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Seven Seas Mariner Hawaii-Tahiti Cruise, Days 4-8

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This is entry #2 of Snookums' journal of our Hawaii-Tahiti cruise, covering days 4-8.
The previous journal entry is here.
The next journal entry is here.
The home page of the cruise journal web site is here.

April 21 (Friday, Day 4)

I woke up this morning when Filbert’s sleep apnea machine crashed to the floor around 5 AM due to the waves! Then, the captain came on at 6:11 AM and announced “Code blue staff to hospital”. This was repeated at 6:25 PM so I figured I would just get up. Filbert was already out of the cabin since he wanted to see us dock at 7 AM in San Francisco. I was hearing a noise that I thought was the crew hosing down the decks, but instead it was a Coast Guard helicopter!! It was lowering a man to the deck of the ship. I threw on clothes so I could get a better view than what I was seeing from our balcony. I went upstairs one deck to the top and found a lot of people there. The sick woman was bundled up and was being put on a helicopter basket and then they raised her up to the hovering helicopter. The ship was traveling around 7 knots at this time and its fastest is 21 knots which is what we had been going since the time we turned back to San Francisco. The ship’s crew members on Fire Detail were all decked out in firemen gear, including smoke inhalation mask things, and they were standing outside on the deck ready to act in case of a helicopter crash. The hospital staff was outside, too, with the woman. They got the woman up and then the guy that had come down and after about 40 minutes total, the helicopter took off from its long-time hovering.

The Evac
Then a private tug boat type of boat came on the other side of the ship to pick up the woman’s friend and their luggage. That was kind of exciting, too, since the seas were rough and watching the woman get helped down the tender steps onto a makeshift platform and then onto this private boat was kind of scary. At one point, the little boat banged into the makeshift platform and three crewmembers almost ended up in the water – really. It was all over at 7:07 AM and we went and found breakfast. We never docked in San Francisco (and there were some people thinking we would need to in order to get fuel) and now we’re on our way back to Honolulu. We first left San Francisco at 7 PM on Tuesday and were supposed to dock in Honolulu on Sunday at noon. Now we left San Francisco again around 7 AM and who knows when or where we’ll next stop!!! It will be interesting to see if any of this makes Fox or CNN!

It’s sunny but only 54 outside and the seas are kind of rough (the exercise class using exercise balls was changed to an abdominal class since you can’t use a ball when the ship is rocking back and forth).

We had a great galley tour since there were just seven of us plus the executive chef, Cornel. The executive chef is in charge of all five restaurants so he doesn’t actually do any “hands on” cooking. The tour was at 4 PM so we saw the calm before the storm of the evening’s service. Chefs were chopping green peppers and plating the leek terrine (one of the appetizers for the night). Another chef was making 2,000 hors d’oeuvres and he basically does that every day, all day long, since they pass around trays of them in the bars before dinner every night.

When we returned to our room after dinner, we had the revised itinerary. Kauai, Hilo and Fanning Island are being cut out of our trip. We will get to our first port, Honolulu, on April 26 (rather than April 23 as planned). Filbert and I really wanted to see Fanning Island (Republic of Kiribati) since stopping there would have had us crossing the International Date Line and would have allowed us to see an inhabited island without electricity. Oh well. Rumor has it that the captain, Jean-Marie Guillou, has been trying to get to Fanning Island for three years but something always comes up and he has to cancel. He has friends there. We figure he must be cursed because he’s not going to make it there this year, either.

Regent is giving each passenger $150 shipboard credit which means we now have $1950 to spend on the ship! They are also giving each passenger $500 off a future cruise. The unbelievable thing is that there has been NO grumbling on the ship about missing some of the ports. I guess it’s because just about everyone on this ship has been to all the ports multiple times (except us, of course).

April 22 (Saturday, Day 5)

This morning we had a tour of the bridge with eight other people. We learned that every kind of injury – even a broken arm – has to get reported to the local governing body (like the Coast Guard when sailing near the U.S.). So, when the woman had her heart episode, the Coast Guard was notified and since her condition was so unstable, they said that we had to turn around and dock at San Francisco. Her condition finally stabilized which allowed the Coast Guard to fly out and meet us and take her off the ship. This saved us at least five hours since we didn’t have to continue all the way to San Francisco and go through the docking process.

The Blue Pacific
Filbert has been watching the laysan albatrosses from our balcony. He got a book from the library on seabirds and narrowed the variety of albatross to the Laysan family! They are found between the U.S. and Hawaii and follow cruise ships for the galley waste. There seem to be three of them. They just fly alongside the ship and then make swooping turns to the water, but they haven’t gone in the water yet (on the port side anyway).

Filbert bought an island print silk shirt to use up more of our shipboard credit. It looks very nice on him. I think we have now bought everything we can possibly buy and even the art doesn’t interest us. We’ll have to figure out another use for our shipboard credit. Oh, the problems we have…

At dinner tonight, one of the headwaiters (Horatiu) came over and asked us if we had sailed before. It turns out he remembered us from the December Voyager cruise. He also happened to deliver room service coffee to us about three days ago and remembered our cabin number from that delivery. I can only think that as VIPs, our pictures and cabin number are posted everywhere since everyone seems to know us. I remember him from the Voyager (and he remembered Mom and Dad, too), but I can’t remember if I ever got mad at HIM. I don’t think I did, but I might have told him about an unpleasant dining experience we had during the December cruise. Oh well. I don’t think I did anything to him to get him mad at us, that’s for sure. While we were talking to him we mentioned the fabulous Indian dinner that they made special for us on Voyager and he said that do that here, too. So, we ordered it for Sunday’s dinner.

After dinner we went to the magic show and Filbert was invited on stage to help! He participated in two acts. The first was where Filbert held a cane in front on him and the magician, Mark Haslam, tied a scarf around it and then tied it again and this time it was totally off the scarf. The amazing thing was that Filbert saw that the scarf was totally off the cane about 30 seconds before the magician let the audience see the “magic”, but Filbert still has no idea how the guy did it! Then, the magician had Filbert strap him into a straitjacket (ala Houdini) and got out of it. The magician picked a man from the audience since the straitjacket has a crotch strap and he knew that guys would be sympathetic to the cause and wouldn’t hurt him! Filbert was a natural on stage and had people in the audience (and the magician) laughing. People see him two days after and are still pointing him out as the magician’s helper.

April 23 (Sunday, Day 6)

We ordered room service for breakfast and got up at 6 AM to see the sunrise but it was cloudy out. Oh well, we still enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Then we went and had a hard workout.

Today was the first day where it’s been warm enough to go outside. We ate outside for lunch and it got hot! Finally, it’s in the 70s. At 2 PM the captain came on the loudspeaker and announced that we had made it to the point of no return so Hawaii, here we come!!!

The Internet satellite was down today (per Filbert). I guess I’ll try to send out another issue of this journal on Monday. I was going to play Bingo today, but one of the guests said that it was very boring – the caller just calls the number – so I decided not to.

The official Coast Guard statement came out today regarding the medivac operation:

“In a dramatic helicopter rescue, a U.S. Coast Guard crew in the San Francisco Bay evacuated a 68-year old woman having a medical emergency on a Hawaii-bound cruise shop Friday morning. The medical evacuation occurred about 10 miles outside the Golden Gate Bridge, Coast Guard officials said. The rescue began with a call of assistance Thursday from a medical team aboard the Seven Seas Mariner after a cruise passenger experienced a serious, undisclosed medical condition. The ship was about 600 miles southwest of San Francisco at the time. It had left its San Francisco port on Tuesday and was en route to Hawaii, Coast Guard officials said. Coast Guard personnel remained in contact with the medical team throughout Thursday and overnight. At about 6:30 Friday morning, a crew aboard a HH65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station San Francisco met the ship about 10 miles beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. A rescue swimmer was lowered on to the cruise ship to prepare the woman to be hoisted into the helicopter. She was then transferred to Stanford Medical Center and we are happy to report that her latest condition is stable.”

We later heard that she told the ship’s doctor that she wanted to stay on board and continue with the cruise!

Our Indian curry dinner tonight was outstanding. It was just the main course so we ordered our appetizers and salads from the normal menu but made sure to order light since we knew we would be getting a lot. And, boy oh boy, did we ever. We had rice, naan (Indian bread), lentil curry, chicken curry, shrimp curry and mushroom/green pea curry. They were all delicious and our mouths and lips were on fire for quite awhile. When Marinela, the sommelier, found out that we were having the special Indian dinner, she insisted that Filbert have her favorite wine http://www.dopff-irion.com/site.htm (Dopf and Irion’s Gewürztraminer) that goes with curry (and she even gave it to him complimentary). He agreed that it was a great pairing and asked her for the name, and she said she would send it in a note to our cabin.

It was amazing how each curry “gravy” tasted different. My personal favorite was the mushroom/pea curry with the chicken curry coming in a close second. Filbert’s least favorite was the lentil curry (and I agree with him on that). He thought the mushroom/pea curry was the spiciest and we both commented that the white meat chicken chunks were the biggest chunks of white meat chicken was had ever seen. Needless to say we both cleaned BOTH our plates (one plate was not big enough to hold what the waiter served so he got us each another plate for the shrimp curry). It was magnificent and we are definitely going to do that special order again and let them surprise us with the Indian dishes they want to make for us (except for no lamb and no eggplant).

April 24 (Monday, Day 7)

They gave us comment cards to fill out the other day and I let them know that the corned beef hash in the breakfast buffet was always cold but that all other aspects of the cruise were exceptional (because they were). Kylie, the Guest Relations Manager, wrote us a letter back thanking us for our comments about the corned beef hash. The letter was totally unexpected, but very nice. Then, this morning the headwaiter at the buffet asked if the corned beef hash was hot! So, I guess the comment cards really do get read (and if you write your name on them, expect to be asked about the “issue”)!

Filbert at La Veranda
I found out this morning that we can use our shipboard credit towards the purchase of a future cruise (and we don’t even have to buy it through Regent which is good since cruise lines are always more expensive than travel agents). So, that problem is solved. We’re going to go on the Panama Canal cruise in 2007 and Mom and Dad are coming with us. I plan on booking it while in Hawaii (cell phones can be used so I’ll be able to call around then for best prices), or at least before we disembark in San Francisco. The Mariner leaves from Ft. Lauderdale and disembarks at San Francisco.

The captain just announced that we’re going to get to Honolulu on April 25 at 7 PM rather than April 26 at 9 AM. Everyone is happy to hear that since everyone, crew included, is going a little stir crazy from all of the days at sea. The casino and boutique staffs are especially happy since they have had lots more work hours due to the extra days at sea.

April 25 (Tuesday, Day 8)

We wrote two letters today for the outstanding service we have received. One was addressed to Giuseppe, the Hotel Director, and explained how good Evi is as a room stewardess. The other was addressed to Cornel, the Executive Chef, thanking him for the wonderful curry dinner. We hope that the appropriate people get kudos for their service.

We had a room service breakfast this morning and ended up not leaving the room until around 11 AM when we went to work out. We had the gym to ourselves so that was kind of neat. I guess most people either work out very early or in the afternoon.

I watched two movies on TV – “50 First Dates” and “Fight Plan”. I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for them, but they broke up the monotony of our 7th day at sea! (But, I’m not getting bored at all and neither is Filbert. We’re having fun!!!)

Diamond Head
We docked at Honolulu at 7 PM and Filbert enjoyed watching the harbor activities and the Honolulu airport from our balcony. The other side of the ship had to see the port building the whole time so we were lucky that our side (port) was the one facing the harbor and the HNL runway.

Tonight we were invited to eat dinner with the Mariner Club hosts. Since we used an American Express card to pay for the cruise, we were automatically enrolled in the Mariner Club which is some kind of “frequent cruising” program. The other six people at the table all knew each other from many previous cruises and it was fun listening to them talk about what happened to so and so from other cruises. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it seemed like they had each been on at least 30 cruises.