2011 Cruise - Hawaii/Tahiti/New Zealand



April 22, 2010

Whenever I pull out the photos of my 2006 Cruise to Hawaii and Tahiti, I keep telling myself that I want to go back. I have been waiting for Regent to once again offer the cruise as a roundtrip from San Francisco as the 2006 cruise was (and that Regent had been doing every two years). Since it has been 4 years, I realize that it is probably not something they are going to do.

So today, I looked at their itineraries and decided to book the San Francisco to New Zealand cruise. I know the flight back will not be a lot of fun, but Regent is offering a GREAT deal on Business Class.

A call to Candi Deem at Travel Leaders in South Dakota is all it took and in a half hour, the trip was booked with the Cabin I wanted.

September 4, 2010

Happy to announce that Matt has agreed to join me on the cruise. Will be wonderful having someone to share the trip with !!

December 30, 2010

We have been upgraded to Cabin 1044. This is up one deck, directly under La Veranda Restaurant. The cabin is more square (about half the depth, but twice as wide) and has an extra window right above the writing desk. We have still asked for the barrel chairs to be removed.

January 14, 2011

The morning began at 7:00 with final packing. I had told Matt that we were being picked up by an SUV. The limousine arrived at 9:15 and he was pleasantly surprised. Our 4 bags were loaded and we were on our way to San Francisco, arriving right at 11:00. Quick curbside service and our bags departed us. We were told by a port representative that we would not be able to board the ship until noon, but I decided that we should go and wait if need be. We were allowed right on the ship and given our room keys (although rooms were not to be ready until 2) and a glass of champagne. We went to our room (where a bottle of champagne and a box chocolates from Candi, our travel agent were waiting) to do a dropoff of our carry-on bags and we made a quick tour of the ship. We then went to the pool deck to sit in the sun and have lunch at the Pool Grill. We were told at 1:15 that rooms were ready. We went down and were met by our Butler, Ignatious. He made sure we were ok and took care of another dinner reservation for us and told us we would have Prawn Canape service at 5. Our stewardess, Rowena, was next in the room to say hi and to make sure everything was ok. Our luggage had not arrived, so we went back up to the top deck, then down to the room and waited for the luggage, which arrived at 3. We only had 15 minutes to unpack before the Life Boat drill. We walked down to the 5th deck to Signatures Restaurant, which is our Muster station. We did not have to take our life vests with us, but we did have to go out to the deck to where the lifeboat was. We were back in the room at 4, which was the time for the "Sail-Away Celebration". We went up to the top deck to watch us pull away from Pier 35 and head out and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Back to the room at 5, where our Shrimp plate was waiting. We ran to the laundry room to press a few shirts, then back to the room to get ready for dinner.
A very nice dinner in Compass Rose, the main dining room, followed by a bit of gambling in the casino. I looked across the ship and saw Rodi Alexander, who was a guest performer (Barbra Streisand impersonator) on my last cruise. She will be performing on this cruise in a few nights. Her husband, who plays piano and sings with her in a separate show, is also a Disney collector.
10PM brought an end to the first day.

January 15, 2011 - At Sea

We awoke at 7:45 to fog outside, which makes it look like an "indoor" day for us.
The seas were a bit rough last night, but have smoothed out today. Matt is having fun learning to walk as the ship rolls from side to side. We had breakfast in the Compass Rose. It is 59 degrees out and, according to the captain, will be foggy all day with clearing skies tomorrow. We spent some time out on our balcony, with Matt learning the settings on his new camera. We had lunch out at the pool grill under the covering, and saw several dolphins playing in our wake.
Ignatious has found the Red Mountain Dew for our refrigerator to go along with Matt's Diet Dr. Pepper that we had pre-ordered before boarding. We also ordered some pretzels and mixed nuts for the room. I have recognized 4 or 5 crew members from past cruises, and they remember me...always a nice Regent touch.
We went to the casino and won back the money we lost last night (I got 3 of a kind in 3 card poker), which was nice. Back to the room for chilled jumbo shrimp and prosciutto and melon.
Went to the Captains Reception, where I ran into Maria Vourdouba, Human Resources Manager, who had given me a tour of the lower decks of the Mariner 2 years ago. We also met Cinthya Pavan, the Destinations Manager, who is from Brazil. Then it was off to dinner in Compass Rose...a VERY nice dinner this evening.
At 9:30 this evening we were 528 miles out of San Francisco with 1508 more to get to Hilo.
We went to check out the comedian, Sal Richards and stayed 5 minutes before deciding that he was not that funny. Went back to the casino where Matt received 2 3-of-a-kinds in 3 card poker. We called it an evening at 11:30

January 16, 2011 - At Sea

We turned to clocks back one hour last night, so got an extra hour of sleep. Awoke at 7:30 with overcast skies. Went to breakfast in Compass Rose where they were serving Champagne and Caviar. Matt had the caviar, I passed. Back to the room where our excursion tickets were waiting. They put us on a late tour Papeete when we had scheduled an early one. The tour is full, but they are working to make the correction. While I was working with Destination Services on that, Matt was in the gym for a one hour workout. Regent has worked out a deal where they are able to show all of the weekend NFL playoffs, so I had those on in the room. We went up to the pool deck to lay out, even though it was cloudy...Matt to read, me to hope for sun. We had the "Tex-Mex BBQ", which was served on the pool deck, and then continued to lay out until 3. Only moments of sun. It was then to the casino to make a donation, and then to the room to relax before dinner.
Dinner was in the Compass Rose. I am beginning to feel like I am eating too much. I think I am going to have to cut down a bit. We then went to see the evening show featuring Rodi Alexander and her husband Mark Friedman. Mark plays piano and does a segment on Classical Music and then they both do a 60's medley which has 25 songs in it. They do their best to get the audience involved. It was a good show, but I am waiting for Rodi's Streisand show later in the week. After the show it was to the casino to deposit some more money and then back to the room at midnight.
We are now halfway to Hilo. Internet service is now a bit spotty, so I know postings will be a bit late.

January 17, 2011- At Sea

Awoke at 7:00. Matt went to the gym for an hour while I updated this log and got myself ready for the day. At 8:00AM, we were 1182 miles out of San Francisco with 849 to go to Hilo. Made a quick call home to find that it is still foggy there. It is still overcast with small breaks in the clouds here. It was out to "La Veranda", the buffet breakfast, and eating outside at the back of the ship on Deck 11. Matt is doing 2 loads of our laundry this morning. Each load takes about 50 minutes in the washer. While that was being done, we walked around the top deck 7 times, which equals a mile. The washers and dryers were having their problems, either not working or drying very slowly, so the first load did not get done until 11. Because we are between San Francisco and Hawaii, we are between satellites and unable to get online. We did lay out by the pool shortly after 10 as the sun was out, but it began to sprinkle lightly at 11, so we had to move. 15 minutes later, the sun was back out, but it is still a bit overcast. We ate lunch at the pool and laid out some more. By 3, the clouds were back and we went back to the room where Matt has learned that he burned a bit. Our normal afternoon casino visit did not pan out too well. We also visited Gudrun Werner, Cruise Consultant,  to get our "Onboard booking credit" and Matt's "Seven Seas Member discount" for our November Cruise.
We received a call from Dana Logan (Social Hostess) asking if Matt and I would like to join her and Jamie (her husband and Cruise Director) at La Veranda for dinner tonight at 7:15. At 6:00, it was time for the "Block Party", where the Captain, Staff Captain, Chief Engineer, General Manager, Cruise Director and Cruise Consultant dash down the halls to greet everyone, and you meet your neighbors. 6:30 and the internet began to work, so able to update finally.
Dinner with Jamie and Dana Logan was wonderful. Lots of good conversation. We came back to the room to find that we are now on the tour we had been waitlisted for in Honolulu, "Waterfall Hiking Adventure". It was then off to the show, a production show entitled "Just Swing". Very well done. Back to the casino for a night deposit and off to bed. Clocks turn back another hour tonight.

January 18, 2011 - At Sea

Awoke at 8 and had lunch once again outside on the back of the ship at La Veranda. We then walked a mile once more and then back out to the pool deck for some sun and the "American BBQ" lunch. It is still overcast and it rained for about 1 minute while we were out there. The captain has told us that we will arrive in Hilo 2 hours early (at 9:00AM) and will leave 2 hours early (5:00PM) so he can take us up close to the Kilauea Volcano to see the lava flow around 9PM.
At 2:00, we went on a tour of the Bridge (see photo page). Quite amazing how it all works, and the fact that they still use paper maps to chart our course. Along on the tour, which was limited to 10 people, was another couple who were on the Panama Cruise last year...and last night we were stopped by a gentleman who recognized me from an earlier Panama Cruise on the Mariner. As you may have seen on the photo page, we have 535 Passengers and 454 Crew Members on this cruise.
Still fairly smooth seas. Matt sent out a few postcards, then off to the casino and back to the room where we sat out on the deck. Matt to finish the book he has been reading and a bit of time for me to write this log. While out, we saw a few birds flying around and past the ship and a few flying fish. The birds let us know we are getting closer to land. Overall, I have been very impressed with this cruise. Staff is sincerely friendly, the food has been great...so much so that I have cut WAY down on breakfast and try not to eat as much for lunch, just so I have room for dinner. Of course we still have the canapés delivered to the room each evening at 5. Last night was a cheese platter, the night before was prosciutto and melon, tonight was a vegetable and dip platter. We have asked Ignatious to surprise us each evening instead of us picking.
We had dinner at Signatures, the French restaurant. Matt had the veal and I tried the duck. Both very good. Of course we went to the casino and then back to the room to get make it a fairly early night so we can get up and watch us go into port in Hilo in the morning.

January 19, 2011 - Hilo, Hawaii

We awoke at 6:30 and noticed a flash outside the window. It was lightning. The forecast for the day is cloudy with "showers around".
As we were approaching Hilo, we could see whales from our deck. This is the first time on any of my cruises that I have seen whales. Just a bit too far and too quick to get any photos of. We were in port and docked at 8:30. There is really nothing around the port to walk to or see, so we wait until our tour at noon. I have again run into another 2 couples that have been on previous cruises with me.
We sent our pants out for pressing at 7:45 and they were back in the room at 9. Impressive service. We also had Ignatious make another reservation in Signatures for us. That will be on Feb. 5, our final formal night.
We played a round of Croquet on the top deck before having lunch and heading out on our tour of the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm, Nani Mau Gardens and then to Akaka Falls, which has a 442 foot drop.  Here is a description of the tour:

Discover three of Hilo's favorite attractions: the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, Nani Mau Gardens, and breathtaking Akaka Falls on this attraction loaded half-day tour.

Your excursion begins with a scenic 45-minute drive through Liliuokalani Park as you make your way to Akaka Falls - the longest unbroken waterfall in the state. A 1-mile natural pathway through the lush tropical forest brings you to this natural treasure which plunges 442 ft. over a volcanic cliff into a gorge below. You will have plenty of time here at the viewpoint to enjoy the marvelous setting and capture some photos.

Continuing on, you will next travel to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory where you will receive an overview of how the macadamia nuts are grown and processed and then have time to visit the gift shop and snack bar.

Your final stop will be at the beautiful Nani Mau Gardens. Upon arrival, you will take a relaxing tram ride through 53 acres of world-class botanical gardens that includes acres of colorful flowers. Later, enjoy a walk along the one-mile natural pathway that winds through the cool, lush tropical forest. After a visit of approximately 1-hour, you will re-join your coach and make the trip back to the pier where your tour concludes.

We were back onboard the ship at 4:15. I chatted with one of the "Distinguished Gentleman" (gentleman dancer) on the tour and he told me that there is one person on the ship that is very sick. We shall see how this plays out. Ignatious brought our evening canapés. Tonight it was mini pigs in a blanket and bite size pizzas. They were GREAT!! Once everyone was onboard at 4:30, we left the pier. We were scheduled to leave at 5. The captain hopes to get to the volcano between 8:30 and 9:00. On the way to sea, we saw a canoe go by (just feels like Hawaii when you see one), and then we started spotting whales. None really came out of the water very far, but it was still fun to watch and try to shoot on camera. It was dinner time...Compass Rose, then up to the top deck to see the volcano. It was a bit foggy and the volcano could not be seen. We then went to see Rodi Alexander as Barbra Streisand. She does a great job and really knows how to perform. A bit of gambling (we broke even) and off to bed a bit early to get up in time for docking in Honolulu and our tour.

January 20, 2011- Honolulu, Hawaii

Awoke at 7:15 this morning with only slightly cloudy skies and what will be a warm day. We went to breakfast at the back of the ship as we were nearing Honolulu, then went on deck to watch us dock at the Aloha Tower. As soon as we were docked, it was time to go on our tour for the day. Right before we left the room, Matt called home to check in and things were a bit screwed up there, so his mood was not the best for the day, but we managed through. When we got to the theater (pre-tour), we were told that due to the high waves, everyone in town would be heading to the beaches, so we should expect our tour to end at 5 instead of 3.  Here is a description of the tour:

Travel off the beaten path and discover the scenic and cultural attractions of Oahu's remarkable North Shore on this excursion. Boarding your coach at the pier, you will start your tour with a 30-minute drive over the Ko'olau Mountains to the Island's windward side and the fabled Valley of the Temples. Here, lying at the base of 2,000 ft. high lush green cliffs, you will find the picturesque Byodo-In Temple. The Temple was built in the 1960's to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant workers in Hawaii. Today, the Temple may be recognized by some as one of the locations featured in the television show 'Lost'.

Continuing on, you will follow the scenic shoreline past China Man's Hat and Kahana Bay to Malaekahana State Beach Park, renowned for its native plant and seabird species. Beyond here is Kahuku, where you will drive past Shrimp Farms and be able to view some endangered wetland birds. Leaving Kahuku behind, it's on to world-famous Sunset Beach for a photo stop at this picturesque beach celebrated for its legendary towering waves that occur here during the winter months.

Your tour next travels to Turtle Beach where you may have the opportunity to observe rare green sea turtles resting on the golden sand before making your way south through the historic village of Haleiwa, colorful home to surfers, artists and craftspeople. Your route through this area of the Island offers up extensive views of pineapple fields and a final stop will be made at the Dole Pineapple Plantation.

Today was a bus tour, so we headed out through the Pali Cliffs to Byodo Temple. Now understand that each 20-30 minute stop turned into 30-45 minute stops. People just could not seem to make it back to the bus on time, even though there was plenty of time given. The temple was a very beautiful one, although on small grounds. Next was a quick (uh..ok..long) stop at a Macadamia Nut store because we knew we would not be getting lunch. That was not the greatest of ideas as they only sold nuts...no sandwiches, etc. Our tour guide recognized this and later made a stop at a strip mall that had a Taco Bell and Subways. We drove by the Kahuku Shrimp Farm, then on to the North Shore of Oahu. First stop was at Sunset Beach, which was closed because of the extreme high waves. Next was another Beach, then, because Turtle Beach (which we were scheduled to visit) had no turtles on it, we went to Hali iwa Beach. Enough of of staring at waves already. Next it was on to the Dole Plantation, which is nothing but a tourist trap. Everything made with pineapple, plus every other gift item you could think of. 30 minutes turned into 45 and we were heading back to the ship. We were back by 4:30, but the tour was a bit disappointing. Maybe you caught that.
At 5:30, it was 80 degrees out. We had dinner in La Veranda, followed by a walk at the Aloha Tower Marketplace, which is located next to our pier. We decided to make it another early evening as we need to be up at 7 to get ready for tomorrow's Waterfall Hike.

January 21, 2011 - Honolulu, Hawaii

We awoke at 7:00 with partly cloudy skies and had breakfast via room service. Our meeting time for our excursion was 8:30. We met up with our guide, Kirk, who drove us to the Pali Cliffs for our hike. Here is the description: 

Joining your van at the pier, you will travel approximately 1 hour to the Pali Cliffs where you will begin your guided hike. As you make your way along the trail, you will see several bird species, referred to as the "jewels of the forest" and visit a secluded, cascading waterfall that spills  into a tranquil private rainforest pool. Immerse yourself in the environs of this tropical jungle and marvel at the majestic Pali Cliffs towering above you as you drink in the fragrance provided by the tropical blossoms of heliconia's ginger, cinnamon and papaya. No doubt, the peaceful solitude of this magical place will completely enchant you.

As well as providing excellent photographic opportunities, your fun hike will also give you the opportunity to learn about the Hawaiian's use of various plant species and the area's interesting environmental history.

After approximately 2 hours, you will rejoin your transport and return to the pier where your excursion concludes.

It was as described. The brochure gave it a 2 out of 3 rating for how tough the excursion is. It was really not that bad. Our group of 9 stayed together and Kirk was quite pleased. Instead of the short trail up and back, we took the short trail up and the longer trail back. Wonderful scenery and a nice waterfall at the halfway point.
We were back on the ship at noon for lunch and 2 hours of sun, then walked into the city to get a few items, then back to the room where Matt began laundry on the floor below ours (as our laundry room was busy).

We saw one couple leave the ship today. Have not found out the reason yet.

The "Grand Deck BBQ" was held at 7:00. We went up a bit early and had a wonderful table of guests including Ilsa and Diedier (the ship's dancing instructors) and Roz, an older passenger traveling by herself and had been on a lot of cruises including 9 Panama Crossings. The band performing was "Maunalua". They had more of a Mexican sound rather than a Hawaiian sound. Their wives did a few hula numbers. It was a very nice evening that ended at 10.

January 22, 2011 - Lahaina, Hawaii

I awoke at 6:30 to the sound of the anchor being dropped. Matt awoke at 7 and we had breakfast from Room Service once again. We could see several whales around the ship...all day. We have to tender into Lahaina, so we met at the Theater at 8:15 and it was a 15 minute ride into the city. The sea was fairly calm, so no troubles getting there. We boarded our bus for the tour:

Depart from the pier for an inspired driving tour of western Maui. Leaving Lahaina, once an important whaling village and the capital of the Hawaiian kingdom in the early 19th century, you will immediately be struck by the beauty outside of town.

Traveling south along the coast, you will have views of sandy beaches, sparkling turquoise waters and the islands of Lanai and Kahoolawe which lie not too far off shore. You will then head inland, marveling at breathtaking vistas of the West Maui Mountains on one side and the majestic Haleakala Crater on the other, while en route to the phenomenal Iao Valley. The Hawaiian word "Iao" means "cloud supreme," a reference to the white puffs of clouds that often linger about the valley, bringing rain and nourishing the lush, bright green landscape. The valley has always been considered sacred, and Hawaii's high chiefs were buried here in secret hiding places. It's also historically significant as the site of a watershed battle in 1790, when King Kamehameha I defeated an opposing army and unified the Hawaiian Islands.

The most iconic of all the sights here is the Iao Needle, which rises majestically from the valley floor. It is often visible throughout the valley and, during times of war, was used as a lookout.

It was about an hour bus ride to get to the Iao Needle with a half hour stay, then about an hour back to the pier.  The peak of the "Needle" is at  2250 feet above sea level and has a lookout point that is 137 steps up from the parking lot. I had done this tour in 2006, so knew what to expect. We walked around town for a few minutes checking out some of the local art and carving that was in the city park. Back to the ship for lunch and then we sat in the sun most of the afternoon.  I have Crystal Light along for "Raspberry Lemonade". The crew member working out by the pool who was taking drink orders and brought me my bottle of water had never seen the Crystal Light pack. After I poured it into the bottle and shook it up, I explained what it was and gave him one. He came back a half hour later and said that he just guzzled it down. He liked it that much. I will probably give him a few more packs. The ship pulled anchor and by 4:45, we were on our way to Tahiti, which will take 5 full days. We will cross the equator on the 25th and have been told that we will have our equator crossing party and that the General Manager Michael Coghlan and Cruise Director Jamie Logan will be diving into the ocean as we cross, then be towed by the ship on a raft before coming back aboard. Should be fun.
Dinner this evening was in Compass Rose. They served Redwood Road wine from Lodi. We followed dinner with a bit of gambling, where I hit a straight flush in 3 Card Poker for a $200 payout. I am sure they will get it back. Matt went to hear the lead female singer perform a one-woman show in the Theater, and I went back to the room. After the show, we met up again in the casino. I hit another straight flush, then went to a slot machine and won the top $500 jackpot. Not a bad evening.

January 23, 2011 - At Sea

Awoke at 8 and had breakfast in the back of the ship at 9. It was a bit cloudy, but cleared by 9:30, so it was out by the pool until 2:30 (for Matt), 3:00 for me. We are both a bit toasty and red.
Went to the casino in the afternoon. I got a Straight Flush and a 3-of-a-kind, and Matt received a Straight Flush. Another nice afternoon. We had a bit of fun with Tony, the casino manager, as he played a few of my hands.
We then looked at the Tahitian Pearls on display at the Boutique and met Cynthia, who creates some of the "wearable art". She knows Renaud Sayada who was the photographer that I had on my Moorea excursion. He helped make my photos SO much more interesting. She will be chatting with him, so I hope he gets my "thank you".
Nothing exciting in the evening. Dinner in Compass Rose and a small donation back to the casino.
Matt opened the sliding glass door of the room at 11:30PM and you can now feel the humidity.

January 24, 2011 - At Sea

Uh oh. I think we are in a rut. Awoke at 8 and ate breakfast in La Veranda. It had rained earlier in the morning, so we had to eat inside. Matt did 3 loads of laundry and I went out by the pool to burn...uh...tan some more. Ran into Rodi and Mark and chatted with them a bit about Disney. Matt came up to the pool area for awhile until lunch time. They had a "South Pacific Stews Lunch" that I passed on and Matt tried. Not the best. We went for the pizza instead.
Hit the casino for a bit in the afternoon and then took a tour of the Galley with Executive Chef Fabien Alujas.
We decided to have dinner in our cabin tonight. Matt ordered a few items from Compass Rose, I ordered a salad and sandwich from the room service menu.
It was then down to the casino where I received 2 3-of-a-kinds and a straight flush. Got some of the lost money back. Matt went to the show (Kevin Spirtas from "Days of Our Lives doing Broadway and Pop standards) while I went back to the cabin.
We met up afterwards for a bit more gambling before bedtime.
We keep wondering where the 500 passengers are. The ship seems to be very quiet during the day. The only times it has been crowded at all was during the boat drill and the deck party. They may all come out tomorrow for the equator crossing party.

January 25, 2011 - At Sea

Awoke at 8 and had breakfast outside La Veranda. This morning it was 77 degrees with 77% humidity, clear skies and very smooth seas. After breakfast, we walked 11 mile before laying out.
We have nicknames for several passengers, including "Curious George", who is from New York and Germany (house in both). He wears VERY bright solid colors. Blue with Red, etc. but we gave him the name because the first time we saw him, he was in all yellow, just like Curious George's owner.
Today's lunch was Italian Day by the pool. They had pizza and pasta. The Captain of the ship was out cooking some of the pasta.
Rodi and Mark joined us for a few minutes after lunch for a conversation.
We are just over half of the way between Hawaii and Tahiti...We are 5,827 Nautical Miles out of San Francisco and 1,073 Nautical Miles from Moorea.
We crossed the equator at 2:10PM.
At 3:30, it was time for the crew party with guest lecturer Terry Waite playing the part of Neptune. 3 of the crew were covered in slime and then the "pollywogs" (those who have never crossed the equator) were asked to come to the pool area. They each, in turn, had to kiss a fish and become a "shellback". Matt did not participate.
We then went to the casino for a bit, had dinner in the Compass Rose, then to the production show "Viva La Vida". It seemed that the cast only gave about 50%. Not the best show. The Russian specialty couple do the same moves, although the female did a number while in a hoop suspended above the theater.
The male singer only knows one move and that is all he has done in 2 shows. The sound in this theater is not crisp. The orchestra is fine, but the supplemental music drowns out the singers.
Back to the casino and to bed by midnight.
No internet connection for update.

January 26, 2011 - At Sea

I was up at 8 and had breakfast by the pool. At 9, the Captain announced that there was a leak in the water system and that part of it would be shut down between 10-12. Matt awoke at 9. I did a mile walk and then found that the internet was finally up and working again. There is always crew out and about cleaning and painting the ship. It really does look nice since it came out of dry dock a few months ago.
I looked back on my travel log from the Hawaii/Tahiti cruise in 2006 and found that it was very humid at this point in the cruise. Not so much this time (knock on wood). Hopefully it will stay that way.
I went out to the pool while Matt watched a movie. We met up for lunch and then I did another half hour of sun before we checked out the Art that was to be on sale at the art auction, then gambled for a bit. Matt went back to the room and I met up with Mark and Rodi and we chatted for a bit.
The evening started with the Regent Seven Seas Society cocktail party. With a new policy put in place beginning with this cruise, everyone on board is automatically a "Silver Level" member, so everyone was invited to the party. Because of my "Gold Level" status, Matt has also been given Gold Level. Anyway, 82% of the passengers are return Regent cruisers. There are 100 first time passengers. There are over 50 that have more than 400 days with Regent. That is because there are a lot of passengers who have done several "World Cruises". They have plaques on their doors from their voyages. Tonight was "French Night" in Compass Rose, then back to the casino where Matt did very well.

January 27, 2011 - At Sea

Awoke at 8AM and found tickets on our door for the early excursion in Papeete. We had requested it online and were confirmed, but ended up with tickets for the afternoon excursion (same itinerary). We talked with the Destinations person on the first day to ask to move to the morning and explained that we were confirmed before. She told us it was waitlisted, but we would be put on the list (there were 12 ahead of us). A few days ago, I went back to the desk to get an update. They had no record that I was there before. I was a bit upset and found Cinthya Pavan Dos Santos, the Destinations Services Manager, who has been VERY nice to us when we run into her, and explained the situation. A day later, the correct tickets show up. Again, great Regent service.
Breakfast was out on the back of La Veranda, then we walked a mile before I went to lay in the sun and Matt did some reading and watched the ending to a movie he started yesterday. We had lunch at the pool grill and then went gambling.
Back to the room where we watched 2 episodes of "I Love Lucy" on the video on demand system.
Dinner this evening was at "Prime 7", one of the specialty restaurants on the ship. They do not charge to eat in them as other ships do. The 2 restaurants here are "Signatures" (french) and "Prime 7" (steak). See photos of a dinner on the photos page.
A quick story: Last night at the cocktail party, I met a couple and introduced myself just using "Bill". She asked if I was "Bill W." who has a get-together each evening on the ship. I had to explain to her about AA and its' founder, Bill W. Every ship provides the space and meeting time once a day for AA meetings, although rarely used. However, by the way a few people are drinking on this cruise, I think it would do them good to attend.
After dinner, we, of course, went gambling and then to bed at 10 because of the full day tomorrow.

January 28, 2011- Moorea, French Polynesia

We awoke at 6AM and had room service breakfast before heading out on our excursions. The ship anchored off of Moorea, so we had to tender in. Upon arriving at the pier, we were immediately taken aboard another small boat and we were off on our "Lagoon Discovery with Snorkeling". Description:

Experience the beauty of Cook's and Opunohu bays from above and below sea level during this snorkeling and beach adventure aboard a modern covered boat.

Depart the pier aboard a comfortable and modern boat featuring covered areas designed to protect you from the direct rays of the sun. As you cruise along these majestic bays, your captain will inform you about the legends, geography, flora and fauna of Moorea.

Next, you will continue on to a gorgeous sandy islet surrounded by transparent turquoise waters that are shallow enough to walk comfortably in the sea. Upon arrival, you will have a rare opportunity to feed the awaiting rays; they will gracefully glide around you in exchange for a piece of fish.

Your tour will conclude with a stop at another uninhabited islet nearby. Here, you will be served refreshments, and have an opportunity to explore the beach and swim. You will also be invited to go snorkeling in water 6-10 feet deep. Snorkeling is performed in the shallow waters off the boat, providing an excellent opportunity for beginner and experienced snorkelers. The boat's ladders extend deep into the water, making it easy to embark and disembark the craft.

Our first stop was to play with the stingrays. The guides fed them while we were allowed to touch and/or kiss them. This was for 10-15 minutes. They then backed us up and threw food out a bit further, which brought in the sharks (safe ones) and we got photos of them. We swam around a bit more before heading to our second stop near coral reefs. We were there for about an hour and the current was quite strong, making getting out to the coral a bit tough, but getting back to the boat quick. We did not know that we could wear swim shoes, so we did not take them. No fins were allowed. Matt cut the bottom of his toe, but no other major damage. After we got back to the pier, we had an hour and a half before our afternoon tour. We did a bit of shopping (as the locals all have their tables with Tahitian Pearls all set up. We also walked to the local grocery stores. Those and a church were all that were near the pier. Our afternoon tour was "Aito Off-Road Safari". Description:

Experience the exquisite beauty and flavors of Moorea during a picturesque, off-road excursion through this idyllic island.

Depart the pier via four-wheel-drive vehicle for the scenic drive through Moorea's deep valleys and mountains. Your adventure begins with a drive to Paopao Valley. After passing by some pineapple plantations, you will cross the Paopao Opunohu Trail en route to Opunohu. A stop will then be made at one of the numerous sacred ancient sites, or marae, where you will learn about Polynesian culture.

Next, you will continue to the Belvédère Lookout for incredible panoramic views overlooking Cook's and Opunohu bays. From here, you will drive through the interior trails of the Agricultural School of Moorea to see the local flora. Moorea, known as the Green Garden of Polynesia, is renowned for its school, which receives children from all the outer islands. A stop will be made here to use the restrooms and sample some homemade jam. Ice cream and local fruit juices will also be available for purchase.

Following your visit, you will commence the steep ascent up Magic Mountain. Here, a little path lined by grapefruit, lemon and orange trees opens up to a panoramic vista stretching across Opunohu Bay, the lagoon and the sea. Your tour will conclude with a stop at the Fruit Juice Factory of Moorea to sample their liquors.

There were 8 people in the back of a Land Rovers on benches along the back end. Off we went to the top of "Magic Mountain". It was a rough ride. I had done this ride in 2006 on a photo safari. We continued to Belvedere Lookout, to a pineapple field, an Agricultural School (where they tried to sell us jams and jellies), then to a distillery where they had samples. Back to the pier at around 4 and back to the ship. The Captain decided to do a complete 360 turn as we left Moorea on our way to Papeete. We left the bay at 6 and we were docked in Papeete at 8. Dinner in Compass Rose, then we went ashore to see what was on the main street in front of the pier, so we know where things are tomorrow.

January 29, 2011 - Papeete, French Polynesia

We awoke at 6:45 with room service breakfast and down to the Theater at 7:45 for today's excursion: "Tahiti - Off the Beaten Path". Here is the description:

Explore a side of Tahiti not commonly seen by visitors during a scenic off-road journey through this idyllic island.

Depart the pier with your guide in an off-road vehicle for the scenic drive through Tahiti's pristine interior. You will then drive towards the east coast, and on to the Papenoo Valley.

Along the way, you will pass by cascading waterfalls, luxuriant tropical vegetation, exotic flowers and lush valleys offering wonderful views and photo opportunities. You may opt to take a refreshing dip in a river while en route.

It is as described. We drove through 4 communities (again on the back of a 4 wheel vehicle with 4 other passengers) with a stop at a lookout of an area beach. We then headed to the crater in the middle of the island. It was a pretty rough ride, but well worth it. We did have a quick downpours, but quick does describe them. We had a cover over the back of the 4X4, so we stayed dry. Along the way, we saw many waterfalls and our young guide explained a lot of the area vegetation. We did not get to swim as the water was not deep enough. There are now 5 power stations/dams that keep the water levels a bit low.

When we returned to the pier (at noon), we went back to the ship for a quick lunch and then out into town to do a bit of shopping. Back to the ship again, where Matt did some laundry and reading, and I went out to the pool deck.

Before dinner, they presented a show of French Polynesia music, song and dance called "Toakura". I ended up being pulled on stage (see photo page). After the show, it was dinner in the Compass Rose, then we ended the night in the casino.

January 30, 2011 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia

We awoke at 7:15 with room service breakfast and to the Theater at 8:15 for today's excursion, "Stingray Ballet and Snorkel Safari". Description:

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.

This was a great excursion, especially the coral garden. We were allowed to use fins, so it was much easier to get around, plus there was really no current to push or pull us. The water was a bit cooler than in Moorea, but still very nice. Be sure to see the photo page for pictures of the snorkeling.

I am still not thrilled with standing with the stingrays. They are supposed to be safe and it seems like many have the barbs cut off the tails, but they still come up behind you and push around you, or just come up and climb on your chest thinking you have food. Matt has come to think of them as kitties that have to rub up against you.

After, we went shopping in the big one block shopping district, then back to the ship. We had a late lunch, then I went to the pool deck and Matt went back onshore to do a bit more shopping. Matt picked out a pearl bracelet as a gift from me.

We are 1,360 Miles from our next port in Tonga, and 2,421 Miles from New Zealand. It is 81 degrees out, with 69 percent humidity.

Dinner was in Compass Rose, then we went gambling until the show. I stayed in the casino while Matt went to see the magician. Matt said the show was a bit slow, but ok. We gambled a bit more before bedtime.

January 31, 2011 - At Sea

We got to sleep in until 8 this morning and had breakfast in La Veranda. Then it was a half mile walk (cut short due to the cut in Matt's toe from the coral in Moorea). Then it was tanning time for both of us on the pool deck. It was 86l degrees today with a bit of humidity, but still not bad. Matt did 2 loads of laundry before lunch and someone emptied the washer out right before he got back to it (and he was only a minute or two late) and they left a few things in it, and loaded up the machine with their clothes and started it back up. He got his things back later in the day. It was Seafood BBQ day, so I had pizza and salad for lunch. They now have pineapple from Tahiti, so it finally tastes sweet. The fruit has not been the sweetest on this cruise, so this was a nice change. Everyone noticed, so not sure how long that will last. We met up again at 2:30 to gamble a bit, then back to the room for 2 episodes of "I Love Lucy" before dinner. I sent and e-mail to Louise (who will be our guide in Auckland) to let her know our arrival time. She wrote back to confirm everything and said that we will have time to go to the top of the Sky Tower to get an overview of the city. We ate at "Prime 7". We arrived at 6:30 and the food delivery was SLOW. At 8PM, with the main course still not served, the head maitre d came over and apologized for the long wait and said that there had been a small problem in the kitchen and that the food would be out in a few minutes. It was, but we left before desert.
We went to the boutique to see if they had any vitamin C, as I felt like I might be getting a cold. I think all the "in the heat, back to the colder indoors" over and over may be doing it. They only had Airborne, so I got that and took it. Then we went back to the casino. I did ok, but Matt had a tough night. He decided to go to the show (a comedian and the lead singer from the production show). He was back in about 5 minutes, and there were a lot of people exiting the showroom shortly after he did. Matt said the comedian was poor. We called it an evening at 10:30.
Tomorrow is "Country Fair" in the afternoon, so that should be fun.

February 1, 2011 - At Sea

I awoke at 8:00, Matt at 8:30 and we had breakfast out on the back of La Veranda. We walked 2 laps of the ship, but it was warm (81degrees with 75%  humidity), and decided to lay out instead. Matt stayed out until noon and I stayed until 12:30. One of the songs they were playing on the speakers was the theme to "Titanic". Should they be playing that on a ship?
We had lunch in La Veranda, then back to the room for a bit before the "Country Fair" where each ship's department sets up a booth and the passengers play games to win tickets. There is a drawing after for prizes. We had a lot of fun playing, but did not win any prizes.
It was then to the casino until it was time to get ready for dinner, tonight with Cinthya Pavan Dos Santos, the Destinations Services Manager and 4 other passengers (none who we have seen on the cruise until now). The dinner started at 7:40 and we had to excuse ourselves at 9:25 to see the "Broadway Tonight" show in the Theater. It was not very good.
We then went to the casino (any surprise there?) and I received 2 straight flushes with $10 bets for a total of $800 payout. That made up for some loses.
Bedtime was 11:30. We turn our clocks back one hour tonight...and cross the International Dateline.

February 2, 2011 does not exist this year

February 3, 2011 - At Sea

Before I start in on the day's activities, I have been asked about the guest lecturers on this cruise. Although neither Matt or I attend any of them, they are available on television on the same day as they are given. I have caught portions of them there.

The “Special Guest” this cruise is Terry Waite, who has been talking about his time as a prisoner of war.
Others include: Harry Chittick (area history and movie history), Dr. Ronald Sampson (colonies of the area), Dr. Norman Caisse (astronomy), Peter Simon (photography) and Colonel Steven Bauer ("Social Life in the White House"). I have seen Colonel Bauer’s presentations on a past cruise.

As with all the Regent Cruises, there is plenty to do...if you want. Daily there are exercise classes, Games (Baggo, Ring Toss, Shuffleboard...for "Regent Tokens"),
Bridge classes, Arts and Craft classes, plus the daily Tea Time Trivia and Bingo.

It was a sea day, so you know the routine. We skipped the evening Magic Show, and stayed in the casino, where we came out $800 ahead for the day. We are happy.

February 4, 2011 -  Nuku'alofa, Tonga

We awoke at 6:50 and had breakfast in the room. As we opened the curtains of the cabin to the outside world, the first thing you notice about the Tonga area is all of the small islands around. There are 176 islands which make up the Tonga area.
We are docked in Nukualofa, the capital, which has a population of 30,000.
We met in the Theater at 8:15 for today's excursion, "Oholei Beach and Hina Cave":

Depart from Queen Salote wharf in and drive through beautiful Nukú Alofa in a southeasterly direction across the island. Before long, you will arrive at the Oholei Beach Resort for a traditional Tongan feast and dance performance. Similar to a Hawaiian luau, the sumptuous meal centers around a suckling pig roasted in an underground oven called an "umu" and garnished with seasonal fruits. Other delicacies include fish in coconut cream and fresh vegetables prepared Tongan style. To announce that the feast is ready, a conch shell will be blown, accompanied by the distinctive beat of a lali drum. After your feast, enjoy a performance of traditional dances and music in Hina Cave and perhaps take a short stroll along the beach.

Next, you will travel along the picturesque coastline and make a stop at the blowholes. Watching this natural phenomenon is spectacular, as the seawater funnels through natural tunnels cut in the rock, shooting upward in fountains as high as 60 feet. According to legend, the ancient Tongan chiefs would meditate here while listening to the crashing surf.

Returning to Nukú Alofa, you will pass through several villages, which will give you a greater understanding of daily life in Tonga. Then, return to the ship or stay downtown to do some further exploring or shopping on your own.

This was to be a 6 1/2 hour excursion, and originally stated that there would be no time for swimming. Last night, we received a note that there would be time, and boy was there. It was a very warm ride there in a small bus without much air conditioning. We passed the Royal Palace, the Royal Home, many schools and churches. Each "community" has at least 7 different denominations. They each have their own schools and roadside cemeteries. There are also a lot of little roadside "stands" where the locals are selling their fruit or fish.
We left the pier at 8:30 and arrived at the Resort at 9:30. Many of us immediately went out into the ocean and it was very warm. Those who could not, suffered in the open-air building set up for lunch, which was not served until 11:45. The Resort, which is not a resort as we think of it, was charging everyone for bottled water and drinks. That got changed during lunch when
Cinthya showed up and got it straightened out. The owner of the Resort sang with his band for the entire 2 hours (and he was not the greatest singer), and also stalled us while the pig was finished being cooked. As we were lining up for lunch, served buffet style, he sang a religious song, then said a long prayer. It was time to eat and the food was pretty good, especially a bread pudding.
It was then time for the show in the show in Hina Cave. By this time, many of the guests were ready to leave and a bus was arranged to take us back to the ship. We joined that group.
We boarded the ship, then went right back out to some tables set up right outside the port by locals selling their wares. We purchased a couple of things, then headed back to the ship, where I sat by the pool while Matt went his own way.
The ship left port at 6PM...1052 Nautical Miles to the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.
Dinner at Compass Rose, then a bit of gambling. I stayed in the casino and Matt went to see Dale Kristien, best known for playing Christine in "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway, then for 4 1/2 years in Los Angeles. Everyone seemed to enjoy the show. Matt would have preferred if she did more variety of songs. She will be having another show in the next few nights.
Tomorrow, we go through Immigration Inspection in preparation for New Zealand. We had to fill out forms 2 days ago and tomorrow we pick up our passports and go through a line in the Horizon Lounge. It will all be done in a 2 hour period....they hope.

February 5, 2011 - At Sea

Another Sea Day, so not much to report. The morning did start with the Immigration Inspection. We were told at several times and places that we would be called by deck, starting with 11, working down. We planned our morning to do the inspection, then go to breakfast. As there are only 4 cabins on deck 11 and it all started at 8:30, we figured we would be done at 8:45. Jamie started at 8:30 by calling deck 6. Now we changed plans to do breakfast first, then wait for our deck. He next called Deck 11. I think he got complaints that he changed up everything. So now we wait again and are called. It did not take long at all to get in line, receive our passports, have our passports looked at and scanned, moved down the line, have our forms looked at and then leave.
Then it became a normal sea day with me doing some tanning and Matt doing the last loads of laundry. He came up and read a book for awhile, although it was VERY windy and hard to keep towels, clothes and anything else in place.
Once dinner time rolled around (Formal Optional Night), we decided to check the "Signatures" menu, as we had reservations there. They changed that too to "Dinner and a Show". You have their set menu, then go see the "Rat Pack" show in the Horizon Lounge. The first 3 courses were fish, so I was not happy. We went to the front desk to see if we could get into "Prime 7" instead. They took our cabin number, and we received a call to let us know that there was an opening.
We ate there again (still wonderful steaks), then gambling, then to "Le Cirque Voyager" in the Theater. It was a fairly good show. No plot, but lots of Cirque style rope and silk spinning. The lead male singer was not used at all. The Russian Gymnastic couple were fantastic. I took a few photos, then was told that none were allowed. I wish they had mentioned that before the show started. Several other passengers had to be told individually also. Back to the casino and then to bed at midnight.

February 6, 2011 - At Sea

Our last full sea day. I awoke at 7, Matt at 9 and off to breakfast in La Veranda. When we got back, our luggage tags were waiting for us. This lets you know that your cruise is over. We also have the Comment Cards to fill out.
We decided to do most of our packing, only leaving what we needed for tonight and tomorrow. Matt had lunch from the BBQ on the pool deck and I had pizza from La Veranda. We ate by the pool. A bit of afternoon gambling, then sitting out by the pool enjoying the sun. It was in the upper 70's and clear in the afternoon. We stayed out by the pool until 5, then went to the "Krew Kapers", a show put on by Crew members featuring their native dances. It was then dinner in Compass Rose followed by gambling, while Matt went to see the 2nd show by
Dale Kristien.

February 7, 2011 - Bay of Islands, New Zealand

We awoke at Bay of Islands, New Zealand at 7:20 with Breakfast being served in our cabin, then to the Theater for our 8:30 tour, "CHARTERED CRUISE TO CAPE BRETT AND HOLE IN THE ROCK":

Explore the lovely inlets in the Bay of Islands during this scenic cruise aboard a touring catamaran.

Depart the pier aboard a catamaran for the cruise to the Bay of Islands. One of New Zealand's most beautiful marine areas, the Bay of Islands was made famous by English explorer James Cook and writer Zane Grey. As you journey through big-game fishing waters en route to the Cape Brett Lighthouse, you will be able to see beautiful Motukokako Island and the famous Hole-in-the-Rock from the catamaran's comfortable indoor and outdoor viewing decks. Next, you will proceed for the highlight of the tour, a trip to see the majestic Grand Cathedral Cave.

On the return voyage, some time will be spent meandering among the peaceful beauty of the inner islands, where you may see schools of dolphins and other marine life. Along the way, your captain will provide you with informative commentary about the area's history and marine life.

A very nice cruise and we DID see the dolphins (see photo page).
We took the tender back to the ship, had lunch, then took another tender to the city of Russell to do some shopping and walking. Back to the ship, an hour in the sun, then the ship was off to Auckland. 134 Miles to go. When done, we will have sailed 7,323 Nautical Miles.

We put our bags out, then had our final dinner in Compass Rose, then went to the Casino for a final few hands of 3 Card Poker and then our goodbyes to the casino staff.

We went to bed at 11:30.

February 8, 2011 (both of them)- Auckland, New Zealand

We awoke at 7:15 and were out the door for the final time at 8:00. We ate breakfast at La Veranda before disembarking the ship for the final time at 8:30. We met up with Louise Young Kinred from "Tours By Locals" at the pier and she took us to the Auckland Sky Tower (1,076 feet high with viewing deck at 722 feet) for an overview of the city, then we drove around the entire city visiting several neighborhoods, Mt. Eden, vistas and then a quick snack at Wallace Arts Center, which is in Pah Homestead, a converted home in Monte Cecilia Park. It was a great way to see the city. She dropped us off at the airport at 1:00 for our 3:15 flight. We had upgraded to Business Class on Qantas Airlines, so we were able to get seats that went flat for sleeping. I got a few hours sleep, Matt slept most of the way. We crossed the International Dateline again to gain our day back, and then the equator. We arrived in Los Angeles at 6:30 and were through Customs in less than 5 minutes. We got our luggage and walked over to American Airlines, which was the terminal next to the International Terminal. Then it was "hurry up and wait" at American Airlines. We had 3 hours to sit and wait. The flight at 10AM was on time and arrived in San Francisco a bit early. We met up with Vintage Limousine Service and arrived at home by 1:30.