Jackie’s Hawaiian Cruise Part 2

After 4 full days at sea with lots of relaxing and hand washing (Norvo virus was spreading) we docked at our first port which was Hilo on the big island of Hawaii. It rains a lot on the Big Island and the sky didn’t look very good. Lots of rain clouds and wind. We decided to take a free shuttle to Hilo Hattie (a well known Hawaiian store chain) If you see a couple with matching outfits (flower shirt for the man and a flower dress for the lady ) they most likely bought them there. We picked up a few little things for the kids and checked out the mail right next door. The sky cleared up so we jumped on the next shuttle and headed back to the ship. We were back at about 2 pm and we set sail at 5pm. We saw some whales as we departed. We had 5:30 dinner reservations and then when up to the Lido deck to watch another movie.

In the morning we arrived in Maui at 7am. What a beautiful island. We tendered to the shore (which means we were transferred to the shore in life boats). The boats hold over 200 people so it sure didn’t take long to get ashore. We jumped in a taxi and went to Whalers Village in Kaanapali. I loved it there. Lots of duty free shopping in an outdoor mall, restaurants on the beach and an awesome beach. We sat on the beach for a couple hours just taking it all in. The last tender was leaving shore at 5pm (set sail at 5pm) so we decided to head back at 4pm to beat the rush. The announcement from the captain came at 5pm with an update on the Noro Virus outbreak. The virus had spread to 2% of everyone on the ship and was expected to increase. To me it seemed safer to stay away from the buffets and enclosed dining rooms so we ate at the Smokehouse BBQ located on the Lido deck right by the pool. Again we watching the Movie Under the Stars. it was “Last Vegas” and was really good. Honolulu in the morning!

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Today was our first organized excursion. We were picked up at the pier and drove through Waikiki and down the coast. We stopped at Hanauma Bay. It is a huge bay with calm water and beautiful white sand beaches. From there we continued down the coast and stopped at another beach where “From Here to Eternity” was filmed (that movie was playing on the big screen at the pool when we got back) we drove part way up a mountain to Paili Lookout and saw an amazing view of the whole area from up there. After the tour we were dropped off at Hilo Hattie. In the entrance they have the biggest Hawaiian shirt ever made. It was a size 400XL. The store offers a compliment shuttle to Waikiki and back to the ship so we went to the one hotel I have always wanted to see: the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It is a huge complex with lots of hotel room tours, lots of shops (including 3 ABC stores). The resort has a man-made lagoon and it is featured lots on the new Hawaii 5-O series. I looked for McGarret and Dano but no luck. We hung out at the beach for a couple hours and too the shuttle back to the pier. On the way back the shuttle driver pointed out the area where President Obama went to high school and where is mother lived. We were back at the ship at about 5pm (not sailing until 11pm) so the ship was fairly quiet. Message from the captain was that the virus numbers had increased to 2.26%. He also advised that the show in the main theatre which was to feature local dancers etc from the Polynesian Cultural Center was cancelled due to the virus. The deck attendants were setting up for a deck party for later in the evening at 9pm. We were going to check it out but is started to rain so we went to our stateroom and ordered room service. We sailed a little late… they were waiting for a couple stragglers. In the morning we would be in Kauai.

We had booked a tour that went up to a waterfall, river cruise to Fern Grotto, Botanical Gardens, and Luau with a romantic ceremony. It was about a 20 minute drive to the waterfall. The waterfall was pretty small. The river boat held at least 100 people and it was a scenic cruise down the river. We got off and walked up a path to the Fern Grotto. It was beautiful up there. There was lots of flowers, plants and a small waterfall. There was a band and dancers that entertained us for about a half a hour. At the end they played and danced to the Hawaiian version of the Hawaiian Wedding Song. After we went back down the river we were picked up by trolleys and went for a ride through the botanical gardens… it was really nice. We stopped to watch the ceremony where they dig up the pig for the Luau and blow the conch shell. The food at the Luau was really good. There was a band and some dancers to entertain us. During the meal they started the ceremony. Any couple that wanted to take part had to sign up in advance on the ship (this is something they just do for the Princess guests) . When the couples name was called they were presented with a certificate and leis to give to each other. After the meal they asked the couples to get up and repeat vows to each other, kiss and then the band played the English version of the Hawaiian Wedding Song…it was an awesome way to finish our last day in Hawaii. When back at the ship the announcement was the virus was increasing at a slow rate….we chose to go with room service again and then went to the Lido deck to watch the Hobbit. When we got back to the room the bed had been turned down with an invitation from the Captain to join him for a Cocktail reception in a couple days…so cool!!!! I did take lots of pictures but I will wait until we get home to post them – the internet is really slow on the ship.

Jackie’s Hawaiian Cruise – Part 1

Wow…what a trip so far.   We left Saskatoon at 6:00 am on Apr 3. The airport was not too busy and the departure lounge was awesome (I forgot I was in Saskatoon) Westjet flight left on time. We had three hours in Calgary which gave us lots of time to clear customs and get to our next gate. We upgraded our seats on this flight. We had advanced boarding, front seats with extra leg room and when the cart came by our food and drinks were included..for $45 it was so worth it. When the satellite tv ran out we were able to watch the PPV movies at no extra charge so that was awesome! We landed in Los Angeles at 12:30 and Lisa and Veda were there waiting for us (Lisa is our oldest daughter and Veda is our 4 year old granddaughter) . On our way to the hotel at the San Pedro Pier for our cruise we made a few stops….Lunch on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Veda`s ballet and tap class in Sherman Oaks then a drive through Hollywood hills…..amazing houses and yards (didn`t find Brad Pitt lol).   Checked in to the Crown Plaza near the pier. Room was awesome and so were the beds…we didn’t go to bed the night before so we crashed right away.   The pier was about 3 minutes from the hotel and was so easy to find. Lisa dropped us off at the luggage drop. We loaded the bags on a cart and went to check in. We went through the line and went into immigration and boarded the Star Princess, We had a map and went to our cabin E224. It is an obstructed view cabin which means there is a life boat outside the window….we can still see some ocean and lots of daylight so that is awesome. Our bags arrived just after we did…we unpacked the clothes and headed to the Lido deck. We watched Top Gun on the big screen and had a piece of pizza (yum).   It was the first day for everyone to arrive so there wasn’t anything arranged for the evening so we went to our stateroom and watched tv. The captain said to expect some rough seas and was not kidding…we were looking for seat belts in our bed lol. In the morning we went to the Lido deck and everyone was wearing jackets we found a sheltered spot and it was warm and sunny. We had dinner at the Capri restaurant and then watched a Move under the Stars. Perfect 1st full day at sea!

Got up early and to find the perfect spot on the deck. Just relaxed for most of the day (watched Top Gun on the Big Screen again…such a good movie) it was formal night so was got dressed up and had dinner at the Crown Grill. After dinner we changed and watched another movie under the stars…popcorn and cookies 🙂 Calm Seas and a great sleep. Spent next day in the adults section of the ship…..no kids splashing and nice and quiet…read a book and enjoyed the sun.   Waiting for our dinner reservation to hear this message from the captain…..there has been 8 cases of what appears to be Norvo Virus in the past 12 hours. I am sure we will be fine!!!! Internet is slow…pics when I get land!

Ed’s Portugal Final Week

Wow, it’s hard to believe but our 3 month sabbatical in Portugal’s Algarve is over. I am currently sitting in the Faro airport waiting for our flight and as I look at the weather forecast back in Saskatoon, I think we will be in for a rude awakening after 3 months of Mediterranean weather.

This last week has been a great end to our trip and our friends Randy, Cathy, Joy and Henry shared in many adventures and new experiences. We’ve decided that one of the things we love doing best is to explore new beaches and hiking trails, so most our time this week was to ferret out new locations that we haven’t been to. The first of these was Praia de Sao Rafael and you can see from the pictures, it is picture perfect. In fact, many of the tourist brochures use this beach as their “poster” scene…it’s clear to see why. There is also have a very nice restaurant on the beach beside it called Praia dos Arrifes where we dined on some exquisite sea bass…a bit pricey but excellent food.

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We decided to do another boat cruise but this time from Portimao. If you have read our previous blogs, this was a favourite activity of ours and we hoped the new itinerary would be just as spectacular. We met our other friends Pat and Sheila in Portimao for lunch at the Naval Club before our sightseeing cruise. The tour company was called Manguito and they had 3 parrots on board with us. While the day started out quite nice, shortly into our cruise, the wind picked up, the seas got quite rough and it cooled down significantly. In fact at one point, I think everyone wanted to turn back. Fortunately we did not and we were rewarded with exceptional views of various beaches and rock formations along the coast near Lagos…many places where we visited from the land perspective. PLUS we were able to see Ponta da Piedade. The captain of the boat was very experienced and nosed his boat in as far as he dares in many of the caves and grottos around that area. Truly the cold and wet from the waves crashing over the bow of the boat, were well worth the views we got to see!

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While our company made a day trip to Sagres (we had been there a few times), we decided to try yet another golf course called Vale da Pinta, part of the Pesana group. Had a very nice day and the golf course was very nice. We were paired up with a German couple that were very nice. We were on a twilight rate of 122 Euro for both of us and a cart but we did have to hurry to get all 18 holes in. We have booked a few rounds now with a company called Algarve Golf Smiles and the owner, Pat, seems to get some reasonable twilight rates plus he can get the twilight rate up to an hour earlier than anyone else. In case you need it, you can contact him at algarvegolfsmile@gmail.com.

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In the evening, we all met up for a dinner at a restaurant that had a hot stone feature if you ordered steak. A couple of our group enjoyed cooking their steak on the hot stone…apparently it was delicious, as was the grilled lamb’s leg that I had.

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We spent a day touring around to some of the smaller villages with Randy and Cathy, while Henry and Joy went off to do some exploring on their own. However, since this was Randy and Cathy’s last day before jetting off to Paris, we cooked them a traditional Cataplana meal complete with clams, prawns and Monkfish that we bought at the local market.

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We said a sad farewell to Randy and Cathy…their 4 day stay was way too short, but we were very please they made the considerable effort to come visit us. After dropping Randy and Cathy off at the Faro airport, we met Joy and Henry in Faro for a bit of a tour of the old town and the Chapel of Bones.

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We have blogged about this previously but Henry and Joy seemed very interested in the construction using various human bones and skulls. A quick trip to the car rental station to drop off their car and then off to visit the Quinta Dos Vales winery to do a tasting and pick up a couple of bottles of wine for gifts to our landlady and the property manager. The winery itself has a large display of sculptures and a very nicely landscaped area.

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We quite enjoyed the wines tasted and we ended up buying a couple more bottles for us to bring home…yikes, how am I ever going to pack all this stuff?!? A simple homemade supper and then early evening to allow them to finish their packing.

Our second trip to the Faro airport in as many days, this time to bid goodbye to Henry and Joy. We have had a marvellous time with them and they are the last of our company to leave. We were sorry to see them go! However, it will soon be our turn to pack up and end our time in the Algarve but not before we squeeze in a few more sites. We decided to take a hike into the hills around Loule called Fonte Benemola and had a wonderful walk except that half way through the hike we were supposed to cross a stream and one of the stepping stones had fallen over and we were unable to cross.

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When we were done that, we went to a small white church on the cliffs by Praia da Senhora da Rocha and Praia Nova beaches. We had seen it from one of the boat cruises we took and wanted to see the reverse view…beautiful!

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The weather was holding so we opted for another cliff walk and again were not disappointed! There are so many trails and wonderful walks along the cliff tops that we wish we could do more. PLUS so many beaches! I know we have focused a lot on the variety of beaches we have seen but they are so darn impressive!

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Our second last night we decided to go to a restaurant whose specialty is roasted suckling pig. I know it sounds kind of gross, but it’s a pretty big thing and we have tried so many other crazy foods this trip, so why not. It was very tasty!

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OK…one more round of golf before we go…this time at Sir Henry Cotton Championship course at Penina resorts. The rain more or less held off for our round although our rain jackets were brought out a couple of times.

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Since we had an early morning tee time, we were finished by noon and that allowed us to visit…yes, a couple of last beaches we hadn’t gotten to. Our farewell supper was at a beautiful beach restaurant we had been to before for lunch called Evaristo…great Sangria, grilled squid and chicken piri piri…nice sunset to end a wonderful vacation!

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Last morning before our flight out…guess what? We stopped at a couple more beaches on the way…yes, it’s true we haven’t seen them all but each one was fantastic and something we will always remember!

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Thank you all who have been interested in our adventures, enjoyed our pictures and have followed along with us. We have had a fantastic 3 months and we are now ready to get back to normal day to day living. We would not have changed anything! We have appreciated our company, enjoyed the food, loved the wines and everything that the Algarve, Portugal has to offer.
In the end, TravelRent, the car company we used was fantastic to deal with…would recommend them for car rental in Faro. We have the contact information for all of the accommodation we used and have lots of great recommendations for restaurants, sightseeing and general information if you want it. Please don’t hesitate to visit the Algarve and to contact us for any help.
Thanks for following…SAUDE!!!