World Wonders Cruise Diary – Days 14-17 – At Sea

Sea Days – Jan 17-20

We welcome sea days as a chance to catch up on laundry, culling pictures and of course blogging.  Steve gets a break this time while I share our typical life on sea days:

South Pacific ocean is known for its indigo waters

After two weeks of cruising we’ve finally found our rhythm and routine.  It took us a while to get used to not making our bed, cooking, washing dishes, going to the store or planning our next hike.  While Steve thinks about Betsy often, we’re grateful that John and Pam are keeping an eye on her in Tucson for a few weeks.

Our eyes still grow big each time we see the food offerings for the next meal, but I’ve learned to tone down my portions.  Steve continues to eat everything in sight, mostly healthy but large portions.  The choices each day seem endless.

The muesli breakfast bar with various kinds of muesli and fruit toppings

Our routine begins with a 6am walk on deck 2, completing up to 18 laps around the ship to achieve our daily baseline of 10,000 steps.  We add many more throughout the day as we take the stairs up and down between deck 7 and deck 2 for various activities (we never use the elevators).  On some days I use the treadmill at the gym while Steve works out.  The treadmill has a video that simulates hiking, and with the incline set at a steep angle I get an excellent workout.

In the South Pacific the sun rises early and by 7am it’s already getting hot during our walks

Next we hit the Nordic Spa and follow a Nordic bathing/detox routine – soak in the hot tub for a while, douse ourselves with a bucket of cold water, hit the steam room for as long as we can stand it, then enter the snow grotto where we rub ourselves down with snow.  Finally, we soak in the hot seawater thermal pool until we tingle all over.  We repeat these cycles until we’ve had enough, then a hot shower in the locker rooms to finish up.  We’ve never felt so relaxed and my skin is smooth and silky!

Throughout the ship are pieces of artwork that we can learn about using a Viking app that offers a guided audio tour.  The ship is a floating gallery, housing some of the world’s finest and most coveted Nordic works – some by Edward Munch, Norway’s most celebrated artist.  We still have over three months to do our own tours one deck at a time, but we’ve already checked out the onboard Viking Heritage Museum to learn about the rich history and inspiring legacy of the Vikings:

Lining the stairwells are replicas of Bohuslan Petroglyphs on Italian Cardoso stone:

Crochet food art

Every day has several activities on board, including enrichment lectures, playing bridge or mahjong, completing a huge zigsaw puzzle, line dancing, trivia and more.  We often hang out at the Explorer’s Lounge to read, work on the blog or just gaze out at the ocean.

Our hang out, Explorer’s Lounge

In the evenings before or after dinner we listen to the excellent resident entertainers, including the Viking Classical Duo and pianist Andras who is absolutely amazing.  They alternate playing in the ship’s atrium while Edward Munch works are displayed on a large digital display..

Inspiring music from the Viking Classical Duo

A video clip of the resident pianist and his magical fingers, notice him looking all around but not at the keyboard:

When weather permits we watch movies under the stars on the pool deck.  We just saw the movie “Yesterday”, an interesting film that Beatles fans might enjoy.

A movie under the stars
A performance by the Viking Band

The night we left Bora Bora there was a French Polynesian celebration, where we were encouraged to dress up in Polynesian attire.  The executive chef had set up a wonderful spread of culinary delights, and the ship’s officers and staff were grilling and handing out tons of delicious food.  But the star of the party was displayed at the center, a huge Moonfish!  We had never seen one before, and the best part was that we got to taste it, too.  It was yummy!

Now that’s a very fresh Moonfish!

It was a great party

As we departed Bora Bora after a fun-filled day, we were disappointed to learn that our next stop at Rarotonga in the Cook Islands would be canceled due to cyclone Tino, which was ravaging the area.  We re-routed north of it to avoid the worst of the weather, and it’s a good thing we did because even then we were rockin’ and rollin’ in high waves for two days.  When I was feeling queasy I stayed in the living room area located midship, where the movement was not as bad.  In short, we had two pretty rough sea days.  The good news is that we saw flying fish for the first time ever as we were cruising along, unfortunately they were gone before I could grab my camera 😦

Take a look at my video showing waves that banged into the ship and made it tremble:.

The setting sun gave us a fabulous show at the end of our sea days:

At sunset, broken clouds replaced the stormy ones

 



 

World Wonders Cruise Diary – Day 8 – Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Cruise day 8 – Jan 12

Visit Taiohae, Nuku Hiva –

From our wall map, our first port of call – the remote island of Nuku Hiva

“Land Ho!”, we shouted with glee as we caught our first glimpse of land at 5:30am after 7 days at sea.  Although we enjoyed the long, lazy days during our Pacific crossing, we were more than ready to stand on solid ground again.  This little remote island in the South Pacific wasn’t exactly what I would pick as a destination, but it was a nice enough place to spend a half-day and get some exercise while learning a little bit about the people here.  It’s the largest of the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, and an overseas territory of France.

The ship was anchored in the bay facing the tiny town, and we were quickly taken ashore in the impressively large tenders that can each carry well over 100 humanoids.  At the dock we were given talks on local customs and arts and crafts by a resident.  Then we were released to walk down the only main road in town.

The tender that zoomed us ashore
Isn’t she a beauty?

We first scaled a small hill to visit an impressive sculpture that overlooks the harbor and town.  It was the first hill we had hiked in many days, and we only wished it had been more challenging.  After the obligatory dozens of pictures were taken, we headed back down the hill and walked through town – such as it is.  This is obviously a poor area, with run-down roads and facilities.  But the people seemed friendly, gave us a warm welcome and didn’t pressure us tourists into buying anything.

Taiohae is home to more than half the population of Nuku Hiva, and is a pretty island of small black-sand beaches, tropical blooms and a distinctly French ambiance:

Hey Mark, haven’t seen you pointing at any signs like this one!

This island is unique for its strange statues, some depicting non-terrestrial entities.  Too bad there were no plaques to explain more about their purpose or meaning.

The weather forecast was for 50% chance of rain, and that’s just what happened – it rained 50% of the time we were there!  Fortunately we were near cover when a big deluge hit, but a few minutes later it was gone and then there were just occasional sprinkles as we completed our walk back and forth through town.

The one side stop we made was to the cathedral, a rock and lumber structure that was simple but nicely done:

After about 3 hours we were ready to head back to the ship for yet another culinary orgy, then cold showers after walking in the 85º heat and high humidity.

Some more pictures from our excursion:

Main Street – pretty much the only street
The dock with Tuhiva overlooking from the hill
She’s getting pretty good at the selfies

After another wonderful dinner we watched “Gemini Man” at the Star Theater, then checked out the Dancing Under the Stars party.  Not a bad first port stop!

Dancing under the stars
A fun way to end the evening!

 



 

World Wonders Cruise Diary – Day 5,6,7 – Pacific Ocean

Day 5,6,7 – Jan 9-11

Cruising the Pacific –

About the only change in scenery during the past 3 days has been the cloud formations.  We did manage to pick up 3 seabirds that somehow flew at least 800 miles from the nearest land to join us as a base for resting and feeding.  Amazing to see birds out here in the middle of nowhere.

The hitchhikers – Red-footed Boobies were having a chat

Although the motion of the ship has varied between calm and quite a bit of rocking and rolling, Mona Liza seems to have overcome her seasickness – yay!  The patch worked like magic, and she highly recommends it.

Our day room – the Explorer’s Lounge has many books to read or browse

I’ve made it a priority to get my back healed before we reach our first port.  So far my daily trips to the hot tub, twice daily icings and 2 deep tissue massages have made a huge improvement and I’m confident I’ll be good to go when we reach the Marquesas Islands.

Our reflection as we head to my massage and  ML’s facial appointment

So how have we kept ourselves busy?  Mona Liza had a Hydra Facial (whatever the heck that is), and she joined the  Bayeux Tapestry tour to gain insights into the captivating images that we see lining the main stairwells.  She also watched a couple of movies at the Star Theater:

The resident historian told us the original tapestry is 230′ long and is actually an embroidery
Replica of the Bayeux tapestry that tells the story of the conquest of England in 1066, told in embroidery.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the spa and reading, and I took a tour of the ship’s public areas.  It was OK, but I can’t wait for a special tour of the bridge on the 22nd!

Available here are a Nordic thermal pool, steam room, snow grotto and hot tub.  This spa is awesome!
This is how the Nordics do a detox and we are too!

This is a lounging area by the pool (to my right), with additional chairs facing the scenery outside

Things we’ve done together include walking many laps and miles around the ship, enjoying a Q&A with the ship’s senior officers, watching 2 comedian/magician acts and having a 5-course dinner at one of the specialty restaurants.  The quality and variety of the food continue to blow our minds, but Mona Liza has been using pretty good restraint with her meals, while I’ve been gorging myself and feel confident I can put on a few pounds during the next 4 months.

One of the specialty restaurants

Port talks are lectures about the heritage, culture, and history of the country we will visit next

On Day 7 we crossed the equator, and there was a big ceremony with a ritual where folks who have never crossed before kiss a fish and then jump into the pool to be named a “shellback”.  We managed to avoid that madness, but enjoyed watching others make fools of themselves:

There’s been a concern about ongoing bushfires in Australia and whether our stop would be canceled, but we were advised that so far our itinerary is largely unaffected.  Viking is supporting the relief effort and making a charitable donation to the wildlife charity WIRES and to the Australian Red Cross.  Passengers contributions will be matched by Viking, so we were happy to be able to participate and hopefully help those unfortunate folks and animals.

Our future posts will be a bit more challenging, since we’ll be much busier on most days than we have been so far.  We’ll do our best to keep up!

In the meantime, here are some pictures my crazy photographer wanted to share:

Knitters gather at Wintergarden
Hmm, what do I want for breakfast today?
World Cafe – high-end buffet-style restaurant with a huge variety of choices
Guest services
Tea time – I wanted a beer 😦
Looking down at the atrium
The classical duo plays traditional Norwegian music at the atrium.  These two and the pianist are amazing
At turndown we don’t get towel animals like we used to
The setting sun capped another lazy day on the Viking Sun

 



 

World Wonders Cruise Diary -Day 1

The day has finally arrived!  It doesn’t seem like long ago that our Viking World Wonders cruise was still on the back burner, but preparations picked up a few months and it’s finally happening!

All our bags are packed, we’re ready to go…

We’re currently cruising across the vast Pacific Ocean aboard Viking Sun!  As we mentioned in our previous post, we’ve changed our blogging format to more of a “daily diary”, as our stops are going to be happening fast in a week when we reach our first stop and we won’t have time to do what we used to.  Steve will be doing the writing to cover each day’s activities – now I get to edit 🙂  I’ll post just a few pictures to give a flavor of our stops.  This is all assuming we have connectivity, of course.  Viking provides WiFi on the ship, but we’ve already experienced periods of extreme slowness so we’ll see how it goes.

Hard at work in my new office

Day 1 – Jan 4th

Flight from Tucson to Los Angeles for the cruise departure –

Awoke at 5:00am for a 7:20am flight to L.A. The flight was smooth and on-time, but we sat on the ground at LAX for 40 minutes waiting for a gate to accept the aircraft.  Crazy, crazy airport.  We were transferred to the ship by a Viking-contracted bus and arrived around 10:30am.  Getting our luggage and ourselves through security and onto the ship was very smooth.

Our stateroom was to be ready for us at 2:00pm, but the ship’s World Cafe was open and we got our first look at the tremendous selection of excellent food and service we’d be enjoying for the next 4 months – wow!

Our floating home until May!

After stuffing ourselves for the first time we started walking around the ship to check it out, and we decided to see where our stateroom was.  Good move – even though it was at least 2 hours until it was to be available, we found a room steward nearby and begged him to let us in just so we could drop our luggage and not have to keep hauling it around the ship with us.  He let us in and said it was ready – yay!  There was a problem with our room keys that we had to resolve, but after that the long process of unpacking multiple suitcases began and lasted into the night.

Explorer’s Lounge, my smile is already waning after the 100th picture…

We took breaks for another excellent meal and to attend the mandatory emergency drill that is required on all cruises.  By 7:00pm the ship had pulled away from the dock and we were on our way!  We now have 7 days at sea to endure, with no land in sight.  There will of course be plenty of activities and food around to keep us entertained, but with little else to do we may not post again for a few days.

Pictures taken while exploring the beautiful Viking Sun:

Watching the refueling operations below
Second snack on embarkation day, with the behemoth Royal Princess in the background – no thanks, we like our “little” ship

Instead of one designated library, there are hundreds of books on various topics placed in spaces throughout the ship.

Attending the “Welcome Aboard” party
Goodbye Los Angeles, Goodbye U.S.A.