Part 1, Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia...A tour at sea..

Vacation/holiday huts set into the side of the mountain
With few tour options that appealed to us on the island of Moorea, located in the chain of islands, Society Islands, which is a part of French Polynesia, we opted for the Eco Tour on a three hour boat ride that was intended to tour around the entire island.

The ticket we purchased for the tour.
Unfortunately, a giant wave/swell was expected to hit the north and west sides of the island later in the day today and our eco tour guide, Terry, informed us that we'd need to stay away from that side of the island.

View of the shore from the boat.
However, once we got going, somehow we ended up on the west side.  The waves were huge and the boat with only 11 of us passengers and two crew rode the waves quite well, although we bounced about considerably throughout the "three hour tour." This boat ride would not have been suitable for the seasick prone.

The pier where passengers exited the tender boats to go ashore.
Tom wrote about the three hour tour in his Facebook as we're sitting in the Schooner Bar at the present and one of his FB friends commented, "You know what happened on the last three hour tour?" (Gilligan's Island).  We sure laughed out loud over that comment.

Most of the homes in Moorea are located along the water, although some appear to be located in the mountainside.
Waves and swells aside, the hard pounding boat tour made taking photos very tricky when it was nearly impossible to hold the camera steady. 

The cost of the tour was listed at $129 per person which we booked yesterday morning.  Later in the day, Tom had heard another passenger at the "Shed" guy's get together, that he had received a 10% discount card left in his cabin earlier in the day.  We hadn't received such a coupon.

More homes along the coast.
With a bit of pressure exercised by Tom at the tour excursions desk he was able to convince the rep that we should be entitled to the 10% discount as well.  As a result our cost for both of us was down to about $235 making it slightly more palatable.

The greenery in the hills reminded us of Kauai.
With the high cost of extras aboard ship, we continue to watch our budget being highly selective as to what we charge on our on board account.  Preferably, we can go on tours we arrange on our own or with other guests at a considerably lower cost than those offered on the ship.  However, this particular cruise's ports of call appear to have certain safety risks in one going out on their own. 

Moorea, like most islands were created by volcanic eruptions.
Plus, if we choose a private charter tour, if there's a breakdown, flat tire or it runs out of gas, we could conceivably not make it back to the ship on time.  The ship won't wait.  However, if we're on a ship sponsored tour, the ship will wait. 

A fisherman headed out fishing.
We can only imagine how difficult and stressful it would be to miss the ship, having left passports, money and digital equipment on the ship.  I cant imagine this is a risk we want to take in countries that may have had a few less reliable private tours.

House along the shore.
We made it back to the ship on the "tender" which in this case, is the ship using its lifeboats to ferry passengers back and forth to the pier when there's no port large enough to accommodate the ship's massive size.  Using a tender has been the case in about half of the ports of call we visited on our previous 10 cruises, this being the 11th.  This doesn't bother us at all.

The huts for rent along the shoreline in Moorea.
As for last night, we attended a fabulous comedy show in the main theatre enjoying every moment after another engaging dinner in the Romeo and Juliet dining room.  At this point, we can honestly say that every meal we've had in the dining room has been delightful.  Again, the Aussies, are a fun lot of people.

Terry, our marine biologist had a sense of humor and was a good teacher.
This morning, we had to be ready to board the tender by 8:15 which required an early breakfast.  We made it in plenty of time, each having a light meal to avoid feeling too full.  The food continues to be acceptable for me with the special accommodations the restaurant staff is providing.

Tomorrow will be one full week we've been on the ship with 11 more days until we arrive in Sydney. The time isn't moving too quickly that its getting away from us.  We're absorbing and relishing in every moment, living one precious day at a time, never for a moment forgetting how grateful we are for these experiences, never for a moment, taking any part of our lives for granted.

This huts are located in the ocean which are very popular with tourists.
We'll be back tomorrow with Part 2, Moorea, Society Islands and some facts about the island and again, we'll be getting off the ship to tour the next port of call, Tahiti.  Gosh, this is such fun!

Its Saturday night!  Have a good one!

Photo from one year ago today, May 30, 2014:

A weather phenomenon in Madeira grabbed our attention as dense could rolled into the island created an interested scene of the village and mountains.  For more details. a video and photos, please click here.

Cruising...Lost in the minutia while out to sea...Late posting tomorrow due to morning tour in Moorea...

View of the sea before the seas became rough.
Today's our fifth day at sea.  Its been easy to get lost into a pleasant routine of building relationships, eating reasonably good food, watching seminars, movies and presentations and lounging poolside for short stints.

The past few nights we've added the 9 pm live shows to our routine and have thoroughly enjoyed each of them.  By 11 pm, we're ready to retire to our cabin for a hopefully good night's sleep to begin again the next day.

We're never bored or antsy.  We spend little time in the cabin other than to sleep, shower and change clothes for the evening.  Since neither of us are able to nap, we never stop to lay down or snooze as some cruisers do.

Rough seas have precipitated the closing of the swimming pool.  Walking about the ship has been tricky the past 24 hours as the rough seas have increased.  Of course, neither of us suffers from any seasickness.
Overall, the majority of the passengers are over 50 and Australian, as I mentioned earlier, some of the most lively and animated people we've met anywhere.  We've also spent time with equally fun Americans we've met of the 200 on board.

The overall Australian theme aboard ship has been an excellent intro for us into Australia life and lingo.  Tom, who's had a blast at the men's club, the "Shed" will attend again today after missing yesterday when we attended a movie with our new friends, Pat and Charles.

After finally watching the highly acclaimed, "The Imitation Game," we highly recommend seeing this superb movie which particularly appealed to both of us, me for the technological aspects and Tom for its World War II era. 

The casino, which we continue to ignore preferring not to lose any money.
By the time the movie was over, we wandered about the ship, eventually heading back to our cabin to dress for the party we were invited to for all Crown and Anchor members, a priority points club comparable to "frequent flyers."  Oddly, the party was held in the theatre, not necessarily a good venue for a party. 

A smaller ship such as this, Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas, with a capacity of 2076 passengers is in the category we prefer. With less people, its actually easier to make and maintains friendships when it possible to find each other again, as opposed to the much larger ships where its easy to get lost in the crowd.

Again last night, we had dinner at a 10 seat sharing table sitting next to older travelers with much more experience than us.  Hearing their stories encourages us to consider locations we may have dismissed in the past.  How brave many of them are who are well into their 80's and 90's, giving us hope that we may be able to carry on for years to come.

View from an upper level balcony overlooking the Centrum, the center area of the ship.
After dinner we watched a fabulous comedian in the theatre.  It was interesting to hear so much of the humor geared toward the Australians and how quickly we are picking up their humor. 

Although I prefer not to stereotype people, in general the Australians are one fine bunch of people.  Their sense of humor leaves us roaring with laughter and easily getting in on the fun with our own quips.

Tomorrow, we're going on a fabulous tour on the island or Moorea with a marine biologist.  After reading many reviews on TripAdvisor for suggested activities on this small island, this seemed most appropriate for us.  Many comments we read suggested we chose tours offered by the ship for safety reasons.  Although, we prefer small tours arranged on our own or with others, in this case, we feel this was a better decision.

Returning to our cabin, this pin was awaiting us.  We are now officially Platinum members with a long way to go on Royal Caribbean to reach a tier with many benefits.
As a result, we won't be posting until after we return from the tour.  Please be aware that tomorrow's post won't be available online until later in the day than usual.  Good signal providing, we'll be back with exciting photos and stories of our tour.

Also, if you do not see a post on a specific day, it is due to the fact that the ships Internet is down which we've been warned could but may not, transpire at some point between now and June 11th when we arrive in Sydney.

These mechanical devices are used for the aerial acrobats.
Thanks to all of our readers for following along with us on cruises.  We realize our photos are not as exciting while out to sea as at other times, but as we come to several great ports of call over the next several days, we hope to amp up the adventure.

Happy Friday!

Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2014:

Ironically, one year ago today we posted information on this cruise we are on at the present while we were living in Madeira, Portugal.  For details from that post, please click here.

Crossing the Equator in a few minutes...Hilarious King Neptune Celebration poolside...

King Neptune getting ready to start the Equator crossing ceremony.
Soon we'll be crossing the Equator and the ceremonies poolside are about to begin.  We're sitting at a table poolside with new friends with Pat and Charles from Missouri, USA and having a blast.

The dancers heading out to the main area.
From Wikipedia, here's info on the crossing of the Equator:

"The ceremony of Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the British Merchant Navy, Dutch merchant navy, Royal Navy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, Russian Navy, and other navies that commemorates a sailor's first crossing of the Equator.[1] The tradition may have originated with ceremonies when passing headlands, and become a "folly" sanctioned as a boost to morale,[2] or have been created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates were capable of handling long rough times at sea. Sailors who have already crossed the Equator are nicknamed (Trusty/Honorable) Shellbacks, often referred to as Sons of Neptune; those who have not are nicknamed (Slimy) Pollywogs (in 1832 the nickname griffins was noted ."

There he is, King Neptune, the festivities have begun.
Soon the polliwogs will participate by the swimming pool as a celebration of our crossing the Equator.  I'd never heard of a pollywog until this cruise which refer to those who've volunteered to be indoctrinated through a ritual which include breaking eggs on their heads and tossing them fully clothed into the pool.

The human resource manager getting "egged."
As the participants kneel to have the raw eggs broken over their heads the crowd is roaring and laughing over the fun antics.  It couldn't be more fun.
At the moment, the hosts of the party just dumped cups of flour on top the heads of those that had been egged.  The crowd roars some more.

One of the hosts of the ceremonies, the Cruise Director.
The inclusion of various staff members in the festivities only adds to the frenzy of the crowd; the human resources manager and various ship officers.  It makes us all laugh at how it must have been Roman times when people were mocked in the square especially when the staff members are being beaten with wet pasta.

It appeared that every passenger was watching the festivities.
Why is it us humans get a kick out of such festivities, I'll never know.  Perhaps, part of our humor is over the fact that we're just happy its not us out there being egged, floured and beaten with wet noodles.  In any case, its rather humorous and neither of us are exempt from this good humor.

The "kiss the fish" ceremony.
Now, the environmental managers are having to "kiss the fish" which is hilarious followed by more egg breaking and flour dumped on their heads and down their shirts and finally, full bowls of cost red pasta sauce dumped over their heads.

The second cruise director getting egged.
Now, passengers are volunteering for the final part of King Neptune's Equator ceremony as a dozen seniors and a few younger passengers kneel on the floor to be indoctrinated as "pollywogs," as those who are experiencing crossing the Equator for then first time in their lives. 

Getting "floured."
Again, the broken eggs, the flour and the wet pasta and finally, the red pasta sauce and the crowd is going wild.

Getting "pasta noodled."
Today, we share these photos, tongue in cheek, admiring the brave souls who volunteered to be spectacles of themselves.  The final volunteer was one of the cruise directors who is hilarious and a great sport.

Pasta and pasta sauce on the head of a brave passenger.

The Cruise Director getting floured.

As of this moment we have crossed the Equator and are in the southern hemisphere for the next almost two years to come.  The adventure has just begun!

What a brave guy!

Photo from one year ago today, May 28, 2014:

An ocean view in Madeira, Portugal one year ago.  It was at this time one year ago we beagn making some new plans for the future.  Please click here for details.

"Sexiest Man Aboard Ship Contest"...Tom and the "Shed"...

The ceiling fixture in the main lounge area, the Centrum.
Cruising is ideal for us.  We love the routine we naturally slide into within a few days, hanging out with new friends, meeting more people at meals each morning, evening, and when wandering about the ship.

Yesterday afternoon Tom attended the daily "Shed," an Australian tradition whereby men get together and shoot the breeze. He had a great time and most likely will return again each day.  How unusual for us to be apart for a few hours.  I easily filled the two hour time slot working out and taking photos.

In three days, we'll reach our first port of call, Moorea, Society Islands, where we'll get off the ship to check out the island.  Its especially enjoyable for us when we have an opportunity to visit new locations to see if its a place we'd return to someday for an extended stay.

Tom refused to partake in the "Sexiest Man Aboard Ship Contest" that transpired yesterday afternoon. We both got a kick out of watching the contest poolside.
If not, its still interesting to see other parts of the world, the local customs, the way of life, and the dedication many islanders must exercise to fulfill the expectations of tourists constantly flooding their area.

We're very sensitive to that fact and we make every effort to be kind, patient and appreciative when services are provided to us.  Many island nations have lived off the cruise business and tourism to sustain a quality of life that may be impossible without it.

Part of the competition was pushups.  This passenger did the most number of pushups, 66 and eventually won the competition with his excellent dancing skills.
Most of the islands we'll visit between Saturday, May 30th and June 11th have small populations, high poverty levels and struggle to make it through life.  It is through the naivety of us travelers that a simple beautiful life can be had living on a tropical island. 

But, for the masses living on these islands, life is hard, fraught with poverty, illness and strife often without running water, electricity and modern comforts and conveniences.

This poor guy couldn't do one pushup.  This made Tom especially happy he hadn't participated.
We have no delusions in our pleasant way of life of following the sun, that the people that serve us in any manner share in what appears to them to be an affluent life.  For us, its hardly affluent when we've made many adjustments  and sacrifices in order to live this life we've chosen. 

We've often said this and continue to remind ourselves...we are humbled by this life we live.  Humbled by the beauty of the people, the environment, the way of life, and the how simply one can live and find happiness at every turn.

This guy did a "moon shot" while the dancing part of the competition took place. 
Sure, its easy for us to say this as we lounge on a cruise ship writing to our readers today using modern technology, eating good food and having all the "creature comforts" one could want.

From one laugh fest to another, one great philosophical conversation to another, to one enriching expose of our lives to theirs, we strive to maintain a degree of gratitude and humility.

One of the buffet tables in the Romeo and Juliet, the main dining room.
However enthusiastically we share our story that often leaves mouths agape as to how we could possibly manage to let go of all of our world goods, the people we love and a place to call "home" we don't forget for a moment that is could change on a dime.

As each day comes, we find ourselves being grateful for one more opportunity to become engaged in our surroundings whether its people, scenery or wildlife and when, on occasion, its all of these.

The dining room as it was being set for breakfast.
At the moment we're sitting outdoors near the pool in a dining area with tables and chairs drinking cold beverages on a hot, humid day and a somewhat overcast day at sea.  We don't have a complaint in the world.  The seas are relatively calm so far and that too could change on a dime.  If it does we'll be ready to take on the challenge with aplomb.

Please bear with our less than perfect photos aboard ship.  There's only so many photo ops on the ship.  However, in a few days, we'll have more exciting photos to share of the many islands we'll visit on the journey to Australia.


Photo from one year ago today, May 27, 2014:

At night the island of Madeira became a cacophony of lights and magic as we enjoyed this view from our veranda.  In the entire two and a half months, we never tired of either the daytime ocean views or the lights.  For details, please click here.

Sorry for late posting! Too much fun! Update on posting while cruising...Cruise itinerary...Making new friends aboard the ship...

Please excuse blurry photos.  I'd accidentally changed the setting on the camera effecting the quality of some of the photos. Also, with the weak wifi signal on the ship, our formatting and line spaces may be inaccurate.
Tom's miniature lemon merengue pie for dessert at last night's dinner.

For details for this cruise's itinerary and details regarding the ship's amenities, please click this link.

Over the next number of days while cruising our daily posts will be arriving a few hours later than usual, although we'll continue to post every 24 hours or so. Once we arrive in Australia on June 11th and get settled, future posts will be available every 24 hours.

My breakfast this morning.
With the upcoming crossing of the International Dateline we'll be losing a day having experienced multiple time zone changes.  We'll cover more of that later as the time zones change.

Last night, Tom at the bar, enjoying his unlimited cocktails wearing his white dress shirt for dress up night. 
The reason we'll be running late in posting is a result of our having too much fun!  What can I say?  These 1400 Aussies and 200 Americans on board are the most fun group of people we've ever encountered on a cruise. 

They're everywhere, ready for sharing a good story and having a good laugh.  How did a nation of people have the friendliness and good humor in common?  Maybe we'll figure it out over the next few years.

I ordered a small salmon plate and received this extra large salmon plate. 
We've discovered that we have a lot of language nuances to learn and are making an effort to pick up everything we can in the hopes of "fitting in" into the Aussie homeland.

My view while working out on the elliptical machine.
In an effort to avoid germs and have better service for organizing my breakfasts, which I do have when cruising, its easier to order my specific meals from the helpful dining concierge, Cecelia, who's in charge of all the passengers with special diets who dine in the main dining room.  She's got mine figured out.  There's no such a service in the Windjammer Café, the buffet style venue.

Although the Windjammer has a specific "gluten free" buffet area, it has few items that work for me when many are high carb gluten free baked goods and sugary items none of which work for me.    Last night at dinner, I ordered my breakfast and tonight's dinner in advance, giving the chef ample time to make the items suitable.
More equipment in the fitness center.

This morning we had breakfast in the main dining room.  Thus, in the future will avoid the Windjammer buffet entirely. Tom was able to order what he wanted both in choices and portions and my choices worked out perfectly.

The theatre where seminars and shows are performed.
However, while dining at a "shared table" which we always do, its impossible not to become friendly with our tablemates.  Thus, the lengthy delay in posting today and most likely on most days going forward as we continue on the cruise. 

We're out to sea with no land in sight in any direction.  An announcement was made that there will no access to satellite TV for the next several days since the ship will be too far out of range.  We don't watch TV anyway while cruising.  We stay out every night until we're ready for bed, exhausted from loads of fun. 

Cruise ships often have peculiar décor.
During the day we only go to the cabin to change clothes, put away our laptops or grab an item we may need.  Today's a busy day.  As I write this now, it 1:30 pm.  At 2:00, Tom will head to a history seminar while I visit the fitness center the second day in a row.

Having lost a degree of fitness in Kauai after being sick for a few weeks, I'm finding that working out is helping me restore my former self.  Over the next few weeks I'll continue to improve and then, when we arrive in Trinity Beach I'll join a nearby health club for the three month stint which I've already contacted for rates.    

Cha cha lessons in the centrum.
Today, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm Tom will attend a men's group called "The Shed," an Australian tradition where guys get together and shoot the breeze over cocktails.  This morning Tom explained that in Minnesota, its comparable to "Garage Logic" (his favorite radio show which he still listens to each day when we're on land).  I'm thrilled that he gets to do this and tomorrow he'll fill in the details in the post.

While he's in "The Shed" I'll sit by the pool and read a book on my phone.  Wow!  This is the life.  No wonder we love cruising.

It was fun to watch the dancers carry on.
When we meet back at the cabin at 5:15, I'll be showered and dressed for dinner and Tom will do the same.  Shortly afterward, we'll head to the bar for happy hour and later in the main dining room for more lively banter and fun.  We haven't yet been to an evening show. 

We seldom find the arranged activities and shows quite our cup of tea instead preferring to meet up with our new friends for happy hour, breakfast or dinner. 

This towel character, an elephant, was sitting on our bed last night when we returned for bed.
One more item regarding posting while on the ship: we will only be able to post  eight to ten photos each day.  Although we have an unlimited data wifi package, photos take too long to post, often almost two hours for more than a dozen photos.  With less photos, we can upload the post in a more timely fashion, albeit a little later each day while cruising.

Have a terrific Tuesday!  See you again soon!

Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2014:

The ocean view from our house in Madeira where we lived for two and a half months, having a fabulous experience.  For more details, please click here.