Saturday, March 5, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO - MAUI 1/13/11 – 1/23/11

IOLANI PALACE

We are 10 days into our World Cruise and it is already going too fast!   The weather was not great on the 4 day crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii.  Cool and overcast, but we needed that time to settle in and relax (more like collapse) after the hectic 9 days that led up to our condo closing and departure. 

Our ship, the Regent Seven Seas Voyager, has been refurbished since we were on it last and it is beautiful.  There are less than 150 total world cruisers and about 530 passengers altogether –  a bit short of the 700 the ship is capable of carrying.  Many passengers will be getting off in Auckland or Sidney, and new groups getting on.  We have met many lovely people.  A bonus for us is that our good friends from Florida are guest entertainers and will be on until Tahiti.  Mark Friedman is an incredible musician/arranger and his wife Rodi Alexander is a dynamic singer and dancer.  We get to spend more time together on ships than at home where we live only an hour apart.   Through Mark & Rodi, we have become friends with the other guest entertainers.  Comedian Sal Richards just got off and Kevin Spirtas got on.  He is a terrific singer but probably best known for playing the handsome doctor on Days of Our Lives for 7½ years.  Terry Waite is one of the enrichment lecturers.  He hasn’t done a talk yet but I am very much looking forward to that.  He is rather a giant of a man, makes Ron look petite.  (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration.)  

On Jan. 19 we arrived in Hilo on the Big island of Hawaii.  A unique and wonderful perk of cruising with Regent is that port excursions are included.  The one we chose that day included a visit to a macadamia nut factory, a tram ride through botanical gardens and a walk  to the highest unbroken waterfall in the state.  It plunges 442 feet over a volcanic cliff into a gorge. 

We cruised overnight to Honolulu, the 12th largest city in the US.  On our first day in port
we did the Waterfall Hiking Adventure, trekking up and down over narrow, muddy trails
through the rainforest of the Pali Cliffs to a waterfall. One of those things you were happy you 
did but glad when it was over!  That night a reception for World Cruisers was held at the Iolani
Palace.  Built in 1882, it is the only royal residence in the USA.  Adorable Hawaiian children were
lined up to greet us with leis and dance for us.  It was a lovely evening with cocktails, hors
d’ouevres and  entertainment.  Best of all a chance to meet fellow world cruisers.  I am thrilled
that there is a great variation in ages.

The next day we took a Panoramic Honolulu tour which included Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, The Pali Lookout and the Punchbowl.  We got to see a few things we had not seen before.  That evening we had our first deck party, then set sail for Lahaina on Maui where we visited the Iao Valley State Park, site of the battle that determined the unification of the Hawaiian Islands. Next we spent some time at the Maui Ocean Center, the western hemisphere’s largest tropical aquarium.  It has the largest live coral display in America.
 
The next 5 days will be spent at sea.  It sounds like a long time but the days fly by filled with fine
food, trips to the gym,  lectures, entertainment and various activities.  Plus we will now be able
to relax on deck and get some sun!