December 12, 2018 – Sea Day

The weather through the night was very bumpy from the large swells in the ocean making for difficult sleeping. The skies were filled with clouds and the winds were blowing. White caps could be seen everywhere.

Jorge hosted his Morning Show with coffee and muffins and he interviewed the comedian, pianist and song writer, Robbie Howard, who had performed several nights earlier. His show was the one that included impersonations of many Las Vegas performers from years gone by.

We attended a Future Cruise Presentation to see if there were any new things we should be aware of when it comes to cruising. Not much new or informative and no particular itinerary that looked appealing to us at the moment.

Hawaiian Cultural Ambassador Kainoa gave a talk on The Polynesian Migration. He discussed how the Hawaiians sailed to this most isolated island group in the world. He talked about what great sea navigators they were and still are today. Some folks believe that the Hawaiians came from southeast Asia while others believe they may have come from South America. Links have been found in both areas making people think they did sail the entire Pacific Ocean.

The afternoon included a lecture by Dr. Joe Kess about 1,000 Words of the Hawaiian Language that we Already Know. This talk discussed how many words are shared from one language to the next. Sometimes the words were translated by sound rather than the written language. Some languages, like Hawaiian, do not allow two consonants together and a word can only end in a vowel so words are often altered to fit the rules of a particular language.

Kainoa hosted a performance by fellow guests who put on a hula and ukulele show after a week of classes by the Hawaiian Ambassadors. There was a large group of participants and both the hula dancers and the ukulele players performed two songs. It was a very short and sweet performance.

The evening’s entertainment was a second show by Robbie Howard the Las Vegas impersonator and comedian. He performed a whole new set of songs.

December 11, 2018 – Sea Day

This sea day we attended cruise director Jorge’s Coffee Chat where he interviewed Entertainment Coordinator Bienelisa. Bienelisa is from Orange County, California, although her parents are from the Philippines. She is responsible for the daily bulletins called the When and Where and coordinates various activities.

Hawaiian Ambassador Kainoa presented a lecture on the Geology and Geography of Hawaii. Here he discussed how the islands were created from volcanoes and how the islands deal with these natural wonders. He also touched on the issue of tsunami’s created from earthquakes and how one of these may devastate the islands in the future.

Professor David Horne presented a talk on Hawaii-From Polynesian Monarchy to the 50thState. He discussed the monarchy of Hawaii, the British control of the island, the U.S. Territory and then the eventual statehood of the islands.

The afternoon included a talk by Hawaiian Ambassador Kainoa on the Hawaiian Lei. He showed photos of the many varieties and styles of leis in Hawaii. They are used to celebrate holidays, births, deaths, graduation, or just to be worn to church. They are worn by men, women and children every day and are just another part of daily life on the islands.

The evening’s entertainment was a show titled “On Tour” by the Amsterdam singers and dancers. However, due to the very rough seas the show was postponed. Instead of the show they showed the movie White Christmas with Bing Crosby.

When we arrived back at our cabin we found a small gift of two leather luggage tags and two luggage straps with a combination lock each.

December 10, 2018 – Sea Day

King Neptune Ceremony

King Neptune Ceremony Fish

On this sea day we crossed the equator and received a certificate from King Neptune for doing so. We crossed the equator and thus another reason to celebrate. King Neptune, or Poseidon in Greek mythology, is believed to oversee the equator. In order to secure safe passage for the ship over the equator, we had a special ceremony. Making an appearance was the cruise director, Jorge, as King Neptune and one of the Amsterdam singers, Claire, as a mermaid. They officiated a ceremony where crewmembers from different departments were brought before a panel of the captain and his officers for judgment for a variety of fictional crimes. Each set of crewmembers was then required to kiss a large fish before being covered in pink, green or blue slime and thrown in the swimming pool. The Amsterdam orchestra and some of the staff were dressed as pirates and everyone had a fun time.

The afternoon included a lecture by Professor David Horner who shared data on World Migration Over the Centuries. He showed slides and graphs revealing how, over the history of the world, there have been mass migrations of one sort or another. Sometimes people are fleeing religious persecution, famine, heat, lack of work or for other reasons. Sometimes they are just looking for a better life in another part of the world.

Next, Joe Kess lectured on Easter Island—even though we are not visiting the island on this voyage  it is out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He discussed the early days on the isolated island when they had no interaction with the rest of the world up to current times. Easter Island is a part of Chile and keeps the same time as Chile. Easter Island is located 2,237 miles west of Chile and 1,290 miles east of Pitcairn Island, making it one of the most isolated, inhabited places in the world. The island is almost triangular in shape and is approximately 17 miles in length and 8 miles in width at its widest point. It was given the name Easter Island because the Dutch discovered it on Easter Sunday in 1722. Literature suggests that Easter Island was settled around 300-400AD about the time that Hawaii was settled; however, some scientists say the island was not inhabited until 700-800AD.

The evening’s entertainment was a singer, pianist, comedian by the name of Dale Gonyea. He was very entertaining with his unique storytelling and song writing about our recent ports of call.

December 9, 2018 – Sea Day

The weather was still very warm and humid.  Although there were scattered clouds in the skies we avoided rain showers.

The morning included a virtual bridge/engine tour by our Captain, Fred Eversen. Captain Eversen is from the Netherlands and has quite a sense of humor. He has been one of the captains of the Amsterdam since 1980 so he is very knowledgeable about the operations of the ship.

Mark attended a cooking show with guest chef Felix Tai in America’s Test Kitchen. Felix, who is from Hawaii, prepared three types of Poke or raw fish cut into small squares.

For the special Sunday brunch sampler, we met up with Jim and Gail Fugate from Corpus Christie, TX. We have sailed with them on the 2013 World Cruise as well as the 2016 Far East Cruise.

In the afternoon Professor David Horner lectured on Douglass MacArthur and his life of service in the military, particularly in the Pacific with many years of service in the Philippines. He was quite a mama’s boy, taking his mother with him all over the world wherever he worked. He was married to socialites a couple of times but neither marriage lasted long.

Next, was a lecture by Joe Kess who spoke on the Voyages of Captain Cook. Captain Cook is considered the greatest explorer of the Pacific Ocean with many years of exploration and mapping of the Pacific from the northwest passage to Antarctica and from Australia to Cape Horn.

For dinner we met up with Chris and Andrea who are from Canada and have spent the last year traveling the world. We met them the first night they were on the ship in Sydney, although we had not seen much of them onboard. We seem to go in different directions at different times.

The evening’s entertainment was an Australian vocalist and recording artist by the name of Alana Conway. In addition to singing beautifully, she plays the harp. She has a soft speaking voice but she can sure belt out the songs.

December 8, 2018 – Pago Pago, American Samoa

Architecture

Portside Hillside

Market

Shipside Shopping

In the night we crossed the international dateline. This imaginary line on the earth separates two consecutive calendar days. The date line can be anywhere in the world but it is most convenient to be 180 degrees away from the defining meridian that goes through Greenwich, England. It is also fortunate that this area is covered mainly by empty ocean. Today the date line falls between Samoa and American Samoa keeping American Samoa on the same day as the rest of America.

American Samoa is located about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand and is made up of five volcanic islands and two atolls covering an area of 76 square miles. American Samoa is a tropical paradise with 90% of the islands covered in untouched tropical rainforests. The climate averages 82-83 degrees Fahrenheit year-round with the surrounding ocean waters averaging 82-86 degrees.

Pago Pago (Pronounced Pan-go-Pan-go) is the capital of American Samoa and located on the island of Tutuila. It is home to a deep-water harbor protected from wind and rough seas giving it a natural advantage for bring fish to shore for processing. Tourism, entertainment, food and tuna caning are its main industries. In 1993 two of the largest tuna companies, Chicken of the Sea and Star-Kist exported $445 million in canned tuna to the US Mainland. American Samoa has a population of about 70,000 inhabitants.

The tour we had scheduled for the day was cancelled due to a lack of people signing up for it. We instead just walked from the port around part of the harbor to explore on our own. The harbor is surrounded by steep hillsides covered in dense vegetation with most of the civilization located along the water’s edge. The main road that winds along the water’s edge has curbs and sidewalks making it an easy walk. The architecture includes many colonial style buildings and simply constructed wooden homes with corrugated steel roofs.

We visited a local market where they were selling many local fruits and vegetables like bananas, coconuts and taro root. There is a National Park located here and we stopped in at the visitor’s center where we saw a couple of interesting films about the locals. The first film we saw was about the process they use to make wall hangings from mulberry tree bark, that is then painted with natural dyes. The second film we saw was about the natural colored floor mats they weave from local plant leaves. Both of these handicrafts are very time consuming and are slowly disappearing as machines can now manufacture similar types of items much cheaper.

Mark has been staying away from the puzzle table as one of the ladies who likes to work on the puzzles is very controlling and not very nice to be around. She has been told many times that not everyone wants to work on the puzzle the same way that she does but she hasn’t learned her lesson yet. She had another fight with someone at the puzzle table and it was not pretty.

We had dinner with our young friend, Stewart, as he will disembark in Hawaii so he can return home to spend the holidays with his family. The evening’s entertainment was another BBC Planet Earth II nature film accompanied with live music by the Amsterdam Show Band, the onboard Violinist and pianist group called Adagio. The photography is beautiful.

December 8, 2018 – Apia, Upolo, Samoa

Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral

Skyline

Apia is located on the island of Upolo and is the largest city in Samoa (not to be confused with American Samoa) with a population of about 40,000. The harbor here was the site of an infamous standoff on March 15, 1889 between seven German, US and British ships. The ships refused to leave the port while a typhoon was approaching in fear of losing face. By the end of the day all of the ships were sunk except one British cruiser which barely managed to leave the port to ride out the storm. Nearly 200 American and German lives were lost as well as six ships sunk or damaged beyond repair.

Samoa, once ruled by the Germans and New Zealand became independent in 1962. It was known as Western Samoa until July 4, 1997 when it officially became the Independent State of Samoa and is now a unitary parliamentary democracy with eleven administrative divisions. There are two main islands called Savai’i and Upolu with four smaller islands. The local people called Lapita discovered and settled the islands about 3,500 years ago.

The weather had scattered clouds with signs of rain showers over the hillsides and the seas were fairly rough. We docked about 8:00am along the pier where a local group of warriors danced alongside the ship. By 8:30am guests began to go ashore on tours or independently. Kent and I were scheduled on a tour around town including the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum but it was not meant to be. By the time that we made our way to the gang way the captain decided that the swells were too great and it was unsafe for us to stay docked at the pier. He said that we had snapped three of the lines holding the ship to the dock already. He cancelled our port call and ordered all guests back on the ship. Most of the folks going on tours were taken off of the buses and brought back onboard. Unfortunately, about 50 guests had already headed out and about. The captain moved away from the pier and into the middle of the harbor where we stayed anchored for hours waiting for those guests who had made it ashore to come back to the ship by tender.  By about noon all of the guests had been located ashore and we began sailing for American Samoa.

A revised schedule of activities similar to a typical sea day rather than a port day was created and distributed. We attended a cooking class with Spencer in America’s Test Kitchen where we learned to make a pasta with garlic, chili flakes and olive oil. We also learned about a simple vinaigrette salad dressing and an olive, ricotta and basil bruschetta recipe.

Later, Professor David Horner lectured on Mutiny on the Bounty of 1789. There have been many movies and books that have told this story about the sailing with Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian. The vessel had left England in 1787 on a mission to collect and transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti to West Indies. After a five-month layover in Tahiti, during which time many of the men lived ashore and had formed relationships with the local women, they were forced to continue on their journey. After Bligh began handing our harsh punishments and criticism, Christian and other sailors forced Bligh and other of his followers from the ship.

Next, was a documentary film with Hawaiian Cultural Ambassador Kainoa called Reflecting Spirit. This film showed how the Hawaiian people were living peacefully on their own before the US took over their land and forced them out of the land to grow sugar cane and other crops to make money.  In many other situations with natives in a variety of countries, the same story occurred.

The evening’s entertainment was a Las Vegas style show by Robbie Howard. He is from Las Vegas and performs in many shows impersonating a variety of famous musical artists like the Rat Pack, Elvis and Randy Travis. He has an excellent voice as well as a sense of humor with his comedy.