Category Archives: Vacations on other Ships

A month in the sun, and then PAYBACK

We haven’t posted in a while… because we decided to escape from the cold winter for the month of February.  We were scheduled to fly out on February 9, and of course, there was a forecast for a severe winter storm for that day!

On the morning of February 8, as we were trying not to worry too much about the weather, we received an email from American Airlines stating that they would waive all change fees if we wanted to rebook and fly out early – and so we took advantage, and left on Feb 8.  Fortunately, we had mostly packed already and our good friend Dave was able to take us to the airport for our flight.

At least we had eliminated the stress of wondering if would make it out, and instead had an extra day in Miami.  A few days in Miami, a 12 day cruise on Oceania Riviera in the Eastern Caribbean, 6 days in the Florida Keys, and another 6 on Amelia Island.  Can’t complain about a thing.  It was beautiful weather, we did mostly nothing, and had a wonderful time.  Below is one of the few photos I took, of a bird in Granada.

DSC_7250 Granada Bird

While we were away, the weather at home did the usual NE flip flopping, 70 degree days, 10 degree days, any type of weather, you just name it.  So, the day after we arrived home, the temperature dropped to the teens, and the snow came.  And it just didn’t warm up.  And the snow came again (winter storm Stella, anyone?).  Guess the lousy weather was our payback for going away.

While we were away, the thread on Autumn Dream’s cover “gave up” and one of the sections split apart, at the peak of the frame.  Fortunately, the boat yard called to let us know, and Dave and Pat came to the rescue, taking the cover off the boat and bringing it home for us before even more damage could be done – they had one of those good “70 degree days” to do it.  We’ll post more about the cover another time.

So what is going on?  Well…. when we were in Amelia Island, we visited Waterman’s Bluff (our land) and remembered why we bought there in the first place.  They had some new homes under construction and we found a design that had everything we were looking for.  We had already made the decision to put our house back on the market when we were on the cruise, and this just confirmed out.  So now we are back to our former plan…  House is on the market, and we will just wait and see what happens.  In the mean time, we are going to enjoy life at our home, and cruise on Autumn Dream this summer.

I finished the crochet project I was working on before we left, I’ll do a different post for that.

Vietnam Revisited – Mekong River 3-28

Kevin didn’t take his camera on our tour of the Mekong River delta, so as promised, here are my impressions.  Firstly, as he mentioned, the “sit time” in a bus was much longer than expected due to the fact that we didn’t dock in the center of Saigon as hoped.

Our tour was described as “Oceania Exclusive – Mekong River Cruise”.  We paid extra for the exclusive part, which in the end meant that you did exactly the same things as the cheaper tour, except you would not have more than 16 people in your tour group.  This tour was also listed as “Strenuous”, requiring substantial walking, stair climbing and not recommended for those with physical limitations.  This tour requires the ability to board small boats and was NOT for people with mobility concerns.  Do you think this stopped people who could barely get out of a chair and needed canes to walk from going on it?  Of course not!

We drove for about 3 hours to the Mekong Delta port of My Tho – where all kinds of tours on boats were heading out.  We thought we were going for a “long” cruise, but instead it was about 30 minutes to a small island called Thoi Son, where we visited a “honey farm” – where we had honey tea, tasted royal jelly, and they tried to sell us products.  A short walk took us to a coconut candy “factory” (in an open hut) where they demonstrated the process, offered samples (we declined) and had many coconut based products for sale.  A further walk took us to a pavilion where we sampled local fruits including dragon fruit, bread fruit, papaya, mango, and longan (one of my favorites).  We were then (painfully) serenaded by a group of musicians, singers, and dancers who passed around a tip basket.

Mekong tour boat

Mekong delta tour boat

Mekong fruits

Fruits

Once this was over, we walked a short distance where we were picked up by our boat, then taken to another “port”, where we “embarked in smaller sampans for a scenic ride through the narrow, tree-lined canals”.  How to describe this?  Hmmm, imagine some Dali-esque, hallucinogenic, demented Disney ride.

Mekong-Thoi Son Island canal

A Sampan near the canal

The “scenic canal” ran alongside a road and houses and was scattered with litter and plastic bottles, like most of Southeast Asia.  I think it existed solely for the purpose of taking tourists on a ride.  Watching people with mobility issues (and weight issues) attempting to climb in and out of these boats was frightening.  Add to that the condition of the boats – rotting inside and out, with a few extra boards dropped on the floor so you might not put your foot through the hull.  A woman sat on the forward deck and sort of paddled, and sort of pulled the boat thru the shallow water.  A man sat on the rear deck and steered – mostly by pushing away from the mangroves.  We felt bad for these folks, they worked really hard, with 4 passengers to a boat.

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the fine condition of the Sampans – how do they float?

At the end of this strange journey, we got off the sampans, and hoped we wouldn’t get dumped in the water by some of the folks who had no idea how to get in or out of boats.  Another walk – through some people’s back yards, apparently, eventually led to a very nice resort where we had a wonderful lunch.  The food was tasty, and each table had a person who prepared the plates for us.  For example she removed the heads and shells from the prawns before serving, made fish rolls with rice paper wrappers, etc.  There was soup, noodles, roasted pork, deep fried fish, and more.  It really was relaxing and pleasant and probably the best “tour” meal we ate one this trip.

mekong-lunch Thoi Son Island

Prawns – YUM

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Some kind of spring rolls

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Whole fried fish

After lunch we made our way back to the ‘first’ tour boat, to take us back to the port.

Our final stop was a visit to the Vinh Trang Pagoda, a Buddhist temple built approximately 150 years ago, with a combination of Khmer and French architecture.  They had a reclining buddha and a sitting Buddha.  One thing about this overall trip, we saw LOTS of Buddhist temples…

mekong-vin trang pagoda

Just a tiny bit of the interesting mosaics at the Vinh Trang Pagoda.

After this hot walk in the sun, we then boarded for the toooooo looooong bus ride back to the ship.  We were hoping to see more of the Mekong river itself, but I guess the only way to really do this is by a land tour, not a cruise.

Vietnam has changed a great deal since our last visit in 2010.  More cars and motorcycles, replacing scooters and bicycles.  Hopefully the standard of living and quality of life are improving too.

Singapore March 30

So after spending three days in Vietnam we were off again in route to Singapore.  As it is 614 nautical miles from Saigon to Singapore we had a day at sea again.  We love days at sea.  Time to relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee and a relaxing breakfast!  One great thing about Oceania is that included in your cruise fare is some of the simple things that other cruise lines charge you extra for.  Like a cappuccino, or espresso or even soft drinks.  This is all included with this company and not part of another cost center to make the company more money and to milk the customer dry!   Also they have a coffee bar staffed with an actual Italian Barista!  My new best friend Marco!   Marco was great!  We saw him almost every day and had some good laughs and generally great coffee.  He would see Beth and I coming and greet us in Italian.  Then ask us if we wanted dui cappuccino or Americano.  He would then hand craft our coffees with a smile and then try to push some wonderful pastries on us.  However in our quest to remain passengers and not become cargo, most of the time we just had a coffee or two and watch the world and water go by!  Did I mention that they have a wonderful English tea every afternoon with sandwiches, fresh pastries and off course tea (or coffee in our case).  This off course is served in 10 forward (deck 10 forward a lounge that they call Horizons, but being Star Trek fans and since it is on deck 10 and in the forward part of the ship Beth and I always referred to it as 10 forward).  It included serving staff with white gloves and rolling carts overloaded with yummy stuff.  Once again part of the cruise line subversive plan to turn us into cargo.  We mostly resisted the temptation but occasionally had a scone with clotted or whipped cream.  Had to take a few for the team so I could write about how good the food is!  So after tea it is happy hour!   That means two for one drinks.  So on the days that we did not go to tea you could find us in Martinis bar having a Bombay Sapphire Gin and tonic!   Then it was time for an early dinner.  Life at sea is good.  Also sea days give you much time to sit on your balcony and catch up on all those books you have been meaning to read and watch the other ships and sea life go by.  We did see a ton of sea life.   Birds, marine mammals, sea snakes, sharks, flying fish, trash (unfortunately).   All this time we have been sailing still in the South China Sea.  That would change the day out of Singapore!

So on Wednesday March 30 we arrived in Singapore, bright and early.  The approach to Singapore is great to see.  You will never see anywhere else in the world such a collection of ships of all shapes and sizes, waiting to go into the port.  Fascinating!  Also since Singapore sits only 4 degrees above the equator it is very hot there!  This day of our visit it was 99 degrees F with 99% relative humidity.  This is typical weather for this city.  Since Beth and I have been here before we decided to treat it as a sea day and hang out on the ship.  The other reason for this is that it is a pain in the ass to get off the ship.  You have to go through immigration getting off the ship and getting back on the ship.  Being on the ship on a port day has real advantages as you have the ship to yourself!  I’ll never own a 600+ foot ship but this give me a taste of what it would be like!  So another day to relax be for the intensive ports of Phuket Thailand and Myanmar that would be up next.

For your enjoyment here are a few photos of Singapore from our 2010 trip there!  Wow it has been 6 year almost to the day since we have been here!   Time passes quickly!

Promptly at 8:00 PM (during our dinner) we set sail for Thailand!   Next post Phuket!

Vietnam – March 26 – 28

Last time I left you we were in route to Nha Trang Vietnam via the South China Sea.  So having left Hong Kong Thursday evening March 24, we spent Friday at sea.  It was a great sea day for Beth and Kevin.  The seas were a little rough and we like that!  Also we were finally out of the rain and into warmer temperatures.  OK this is a cruise and everyone always ask about the food.  Well Oceania Cruises prides itself on their food.  Well I can confirm that the food was great!  Service was also very good.  I won’t get into specific meals as you can see example of the menus on their website.  I will say that if you love seafood you will not be disappointed.  Shrimp, lobster, scallops, squid, fish etc….   Also if your into red meat that was all good also.  As a little teaser, for lunch if you eat at the Waves Grill you can get great burgers.  Also you can get surf and turf, grilled lobster tail and sirloin steak on a chibata bun!   Also you can have a milk shake made with excellent ice cream to go along with your sandwich.  Oh and don’t forget the truffle French fries….    It goes on and on.   Safe to say you will not go hungry.  Safe to say that the food anywhere on the ship does not disappoint.    There are a total of 5 dining options on the ship.   Two special restaurants – a steak house and an Italian bistro.   Both excellent!   Also the main dining room (great service by our server Dragion from Serbia).  The buffet and waver grill.   Needless to say after 35 days on the ship it is easy to become cargo..   Fortunately, although we enjoyed ourselves and did put on some weight we were nowhere near the typical 10 pounds/week cruise weight gain! J    Actually we made out OK!

On Saturday March 26 we made port at Nha Trang Vietnam.  This was our second time to Vietnam but first time in Nha Trang.  Below are some photos take around town and at the port!

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Approaching Nha Trang Shipping Port 

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Nha Trang Cruise Terminal 🙂

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Nha Trang Budha (one of about 100,000)

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Nha Trang Market

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Customs Office 

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Stunning Hindu Temple in NhaTrang

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Nha Trang Fishing harbor

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Neighboring Ship.  Our ship was a bit nicer!

Leaving Nha Trang at 4:00 PM Saturday we were off to Saigon.  We were excited to go back to Saigon and cruise up the winding beautiful Saigon River to spend two day docked at the center of Saigon.  But alas do to earlier recent heavy rains in the region the cruise up to the city was not going to happen.  I think we had a pussy for a captain.  We ended up docking 2 hours outside the city at the commercial port.  This port is in the middle of nowhere….   Suck city!  So the first day we did not plan any shore excursions so we just hung around the ship and relaxed and read.  Not a bad way to spend the day but being in the city center and watching the life on the river like our last cruise was not to be this time.  Day two in “Saigon” we had an excursion to the Mekong River.  This was supposed to be about a 6 hour trip including lunch.   However because of where we ended up docking this was now a 10 hour trip with mostly ass time on a bus.  The actual excursion was OK but not exactly as advertised.  However the lunch as very good and we enjoyed the Vietnamese food very much!   Beth will post some photos of this excursion a bit latter.

At 4:00 PM on Monday March 28 we left Vietnam for a passage to Singapore, where we would arrive on Wednesday March 30th.    More to come.

 

19- March- 2016

19- March- 2016

Beth told you this was coming!  So enjoy!

We left Boston at around 6:45PM on 19-March-2016 starting essentially a 40 day circumnavigation of the earth.  The first flight was on American Airlines bound for LAX.  This first flight was a 7 hour non-stop flight that would get us into LAX at around 10:30 PM LAX time (1:30AM our body time).  When we decided to do this trip we also decided to take advantage of the business class upgrade that Oceania Cruises lines was offering.  As it turned out this was an excellent idea.  So the first leg was in AA First Class which actually for a US based airline is not bad.  Food was good, seat was comfortable and they have an excellent audio video system with a good sized screen in first class.

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Beth in First Class on AA

Upon arrival in LAX after a smooth flight we had our first real pleasant surprise at LAX.  As international flights leave from a different terminal than the domestic terminal you use to have to leave the secure area of the terminal and trot about a half mile to get to the international terminal.  Not a problem in the typical California weather and actually a good thing to get the blood flowing again, but since you have left the secure area of the terminal you have to go through security all over again.  This is a pain but for the flights going to the pacific region they all leave between 11:30 PM and 1:30 AM.  So this being LAX there are a lot of flights and the lines are very long!  I have experienced this twice in the last two years.  Once going to Australia and once going to Fiji.  These lines can take 3 hours, so the chance to miss you flight is very real!  However since we were flying business class there is a expedited line and this shorten the wait to about 1 hour.  Well LAX has finally joined the 21st century and built a link that allows you to stay in the terminals secure area, eliminating a additional security screen and a potential 3 hours in line.  So after a 15 minute walk we were ensconced in Cathy Pacific’s business class lounge with food and drink and comfortable seating a plenty for our 2 and a half hour layover.  Life is good.   At about 1:00 AM we walked to the gate and boarded our 15 hour flight to Hong Kong.  Now let me tell you Cathy Pacific’s business class is excellent!  Great seats- for sleeping and relaxing, good food and attentive staff.

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Beth in Business Class Cathy Pacific  –  see legroom does exist!

In all my travels my rating of airlines business class  places Singapore Airlines at #1, Cathy Pacific at #2, Qantas at # 3, Air Tahiti Nui #4, Fiji Airlines #5, Delta #10.

Well after 22 hours of flying we arrived in Hong Kong and had our second nice surprise.  Once we cleared Immigration, got all our bags, cleared Customs we were suppose to meet our pre-arranged hotel transport.  Coming out of the customs hall there was a guy with a sign that had out name on it.   Good start….  gets better- we were whisked out of the terminal into a waiting luxury van for our private transport to the hotel.  This was a bonus, as typically on a cruise you have to hang around the airport till everyone going to the pre-cruise hotel arrives.  In this case just us!

After a 25 minute drive from the airport we arrived at the beautiful Shangri-La hotel for our 3 night pre-cruise stay in Hong Kong.    So after travel for 5 days and losing a day somewhere in the Pacific Ocean we really needed a coffee and since our room was not ready yet (it was 8 AM after all), well go figure across the street was you guessed it was a Starbucks!

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Beth with first Starbucks coffee as you can see by the photo quality kevin really needed a coffee

So we dragged our jet lagged assess across the wet soggy street (did I mention it was raining very hard) and had a coffee and some breakfast!   Coffee always tastes better after traveling for days and days.  Then back to the hotel where Beth managed to convince the hotel staff to take pity on us and get us into a room so we could take a nap in a bead that was not moving.  Now the Shangri-La hotel in Kowloon is a stunning hotel.  Because we managed to get into a room before ours was ready we may have received a downgraded (not harbor view) room but it was a great room and had a great bed!  No complaints!

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Very comfortable room in Hong Kong

So we took a 2 hour nap and a shower then set out to see a soggy Hong Kong.  We came 3 day early because we wanted to spend some quality time in Hong Kong.  We have been here before and always wanted to return.  However our 3 day pre-cruise was going to be a wet and cold visit.   Most of what we were looking to do was outside.  So we changed plans and adapted to the wet weather!  All I’ll say is that we had have our share of high end shopping malls like nothing I have ever seen elsewhere in the world!  We did get some interesting good meals and recovered from jet lag in before getting on the ship.

Thursday March 24  –  Transfer to ship day!  So we showed up in the lobby at the appointed time and 600 or so of us were transfer to the ship by bus.  This took 15 minutes and we were aboard the Oceania Nautica in another 15 minutes.  Time for lunch in buffet.  Wow is all I can say!     At 4:30 we had the lifeboat drill then at 5:00 PM we set sail from Hong Kong China for 35 days till we arrived in Athens Greece!  So the sail away out of Hong Kong was spectacular if wet and cold.  But as we had a balcony cabin we could enjoy the passing city.  Next stop after a day at sea is Nha Trang, Vietnam.  I’ll do the next blog posting about our few days in Vietnam, so stay tuned!

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Foggy Hong Kong sky-line

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Foggy sail boat race start and a junk

Around the world in 40 Days

If you were wondering why we had no posts…  it is because we were off on another adventure; this time a circumnavigation of the globe…

We flew from Boston – LA – Hong Kong, spend 3 days in HK, then boarded the Oceania Nautica for a 35 day cruise from Hong Kong to Athens, before flying home Athens-Munich-Boston.  Wow.  Around the world in 40 days.

Ports visited:  Hong Kong, Nha Trang Viet Nam, Saigon Viet Nam, Phuket Thailand, Singapore, Yangon Burma, Cochin India, Mumbai India, Salalah Oman, Aqaba Jordan, Safaga Egypt, Haifa Israel, Rhodes Greece, Santorini Greece, Piraeus Athens.

Bodies of water transited (many on Kevin’s bucket list): South China Sea, Strait of Malacca, Andaman Sea, Bay of Bengal, Laccadive Sea, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Gulf of Suez, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea.

We saw many interesting places, some extremely DIRTY places, and some amazing places.  Lots of photos (over 1600 between the two of us) and lots of memories to jot down…

Here are a few teaser photos for you (from Beth)

Burma-Monk

Monk with mobile phone in Burma (Myanmar) Monastery

Petra-Camels

Camels for Hire at Petra, Jordan

Petra-Treasury

First view of the Treasury, Petra Jordan

 

Crossing the Atlantic

Cadiz

Sorry we haven’t been posting – lots of things going on and a trip across the Atlantic have kept us busy.  No… we didn’t do it on Autumn dream, she doesn’t have the legs (fuel capacity) or the capability to do Blue water cruising.  We did a transatlantic crossing on HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam.

I won’t go into too many details, just some of the high and low points.

High Point – flight to Barcelona on Alitalia Magnifica Class – we were able to snag seats using Kevin’s frequent flyer miles.  They are significantly better than flying on a US-based airline.

Low point – the ship was delayed 24 hours due to weather.  Being in Barcelona for an extra night was not bad, but being abandoned by HAL at a hotel with NO ROOMS after spending the entire day waiting in the cruise terminal was a low point.  After more than an hour standing in the lobby of the Melia, and rather terse conversations with the HAL rep, we finally got transferred to another hotel by taxi (finally checked in at 8:30pm).  The day was a waste.

High points – stops in Cadiz, Alicante, and Malaga.  All wonderful places to visit.

Low points- we missed our stop in the Azores- one of the main reasons for choosing this particular cruise.  We also caught a miserable cold from ‘someone’ and were sick in bed for most of the crossing.

Overall we had a good time; we met some nice people- including the man who designed the Hot Wheels logo, and the executive director for the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus.

Since then we have been busy working on Autumn Dream.  Kevin will be posting on the progress of the damper plate replacement.

Fiji – Would I go Again NO, unless…….

Day one (sort of):    Bula!!!!

Recently the Admiral and I had a chance to visit the stunning island nation of Fiji.  After flying for 600 hours from Boston to Nadi Fiji and losing a day somewhere over the Pacific ocean we arrived at 6AM into the hot, humid, partly cloudy Fiji morning,  (Ok it was only 18 hours of flying plus another 4 hours of layovers at LAX) and were greeted with cold towels, cold water and two beautiful flower leis.   As part of our arrangement we have transportation provided from the Nadi airport to the Sofitel Denarau resort hotel for a two night pre cruise stay.  Although we arrived at the hotel at about 8AM they had our room ready and we had a quick check-in and were escorted to the room.  All the rooms are ocean view and ours was no exception, except that we were on the third floor and we had palm trees partially blocking our view.  However this was not a problem at all.   The room was clean and comfortable but not what I would consider a 5 star resort, maybe 3 and a half.  There needs to be some maintenance but it was pleasant and the bed was good.  Well after the 6000 hours of flying we were a bit airplane lagged.  So we decided to take a short nap and set the alarm clock to wake us in an hour and a half.  After the nap it was time for lunch.  So in the spirit of exploration we decided to walk the mile or so from the hotel to the Denarau Marina complex to get the blood flowing and have some Fiji lunch.  We ended up at LuLu’s a restaurant right at the water edge overlooking the marina and the docks where we would in a few days get on the ship Fiji Princess.  Lunch was good and we experienced Fijian beer (good) and a different kind of French fries, made from cassava tuber verses potatoes.  These were great!  We have previously experienced cassava bread in the Caribbean island of St Lucia but never fries!

Then we wondered around the marina for a bit then back to the hotel.  That evening we ate dinner at the hotel water’s edge restaurant.  Not soo good but OK considering the airplane lag.

Sofitel Lobby

Sofitel Lobby

Leis

Leis

Room at the Sofitel

Room at the Sofitel

The view from our room

The view from our room

Day 2: (I think this was day 2)

Breakfast at the hotel buffet was included in the price so we ate there.  This was a welcome surprise compared to dinner the previous night.  Food was very good and coffee was surprisingly good for a hotel.    The rest of the day we kicked around the resort and in the evening we went back to the Marina and Lulu’s for dinner.  We returned to Lulu’s because as part of the package we had a $150.00 Fijian credit at Lulu’s.  We had a nice dinner and wonderful chocolate dessert.  Unfortunately we did not manage to spend all the money, so they insisted that the admiral buy a tee shirt!  So she did :-).  We then had a nice walk back to the hotel.  So far airplane lag was held at bay, and we both slept through the night with minor issues.  Melatonin helps a lot with this!

Day 3: -10

Breakfast again and a good coffee at the hotel coffee shop!   Then re-pack and leave for the cruise ship around 1ish Fiji time.  It took a whole 5 minutes to drive to Denarau Marina and find the Fiji Princess check-in desk at the prescribed check-in time.   Since this is Fiji they were not ready to check anyone in yet and told us to come back in 30 minutes.  So we went and found a place for lunch.  In 40 minutes we wandered back to check-in and filled out some paperwork and they told us to come back in 20 to 30 minutes.

Remember this is Fiji so you have to think in Fiji time!   However as I travel frequently I have learned to just go with the flow.  So time is irrelevant here.  However after waiting for the necessary island time with rain delays we eventually boarded Fiji princess with our fellow travelers.

Fiji Princess

Fiji Princess

Fiji Princess Salon

Fiji Princess Salon

As soon as everyone as on board and settling into the dining room the boat left the marina without any fanfare and headed out!  While we were all sitting waiting for information we met Johne our “cruise director”.  He then proceeded to introduce the captains (yes we had about 4 captains) and the ship’s master, then we received the required safety drill in a Fijian style.  We were introduced to our bartender Tony (Have to keep priorities straightJ) and the rest of the crew and the trip was on!

So began 7 days of mostly sunny, stunning, hot, beautiful weather,  crystal clear water containing 365 shades of blue, and around every turn another beautiful stereotypical tropical South Pacific beach with palm trees and sandy beaches!

Typical view!

Typical view!

I won’t bore you with each day’s details as I do not possess the language skills to accurately describe the beauty we saw but I will make some comment about the ship the crew and fellow passengers.  I am posting some photos but they can only provide a hint of this place.

Crew:

The crew is made up of all local people.  They were all very capable and very welcoming.  Their personalities and attitude made up for any shortfall in the quality of the ship, service or food.  They made you laugh all the time and they were always laughing and joking among themselves (probably about all the sunburned passengers).  They were always willing to talk to the guests and did what they could to accommodate requests. The Ships Master was  involved in everything from driving the ship, operation a tender, being a tour guide, leading snorkeling trips, feeding sharks, handling sea snakes, making (and drinking) kava, singing and playing guitar, an cleaning the ship’s hull.  He led the crew by example and nothing was too trivial for him.  Plus he was just a nice guy!  The rest of the crew was just as involved in everything.

The Bollywood nite Men

The Bollywood nite Men

The Admiral and Johne

The Admiral and Johne

The Bollywood nite "Women"

The Bollywood nite “Women”

Ship:

This ship is small, so don’t think you’ll have the accommodations of a 5000 passenger typical cruise ship.  You will be sadly disappointed.  The cabins are small but comfortable.  The AC worked well in the cabins.  The cabins are the only place that is air conditioned.  The heads or Vale lailai (bathroom for my land lubber friends) in the cabin are, shall we say, small.  This is a wet head.  Read no shower curtain.  When you take a shower everything gets wet.  But the water is hot, plentiful and you can take a good shower!   Only complaint is there are no stowage bins or drawers for anything that you don’t want to hang up.  So stuff kinda gets all over the cabin.  But hey minor issue.  You’re on vacation!

Food:

This is not a trip about food.  Typically any fish dish was very good.  Meat was always too well done for my liking.  Veggies… well there were not too many of them but the fruit was usually great!  Once again all short falling was more than made up for by the crew and their fantastic attitude and unending smiles.  We always had more food than you could ever want or need, and there were some interesting local foods but always something you would want to eat.  Breakfast was an interesting affair and the only meal that was served to you, all else was buffet style.  This worked well.  At around 7:30 Fiji time over the ships loudspeaker system Johne would come on and say “Vinaka levu it is now time for breakfast”.  Forget sleeping in :-).  He would announce all meals and happy hour!   This although it may sound annoying was actually great!

Bar:

As expected the bar was the hub of ship activity around happy hour!  When we would arrive Tony would say “here are the Americans”.   He said this every day because we were the only folks from the USA on the ship, there were other Americans on the ship but they were from the other America… Canada LOL.  First time on vacation where we were the only folks from USA.  This was kind of fun and made for interesting conversations!  By the way Tony makes a good Bombay Sapphire and tonic for those hot evenings under the Fijian skies.

Fellow travelers:  (seven dayers)

OK going back to the title of this post…. Fiji  –  Would I go Again   NO, unless……. unless I had a chance to travel with these great fellow travelers again.   Fiji is quite a stretch for us from New England to get there and not without some level of pain and suffering (even in Business Class of Fiji Airways 60000 hours of flying is a long time).  However this was one of the most interesting and fun loving group of fellow travelers we have ever been fortunate enough to travel with.  We have in the past made good friends on other cruises and we value their friendship and we are still in touch with them and there probably reading this blog entry now feeling insulted (please don’t feel insulted), but this as a group of travelers was an incredible experience.  We never laughed so much in a week and enjoyed the company of the entire group.  If this group ever came together again on a trip I would fly half way around the world to join them.   We have the great joy of meeting folks from Australia, New Zealand,  Germany,  and folks from next door in Canada.  I will say this…. These fellow travelers were interesting, welcoming and knew how to have a good time.  No one was stuck-up or thought they were better than anyone else including their interaction with the crew.  I won’t go into the things I’m sure we have all seen with how some fellow passengers will mistreat the crew.  This attitude does not go over very well with me.  I have been known to make a comment or two over the years to fellow passengers who have spoken down to the crew as if they were their servants.  They are not.  They are hard working people trying to make a living, in the service sector.  I’ll stop my rant here, and repeat again that I did not see this attitude from any of my fellow passengers to the crew.  I heard a ton of Bula’s and Vinaka’s through the trip (Hello and thank you) to the crew from the passengers for the crews assistance with all manner of request.  This was refreshing and a welcome change in behavior and this too makes me want to join this group of travelers again.  So if any of my fellow seven dayers are thinking of a reunion trip let us know we would love to go with you all!

OK I know some of our readers are saying what is a seven dayer.    Well Fiji Princess basically does a 3 day and a 4 day cruise.  If you chose to do these back to back you’re doing a 7 day cruise.  On this week we did our back to back 7 day cruise there were several other couples doing the same thing.  We became the 7dayers!

Conclusion:   Day 10

Hey where did the rest of the days go?   Well I did not plan to write a complete trip report just the highlights.  The photos in the blog speak for themselves and really say much better than I can how Fiji is.  Once again come back to the title of this blog    Fiji  –  Would I go Again   NO, unless…….     you know my answer but I feel I need to add a bit more.  IF you have Fiji on your bucket list and have burning desire to see this beautiful friendly set of south sea’s islands with you own eyes,  I would say go ahead and go to Fiji, you won’t be disappointed.   If you’re only thinking that it would be nice to go to Fiji I would say save your money and go to Hawaii.  If you looking for a little more off the beaten path adventure Tahiti I think is prettier still than Fiji, but more expensive and about the same flight time from LA.  However last time we were there the reefs were much better from all aspects and I think they are a bit greener!  I like green lush islands.  Fiji is green and lush but not as green and lush as Tahiti.  So there you have it, one man opinion and you all know about opinions…….

Oh about day 10 we all sadly got our sorry butts off Fiji Princess and started on the next legs of our adventure in life.  Some of our fellow 7 dayers were going to stay in Fiji for another week and set off for other islands and resorts.  I think we were all a little saddened to say good bye to one another and the crew of Fiji Princess.   For the admiral and I, we had taken a day room back at the Sofitel resort  till our flight left that evening for LAX.  At about 6:30 PM local tine we were picked up at the resort and transported to Nadi international airport.  There we had one more interesting thing happen to us.  Let me back up to 6:00 PM at the grand lobby of the Sofitel.  While we were checking out there was a large group of what turned out to be Americans who were getting on two buses and heading to the airport.  I could tell they were Americans, and I leave it at that.  However they we obviously on some kind of a tour program.  I noticed that they were with Collette Guided Tours, which is actually headquartered in a town about 20 klicks from our home.   So at 6:10 there buses left for the same airport we were going to.  I thought ugg we’ll all be checking in at the same time and going through security.  What a mess.   Anyway we arrived at the airport about 20 minutes after they did, but being a tour group they we kept together and since we were traveling business class they were not in our check-in line.  Fortunately for us, as even as business class travelers it took 15 minutes to check in,  remember we’re in Fiji….    Anyway while waiting for the next available attendant to check us in we were talking to the tour leader  who for some reason was in the business class line with us,  anyway as we were talking to him he asked us where we were from, since he knew we were going to LAX.  We said we come from a small town south of Boston, MA that he probably would not know of.  He pushed us a bit more by saying that he too came from a small town south of Boston…   Well as you can imagine he was from our town and leading this tour group.  Small world.  We have to go all the way to Fiji to meet neighbors!  Anyway we checked in, went through Fiji immigration and what stands for security in Nadi International Airport and soon we were on our way back to America!  We left Fiji at 10:30 PM on Friday and landed in LAX at 11:30 AM the same day, arriving before we left Fiji . 🙂    have to love the International Date Line.  I end this here.

Vacation video preview…

Last post I talked about our trip to Fiji….and mentioned the fun group of people we were with on the Fiji Princess.  Ben seemed to be everywhere, either with his SLR or a go-pro, taking photos and videos.  At the end of the trip, he said he would put together a DVD and send it to all of us.  Today he sent us a link to youtube… to the “preview”.  …  I hope you enjoy it! https://youtu.be/TGKlUbGzvkQ

Kevin has prepared his thoughts on the trip- we are now sorting thru photos and hope to post that in a few days.

Other random thoughts… We borrowed quite a few e-books from the library (for our now obsolete Kindle Fire readers) that were quite good entertainment.

I highly recommend Peter Allison’s “Don’t look behind you” and “Whatever you do, don’t run!”  Both are entertaining and great when you don’t want to think too hard…  Great airplane and beach reads.  I also enjoyed Elmore Leonard’s “Glitz”.  His books are great if you are a fan of mystery/noir (think “Get Shorty”, “52 Pickup”, and many more).

Last Baguette in Fiji

Sorry we haven’t posted in a while…  Last Saturday (March 28) we returned home from a fantastic 10 days in Fiji – after over 30 hours of traveling…. a bit worn out and jet-lagged, but tanned and happy.

A big BULA! to all the wonderful “7 day” people who were on the Blue Lagoon Fiji Princess cruise with us.  A fantastic group of people, who made our vacation one to remember.  I don’t recall laughing continuously for so long… ever!

Also Vinaka Vaka levu to the crew of Fiji Princess – you couldn’t ask for nicer people, always laughing and smiling, who made the experience exceptionally relaxing.  We had no idea what day it was, and it was all over before we knew it.

Somewhere in Fiji

Somewhere in Fiji

The photo above is a teaser of the clear turquoise waters and mostly empty islands we visited.

Below is what we woke up to on Sunday Morning in Somerset.  Most folks said it was payback for enjoying the South Pacific for 2 weeks.

Yes, More Snow!

Yes, More Snow!

Would we go back again?  hmmm, well…. probably not.  We had a great time and have absolutely no complaints.  We are thrilled we were able to go, and enjoyed everything about it…but it was such a long trip, we are not sure it would be worth the cost and time to do it again.  If you want to go to Fiji, definitely go.

Fiji is not “Polynesia”.  If you want “Polynesian”, you are better off going to Hawaii or Tahiti.

And the meaning behind the title of this entry?  On our last day we spent the day at the Sofitel.  They have a nice little French cafe (the Parisienne), and the prices are fair – especially for a resort hotel.  We went there for lunch (sandwiches) and I happened to get the LAST baguette.  There were no more.  Other people came after and asked, and were sadly informed… no more baguettes today.  So technically, it was the last Baguette at the Sofitel, not all of Fiji…. but that just isn’t as catchy, (or kitschy)

We did get to Autumn Dream this past weekend and are in the process of pulling out her leaky starboard water tank.  NOT an easy task, 2 days so far and not yet free…  we have to disconnect lots of other stuff first.  More boat work will be discussed in the next blog entry (yah yah I have promised that many times before)…