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Travel Diary: LA to Hawaii on Oceania

February, 2019


Our first day of five at sea on our way from Los Angeles to Nawiliwili, Kauai went well. Keep in mind that every day, whether at sea or in port, we are in the gym for a least an hour. On sea days, BGM has takes an increasingly difficult yoga class, and I play in a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament. For the third day in a row, I came in second, getting all my money back. Sometimes , second results in a profit depending on the number of buy ins. Each buy in is $60 and to have a real chance of winning one has to buy in at least twice. The winner gets between $420 and $500.

There is a significant difference between playing poker just to win money, and playing poker to win a tournament. It took me two or three times of not even coming close to being in the money. After finally figuring out the system, I have been second each time so the losses have stopped. Now I just have to win which I have been down to the last hand, the last two times before losing to the same lady who is quite good and has played in the World Series of Poker.

The yoga and poker start at 3:00 and 3:25 respectively which are fine in terms of having time for lunch and changing out of workout clothes. However, these times conflict with other activities such as some very good wine tastings, for which there is a charge of up to $135 per person, but they always start at 1:30. For various reasons, having several glasses of wine before either playing poker or go to yoga does not seem to be the wisest move.

Oceania then had a very nice cocktail party for all the around the world passengers. They serve some nice appetizers, and very nice drinks, but I bring my own Crown Royal and BGM usually has a glass of some kind of sparkling wine. Last night, she had nothing.

Dinner was at Polo Grill, more fully described on the food exhibit. Then, because we were up and about, we went to the show, only for the second time. The first show we went to was a very fine jazz violinist, who is also a composer and trained in classical music.. We had had lunch with him and had promised we would try to see his show. We were too tired the first time her performed but saw his second show. It would be very hard to make a show if we do not go to dinner. If we do go to dinner, then it is more than likely we will see the show avoiding going to sleep on a full stomach which is never a good thing to do.

This night the show was a husband and wife team. He is from Australia and she from England. They are extremely talented, and put on as good a performance as I have ever experienced on a cruise ship. Their names are Hayden & Alexa Smith. He, remarkably, plays many saxophones and the guitar very well. He is a true virtuoso on multiple instruments, and has an excellent singing voice.

His Wife has a great voice, as evidenced by her outstanding rendition of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” from “Evita”. I learned how difficult that song is to sing when I read Patti Lupone’s autobiography. She was the original Eva Peron and, in her book, described in detail, how much work she had to do to become satisfied with how she sang this particular song.

One cannot go wrong when very talented people sing music from great musicals, a favorite Neil Diamond song, “Sweet Carollne” and perform a Tina Turner number among others.

By the way, as a final comment, one of the great experiences is attending a baseball game at Fenway Park where, in the 8th inning, the always sold out crowd sings “Sweet Caroline”.

Our second day at sea on the way to Hawaii, Friday February 1, I have incorporated on the Food Exhibit. That was done by mistake, but since there was not much to talk about other than the rough seas, the cocktail party and the wine, it is not terrible to leave everything I typed where it is. Besides, I never did learn how to cut and paste.

One additional observation, however. Because the water is so rough and the gym is in the front of the ship which is the worst place to be when there are rough seas, working out on the treadmill was really difficult. I had to get off and rest because even though I had the treadmill at no elevation, it was like I had it set at 15.

Our third day at sea on the way to Hawaii, Saturday February 2 brought a very pleasant surprise. Oceania had a great party for their around the world passengers beginning at 11:00 a.m. The event was labeled “Italian Pearls and Bubbles”. The number 1 chef on board, Mario is from Palermo and they put out an unbelievable spread of mostly Sicilian foods along with many variations of drinks made with champagne. We had no idea what to expect, but we quickly realized that there was enough really good food that when we left this party about an hour and a half later, we knew we would not eat again until dinner.

What is particularly surprising is that Oceania’s “business plan” is to set their basic fares very reasonably, not all inclusive, so that passengers had the option of buying drinks rather and other amenities that are often included with other cruise lines. Yet, on Friday night, they had a full open bar for two hours for every passenger on the ship, and, then, the following morning through a great party for just the passengers going the whole way around the world.

I came in second again in the poker tournament but this time the lady who had beaten out the last two times I was second, was out of the money. The poker tournament is held only on sea days, and tomorrow is a sea day. However, it is Super Bowl Sunday and the game starts at 2:30 shipboard time. I doubt there will be a game. I know I will not be playing.

There will be a Super Bowl party which we may or may not attend. We have a very big television screen in our cabin and better champagne. I will probably check out the food they are serving at halftime, but since we had a dinner date tonight, I doubt if BGM will do much eating tomorrow.

The seas finally calmed down. Among other things, this made our exercise much easier.

Super Bowl Sunday, our 4th day at sea on the way from L.A. to Hawaii, was pleasant enough. I had my typical breakfast and then we went to exercise. Seas stayed calm so no problem in the gym.

Invited three couples of watch the game in our cabin. No poker game. BGM elected to miss yoga to watch game but about half the class showed up choosing yoga over the biggest football game of the year It takes all kinds. One couple, although now living, believe it or not in Hollywood, Florida is from the Ukraine and this Super Bowl was the first time they had ever seen a game. The Wife went off to yoga class but the Husband actually watched the whole came and said he enjoyed it. She is a retired architect and he was a big shot at Motorola.

Damien, the general manager, and Roberto, head of food and beverage stopped by but they were very occupied overseeing the Super Bowl party.

Interestingly, the game was on satellite and we did not see any of the ads. We did see the halftime show which I paid very little attention to. Can we have Tony Bennett next year?

The other two couples are people we (or more accurately i) are spending most of our time with, and with whom I, generally, eat the meals that BGM does not eat.

Nothing really remarkable. Had to set back our clocks another hour so we are now five hours earlier than the east coast.

Monday, our firth consecutive day at sea was fine. I did not come in the money in poker. Came very close to winning whole thing but my 8 kicker was beat by a 9 and then the whole tournament ended on the next hand when the guy who had won the day before, won again when his kicker was better than the other remaining player.

I spent a lot of time visiting with some very interesting passengers when I went up for breakfast. Met one man who was an engineer who had just retired from Proctor and Gamble. He and his Wife were from near Knoxville, Tennessee. It was their first cruise and they had booked 110 separate excursion though Oceania. Do not know for sure, but that has to be close to a record. Another interesting this this man did was write down in a book he was carrying, my name, and cabin number. One meets so many people that it is really impossible to remember names.

Then, I saw a man wearing a Northwestern sweatshi9rt and I asked him whether he had gone to Northwestern, where both son Charles and I went to law school. This man had just retired a chief of ENT surgery at Northwestern Hospital. Obviously, a very gifted guy.

I have met dozens of passengers for whom this is not their first around the world cruise on this ship. I have also met many passengers who are on next year’s around the world cruise which is already sold out. In a few days 2021 will go for sale but that is the year of our 60th anniversary and a friend’s 89th birthday that I cannot miss. So, if we ever do something like this again, it will not be until 2022 at the earliest. The consensus of the passengers is that Oceania has improved things considerably. There ae always a few malcontents, but the vast majority of people are raving about this cruise.

We wanted to see the show because we loved the performers the first time they performed. However, we have lost two hours in the last three days and our tour starts at 7:45 tomorrow so we decided to go to bed early.

I like sea days much more than BGM does. This five days was the longest stretch at sea of the cruise. Another four day stretch is coming up at the end of the week when we leave Hawaii for French Polynesia. However, BGM really enjoyed the five days which was a very pleasant surprise. A major contributing factor is that she just loves the yoga classes and enjoys that she is getting stronger. It is really “bugging” he bigtime that she is the oldest one in the group.

I am staying reasonably fit. Not only do I exercise 70 minutes every day on the treadmill, with few exceptions, but I have decided to take the stairs rather than the elevator even when going up or down four or five decks. My I Phone registers not only steps but floors.. One day I had 19 floors and my record is 20

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