Cruise Report # Thirty- three– Day 61 – Tuesday, November 20, 2007

At Sea in the Pacific @ 22 degrees North – 153 W @ 6:08 AM – En-route to San Diego –

From the Ships Navigator

Today we will sail on an east-northeasterly course with an average speed of 21.5 knots towards San Diego, California. The total sailing distance between Honolulu and San Diego is 2290 nautical miles. The weather forecast for today predicts an outside temperature of 75 degrees and a fresh breeze blowing from the northeast with a force of 5.
As I have been writing these reports, I usually listen to the iTunes stored on my laptop. One of my favorite playlists is entitled “recently played/listened to” selections. One of my favorite Country and Western recording artists is Suzy Bogguss. As I started to write this morning’s report her rendition of “Saying Goodbye to A Friend” started playing! Although the lyrics are different, the chorus says it all. How appropriate – as we are on the final leg of our Grande Voyage, and will be wrapping up this experience for the next few days. Or – “Saying Goodbye to a Friend”. This “friend” the ms Amsterdam has for the past 61 days has been our shelter in stormy seas, she has fed us more than we needed, and introduced us to new peoples and their culture. She has also made it possible for us to make new friends and precious memories. Thank you old friend.

Holland America

Holland America was founded in 1873 as the Netherlands-America Steamship Company (NASM), a shipping and Passenger line. Because it was headquartered in Rotterdam and provided service to the Americas, it became known as Holland America Line.
Within 25 years, HAL owned a fleet of six cargo and passenger ships, and operated between Holland and the Dutch East Indies via the newly constructed Suez Canal. The line was a principal carrier of immigrants from Europe to the United States until well after the turn of the century, carrying 850,000 to new lives in the New World. Though transportation and shipping were the primary sources of revenue, in 1895 the company offered its first vacation cruise, its second leisure cruise, from New York to the Holy Land was in 1910. In 1971, HAL suspended its transatlantic passenger trade and, and in 1973, the company sold its cargo shipping division. Today HAL is the premium cruise leader operating 13 passenger ships to seven continents, carrying nearly 700,000 cruise passengers a year. Faithful HAL cruisers are called “Mariners” and are issued “pins” to signify the number of miles each recipient has traveled with the company. Tonight all Mariners are invited to a special Mariner Farewell Cocktail Party in appreciation of their patronage.


The information in my opening statements (From the Ships Navigator and Welcome to ……) of these reports is provided courtesy of HAL’s shipboard “Daily Program”. This program not only provides a thumbnail sketch of our upcoming port or at sea event, but includes a comprehensive list of hour by hour events taking place that day. Also included is the listing for “Showtime” in the Queens Lounge including a short bio of the entertainer(s). The ms Amsterdam also has a dedicated Culinary Arts Center and big screen Theater, and listing of daily events scheduled there are also listed in the daily program. The day before we enter port, a “Background at a Glance” pamphlet is delivered to our stateroom containing information for that port, compete with a port/city map, and providing more detailed information including “Essential” facts for visitors. One of the very important “Essentials” is contact information for the Port Agent for HAL passengers that just might miss the ship and get left behind, a potentially costly and memorable experience. For all of this information, I feel obligated to thank those nameless crewmembers that no doubt work long hours, researching, publishing, printing, and distributing this information. It has added so much to this (for us) once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Our Visit to the Hawaiian Islands – Kona

We arrived at our anchorage off the Kona coast around 7 am on Sunday November 18th and were soon anchored with the tenders deployed, however since this was our initial arrival in the United States, a “face-to-passport” inspection would have to take place before passengers could go ashore. Therefore, the eight + hour shore excursion we were signed up for that was scheduled to depart at 7:30am did not leave the ship until around 9:30am. Then there was the 15-20 minute tender ride to the waiting bus on the pier. So we had a late start which caused some apprehension as the ship had a notice advising that the last tender would be departing the pier at 5:15pm. This meant there would be no time for shopping in Kona.

Finally we were on board the bus and “off to see Volcano National Park” on the south end of the island of Hawaii. Our tour driver/guide, John, was a very pleasant and knowledgeable islander who claimed to be ¾ quarter Hawaiian and ¼ Caucasian. His knowledge of every plant or tree we passed was astounding. Coffee Plantations and Macadamia Nuts seem to be the cash crop on the island now. We stopped by a small café/gift shop and where we helped ourselves to free samples of various blends of Kona coffee. It tasted very good – with sufficient amounts of sweetener and cream. As we motored south on very nice roads, John gave us the local and Latin name of plants and trees growing alongside, where it came from, and who was responsible for bringing it to the islands, and the original intent for its use on the island. For instance: “The Norfolk Pine was brought to these islands to be used in repairing sailing ship masts, however, the conditions here did not produce a tree of similar strength, so it was useless for that purpose”, and “The mongoose was introduced by the early sugar cane growers to control the rat population, however, the rats work at night and the mongoose work in the daytime, and never the twain shall meet”. We did have a pleasant ride to the Park, and a very good buffet lunch at the Volcano House lodge, but the crowds of other tourists diminished our enjoyment. (Picture five our six busloads + multiple taxis loaded with tourists at Hurricane Ridge Lodge at the same time) I enjoyed what we saw, however, if I ever returned, it would be in a private vehicle on a day of my own choosing. I guess I am just Discovery Channel jaded.
Returning to Kona there was barely enough time to pass the Immigration Security checks, board the tender and get back to the ship.
Apparently Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Hilo-Hattie’s stores love the cruise ships so much that they send free shuttles to the pier and back for their convenience. I hear there was a run on suitcases.


One of our treats while we were in Hawaiian waters was being able to call our families and catch up on what had been going on in our absence. We were also pleased to get to spend some time with Donna and Randy Barira, who are stationed here in the US Army and US Coast Guard. Donna grew up in our church. We had a great, although too short visit, as we had to be back onboard at 4:30pm.

Our pre-dawn arrival was beautiful. The Amsterdam tied up at pier 11, under the longtime landmark of the Aloha tower. At a distance this “Icon” of Honolulu was almost impossible to see as it has been eclipsed by multiple downtown high-rise buildings. The charm and beauty of Old Honolulu had been buried under steel, glass and clogged city streets.

I was so looking forward to this last excursion, as I felt it would be like visiting “home” after an extended absence. My enthusiasm was dashed, however, as an incident on the bus reminded me of how selfish and impolite people can be. I would have been better off by just stepping off the bus and forfeiting the cost. I vowed then I would never book another excursion that involved more than five or six people – with whom I am not closely acquainted. We had scheduled the “Little Circle Island Tour” for the morning. It proved to me the old adage that “you can’t go home again.” I had not been on the roads we traveled for over 50 years. The easygoing lifestyle and ease of access to attractions of Oahu has been supplanted by greed for the almighty tourist dollar. All our driver seemed to be concerned with was what “stupid spoiled movie star lived here or spent that much on a home there”. Juxtaposed against how high his taxes are and how many homeless there are on the island because they couldn’t afford to pay the taxes on their homes. I prefer to hang onto my memories of living in “paradise’ at a time when lifestyles were not driven by greed. I couldn’t wait for the tour to be over so we could meet Donna and Randy. (This is the reason for not including photographs in this report)

That evening as we sailed out of the harbor and turned south to start our eastern transit through the island chain and our run to San Diego, the gaudiness of the shoreline from Pearl Harbor to Diamond Head made me want to turn away in shame at seeing what had become of this “paradise”. I will not return.

This will be my final report until we return home, which be about this time next week,

Till then, thanks for “listening”,

Jack and Barbara

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