Pacific Islands Cruise
Emerald Princess
October - November, 2018

By Jack Welsch

Except for our annual migration between Arizona and Pennsylvania and the none-too exciting cruise to the Mexican Riviera we took to usher in the New Year of 2018, we had not taken a major trip since 2014. Given the activities surrounding the move of our legal residence to Arizona, the sale of our house in PA, the sale of our first house in Arizona and purchase of and move to a second, I suppose that was too be expected but a relaxing cruise was long overdue.

Linda continues to get weekly e-mails from Alan Schiller at and this one struck a chord since I'd just recently mentioned a desire to return to Tahiti and we'd lamented the necessary long flights. The trip was 28 days with calls at 4 islands in Hawaii, Samoa, American Samoa and 3 islands in French Polynesia. The cruise was on Princess so our Platinum status with them would be a plus. We'd had to forego a number of attractive trips but this one fit neatly into our schedule, starting 3 days after a visit by our son and daughter in law and ending 2 days before Thanksgiving.

When I called to book the cruise, it was Alan himself who took the call. Before hanging up, I asked whether he'd be going. Sadly, not. In fact, no one from his organization would be accompanying us.

The Emerald Princess, while not one of the ludicrous mega-ships is big; way to big for us. Actually, that’s not fair; it’s actually smaller than several others we’ve been on but it crowds on a lot more passengers! Tale a look at the charts below.

I know the cruise companies are building larger and larger ships and people are flocking to them. Our opinion is that smaller is most definitely better. In fact, the 680-or-so-passenger "R" ships that were sold off to Azamara, Oceana and Princess when Renaissance went under are our favorites. Our trips on the Tahitian (now Pacific) Princess and the Azamara Journey were the best ocean cruises we've taken.

In addition to giving the constant feeling of being part of a herd of cows on board, the larger ships must avoid smaller ports altogether or rely on tender services. Making matters worse, getting thousands of passengers ashore via tender takes hours and the task of getting them back aboard is equally troublesome. Of course, it also means that you get to see every port at its worst, jammed with tourists!

Please, don't bother to respond with reasons that I'm wrong; I've explained what we like, not what you should like. Besides, the more people who go on the big ships, the fewer who will be fighting for room on the small ones. Everybody wins!

Anyway, in case you like being treated like a sardine, here is some info:


"Complimentary" Dining

The main dining rooms are the Michelangelo, the Da Vinci and the Botticelli. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea are served in the Botticelli. For dinner, the Michelangelo is strictly for "anytime" dining and the Botticelli for traditional dining with fixed seatings at 5:30 and 7:45. DaVinci is a hybrid with traditional seating at 5:15 and anytime starting at 7:30. We had chosen traditional late seating and had an excellent waiter. Even acknowledging that the food on Princess was never gourmet, we found the selections here limited and the food sometimes disappointing. The same menu kept repeating so, before long, dinners became pretty boring.

The Horizon Court Buffet is open from 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM, serving breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Café Carib, immediately aft of the Horizon Court, serves breakfast and lunch using essentially the same menu. When we had to eat there due to scheduling, we found breakfast OK but lunch to be something short of that. Better choices are the Trident Grill and the pizzeria located near the pool. There is also an ice cream shop there.

Room service is available 24 hours a day.

"Premium" Dining

There are several options but fewer than on comparable ships. All involve an upcharge. The Crown Grill is a steakhouse. Salty Dog serves pub grub in a corner of the Wheelhouse bar. Share is allegedly an upscale venue with a mixed menu. (Sorry for the poetry.) The International Café in the atrium serves gourmet coffees and pastries, etc.

Bars, Lounges, Etc.

The Adagio Bar is a relaxing one with a great view. During the day it's a great place to hang out and read or play cards but there are no services until the bar opens at 5:00.

Crooners specializes in Martinis but has other drinks as well. On this trip, the same pianist/singer appeared there every night.

Vines is a wine bar offering premium wines at reasonable prices. With each glass, you can have a complimentary plate of sushi or tapas, the menu for which varies daily. It's located near the Piazza so you can listen to the entertainment while you enjoy your wine. Service there is excellent

The Wheelhouse is a relaxing, nautical-themed venue. On previous Princess cruises, it offered nice music for dancing or relaxing and was where you could generally find us before and after dinner. There was good music there during the first week or so of the cruise. After that, however, the same "entertainer" was there almost every damned evening and he was, in our opinion, absolutely terrible. He played guitar and screeched rather than sang. I think Princess could have hired someone better from almost any bar in the US and, unless he's the nephew of the captain, I can't conceive of why he was onboard.

The Explorers' is larger. It is a site for music, dancing and other entertainment such as game shows and so on. Club Fusion is a more modern venue and Skywalker’s, with its panoramic, view is a great place for watching the sunset and, if you're so inclined, late-night dancing.

There’s a bar and a cigar room in the casino and, naturally, there are outdoor bars near the pool.

Other Features

Of course, there is a casino, the Princess Theater for the twice- (or thrice-) nightly shows, a spa and fitness center, several pools and "Movies Under the Stars". As you’d expect, there is an Internet Café and Wi-Fi of various strengths throughout the ship. Internet connections on ships are via satellite and invariably slow but on this ship, it seemed especially so. Our "Platinum" status granted each of us 500 minutes of free Internet but, had I been paying by the minute as was once the case, I'd have been furious. On previous trips, we could buy packages for certain numbers of minutes but, from what I read, there were no such offerings here; you could only buy per-day packages at the incredibly high rate of from $14.99 to $29.99 PER DAY! This for horrible service? Really??


Here are some comparisons to some other ships we've been on.


Hilo (“Big Island” of Hawaii), Hawaii

IIn Hilo, the ship docks at a container port and "downtown" Hilo is a short drive or moderately long walk away. Not that we care a lot but one would think there's be some shops or stands at or near the dock but there were none; the huge facility was virtually empty. It being Sunday with the possibility of many shops being closed, we did not bother with town once we returned from the Helicopter ride. Walmart was wise enough to offer a free shuttle to their store and, based on the number of Walmart bags we saw, did a land office business!

Honolulu (Oahu), Hawaii

On our previous visit, we were docked near the Aloha Tower, where there are a lot of shops. This time, we were at Pier 2 at another empty terminal. It's not a terribly long walk to Aloha Tower or many other shops and restaurants but, as we were unimpressed with Honolulu the last time we visited, we didn't bother leaving the ship after returning from Pearl Harbor.

Nawiliwilli (Kauai), Hawaii

Again, there is nothing of interests at the dock so those not on a tour must hire a taxi or walk or take the free shuttle to Anchor Cove, a nearby area of shops and restaurants. Anchor Cove has some nice shops and restaurants as well as a small park and beach. On a previous visit, we had hired a taxi to give us a private tour and it was very worthwhile; the island is beautiful!

Lahaina (Maui), Hawaii

This was our first visit to Maui and I wished we had more time to explore the island. As it was, by the time we got the tender to town, we had time only to see the area of Lahaina near the docks. Though it was, naturally mobbed with tourists, it was very quaint. There were many shops, ranging from expensive jewelry stores and art galleries to the tacky shops selling the same tourist junk you find on any island.

Apia, Samoa

Since we had taken a private tour in a taxi the last time we visited, we planned to just walk around Apia. Being Sunday, though, shops we closed so we saw nothing but the temporary stalls set up at the pier. It's worth saying, though, that the people were incredibly friendly.

Pago Pago, American Samoa

I'm sorry but, again, I have little to say as the weather was lousy and we’d visited before so we did little in Pago Pago. On our last visit, we'd taken a private tour in a taxi and enjoyed the experience. This time, though, we were able to visit Sadie Thompson's for a very enjoyable lunch. Food was good, though not great, and service from the very friendly waitress was excellent.

Vaitape, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

The lagoon at Bora Bora is stunningly beautiful, especially on a sunny day. Ships must anchor offshore so it's a tender port. Vaitape, where the tenders dock had expanded greatly in the 15 years since we were last there but it still has, for all practical purposes, only a single street. If there was a good restaurant within easy walking distance, we didn't find it. There are a lot of stores, many of which were pearl shops with prices that were not cheap. Bloody Mary's is a famous eatery but it's a bit far from the dock and, with a ship in, utterly jammed. Just a bit farther along is the delightful La Matira Beach Restaurant. My hope is that it remains as unspoiled as it now is.

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

It must be said that I absolutely adore Papeete. My wife asked me to explain why I feel that way and I cannot; it's just magical to me. If course, my love of most things French comes into play and I do get to practice my French in the tropics. Objectively, it's a small city that is rather crowded with narrow streets that are laid out at crazy angles. Traffic is heavy but not overly so. There is not a lot of opulence but neither have I seen a lot of obvious poverty. The broad Blvd Pomaré winds along the lagoon's coastline, separating the marina from the shops. Along it are a number of outside cafés reminiscent of Paris. I find it very pleasant.

The large, 2 story Papeete Market offers everything from fruits and vegetables to tourist junk to pearls. Hula dancers were performing in the center. All in all, it’s a fun place to visit. The relatively small cathedral is beautiful in its simplicity and the Polynesian-themed stations of the cross are inspiring.

Moorea, French Polynesia

We stayed on board during this visit so I have nothing new to report except to say that everyone who went ashore were singing its praises when they returned. I did write a bit about Moorea in my report from our previous visit.


Tuesday, Oct, 23rd – Home to San Pedro, CA

We were up before the 6:00 AM alarm and standing on the front patio awaiting our ride when Eric called to wish us bon voyage. We answered by singing our normal intentionally off-key rendition of Happy Birthday in recognition of his 42nd. Our driver, Mark, pulled in a few minutes before his scheduled 7:15 and we set off for Sky Harbor (PHX) via AZ 101 and I-10. Unfortunately, between the time he'd checked traffic and the time we left, traffic on the 10 had snarled. We were still early into Sky Harbor and checked in, passed through the TSA pre-check line, had an OK breakfast at Four Peaks and were at the gate well before boarding. The flight was blessedly short and uneventful and we arrived at LAX a few minutes early.

Ours were among the first bags off the belt but the arranged transfer was lousy. Linda called the number we'd been instructed to call and waited forever for someone to answer. Then she could not understand the person on the other end. She tried to tell him where we were but he said to just go to the curb and wave down a red van. In the meantime, many other Travel With Alan folks were still trying to get through. Eventually we waved down a van and we and another couple climbed into the remaining seats, leaving many frustrated others still on the curb waiting for someone to answer the phone. Certainly not the service we've come to expect from Alan.

Anyway, the drive to the pier was swift and, between the sparse crowd and our priority status, we were quickly aboard. From home to our cabin, D322 took just over 6 hours.

Our steward, Mario from Mexico City, delivered one of the bags so, after unpacking that and the carry-on, we explored the ship a bit to get ourselves reacquainted, then had cheeseburgers at the Trident Grill near the pool.

The lifeboat drill was horrible. Our station was the Casino. It was hot as hell, the only seats were straight-back chairs and they were having audio issues so we were there for well over 1/2 hour. Of course, these drills are never good and, though this was not the worst we've endured, it still stunk.

When we got back to the room, our second bag had been delivered so we got that unpacked, settled in and loafed on the balcony. I did a little writing, then we changed and went to a reception in Club Fusion for Platinum, Elite and Full Suite passengers. Since the signs said “Elite Lounge, that’s what I’ll call it from here on. It was certainly not as nice as on previous cruises but I guess that's how the world is going.

We enjoyed the Sunshine Duo in the Wheelhouse before dinner. These two, very talented young women play a broad range of music on electronic violins. Our legs were killing us so we didn't dance. In hindsight, we should have since, later, there were damned few opportunities to dance comfortably.

We had signed up for late traditional dining and were at table 11 in the Botticelli Dining room. Coincidentally, it was the same table we'd been on when we were on this ship in 2014. A nice table group again, Dick & Sheila, Ginny & her daughter, Lauren and Cathy & Sharon.

After dinner, we headed for the cabin. Linda went to bed immediately and I shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, Oct, 24th – At Sea

I awoke before 7:30 to an overcast day. It was quite cool on the balcony so I read on the couch. I was in the shower when Linda awoke and we had dinner with Bill and Linda from near Denver. Weather remained cool and sea was a bit rough with seas of 4-7.5 ft.

We chilled in the room with Lin watching TV while I wrote and read. Because it was still cool, we did a little shopping for cover-up for Linda, checked at the Captain's Circle desk about free Internet access, then did some more exploring. As expected, the Horizon Court buffet was a zoo.

Noon position was 20° 0.9' N, 122° 11.8' W. The sky was sunny at that point with a temperature of only 64° F and winds of 18 kts. A bit after noon, we set off for the Botticelli, where we had a nice lunch with two other couples. My chicken korma was excellent. By the time we got back the sea was reported as "rough" with seas to 12' but, to me, it seemed smoother than it had been earlier.

We just loafed and napped through the afternoon and went to the Elite Lounge just before 5:30. That was a mistake as it was a zoo at that time. By the time we left around 6, the crowd had thinned considerably so we agreed to arrive later on future nights. We sat for a while in the Wheelhouse, then went to the atrium for ballroom dancing with the Princess Orchestra. They were very good but the small dance floor was jammed solid with a bunch of ignoramuses who felt everyone should dodge out of their way as they swung themselves wildly about. Our instructor had told us that, when the floor is crowded, good etiquette demands that you “keep it tight”. Apparently, these jerks didn’t have similar instruction.

Dinner was delightful again. The only problem with the menu was that there were several excellent choices. Lin and I both had lamb shank and it was delicious. Peter, our waiter, was able to get me goat cheese for dessert. We went straight to the room. Lin hit the rack immediately. I tried to read on the balcony but it was pretty cool and began drizzling so I came inside. Set the clocks back and went to bed.

Thursday, Oct, 25th – At Sea

It was much warmer but still a bit rough when I awoke at 7:45. I read on the balcony and had just moved inside when Lin awoke and we got dressed for breakfast. Ate at the Botticelli with folks from FL and AZ. By the time we left the dining room, the ship's motion made it difficult to walk a straight line. Spend the morning in the room with Lin watching TV and me reading and writing.

The ship's position at noon as we headed for lunch was 27° 12'N, 131° 33.6' W. After lunch in the Botticelli, we went to an excellent lecture on volcanos in the theater. We were going to attend another one on the moon but were tired so returned to the room. I did some editing of my book and took a nap before we dressed for the black-tie evening. However, we held back a bit so the mob in the Elite Lounge would die down. There was dancing in the Wheelhouse but the floor was mobbed and the jerks were in full force.

Dinner with the group was again enjoyable, especially since we had all rearranged ourselves again so we were seated next to other people. Bed after dinner.

Friday, Oct, 26th – At Sea

I awoke at 7:30 to yet another cool, cloudy day. Our breakfast was again in the Botticelli, but this time at a window at the stern with two delightful couples; one from long island and the other from Victoria, BC. After breakfast we had a brief look at a pickleball game on deck 19 and the Skywalker Lounge on 18 before retreating to the room. Still cold and cloudy; this is a lot like our summer in PA but without the rain. They are saying we might get that before the day is over, too. By 10:00 we had finally sailed out from under the clouds that we'd endured since leaving LA. The temperature had risen as well. Given that our cabin is on the port side of the ship and we were traveling west, there was little hiding from the sun but it was still nice to have it!

Noon position was 24° 37.6’ N 139° 56.7’ W. Sky was cloudy with temperature of 73.4° F and wind of 18 kts.

Lunch was again in the Botticelli and the three couples with whom we ate were delightful. The afternoon was a repeat of the others but I made a decent dent in the editing of my book. We skipped the Elite Lounge, sat for a bit at Crooners' Bar and then watched a surprisingly entertaining mentalist show in the Explorers' Lounge. We took a peek at the entertainer in Crooners' but headed for the cabin and set the clocks back another hour. Again, Lin hit the rack and I read a but on the balcony before joining her.

Saturday, Oct, 27th – At Sea

Before we'd retired, we'd ordered room service breakfast and it was delivered shortly after we awoke and dressed. Breakfast, of course, was on the balcony. A bit later, we went down to do some shopping and explored the upper decks a bit. As expected, there were no seating available in the shade. It's a bit aggravating that a lot of lounge chairs are locked up while there is a lot of room to put them on deck.

Noon position was 21° 50.8’ N 148° 47.7’ W. Sky was mostly cloudy with temperature of 77° F and wind of 15 kts.

Another lunch at the Botticelli and then to the room to read and write. In the evening, went to the Elite Lounge, then to the Piazza for a man and woman called the Hawaiian duo, then dinner and bed. At about that time, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer.

Sunday, Oct, 28th – Hilo ("Big island" of Hawaii), Hawaii

We had set the clocks back yet again and awoke before 7:00 as we approached Hilo on a lousy day; low overcast with some rain visible in the distance. Before long, it started to drizzle. At 9:40 we were in the terminal on the pier to meet our tour, which was a Blue hawaiian helicopter tour of where the recent volcano eruption had occurred. There were 4 helicopters, two A-Stars and two EcoStars. We were on an EcoStar, which held 6 passengers plus pilot. By the time we boarded, it was raining rather hard but it soon stopped. The ceiling was low and the pilot, Ron, was doing a bit of jigging to stay clear of the scud while squawking 1200. This is a surreal landscape to be sure. The recent flow was quite extensive and we saw what was left of what it hit. A strange thing that people had begun building on a previous flow; I guess they think it can't happen again.

Back on the ship, we ate at the Trident Grill before retreating to the room. Sky at noon was still overcast with a temperature of 79° and breeze of 4 kts.

The Elite Lounge was serving smoked salmon that I enjoyed but Lin had to stick with cheese. For the first time in years, we went to the show in the theater. It was a quartet called "The Modern Gentlemen" and they did some Frankie Vallie, Beach Boys, etc. For 10 years they were the group behind Frankie Vallie himself. Great show. Bed afterwards.

Monday, Oct, 29th – Honolulu (Oahu), Hawaii

I was up before 7. We were already docked at pier 2 and it was cloudy again; ugh! Again, met for the tour before 9:50, this tome for Pearl harbor. Driver/guide was Greg and he was entertaining as hell; great sense of humor. A long day, though. First had to stop so those who brought the carry-ons they'd been told not to could check them. Then to the USS Missouri. we skipped the guided tour. Lin went with me for a while but then retreated to the dock. having seen the North Carolina a few years ago, I explored a bit but didn't go below decks. We sat together on the dock before boarding the bus.

Next stop was the USS Arizona memorial. We had time for museums, etc. but we just grabbed some snacks and relaxed until it was time to see the movie and take the boat. The movie was heart wrenching, as was the monolog that accompanied the boat ride. Unfortunately, due to some structural problems with its doc, we were unable to visit the memorial itself but the tender spent time on each side of it and turned around so everyone, at least those not in the middle, had a good view.

Sky at noon was overcast with some showers, temperature was 84° and wind 8 kts. Back on the ship, I had pizza and Linda ice cream by the pool, then I swam a bit and we both sat by the pool.

After a short rest in the room, we went to an absolutely fantastic show by a bunch of girls aged 6-16 from a local hula school. Unfortunately, though understandably, we were prohibited from taking pictures. One 8-year-old was absolutely precious; she was nervous until the music started but then she killed it!

Dick and Sheila were AWOL from dinner as they were off with friends who live in Honolulu. Again, bed after dinner but we were still at the dock as all-aboard time was not until 10:30.

Tuesday, Oct, 30th – Nawiliwili (Kauai), Hawaii

We were awakened early by alarms on our cell phones warning of flash flooding on Kauai. I went out onto the balcony as we were approaching the pier to find the water looking more like café au lait from the river runoff. The balcony showed evidence of a lot of rain during the night and the sky was cloudy once again but showed some signs of clearing. After breakfast, we chilled for a while and, at about 10:30, started the short walk to the shops at Anchor Cove. I bought two tropical shirts and we walked around a bit before lunch at a perfect table at "Dukes" at the Marriott on the beach. Lunch for both of us was swordfish and chips. While the scenery was nice, it was made a bit bizarre by the milk-chocolate colored breakers!

Sky at noon was overcast with some showers, temperature was 88° and wind 8 kts.

The main attraction at the Elite Lounge was sushi. I selected several pieces of salmon nigiri and promptly dropped one into my bowl of soy sauce, splashing my beautiful, white tropical shirt. At least it wasn't the one I'd bought earlier in the day! After a quick dash to the room to change, we had a bit more to eat and drink at the Elite Lounge, then moved to the Wheelhouse before dinner. To the room after dinner as usual.

Wednesday, Oct, 31st – Lahaina (Maui), Hawaii

We were anchored off Maui when we awoke. Though there were still some clouds, the day was the first truly nice one of the trip. This is a tender port so we took our time over breakfast and relaxed in the room, hoping that the mobs would have dissipated before we attempted to get the tender. At about 10, we headed down, assuming that we'd no longer need tender tickets. Wrong; though they'd started tender operations at 7:15, they were still insisting on tender tickets when we went down after 11!

We eventually made it to Lahaina and walked around the rather charming, though touristy, town. There is a banyan tree there that is absolutely huge; certainly the largest I've ever seen. We lucked out with a seaside table at Lahaina Fish Co. I had tuna sashimi, which was fantastic! Lin enjoyed her fish and chips as well. After walking a bit more and buying nothing at all, we joined the LONG line for the tender and, an hour later, arrived at the room.

The day was partly cloudy with noon temperature of 84° and only a light breeze.

Evening was Groundhog Day.

Thursday, Nov. 1st – At Sea

I awoke to a beautiful sunny day at 7:30 and Lin was up shortly thereafter. After breakfast, the steward came by to collect the passports which are promised back in a week or so. Feels strange being without them.

I spent some time on the book but much of the morning reading in the shade on the promenade deck. Noon position was 15° 32' N 159° 2' W. Sky was mostly sunny, noon temperature was 80° and wind was 25 kts. After lunch in the Botticelli, it was back in the room to read and write. I took a nap. So far, I've napped more on this cruise than I have in months and it's just starting!

We went a bit late to the Elite Lounge, then to the wheelhouse where we sat with a very nice couple from Cape Cod while listening to the Sunshine Duo. To the room after dinner.

Friday, Nov. 2nd – At Sea

I awoke at 7:30 to more clouds. I feel like we've sailed into Pennsylvania! Nice table at breakfast so we didn't get out until almost 10. By prior arrangement, we met Dick & Sheila for cards at 11:00. We'd arranged to meet at the explorer's but that was set up for the art auction do we moved to the Fusion. They taught is the game of "10s". We plated two 4-round games and, amazingly, I won both! Then we taught them 14 and I won that as well. As I almost never win at cards, it was an amazing event!

After cards, the four of us had lunch at the Horizon Court. Though we enjoyed chatting with Dick & Sheila, neither Lin nor I were at all impressed with the buffet so we'll be resuming lunches in the dining room. While we were eating, it was pretty foggy and even rained a bit but then cleared somewhat. Noon position was 8° 14’ N 161° 58’ W.  Sky was overcast with showers, temperature of 87° F and gale-force winds of 35 kts.

Hung in the room for the afternoon. Skipped the Elite Lounge again and sat in the Wheelhouse listening to the not-so-great singer Jon jones. Room after dinner as always.


Saturday, Nov. 3rd – At Sea

Woke to a cloudy day but it eventually cleared up and was not too bad. Sat in the room and on the balcony virtually all day.

Noon position was 0°11' N 165° 0' W.  Skies were partly cloudy, temperature was 82.4° and winds 20 Kts.  At 12:34 we crossed the Equator t 165° W.  There was a "crossing the line" ceremony on deck, but, already shellbacks, we remained in the dining room having lunch!

Dressed for the formal evening, skipped the Elite Lounge again and got a good seat for the Sunshile Duo in the Piazza. When they finished, the Princess orchestra came on for ballroom dancing but, again the place was a freak show; crowded as hell, ignorant people dancing dramatically without regard to others, a bunch of guys with tee shirts that were supposed to look like formal shirts, vests and ties and a lot of Asian guys wearing hats. We bailed a little early to work our way to the dining room.

After dinner we went to the Adagio where the orchestra was playing some great jazz. I enjoyed it but Linda did not as the only seats were very close to the band. She encouraged me to stay while she retreated but I did not. Tried to read on the balcony but got driven in by rain.

Sunday, Nov. 4th – At Sea

Allegedly, the Southern Cross became visible to us at 4:00 AM but, for some reason, we missed it! 
It was cloudy when we awoke. I was up at about 7 and tried to read on the balcony but was driven in by rain twice. Bumped into Dick & Sheila on the way to breakfast so ate with them and arranged to meet in the Adagio at 1:00 for cards. At 11:00 I went to Ginny & Lauren's room to fix the wheel on Ginny's wheelchair.  The folks on the ship said they were unable to do after having it for several days. I fixed it in a few minutes.  Jerks.

Noon position was 7° 49’ S 167° 59’ W.  Sky was overcast with a temperature of 84° F and winds of 12 kts.

Though we were at the dining room when they opened at noon, they were especially slow so, at 12:50 I called Dick to say we'd be late. We met them at about 1:20, played 3 games of 10s and one of 14, moving to the Horizon part way through the latter for a snack and something to drink.

Stopped at the Crown Grill to make dinner reservations for 7:00 and got to the room at about 5:15. Went a bit late to the Elite Lounge and then to the Crown Grill for dinner. Linda ordered Filet and I a New York Strip. As always, I ordered mine blue but it was, at best, medium rare. Linda's filet, ordered as medium rare was much closer to rare. It, however, was very thick while mine was maybe 1/2 inch thick. I told the waiter I'd eat it but asked him to explain to the chef that he doesn't know what blue means. Against my protests, he brought another that was a bit better. It wasn't even a very good piece of beef. I ate a lot of Lin's filet, though, so all was well. They did have a good cheese trolley so that made me feel better.

After dinner we stopped at our traditional table to see if my "repair" of Ginny's wheelchair held up and it had; they were delighted and singing my praises. To the room afterwards.

Tuesday, Nov. 5th – Pago Pago, American Samoa

It was terribly cloudy when we awoke. It had obviously rained overnight and it continued to drizzle. With a few brighter moments, it continued that way all day. At about 11, we walked into Pago Pago and had lunch at Sadie Thompson's; hamburger for Lin and Asian chicken with rice for me, both accompanied by a not-too-bad Pinot Gris. Afterwards, we walked through a rain-soaked tented market and back to the ship.

The sky at noon was overcast with showers, temperature was 82.4° F and winds were 15 kts.

After some smoked salmon at the Elite Lounge and a drink at the Piazza (dancing one rumba), it was dinner and the room. Linda encouraged me to go to the Jazz program in the Adagio but I was too tired. We had to set the clock's ahead another hour and, knowing that the Botticelli would only serve until 9:00 while in port, I put out a breakfast room service card before hitting the rack.

Wednesday, Nov. 7th (The first one) – Apia, (Western) Samoa

What happened to November 6th?? It's funny, a lot of passengers, having glanced at the itinerary, believed we'd be in Pago Pago for two days. However, the 6th was lost to the International Dateline.

Now, here’s a question; since we did not exist on Nov. 6, election day, do our votes count?  just kidding; I’m not that stupid

We were awakened at about 8:50 by the knock of the room service guy. It was cloudy and raining lightly so we ate inside. They’d forgotten my breakfast sandwich but I called and they delivered it promptly. Since the weather was still lousy, we stayed on the ship until well after 10, then disembarked and wandered through a tented market on the pier. There were no shuttles so we set off towards the taxi rank for a ride into town. We were almost there when people coming the other way said that most things in town were closed as it was a national holiday so we returned to the ship.

The sky at noon was overcast with showers, temperature was 80.6° F and winds were 15 kts.

Since the Botticelli is closed for lunch on port days, lunch was at the Horizon Court. After walking around the ship a bit, we retreated to the room. After a bit more editing, I retired to the balcony but rain drove me in again.

The captain came on the PA to say that the crossing of the dateline had caused a glitch in the ship’s information systems, meaning that they had no record of who was on the ship and who was still ashore! Therefore, every passenger was required to be in their cabin at 3:45 for a nose count. Weather continued poor and our departure was delated by an offshore squall.

We sat for a while at the far side of the Wheelhouse where the sounds of "singer" Jon Jones were not quite as harsh. For some reason, Princess had seen fit to have this guy appear almost every night in the Wheelhouse, our favorite hangout on Princess ships. When we could take it no longer, we moved to the very quiet Adagio
Sharon had hurt he back so was absent from dinner.

Wednesday, Nov. 7th (The second one) – At Sea

Why are there two Wednesday, November 7ths? The International Dateline paid back the lost day as we re-crossed it.

We'd set a wake-up for 7:45 but I was up at 7:30 to face yet another crappy day! At least it was not rainy. At 8:30, we met Dick & Sheila for breakfast in the Botticelli, then retired to the Adagio for two games of 10s and one of 14. By that time, we were ready for lunch. Lin and I went to the Botticelli while the others headed for the buffet.

Noon position was 14° 26’ S 165° 47.6’ W.  Sky was overcast with a temperature of 82.4° F and near gale winds of 30 kts.

During the afternoon, I tried to sit on deck several times but was driven in each time by wind and/or rain. The weather in this trip has been incredibly bad.

Since the Elite Lounge was offering sushi, we went there before adjourning to the Wheelhouse where, fortunately, Tetiana Panko had replaced Jon Jones. She is an excellent pianist and, unlike Jones, an excellent vocalist. For one number, a passenger that Tetiana referred to as "Miss Patty" sang. Her voice and range are incredible. I suggested to Lin that Princess should hire her and send Jones home.

Thursday, Nov. 8th – At Sea

Woke again to clouds, wind, and rough seas. Had an incredibly friendly table for breakfast. One man said, "So, I suppose you're from Arizona." When I confirmed that we were, he said that most people he'd bet seemed to be Arizonans. Strange.

Noon position was 15° 35.6’ S 157° 48.2’ W.  Sky was overcast with a temperature of 82.4° F and near gale winds of 30 kts.

The table at lunch was not quite as great; one very nice couple and four folks who were loud and overbearing. I'll not mention from which eastern city they hailed except to say that it explained a lot!

I'd planned on getting a haircut right before leaving home but had forgotten to do so and my hair was driving me crazy so I got one in the spa. Expensive, of course, but I had an enjoyable chat with the stylist, who was from South Africa. She'd had a salon there. It had been managed by her husband and, when he died, she went to sea. She's been at sea for 3 years and loves it.

We skipped the Elite Lounge and went straight to the Piazza to hear Tetiana and then, for the first time, the Galaxy Duo, a man and woman who were quite good. After dinner we went to the theater with Dick and Sheila to see a tribute to Nat King Cole by Donny Ray Evins [sic.] He was absolutely superb. Great voice, and terrific showman.

Friday, Nov. 9th – Bora Bora, French Polynesia

This was a wonderful day. I awoke to find us nearing our anchorage on the lagoon at Bora Bora. While the weather was forecast to by questionable, it was actually quite nice; more sun than clouds. Bora Bora is spectacular; one of the most striking locations we’ve ever visited. The basalt volcano core is striking and the colors of the lagoon a color that can be neither described or captured on film. The bad news, of course was that this is a tender port so getting off the ship, especially one as large as this, is a major hassle.

The sky at noon was partly cloudy, temperature was 80.6° F and winds were a near gale of 27 kts.

We'd originally planned to get a cab to the famous Bloody Mary's, where we’d had a great dinner during our previous visit.  Then we learned that a lot of tours were going there so scratched that idea. Once on shore we walked around a bit, trying without success to find a nice restaurant near the pier. It seemed to us that someone could make a fortune with such an enterprise but I guess the locals disagree. After some searching, I found a cabbie who took us past the mobs at Bloody Mary's to Restaurant Matira Beach. It’s a nice little place right on the water with wonderful service. No one spoke English, though, so if I didn't speak French it might have been a little difficult. Lin had a delicious fish burger and I a spicy tuna burger with fresh tuna. We enjoyed a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with it and finished up with Profiteroles. Before we settled up, I kicked off my shoes and walked in the water. Can't come to the Pacific and not at least touch the water!  As promised, the cabbie returned at 2:00 and returned us to the dock. 

Did some shopping but came away empty except for a really nice tee shirt.

After a stop at the Elite Lounge, we went to the Explorer to hear another presentation by Donny Evins, this time soul music. He was again outstanding.

Saturday, Nov. 10th – Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Another wonderful day. We awoke to find the ship docked right in town. Once again, the forecast was lousy and, fortunately, once again they were wrong. We slept late, had room service breakfast on the balcony and left just before 10. Lauren had said she hated to go ashore on her own so she went with us. We were looking for pearls for Lin and I was hoping to find something nifty in the market. Last time here, I bought two very nice, small, original oil paintings (you could still small the oil) at a ridiculously low price.  They still hang in the sun room at the lake.  We were initially disappointed on both fronts. Eventually, Lauren left to spend time with her mom. We set off to check out some possibilities for dinner and then to Les Trois Brasseurs, where we'd had lunch years ago. Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn and we walked far out of our way. Lin was exhausted so we settled for a quiche and a croque monsieur at a little snack bar.

When we left there, we decided to continue to Les Trois Brasseurs to see if it would be a good dinner alternative. It wasn't. Anyway, as we waited for the "walk" signal to cross the very busy Avenue du Prince Hanoï, a man said, “Let's go”, and got us across. When I thanked him, he handed me a flyer for a pearl shop and said "That's my shop." We'd about had it with the high prices of pearls here so were tempted to blow it off but, since he was such a nice guy and the shop was a few doors away, we had a look. Boy, am I glad we did! "Cicorella Designer; The Black Pearl Center" is a small shop but their jewelry was both beautiful and affordable. Because of the prices, I was a bit apprehensive of the authenticity but we were furnished certificates for each piece. Since this was one of their 4 shops in town, I have to believe they are legit. While Lin was shopping, I had a long chat with the proprietor. I admit that my French got a bit of a workout as he spoke rapidly in spite of my several admonitions to slow down. Anyway, it was fun and, before Lin had even bought anything, he gave me a small "cadeau" of a single pearl on a bracelet of waxed cord. Neither he or the woman waiting on Lin spoke English but, though she speaks only a few words of French, Linda had no problems making her purchases. She only called me in to get the confirmation of authenticity.

The sky at noon was sunny (hurray!!!), temperature was 80.6° F and winds were 12 kts.

By the time we finished there, Linda was really exhausted so we struggled back to the ship. After a bit of a rest, I headed back out alone. I took my Kindle, thinking I'd just sit and listen to the live music in the park but that had finished so I walked around, heading South on Blvd Pomaré. Along the way I bought a magnificent linen/cotton tropical shirt and, later, an ice cream. We'd been unable to visit the cathedral earlier since it appeared a wedding was in progress so I did so. It's a beautiful place. I'd forgotten the paintings for stations of the cross and took a photo of each one.

While we'd hoped to have dinner in town, we were both exhausted and were concerned that, this being Saturday, we'd be unlikely to get into anything good. I rather wanted to try the roulottes, the famous food trucks that set up shop at the port every night. Sadly, as happended during out last visit, Linda was concerned about food safety so we stayed aboard.

Lin wanted to attend the "Papeete Folkloric Show" but, though we headed towards the theater more than a half hour before showtime, the lines were incredible. Therefore, I grabbed some shrimp at the Elite Lounge and we headed to the Piazza for the Sunshine Duo, followed by Tetiana. Once again, passenger "Miss Patty" sang. This woman is fantastic; if she doesn’t sing at the Wet, she should! Sadly, they didn't give her a microphone and she was in the elevator lobby behind the piano so she was hard to hear.

Sunday, Nov. 11th – Moorea, French Polynesia

We slept late, waking at about 9:00 to the best day yet. Bright blue sky with very few clouds. Given the time, we had to have breakfast at the buffet. Moorea is, again, a tender port. Having been here before and this being Sunday, we stayed on the ship.

The sky at noon was sunny again (hurray again!!!), temperature was 80.6° F (either the temperature is incredibly consistent or the ship’s thermometer is stuck!) and winds were 16 kts.

I changed into my bathing suit and we had pizza on the Lido deck, then sat by the pool to read. The Elite Lounge was featuring beef tartare so we skipped it. It being Groundhog Day again, we listened to Tetiana and the Sunshine Duo before dinner.

Dick & Sheila were AWOL, having been invited to join friends at a nearby table. It's notable that my smoked salmon in puffed pastry appetizer and my Tandoori Chicken entre were both wonderful. Incredibly, it was probably the best tandoori Chicken I've ever had!

Monday, Nov. 12th – At Sea

We set the alarm for 7:45 as we planned to meet Dick, Sheila, Lauren and Ginny for breakfast, then play cards. The weather was clear when I awoke at about 6:00. I'd thought my pedicure appointment was in the afternoon but, when I checked, found that it was at 10:45 so we had to reschedule cards for the afternoon. That worked out, though, as we'd been asked to be in the room in the AM for the return of our passports.

Noon position was 12° 42.9’ S 147° 39.4’ W.  Sky was sunny with a temperature of 80.6° F and winds of 18 kts.

Lin and I had lunch alone in the Botticelli, waited a bit and joined Dick and Sheila in the Adagio for cards. Lauren was AWOL. As we were playing, it got very foggy and started to rain. Ugh!

As we headed out for the evening, we found a paper in the mailbox requesting info for disembarkation. The info we had from Alan was that we were to request 8:30 but the paper gave only options for time blocks, the earliest being 8:00-10:00. Hmmm...

Tonight was another formal one. There was a Captain's Circle reception that preempted the Elite Lounge but we blew it off. Another Ground Hog day of entertainment so we blew off Tetiana and the Sunshine Duo. There are only so many times you can listen to the same stuff, no matter how good it is. We sat in the far corner of the Wheelhouse so Jon Jones was not quite so loud. Lord, is this guy's voice piercing; To me, it is like chalk on a blackboard.

Lauren was AWOL at dinner and Ginny said she was sick. That explained her absence at the card game. There was discussion about the disembarkation issue. After diner, we joined Dick and Sheila for the "I Got The Music" [sic.] production show in the theater. It was excellent but terribly loud.

Tuesday, Nov. 13th – At Sea

We set the alarm for 7:45 as we planned to meet Dick, Sheila, Lauren and Ginny for breakfast, then play cards. The weather was clear when I awoke at about 6:00. I'd thought my pedicure appointment was in the afternoon but, when I checked, found that it was at 10:45 so we had to reschedule cards for the afternoon. That worked out, though, as we'd been asked to be in the room in the AM for the return of our passports.

Noon position was 12° 42.9’ S 147° 39.4’ W.  Sky was sunny with a temperature of 80.6° F and winds of 18 kts.

Lin and I had lunch alone in the Botticelli, waited a bit and joined Dick and Sheila in the Adagio for cards. Lauren was AWOL. As we were playing, it got very foggy and started to rain. Ugh!

As we headed out for the evening, we found a paper in the mailbox requesting info for disembarkation. The info we had from Alan was that we were to request 8:30 but the paper gave only options for time blocks, the earliest being 8:00-10:00. Hmmm...

Tonight was another formal one. There was a Captain's Circle reception that preempted the Elite Lounge but we blew it off. Another Ground Hog day of entertainment so we blew off Tetiana and the Sunshine Duo. There are only so many times you can listen to the same stuff, no matter how good it is. We sat in the far corner of the Wheelhouse so Jon Jones was not quite so loud. Lord, is this guy's voice piercing; To me, it is like chalk on a blackboard.

Lauren was AWOL at dinner and Ginny said she was sick. That explained her absence at the card game. There was discussion about the disembarkation issue. After diner, we joined Dick and Sheila for the "I Got The Music" [sic.] production show in the theater. It was excellent but terribly loud.

Wednesday, Nov. 14th – At Sea

We set an alarm for 7:45 so we could meet Dick & Sheila for breakfast and awoke to a totally clear sky! After breakfast, we headed to the Adagio to play cards but found that there was to be a rehearsal for the pop choir so we adjourned to the open deck just aft of it. We played several games of 10s but the wind was making it difficult so we headed for Café Caribe to play 14.

Noon position was 0° 47.3’ S 140° 19.6’ W.  Sky was clear with a temperature of 79° F and winds of 17 kts.

Lunch was in the Botticelli and the afternoon was spent in the room and on the balcony. It may seem strange that we spend so much time in the room and on the balcony but it's crowded at the pool and we can sit in a more relaxed atmosphere at our choice of pools when we get back home to Arizona! At 2:59 PM, we re-crossed the Equator.

After a brief stop at the Elite Lounge, we decided to try Vines Wine Bar on deck 5. Who should we meet there but Dick & Sheila. At Vines, you can get a complimentary plate of sushi or tapas with each glass of wine. I had nigiri with my Amarone and Lin had tapas with her Sauvignon Blanc.

After diner, we joined Dick & Sheila for the 10:00 show in the theater. The show was "Country to Classical" with guitarist Duncan Tuck. His playing was fantastic and he was funny as hell; all in all, a great show.

We got to the room at about 11:00 and both went straight to bed.

Thursday, Nov. 15th – At Sea

Incredibly, it was 9:50 when I awoke and Lin got up 1/2 hour later. Of course, Botticelli was closed so breakfast was again at Café Caribe. After a brief look at the shops, it was back to the room.

Noon position was 5° 44.1’ N 136° 23.2’ W.  Sky was mostly cloudy with a temperature of 72.4° F and winds of 20 kts.

Of course, since we'd eaten so late, lunch at the Botticelli was too early for us so we decided to eat in Café Caribe. Yuck! The selections were lousy so we settled for pizza by the pool.

The Elite Lounge was featuring Sushi so we went so I could get some nigiri, then went to Vines. This time I had a delightful Montepulciano.

After dinner, we again joined Dick and Sheila for the show. This time, there were two entertainers, Ryan Ahern and Duncan Tuck. We'd missed Ahearn, a pianist and singer, two nights previously and I'm sorry we did as he was fantastic. Duncan was as good as on the previous night.

Friday, Nov. 16th – At Sea

We missed breakfast again so had to settle for the buffet. Though breakfast was late, I couldn't stand the thought of another lunch up there so we made it into the Botticelli a little late. At 2:00, we met Dick & Sheila in the Adagio for several games of 10s and one of 14. At least Linda was out of hers lump and won several games!

Noon position was 11° 48.1’ N 132° 37.5’ W.  Sky was cloudy with a temperature of 79° F and winds of 21 kts.

We'd made reservations for dinner in the Crown Grill at 7:00. This time I ordered a filet and admonished them to cook it properly this time. The word must have been out about the previous mess-up because what was supposed to be an 8 oz. steak must have been at least twice that! While it was a little more done that the almost-raw I prefer, I had no issue with it. We only had one "punch" left on our wine card and needed two bottles of wine (1 white and 1 red). I wasn't thinking clearly about how many bottles we'd need before the end of the cruise so I bought a card for another 7 bottles. Stupid!!!

Afterwards, we headed for the last "Jazzio" in the Adagio, then to the room.

Saturday, Nov. 17th – At Sea

Woke to sunny skies in time for breakfast in the Botticelli. Lunch was there as well.

Noon position was 17° 47.1’ N 128° 43.2’ W.  Sky was mostly sunny with a temperature of 77° F and winds of 26 kts.

 We had thought there was a pop choir concert in the Piazza at 3:00 so we got to Crooner's Lounge, overlooking it at about 2:00 to get seats. We got excellent seats at the railing but it turned out that the reason was because the concert didn't start until 4:30!

After dressing for dinner, we stopped at the Crown Grill to pick up the 1/2 full bottles and took them to the Wheelhouse where, Halleluiah!, Tetiana was playing instead of Jones.

I rushed to the room with the next 1/2 empty wine bottles from dinner, then met Lin, Dick & Sheila at the 10:00 show, "What a Party", an excellent production show featuring music of Cole Porter. Scenery and costumes were excellent as were the singers and dancers.

Sunday, Nov. 18th – At Sea

We awoke to a cloudy day again and it was now a bit chilly. It was too late for breakfast in Botticelli so it was up to the Café Caribe again. I just had Raisin Bran. Lin did a little shopping while I headed to the room. At 9:45 AM, we re-crossed the Tropic of Cancer. Lunch was at Botticelli.

Noon position was 23° 59.8’ N 124° 18.5’ W.  Sky was mostly cloudy with a temperature of 70° F and winds of 15 kts.

We met Dick, Sheila, Cathy and Sharon in Café Caribe for several games of 10s. Lauren came a bit late, played a few hands (very well) and left. While we were playing, the sky had cleared so she said she wanted to check on her Mom and then get some sun.

This was the last formal night. We met Dick & Sheila at Vines where we'd brought our wine bottles and had them fetch another. We shared wine at dinner as well as there's little chance our livers would survive if we drank it all!

Again, I took the extra wine to the room and met the others for the show. The show was a comedian, Steve Caouette, who was pretty funny, though not fantastic.

Monday, Nov. 19th – At Sea

Woke about 8:30 to clear skies. After breakfast in Café Caribe, we tackled the packing.

Noon position was 29° 48.5’ N 119° 40.5’ W.  Sky was partly cloudy with a temperature of a cool 64° F and winds of 15 kts.

Lunch was at Botticelli at a table by ourselves. Met Dick, Sheila and Cathy at Café Caribe for several games of 10s, then returned to the room to relax. I was resting on the balcony when someone started yelling that there was something at 10 o'clock. It turned out to be a huge pod of dolphins having a heck of a good time. Pretty nifty!

Changed for dinner and, at 6:30, met Dick & Sheila at Vines for a bit of wine before dinner.  We shared more wine at dinner and, having been so dedicated, finished the last of what I’d foolishly bought. 
Back in the room, we did the remaining bit of packing and hit the sack.  Since we’d decided to walk off wit our luggage to be sure we met the shuttle, we didn’t have to put it in the hall before bed.

Tuesday, Nov. 20th – San Pedro, CA to Home

I spend a lot of the night angry at myself for not having driven to San Pedro since we’d been able to just walk off the ship, jump in the car and drive home.  Elapsed time would be about the same and we’d not have to worry about the ^%$#$%& airport. 

Since our “walk-off” departure time was 7:35, we set the alarm for 5:45.  It went off just as we were approaching the pier.  Breakfast for the (thankfully) last time was in Café Caribe.  As Platinum members, our departure lounge. When we returned from breakfast, we figured we could sit there as easily as in the room so arrived at about 7:00.  Within minutes we were asked whether we had all of our luggage and were ready to depart.  When we said, “Yes”, we were on our way.  We breezed through the formalities and were on the dock by about 7:15. The bad news, of course, was that we then had to cool our jets until almost 9:30 when the bus departed for the airport.

It took the bus over 40 minutes to travel the 10 miles to LAX.  While we got through check-in and TSA easily, LAX was a zoo!  We had a real ditz next to us on the plane but, other than that, the flight was OK. Weather in Phoenix was, of course, the best we’d had since leaving home. Took forever to get the bags but we were soon in Mark’s car and on the way home, arriving at about 5:00.  Lin had planned on immediately going shopping since Thanksgiving and its 9-11 guests were only 2 days away but, wisely, delated it a day.  We had dinner at P.F. Chang’s which, while a chain, is one of our go-to places.  GOD, it’s good to be home.

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I wrote in my journal from the last cruise on this ship that we'd not take it again. For some reason we have ignored an awful lot of such declarations lately but I solemnly commit that we mean it this time. The ship is just too damned big! We'd though that, in spite of previous concerns, a big ship would offer more options that would be nice on a long voyage. Sadly, there were many periods in the evening when there was virtually nothing but the big show. We like to dance but, on most evenings, ballroom dancing was either in a lounge with a tiny dance floor or began at 7:30. The latter doesn't work well for those hundreds of us who had dinner at 7:45.

On the subject of late dinner seating, major events were often scheduled during 2nd seating dinner so those eating at that time had to choke down their food or forego the event.

We foolishly thought that perhaps on such a long trip, the variety of evening entertainment options would make a large ship preferable. that might have been true had there been some variety. While they swapped out some crew and some of the theater entertainers at islands along the way, the bar entertainers stayed on throughout the voyage. While some were very good, some were mediocre and one downright horrible. In any case, listening to even the good ones night after night for 4 weeks got pretty tiresome. It's interesting to note that one of the best singers by far was a passenger who occasionally accompanied the pianist!

While the staff was generally very accommodating, I think Princess has outlived its usefulness to us.