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Seven Seas Mariner Hawaii-Tahiti Cruise, Days 13-15

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This is entry #4 of Snookums' journal of our Hawaii-Tahiti cruise, covering days 13-15.
The previous journal entry is here.
The next journal entry is here.
The home page of the cruise journal web site is here.

April 30 (Sunday, Day 13)

We crossed the equator around 8 AM today. Filbert filled up the sink and we watched the water go straight down.

Cruise Ship Investigations
We wore our CSI shirts that Filbert’s sister made for us. The black t-shirts say “Cruise Ship Investigations” on the back and “CSI” on the front. Based on our December experience, she felt that we needed them for this cruise. Lots of guests and crew got a good laugh and we got some good pictures “inspecting” various facilities on board.

At 1:00 there was a King Neptune celebration to turn crewmembers that hadn’t previously crossed the equator from pollywogs to shellbacks. There were six or seven crew people that ended up getting smeared with all sorts of food and then each of them had to kiss a huge dead fish (KISS THE FISH!) and then jump into the pool. Amazingly enough, Giuseppe, the Hotel Director, had never crossed the equator before. He’s been sailing for 12 years but has only gotten as far south as Panama. So, it was kind of neat seeing a very distinguished-looking gray haired guy get the same treatment as the younger folks. This cruise only takes place every two years so I can see why it’s a big deal to cross the equator. When the celebration was over, the pool had a slime of spaghetti and meat sauce, bratwursts, eggs, dessert mousses and other food items in it and it was disgusting! But, the whole thing was cleaned and ready for swimming less than two hours later. The crew sure does a good job of keeping the ship neat and orderly.

May 1 (Monday, Day 14)

Filbert attended an astronomy lecture and a Captain Bligh lecture regarding the Mutiny on the Bounty. He said that both of them were good.

We ate outside for lunch, during which we passed under a tropical rain shower. Everyone (including me) ducked under cover, but Filbert just sat in his chair with his arms folded across his chest as if he was just daring it to continue raining. Everyone was laughing at him and he egged them on, of course. After about 5 minutes it stopped and everyone returned to sunny seats. Filbert is definitely getting a reputation for being the goofy guy on board the ship!

According to the ship’s newspaper, there was to be an ice cream social. I was looking for the ice cream and finally asked the Mark, the maitre d’ where it was. He said there wasn’t one and I said there was and we looked in the ship’s newspaper and his face turned ashen and he apologized profusely and got me my ice cream right away. Then I’m sure he got on the phone to figure out how the screw up happened! It was a completely different reaction than what we got in December on Voyager so there was no problem at all.

We went to the casino for the third time and once again, no one was playing at the blackjack tables. I refuse to play blackjack with just us (we lose our money too fast that way) so instead we played $.25 video blackjack for about 30 minutes. We ended up losing $3 so we didn’t feel too bad.
Veal medallions with Roquefort gratin
For dinner we went to Signatures which is the “sanctioned” Le Cordon Bleu restaurant (there are only two like that and the other one is, coincidentally, on the Voyager). We had a fussy (in a good way) French meal and the veal medallions with Roquefort gratin were outstanding (as was everything else). We ate with Ted and Kathie--the people we talked to on the first day of the cruise while standing outside of the boutique for about 15 minutes. Ted left Poland as a WWII refugee at the age of three. After another three years in Romania, he immigrated with his family to Canada since the US had used up its Polish quota. They are happily retired in California. Ted has two hobbies: he’s a painter (and it sounds like he is a pretty good painter) but his other hobby is more unique. He is building a scale model of a Polish 7TP tank that was used in WWII. He is into metal fabrication and used an old file cabinet for some of the metal parts and is friends with someone that had some metal he could use for the armor parts, etc., etc. When it’s all said and done, it will be about 2 feet long and weigh about 25 pounds and will have taken three years to make and will be “museum quality”. He doesn’t have any patterns or anything but is just doing it based on research.

After dinner we changed into sensible clothes (shorts and tennis shoes) and attended the star gazing party on the top deck. The astronomer was there and we saw the Southern Cross, the Milky Way and Jupiter. The night was cloudless so all of the stars were easy to see.

May 2 (Tuesday, Day 15)

We woke up early hoping to see dolphins as we cruised into Bora Bora (population 9,000). We had a continental breakfast in the Observation Lounge of Raisin Bran (Filbert) and Sugar Smacks (Snookums). After waiting for about three hours, it was apparent that the dolphins weren’t coming to play with the ship’s bow waves. Oh well. We dropped anchor around 10 AM and immediately got on the tender for our shore excursion.

Our coral preservation and snorkeling shore excursion was with a Ph.D. coral preservationist. He is transplanting stressed coral to the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort and making it grow. He approached the resort management around 8 years ago and pointed out that the overwater bungalows ($600/night) were simply looking down at sand. They said “yes” to him starting a coral “nursery” there and now each bungalow has a little coral reef under it and the guests can see lots of colorful fish. We were in waist deep water the whole time so no fins were needed. We got to see a lot of great fish and all sorts of different kind of coral. While we were in the water, he lectured a lot, but Filbert and I swam away and looked on our own. It was great snorkeling in very warm water. We finished with a drink around the resort’s infinity swimming pool and took the little boat ride back to the tender.

Filbert and I figured we were already hot and sweaty so we walked about 1 mile and ran across two grocery stores. Bora Bora only has these two! We didn’t buy anything (and didn’t see anything too weird) but we wonder why it seems like all the other countries in the world do NOT refrigerate their eggs yet the U.S. does?
Filbert & Snookums and the Paul Gauguin
We walked back to the tender dock and when we got onboard, there was a couple we didn’t recognize. It ended up that Mike and Terry were from the MS Paul Gauguin (a 200 passenger Regent ship that basically island hops around French Polynesian islands) and were coming to our ship to check it out. It’s a rare occurrence for two Regent ships to be at the same port so we got to visit their ship and vice versa. We played tour guide for them and took them to our cabin and the rest of the ship. Then they took us to the Paul Gauguin. Their ship was much smaller and since it basically just does 7-day cruises in and out of Papeete, Tahiti, Filbert and I don’t think we’ll ever cruise on it.
Bora Bora
While getting on the tender to come back to our ship, there were two younger guys waiting. (I later found out that the younger one is one year younger than me.) I assumed they were crewmembers since I thought I was the youngest on board and since I hadn’t seen them before. It turns out that not only are they passengers that have been on since San Francisco, but that one of them is our travel agent for this cruise! He couldn’t tell me he was coming on this cruise so when we met them on the tender he gave us his middle name. Then, later that night we were talking our friend and mentioned these two young guys that we had just met. Bill then told us that it was our travel agent. To make a long story short, Bill convinced Dave, the travel agent that it would be okay for us to know that he was on board and now we know everyone by the right names! Dave didn’t want us to know he was on board for two reasons. One was that he knew we had a bad travel experience on our last Regent cruise and didn’t want to have to deal with us if this was a bad one, too, since this was his vacation. Second, travel agents aren’t allowed to solicit business while on ships so he’s keeping his profession a secret from everyone. (Don’t worry, Regent, Dave didn’t talk business to us once, although we gave him a bit of good-natured abuse about his attempt to hide his identity.)

Tonight we had the dancers from the Paul Gauguin join our ship until our Nuku Hiva stop so we watched the Polynesian dancers on the pool deck do various Polynesian dances. The women are very beautiful and really can move their hips and butts like no one else! They remind me of belly dancers or hula dancers, yet the Polynesian dancers have 6-pack abs whereas those other kinds of dancers always seem to be kind of thick around the middle.

Then they showed the movie “South Pacific” under the stars. It was kind of neat since this ship is not set up to do any kind of outside movie viewing. But, the cruise director had figured out a way to project the movie onto the canvas that was hiding some work area on the pool deck and they set up the chaise lounges and popped popcorn. We didn’t watch it since it started at 10:30, but it was a neat set up.

Filbert commented at dinner that this was his best cruise day ever. The snorkeling was top notch and the carrot ginger soup at dinner was excellent (we even requested the recipe) and the whole travel agent “incognito” thing was just too funny. Anyway, he proclaimed it his best ever cruise day and I think it will be hard to top.