87. Sailing in the Virgin Islands

 87.  Sailing in the Virgin Islands

I pushed the camera out as far as my arm would reach, so the fish could read KODAK, and wouldn’t scoot away behind the rocks, colorful coral, and reef vegetation.  The gentle waves rolled me off balance so it was impossible to see through the viewfinder to center on the fish meandering around fans, purple rocks, and stirred up silt.  By a miracle I was able to get these pictures of the coral.


We were snorkeling in the clear shallow water of Hawk’s Nest Bay, St. John Island, US Virgin Islands. Hawk’s Nest Bay was a horseshoe of sand  beach with no houses visible through the trees.  We were the only boat anchored inside, and no one was visible on the beach.  It was a perfect beautiful place.


We were on a weeklong cruise of the Caribbean on the CARNIVAL ship PARADISE visiting the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

The ship docked at Charlotte Amalie, where we and four of our friends, grabbed a taxi van and were driven to the end of the island to Red Hook and the American Yacht Harbor where we had chartered a 36′ sailboat for the day.  We were welcomed by a large iguana and the charter boat captain.

Captain Omar and his wife sailed us the four miles across to the island of St. John.  I got to take the helm sailing into Hawk’s Nest Bay where we anchored.  The captain’s wife, Sharon and Debbie went ashore to look for shells along the beach, while Dale, Betty and I snorkeled.  The ladies wandered further than expected, and we had to motor around the end of the island to pick them up.  With gray clouds forming off in the distance, we took a straight course back to St. Thomas.

I asked the captain, who was a retired Canadian air force officer, why he picked the U.S. Virgin Islands for his retirement business instead of the British.  He said, “Because it is the United States.”  That made me proud.

Back on board the ship, we showered and went for dinner.  It had been a tiring day, but super fun, and another “once in a lifetime experience!”

Next up:  Nassau

86. Cruising

86.  Cruising

Our first experience cruising was a Sunrider leadership cruise of the western Caribbean out of Ft Lauderdale.  We invited my sister Jan to go with us.  There were eight days on board the Crown Princess, the “Love Boat” to Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel Mexico, and back. They piped the theme music from the Love Boat TV show as we left port.

This was the first of five cruises we had with Sunrider.  One high point was a snorkeling outIng at Grand Cayman, which turned out to be a test for us because we did okay in cold, rough water near a reef.  The other high point was at Cozumel, where we and Jan rented a cab for a tour along the coast.  The driver took us into a small town for shopping, and I bought a beautiful onyx chess set.

Perhaps our biggest discovery was that we enjoyed being on the ship more than the shore excursions.  There was non-stop activity which seems to be the common element for cruises.  There were Broadway-class shows in the large forward theater, games, contests, dancing, travel lectures, swimming, and hot tubs, and eating, eating, eating fabulous food!

There were times to relax and dream while sipping juice and enjoying our favorite songs played by the lounge piano maestro.  I even made it twice to the well equipped gym to exercise!

Remember, this was a business cruise!  We had to work by going to Sunrider meetings! Tough business! Sunder paid for most of the cost of the cruise, and, it was tax deductible too!

Shipboard food is legendary!  One could eat the typical breakfast, lunch and dinner in the main dining room.  But we found the large buffet on the Lido deck had more variety for brunch and lunch.  And we went a few times for midnight snacks at the bar on the aft deck.

Dinner on the Princess was an experience in elegant international dining and cuisine.  Each night was a different nationality menu or vegetarian, English, French, Italian, and American.  For example, English Night was Royal Pheasant, caviar, and Cherries Jubilee.  The last night was formal attire, helium balloons all over, and a climax of a waiter’s parade with Flaming Baked Alaska!

The last night crossing the Gulf of Mexico in a rain storm was a “treat”.  I was pushing a wheelchair to balance better as the deck moved, and when a 803 ft.ship lurches, you know you’ve been over a wave!  When Betty & I went across stage that night to receive our trophy for business performance, I had an usher holding on to me so I wouldn’t be dancing and “rocking” with the others!

We knew the ship was rolling, because when we showered that night, the water washed back and forth across the floor.  We were rocked to sleep that night by the gentle rolling of the ship.  Fun experience — and a neat climax for our cruise!  We fell in love with cruising!

85. Dining Out in Hong Kong

85.  Dining Out in Hong Kong

Our first outing in Hong Kong was to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.  The restaurant is a large double-story boat, requiring groups of us to be ferried out in small boats.  

The Jumbo Floating Restaurant is known for the Cantonese–style seafood cooked and served on board.  It was perfect for us, because Cantonese style is distinguished by lightly cooked fresh vegetables and meat, and sweet sauces.  Even with high-quality food, the ornate dining atmosphere is the main attraction of the restaurant.

The Jumbo Floating Restaurant is located in the Aberdeen Floating Village in Aberdeen Harbor in the southern district of Hong Kong.   There are approximately 500 junks housing 6000 people.  The rise in tourism has increased the demand for fresh fish, and been a boon for the villagers.  Many have moved ashore, and fish on their boats during the day.

The next day we took a young Chinese couple to the hotel next to the Shangra La for dinner.  We were put in touch with them by his brother who was one of one of my students in Hawaii.  He and his fiancee were delighted to have an opportunity to practice their English.  Since the menu was in Chinese, we asked him to make the selection.  He asked if I liked eggs.  Whew!  Of course.  Eggs!  What could they do wrong with eggs?

Here comes the waiter with our main dish — a huge bowl of noodles with an egg perched in the middle, a raw egg, which was slowly coagulating as the heat from the noodles warmed the egg white.  Our new friend stirred the egg into the noodles, and served us. It was fine. I could not taste the egg.

In addition to being the shopping destination of the world, Hong Kong is also a place where a culinary connoisseur could experience an amazing diversity of cuisine from around the world.

84. Hong Kong – Again

84.  Hong Kong – Again

Certainly by Divine provision and protection, Dragon Air brought us into Hong Kong early enough to escape the first winds of the Typhoon that brushed by Hong Kong that night.  This time, we were left on the plane and told to wait, someone will come for you.  I kept saying I could get down the stairs with the others and walk to the terminal – but again, “Wait.”  Everybody left, even the pilots and flight attendants, and we waited.

Eventually, a bus drove out from the terminal, and the whole bus lifted up on a scissor lift to the door of the plane.  It was a people transport with no seats, only grab poles, and entirely empty except for us.  We were then escorted through customs to the front of the terminal where our tour buses waited to take us to the Shangra La Hotel downtown.  Talk about VIP treatment Chinese style!

Our friends who flew in from Beijing later told us they had a turbulent flight and a scary landing in gusty winds.

We had a great time in China!  It was also nice to be back in the familiar comfort of the luxurious Kowloon Shangra La Hotel, where we stayed three years ago.

Another note from the tour packager informed us, that to compensate for our “inconvenience” in being separated from the main group, he had arranged for us to have a room with a view of the harbor.

A notice under our room door advised us of the typhoon alert, and a storm watch center had been set up in the lobby.  Some tours were canceled.

Betty and I chose to enjoy the storm from the luxury of the hotel, and lingered over a two hour lunch overlooking Hong Kong Harbor from the top floor restaurant.  We were intrigued by small sampans and junks sharing the middle of the harbor with huge ocean liners and freighters.  We thought it would be a captain’s nightmare to avoid hitting some tiny fishing boat.  One sampan fisherman was going back and forth putting down a fishing net, then going back to pick it up.  He had to get back to pick up the net before a passing ship went close by.

Our room faced the harbor, so we watched “the busiest harbor in the world” gradually empty until there was not a boat in sight!

Then we sat up late, thrilled by the midnight display of lightning and harbor lights as the storm passed at its peak!