September/October 2006

Travelog by Jim & BettyAnn

Day 1 - Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

After spending the night in San Diego, at my sister's still unsold house, our Brother-in-Law Bob drove us to the Pier in Los Angles. He was in from Tennessee for two weeks, and needed a car, so that worked out really well.

Within forty-five minutes of our drop off at pier side, we were already aboard eating lunch in Windjammer dining room. This was well before the posted boarding time of 2:00PM. So we were able to compensate for our missed breakfast, do a little exploring and visiting with other folks.

Container Loading We are loosely traveling with four other couples from California; these are the folks we dined with on our Panama adventure. By sailing time one couple hadn't been accounted for, but they showed up at dinner. They live South of San Diego, and were still packing at noon. So they made last call before departure.

We've never departed from LA before, and we were across from the old Naval Shipyard. When it was closed, it was purchased by a Chinese shipping firm, and the whole place is set up for container shipping. They were loading and unloading about four ships while we were there. I'm told that all "Made in China" products are shipped through this port. The photo depicts only a very small fraction of the overall operation, which is gigantic.

The first dinner sitting was very casual as not all the luggage had been delivered yet. The main entree for the 6 course dinner was Prime Rib. We were happy to see that everyone made it to dinner, looking forward to the four sea days that we have ahead of us. After catching up on everyone's news, and after dinner was over, we went our separate ways to unpack and get ready for the exciting days ahead.

We were pretty well unpacked, so we opted to go to a show, we missed the stage show to attend the movie "Snow Dogs" which was an excellent movie taking place on location in Alaska.

Day 2 - Sunday, September 24th, 2006

I guess every day at sea is a lazy day, but today was exceptionally so. I don't think that I've ever slept until ten in the morning, at least not in recent memory (which is quite short these days). Thank God we didn't miss breakfast, which we took in the Windjammer buffet on the 11th deck. We tried a sit down breakfast in the main dining room once, but it seemed to take forever. It definitely took the fast out of breakfast, and we've never tried it again. Dinner is bad enough, but tolerable when you are in good company.

As we had a late breakfast, we skipped lunch (except for a late afternoon snack). Exploring the ship we had no trouble whatsoever finding the shops. The climbing wall, and the miniature golf course took a little longer.

Weather has not been very cooperative, with cloud cover and cool temperatures. The ships captain has promised 90 degree temperatures tomorrow. Or, as he put it, "45° in the morning, and 45° in the afternoon".

Before dinner we met Captain Lokling at the welcome aboard reception in the Colony Club. This is one of the few times that the drinks are free. Pictures were taken, and we heard all about the history of the Royal Caribbean line.

Jim & BettyAnn Now that everyone is used to their table locations, loading the mess hall goes much faster. This evening's entrée was filet of beef, which BettyAnn had. I took a fish alternative. Tonight was our first formal night, so we all fetched our best duds and decked ourselves out.

After dinner it was a leisurely hour before the stage show. Tonight's show features an African American singer and entertainer by the name of Steven Washington. He did a tribute to Nat King Cole, and Sammy Davis. His performance, as are most performances at sea, was superb. The music was from our earlier years of course, so we enjoyed the show very much.

After the show was over, BettyAnn talked me into going to a movie called "Whale", which turned out to be a documentary actually. One you might see on the Discovery Channel. It lasted about forty minutes and was about the migration of whales from Australia where they breed, to Alaska where they feed. The show was educational, but scored low on the excellent meter.

Day 3 - Monday, September 25th, 2006

We didn't sleep quite so late today (up at the crack of 9:30), so had an earlier breakfast and did a little more exploring. After that it was time for a light lunch, which consisted mainly of veggies.

We attended a digital workshop in the early afternoon, and we learned about the ins and outs of digital cameras. So now we'll see if BettyAnn's photography improves, as well as my own. The class covered memory vs. resolution, effective and actual megapixels. It also covered such things as flash range, optical and digital zoom, back lit fill-in flash techniques, and all those sorts of things. Of course they had cameras for sale to, some rather nice compact ones I might add. No I didn't buy one, mine works just fine.

Craft Class BettyAnn went off to a Hawaiian arts and crafts workshop where she will make a flower, but we got there early, so she also attended a skin care seminar from the spa. While all this was going on, I was able to start this log in a quite corner of the Star Quest Lounge where this was all taking place on deck 13. I became so involved with the log that the classes ended, and she left.

This separated us, as she went to "Learn the Hula With Spirit of Polynesia". I looked for her for awhile, avoiding the Hula thing because I was told it was standing room only. I ended up back at the room changing for dinner.

I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but I won a Raffle on the first day. It was tickets for two, to the martini clinic. BettyAnn was to meet me there, but as it turned out she had forgotten all about it (maybe on purpose).

The Martini Maker I never did like martinis, but seeing as how everything I did at the clinic was double because I had two tickets, I thought perhaps I would acquire a taste for them. Or at least get very drunk.

I learned there were several different kinds of martini's, and tasted all of the different liquors they were mixed with, as well as a basic martini. When it was time for me to make my own, it was great because I could make two different kinds, which I did.

But I couldn't drink it all, and I ended up mixing the two together in a glass, and headed for the dining room, as I was already late for supper. All that work for naught, I didn't acquire a taste for martinis, and they tasted so awfully bad I couldn't down enough to even get drunk. The souvenir martini glasses were nice though. Dinner was Hawaiian casual, so I was already properly attired. BettyAnn and I finally met up at dinner, and we both ate light. It's very difficult to control one's intake in this environment.

We can't say enough about tonight's show, which was titled "City of Dreams". We had seats at front row center. It was a singing and dancing production by the ships in-house theatrical production company. The costumes were superb, and the variation and quality of backdrops was unbelievable. The dancers were vibrant acrobatics, and the chorology was executed flawlessly. The singers were very talented and the show rivaled anything we've ever seen in Las Vegas.

After the show, we decided to skip the late movie, and head for the room.

Day 4 - Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Today has to be the earliest that we got up since the beginning of the cruise. At 8:00 AM I hit the upper deck to walk for an hour while BettyAnn put herself together. I'm starting to miss walking the dogs in the morning.

Sun on Ocean Mid-Afternoon Today is the first really sunny day that we have had, and the temperature has warmed up considerably making walking very comfortable.

Afterwards we went for a light breakfast of fruit (BettyAnn had a few other things), and we were able to eat outside.

We've reset our clocks once since we left, although I reset mistakenly again last night. We went to see last nights movie at the 10:00 AM showing, but found it too crowded. At least I did, but BettyAnn stayed on. She later told me that the movie was half over when she arrived. That's when I discovered my clock setting error.

There was a destination seminar this morning, it's generally a sales pitch for the shore excursions, and advertising the recommended shops. It's helpful to first time visitors, but we've been here several times before so we skipped it. Our main ditty this trip will be the Polynesian Cultural Center.

International Belly flop Contest One of the big events for today is the Men's International Belly Flop contest. For this event BettyAnn was one of the judges. There seemed to be no shortage of contestants for this important event which was held at the main pool on deck #11. The first round was done from the pools edge, and then the second round was done from a chair, as the pool had no diving board. The judges scored from 1 to 5, and the contestant that came in with the highest score was the big winner. The prizes Buffet Party would you expect from an all woman panel? Men's revenge was apparent however, when one of the losers mooned the panel of judges, and almost succeeded in doing the same to the spectators.

Dinner was the usual array of choices served up in as many courses. It's difficult to monitor your food intake because everything is so good, and served so appealing to the visual senses. We enjoyed the company of our other table partners, and as I mentioned before, these are the same folks that we sailed through the Panama Canal with last year.

The stage show this evening was a very talented fiddler called "From Russia with Love". The performer was born in Russia, but is now a US Citizen. His name is Yasha Konviser and he performed a violin virtuoso, which was mostly a classical show. He did deviate one time, and did one hell of a job with Orange Blossom Special which I could relate to much easier than most of the music he played. We were again in the center front row, so it was as close to having the performer perform on your lap as you can get.

The Happy Server At midnight a Hawaiian Buffet was served, with a live band, and dancing. There were ice carvings, and many of the fruits, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and Girl with Gigantic Boobs pineapples were carved and displayed as well. The band wasn't a Hawaiian band, but more of a general dance band.

Naturally there was an exhibitionist, with gigantic boobs that made a spectacle of herself. She was certainly the center attraction for most of the party. But she had a difficult time finding a dance partner that had the guts to go out on the floor. There was one guy that danced with her quite a bit, but finally his wife came out and escorted him off the dance floor by the ear. There seems to be at least one on every cruise.

We helped ourselves to a plate of fruit, and shared it. We had dinner only a couple of hours before so we really weren't hungry. The folks all around us sure seemed to be chowing down like there was this great food shortage. The party lasted a little over an hour, after which it was tomorrow, so we returned to the stateroom and went to bed.

Day 5 - Wednesday, September 27th, 2006:

Because of the late party last night, we slept in this morning, getting up around 9 o,clock and I ran up to the Windjammer for a couple of cups of coffee and hot chocolate. Later we went back up for a bowl of fruit for breakfast.

Deck Pool looking Forwards The rest of the morning was spent on deck soaking up some sunshine, which now seems to be plentiful. I finally finished the book I was reading, and took down another to start.

There were a few activities that we were going to do, but by the time we finished sun bathing it as too late. So we took a short nap instead. I managed to edit the photos that were taken yesterday, and BettyAnn did a little shipboard shopping.

Dining Table Formal Night Tonight was another formal night. Those that didn't want to dress could eat in the Windjammer, which serves the same food basically, as the dinning room.

As everyone was all spiffed-up our group posed for a professional photo on the main staircase in the Centrum. The Centrum, by the way, is on deck 4, and the top is on deck 13. There is a table on deck 13, with a glass top that looks down to the floor 9 decks below.

Hawaiin/Polynesian Dancer The Centrum has two bars, a large lounge area, and live music, generally piano, or a 3 piece band in conjunction with the piano. Tonight there was a hula dancer. The art auctions are held there, as well as occasionally a floor show. It is a main gathering place on the ship, and all the decks above overlook it. Three glassComedian & Singer Jason Chase elevators run up and down the inside on the port side, and there are also four glass elevators, on the port side that view the ocean, the doors all opening onto a common corridor between the elevator banks on each deck. This is mid-ship; there are other elevator banks at each end of the ship.

The stage show tonight was a comedian and singer by the name of Jason Chase from Platteville, Wisconsin. Being a Royal Caribbean Headliner you would naturally expect the best of the best, and I think he more than made the grade. It's hard to describe a comedian as the show moves fast, and is diversified. He had an excellent singing voice, and was a talented and accomplished musician as well. As with most of the acts that come aboard, the Royal Caribbean Show Band provides musical back-up, and it's done seamlessly as if they had been working together for years.

After the show, we visited with friends, and then went to bed because early tomorrow morning we will be in Honolulu.

Day 6 - Thursday, September 28th, 2006: Honolulu, Ohau

Our arrival in Honolulu happened in the dead of night, if you can refer to seven AM as that. At any rate, we were docked when we awoke at eight in the morning.

Hawaiin Clock Tower, Honolulu We dawdled over a breakfast of fruit, juice and coffee. Then went ashore to check out the shopping center next to the ship, where we visited Starbucks, as well as other shops. I was pleased to note that there was a Hooters there also, so much opportunity and so little time.

We met the rest of our group in front of the Aloha Clock Tower at 10:30 to catch our tour to the Polynesian Cultural Center. The center is a part of Brigham Young University, and proceeds go towards scholarships for Polynesian students. This includes students from Samoa, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii and Tonga.

Greeters at the Cultural Center The trip from the dock took about half an hour, and the driver gave a running commentary on the history of Hawaii. It was all very interesting. We arrived at the center and managed to get our tickets and everything squared away, and had our guide, Lima who was a student from Tahiti, assigned to our group of twelve (one couple was added to our group, they were from Texas).

The grounds are made up of six island villages representing each culture. We started with a canoe ride to the furthest village, and then returned through each village which was connected by bridges.

Dancer Cultural Center Each village we visited put on a show or demonstration. In Tonga we wove a fish from palm leaves, in another we learned the hula, Samoa was interesting, and the show there was biased on starting a fire with sticks. The students doing the shows and demonstrations were very talented.

Tree Climber Cultural Center We were introduced to many of the native musical instruments originally made from coconut trees, and bamboo. One of these interments was the nose flute which is played by blowing into it through the nose (but not when you have a cold). The natives playing these instruments were very talented.

There was a coconut tree climbing demo which was amazing. And a demo husking a coconut with a spear, and opening the nut it's self with two Coconut Juice Cultural Centerwhacks of a machete. A volunteer from the audience drank the coconut juice, and then the pulp was extracted with another primitive tool, and transformed into coconut milk right before our eyes.

There was also a canoe pageant involving several canoes, one from each island culture. All these shows involved native dances, and a lot of drum beading. All the students need to have a 3.2 grade point average to participate at the center. By participating they are able to earn a little extra money, which I'm sure comes in handy.

Canoe Pageant Cultural Center Once all this was finished, we had dinner and entertainment at a luau buffet. The food was typical of the cultures represented by the center. The sweet potato's were purple would you believe. I'm told that it's due to minerals in the soil where it's grown. We never were very fondStage Show Cultural Center of poi, so didn't take any at dinner.

After dinner we attended the evening show, which was about an hour and a half of nonstop dancing and action. There was a short intermission during which time Ice cream and fruit was served. The show had flaming sword twirling and throwing and included a cast in excess of 100 students.

The return trip to the ship was uneventful as everyone was tired after such a long day outside. Most folks retired for the night, as did we.

Day 7 - Friday, September 29th, 2006: Honolulu, Ohau

Our second day in Honolulu was spent shopping. Starting by finding transportation to the International Market Place. We hooked up with a nice lady outside the terminal that procured a free ride sponsored by the Maui Divers.

Maui Divers turned out to be far from free. They started out as a dive shop years ago in 1958, and evolved into divers for rare coral. They produce there own jewelry, and the trip terminated at there factory.

Shoppers Amy, BettyAnn & Cindy The tour was very interesting and we learned a lot about fine jewelry manufacturing. The showroom that we were ushered into after the tour was chucked full of rare coral, and pearl jewelry. There were necklaces, toe and finger rings, bracelets, pins, broaches, and all the things BettyAnn loves.

Man Carving After purchasing several pieces, we were finally transferred to another bus that took us to the International Market Place. It was actually a gigantic flea market which was impossible to cover in only one day.

Fortunately I brought along my book, and whilst BettyAnn and her two other shopping partners were buying out Hawaii, I read. There were a couple of internet café's so I check email as well, and then settled in at Zakes Pub to read and sip a beer.

Unfortunately that didn't last very long because I was continuously bombarded with requests requiring my opinion about one thing or another. Like I was an authority on color and pattern combinations or something, yeah, right.

Dancer at Aloha Tower Shops Anyway, by mid-afternoon we finally left the Market Place, and jumped on the free trolley to Hilo Hattie's. We wanted to return to the shopping area near the ship where the Aloha Clock Tower is located.

We really lucked out on this one (it was actually free this time), the trolley on the way to Hilo Hattie's circled around to drop off shoppers on there way home. You guessed it; the drop off point was the Aloha Clock Tower where the Radiance of the Seas was birthed.

Needless to say we didn't make it to Hilo Hattie's, duh.

Fiddler in the Centrum Adjacent to Hooters was parked the Honolulu Adventurer, a small inter-island cruise ship, and as passengers were boarding there was a band, and a group of Hawaiian dancers at the gangplank for entertainment. Sipping beer at Hooters and watching all the entertainment was great. It was like being in heaven.

I expected BettyAnn to join me when she finished her shopping, but she must have been mad or something. She called me on the telephone from the ship to tell me to return for dinner if I expected to live long enough to see another anniversary. I was growing weary of Hooters, and all the really great entertainment anyway, not to mention being hungry, so I granted her wish.

Returning to the ship, the fiddler was fiddling in the Centrum. The entertainment there is low key and generally danceable music. But people mostly just sit around.

Departing Clock Tower Dinner was Hawaiian Casual, so we ate our fill, and then headed for the stage show. Tonight's entertainer was a juggler/comedian and naturally I didn't want us to miss any of the action, so we sat in the front row.

Towel Art, Duck Guess it was my turn to be picked on, as I ended up on stage making a foolish attempt to ride a unicycle. It didn't really seem too hard, and I almost had the jest of it and was feeling pretty good about it. Of course I had a full house and a balcony full of fans cheering me on. It was when this turkey brought out the really tall one that I realized I had met my match.

It was all in good fun, and I was given a bottle of sparkling wine for my participation (actually making the juggler look really good). But now it seems that everyone on the ship knows me by my first name. It's downright embarrassing.

We departed Honolulu at eleven PM, and headed towards Maui. There was a dance at the pool deck as we sailed away from Honolulu, but the lady with the gigantic boobs wasn't in attendance.

Returning to our stateroom, we found that the steward had left a towel art on the bed. We retired confident that we would have another day of shopping starting early in the morning.

Day 8 - Saturday, September 30th, 2006: Lahaina, Maui

We set the alarm for six-thirty, so were up by seven-thirty and finished breakfast before nine in the morning. We didn't groupie for shopping today, but struck out on our own. Tender/Life BoatThe sister ship to ours (the Serenade of the Seas) was also at Maui so to avoid confusion about returning to the Radiance of the Sea, an orange sticker was attached to our sea passes (shipboard ID and credit card).

Banyan Tree There are no docking facilities at Maui for a ship as large as the Radiance of the Seas, so we were tendered to shore in the tenders (life boats). Wow, a free harbor cruise.

The only difference between a tender and a life boat is the number of people allowed aboard. Guess if the ship is sinking, then you're allowed to stand in the boat, and it becomes a life boat.

One of the absolutely astounding things we found is a centuries old Banyan Tree. This tree is so large that it fills the park that was built around it. The park is actually in the port area, and we pass through this park to get to the street that runs up and down the coast.

Ship Wrecked Shopping's Fun Apparently somebody's facilities engineering skills are not to swell. I would hate to be the one needing to explain to the owner exactly why his sail boat sank in the middle of the harbor. It's a fact that a Sunken Sloop lends a picturesque atmosphere to any area that has shops, but I have my doubts that the merchants banded together and placed it there as a gimmick.

Naturally, shopping was an option in Banyan Tree Land, and my, my, did we ever do a lot of that. Of course most merchants were disappointed in the places BettyAnn chose not to purchase something, but in the shops where she did make a purchase, everybody was as happy as clams at high tide.

One of our co-travelers turned us onto the nursery. Now this was a hard place to find because it was up a side street some distance, and the entrance appeared to be just another nondescript little house. The rear of the house was a full tree nursery, and the house itself sold things you would expect to find at a nursery. Except for the Pigs of course, this was the reason for our visit. The pigs were little pig puppies, with little tales that never stopped wagging, I suspect that they even wagged in there sleep. They were fun to watch, and play with but we weren't on the market for a pig.

Baby Pigs Ship Security After the pig thing, we continued shopping until mid afternoon. About that time we started thinking it may be a good idea to stop shopping because it would soon be time for yet another free meal.

Actually I was separated from BettyAnn, and her shopping cohorts, so caught the tender ahead of hers. We were in touch by cell phone, so kept track of each other that way. The Ships Security is interesting, and it can plainly be seen why it's not possible to smuggle alcohol aboard. If they find any, they keep it until the end of the cruise, and then return it. They don't seem to catch it when you pack it ahead of time in your arrival luggage; at least I've never been caught. So anyway, the photo depicts BettyAnn returning to the ship from the boat after mine arrived.

Yes, we made it back in time for supper, was there any doubt? After which we went on to the Headliner Showtime Presentation in the main theater.

The show was a magician, but a funny one. One of his lines was "I'm a magician, so I guess I better magish for you, lucky thing I'm not a wizard. Bet the people in the front row are happy about that." His name was Nick Lewin, a very funny man.

As we were looking forward to another busy shopping day tomorrow, we went to bed straight away.

Day 9 - Sunday, October 1st, 2006: Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Another early rising for me (crack of 8:30). BettyAnn slumbered on for awhile and I roamed the ship, eventually ending up at the coffee lounge adjacent to Windjammer Café. This gave me a great opportunity to read, while I waited for BettyAnn to arrive for breakfast.

During breakfast friends joined us, and we had the chance to discuss the possibility of a cruise to Alaska during the summer of 2008. It's going to be difficult to reach an agreement on a destination with ten participants.

Tender Driver Radiance of the Seas After breakfast, we took another free harbor cruise to shore on one of the ships tenders. The weather has really been cooperating during this cruise, at least in the area of the Hawaiian Islands. The tenders have a crew of two, a lines handler and an operator. The trip to next land adventure in Hawaii went smoothly, as usual.

Finally ashore, we stumbled to the shops where I located an ABC Store for a beverage. During our meandering to the area, I took a photo of our ship as I don't think that I've included one so far. There are about 4500 passengers, and a crew of 1300. Our Captain is Norwegian, and one of the most visual ones we have ever had. He seems to be everywhere all the time. We were told that he went sky diving at this port today.

Shopping in Kona, Hawaii Kona Street scene During our rounds of the nifty shopping areas we ran across a Parrot housed on a parrot tree in the lobby of the local scooter rental establishment. The scooters have 50cc engines (really small), and rent for $20 the 1st hour then $10 an hour thereafter. The engines are a bit small for riding tandem, actually there smallish for riding solo too. Any way, we didn't bother with one lest we miss an important shops and the chance to find more bargains. These places are better, in many cases, than eBay.

Today's shopping was done with one of our traveling companions, so BettyAnn had someone to shop with. I really do make a lousy shopping partner, and go along mainly to people watch, and read my current novel. This needs to be done every chance I get, or I would never finish because of my underdeveloped reading speed.

This will be the last port in the Island where we will be stopping so it marks the end of the Hawaiian part of our vacation. But we still have quit a few sea days to look forward to on the way home. One nice thing about sea days, they are not anywhere near as hectic as port days have been.

Yellow Bird First Christian Church on Hawaii While sipping beverages from the many ABC stores in the area, this bird kept me company. He was a handsome little tike, looking somewhat like a canary. And about the same size too. Asking around, no one could seem to put a name to it. Not taking the time to pursue it, we will probably never know what kind of bird this actually is.

The church that we passed was located here in Kona, and I was told that it was the first Christian Church in Hawaii. Don't know the denomination, but would guess Baptist. The building was stone, and wood that was well kept up and looked like a typical Baptist Church.

The stop in Kona (Kailua Kona) was the last chance to shop Hawaii, and it's fitting that it happened to be the actual island of "Hawaii" as well (the Large Island). Not much attention has been paid to the beaches in Hawaii; we didn't even get to Waikiki when we were on Oahu, even though we were shopping within a few blocks of the beach. Here in Kona there is a small beach right in the entrance to the shopping area.

Children on Beach Approaching ship on Tender When our day was done we were tendered back to the ship for the evening meal. The trip was uneventful, and also the last tendered port that we will visit. Dress today for dinner is Casual/Hawaiian and as Hawaiian is what we mostly packed, that's not a problem. We received live flower laies at the Cultural Center on Oahu, so it was agreed that we would all ware them to dinner tonight. The whole group of ten had gone on that tour you know.

Entertainment tonight was a wonderful singer by the name of Dolores Park. She was just wonderful and did a tribute to Patsy Cline (my kind of music), and a tribute to Lisa Menillie (BettyAnn's kind of music). Her Mother was in the audience as well. Just like the Energizer Bunny, she was all wound up and never stopped. She even snuk out after the show, and did a little jig behind the Cruise Directors back while he was making the final announcements about the late evenings activities

The departure time was at 6:30PM, so we got underway while we were at dinner, so it was a "Sunset Dinner Sailing". Now how romantic is that? And at no additional cost either. Everyone's really all excited tonight because in a few hours we will be passing by one of the active volcano on the island of Hawaii. I don't know if the excitement is over the ll:00 PM sighting of the volcano spewing red hot lava, or the promise of yet another late night pool side buffet.

Dolores Park Lava Flow from Volcano We passed the active volcano at about midnight. The lava flow from the active volcano was spectacular. This volcano has been flowing lava into the sea continuously for the past twenty-five years. Unlike the violent volcanoes on the mainland, and in other parts of the world, the plats here travel at the approximate speed of a fingernail growing. This produces a gentler, but longer lasting eruption. More like a leak I would say. Think that the geologist aboard mentioned that this lava flow has set a record for longevity.

The buffet followed, but because of high winds, it was moved to the Windjammer Café. All this food would have been great if it had been "Supper", but as everyone (99%) had already eaten supper within the last three or four hours, it was sort of a nibbling affair. Of course there were the few "dyed in the wool" chow hounds that would eat themselves to death if given the chance. Other than that it was really sort of a waste.

We could hardly stand all this excitement, so we retired to our state room and went to bed totally exhausted.

Line Dance Class

Day 10 - Monday, October 2ed, 2006

I'll have to admit, after all the excitement of last night, we really blew it and slept in late today. And Missed Breakfast, along with all the great morning activities.

Today has been designated as a "lay back" day, so we just nibbled a little lunch, drank coffee and tea, and generally read, checked email, and people watched most of the day. So far this trip we haven't seen any dolphins, sometimes they follow the ship for a short period of time, but no sightings this trip at all.

There was a line dance class up at the pool deck (Deck 9), although it was a bit cool outside. It seems that the weather changed right after we left Hawaii Island. As I mentioned, yesterday it was very windy, and the late buffet had to be move inside. Well, today isn't as windy, but the temperature has dropped somewhat. On the up side, the sun hasn't left us, so the stout ones are still sun bathing in the cold.

BettyAnn try's her luck We made out first appearance into the casino today, and BettyAnn was a big winner of about $10.00 on the slots. Unfortunately it cost $20 to achieve this outstanding win. The what did she do? She fed it all back into the machine. Guess that's why it's called entertainment instead of a business opportunity. And sadly, there are still those that can't differentiate.

Today they had a matinee stage show featuring one of the Royal Caribbean International Singers. Her name was Sonia Selbi, and she was the lead singer in the first musical "City Lights" which was preformed last week. She was very much like Delores Park (the singer who's mother was in attendance), and she put on a really great show. It's hard to compare the two because there music selections were different, but if they were to compete the judges would be hard pressed to pick a winner.

Cindy, BettyAnn, Amy & Marsha After doing some more important things, like napping, strolling and reading, it became time to meet our traveling companions at the dinner table where stake and lobster was the fare this evening. I didn't take many photos today, so will include the four shopping lady's. From LtoR is Cindy from Cucumonga CA, BettyAnn from Peoria AZ, Amy from Hemit CA, and Marsha from Chula Vista CA.

Tonight's show was a comedian named Troy Thirdgil, a Blackman who wasn't always politically correct. He pointed out that he was not too happy being an African American because it so vague. As he put it; "Most Americans come from a real country, Africa is a continent which makes being an African American just one step above being an Earthling American". His show was more than funny; he brought out several historical aspects as well. A great entertainer.

After the show we hit the Scoreboard Cinema and watched "The Devil Wears Prada". It stared Meriel Street as a fashion magazine producer. An excellent flick.

Then, off to bed to be rocked to sleep by the motion of the sea.

Day 11 - Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

Another lazy day at sea, we slept in once again today and skipped breakfast. One of the first things I try to do in the morning is to run up to the Windjammer for Playing Cards coffee and coca. This endeavor is quite successful I might add. That way I can get tanked up on caffeine and BettyAnn has a couple of cups of coca to kick start her in the morning. The place was alive with boisterous card players in the coffee shop section just outside the café. There's one group that meets up here for cards quite often and numbers about 16. I don't know what they play, but they sure do enjoy themselves.

We never have gone for a formal lunch in the Cascades Dining Room because it takes away from the other activities that we enjoy, even if it's just laying about. So we Pool, Deck 11had lunch at the Windjammer café as usual. The buffet style suits our morning and afternoon schedule. There are other dining rooms such as the Portofino Fine Italian Dining and Dinner Theater (requires a $15 cover/person but the food is free). There is also Chops Grill, the Best Stake on the High Seas which also requires a cover charge.

There are several snack bars aboard, such as the Solarium Café located on deck 11 inside next to the indoor pools. As well as the Sea View Café, this is open until 1:00 AM. So there are plenty of places to eat. In addition there are great pupu's in most of the bars in the evenings, plus free room service.

The weather was a little chilly when we left Hawaii, but it was a bit warmer today. This brought out all the sun worshipers looking for one of the last chances to capture a beautiful Hawaiian tan. We wish them all the luck in the world, and hope they don't end up with skin cancer. Actually some sun, in moderation of course, is good for you. This is true because it was confirmed by our family physician, and he should know as he's a doctor.

The Centrum, Main Floor The Centrum, Balconies I've mentioned the Centrum but haven't really included many photos of it. It is a central meeting place. It's really nice, and about 7 or 8 AM its almost deserted, and a great place to access wi-fi and check email at sea. The balconies above are great vantage points when an event is taking place, such as an art auction, or cooking demonstration. It's just a neat place to relax in the evening with live music and dance, or to read. There is a bar also, catering to those of that persuasion too.

We took in a movie today, and by doing so missed the hairy leg contest on deck. Well, that'll teach us. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading at the Schooner Bar, a nice quite place during the day.

Dinner was Country/Casual, followed by the stage show in the Aurora Theater. Tonight's singer was Dave Somerville, The lead singer for the Diamonds back in the late Entertainer Dave Somerville50's and early 60's. He sang many of the songs from our childhood, such as "Little Darlin", "The Stroll", "Silhouettes", and many, many others. Being a teenage singer in a 60's/70's band sort of dates him, he celebrated his 73rd Towel Art, Rabbitbirthday the day before yesterday. He is a sharp dresser, looks great, and still has the singing voice he had in the 60's. Truly a great, energetic, professional entertainer, he replaced the piano player with his own, but otherwise used the ships show band.

After the show we hung around for the Country Dance party in the Colony Club on deck 6. This turned out to be a great disappointment because the band, and singer weren't really country. They seemed to really dislike doing it for the hour it was supposed to last. They only played two songs that I heard. The first part was mainly line dance instruction, and then they had a silly hat game that took up twenty minutes, one slow dance, and then more line dancing to Finnish out the hour. We left in disgust, and went to the Schooner Bar where there was a piano bar, and a sing-along was in progress. We stayed there until they closed.

Then it was off to bed and pleasant dreams………….

Day 12 - Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

Late night last night equals late morning this morning. We finally got up and went directly to the Centrum Chef, Cake Decorating The Captains Cake for the cake decorating contest between the Ships Captain, and the Hotel Director. This event was hosted by the Head Chef. The Cruise Director acted as the MC. This was one of the highlights of the day. The first picture shows the Chef putting the final touches on his professional cake. And the second has the MC placing the Captains rather poor excuse for a decorated cake up for voting. The third picture is of the Ships Captain, who is quite popular on board. After everything was said and done, all three cakes were cut into 16 pieces and handed out to whoever wanted to try one. I passed as some of this stuff was dropped on the floor, and scooped back up again, if you can imagine anything like that taking place. The Hotel Directors cake was a little better than the Captains. A "line" from this demonstration came when the chocolate slivers were being put on the sides of the cake. The MC said "Put more on, put more on!" to the Captain, then the Hotel Director yelled out "Yeah, moron!!". I thought the Cruise Director was going to drop the microphone, as he was laughing so hard. The Captains cake was he one that won the contest by popular vote by the way.

The Captain We went to Bingo today because the jack pot has gotten rather high. The bingo game setup was $35.00. BettyAnn use her friend's bingo dog, so got an extra jackpot card. We also had a coupon so we even got an additional three jackpot cards for that. We didn't win anything, but it was fun to play.

Friday will be the big one, as the jackpot can't turn over. It has to be won by someone, so we might do that if time permits. After all, we have another coupon.

Next was the husbands and wives relay swimming race, where the guy's are in competition with the girls. This took place at the main pool area on deck 11. That's Relay Race conveniently located on the same deck as the Windjammer where the attached coffee area is stashed. It was really a nice day for this highly competitive activity. I took a few pictures, and watched the action for awhile, but didn't stick around to see who the winner was going to be.

Husbands vs Wives Relay Race It was a full day, and about time for dinner, so we returned to the room to freshen up, and they had made up the bed rather nicely, don't you think? Tonight's attire was casual so we were already dressed for dinner. We turned our clocks ahead at noon again today, so we are only one hour behind Phoenix now. One of our group is sick this evening, so he didn't join us for dinner. His wife took a plate back to the room for him, if he feels like eating later.

The show this evening was the second show presented by the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. The name of the show was "Piano Man" and was based around piano music. Stage Production As usual, the troop was in good form, and the show was beautifully presented.

The costumes were very colorful, and all of them looked like they just came from the shelves of a costume store. There were so many of them, and the changes in costumes went off without a hitch.

Stage Production The back drops were also outstanding. I didn't really get any pictures of the first show because that was before I realized that I could take them as long as I didn't use a flash. The announcement states "no flash photography". All the shows have been great. But the in house shows are actually an extravaganza of singing, dancing, music, and precise timing on the parts of the stage crew.

The show went off flawlessly, and it's too bad that you couldn't join us to see it. We had front row seats again.

After the show we took in an 11 o'clock movie titled X-Men III. It was good on special effects, but the movie sucked.

On the way back to our stateroom, we could hear a Rock & Roll band playing 60's music up in one of the lounges. It had been a long, exhausting and exciting day, and we decided to head to bed, even though we would have liked to go nightclubbing again.

Day 13 - Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Room service delivered coffee at 7 AM, but we went right back to sleep. When we finally got up and organized it was late morning, and we had a late breakfast today. We were able to sit with friends however some of them were at the rehearsal for the talent show which will show at 1:00 PM.

This is the last time we will be resetting our clocks, and that takes place at noon. This will put us back on Phoenix time. But it means that we should be seated for the one o'clock show by 11:45 AM due to the lost hour.

Talent Show, Amy Talent Show, Jack Four people from our group were on the show, first up was Harlene in solo who sang Bali High. She will sing again later in duet with her husband Dean.

Second up was Amy, from Hemet CA. She sang Don't Cry for me Argentina. I found out later that no accompaniment was provided for, and the show band pianist was called down at the last minute. For such short notice, she did a splendid job.

Amy also sings in the Mormon choir in California.

Next up from our group was Jack from Chula Vista California. He's a Story Teller, and told a cruise story that was a rather unusual event on our cruise through the Panama Canal last year. It was a comical, yet sad series of events that had befallen him and his wife flying out to the ships location, then continuing on through the first day of the cruise. Of course a story takes longer than a song, and the MC, who's in charge of the timing of the acts, was beside himself when the story dragged on over five minuets. The audience in attendance didn't seem to mind as it was entertaining, and funny.

Talent Show, Harlene & Dean Of the eight acts that were presented, our small group provided four of them. Harlene was up again, this time with her husband Dean. The two of them harmonize well, and they are both members of the Mormon Choir in California. Because the trip we were on was to Hawaii, they sang the Hawaiian Wedding Song, also accompanied by the piano player from the show band.

Solarium Pool There were other singers, and a harmonica player. All the acts were top notch performers; it's just to bad that the show was restricted to less than an hour.

A couple of the other places on the ship are the Solarium Swimming Pool (indoors), and there's also ping pong. I don't remember if I mentioned the pool tables near the Schooner Bar, but the tables are on gyro motorized stands. As the ship lists to and fro, the tables stay perfectly level. There are two such tables in the poolroom.

The weather has held really well, the trip going to Hawaii was chilly for the first half of the voyage, but it seems that we're not hitting the Same chilly weather on the return trip.

In fact the pools and Jacuzzi's are in full swing. There is certainly no shortage of sunshine, yet. With the climbing wall, golf, track, sun bathing and swimming there is no shortage of outside activities.

Ping Pong Game Sunbathing, Deck 11 Someone said that there's also water skiing off the back if the ship, but I haven't seen anyone water skiing.

This is the last formal night of the trip, so most folks got all gussied up including us. This formal dinner thing is nice. It's always nice to be waited on hand and foot, but it's very time consuming. Dinner generally takes two hours from start to Finnish.

There were photographers at several locations, so our group had a portrait taken on the Centrum stairway. We did this at the last formal get together, but no one liked the pictures. Maybe we'll have better luck this time.

The show this evening was a concert pianist, and showman. His performance was enthralling. He did several Broadway show tunes, as well as a few classical selections. One of the classical pieces was The William Tell Overture.

Concert Pianist Towel Art, Monkey Tonight is the Gala Buffet, starting at midnight. We've gone to these on other cruises, so had some idea what to expect. I said I wasn't going to take pictures this time because I already had so many from the past. We went to look at the buffet, and as it turned out, not taking pictures wasn't an option. It was so Kodak Moment. This took place in the main dining room prior to midnight. There were several ice carvings, which are difficult to photograph, and lots, and lots of food.

Exiting, and re-entering for food placed us at the end of a long, long line, so we opted to catch some entertainment for awhile first. The line was much better later, but the selection had dwindled considerably.

Then it was off to bed, late night you know. Did I mention that each night they turn down the bed, and leave two chocolate mints on the pillow? Today's towel art was a monkey; there were several others that didn't make it into digital memory.

Day 14 - Friday, October 6th, 2006

After last nights buffet we really slept in this morning, missing breakfast altogether. So we had lunch instead. By the time we finished that, it was close to 2:00 PM. This being the last sea day, there wasn't much incentive to getting too involved with activities.

We completed our departure, and customs paperwork and prepared the tips we wished to give for the excellent service re received. We spent some time in the Centrum doing some of the paperwork, there was a survey to fill out, and turn in. The ship was heading for Mexico for the required foreign port paperwork before going on to LA. We would arrive in Mexico at about 7:00 PM, and leave at 8:00 PM.

Centrum Elevators This was our last chance to shop, or gamble aboard. So we made a few purchases from the professional photographer's cubby.

Some guy won the $10,000 bingo jack-pot; it wasn't us because we didn't play. The odds were like 1500 to 1, and the cost for the final package was $50.00. The sure thing about it is that we saved fifty bucks. We decided to pack after the final show so we wouldn't be stumbling over the suitcases all day.

Crew, Farewell Show We attended the captain's corner in the Aurora Theater for questions and answers time. I was surprised to find out the ship operates on Jet Fuel. The propulsion system uses props operated by electric motors, and the prop quads (2) can be rotated 360 degrees for steerage, and parallel parking. The power source is 2 General Electric jet engines like those found on a 747 aircraft.

The last get together with our group at dinner was nice, and it was a good time to tip the waiters as well. We came into Mexico during dinner and left right after dinner was over.

The final farewell show was balance and juggling after which member of the crew came up on stage to sing a farewell. The show was good, we had seen it once before on another ship. The farewell by the crew was upbeat, but sad because we were leaving.

After the show we took in a movie before beginning to pack. We finally got to bed about 1:30 AM.