Showing posts with label cruises. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cruises. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Waikiki ~ A Royal Pink Palace Celebration

Once upon a time in the middle of the Pacific Ocean there was an island kingdom; a land of islands ruled by kings and queens. . . a Land we now call ‘Hawaii’. . .

Island of Lanai - Hawaii
Visitors who spend anytime in Hawaii will soon be caught up in its history and the stories of those who ruled that not-so-long-ago Kingdom. Reminders and tributes are everywhere from the Kamehameha Highway to Queen’s Hospital.

Island of Oahu, Hawaii
Among the Royalty were – just to name a few -- King Kamehameha, also known as Kamehameha the Great, who conquered most of the Hawaiian Islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1810. . . and Queen Emma, consort of King Kamehameha IV. . . and King Kalakaua, and finally Queen Lili’uokalani the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. She reigned until the overthrow of the Kingdom in 1893.

The history of the Kingdom, the arrival of Christian missionaries, the introduction of sugar cane and pineapple production, its tourism industry and the road to statehood in 1959, is multifaceted. Today I am focusing on one small but important part of its fascinating story . . .

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel ~ The Pink Palace of the Pacific

Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Waikiki Beach - Honolulu
If you look closely at my photo above you’ll see the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel, ‘the Pink Palace of the Pacific’ tucked away in the shadow of modern high-rise hotel towers. What a contrast to when she reigned over Waikiki Beach as shown in the photo below. The Grand Old Queen of the Beach celebrates her 90th anniversary this month.

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Royal Hawaii Hotel - Photo, Historic Hawaii Foundation Collection
The first Royal Hawaiian Hotel was originally built in downtown Honolulu to house visiting dignitaries. Opening in 1871 it was called the Hawaiian Hotel, then soon after King Kalakaua came into power in 1874, it was called the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. In the early 1900’s, with the hotel in decline, the YMCA took over the building and Matson Navigation Company bought the name.

The Regal Entry to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Opening at its present-day Waikiki location on February 1, 1927, the new Royal Hawaiian Hotel drew 1,200 attendees to its opening night gala.  The hotel’s Spanish-Moorish style was popular in the 1920’s, partially due to the popularity of Rudolph Valentino, an Italian actor who often portrayed Arab sheiks in movies, according to Bob Sigall, who writes “Rearview Mirror” for the Honolulu Star Advertiser Sunday Magazine.

Promotional posters from yesteryear on display at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
With the hotel’s opening, the era of luxury travel to Hawaii had begun. Matson Navigation Co. operated two cruise ships, the Lurline and the Matsonia that traveled between California and Honolulu. Passengers sailed on the luxury liners and then stayed in luxurious surroundings at the Royal Hawaiian. (Matson ultimately owned four hotels in Hawaii and in 1959 sold them to Sheraton for $18 million.)

If the walls could talk - Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
Those early day cruisers after being welcomed with leis and serenaded by the Royal Hawaiian Band at the pier were treated to a lawn party at the hotel. While guests partied, servants unpacked their bags, according to Sigall.

Wall map in entry way of Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
During World War II tourism tanked. The luxury cruise ships were painted war-time gray and became troop transport ships while the Navy took over the Royal Hawaiian, paying $17,500 a month rent. The hotel was then used for a Rest and Relaxation (R and R) facility for troops. It didn’t take long after the war for tourism to return and the hotel reopened to resume hosting the luxury traveler.

Ceilings in the Royal Hawaiian - Pink Palace of the Pacific - Hotel 
Hawaiians like to ‘talk story’ and among the hotel’s stories is one explaining its pink color:  it was inspired by the colors of homes in Portugal, many of which, back in the 1920’s, were painted pink with blue shutters.

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William "Chick" Daniels - Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
A look at the history of the ‘Pink Palace’ wouldn’t be complete without mention of the Waikiki ‘beach boys’ –  those talented and athletic young Hawaiians who taught visitors how to surf and to use outrigger canoes.  There’s a photo display at the hotel that pays tribute to one of their favorite ‘beach boys’:  William ‘Chick’ Daniels (1899-1982).  Chick, as he was called, began his 50-year career at the Royal Hawaiian in 1927. He became their Head Beach Attendant.

This talented waterman was also a musician and entertained guests by day then performed with his band, the ‘Royal Hawaiians’ at night. They performed at the hotel’s opening gala. Years later, he wrote the Hawaiian song, “Lei Aloha” which he performed in New York on the Arthur Godfrey radio show.

Waikiki Beach - Honolulu, Hawaii
It was a different time, those glory days of luxury in the ‘Pink Palace’. The price of a ticket to that that opening gala cost $10 per person, or about $150 by today’s standards.

But it’s not too late to have a taste of the elegance: The hotel’s 90th Anniversary Gala is slated for March 3rd, tickets are $350 per person with all proceeds going to the ALS Association. The event, housed in the hotel’s elegant Monarch Room, will include a cocktail reception, three-course meal, entertainment and silent auction. Tickets are still available. For information: or (808) 931-7912.

Window display hotel shop - Royal Hawaiian Hotel
If you want a bit more ‘talk story’ about the ‘Pink Palace’ the hotel’s historian, Kehaulani Kam, leads one hour tours twice a week. They currently begin at 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Contact the hotel for details, (808) 923-7311.

Aloha for this week. If you have a story about the Royal Hawaiian we invite you to tell us about it in the comments below or send us an email and we’ll add your story. The hotel wants to hear your memories, so hashtag it, #Royal90.  May your travels be happy and healthy! Hope you’ll be back next week and bring a friend or two with you.

Linking up with:
Linking with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration .

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Stay in Myanmar’s Grand Old Strand Hotel

“Dear Mr. Smith,

. . .You share our Guest Register with the likes of George Orwell, Sir Peter Ustinov, Somerset Maugham, David Rockefeller, Sir Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling and HRH Kin Taufa’ahau Tupou IV of Tonga (in 1936), who have all stayed at The Strand.

Enjoy your ‘Burmese Days’ and the magical experience that is Myanmar and its wonderfully friendly people.”

That excerpt from the welcome letter from The General Manager was to set the tone for an extraordinary stay at The Strand Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar.

Stepping into the lobby – admittedly small in stature and décor when compared to today’s 5-star behemoths – with its marble floors, rattan furniture and lofty ceiling felt as if we were stepping back more than a century in time into the British Colonial Far East.

Lobby of The Strand - Yangon, Myanmar
For three days and two nights we’d get a taste of the genteel grandeur of British-influenced early 1900’s in the still developing Rangoon, Burma, as it was then called. Today it is Yangon, Myanmar, one of the ports of call of our Oceania cruise that took us from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul, Turkey last spring.

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The Strand, Rangon, Myanmar, left, Raffles Hotel, Singapore, right

Because the cruise line allowed for on-shore stays, we’d planned to stay in this historic haven since booking our cruise. This neo-classic charmer was built in 1901 by John Darwood, and was later acquired by four Armenian brothers – the Sarkies – as part of their early 20th Century luxury hotel collection that included The Strand, the Eastern & Oriental in Penang and the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.

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Serenaded at checkin; we sipped watermelon juice with another couple from the ship
‘Genteel’ became the operative word for this stay. Doormen greeted us and the reception staff ushered us to cushioned rattan couches and served us fresh watermelon juice while we listened to live music and another staff member completed the paperwork for our stay. No long lines or impersonal registration counters here.

A Brief Hotel History

From its beginning this three story hotel, “was regarded as ‘the finest hostelry east of Suez’ and Murray’s Handbook for Travelers in India, Burma and Ceylon, 1911 edition, says the hotel was patronized by ‘royalty, nobility and distinguished personages’,” according to Philippe Delaloye, the current General Manager.

However, during the intervening decades, the British Colonial period ended and Burma became an independent country (1948). The once-luxurious hotel served as a home for Japanese soldiers during Japan’s occupation in World War II and then fell into a state of disrepair in the 1960’s. A Burmese businessman purchased it in 1988 and commissioned its extensive renovation. There were no new towers, fitness clubs or pools added; it was simply restored to its once-luxurious self. And a few modern conveniences like free wi-fi and  flat screen televisions have been added.

Fresh blooms and toiletries in our bathroom
It reopened in 1993 as a 31-room, all-suite, 5-star hotel and is currently the only hotel in Myanmar to be part of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World.

We were shown our second-floor suite by the butler assigned to our floor.  A butler (or two) are assigned to each floor 24/7 and simply await a call from guests ~ they open your door for you when you return to your room, push elevator buttons, and lock up your suite when you leave.

The Butler's station was manned 24/7 on each of the hotels floors
Double doors led from our suite's entry hall into an oversized bathroom with separate shower, tub and toilet area. At the end of the hallway we entered an enormous bedroom with king-sized bed. A separate sitting area with sofa, chair and coffee table was the perfect place for afternoon coffee and cookies – served . . . by the butler, of course!

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Suite 102 The Strand, Yangon, Myanmar where treats were left each night by the butler
My favorite spot in the room was the large desk where I could imagine literary giants of yesteryear penning novels that would transcend the decades and continue to tantalize readers like us with tales of the British Colonial period.

Dining at The Strand

PicMonkey Collage
Dining was a delight at The Strand from breakfast to dinner
Several of you – who read the earlier post on drinking water served from communal cups attached to water tanks along the streets – asked about the food.  We didn’t try street food and ate one (very good) meal at a British pub a few blocks from the hotel. The majority of our meals were eaten at the hotel. Breakfast was included in the price of the room. The menu offerings included items like fresh banana pancakes and fruit for breakfast.

The hotel’s specialties included Onn-Not-Khao Sive, a chicken in light coconut gravy with egg noodles, crispy noodles, boiled egg, shallot and lime (pictured lower left) and the Strand Mohinga, a signature dish, a lemon-grass and ginger infused fish soup, not pictured. We tried them both - they were excellent!

Enjoying the genteel life at The Strand, Yangon, Myanmar
Our time at this hotel, named for its address 92 Strand Road, was far too short.  We vowed we’d have to return. With any luck we will one day. 

That’s it for our visit to Myanmar. We returned to the ship and that evening set sail for our next port of call, Cochin, India. We’d have three ‘sea days’ while crossing the Bay of Bengal, the largest bay in the world before finally setting foot in India.  Was the hassle we had with getting an India visa worth it? We’ll let you know in our next post!  Happy travels to you and yours until we meet again~

Linking up this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Singapore: Something Old ~ Something New

There are those among you who still are shaking your heads; trying to wrap them around the idea of anyone wanting to sail from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul,Turkey via the Middle East. It sounded to many like a route full of foreign ports with strange sounding names and in some cases undeveloped, perhaps even unsafe – at times -countries.

Not all our ports of call were like that.  Take, for example, Singapore. Our first port of call on this 34-day adventure is officially known as the Republic of Singapore, a Southeast Asian island country that is a sleek, modern sovereign city-state with a population of 5.4 million people.

Singapore skyline
In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore has the third-highest per capita income in the world. It is a major commercial hub, the fourth-biggest financial center and ranks second on the list of the world's busiest ports.

It also ranks high when comparing its education, healthcare and economy with other countries in the world.

Touring the Town

We chose to explore this first port of call on our own.  For those of you who scoff at cruises because of those ‘cruise ship herd tours', let me assure you that Oceania Cruises gets a gold star for on-shore passenger flexibility. At all of our ports of call, those who wanted to take the ship-sponsored tours  could do so. Many arranged small independent group tours by use of the Cruise Critic web site in advance of the cruise. Others, like us,  just walked off the ship, planning to see the town on our own. 
PicMonkey Collage
Singapore is a tourist-friendly town

NOTE: Singapore is a tourist-friendly city, which makes it easy to tour on your own.  There were signs in English to explain the history of streets and neighborhoods and public art.

We opted to take the “Hop On, Hop Off” (HOHO) shore tour bus. We simply walked to the HOHO Bus tour desk in the very modern and cruise-ship-welcoming terminal. A short wait there and we were on their shuttle bus that transported us to the tour bus hub, tucked away among those towering buildings pictured above. 

NOTE: Similar buses operate in numerous cities around the world – as their name implies you can hop off, explore a particular site and hop back on the next bus that comes along to get to the next site or stay on the bus and simply sightsee.

Hop On, Hop Off bus tours
The open-air upper deck featured on Hop On, Hop Off buses is always a favorite with us. Sunglasses and sunscreen are musts in climates, like Singapore, where we were but a few miles north of the equator. 

It was a good way to cover a lot of ground as we were docked in Singapore from 8 in the morning until 8 in the evening. Admittedly a single day in a port of call isn’t long enough, but it is a good sampler of all that a place has to offer. We use these stops as research – the overview can either bring us back on a future extended land trip or we can check it off as a ‘been there, done that’ sort of place.

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Historic Raffles Hotel, left and Marina Bay Sands to the right
In our case, we had been here before – decades ago.  So it was good to compare the old places that we recalled with that which was new. Trust me, there was much that was new! Our tour took us past the old British Colonial Raffles Hotel, (which had been old even way-back-when we first visited). The Singapore Sling, a gin and tropical fruit juice cocktail, was created in this place more than a hundred years ago. The stately old hotel was miniscule when compared to the towering Marina Bay Sands – yes, much has changed since we were last here.

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Atop the Marina Bay Sands (my former boss and The Scout, top left)

We “hopped off” the the tour bus at this towering hospitality hub and rendezvoused with my former boss, now Superintendent of the American School there, and his wife.  We headed to the bar and restaurant at the very top – 57th floor. With a healthy fear of water and heights, the infinity pool that stretches some 150 meters across the rooftop Skypark didn’t call out to me – but it was spectacular.

Showcasing Ethnic Diversity

Sri Mariamman Temple
Asians make up the largest segment of the population. About 75% are Chinese, yet there are significant populations of Malays, Indians and Eurasians.

With limited time we couldn’t visit every ethnic quarter so rode through Little India’s eateries and shops en route to Chinatown.

At its entry (and near the bus stop) we – like countless others – stopped to admire and photograph Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple (opened 1827) in Singapore.

Then we wandered up and down the market streets visiting with vendors and shopping. 

There were so many restaurants from which to choose in this colorful and lively quarter that one could easily eat every meal here for a week and never visit every eatery.

PicMonkey Collage
Chinese Quarter food street
Our day too soon came to an end and we climbed back on to our Magic Carpet, aka Oceania’s Nautica. We’d have another day at sea before reaching our next port of call: Phuket Thailand. Watching sail away is one of our favorite parts of cruising – on this particular sailing it seemed the perfect time to sip a Singapore Sling ~

When in Singapore, have a Sling
We know you are busy, so we appreciate the time you spend with us!  Safe travels to you and hope to see you back again soon as we head out through the Straits of Malacca for the Bay of Bengal. . . .

Linking this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Oceania’s Nautica: Our Middle East Magic Carpet Ride

This wasn’t a strange place;
it was a new one.
         --- Paolo Coelho
Coelho’s saying so perfectly describes so many of the places we experienced as we traveled from the Far East through the Middle East aboard Oceania’s Nautica this spring. Our 34-day cruise took us across bodies of water to lands we’d been introduced to through books and movies; many places we never thought we’d see for ourselves in this life time.

Oceania's Nautica anchored in the Andaman Sea
It was such a rapid-fire array of sensory overloads that we are still wrapping our heads around it all. We sailed through pirated waters, drove through roadless desert sands, skirted war zones, and explored developing countries and areas that occasionally required escorts/armed guards. History, religion, tales of conflicts (old and new), customs, and cuisines mixed and mingled into an intoxicating potpourri of experiences.
“Dear Guests,. . .We are excited to share these interesting and unique ports with you but we would like to make sure that we set your expectations correctly at the outset in order to avoid any disappointment. 
Many of these ports that we will be visiting are ports that are not on the usual traveler’s route. The are for the most part developing nations that are making great strides forward with with varying degrees of success.”
                   --excerpt from welcome letter from the tour desk staff
Our cruise itinerary wasn’t for everybody as evidenced by the number of passengers.  There were less than 500 on this ship that accommodates nearly 700 passengers. But those who were on board were there for the same reason we were: to experience places we’d always wanted to visit.

Our Magic Carpet Ride
We were all eager to participate in the land tours – even those that came with security warnings and procedures. Like many, we alternated our shore experiences between ship’s tours and those we’d arranged on our own.  Several small group tours (for far less cost than the ship tours) had been arranged by cruisers who’d met and conversed months before the departure using, which provides a forum base.

Tour buses await ship passengers in Safaga, Egypt
In many ports individuals set off on their own – sometimes for an overnight (or longer) stay. The couple below shared a tuk-tuk, those little open-air taxis, from the ship into Phuket, Thailand with us and in Cochin, India we each rented our own driver/tuk-tuk for the day. Some passengers left the ship in Cochin, India and met back up with us in Mumbai a few days later after they had visited the Taj Mahal.  Oceania was great in accommodating flexible travel plans.

PicMonkey Collage
Tuk-tuk on-your-own touring was our favorite
So this week we are introducing you to that floating Magic Carpet of ours. In subsequent posts we will show you the lands we visited and the people we met. I know a number of you are still wanting updates from our after-cruise stay at The Stone House on the Hill in Greece, so I am going to increase the number of posts for a few weeks from one- to at least two- so that I can answer all your requests for photos and updates. (Subscribers, please bear with me – I promise I won’t overfill you inboxes).

To start the journey, come – hop on our ‘Magic Carpet’. We were calling it ‘home’ after a couple of weeks:
Nautica, built 2000; underwent multi-million dollar renovation 2014
Lobby stairway
Guest decks: 9; Total decks: 11
Public spaces were small but elegant
Length: 593.7 feet; Beam 83.5 feet. Cruising speed 18 knots
One small pool no games or gimmicks - our kind of cruise ship
Guest capacity 684 persons (double occupancy); Staff 400
On occasion special events were held around the pool
Eating venues: The Grand Dining Room, two specialty restaurants (Polo Grill and Toscana), informal Terrace Café; Waves Grill, Afternoon Tea, Baristas, Room Service
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Food was some of the best we've had on a cruise line
Oceania provided soft drinks and water for free (many cruise lines don’t); specialty coffee drinks were also free of charge as was dining in the specialty restaurants (many cruise lines charge extra for the coffees and charge extra for the specialty restaurants). Our cruise package included free unlimited internet for one person (a $22 – $28 per day value) which emphasizes the importance of the cruise package – not just the ticket price.

'The Scout' Scouting from our deck
We prefer cabins with balconies. In addition to the extra space it seems a shame not to experience the sunny climates when cruising through them. Although I must admit we often couldn’t use our deck because it was simply too hot.We’ve never experienced heat like that of Singapore, India and the Middle East where both temperature and humidity were often in the double-digit high 90’s!

We’ll set sail from Bangkok in our next cruise post. Hope you’ll be aboard with us. Welcome to our new subscribers who joined us in June! And thanks to all of you for your time. Happy travels~

Linking up this week with~

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Marking time on The Red Sea

Having left Jordan a few hours early last night it seemed we had a bit of time to kill this morning so we cruised in circles on the Red Sea for a period of time before entering the Gulf of Suez.

We will transit the 120-mile (193.3kilometer) Suez Canal on Thursday; a journey of some 11 to 16 hours. You don't just sail through - you fall in line and await your turn.

The anticipation is so strong it fills the atmosphere on our Oceania Nautica. And again I am reminded that each time I say 'it doesn't get any better' the next day proves it does!

Egyptian desert
Speaking of days, we are at Day 29 of this cruise that seemed it would last 'forever' when we boarded four weeks ago in Bangkok, Thailand. We are less than a week away from the end of this magical adventure aboard this small ship that has become our world.  We've followed ancient Spice Routes and crossed the desert that Lawrence of Arabia made famous and still have yet to visit the Holy Land, Turkey and Greece.

"Where did the time go?" we've all been asking as we reluctantly talk of our plans for after the cruise.

This 35-night cruise, that sailed from Bangkok with a final destination of Istanbul, Turkey, actually began for some  in Tokyo, Japan. They will have sailed for more than 60 days at the trip's end. Several others are staying on the ship and sailing the next segment to Lisbon, Portugal before disembarking.

We, as you regulars here know, will 'jump ship early' in Rhodes and head to The Stone House on the Hill, AKA our place in Greece.

Aqaba, Jordan
While our ports of call have been an overwhelming and memorable kaleidoscope of cultures, religions, sights, sounds and smells, that have filled our heads and our hearts to the point of bursting; we've also been enriched by the people we've met on the cruise ship. Many of whom have become friends (and travel inspirations) with whom we plan to stay in touch after our floating world disbands and we all head to different points in the world.

"I love these people on this ship," said Ruth- a fellow passenger- one night, "they understand me and my love of travel - sometimes people back home don't." This live-wire who lives in the United States had recently spent four weeks in Israel.

Peter and Wendy - Luxor, Egypt
The people we've met ARE travelers - some who make us look like old stay-at-homes by comparison. One couple we've befriended is busy working on Chinese visas to be ready for another OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) trip that will start soon after the cruise ends.  They plan a return to Cairo after disembarking in Istanbul. Many of our fellow cruisers are also regular OAT (land-based tours) travelers.

An English couple spent two nights at the same hotel in Yangon, Myanmar where we stayed . . .the old historic Strand Hotel (a place I'll tell you more about when internet allows for a few more photos). We simply researched hotels and booked them while aboard the ship. During a ride in to Phuket we discovered we were heading the same direction at the next port-of-call so we shared a taxi  and had two fabulous days in Yangon.

Departing Aqaba, Jordan
Oceania Cruise Lines has been superb about allowing enough nights in certain ports of call for such independent adventures. The ship also has offered some overnight packages, but welcomes the independent traveler as well. For example:

     *One group of independent travelers went from our port of call, Safaga, to Cairo, Egypt and
      spent time there, rejoining the ship a few days later in Aqaba, Jordan.

      *Several left the ship in Cochin, India and flew to the Taj Mahal, then rejoined the ship in
       Mumbai. Some went on a ship's tour and others planned their own.

We've participated in a mix of ship's tours and those we've booked on our own. While the ship's tours have been good, following a tour-guide's umbrella down the street like ducklings just doesn't compare to the thrill of the two of us climbing into a beat-up pickup driven by a Bedouin guide and setting out through the roadless sands of the Wada Rum - the vast desert you may recall from the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

This may be our favorite cruise routing ever and we'd do it again in a nanosecond, but even better, we've convinced ourselves that overland travel in Egypt and Jordan are possible. We are beginning the plans to return . . .

Thanks for joining us as our journey continues.  We appreciate your time, the wonderful comments you've left and your good wishes.  When I get back to internet land, I'll show you more photos of this amazing part of the world ~ you may not hear from us again until we reach Greece, where there may or may not be internet for a few weeks! Rest assured. We are well. We are happy. Hope you are, too!

Linking this week:
Travel Photo Thursday
Weekend Travel Inspirations

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Adrift in the Andaman Sea

Our ship is not adrift – it is us; our plans for organization, our vows to not overeat or indulge, my scheduled plan of blog posts to keep you up to date on our whereabouts and experiences. . .all are adrift. 

Strait of Malacca between Singapore and Phuket

We’ve been lulled into the world of cruising – a timeless sort of being when the days are charted by ports of call and the passing of time by the rising and setting sun.

 I’d written a post further describing Bangkok to you but so many have written with questions about our ship and our whereabouts, that I bumped it in lieu of an update from the ship.

Oceania's Nautica - our home for the next month

And the wonders of technology are allowing me to write and post as our ship takes us to Yangon, Myanmar (Rangoon, Burma) on the 1,200 kilometers long Andaman Sea, a part of the Bay of Bengal.  However, the wonders of technology did fail me, right after I wrote that sentence.  I am cutting and pasting this blog post together. So bear with the photo size and captions!

Our cabin - teeny tiny home sweet home

Our home has been Oceania’s Nautica since we boarded in Bangkok nearly a week ago. We’ve visited Singapore and Phuket, Thailand since sailing last Wednesday. (more on those as time allows – I don’t want to wear out the welcome in your inboxes or feeds). This mid-sized ship by industry standards is small in comparison to ships we’ve recently sailed. It has only 11 decks, 9 of which serve passengers.  We are not sailing at capacity, only 550 or so of the 684-passenger capacity was filled when we boarded; a few more came on in Singapore and some are disembarking in Mumbai. Flexibility is a plus with this cruise line.

The Lobby décor reflects the ship's elegant decor

Our cabin is small, very small. That was our mistake when we booked the ship – we’ll definitely book the larger room should we return to Oceania someday. The bathroom is beyond small – as The Scout describes it, ‘don’t drop your soap!’ in the shower that is 3-feet long and 19-inches wide.

The ship and staff are above board – the same high quality we’ve experienced on Celebrity and Holland America cruise lines. The culinary department is producing excellent morsels for us each day and alcohol prices are high (like all cruise lines) but tempered with a daily 2-for-1 Happy Hour that takes the edge off the over-the-top prices.

The Weather

Balinese day beds and lounges on the Nautica

It is hot. It is humid. Temperatures have hovered at or above 90-degrees the last few days and humidity has also been in the 90 percent range.  We have beautiful Balinese day beds that surround the pool – but there is no clamoring to occupy them – it is simply too hot. (And we’ve consumed gallons of bottled water, which on this ship is provided for free – another big plus!) And for my fashionista friends out there: the Chico’s hasn’t come out of the closet – way too hot to wear. I’ve purchased thin cotton tops on shore to wear – and they tell us the weather will be even hotter in India!

Our Fellow Cruisers

As I mentioned they didn’t fill the ship on this cruise but the cruisers who are on board are a great group of like-minded people.  They don’t wring their hands worrying about safety nor do they discuss age and health issues. They are too busy preparing for their next shore adventure – and a plus for this cruise line is that you can have those adventures on your own; you don’t need to be part of a ship’s tour unless you desire to do so.

Who are these people? Well let me introduce you to a few of them:

* A couple from Florida will have been on the ship more than 60 days when they finish their trip (this segment is 35-days). They were in Singapore a few months ago and Myanmar in December and last year took the first river cruise offered by Ama river cruises through Burma.

* A couple from Australia boarded in Singapore and between cruises and land adventures they have planned, won’t be home for another five months.

*On a small world note, one couple who live full-time in Arizona, still have a home in Kirkland, Washington (we’ve been catching up on Kirkland news with them).

*Even a smaller world tale is two attorneys from San Francisco who have done work in Wenatchee, Washington State and one of whom one of The Scout’s law partners from back in our Yakima days.

* We shared a cab back to the ship in Singapore with a woman who is sailing with her 91-year-old father.  She pushes him around in a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop either of them from taking the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour in that city.

* Another woman is traveling with her 93-year-old mom (who only uses a walker).
Sunset from the Horizons Bar - Nautica

It is an adventuresome, fun-loving group of people we’ve surrounded ourselves with – we meet for cocktails to discuss our day’s adventures and plan for future outings.

We are all off in different directions when we reach Myanmar tomorrow.  A couple from England is sharing a taxi with us as we are all heading to a hotel in Yangon for an independent (on our own) adventure.  Four other new friends are part of a ship’s tour that involves flying to Bagan, a heritage town in the country.

That’s it for now. Safe travels to you and thanks for your time. You can catch more frequent updates on Facebook.

Linking I hope this week with:

Budget Travelers Sandbox – Travel Photo Thursday


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