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Holland America Rotterdam Cruise
March 8 - April 9, 2010

Hawaii and the Islands of the South Pacific



Wow! We are sitting on the Crater's Rim
of the Kilauea Volcano on the "Big Island" of Hawaii.
  Even though the landscape is almost lunar inside the steaming Caldera, the nearby path to the Thurston Lava Tube is almost Jurassic in vegetation.
Several waterfalls, including Rainbow Falls, spill out from streams on the "wet side" of the island.   All over the area we saw steam rising
from "vents" in the earth.
On Maui, we went whale watching in a Zodiac boat. There were over 600 whales in the bay.
Mothers were preparing their calves for the trip north to Alaska at the end of next month.
In Honolulu, Oahu, we visited Pearl Harbor and saw the Mighty MO (left) and the Arizona Memorial (right).   The USS Bowfin submarine sat nearby.
Kauai is the "Garden Island" and lush
because of over 100" of rain per year.
The surf was wild with huge rolling.waves.
  Many people think it is the most beautiful Hawaiian island and taro fields fill the valleys.
For lunch in Lihue, we ate traditional "Saimin" -
noodles, won ton, hard-boiled egg, fish cakes, chopped ham and vegetables - in a tasty broth.
  Near Poipu, a blow hole called the "Spouting Horn" shot sprays of water high into the air with a roar.
On board the ship, we were served a buffet of exotic fruits for lunch. Clockwise from the front - papaya, Jackfruit (had the texture of paper and the flavor of JuicyFruit gum), Longan (texture and taste of a firm grape), Custard apple (texture of Jello, taste like plum) and Hairy Rambutan (texture of a grape, taste of peach/pear).

The South Pacific

Fanning Island is an atol that once was a volcano. The eroded center is now a beautiful lagoon. It has no electricity, cars nor running water; but the white sand and almost 2,000 friendly residents make it a lovely place.   The island families speak some English, but the native language is I-Kiribati. They don't have a currency, but sell shell jewelry, carvings and knives like these made of cocount wood and sharks' teeth for US Dollars.
Everyone we met, including the children, was very friendly and wanted to show us their homes (like this boy) who showed us the family sleeping area.   The 30 year old first grade teacher (and mother of 6 children) invited us into her classroom.
The students sit on the floor on woven mats
and write on low desks. After they are 12 years old,
the children are transfered to a secondary
boarding school on Christmas Island.
OK, let's make a deal. We'll tell you about this place, but you can't tell anybody else! The island is
in the Cook Islands
and it's every exotic thing you've every dreamed of.
  Look at this Bali Ha'i of an island just off of Muri beach, with cystal clear blue water and white sand covering the entire floor of the lagoon. We walked to it in beautiful, warm water no more than 3 1/2 feet deep!
Here on the South Shore we found a snorkeler's paradise. The coral reef was shelter for Blue Grouper, Parrot Fish, Tetras, and many more fish than we could name. We literally saw a wall of fish just hanging in a valley of coral that we swam through.   Fruit and blossoms hung heavy on
trees and shrubs all over this island.
To quote Arnold Schwartzeneger, "We'll be back!"
In Ra'iatea,Society Islands, ten of us decided
to charter a boat to take us out to the Teavapiti Pass to snorkel near a reef motu
(a small island formed on the coral atoll which surrounds the main island, which is an extinct volcano).
  What we didn't expect to see were several Spinner Dolphins that greeted us when we entered the pass.
Just like Hawaii and Rarotonga,
Ra'iatea was filled with beautiful flowers.
  But we knew we were in French Polynesia,
when we saw that groceries in the local fishing boats
included a bag of baguettes.
What could be more appealing than celebrating
Palm Sunday amid the palm trees at Bora Bora?
  The Evangelical church was packed with people wearing island prints and lovely hats made of palm and flowers. Unfortunately, we didn't understand a word of the Tahitian French; but the traditional singing was great.
A guy named Mata took us out for a 3 1/2 tour of the Bora Bora lagoon. While he drove the boat, he played his ukulele and sang to us in his language.   Outside of the lagoon we had the opportunity to swim with non-threatening 4 foot long Black Tipped sharks in the deep water; but when we looked at the ocean floor we saw 8 foot long Lemon Sharks!
After returning to the shallow water of the lagoon, we were able to spot a huge school of stingrays and swam with them.
All day kids waited in outrigger canoes to follow our ship's tenders to the main island in order to catch their big waves.   Nearby classic over-water bungalows
(that cost around $800 per night) sat mostly empty because of the depressed world economy.
Tahiti was lush green and full of fruit and flowers.   After 52 days of cruise ship food,
Vicki is starting to look like the fertility goddess.
The lush skyline in Cook Bay, Mo'orea was dramatic. The island is only half of what is left of an extinct volcano.   On shore, the villagers had a buffet of tropical fruits waiting for us.
We had planned to take the local bus to Hauru Point to snorkel in the colorful coral, but were told the bus wouldn't come by for 30-35 minutes. The local authorities told us to
hitchhike to get there quicker.
  We got lucky; and after a couple cars passed, a French couple from Cassis picked us up. Turns out they were going to the same beach. We made friends and they drove us back to the ship after a lovely morning.
The water in Rangiroa was crystal clear,
even at the tender dock.
  We walked down the only road on the atoll (made of packed coral) and went to the lagoon side to snorkel. We saw stingrays and lots of fish, but the coral lacked color.
Nuku Hiva, Marquesas was a return to arid islands like the Canaries. The rugged mountains surrounding the bay were so servere, even a costal road was impossible.   The tiki statues showed the influence of Easter Island.
One young man was helping his father BBQ a pig in preparation for the Easter dinner tomorrow.   One of the few flat spots on the island was a
Pae Pae (traditional meeing place)
where some grizzly things may have taken place before 1845 when the French killed the war chief.
One of our favorite things about cruising is
the great friends we make, like our tablemates -
George & Patty and Mike & Irma. . .
  plus the most fun and sometimes winning Trivia team-
Mark, Yvette, Lisa, Vicki, Ron & Rick.