The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage, part 52

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage – Holland America Amsterdam, September 19-November 23, 2008

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Fifty-two

(November 18 (Tuesday, Day 64, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, Continued) –

After a nice dinner with our tablemates, we went to the crew show. There are two nationalities of crew: Indonesian and Filipino. Usually one of them performs a crew show towards the end of the cruise and then the other nationality performs at the end of the next cruise. Since this cruise was so long, both of them performed. The Filipino show was more ‘serious’ and cultural and Snookums preferred it while the Indonesian one was silly and Filbert preferred it.

Crew show:

More crew show pictures after the jump . . .

The Filipino one started with a Castanets dance (from the influence of Spain on the Philippines) of four men and four women and then a romantic duet song and the finale was a Tinikling dance which is where two men hold long sticks and bring them together and a man and a woman jump over them. It’s similar to double Dutch but with wood on the ground instead of jumpropes. Snookums is sure that there are lots of ankle bruises as the dancers learn to do it. It is definitely a high aerobic activity!

The Indonesian show started with a Saman dance (Welcome dance) of 15 men kneeling on the ground doing synchronized hand slaps and floor slaps and other body movements. They goofed up several times (not intentionally) and that was funny but no one got hurt. The next act was a monkey dance. The finale was the Angklung orchestra. Our waiter, Wawan, and assistant maitre ‘d (Juergen from Austria) were in it. As best we can tell, the angklung is a simple bamboo instrument that is shaken to create a certain sound. It was similar to a hand bell choir in that different parts of the group shook their angklungs at different times to make slightly different sounds. Music accompanied the angklungs and the last number was ‘God Bless America’ but it took us many beats to recognize the tune. The show ended at 11:30 and we went to sleep but not before moving our clocks forward one hour.

Next: Flea market at sea?

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage, part 51

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage – Holland America Amsterdam, September 19-November 23, 2008

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Fifty-one

November 17 (Monday, Day 63, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, Continued) –

After lunch Snookums showered and took the WalMart shuttle to get a watch battery while Filbert stayed in the cabin and worked on journal photos. The jewelry woman at WalMart showed Snookums that the battery was good and Filbert’s watch was bad so Snookums bought a new $17 Casio watch and took the shuttle back to the ship. She had her laptop with her and immediately went to Aloha Tower Marketplace and sat in the open-air atrium and used the free wifi. She sent Filbert an email and he responded that he was in the coffee shop using wifi so she moved inside. Filbert had to stay online until he heard the end of the SDSU vs. Wisconsin women’s basketball game and was very happy when SDSU beat Wisconsin by 20.

We went back to the ship and were soon greeted by a knock on the cabin door. The Neptune concierge was there and handed Filbert a bottle of wine and a notecard. The card said that the wine was for our inconvenience the other day. Filbert was puzzled until Snookums reminded him that our toilet had problems on November 14 and the plumber had to come 4 times, including twice when we were having our dinner party on the verandah. This plumbing problem didn’t make much of an impact on us since it didn’t even make it into the journal. But, if Holland America wants to apologize and give us a free bottle of wine, we’ll take it!

Filbert went to the Holland America ‘techspert’ since his XD cable wasn’t working and he couldn’t get his photos from his camera to his PC. The techspert had the necessary devices and Filbert was able to get back to work again.

While Filbert was getting his photos on his PC, Snookums went to the local hula show at 7 PM. Snookums thought the hula show was the best one she had ever seen. It was a group of 6 to 13-year olds and they had to audition to get selected to the troupe. Once selected, they practice every summer day from 8 AM to noon. The woman that started the hula studio in 1975 in her backyard also has 1,000 students in Japan and she was actually in Japan since she goes there every 6 weeks to oversee that school. Her Honolulu school is considered the best on the island and wins many awards. The group had three boys in it and the emcee said that originally hula was only done by men in preparation for battle (Snookums didn’t know that) but now females outnumber males about 50 to 1.

November 18 (Tuesday, Day 64, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii) –


More after the jump . . . We woke up at 7 AM when our alarm went off since our goal was to snorkel at Black Rock beach. We looked outside and saw the rain and noted the cool temperature and went back to bed. We woke up again at 11 AM when the cruise director was making an announcement about the tender. We decided we should get off the ship and at least step foot on Maui so we took quick showers and got on the tender around 11:20.

We had several goals prior to catching the last tender at 1:30 and those were: buying an XD memory card reader to solve Filbert’s camera cable problem, buying a postcard for Snookums’s sister in Wichita, finding brochures on Molokini snorkel trips for our January 13 cruise visit and buying skim milk since the ship hasn’t had a reliable source for many, many weeks. We found a Ritz camera store and accomplished the XD and postcard issues and found lots of brochures at activity stands on the way to the camera store. On the way back to the tender, we stopped at an ABC Store to buy skim milk, and put yet another postcard in the mail for Snookums’ sister Pam. We were on Maui for about 30 minutes before getting on the tender back to the ship. (We had been here before.)

Lahaina mailbox

We got back on the ship and ate lunch and Snookums decided that it was so nice and warm she put on her swimsuit and enjoyed the sun on the top deck.

Filbert spotted from our veranda a long fish swimming in the clear water next to the ship.

Big long fish

It was great for about 45 minutes and then we started moving and the wind really picked up fast. The sailaway drink stands blew down and various articles of clothing that people had under their chaise lounges were blowing away. Snookums helped gather things up and decided it was way too windy and cool and returned to the cabin.

Filbert notes a belated Halloween story: In the middle of the night, when you get up to go to the bathroom in the dark stateroom, and you see out of the corner of your eye something that’s hanging in the air, that looks kinda sorta like a human body, but without head, arms, or legs, it . . . gets your attention.


Scary wetsuit hanging in the cabin

Next: The Crew Show!

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage, part 50

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage – Holland America Amsterdam, September 19-November 23, 2008

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Fifty

November 17 (Monday, Day 63, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, Continued) –


More after the jump . . . We warmed up a little bit and this time we entered on the right side of the bay. The water was shallower here and there were fewer people. We saw more fish and stayed in the water for awhile until Snookums’s teeth started chattering. We got out and showered off and dried off. We paid $1 each to take the shuttle up the hill and then caught the 11:45 AM public bus back to Aloha Tower. After transferring to another bus, we got back to the ship around 1:30 AM. We dropped our stuff in the cabin, went to the bathroom and immediately went to lunch since our 6 AM continental breakfasts had long worn off.

Second snorkel pictures:2-10

Next: Aloha and goodbye to Honolulu, and Aloha and hello to Lahaina, Maui!

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage, part 49

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage – Holland America Amsterdam, September 19-November 23, 2008

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Forty-nine

November 16 (Sunday, Day 62, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii) –

We had to go through US immigration on the ship by 8:30 AM and that’s when we finally got our passports to keep. The immigration people didn’t really seem to look at our passport photos or our faces so it went very fast.

As we approached the gangway, we were each given a beautiful pink orchid lei. We didn’t want to wear them all day so Snookums took them back up to our suite’s refrigerator with the plan to wear them to dinner the next several days.

Filbert, Snookums and the leis (OK, it’s Maui in the background . . . )

More after the jump . . . We finally did get off the ship and explored the area right around pier 11 (HAL’s pier) since we will be coming back in January on a cruise with Snookums’s parents and sister. We found the Navatek I whale watching boat (pier 6) and found out that if we book the 3-hour lunch tour ourselves, it costs $55.80 whereas if we book it via Holland America, it costs $97. Considering it is two blocks from where we dock and we can manage to get there on our own, we’ll book it ourselves and save lots of money.

After walking around we decided to get our laptops and find a wifi spot in Aloha Tower Marketplace. We found Island Vintage Coffee and Filbert bought an iced tea and was given the wifi password. We sat outside the store and enjoyed the open-air atrium. There was also an hour-long hula show that was going which provided even more ambience while we were using our PCs. We stayed until our batteries died. Snookums’s died before Filbert’s so she got a pedicure.

We took our laptops back to the ship and decided to take the free shuttle to WalMart to get a battery for Filbert’s Casio watch. When we got to the shuttle stop, we were told that the WalMart shuttle had quit for the day (it was around 5 PM) and right then the Hilo Hattie’s shuttle drove up. Everyone waiting for the WalMart shuttle decided to go to Hilo Hattie’s since no one had any other plans. On the way to Hilo Hattie’s (a Hawaii ‘landmark’ that sells Hawaiian shirts and other things made out of Hawaiian floral material), we passed a Kmart. We spent 5 minutes in Hilo Hattie’s and then walked to Kmart. Unlike WalMart, Kmart doesn’t help you with watch battery replacement. They sell the batteries but you have to know the type you need and they don’t have the little jeweler’s screwdriver to get the watch back off. So, we didn’t get a battery there but did buy a cardboard box and packing tape to ship our books and other items home. (Just like at home, the cash register was not correct and a manager had to come help the cashier. In this case, Kmart had a promotion going where if you bought two Scotch brand packing supplies, one would be ½ price. The cash register didn’t recognize the sale so it had to be manually overwritten. This ALWAYS happens when Snookums shops!)

When we got back to the ship we decided to enjoy the local band and poolside Hawaiian BBQ rather than eating dinner in the dining room. We waited until around 6:45 PM to eat and that’s when it started raining. The BBQ (and band) was moved inside so we were still able to eat but decided it was probably the worst tasting meal of the entire cruise. We didn’t go hungry, but we were glad that hot dogs were served! The chefs on the Amsterdam need to visit Kansas City to learn how to barbecue.

November 17 (Monday, Day 63, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii) –

We woke up at 6 AM in order to catch the first public bus ($2 each) to Hanauma Bay for snorkeling. We caught the #19 bus that took us to the stop for the #22 bus to Hanauma Bay. While waiting for the 8:07 #22, a taxi pulled up and offered to take the four of us (we didn’t know the other couple) for $5 per person. We said ‘yes’ and got to Hanauma Bay at 8:30 rather than 9 AM.

Hanauma Bay
Warning! Strong current!

We paid our $5 entry fee and watched the mandatory 9-minute video and then proceeded to walk down the hill to the bay. It was cloudy and not that warm, but we got in the water on the left side of the bay. The water was the coldest we had encountered on the trip, but we survived. We immediately saw huge fish, including a 3-foot parrot fish and other fish the same size. They grow them big in Oahu!! We also saw a 3-foot spotted eel and then we saw a 4-foot green seat turtle.

Sea turtle

Snookums followed it for about 30 seconds until she realized she was probably going past the channel markers that marked the swift current. It was neat and Filbert thought he got great photos of it. (It’s hard to really tell what you are taking a picture of with the camera when you are underwater. It’s almost just ‘point and shoot’ since seeing the video screen underwater is tricky.) We continued to snorkel and saw lots of colorful fish. Snookums started getting cold so we got out to warm up. It had rained while we were in the water but our bag didn’t get too wet.

More pictures from the first snorkel:

Next: We go back into Hanauma Bay!

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage, part 48

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage – Holland America Amsterdam, September 19-November 23, 2008

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Forty-eight

November 14 (Friday, Day 60, At sea, Continued) –

After lunch Filbert took a tour of the bridge (and so did Gary who has been on every bridge tour that has been offered so far!) while Snookums watched the movie ‘College Road Trip’ on TV.

Bridge tour:


More pictures after the jump!

Log book
Propulsion controls

Filbert took a nap while Snookums did some planning for our upcoming two days in Honolulu. She was happy to find out that a 40-minute $2 bus ride will get us to Hanauma Bay for great snorkeling on Monday. We will probably just walk around downtown Honolulu on Sunday and figure out if there is anything there to see for when we come back with Snookums’s parents and sister on a cruise this January.

Tonight was a formal night and everyone came to our room to eat on the verandah in casual clothes. Hot appetizers were delivered at 7 PM and our normal 4-course (or sometimes 6-course, depending on how many courses a person ordered) dinner followed. We noticed a definite degradation in service with this meal as compared to our first two on our verandah. The first time we had the supervisor coming every few minutes and making sure everything was okay and that the two Pinnacle Grill waiters were fine. The second time we had two waiters from the normal dining room. This time we had one room service waiter who was struggling a little bit. We didn’t mind at all, but it was kind of funny to notice the change.

Formal night party:

Well picked-over appetizers
Well-stocked bar
Happy girls
Happy guys

We received a Holland America Grand Asia & Australia rolling duffel bag that is definitely needed to hold all of the stuff that we’ve acquired. Each cabin got one as the formal night gift. Maybe we’ll get another gift prior to the cruise ending!

November 15 (Saturday, Day 61, At sea) –

Snookums woke up and went to the 9:30 Dam Dollars activity (putting) and then worked out. She got out of the shower and realized it was 10:52 which meant she completely forgot about the 10:30 AM Dam Dollars soccer kick event and was furious. (She has 59 Dam Dollars and therefore has the 50 required for the jogging suit but wants to take all her extras on the January cruise and earn more since they aren’t unique to the ship.)

Filbert woke up around 11:30, showered and then we ate lunch. Snookums had a bowl of red lentil soup and half of a grilled tuna salad sandwich on wheat with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles from the deli and Filbert had the Cantonese pork with black bean sauce from the Asian Corner and some salads from the salad bar. Snookums also had a scoop of pralines ‘n cream ice cream for dessert.

We did the Dam Dollars event (quoits) and each got one and then Snookums went to redeem her 50 Dam Dollars for the jogging suit while Filbert went to the gym.

Next: Honolulu!

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage, part 47

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage – Holland America Amsterdam, September 19-November 23, 2008

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Forty-seven

November 14 (Friday, Day 60, At sea) –

Snookums woke up and worked out and then we both went to see the Grand Show Buffet so that Filbert could take pictures. (Due to time constraints, we ate lunch in Lido.)

The Grand Show Buffet:

More pictures after the jump!

Next: Sea days!

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage, part 46

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage – Holland America Amsterdam, September 19-November 23, 2008

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Forty-six

November 13 (Thursday, Day 59, Crossing the equator) –

We crossed the equator at 11:08 AM and celebrated by attending Poseidon’s Revenge Ceremony.

The crowd assembles to watch Poseidon’s Revenge

More pictures after the jump!

Avast there! A Pollywog!
Guests of honor
A cage of Pollywogs
King Poseidon Himself

This is where crew members that haven’t crossed the equator before get to kiss a fish and then get food smeared on them before being thrown into the pool. We saw it on Regent and this one was similar except that Holland America smeared the pollywogs with whipped cream (only) and didn’t use other food like spaghetti, chili, and fruit. It was a fun event and Gary was bummed that none of the guests were chosen to participate. He was ready! (The pool was still closed for cleaning as of 3 PM.) We were shellbacks since we had already crossed the equator on another sailing.

A Pollywog becomes a Shellback
Dump Them!
Into the drink
Another pollywog into the soup
Time for the King’s minions to wash up

We went to the Dam Dollars event (football toss) and Snookums won two while Filbert earned one. Filbert interrupted his day of writing to participate. He also picked out three photos to enter in the photo contest. He chose the whale tail for the wildlife category, the morning mists over Bali for the landscape category and a photo from today’s Poseidon’s Revenge Ceremony for the life category. When Filbert picked up the actual printed photos, the two workers at the photo shop were oohing and aahing over his whale tail photo. Hopefully that means it will win!

Filbert worked out and Snookums went to bed feeling a little queasy. She took a seasick pill and watched the movies ‘Sex and The City’ and ‘Get Smart’ while Filbert was at dinner. Filbert took two seasick pills when he came back to make handling the ship’s pitching and rolling easier.

Next: Buffet!

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage, part 45

The Grand Asia & Australia Voyage – Holland America Amsterdam, September 19-November 23, 2008

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Forty-five

November 11 (Continued) –

We left Samoa around 4 PM and Snookums laid on the verandah and read her book and Filbert was inside on the computer. Around 5 PM the captain came on the PA system explaining that we were turning around since we passed what appeared to be a fishing vessel flying a red flag and waving to us which means distress. That got everyone excited and we went to the front of deck 6 to watch the action.

Mystery boat

More after the jump . . .

Tender to the rescue!

We got closer to the fishing boat and a tender was lowered from the ship but it came back almost right away and then the fishing boat started its outboard motor and came towards our ship. It looked like it was an aluminum catamaran (strange) with two outboard motors and it was just sitting in the water and the three guys were drinking beer. Two black flags were flying and the guy that was on top of the ‘wheelhouse’ was wearing a red baseball cap which is what the Amsterdam’s lookout must have seen. They were just waving to say ‘hi’. So, after doing that for about 45 minutes, we got underway again and the captain came on the PA and announced that everything was fine and maybe someone needs to give the 3 guys different color ball caps!

We caught ourselves a cruise ship! Woo-hoo!
The ‘cargo’ enjoys the impromptu entertainmente

While we were at the front of deck 6 it started sprinkling and was slippery. People were saying ‘Don’t slip and don’t hit your head’ and that’s when we found out about the Bright Star call from a few days ago. A man fell while on a tour in Fiji and hit his head. He came back to the ship and went to the doctor and everything was fine. However, the next day he died and was taken off in Samoa (and his wife accompanied him and was hoping to get him cremated in Samoa).

Snookums was really looking forward to dinner since she saw the chef earlier today and asked about getting skim milk in Honolulu. He looked kind of puzzled and said that they got some in Sydney. Well, she had been told that none was purchased in Sydney since skim milk in Sydney isn’t really skim (i.e. 0% fat). The chef said that was incorrect information. As a result, Snookums hasn’t had any skim milk since about Day 15 since the skim milk that came in Singapore was boxed skim milk product and she didn’t even feel like trying that!

Gary and Charlotte didn’t come to dinner since Gary had been battling diarrhea the entire day (and got Imodium for $8 from the doctor). He was happy that he hadn’t thrown up since if he had, he (and Charlotte) would have been quarantined for four days. And his tablemates (us!) might have been quarantined, too. Anyway, Yvan, Alice and we had a nice dinner (and Snookums got her milk) and we fell asleep soon after getting to our room.

November 12 (Wednesday, Day 58, At sea) –

We slept until 12:45 PM when the ‘Voice from the Bridge’ announcement woke us up. The heat of Samoa really took it out of us. We had lunch and went to the 2:30 Dam Dollars event. Later on, we hit the Viennese Kaffee Klatch that the ship was having rather than its normal afternoon tea. The trio was playing in the Queen’s Lounge and the typical tea pastries were served along with coffee, unsweetened whipped cream and powdered chocolate. It was nice. Tea is normally held in the dining room so the trio in the Queen’s Lounge and the addition of coffee was different. We worked out for an hour right before dinner, showered and ate. Filbert watched the 10 PM television movie ‘X Files: I Want to Believe’ while Snookums read and then fell asleep.

Next: Poseidon’s Revenge!