January 30, 2017
Paul Groves

Cooking With Spam


Day 25 of 111. Sea Day

Happy Chinese New Year. We had special decorations and food on the Lido Deck complete with a dragon. Ron attended a class on Chinese cooking earlier in the day.

In a separate event, we attended a fun cooking class after lunch. The cooking class was Cooking With SPAM! The demo was spam and eggs on an English muffin, but we also received the recipe for spam mushubi. Ron also attended two lectures and walked several miles around the deck. It was another full day at sea.

January 28, 2017
Paul Groves

Dole Pineapple Plantation


Day 24 of 111. Oahu, Hawaii

The last stop on our tour was the Dole Plantation. It is almost like a Disneyland with a train ride, a huge maze, and best of all soft serve pineapple ice cream (just like at the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland). Coming into the parking lot, our guide pointed out the interesting bark of the tree. He called it Rainbow ______ (I forget). We saw a beautiful Hawaiian quilt as well. I made the mistake of sampling the coconut/mango hand sanitizer… I still smell like a fruit salad. It was a terrific day. We are onboard now and leaving Hawaii. I can see Diamondhead out my stateroom window. Aloha!

January 28, 2017
Paul Groves

Sights of North Shore





Day 24 of 111. Oahu, Hawaii

The next few stops sort of blended together for me. Justin, our guide, was very knowledgeable about the nature we were seeing as well as the history and culture of the island. Some of the highlights for this section was driving by the Kualoa Ranch which has been the background for many motion pictures including Jurassic Park, Godzilla, 50 First Dates, and many others. We passed a beach where Tatoo used to say “Ze Plane, Ze Plane”. We saw big red leaves which come from the tropical almond tree and lots of chickens because they are one of the pre-contact (pre-Capt. Cook) species which are protected by Hawaiian law.

We also stopped at Sunset Beach where a surfing competition just finished and another beach where we saw a green sea turtle. We are not allowed to touch or disturb the turtles for the turtle’s sake, but also because you can get nasty diseases from them (chlamidia, herpes, and salmonella). This turtle had a herpes growth on its neck. More interesting from a distance. We also passed an interesting-looking McDonalds restaurant because the region required all businesses to fit into the old town look.

We stopped for lunch at Fumi’s Shrimp Farm and Drive In. I actually had Chicken Katsu (because I really like chicken katsu) but what caught my eye was the graffiti or messages left by pst visitors on the leaves of the large tree over the picnic tables. For dessert, I got to try Rainbow Hawaiian shaved ice. The white ball of ice was pulled out of a freezer and onto it was squirted blue (vanilla), yellow (pineapple), and red (strawberry) syrups. I was impressed at the great color mixing going on as the syrups dispersed through the ice. Lovely and tasty.

January 28, 2017
Paul Groves

Byodo-In Temple




Day 24 of 111. Oahu, Hawaii

We are on an excursion today called the sights and tastes of North Shore. We wanted to get a chance to see some of the sights outside of the city. Our ship is docked near Chinatown next to the Aloha Tower, but this bus trip today will visit some beaches and the Dole Plantation. Our first stop (and probably my favorite) was the Byodo-In Buddhist Temple. It is located above a cemetery and there are several different buildings from various religions located here. The temple itself is beautiful and you can sense the serenity and peacefulness when you enter the grounds. As you make your way around a large circular walk, you first come across a huge bell… probably 12 feet high. There is a log on ropes you can use to ring the bell. It’s deep resonanting sound is soothing rather than jarring.

A short walk farther along the circle brings you to a Koi pond just below a meditation gazebo. Again, I enjoyed the quiet time watching the fish swim and hearing the bell in the background. The main temple was next. Out of respect, we were asked to remove our shoes. Inside there was a large statue of Buddah looking down on the visitors. Some of the other visitors burned incense so the temple had a pleasant smell as well as a quiet and peaceful ambiance. After the temple, I felt a need to rush since we promised to be back on the bus at a certain time. A quick stop in the bathroom and an even quicker look inside the gift shop was followed by a brisk walk back to our little bus. I did stop to take a picture of a yellow hibiscus flower with a red center… the Hawaiian state flower.

January 27, 2017
Paul Groves

A Hawaiian Luau



Day 23 of 111. Honolulu, Hawaii

Being in Hawaii, we HAD to attend a luau (Hawaiian for Party). A free drink was included with the meal and one of the choices was a Blue Hawaiian which I never had before. It was pretty and pretty tasty (but not very strong, luckily). The food was great. We tried a little of everything, including the poi which tastes pretty good when used as a dip for the pork. The dancers were fun to watch and the end of the show included a fire dancer who was excellent. It was a very fun party.

January 27, 2017
Paul Groves

The Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor


Day 23 of 111. Honolulu, Hawaii

This morning, we took a tour of the Arizona Memorial and the Battleship, Missouri. In Pearl Harbor, there are several memorials associated with the bombing on December 7, 1941. The battleships that were harbored there were named after states of the union. The Arizona was hit with a bomb from the surprise attack by the Japanese that ignited the ammunition on the ship and killed over 900 men. The ship is the grave for these men and a white memorial was erected above the ship. It is a very somber trip to visit the site and most people mill around and you can see that they are pondering the events that led to that memorial.

We next went to the Battleship, Missouri (Big MO) that was the site of the surrender of the Japanese to the Allied Forces. The document of surrender was signed on the ship and we were able to see the spot where it happened. These two sites represent the beginning and the end of World War II. There was a place to eat next to the Missouri, so we split a Loco Moko which is a couple of scoops of rice with brown gravy, a hamburger patty and a fried egg. We split one serving because it is pretty heavy, but tasty.

January 26, 2017
Paul Groves

Hilo, Hawaii–Evening




Day 22 of 111. Leaving Hilo… on to Honolulu

While we waited for Elizabeth just outside Port Hilo, we saw a cute little gecko. The man who ran the Tour Depot where we were waiting said they make messes everywhere and he has to clean it up… but the little creature was still cute to see with his bright coloring. As we left Hilo, the scenery around us was beautiful to see. With the weather constantly changing, the light accented one place then another.

I took another picture of the ship to show that they painted 2017 Grand World Voyage on the front of the ship. I am finding out that this trip is much more special than other cruises put on by Holland America. A special effort is made in every department to make this cruise special. There are special teachers brought on board to run the various classes that are offered. The culinary staff is hand-picked since the menus are more varied (and amazingly delicious). We come back to our rooms and find gifts from time to time such as special post cards, bags, hats, etc.

At each port, we have a Sail Away Party as we leave the port. For some reason, tonight’s party had free drinks (we usually have to pay), so even WE attended this one to get our free Pina Coladas. We donned our new Walmart Hawaiian shirts and mingled. After three weeks of cruising, we know a few people and had opportunities to stop and chat. We took a picture with the Culinary Arts host, Jessica and the guest chef, Denise Vivaldo (and one of the waiters photo bombed us). Pretty cute.

January 26, 2017
Paul Groves

Hilo, Hawaii–Afternoon





Day 22 of 111. Hilo, Hawaii

This is the Big Island. It is home to several active and extinct volcanoes and we scheduled a helicopter trip to fly over the island and see the most active one, Kilauea. The flight was fantastic and our pilot, Wesley, was a lot of fun. He flew us over our ship in the harbor, showed us some beautiful waterfalls, flew us over the crater of Kilauea and showed us where the lava is flowing into the ocean. We could see the red stream of lava and we saw several big explosions of steam. Wesley flew us back and forth over each site so we each got a good view. We saw several rainbows and saw a lot of great scenery. The trip did NOT disappoint.

My niece, Elizabeth, lives near Hilo and works as a teacher about an hour away. She was able to rush home after school and meet us near the ship before we had to board. She brought a bag of her favorite island treats that included some Spam Musubi (we shared it around at dinner… I’d forgotten how much I like Spam!) Elizabeth took a great selfie of the three of us. You can see our ship in the background. It was a wonderful visit, even though it was only about 20 minutes.

January 26, 2017
Paul Groves

Hilo, Hawaii–Morning



Day 22 of 111. Hilo, Hawaii

The Hawaiian Ambassadors did a chant and dance ceremony when we arrived into port at Hilo. Unfortunately for them, this came at 6:30 a.m. It was still fairly dark and cool out on deck. It rained briefly, but the young people were undaunted and they did a great job. Afterwards, everyone had coffee to warm up/wake up. The next item of business was a trip to Walmart. We had several things on our list including some new Hawaiian shirts, earphones, art supplies, and new jeans for Ron (contrary to tradition, he is actually LOSING weight on this cruise… Go Ron!)

Hilo seems to have rainstorms and bright sunshine in quick succession, so we saw several rainbows today. The one that seemed to end on our ship was fun. On the short drive to Walmart, we saw Moana Loa in the distance. It is so high that there is snow which has lasted for two months this year which is unusually long. The Walmart had row after row of Hawaiian fabric (not too surprising), so I took a picture.

January 25, 2017
Paul Groves

Marathon to Hawaii–Day 5




Day 21 of 111. Getting close to Hawaii

We finished our marathon walks and saw another dramatic sunrise. We collected our certificates and patted ourselves on the back for setting a goal and completing it. We had a hands=on cooking class today wth recipes from guest chef, Denise Vivaldo. You can see her with three of the dishes on the plate. The white chocolate macadamia nut cookies were still in the oven.

The menu included Pineapple and Golden Raisin Rice Salad, Coconut Shrimp with Mango Salsa, Garlic Snow Peas with Almonds, and Macadamia White Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I took a close-up picture of the plate, but when we sat down in the fancy dining room to eat the dishes after the class, the chef only put tiny dabs of some of the dishes on the plates. What is THAT all about? Luckily, he was generous with the cookies.

Ron worked on the mango salsa and I was on the team that made the snow peas. Ron had to cut up a jalapeƱo pepper for his salsa so he had to be very careful not to rub his eye. I had two art classes and Ron attended a great lecture about Pearl Harbor. Another great day at sea.