were glad to get out of there as quickly as we could.

After dinner, it was to the casino where we finally met up with Neil and Massimo who I cruised with in 2007. Great to see them again!


December 9, 2014 - Raiatea, French Polynesia

I was up at 6, Matt at 7 as we were coming into the port of Uturoa in Raitea. We had breakfast in the room and then we were off for our 8:30, 3 1/2 hour "Raiatea Jeep Safari":

Known as the sacred island, Raiatea was the center of royalty, religion, culture and history and this tour allows you to explore Raiatea's marvelous interior from the more intimate perspective of an 8-seater jeep.

Boarding your jeep at the pier, you and your fellow guests will head off to the island's interior for a close-up look at this tropical paradise that features verdant mountains and lush foliage. As you navigate the inland roads, you'll find yourself traveling amongst lush vegetation that includes bamboo forests, chestnut trees, mango trees and guava trees.

Along with tourism, the island relies on cottage industries and you will have the chance to visit one of them with a brief stop at a small vanilla field. From there, it's on to Raiatea's most famous landmark, Marae Taputapuatea. It was from this sacred site that the ancient Polynesians set-off to discover the other islands which now form the famous Polynesian Triangle: Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. Following your stop here, you will drive back to the pier.

It spinkled/rained off and on during the tour, but we had an umbrella and the Jeep was covered, so it was not bad. There were 8 jeeps each with 8 passengers in the back. Our guide, Maria, was easy to understand and made it a pleasant journey. They stopped several places to show us plants and flowers.

We got back to the ship shortly after 12 and had lunch at the pool deck before going back out into town, which is only 2 blocks long and 2 blocks wide. They did have a local market and I spotted the plastic wrap that flowers come in. I pointed it out to Matt and we went over. They had beautiful arrangements for $10, so Matt got one and some pink and red gingers. He was very excited to get them and can't wait for us to come back on the 20th.

We brought those aboard, then went back out, but it began to rain, so we did not spend much time out there. We got back to the room and Matt spent time arranging the ginger flowers.

We hung out in the room and played a few rounds of Rummikub until 6:00 when it was time for the "Block Party" and meeting the neighbors. I enjoyed it as always and we have nice people in the back with us.

The ship was scheduled to leave at 7, but since everyone was aboard, the Captain decided to leave at 5:30 while it was still light out.

Dinner was in Sette Mari followed by a not so good evening in the casino.


December 10, 2014 - Vaitape, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

I was once again up at 6 as we were coming into Bora Bora again, Matt got up at 7:15 and we had breakfast in the room.

It is a sunny day outside and we caught the tender at 8:40 for our 1 1/2 hour excursion, "Glass Bottom Boat":

Discover Bora Bora's remarkable undersea beauty without getting wet during this glass-bottomed boat adventure on Bora Bora's famous lagoon.

Depart the pier in Vaitape aboard a glass-bottomed boat to explore Bora Bora's world-famous marine life. Along the way, you will look through large glass windows that open onto a colorful world of parrotfish, butterfly fish and an abundance of other inhabitants that thrive beneath this tropical paradise. A roof will provide you with protection from the sun and eliminate glare, enabling you to take home great photos of your visit.

As you journey out across this fabulous lagoon, your guide will inform you about the teeming marine life beneath your feet, as well as the visually-stunning ecosystem that exists above the waterline. These interesting facts will make each discovery all the more interesting, and enhance your appreciation of Bora Bora's natural beauty.

Before heading back to the pier, you will observe a crewmember dive under the boat and feed schools of fish right under the glass.

We had 23 people in the boat, and there were 6 window boxes, so each window was shared by 4 people. Because of the recent rains, the water was a bit murky, so we could not get many pictures of the fish in the coral or on the bottom, but they did feed them right at the glass, so we were able to get photos of those.

We arrived back at the pier at 10:30 and did some shopping in town. By 11:45, it was getting hot and we decided to go back to the ship for lunch.  After which I went up to lay out by the pool while Matt watched a movie.

The ship once again invited the local performers to do a show at 6:00, which we decided to pass on.

We had dinner in Compass Rose, and because we are anchored here until 1:00 tomorrow afternoon, the casino was closed, so we watched the movie "Elf" together.


December 11, 2014 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia - Day 2

Another up at 7 morning with breakfast in the room as we got ready for the tender ashore and our 9:00, 3 hour excursion, "Stingray Ballet and Snorkel Safari":

Explore the exquisite beauty and undersea denizens of Bora Bora's lagoon during this sting ray ballet and snorkeling safari aboard a covered snorkeling boat.

Depart the pier aboard a covered snorkeling boat for the cruise by the ancient crater rim of Motu Toopua, then past Motu Tapu. You will then drop anchor on a shallow sandbank to discover the elegant, yet harmless stingrays. You will watch in amazement as your guide hand feeds the stingrays as they glide effortlessly around you. If you are willing, your guide will even help you get close enough to touch them.

Next, you will continue on for a visit to a pristine coral garden. Upon arrival, you will receive your safety and diving instructions, then have an opportunity to snorkel in depths ranging from 4-5 feet. Along the way, you will see an abundance of tropical and multi-colored fish, including parrotfish and butterfly fish. At the conclusion of your snorkeling session, you will be transferred back to the pier.

We were on the same boat as for our "Beach Break" back on the 6th, the one with the seats. Our first stop was for the stingrays, but this was at a different site and included sharks. They circled around until it was feeding time. Got some nice shots. Then it was off to the coral garden and it was VERY nice. One of the best snorkel sites I have been to. We spent 45 minutes there.

We were back at the pier shortly after 12 and then it was immediately onto the tender and back to the ship where we ordered lunch in our cabin, which arrived just as the ship was leaving at 1:00. We will now be at sea for 48 hours...just over 800 nautical miles back to Nuku  Hiva. I went out on the pool deck for awhile while Matt watched a movie. I came back to the room and went out on the balcony to read the newspaper. I got just a little burned on the face.

Dinner was in the Compass Rose followed by gambling where I did not do so well, but Matt did just fine.


December 12, 2014 - Sea Day

We were up at 8 with breakfast in the room, then we were off to Canyon Ranch Spa for our mid-cruise haircuts.

It was a nice day out, with the high around 82 and partly cloudy skies, so I went to the pool while Matt watched a movie.

Lunch was in La Veranda, as today was Mediterranean Buffet at the pool deck and that did not interest us.

After lunch I went back out by the pool and Matt laid out on the balcony. When I came in, I watched a bit of TV. Not much choice in channels here: MSNBC, CNBC World, BBC World, Fox News, Sky Sports, Sky News and Engage. They also repeat some of the lectures given by the guest speakers.

We went to Bingo and Matt won a game for $86.

Dinner in Compass Rose followed by the casino.


December 13, 2014 - Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia - Day 1

We were both up just before 8 and went down to the 6th deck to play Rummikub while the room was being made up.

We got back to the room and it was raining, but that only lasted about 15 minutes.

We did not have breakfast as we were both full and had an 11:00 event to attend. It was the "Cocktail Brunch a la Francaise" in the Observation Lounge that was held for the Titanium, Platinum and Gold guests. There are 48 Gold, 45 Platinum and only 3 Titanium guests. The food was all small items, but very good. I loved the small french fries wrapped with beef.

As we finished, the ship was coming to Nuku Hiva to anchor for today and tomorrow.

I picked up a pasta salad at the pool deck to take back to the room.

The tender was ready just after 1:00 and Matt went ashore while I stayed back and did some financial work. It sprinkled a bit while he was out. He was back shortly after 3:00 and we got some ice cream and then played several rounds of Rummikub in the room.

At 7:00, it was time for the "Grand Deck BBQ Under the Polynesian Sky". Only problem was that it was raining. They moved the tables that were out in the open under the overhang the best they could and opened up La Veranda for more serving/seating. It was a very nice dinner.

The 9:00 "Nuku Hiva Local Folkloric Troupe Show" was also moved from the pool deck into the theater. A very nice performance by all of the dancers.


December 14, 2014 - Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia - Day 2

I was up at 7, Matt at 8 and we had breakfast in La Veranda. I decided to get the waffles instead of my normal fruit and cereal. We then went down to play a game of Rummikub while the room was readied. When we got back to the room, it had not been made up, so I went to lay out by the pool and Matt went out there to edit his photos of last night's performance.

At 11:00, I found Neil sitting by himself by the bar, so we went over to a table and got caught up on what we have been doing since we last cruised together. Matt and Max (aka Massi) joined us at 12:00 and we all had lunch together.

After lunch, I went back out to the pool for an hour and a half while Matt watched TV. We got our excursion tickets for Papeete (on the 18th) as this will be a turnover day and they want us off the ship for awhile.

I went back out to the pool deck and Matt did a bit of tanning on the balcony.

We played more Rummikub before dinner in Compass Rose and a visit to the casino.


December 15, 2014 - Sea Day

I was again up at 7 and woke Matt up at 8 for breakfast in La Veranda and Rummikub. It was overcast when we got up and stayed that way. I read the paper and worked on the computer until the 11:45 Bingo game. There were just enough people to play to make it worthwhile. Right in the middle of the first game, the Captain came on the speakers with his daily update, which usually lasts about 5 minutes....however...because we have over 90 French passengers aboard, he repeats his speech in French, then again in Spanish. About halfway through the French speech, the Bingo caller (ship performer) finally continued showing us numbers without calling them. We were all happy she did that. I won the second game ($49) and Matt won the last ($58).

We went to La Veranda for lunch (bypassing the "International Buffet). It was already starting to sprinkle. That continued into much of the afternoon (so much for the sunny South Pacific). I went to the casino for a bit while Matt watched 2 movies.

We skipped the 6:00 "James Bond Martini Cocktail Event". Our dinner this evening was in Prime 7 followed by time in the casino.


December 16, 2014 - Fakarava, French Polynesia

 The ship awoke me at 6:30 as we were coming back into the atoll of Fakarava (last here on the 5th). I got Matt up at 8 and we did the normal breakfast in La Veranda and one game of Rummikub. Coming back to the room, we found that it was not quite ready, so Matt got himself ready to go off the ship and I got ready for tanning by the pool.

Matt left at 9:30. I gave him my iPhone to take pictures, as he did not want to carry his large camera around.  I tanned until 11:30, then had a quick lunch and then went out on our balcony until 2:00. I was just sitting there watching the water and the atoll thinking how lucky I am to have the opportunity to travel. I had to come in as I felt my nose and the top of my feet burning.

Matt got back at 4:00. He walked 10 miles around the atoll. He said he ran out of water halfway and had to find a store to get more. Although the temperature is only 80 degrees (and sunny for once), it is an intense heat.

We watched a bit of TV until dinner, which tonight was with Frank Galzy, the new General Manager. I have been on several cruises with him before and we had a wonderful table of passengers assembled. Very nice conversations.

A quick stop at the casino rounded out the evening.

We hear that the Christmas elves will be decorating the ship tonight. I have our Christmas stockings (brought from home) ready to go on our door.


December 17, 2014 - Rangiroa, French Polynesia

I was up at 6, Matt at 7 with Breakfast in the room before our first excursion of the day, the 8:00 1 2/2 hour "Discover the World of Pearls":

Explore Rangiroa's black pearl industry, learn about pearl cultivation and shop for unset black pearls during this memorable visit to a black pearl farm.

Depart the pier for the drive along Rangiroa's main road, past the airport and on to the black pearl farm. Most pearl farms are small-sized, and the number of workers at this farm is quite representative of the farms in this region.

Upon arrival at the farm, the staff will give you a brief lecture about the farming and production of black pearls. You will learn about the chronology and evolution of the industry, and how oysters are selected, grown and then grafted for production. Following the lecture, you will proceed to the work sheds where oysters are sorted and cleaned, and watch a grafter at work as he skillfully plies his trade.

The highlight of the excursion will be an opportunity to view a selection of unset black pearls that are available for purchase. Here, your guide will show you the criteria for grading pearls in terms of quality. The shape and luster are very important. You will see the round, baroque and semi-baroque pearls ranging in grades from C to A.

This was a very informative visit. Learning that the small round shells that they put in the oysters to start the process originally come from Mississippi, sent to China to be cut and rounded, then sent here to be placed into the oysters. They do a good business as most of the ladies were buying pearls. One bought 3, including one that was huge. They were not set. She told us "she has a jeweler in New York that will make a setting for her" even though she has no idea how she will set them as they are each a different color/shade.

After our visit, we waited near the pier for our 11:00, 1 hour "Snorkel the Coral Garden:

Rangiroa's spectacular and diverse marine life is yours to discover during this scenic and memorable dive in the Tuamotu Islands.

Depart the pier via local boat for the ride to Motu Nui Nui, a natural, open-water aquarium renowned for its marine life.

Upon arrival, you will receive your safety instructions, then enter the water to explore your surroundings. Along the way, you will observe an abundance of colorful fish, coral and marine life. Your guide will offer assistance in the water, and throughout the tour. During the tour, you will also have an opportunity to hand-feed the fish. Following your snorkeling session, you will be transferred back to the pier.

This was the snorkel with the most fish. We tied up where the glass bottom boats go, so they were already feeding the fish when we arrived, so when you got into the water, you were surrounded by fish, moray eels and sharks on the outskirts. The time on this excursion went by VERY quickly.

When this excursion was over, we went back to the pier just in time for a major downpour. We were able to catch a tender back to the ship. When we got aboard, the Captain came on and said that due to the high winds, they were stopping the tendering services for 30 minutes to let the storm pass, which it did.

We had lunch in the Compass Rose because they were serving Monte Cristo Sandwiches. They were pretty good and I was able to get strawberry jelly with it.

After lunch, we went to the room to rest a bit and watch TV until dinner time, which was also in Compass Rose. Another visit to the casino (where we are not doing so well) rounded out the evening.

Luggage is filling the hallways as this leg of the cruise ends tomorrow. We learned that there are about 50 passengers continuing on and that we will be getting between 15 and 20 kids on the next leg (OH JOY!!)


December 18, 2014 - Papeete, French Polynesia

I was up at 5:30 due to the ship coming into port, but was able to snooze until 6:45. Matt was up at 7:45 and we had breakfast in the room before our 3 hour, 9:00 excursion, "Tahiti - Off the Beaten Path": 

Board 4WD vehicles and start driving to the interior of Tahiti Island via the coastal road, on the way to the Papenoo Valley. Drive to Toppatarii and Vaiaruru waterfalls and photo stop. Drive to Pufau view point to enjoy beautiful views from the valley. Depending on timing, enjoy optional swim stop in a river on the way out of the valley, before driving back to the ship.

We did this tour 4 years ago and it was almost exactly the same. It is a nice adventure into the beautiful crater area with a lot of waterfalls. Just as we were ending the tour and on the main road back to the ship, it began to downpour. Our guide put the cover on the back of the jeep, so we stayed mainly dry. It stopped raining just as we got to the ship.

We went out to the local market and Matt purchased some Tahitian soap and perfume. We then walked back to the ship and there was a line to get aboard. They have to get the passports from all the new passengers and this seems to take a bit of time. Once aboard, we had lunch and then went back to the room.

Safety Drill was at 5:15 and that was followed at 6:00 by "O Tahiti E", a folkloric show that was originally going to be held on the pool deck and moved to the theater. It would not have worked on the pool deck.

We had dinner in Compass Rose and then went back to the room to watch a movie. The ship is scheduled to leave port at midnight, as it is only 18 nautical miles back to Moorea.


December 19, 2014 - Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia

I was up at 6:00 with the ship getting ready to anchor in Moorea. It was sprinkling just a bit. Matt was up at 8 and made some phone calls before our breakfast in La Veranda.

Just before10:00, the Captain suspended the tender service due to the coming rain which then came down hard. We felt sorry for those out on early excursions. We just stayed in the room and worked on the computers during the rain storm.

At 11:00, we went down to Destinations and turned in our excursion tickets for today. It was a snorkel day and with the rain, we knew the water would be murky. Then, right before lunch, they announced that all the afternoon water activities would be cancelled, as the showers continued.

Lunch was in La Veranda followed by Bingo. We did not win, but Neil and Max won 2 games. If we can't win, I am glad that they did. Matt got me 2 slices of Panettone Bread and he toasted it. Mmmmmm! Back to the room and TV watching.

We talked to Gudrun Werner, the Cruise Consultant about a possible cruise in the summer of 2016. She is looking into a few things and should have answers for us after Monday.

We went to the Captain's Welcome Reception followed by dinner in Compass Rose and then casino time.

This leg of the cruise will be 4,513 nautical miles.

Also...just learned that Willie Aames is coming back to Regent and will be on our cruise at the end of the month!


December 20, 2014 - Raiatea, French Polynesia

I was up at 6, Matt at 7:15 as we arrived once again in Raiatea. Breakfast in the room and then Matt quickly made a mad dash at 8:00 off the ship as soon as they let passengers off. He went to the market area to get more Tahitian flower arrangements from the place we got them on the 9th. They were not making them today, but did have them for sale, so he got 2 arrangements.

He was back in plenty of time for our 9:00, 3 hour excursion: "Tahaa Coral Garden Snorkeling":

Explore the scenic beauty of Raiatea's sister island during this snorkeling and lagoon tour along the Taha'a coast.

Depart the pier aboard a covered motorized boat for the 30-minute ride along the west coast of Taha'a, Raiatea's beautiful sister island. Upon arrival, you will disembark the boat for a guided walk across an uninhabited islet, or motu, located just off the coast. After reaching the other side of the motu, you will commence your drift snorkeling experience. Your guide will lead you while the current carries you through the shallow lagoon on the way back to the boat. This particular area abounds with a spectacular variety of tropical fish and amazing coral. The unique richness of this coral garden will leave you with lasting memories of your visit.

Upon reaching your boat, refreshments will be provided and some additional snorkeling time will be made available before it's time to cruise back to the pier in Raiatea.

There were only 6 of us in the boat, so that made it very nice...and there were only 2 boats doing this tour, as it was one you had to pay for.

Once at the motu, we had to wear shoes to cross it, as it is made of coral and sand and would cut your feet otherwise. Our guide collected our shoes once we got tot he drift area and we put on our fins and snorkels and went to the center of the lagoon and just drifted with the current. Such a neat way to see the coral and fish. We did the drift twice, the second time taking a slightly different route at the end.

We went back to the boat and served pineapple, coconut and bananas. Then it was back to the pier where we went shopping for a few Christmas decorations for our door before getting back on the ship and having lunch in La Veranda. There is a door decorating contest on the 23rd, so we have been adding things to the door every few days.

We rested awhile before it was time to go to Bingo and then another local Tahitian Folkloric Show, but this one was with children.

We had dinner in La Veranda with the Bobrow's and the Gibson's, who we have been out on excursions with. Art Bobrow had been telling us how he has them make him a special veal chop whenever he goes there. He was nice enough to give me his order and it was great. Wonderful conversation at the table that lasted until 10:00.


December 21, 2014 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia

I was up at 6:15 as we were coming into Bora Bora. It was a bit choppy coming in, but once we got into the reef, it was fine. Matt got up at 6:45, breakfast in the room and down to the theater to exchange our tickets for the tender tickets. The Captain came on the speakers to tell us that because of the expected winds, we would be leaving Bora Bora early today and that the afternoon tours were going to be cancelled. We had one of those too, but it was a repeat of the "Lagoon Cruise with Beach Break" that we did back on the 6th.

Our tour was still on...a 2 1/2 excursion, "Le Truck Island Tour":

Explore the island paradise of Bora Bora during this scenic orientation tour via Le Truck.

Depart the pier aboard a Le Truck for a tour around this island paradise. First, you will drive through the district of Fa'anui. Along the way, you will pass by small villages and fields that offer a glimpse into the everyday life of the people of Bora Bora. A brief stop will be made at Fa'anui Bay for photographs of Mounts Otemanu and Pahia. Your drive will continue on to the ancient ceremonial site of Fa'anui Marae, followed by a look at the bunkers constructed by American GIs during World War II.

Next, a stop will be made at Mama Edna's to sample local delicacies such as breadfruit, poe mixed with coconut milk (not marinated), taro and tropical fruit. You will also have an opportunity to buy some local, hand-painted pareus. From a lookout point, you will see Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora's highest peak, which stands as a silent sentinel over the Pearl of the Pacific.

You will then pass by Bora Bora's Club Med Village before reaching sandy Matira Beach. A stop will be made here to take in splendid vistas and photo opportunities before driving back to Vaitape.

The tour was modified a bit as it was sprinkling when we got to Mama Rita's (a substitute for Mama Edna's that other trucks stopped at. Once back on the truck, it began to downpour, then lighten up, so stops became 5 minute photo opportunities. We did stop at "Bloody Mary's", but it is closed for renovation, but still open for photos.

After the tour, I caught a tender back to the ship while Matt stayed ashore to go to the grocery store to get some things to help continue our door decorating. He then spent the rest of the afternoon putting silver Christmas wrapping on our door and then cutting things out to put out there. We don't want to put out too much too early...this is a competition afterall.

The ship left Bora Bora 3 hours earlier than scheduled (at 3:00 instead of 6:00), and even as we got out of the reef, the sea swells were getting a bit rough and it was raining pretty good. Bonine was taken.

5:00 brought Bingo followed by the 6:00 "Block Party", dinner at Compass Rose and a bit of gambling.

The ship kept rocking through the evening with 14 foot swells.

Now comes Matt's favorite...2 sea days. Let's hope for some sunshine...although it is not in the forecast.


December 22, 2014 - Sea Day

I awoke at 7, Matt at 8 with Breakfast in La Veranda and 2 games of Rummikub. Back to the room where Matt continued to work on the front door project and I went out to take photos of other passenger's doors (see photo page). The competition ends tomorrow morning at 10:00 with the judging.

We had lunch in La Veranda, then back to the room with more door project. I went to the casino for a bit. As it was raining all day, there was nothing else to do.

At 6:00, it was the "Gold, Platinum and Titanium Society Party" in the theater. There were not a lot of guests there. Gudrun announced that there just over 130 passengers that fit the 3 categories on this leg,  just over 100 are Gold, 35 are Platinum, 3 Titanium. Lorraine sang 4 songs and the Production Team sang another.

We had dinner in Compass Rose and then went to the casino for a few minutes before coming back to the room where Matt...you guessed it...continued to make decorations.


December 23, 2014 - Sea Day

Both Matt and I were up before 7:00 and went to breakfast in La Veranda, then back to the room so Matt could finish decorating the door, putting the tree out in the hallway and put up the "North Pole" sign before the 10:00 deadline.

I went down to see Gudrun and put a down payment on our next cruise.

We waited for the judging to begin. I put my computer under the tree (hidden) and let it play the Carpenters Christmas Album. The judges had not shown up by noon, so we went to lunch.

Right after lunch....believe it or not...THE SUN CAME OUT! I went up to the pool deck and it was overcrowded with no lounges available. I came back to the room and went out on our balcony for an hour and a half.

The judges finally came down the hall and asked us to plug in the Christmas Tree lights so they could get the whole effect. We did. Now to wait for the results.

Mid-afternoon, I went down to the casino while Matt watched a movie, then it was to Bingo, where Matt won $58.

Coming back to the room we found that our door won 1st place in the "Most Creative" Category. Congrats to Matt and all of his work.

We had dinner in Sette Mari with Neil and Max, then went to casino, where Matt got a 3 of a Kind in 3 Card Poker.


December 24, 2014 - Pago Pago, American Samoa

With the time change (we are now 3 hours behind West Coast Time), I was up at 5:30, Matt at 7:45, just as we were docking in Pago Pago. We had breakfast in La Veranda before our 3 hour 10:00 tour, "Pago Pago's Eastside and Downtown":

View Pago Pago's picturesque eastern side and have an enlightening view of downtown on this mostly panoramic tour.

Depart from the pier and head toward the eastern side of the island, making several stops along the way. One of those stops is famed Sadie's Inn, where English writer Somerset Maugham penned his short story "Rain," the inspiration for several movies.

You will also have a photo stop at Pago Harbor, where you will be treated to some lovely views from the other side of the bay. Further along, you'll have another photo stop to see Camel Rock. The shape of this off-shore rock formation brings to mind the image of a lonely camel and thus, gained it the name Camel Rock. An additional stop before heading back towards town will be at Avaio Beach, referred to by the locals as $2.00 beach. Your brief stop here will not only provide an opportunity to take some photos, but also allow you to purchase a souvenir, soft drink or beer if you like. Before arriving back in town, there will be one final stop at the new local market, which features fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables and some souvenir stands.

Arriving back in the mountain-rimmed American Samoa capital of Pago Pago, you will enjoy a panoramic tour that passes by several historical buildings. Although rather diminutive, this town of approximately 4,000 boasts several noteworthy attractions, which include the white clapboard columned courthouse that looks like it belongs in the American South, not American Samoa, the police station, Navy communications building and post office, now named the Jean P. Haydon Museum. Afterwards, you'll transfer back to the cruise ship pier where your tour concludes.

The tour was pretty much as described. One just started laughing when boarding the bus. The little wooden seats, the driver's area (where he has to lower himself down into). I think the old equipment on the farm at home is in better shape.

Our tour lasted about 3 1/2 hours and we got off at the market and walked back to the ship, ate lunch on the pool deck and then went out to the little market by the ship and looked at what they had to offer....which was not much. There was a booth set up by the local SPCA/Shelter and they had a cute dog, which I had to pet. Makes us miss the babies even more. We donated a bit of money and they gave us 2 little stuffed dogs with Santa hats on them. They are now in the stockings on our door.

The ship left port at 5:00 and when the Captain blew the horn, which he does when we leave each port, it got stuck and blew for about 5 minutes. He came on the speakers and apologized.

We went down to the atrium on our way to dinner. Guests were gathered singing Christmas songs. We continued to the Compass Rose. A visit to the casino followed, and we went back to the room for a bit only to find a nice gift from Regent (photo tomorrow), then at 10:00, it was the "Mariner Holiday Show" in the theater featuring the Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers, the ballroom couple, the specialty artists and some of the crew.

As tomorrow is a sea day and I don't usually have any photos, I will post photos of the Christmas Show then.


December 25, 2014 - Sea Day

Another sea day. Up at 8, breakfast in La Veranda, 2 games of Rummikub, then it was time for tanning on the balcony.

Lunch in La Veranda (where they finally had carved ham!), more tanning, a bit of gambling (while Matt watched a movie), then Bingo.

Dinner (Turkey with all the trimmings and pumpkin pie), gambling and then off to see the "Comedy Impressionist", who we walked out on after 15 minutes.

Just a nice easy day.

There is no tomorrow as we cross the International Dateline, so we will next be one day ahead of the US.


December 26, 2014

Does not exist


December 27, 2014 - Suva, Fiji

I was awake at 6:15 as the ship was entering the port of Suva. Matt got up at 8:00 and we had breakfast in La Veranda before getting ready for our 6 hour, 10:15 tour, "Navua River by Longboat":

Experience Fiji's local flavors and traditions in a unique new way during this cruise along the Navua River, along with a kava ceremony and lunch in a local village.

Depart the pier by local island bus for the 1-hour long scenic drive through Suva, then continue past Namuamua en route to Navua. Upon arrival at the Navua River, you will embark an open longboat for a scenic and breathtaking 45-minute long journey upriver. Your cruise will be highlighted by endless mountain ranges, a thick tropical rain forest abounding with bird life, deep gorges, cascading waterfalls, and exotic fauna and flora.

Upon reaching the isolated Raiwaqa Village, a 14-mile-long island at a height of almost 1,000 feet above sea level, you will be welcomed by the chiefs and villagers with a traditional Fijian kava ceremony (guests will not drink kava, but will participate in the ceremony). After the ceremony, you will take a guided walking tour of the village. Along the way, you will learn about the island's history, and coconut husking and scraping. You will also have an opportunity to mingle with the natives, purchase local handicrafts and join in the village entertainment.

Next, you will embark your longboat for the return cruise to Navua, where you can take a refreshing swim in the Magic Waterfall; Navua's largest waterfall.

At the conclusion of your longboat portion of the return journey, you will re-board the island bus and transfer back to the pier.

We did the tour backwards. We happened to get on the bus with the 3 kids who sat right in front of us and were hyper. Their parents did not seem to care. We made sure they were not on the same longboat as us.

The longboat ride was long, but the areas of rapids made it interesting. Our boat driver was busy not only driving, but also bailing water. Any time that we turned around to look at him, he would stop bailing as if "there is nothing going on back here". The waterfall was nice, but I am starting to get tired of looking at waterfalls.

We then went to the village for a nice lunch and the Kava ceremony. After, we purchased a few items from the locals there. We then headed back to the pier by bus, but first, our guide made an extra stop a town department/trinket store. I was not happy with that, but what is one to do.We got back to the ship shortly after 5:00.

Dinner tonight was in Compass Rose. The ship departed for Lautoka at 8:00, which means we could not get into the casino until 8:30...but Matt did just fine there.


December 28, 2014 - Lautoka, Fiji

We were scheduled to take the "Rainforest and Waterfall Hike", but due to lack of interest on our part, we decided last night to cancel. Instead, we will make it a relaxing day on the ship.

It was a very calm night and I did not even need earplugs as the cabin did not even creak. We were up at 8:00 with breakfast in La Veranda, then it was out to look at what the locals were selling at their tents. There was not much there, so we came back aboard.

I went out to the pool deck to take in the sun. I even had to get in the pool a few times to cool down. Matt and I met up for lunch (on the pool deck) before we both went out on the balcony for more sun. That came to an end at 2:00 as the clouds began to thicken and the downpours started.

We played Bingo at 5:00 and did not win. Dinner at 6:00, where they served "P.F.Chang Mongolian Beef" and it was wonderful! The casino followed and we did not win there either.

We now begin a lot of time changes with one more hour back tonight (another to follow tomorrow night) to get us to the Vanuatu time, which is 2 hours behind New Zealand time. There is going to be an odd 1/2 hour time change coming up too. Gives me a workout with 4 watches and the iphone to change. I keep the computer on home time just so I know what time it is there.


December 29, 2014 - Sea Day

Oops!!!!! I set all of the watches and clocks back one hour EXCEPT for the iPhone, which went off at (what I thought was 8:00) but was 7:00. I had already woken Matt up, so an apology was necessary.

Breakfast in La Veranda, a bit of Rummikub and then an hour in the sun on our balcony.

10:15 brought the 5th and final Safety Drill of the cruise. I think we pretty much have this down by now.

After the drill, it was another hour of tanning on the balcony, then lunch in La Veranda.

We just rested in the room for the afternoon, although I did visit the casino for an hour.

Dinner was in Signatures, where I was able to eat the quiche and veal.

We followed that with a visit to the casino, then back to the room where Matt watched a movie.

The clocks go back another hour tonight, putting us 5 hours behind West Coast time.


December 30, 2014 - Champagne Bay, Venuatu

With the time change, I was up at 5:30 and tried to get back to sleep, but the ship slowed down at 6:00 as we were coming into Champagne Bay, so the noise kept me awake. Matt was up shortly after 7:00, so we got ready for breakfast in La Veranda, then played Rummikub until 9:00 when the room was ready.

As the only thing to do at Champagne Bay is to go to the beach (and we have a beach/snorkel excursion tomorrow in Port Vila) we decided to stay on the ship and not do the whole tender thing.

I went to the pool deck for tanning. The sun was pretty intense and it was a bit humid. At 11:30, I went back to the room to cool down and get ready for lunch on the back deck of La Veranda.

The afternoon was a laid back one. We both went out onto our balcony for a bit...Matt had enough after 20 minutes, and went in to watch a movie. I went into the bedroom to watch some TV.

Bingo was at 5:00. Still no winner in the "snowball Bingo" and the jackpot is now above $1,300. We are seeing more new faces each day as the jackpot gets bigger.

Back to the room and we decided to have dinner there. I got dressed later for some casino time while Matt watched another movie before bed.


December 31, 2014 - Port Vila, Vanuatu

The ship coming into port at 6:30 awoke me and I got Matt up at 7:00. We had breakfast in the room before our 8:30, 4 hour "Paradise Cove Sail and Snorkel" tour:

Sail to aptly named Paradise Cove and experience all the joys of relaxing and snorkeling in this idyllic, sun-splashed hideaway along serene Mele Bay.

Depart right from the pier on a classic sailing yacht and sail south toward lovely Mele Bay, passing the picture postcard-perfect islands of Iririki and Ifira on the way. Both islands are covered with tropical palms, rimmed by sugary beaches and dotted with thatched huts built right at the edge of the turquoise water. Even more panoramic views of paradise await you, as you sail down the gorgeous Pango Peninsula to Paradise Cove, where the yacht will drop anchor. Then, it's totally up to you how you spend the next three hours.

Stretch out on the yacht's deck and sunbathe, or read a bestseller. Swim ashore or ride in the dinghy to the secluded beach and meander along, stopping whenever the mood strikes to relax in the shade of a palm. If you're feeling particularly energetic, take a short walk in the rainforest, with one of the crewmembers as your guide. The sights are just as spectacular underwater, as you'll see snorkeling the coral reef, which is absolutely teeming with colorful tropical fish. You'll even have the chance to feed them, if you like. Afterwards, you'll sail back to the pier, completely refreshed after a day in paradise.

On our way to the excursion (just as we were getting off the ship), I rounded the corner after getting our room card swiped and one of the officers was asking a person coming aboard "Who are you?" I saw who it was and said very loudly "THAT'S WILLIE AAMES!" He saw me rounding the corner, gave a big smile and the best "hello" hug I have ever received.  Willie is taking over as Cruise Director when Lorraine leaves. It was great to run into him! For those who have not read the past cruise postings, I was on Willie's first Regent Cruise (as an Assistant Cruise Director) and aboard when he was Cruise Director on another.

This was a very nice excursion. Lots of fish, especially at the "sticks" where they tied a bag of bread pieces for you to grab and feed the fish. I touched the pole, not even grabbing bread and I was surrounded by fish. They even starting nibbling on me wanting food. Got some very nice photos. This was the last snorkel of the trip.

After arriving back at the ship at noon, we went to La Veranda for lunch, then I went out to the pool deck to tan while Matt went back ashore to check out the vendors near the ship. He said that the products were not great and was back on the ship after 10 minutes.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the room. At 5:00, I went down to Destinations to return tickets and get a refund on our next tour on Friday...a High Tea. We are not interested in going anymore. We had to turn in our tickets before 8:00 to get a refund, as this was a paid tour.

Here is a schedule of the New Year"s Eve activities on the ship tonight:

6:30 - "James Bond 007 Martini Cocktail Event"

7:30 -  Compass Rose "Gala Dinner" (with set dinner menu)

10:00 - "Dancing in the Streets" (Production Show)

10:30 - Nature's Rhythm Trio in the Atrium

11:15 - New Year's Eve Countdown in the Atrium (until 12:30)

We skipped the Martini Event and went to Compass Rose. Dinner was ok. Nothing special. After, we went to the casino and then called it a night. We did notice that the Christmas decorations around the ship have come down.


January 1, 2015 - Sea Day

Happy New Year!

It's a sea day, so I'll make it short:

Woke up, ate breakfast, Rummikub, Sun, Lunch, Sun, Bingo, Dinner (at Prime 7), Casino, move clocks forward 30 minutes.


January 2, 2015 - Norfolk Island, Australia (sort of)

Awoke at 7:30 with Breakfast in La Veranda. We anchored right around 9:30. I was getting ready to go out to the pool deck to tan when the Captain came on the speakers and said that because of the swells, we could not get off the ship and we would move on to our next port, Bay of Islands, with scheduled arrival on Sunday morning.

Activities on the ship were re-scheduled, so Bingo was placed at 11:30. I got to tan for about an hour before we played. We did not win. After, we had lunch at Compass Rose, then back to the room to wait for the 2:00 "New Zealand Immigration & Quarantine Inspection", which was held in the Theater. Everyone had to go there, pick up their passports and present them to the immigration inspectors. This process, for us, took just over an hour. They did not get though all the passengers in the 3 hours they allotted and have to continue the process tomorrow.

I went back out on the balcony for awhile, then it was time to get ready for dinner. Willie Aames ("Eight Is Enough"/"Charles In Charge") called the room and asked if we were available for dinner tonight, so we met up with him at 6:30 and had the most wonderful conversation. I really like him and am glad he is back at Regent.

Casino time followed, then back to the room where we put all the clocks and watches forward another 30 minutes.


January 3, 2015 - Sea Day

Things have certainly cooled down. The temperature is in the upper 60's and overcast all day. We had breakfast in La Veranda before a few games of Rummikub, then hung out in the room until lunch time.

After lunch, I went out on the balcony for a bit, even though, as I mentioned, it was overcast. Matt watched a few movies.

We played Bingo, but did not win. Tomorrow is the last day of Bingo and the jackpot will be over $2,500. Lots of new players are showing up trying for the big win. Someone has to win tomorrow.

Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by a bit of gambling.

Clocks go forward one hour, our last time change of the cruise.


January 4, 2015 - Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Up at 6:30 with the sound of us getting ready to anchor. Breakfast in the room before our 9:00, 5 hour tour, "Glow Worm Cave and Puketi Kauri Forest":

Explore several natural wonders, including a cavern filled with glowworms and a forest of mighty kauri trees that can live 2,000 years and soar more than 150 feet into the air.

Depart from the pier for a short drive inland to the Kawiti Caves, a natural wonderland of caverns owned by the descendants of the Maori chieftain Kawiti. While the caves' bizarre stalagmites and stalactites are breathtaking, the true highlight is the spectacular display of thousands of glowworms illuminating the ceiling. New Zealand's most famous fly, these glowworms belong to the gnat family and are not related to the European glowworm which is a beetle. From a distance, the glowworms' pinpoint blue-green taillights resemble a galaxy of stars in the inky blackness. You'll also notice their unusual, single-string webs hanging from the ceiling to trap small flying insects.

Continuing on, you'll drive to nearby Kawakawa, New Zealand's only town with a railroad track running down the main street. Curiously, Kawakawa is more renowned for its whimsical public restrooms. Designed by Friensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist in 1998, the facilities feature undulating cobblestone floors, colorful mosaics and copper handiwork.

Following some free time in Kawakawa, it's on to the Puketi Forest, which once covered most of the Bay of Islands. Walking along the boardwalk through the now-protected forest reserve, you'll see a number of impressive kauri trees, a towering species that rivals California's redwoods in height and girth. The boardwalk allows visitors an up-close look at these magnificent trees while protecting their sensitive feeding roots.

Heading back to the pier, you'll travel through historical Kerikeri for a photo-stop opposite the Kemp House, New Zealand's oldest building, and the Stone Store, which was constructed in the 1830s by an ex-convict stonemason.

This was a nice calm tour. The fun started as we were tendering to Waitangi Wharf. The dolphins in the area (which we saw a lot of last time we were here, came right up to the tender and played.

I was amazed at the glowworms, which only have a one year cycle. Eggs are laid in groups of 30-14 on the walls and ceilings. Upon hatching from the egg, the larvae emit a light, build a nest, puts down a web line so it can catch other insects to eat. This stage lasts about 9 months. It then turns into a pupa in a cocoon and emerges as a two-winged flying insect which looks like a large mosquito. The adult fly lives no longer than 3 days and has no digestive system, so it can not eat. Instead, it uses this time to mate and lay eggs....but it has to be careful not to get caught up in the web of the other larvae, and must mate in the dark.

The rest of the trip was as described. We were back on the ship at 3:00 with a quick snack by the pool. I then went out on the balcony to rest and Matt started to pack.

We went to Bingo and did not win. I was one number away on two different cards.

Dinner in Compass Rose and a bit of gambling rounded out the evening.


January 5, 2015 - Tauranga, New Zealand

For whatever reason, I woke up at 5:30 and stayed in bed until 7:45 when I woke Matt up. We had breakfast in the room and I had already opted out of today's 9 hour tour, "Waiotapu Thermal Wonder". Matt however went. Here is the description:

A scenic drive through the kiwifruit orchards of Te Puke begins your tour as you travel to Rotorua. Originally established as a spa town before the turn of the century, Rotorua today remains a thriving center of thermal activity and traditional Maori culture.

Your first stop is at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Wai-O-Tapu translates to Sacred Waters and a visit here makes it clear how the name came to be. Upon arrival at this award-winning attraction, you will be taken on a guided tour of the wide range of features found at the site. These include geysers, mud pools, mineral traces, colorful hot and cold pools and steaming volcanic lakes. One of the more famous attractions at the Reserve is the pristine Champagne Pool. Marvel at the incredible palette of vibrant hues displayed in the pools, lakes and craters, and enjoy the melodic sounds of birds singing in the native forest.

Reboard your motorcoach for a brief 30 minute drive to Lake Rotorua. At the Rotorua lakefront you may see a variety of water fowl including ducks and graceful black swans as well as several local landmarks. Board the Lakeland Queen for a delicious buffet lunch cruise. The Lakeland Queen is a locally built, shallow draft, stern driven vessel - similar to a Mississippi River Boat and ideal for Lake Rotorua's shallow waters. During your lake cruise, enjoy a unique performance from a Maori cultural group.

Following lunch, you'll travel to Rainbow Springs for a guided tour. This marvelous park is set in a natural environment of beautiful native bush, trees, plants and flowers, with tranquil crystal clear waters that flow from subterranean springs. In addition to being home to an impressive collection of Rainbow trout, the Park also houses a vast array of native birds, including the kiwi, New Zealand's national bird. Just one of the many fascinating features of the Park is the Tuatara - New Zealand's living dinosaur. Dating back to the early Triassic period, the Tuatara has survived for over 100 million years, possible only because New Zealand became separated from other land masses and the Tuatara had no natural predators. Regrettably, rats were introduced to New Zealand and these rodents have served to devastate the Tuatara population, making them an endangered species. In addition to the fine displays of nature, Rainbow Springs also serves to preserve New Zealand's national heritage.

Afterwards, youíll travel back to the pier.

As I stayed onboard, I did as much packing as I could. We have some laundry that will come back tonight. I had lunch by the pool, then went out on the pool deck for some sun.

Matt got back at 6:00, just in time for us to go down and get Regent items for the points we received during the cruise. We then had dinner in the room and then I went to the casino while Matt packed. Bags had to be out in the hall by 11:00.


January 6, 2015 - Auckland, New Zealand

I had a hard time sleeping as I had removed all of the earplugs that were stopping the room from creaking.

I awoke at 5:30 as the ship came into port, and I got Matt up at 7:15. We had breakfast in the room, then headed down to the theater to wait for "Orange 1" to be called, which came at 8:15. We got on a bus for a full day tour of Auckland including their famous Rose Garden, a two hour visit to the city Museum and a 2 1/2 hour visit to the shopping area of the city, where we had Chinese food (something one misses on a ship).

We arrived at Auckland Airport at 3:30 and it was a VERY quick check-in (Priority) with Air New Zealand. They have an elevator that takes you directly to the front of the TSA line, so there was NO wait!! We went to the Lounge to wait for the call of our 7:30PM flight, direct to San Francisco. At 6:30 we went towards the gate area only to find a huge line to go through a primary US Customs check. Glad we went a bit early. Once at the gate, we found out the flight was going to be delayed by 15 - 30 minutes. That time was made up in the air. The Air New Zealand Business Class Seats were very nice and made into a flat bed for sleeping. We were served both dinner and breakfast.

We got to San Francisco at 10:35 and were through customs and baggage claim by 11:30, then it was the limo ride home.

We had a wonderful time and now face all of the catching up on chores at home.

Next Cruise...Summer 2016!