Contributor, Mary Alyce, and her husband Jim are currently on board the Zaandam doing a San Diego to Hawaii round trip. Mary Alyce is a frequent cruiser, have clocked in over 500 cruise days, with as many as 5 or 6 cruises a year, most often on Holland America Line. She was gracious enough to send us the following report.
We started our trip in San Diego with a great trolley tour around town. We explored Coronado Island and Old Town where we sampled the great restaurants and different tastes.
We boarded the Zaandam on Saturday with 6 six friends. It was a very rough two days as we beat out a storm and major swells. Everyone fared very well and made all the meals. We have been very lucky at trivia we have won two, tied one, and lost one. The sun has been hiding although yesterday we were able to spend time on the Sports deck soaking up some rays.
Today we were in Hilo on the Big Island. We took the local bus (free) and did a circle tour of the city. The tour included Richardson State Park where we watched the surf roll into land. Across the island, the surfers were out in full force today enjoying the big waves brought by the stormy weather. Then we visited downtown Hilo and the U of H, Hilo campus and then headed back to the ship for lunch and a scheduled ship’s tour of the local waterfalls.
The rain picked up and the waves were the highest they had seen in a while. They had to close the beach road because the waves were swamping it. However the rain made for strong and beautiful waterfalls. We were drenched after the last fall. The rain poured down as we headed back to the ship but we ducked into a shop where were able to order Hilo coffee and some local honey and had them sent home.
Last night, for formal night we were hosted by the event manager Travis and his wife the party planner Kristy. We have traveled with them before and had a great time with them. Tomorrow we will be in Honolulu and have a full day of activities planned. We hope it does not rain, but we have umbrellas in case.
The day started with a welcome Hula and serenade as we sailed into port at the Aloha towers. What a picturesque scene as the sun was rising over Diamond Head and the mountains were covered with mist. A ride on the Hilo Hattie shuttle took us to the Waikiki beach shuttle. The open air trolley was a great way to see the sites and the abundant, magnificent hotels, flowers and greenery. The beach was jammed with people and surfers. The water was relatively calm after yesterday’s huge waves at the Big Island.
After the beach, we decided to visit the Costco which we fount to be totally different from our stores on the contiguous states. The food court is outside and very crowded. They many Hawaiian items like shirts and food. In the afternoon we strolled to Hawaii Pacific University and Chinatown. The ladies found some $4 leis, which they sported tonight at dinner. The leis are made from orchids, tuber roses and a lovely orange flower with red center of which no one remembers the name.
We head to Kauai tomorrow and 3 of us are going on a trip called tubing the ditch.
Today we had a big disappointment, as there were flash flood warnings on the island and we could not tube the big ditch. The other ladies went choose another tour, a visit to Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. They said it was spectacular but they arrived home in a big rainstorm. The rest of us spent the day chasing chickens around Hilo Hatties and Walmart. Both stores have a free shuttle, and provide, what I think, are the high points of shopping on every island.
The chicken and roosters were let loose during the hurricanes in the 80’s. They are sort of like pets but we head that they are not edible because their diet makes them very tough. The island recipe for soup is “catch a wild chicken put it in a pot with a stone and vegetables, boil for days, then take out the chicken and eat the stone vegetable soup.” The stone will be more tender than the chicken.
We hoped to enjoy to the beach but the red flags were flying. The ocean was extremely rough and the water was murky not good for swimming, so we went to the bar. There was lightning and thunder, which is really rare, they tell us. Aren’t we lucky to experience all these rare occurrences?
It was really rough leaving the port but has now settled down as we are head to Maui. It is a tender port and could be a rough ride to town.
Thanks to all our friends who prayed for good weather, it was a great day in lovely Lahaina, sun and sand and great times. We explored the village and walked under the 150 yr old banyon tree and enjoyed an art fair with great music. We walked along the ocean and some of us put our feet in the sapphire blue waters. We had beverages at Hard Rock and lunch at the Lahaina Yacht Club, great fish & chips, and fish sandwiches. They were very nice to us as we were reciprocal guests from our yacht club. We watched the kids have sailing lessons in the Scotsmen and enjoyed watching them have a great time on the water. It was a day you dream of in Hawaii. After all the walking and sightseeing, we are ready to enjoy a quiet dinner and then head to the pool party on the Lido deck. Oh, by the way, you can thank us for leaving and giving Michigan sun and mild temps.
We had a warm sunny day in Kona where we explored the local coffee places and enjoyed the breezes from the ocean. Since this was our final day on the islands, we had to have a margarita at the beach bar and go to the ABC stores, “tacky gifts heaven”. We then took the Walmart shuttle to see the view from their parking lot. It is magnificent. You can see the whole bay, the ship, all the great flowers and greenery. We then went swimming in the very cool but refreshing ocean. The ladies went snorkeling and met a sea turtle up front and personal.
Back on the ship, we won trivia today, so our score is pretty good for the cruise. For dinner tonight the asst. executive chef made chicken curry for the table. It was incredible. Tonight we cruise the volcano and hope to see the hot lava flowing. Aloha as we set sail for home.
We had a bumpy ride over the Pacific today but it has quieted down this evening. We had the Mariner Society(returning Holland America Sailors) luncheon today and we received our gold medallion, for 500 days on HAL. We had lunch with Officers of the ship and the Captain presented our medallion. It was fun time enjoyed by us and our friends traveling with us. We then enjoyed a sunny breezy day at sea. We won trivia, again, today so we have lots of HAL souvenirs. A friend and I then enjoyed tea and some of the ladies enjoyed bingo. One lady has won bingo twice so far. We now enjoy some down time until we arrive in Ensanada,Mexico. Anyone need vanilla? Happy sails to you until we meet again.
The moderate swells in the Pacific are really testing our balancing skills. They are 7-10 ft high and have the ship doing lurches every few minutes. However, we have all adjusted well and are staying on our feet. We had a sunny day at sea with lots of fun projects around the ship. The pool was like a wave pool and by afternoon they deemed it dangerous and closed it. Tonight was the chef’s dinner and chocolate extravaganza. It is amazing to see all the decorated pastries and cakes. The bakers on board are really talented. We only finished second at trivia today. Tomorrow the on board florist will be demonstrating some neat flower arrangements. His first program was interesting and gave a lot of helpful hints. One of our favorite entertainers, magician John Eakin performed tonight. It was fun to see and talk to him again as this is the 4th time we’ve sailed with him. The entertainment on this ship has been really good.
We had a smoother day today, but tonight things are rolling around. It was a sunny day and the balcony had a lot of use. We enjoyed a mimosa party with the champagne from our travel agent. We then went to a question and answer session with a few selected travelers to give input to the company and give suggestions. It was informative and interesting. The food has been very good on this trip. Lots of new dishes and interesting desserts. A diet will be on our schedule when we return home. They had a couple of good cooking lessons today, curry and crepe Suzette. I guess I may have to get out the pans at home and try some of these recipes.
We had a beautiful morning clear skies, sun and smooth seas. We enjoyed the morning resting and reading. Jim did a bit at the gym, I put up my feet and read a few chapters. I figure exercising my brain counts for something. We seldom use the elevators and walk the stairs for exercise.
We had lunch at the Pinnacle with all our friends traveling with us and our friends from the ship, Travis, event manager,Kristy, party planner and Joanne the future cruise consultant. It was a fun time and really good food and the captain and hotel manager comped us our wine. They forgot to ask us to the VIP cocktail party so they treated us to 3 bottles of wine. Tonight was Helene’s birthday so we had a great meal steak, lobster, escargot and strawberry mousse birthday cake. Lots of singing by the crew as we celebrated at the table. Tonight is the black and white ball. You can dance with the officers on the ship. Time to go dance!!
We had a sunny last day at sea. We enjoyed cooking with the cruise director and learning how to make vegetable animals, a penguin from an eggplant, a watermelon carved to look like a rabbit, and dough figures of bugs, butterflies and flowers. We finished 2nd at trivia and there was a great show in the afternoon with 3 of the performers. They also have had some good movies on the ship including Julie and Julia. We went to mass before dinner and then said good bye to our great dining room crew, Ulises, Soleh, Radi and Geffery. We could not have requested a better group to serve us. It was truly a fun cruise with a great crew. After dinner we docked in Ensanada, Mexico. We debarked to the tune of many seals in the harbor. We shopped in the terminal and bought the requested vanilla. We also had to taste the Margaritas. We tracked the seal sounds but could not get close enough for pictures. As we head to San Diego we have great memories and lots of fun times with our friends to reflect upon.