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Old October 23rd, 2008, 07:08 PM
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Default Sitting in on one of Helen Haanen's English Classes

What an interesting afternoon we had onboard the Statendam Wednesday!

I was invited, along with Trisha of CruiseCritic, to sit in on one of Helen Haanen’s English classes for Statendam crew members. This was a rare chance to get a glimpse into just how arduous a task it can be for crew members of different nationalities to become familiar with the English language; one totally unlike their native tongue. Not only do they need to learn the basic concepts, but they have to become comfortable enough with English to interact with passengers on a daily basis -- passengers who can sometimes ask them what may seem like very complicated questions.

The first thing I must say is that Helen sure makes these classes fun for crew members. She told me that they attend of their own accord and often on their own time. They do this because they truly want to learn. “I rotate these classes in groups of four to a maximum of eight, unless I decide to invite two separate groups to one so that they can challenge each other,” Helen told me. “By rotating the classes, they each get to attend for one month before another group is selected. This way it is less like work for them, and I’m not infringing too much on their rest time, nor adding more pressure to their already heavy duty schedules. If they desire more practice than the classes provide, I encourage the more proficient students to volunteer as escorts for tours. There they get the chance to further practice their English skills by interacting a bit more with the passengers.”

“The main difficulty with the English language,” Helen explained “is that English is full of slang and other idioms that can make learning it quite difficult. The same word can have multiple meanings, and to determine the meaning of a word means having to take it in the context of the particular sentence in which it is being used. That’s not easy.”

To help crew members with this, Helen uses a variety of fun exercises requiring her students to ask each other questions in English; questions that require them to pronounce the words and understand them. Their partner, as well, must break down each word into the context of the question in order to provide an appropriate answer.

To illustrate: Helen had four crew members in class this particular day – two of them (Jing and Li) are shop employees, while Wisnu and Danu work in the ship’s laundry. Sitting around a large conference table in her husband’s office, Helen asked each of us to write our first names on folded tent cards. This would enable participants to address each other by name during the exercises. She then selected her first student and handed him a card with a printed question on it. The question was “If you could be any animal, which would you be?” This individual first had to understand the question, and then had to select a person to whom to pose it.

After struggling to grasp the meaning of the question, Wisnu selected a crewmate.

“Jing,” Wiusu, asked “If you could become any animal, which would you be?”

“Ummmmm,” Jing said, as she clearly was mulling over the meaning of the question. “I guess I would be a dog, because almost everyone loves dogs and I would want to be loved.”

Good answer, I thought. This lady has a head on her shoulders.

The questions soon became more difficult, sometimes involving moral dilemmas. “How would you feel if upon your physical death, your body was thrown into the woods to rot?” Li asked Wisnu.

That one required Helen’s assistance for Wisnu to break down.

“My soul would not be happy,” he responded.

Another smart cookie, I thought.

Another question – this one from Danu to Li: “Would you be willing to be physically ugly if it meant you could live for a thousand years?”

She didn’t have to think about that one for too long. “No,” Li laughed shyly, “because that would mean I would have to hide away inside all of the time.” Every one of us got a laugh out of that answer.

Things became even more intense when Helen asked participants to make up their own questions to ask each other.

“What is the most romantic thing that ever happened to you?” Trisha was asked. She then told a story, trying to use simple English sentence construction, to describe a romantic marriage proposal she had received many years ago.

“And what was your answer?” Jing prodded, wanting to get to the romantic conclusion of the story.

“I told him no,” was Trisha’s response.

“No? But, why?” asked Danu, somewhat disappointed with Trisha’s answer.

“Because I didn’t love him.”

Jing seemed initially perplexed by this answer, but then an expression of understanding filled her face. “Oh,” she said, “now I understand.” Danu also shook his head in understanding.

Amazing how the deepest emotions of the soul can be so easily communicated and understood if you only have the right teacher.

Helen was constantly facilitating the group exchange, handing out new questions and prodding the group to make up others on their own. Clearly there was significant learning taking place here and everyone was becoming more comfortable with their understanding of the English language as well. They were not only learning new words, but often complicated cultural concepts as well.

“I keep these classes fun,” Helen told me, because these folks really want to learn and I want them to enjoy the process. It is only when they become frustrated that they will close up and the learning will cease. So, when I see that beginning to happen, I step back and we slow down. I don’t want the process to ever stop being fun for them.

“English is a very difficult language to learn – probably the most difficult one out there,” Helen elaborated. “That is because it is not a ‘universal’ language – meaning that there are a lot of regional variations, and since people from all over the United States can be found on our ships at one time or another, crew members need to have at least some familiarity with all of it. They also have to know some of the subtle humor contained in the language, not to mention the slang – meanings of which can also differ by region. It’s not an easy task for them. But if they want to advance in their jobs – wherever they may work on the ship – they have to become comfortable conversing with passengers in English.”

As the class broke up after about 45 minutes, it was clear that everyone had really enjoyed themselves. They also seemed proud of the progress they had made in today’s session.

“I’m proud of these young people,” Helen told me. “They really work hard and so badly want to do well in their jobs. And, many of their jobs are not easy, believe me,” Helen added. “Some of these people work long hours, in physically demanding jobs. They take their own time to join these classes, and that says something about their character and their work ethic.”

While I’ve never been faced with being thrust into a foreign work environment and culture, I can only imagine the difficulties that would ensue. Having to understand and speak in a different tongue from my own, having to understand a multitude of cultures – well, one can only imagine how difficult that would be. A simple attempt at light humor could result in an offensive comment if one misunderstands another’s culture, and feelings could easily be hurt. On a Holland America ship, that would certainly not be a good thing.

I know that after watching this class in action, and seeing the determination and desire to learn on the faces of each of the participants, I will have a whole new appreciation for the work people like Helen do, and the unique, caring brand of humor with which she does it – one that makes the whole process of learning truly enjoyable.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 05:39 PM
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Default Meet Marienus Hazelman - Navigation Officer

Meet Marienus Hazelman – Navigation Officer

Marienus has a name most appropriate for his station in life. Marienus is the third navigation officer onboard the Statendam and as such he spends most of his time working on the bridge. Marienus is responsible for helping to prepare the charts that are used to guide the Statendam in all of those interesting destinations to which she sails.

“I grew up on Fiji,” Marienus told me, “and did my maritime training in New Zealand after earning a scholarship to Maritime School there. Then I went to work for the cargo companies, working my way up the ranks. Training is an ongoing process, and deck officers are promoted as their skills increase. Sometimes you can even return to the maritime academy to earn additional “tickets.” These tickets certify you to assume progressively higher levels of responsibility on the ship, with the goal being your Masters ticket. That one would qualify you to perform the duties of a ship’s captain. At least two people on every vessel hold a given ticket, so that – for example – if the captain were to become incapacitated for any reason, there would always be at least one other officer who could step in for him. I have yet to qualify for my Masters ticket, but I plan to one day.”

In 2007 Marienus came to work for Holland America. He served on the Noordam until December, after which he assumed his current position on the Statendam.

“My current position is very interesting,” he told me. As a navigation officer, I do watches of four hours each. Then I do about two hours of administrative work. During this administrative time, I am involved in preparing the ship’s navigation charts, which are always done by hand, on paper charts. We mark out the route for any given sailing, based on the itinerary information provided to us by the home office. We use electronic charts to make sure our paper ones contain the most up-to-date information regarding things such as undersea shoals, reefs, shallow areas, and other potential hazards beneath the surface of the water. We also use radar to update our information on a constant basis. This way we always have the most current data on our paper charts, which we pencil in to delineate the changes.”

Marienus also told me that charts are shared between various ships in the fleet. “We will take our completed charts from this cruise and pass them along to the next ship that will be doing it; for example, the Ryndam in January. Another ship may pass along their completed charts for a voyage we may be scheduled to do. By sharing our charts in this way, each ship in the fleet can benefit from the experience of those who have sailed the route in the recent past.”

Marienus also told me that visual bearings are constantly being taken by the officer on watch anytime the Statendam is at sea. Position readings are taken as often as every three minutes. Radar is also constantly checked to keep track of any other ships that may be in the area.

I asked Marienus if he and the other navigation officers onboard had any input into overall itinerary planning. “Not usually. That’s all done by the home office in Seattle. The itineraries are planned a year or more in advance, and the information is forwarded to us. We then plan the navigational details for the sailings we will do. For example, we are now busily at work on the charts for the Statendam’s next cruise departing San Diego on October 25th. Of course, though, our input and suggestions regarding specific itineraries is always welcomed.”

In addition to his actual chart planning duties, it is sometimes Marienus’ voice that we hear in the daily “Voice from the Bridge” reports we get onboard at around noon each day. In these reports, he provides us with a daily update as to our position and the weather forecast. Marienus is also involved in preparing the navigational information that is printed in our Daily Programs.

It takes a lot of people to safely man a ship the size of the Statendam. Supporting the Captain and the senior officers are the deck department. “The deck officers are the ones charged with actual ship operations,” Marienus told me. “We usually have two second officers, two third officers, and two fourth officers. In addition, we also have two deck and two engine cadets onboard as well. Each deck officer progresses up in level as he gains more experience and earns promotions,” Marienus added.

“Deck officers work on the bridge in shifts,” Marienus explained. “Cadets are similar to ‘interns’ in industry. They join us for short periods of time during which they observe ship operations and get some hands-on training under the watchful eye of the officer on duty. Then they return to their classrooms at the Maritime Academy to complete their formal schooling and earn their “ticket.” But while they are onboard the ship as cadets, they can only work under close supervision since they have not been awarded their proper certifications.”

Marienus discussed the importance of the work deck officers perform. “It’s a demanding job,” he told me, “and there’s a lot of components to it; a lot of skills that have to be learned and mastered. To get through maritime school, you have to be really strong in science and math. It’s a tough course of study – tougher than most, requiring a strong degree of diligence as a student.

“The sad fact is that the maritime academies are not graduating as many deck officers these days as they are engine room ones, and that’s going to one day lead to a major shortage. A career as a deck officer is not particularly attractive to young people today simply because it’s a lot of work to gain the skills, and then there’s little that can be done with them other than working on a ship. Engine room personnel have much more flexibility since they can far more easily parlay their skills into a variety of other industries as well.”

When I asked Marienus what goals he has for the future, he said that one thing he would like to do is get some more schooling so that he can earn his Masters ticket. Such a certification, while not guaranteeing an instant promotion to Captain, would qualify him for such a job should one become available. “I’d also be qualified to step in and perform the duties of a ship’s captain if the need ever arose,” he told me, “on either a temporary or permanent basis.”

Marienus also said that he was quite happy with his career with Holland America. “I worked on cargo ships for a while, but I always wanted to work on passenger ships. Passenger ships present far greater challenges, plus there’s a lot more going on – which makes the job more interesting. I was glad to be hired by Holland America because it’s known throughout the industry as a great company to work for. They are probably the most family-oriented one out there, and they are great with their promotion policies. As for my future, I’d like to think I’ll still be right here, working on one of HAL’s ships.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 05:43 PM
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Default Final Live Entry

Well, it is now Thursday afternoon and this 35-day sailing is slowly winding down. Very soon we will be faced with the sad prospect of having to disembark the Statendam this Saturday morning. So I figured I would take this time to write my last articles and blog entries. I am getting these loose ends tied up so that I can return this wireless card to Jackie in the Explorations Café tomorrow afternoon and pack up this computer for the return trip home.

Tonight is our last formal night onboard, and Trisha and I have both decided to go to the dining room for one last time. There is also a cast show this evening, something that Trisha and I usually don’t like to miss. This one, “On Track,” I’ve already seen since I boarded the Statendam in Vancouver, while Trisha and her husband didn’t board until San Francisco. But it was a good one that I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing again.

There will also be a Farewell Gala held up in the Crow’s Nest this evening at 10:00 o’clock. Hanna, the Guest Relations Manager, would like Trisha and I to attend because she wants to have one last drink with us before we disembark on Saturday. All of the Officers and staff will be attending, but she assures me that dancing is certainly not mandatory (I have two left feet and two bum knees to go along with them).

It’s so hard to believe that this cruise is just about over. It seems like just yesterday that I gratefully stepped onboard the Statendam in Vancouver. I remember humming “on the good ship Statendam, it’s a great change from ‘dam’ Carnival, dum de dum … dee dee dum” all the way up the gangway. For once you’ve sailed on Holland America, Carnival – especially an older Carnival ship like the Paradise – just will never do. I spent four days on the Paradise just before this cruise, and while it wasn’t a bad cruise (is any cruise ever truly bad?), it certainly wasn’t up to Holland America standards.

I remember my first night onboard and how relaxing it was. I remember as though it were yesterday getting acquainted with the servers and bartenders in the Ocean Bar (my favorite watering hole onboard), as I “christened” my first Signature Cocktail Card and enjoyed the first taste of my favorite Holland America cocktail, the “tropical cable car.”

I remember that first breakfast in the Lido. To me, breakfast is the best meal. It’s the one that starts off a great day, and it’s wonderful to enjoy it without being too rushed, like one often is at home. I remember it being a light one because we were at our first of many exciting ports, Victoria, British Columbia. But it certainly was a good breakfast, that’s for sure. Kellog’s Frosted Flakes somehow taste a whole lot better at sea. I had never visited this part of the world before and I was really looking forward to seeing the gardens. I learned to use my new digital camera that day, snapping off photo after photo of all the beautiful blooms in that wonderful place.

And then our return to the ship. Our tour guide apologized because we were running late getting back. No worries, I’m thinking. This is a Holland America tour, so the ship will wait. Turns out there was a bicycle race taking place, and the traffic was detoured all over the place. The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds were also in town, putting on an air show and that was further snarling the traffic. Turns out Captain Jack kept us in port for an extra hour or so anyway – to give passengers a chance to view the air show right from the open decks. It was awesome! Aerial aerobatics at their finest! I just love that stuff!

Then onward to San Francisco. Another wonderful sail away party with music by Darlene and the HALCats. My good friends Virgil and Trisha got on the ship in San Francisco, and it was a wonderful, though tearful reunion. We hadn’t seen each other since January of 2006, though we had kept in touch constantly by telephone and email.

San Diego was next, and I can still taste that wonderful bowl of clam chowder we enjoyed at Anthony’s, right near the dock. The good times were just beginning and we all just knew it.

After four days at sea, we were in Hawaii to enjoy six more days of never-ending adventures. City tours, helicopter flightseeing extravaganzas, and even a visit to the “Dog’s house” (Dog the Bounty Hunter’s tee-shirt and souvenir shop) made those six days in Hawaii memorable. I was thrilled to get pictures with one of Dog’s sons, Travis, and see the remote control helicopter he was building to aid in the show’s filming next season. I also posed for photographs next to a lifesized cardboard cut-out of the “Dog” himself. I was thrilled.

Also, one can’t discount the strong emotions felt on a visit to Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial, as well as a host of military installations that played a role in those terrible events of 1941. It was with a true sense of sadness that we left Hawaii and all the memories we had of that paradise.

More days at sea, more fun. The Crossing the Equator ceremony was a particular highlight. Watching people “kiss the fish” and laughing at the expressions of revolt on their faces. The fights over the limited number of “crossing the equator” tee-shirts that were available. Yes, the three of us managed to each snag one.

The South Pacific and the incredible beauty of those islands. Raiteria, Papeete, Bora Bora, and Moorea – each one more beautiful than the last. There was lots of snorkeling here, as water sports would seem to be the primary draw in this part of the world. A whole ‘nother world under the water, with a multitude of colorful fish to photograph and admire. Friendly stingrays who have no hesitation swimming around humans, running between your legs and up your back – and even right in your face, seeming to want a kiss or at least a friendly stroke. It was absolutely amazing getting up close and personal with these beautiful creatures of the deep.

Of course, I should have heeded the advice of my friends – use a high SPF sunscreen – that South Pacific sun could be a killer. But, no, I had to learn the hard way with a nasty sunburn on my back that I honestly thought for a day or so was gonna require medical attention at the ship’s infirmary. But thankfully it began healing on its own and just left me with a gross amount of skin peeling from my back for a few days.

Even the arduous hike that I mistakenly took in Moorea with a group of people in far better shape than me. Before I realized it was more than I could handle, I was too far into it. Our guide on that photography excursion really provided me with a lot of help. I couldn’t have been more grateful. He kept encouraging and helping me, assuring me that the view from Belevedere Lookout would be well worth the effort. It was. He even helped me get some great photographs, because I certainly couldn’t even think about taking photos. It was all I could do to keep my balance amongst all the natural stepping stones and snaking pathways littered with tree roots. The sail afterwards, on a large and luxurious catamaran, wound up our visit to Moorea, the last of our South Pacific paradise islands. That was absolutely heavenly as we rode the waves under the power of fully unfurled sails above our heads. A short period of snorkeling, followed by mai tais onboard the boat afterwards, and a snack of fresh fruits. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

A couple of more days at sea, and then it was the rugged peaks of Nuku Hiva that appeared on the horizon. This island is truly as close to a deserted paradise that we are going to see on this cruise. Inhibited by only around 1,600 people it is truly French Polynesia at its finest – truly untouched and unspoiled by modern tourism. We took a private tour here since Holland America offers nothing. We got to see the better part of the island, driving far into its interior in a caravan of 4-wheel drive type vehicles. From the ship, one can see a tiny antenna perched precariously at the very top of the highest peak at the top of the mountain that makes up this island. We drove right past that antenna, and found that it was actually a complex of several antennas and satellite dishes mounted on one tower at the highest point on the island.

On Nuku Hiva we saw flowers of the most amazing colors, growing everywhere – along the side of roads, at the waterfront, in people’s modest gardens – just everywhere. We saw the amazing stone carvings left by the ancient Polynesians who inhabited these islands long ago. Each carving representing something. There were also entire communities that left behind their stone structures for every conceivable purpose. Some were communal living areas for the natives, while others were designed to be used by the high priests and religious officials – for them to live in and worship the ancient gods. These ruins were pretty much untouched since modern tourism hasn’t yet invaded this island.

I remember chuckling as I think about our “swimming stop.” Nuku Hiva’s beaches are not ringed by pristine blue waters such as could be found at our other South Pacific ports, so I guess they didn’t appeal as much for swimming. While others on our tour just walked the beach line, I was the only one to opt for a swim. What can I say? I guess I was the only one who had an urgent need to answer nature’s call that afternoon. But the water, while not clear and blue, was certainly warm and inviting.

Then the frantic rush at the dock area. We hadn’t had much of a chance to explore the shops before embarking on our tour. Nuku Hiva is not a place one gets to visit very often, so we all wanted something to remember the experience by. I rushed in one store to try and get a tee-shirt. Upon leaving with my bounty – albeit a somewhat expensive one at $28 USD – I saw the security officer at the tender dock frantically waving to me. It was close to 4:00 p.m. and the Statendam was ready to sail. The last tender was getting ready to leave and he didn’t want anyone left behind. Needless to say, I hopped to it and was onboard that tender in record time.

I must have really cut it short, because as soon as I got to my cabin and into the shower, I could feel the ship moving as clearly as I could feel the comfortable spray of the warm water soothing my now peeling sunburnt skin. By the time I got out of the shower, and looked out my cabin window, the peaks of Nuku Hiva were rapidly receding in the distance.

And now, these days at sea back to San Diego. Can it really be drawing to an end, this wonderful adventure of mine? Seems I’ve looked forward to this cruise for so long, and it’s so hard to believe it is now almost over. Where did the time go?

I met so many wonderful people, had dinner with Theo Haanen (our Hotel Manager) and his wife, Helen – and Martin (the Culinary Manager) and his wife, Maggie. I so love the Pinnacle and that dinner was one of the finest I’ve had there. Then getting to sit in on one of Helen’s English classes that she conducts for crew members. That was a wonderful experience, as was getting to read the first chapter of Helen’s book, and meet all of the characters in it – Tedwie and Tedday, and the entire “Cuddle Clan.” Her books are gonna make great children’s adventures that are told in such a wonderful, fun style. I can’t wait to read them myself one day.

Then there was the Mariner reception, and getting my 100 day medal among good friends (Trisha and Virgil – who were receiving their own 300 day pins). So many wonderful dinners, lunches and breakfasts – each a memorable occasion on its own.

Then there were the myriad of interviews, getting to meet so many people whose work goes into making a ship like the Statendam function like a smooth-running city metropolis. The matre’D, the hotel manager, the guest relations manager, one of the navigators, a dance host, and even one of the “toilet ladies” (restroom attendants) – a sweet girl from Indonesia who is part of a new program undertaken by Holland America to use female Indonesians to clean the public restrooms onboard their ships. I got to meet all of these people by interviewing them for this CruiseMates blog. I also met Osagie, a dancer with the Statendam cast, as well as Darlene, of Darlene and the HALCats. Such great people to talk to. So many wonderful stories to tell.

There were many other people too – behind the scenes – like Jackie in the Internet Center. I recall like it was yesterday – one of my first nights onboard when I discovered to my horror that my wireless card didn’t work. I went to Jackie for some assistance, as I couldn’t imagine what the problem was. It had worked fine on the Veendam last year. Turns out I’ve got an outdated card that isn’t compatible with HAL’s systems any longer. Jackie was good enough to loan me one of hers for the rest of the cruise.

And then one of the highlights of this cruise – a private tour of the Statendam’s bridge. I couldn’t believe we were actually getting this, but it seems Hanna of Guest Relations can do anything, and here we were, on the bridge, viewing the open sea from the sweeping windows that looked out right over the ship’s bow. The tour was educational as much as it was just plain fun – especially as Trisha and I both posed at the wheel for Virgil’s camera – pretending to actually be “driving” the ship. I was so appreciative of getting to view this rarely seen part of the Statendam.

This cruise went too fast, no question. While I heard other passengers complaining toward the end that there were too many sea days with not enough to do, I never for one minute was bored. In fact, I couldn’t help myself. I had to shake my head in wonder whenever I would hear that comment. Too many sea days? Not enough to do? Why is it then that I can’t seem to find enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do? And I’m not taking advantage of even a smidgen of the events and activities listed in the Daily Program anymore. I’m just reading and writing and talking to people, and somehow the days are flying by.

Was this cruise perfect? Certainly not. There is no such thing as the perfect cruise. But it was as close to perfection as it could be, and right now is not the time for a comprehensive review, though I can assure you that the one I write when I get home will be a positive one – for there really isn’t too much of a negative nature that I can honestly report.

It’s now almost time to get ready for dinner. It’s Thursday night and a certain sense of doom is finally beginning to permeate the ship. People know the cruise is almost over, and while some of them say they will be happy to get off the ship – they are ready to go home – everyone I talked to agrees that they will miss being here. There are now only two more dinners to enjoy, two more breakfasts and one more full day. And, even that one day will be tinged with sadness as we all attend to end of cruise packing chores – that proverbial trying to stuff ten pounds of, ahhhhhh, stuff into a five pound suitcase.

It’s been a great sailing and one that will be hard to top. Of course, when end of cruise depression sets in, the only way I’ve found to combat it is to immediately head to the future cruise consultant’s desk and book another. Then you have something to look forward to on the trip home, even if that something is far into the distant future.

This will be my last entry to this blog until I get home on Saturday night. I’m just about out of internet time and don’t want to buy another package that I won’t be able to fully use before disembarkation.

So, until we meet again on another Holland America ship, I say blue skies, smooth seas, and wonderful adventures in whatever part of the world you choose to sail!
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Old October 27th, 2008, 09:13 PM
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Wow! Finally finished this marvelous blog. Thanks Rita for sharing so much great information.
I can't believe it is over either. It went by so fast . We will just have to plan another dam cruise together very soon.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 01:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crusin' fool
Wow! Finally finished this marvelous blog. Thanks Rita for sharing so much great information.
I can't believe it is over either. It went by so fast . We will just have to plan another dam cruise together very soon.
That's for sure. This one was long, but it went way, way too fast.

Blue skies, dear friend ...

--rita
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Old October 28th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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Do you know if anyone took the tour on Raiatea with Bruno? He has the all day tour of Tahaa in his outrigger canoe? We are thinking of booking with him. Our only concern is the length of time.

He told us he would have us back by 4:20, and the all aboard call is at 4:30 here? Doesn't the ship actually dock at this port stop?

Thanks so much!
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Old October 28th, 2008, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debshomespun
Do you know if anyone took the tour on Raiatea with Bruno? He has the all day tour of Tahaa in his outrigger canoe? We are thinking of booking with him. Our only concern is the length of time.

He told us he would have us back by 4:20, and the all aboard call is at 4:30 here? Doesn't the ship actually dock at this port stop?

Thanks so much!
I believe a group took the Bruno tour. Vinman (Vince and Karen) put together that group. I did not take the tour because I had something else booked at this port. Vince and Karen could tell you more about it, but they are still on the road traveling. At the end of this cruise, they were heading to Magic Mountain for a few days, and then the Myan Rivera for a few weeks. I think they are due back mid-November.

Yes, Raiatea is a docking port, not tendering.

I would suggest that if you want to book with him, you try getting your own group together with others in your roll call. Email him and find out how many he considers a group. If you have your own group, he should be able to work within the specific time limitations of your ship. I don't know, but I wouldn't be willing to cut it that close ... him getting you back at 4:20 and the all aboard being 4:30. That's really cutting it too close for my comfort.

Blue skies ...

--rita
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Old October 29th, 2008, 09:00 AM
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Rita:

Thanks so much for your reply. I will try to get with Vinman later this month. We are leaving next week for the RC Jewel Panama Canal cruise.

I really enjoyed reading all your posts from the cruise! So much insight into the lives of the crew. So interesting to have read about!


I had emailed Bruno, and he was available, and have other interest from our roll call. I am hoping for good news from Vinman, and that Bruno will have us back more around 4:00.

thanks again!
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Old October 29th, 2008, 10:56 AM
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HI Rita,

Thanks for sharing your cruise with all of us. It was great!
Will you be posting photos? If so, where can we see them?

Thanks!
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Old October 29th, 2008, 01:36 PM
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I love this review - it was like sailing on the ship at the time. I wish I knew what you had looked liked because I missed the initial meeting in Vancouver and would have liked to meet you. I left the ship in San Diego so the reviews after that were a great read. Thanks!
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Old October 30th, 2008, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorSquirrel
HI Rita,

Thanks for sharing your cruise with all of us. It was great!
Will you be posting photos? If so, where can we see them?
I will be posting photos this weekend to a CruiseMates gallery. I will post on this thread a link.

I am sorry I have been so slow with this. I came back to a "nightmare" at work ... and I'm buried. I work in the computer center for the daily newspapers here in Philly and we've been busier than "one-armed paperhangers" ... especially with our Phillies in the World Series (and winning it last night too!)

But I'll get those photos posted this weekend. Promise.

Blue skies ...

--rita
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Old October 30th, 2008, 12:30 PM
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Thanks so much for writing this blog it was very interesting to hear about a 30 day cruise. It sounds great. It's great to get additional information on the South Pacific ports. Which port would you say was your favorite?
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Old November 4th, 2008, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debshomespun
Do you know if anyone took the tour on Raiatea with Bruno? He has the all day tour of Tahaa in his outrigger canoe? We are thinking of booking with him. Our only concern is the length of time.

He told us he would have us back by 4:20, and the all aboard call is at 4:30 here? Doesn't the ship actually dock at this port stop?

Thanks so much!
Deb, I am not Rita but I did arrange this tour last Feb for my CC group. We just told Bruno the time we needed to be back at the ship. So what we did was give up the tour of the vanilla farm. There were four people on the tour not from the ship and they went to the vanilla farm while we were eating the lunch. The fresh fried fish fritters were amazingly good and the wine served was tasty.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katlady
Which port would you say was your favorite?
They were all so wonderful, that's really hard. But, I guess if I had to name one, it would be Nuku Hiva, specifically because it is pristine and untouched. The people are simple. The life is simple. Modern tourism hasn't touched them much as of yet. There are only about 1600 people living on the island, and most of them are "locals." They only get one freighter that makes a stop there once a month. The freighter carries a few hundred passengers as well. Then they get a smattering of other ships ... cruise ships ... throughout the year. But nothing significant. HAL doesn't even run a shore excursion program there because they only have a couple of port stops a year there, so I guess it's not worth it to them. But I look at Nuku Hiva and I think it must be like Hawaii was many, many years ago ... before the tourists came.

Blue skies ...

--rita
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Old December 24th, 2008, 08:29 PM
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Rita---I find your remarks interesting. We were on the same crusie.
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