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Sunday, January 30, 2022

Follow-up Story about the Misadventures of Crystal Serenity Cruise

Aloha Everyone,

My sister’s friend has been busy keeping her chat group informed as to the latest developments of her Misadventures with Crystal Serenity Cruise

On my previous blog, the ship was supposed to dock in Aruba. Apparently, authorities in Aruba denied the ship from docking. 

Management of Crystal finally seemed to reach an agreement. The 500 plus passengers will be ferried from Bimini to Port Everglades. After spending a night in a hotel at Port Everglades, they will be flown back. In the case of my sister’s friend, she was to arrive at 4:00 am on Monday January 31 where her daughter will meet her at LAX.

Hopefully this is the end to these misadventures by Crystal Cruise Line.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, January 28, 2022

Podcast for Seniors

Aloha Everyone,

A podcast is a short digital audio file that can be downloaded to a personal device. It works something like the music files which I purchase songs, keep them in different folders and play when I do my daily walk.

It is an excellent method to access stories and listen to them at a place and time of your choosing.

To get started, here is a recommended weblink by AARP.

Thursday, January 27, 2022


Aloha Everyone,

Metaverse is a network of 3D Virtual World referring to a hypothetical application of the internet as a single, universal, virtual place.

Most of us know that Bitcoins are a virtual currency which have perceived value when people buy, sell and exchange them in a virtual universe.

The term Metaverse was first used by Neal Stephenson, an English Sci-Fi writer. In order to access Metaverse, one needs portable hardware such as a wireless headset, computer or Smart phones.

As a retired Realtor who was engaged in sales and acquisition of real land properties, it is disconcerting to learn that people are buying, selling and investing in virtual real estate.  

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Brain Games

Aloha Everyone,

Brain Games by National Geographic covers a large array of interesting subjects including sensory overload, brain over compensating, how the brain responds to sound. Educational and entertaining, below is a weblink. Enjoy!

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Philosophical Statement About Life

Aloha Everyone,

“It isn’t true that you live only once. You live lots of times, if you know how.” — Bobby Darin, American song writer, singer, musician (1936-1973)

Watching CNBC on board Grand Princess, the two of us along with a number of fellow passengers heard the saying by a guest being interviewed which I wrote down as “you only die once (but) you live everyday.”

This philosophical statement was allegedly credited to “Live Well Foundation”. However when I researched for the quote through the Live Well Foundation website, my search led me to websites where Live Well brands of cosmetics are being sold.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, January 24, 2022

Appointment for New Reading Glasses

Aloha Everyone,

Warby Parker is a national franchise operation where their primary service is vision check by a licensed Optometrist. Thereafter you choose a frame and your prescription glasses will be mailed to you within 7 days.

By recommendation of the Optometrist, I will see an Ophthalmologist before proceeding to get my reading glasses. 

Located at 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway in contemporary shopping complex near CAL State Long Beach University, the place afforded my sister and I to stroll the complex and catch up with our family news.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Mask Debate Continues

Aloha Everyone,

Citizens are protesting about mask mandates. There is conflicting information regarding what kind of masks to wear.  For some of us, including J.J., wearing masks continuously even for a couple of hours causes skin rashes.

It used to be that a blue triple layered surgical mask was considered acceptable in most places. The new guideline by the cruise travel industry is KN-95 or N-95. From my personal experience, N-95 mask is not at all comfortable. The two of us have an adequate number of blue surgical masks which I wear beneath a KN-95.  Waiting for clear guideline before we can purchase additional supplies.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Uncertain Times for the Travel Industry

Aloha Everyone,

A friend of my sister who loves cruising is stranded on a Crystal cruise ship along with several hundred fellow passengers. She’s been emailing my sister and told her the bad news.

Upon hearing the news, J.J. and I are grateful that Princess Cruise, owned by Carnival Cruise, seems to be in a stronger financial position. Since returning from the recent cruise, J.J. and I have been inundated by new cruise offers with reduced fares.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, January 21, 2022

Ikigai: The Secret to a Long & Happy Life

Aloha Everyone,

The word made up of two Japanese words, Iki or Ikiru means life, to live. The second word Kai (or when proceeded by another word changes to Gai) means worth or benefit. This concept is not uniquely Japanese. The French word, raison d’etre means Life Worth Living.

After reading the book, I am now very curious to visit Okinawa where there are many Centenarians. These islanders are happy, active and living full productive lives in a community that looks after one another.

Below is a link to Free Audio Book by Francesc Mírales and Hector García.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, January 20, 2022

TV Series, Madam Secretary

Aloha Everyone,

Madam Secretary is a political drama aired from September 21, 2014 to December 8, 2019.

It is an intelligent and thought-provoking drama series which incorporated real national and international events. One episode in particular mirrored real events and characters. The story was about Ang Sang Sun Kyi of Myanmar. Once idolized by the world as a democratic leader and won the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.

After her mishandling of mostly Muslim Polingys minority, Ang Sang Sun Kyi was arrested. Followed by a military coup, she remains in jail. While the Madam Secretary series has terminated, the real-life story of Ang Sang Suu Kyi is unfinished. She is still very popular with Myanmar’s Buddhist majority.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Safely Back in California

Aloha Everyone,

The good news is that J.J. and I safely finished our 15-days cruise to the Hawaiian Islands. Several passengers we met were staying on to enjoy another 15-days onboard the ship for another cruise to Hawaii.

The bad news was an email from our health provider. Scripps informed its members that due to a large number of staff affected by COVID, non emergency services are suspended. 

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Ensenada, Mexico/ Day 15 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

Ensenada, located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is the third largest city with a population of 557,430 (2020 Data). Only 76 miles south of San Diego, California, Ensenada in pre-COVID times welcomed more than 700,000 cruise passengers per year.

Meeting Alejando “Alex” Aguilar, a taxi driver with an extraordinary gift of healing, was the highlight of our visit. Alex, a large man who towered over J.J., was a kind, gentle soul and over the 45 minutes to see the blowhole, he shared with us information about his family, his work and his gift of healing which he was suddenly blessed with about 8 years ago.

While Alex was driving us to the blowhole, one of his clients phoned. The man has been in excruciating physical pain and he was asking Alex for help. Not wanting to wait any longer, the man drove his car on the only road to blowhole and waited for our return. 

The roadside rendezvous resulted in a makeshift clinic. It was amazing to see a man who was walking tilted to one side able to stand erect, walk briskly with no pain and bend over to touch the ground.

For doubters, this could look like the whole thing was planted but then, what for? With permission from Alex and his “patient,” I am posting several photos.

As to the blowhole which enjoys the fame of being the biggest among the three blowholes in the world located in Ensenada, Honolulu and Kiama, Australia, J.J. and I weren’t impressed. Our view point from the top only showed sprays and the roaring sounds  of waves.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, January 17, 2022

At Sea / Day 14 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

Quality of food and range of selections seems to have been curtailed on this first Hawaiian Cruise of Grand Princess in two years. Everything is scaled down. One of the passengers was asking if she will be served escargot in the dining room. Response was sorry, but no. One of the main dining rooms is closed and only two specialty restaurants are open for business.

J.J. and I alternate from having our meals in one of the open dining rooms or eating at the Horizon Court on the 14th floor deck. Here is an array of our onboard meals with J.J.’s dishes leaning strongly towards meat-based diet.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, January 16, 2022

At Sea / Day 13 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

As a Covid precaution, the two of us avoid attending social gatherings. While Grand Princess offers Hawaiian hula, Hawaiian language, ribbon Lei making, ukulele lessons, including sales of ukuleles as well as destination presentations, J.J. and I stay clear of such events.

Some fellow passengers are expressing their disappointment on the quality of entertainment on board Grand Princess. There is limited live entertainment, with no circus acts or Las Vegas-style music and dance presentations.

We have been following changes in the travel industry in the face of a pandemic. I feel sympathetic to employees of Grand Princess. While they are under contract, it is our understanding that their wages are being adjusted based on the total number of passengers. It seems unfair. Due to the COVID protocol, many of them are working twice as hard only to see a reduction in their paychecks. The crew is not permitted to get off the ship. We will give our stateroom steward additional gratuity to supplement his earnings.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, January 15, 2022

At Sea / Day 12 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

50 years ago, J.J. and I took our first Trans-Pacific voyage from the Port of San Pedro to Manila, Philippines. It took 21 days with 5 ports of calls including Honolulu, Yokohama, Taipei, Hong Kong and Manila. This was when America was involved in the Vietnam War. We recall being the youngest couple on board amidst senior military officers and their families.

This nostalgic 50th Anniversary celebration was recognized with a chocolate mousse cake in the dining room. We shared the cake with our table mates of the evening and reminisced the time. Needless to say, that voyage made a huge impact on my life.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, January 14, 2022

At Sea / Day 11 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

Laundry day. On our previous cruising experiences which lasted more than a week, passengers were given a small paper laundry bag which you can put your soiled laundry and have them washed, folded and delivered to your stateroom the following day for a flat charge.

It seems COVID changed such extra service. The two of us decided to use the onboard laundromat. After talking to other passengers who were doing their laundry, we learned that one must get free tokens to purchase soap & fabric softener then usage of washer and dryer is free.

J.J. and I used our time efficiently. By end of the day JJ walked 2.2 miles and I walked 5.2 miles.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, January 13, 2022

At Sea / Day 10 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

Trying my best to maintain my equilibrium and avoid getting seasick on our return leg of 5 conservative sea days.

For breakfast at Da Vinci Restaurant, I chose oatmeal with milk, brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon, followed by plain scrambled egg and a slice of wheat toast.

On board Grand Princess, there are three formal dress nights. Some passengers we spoke to mentioned that they brought 5 outfits appropriate for such evenings. This is their chance to have souvenir portraits taken and bring home prints and digital albums to share with families and friends.

On such evenings, J.J. and I enjoy dining at the Horizon Restaurant where servers are dressed and it is our understanding that menu items are the same as in the “formal dining room”. The difference is that we have option of choosing our food based on inspection rather than flowery menu description which often does not match with reality.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Port of Kahului, Maui - Cruising in the Times of COVID

Aloha Everyone,

Hawaii economy as everywhere in the USA has been struggling due to the pandemic. While return of cruise ship could bring business to some tourism sectors, we witnessed desperation in trying to maximize business by taxi drivers.

On our way to Ka’ahumanu Mall, our taxi driver discredited the mall saying there is nothing there and talked other 3 people with whom we shared.the ride to go to Lahaina instead. She charged us $10 for a 5 minutes drive. The rest paid $180 for the Lahaina ride. On our return ‘to the ship, we shared our ride with another couple. The driver insisted that he will charge us individually. Once he received consent from us, the driver became friendly and talkative. J.J. and I don’t fault the driver to make hay when there’s opportunity. We realize that cost of gasoline in Hawaii is very high.  Unfortunately encounters with taxi drivers left bad taste in our mouths. I couldn’t help wonder if there was a better way to discuss expected fares.

Going to the Kaahumanu Mall gave me a chance to enjoy local farmers produce and get my walking done while J.J. had Starbucks coffee with fellow passengers.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Hilo, Hawaii / Day 8 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

Due to COVID, there is no shuttle bus to a nearby shopping center that has a Walmart. I felt sorry for the lady representing the Hilo Tourism office. To people’s question about free shuttle schedules there were no pleasing answers. Yes, we may be able to get a sticker to get onboard a free shuttle to Historic Downtown Hilo but then you must take a public bus to return. The bus will drop you off outside of the pier and the walk is approximately 15-30 minutes to reach the cruise ship. Too many loose ends, J.J. and I ended up waiting for a taxi for half an hour before getting one.

Taxi driver was very happy to see us sharing his woes and how bad the business has been. His repeated request from us to call him when we are ready to return. We agreed. He was not available when needed. We ended up waiting for another 45 minutes to get a taxi back to the ship.

I prefer solid ground to walk on. All the waiting time for a taxi meant more steps for me to walk. I ended up another day exceeding my daily 5 miles target.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, January 10, 2022

Nawiliili, Kauai / Day 7 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

Grand Princess, the first cruise ship to arrive in Hawaii in two years, was in the news. Those in the tourism sectors welcomed the event. But others were not comfortable about cruise ships while the state is under a new restrictions. 

News that a considerable number of passengers on Grand Princess have tested “positive” for COVID is alarming.  Each passenger was given a complimentary N-95 mask with a note of enhanced protocols that “guests are required to wear masks indoors at all times, except when in their staterooms or actively eating or drinking.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Port of Honolulu/ Day 6 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

Seeing Jeff and Jenny made our one day stop in Honolulu the highlight of our 15 days cruise.

Jeff picked up us at the pier and took us to NEX (Navy Exchange) and Army Commissary. 

After dropping J.J. back at the ship, Jeff and I proceeded to Magic Island in Ala Moana. While we waited for Jenny to arrive from her work, Jeff and I walked across to the Ala Moana Shopping Center.

Family reunion in a new environment meant keeping our masks on, but I relished every moments. Seeing Jeff and Jenny happy and affectionate was truly heartwarming.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, January 7, 2022

Day 4 Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

Afternoon English Tea Time is a delightful treat. Today we shared a table with two other couples.

One of the enjoyments of going on a cruise is potential chance of meetings new and interesting people from distant places. Learning about their culture, languages can open up a string for possible conversation topics. 

To have a good conversation, one must first be a good listener. Unfortunately, we occasionally are seated with people who are narcissistic and only focused on themselves.

Today we gained an hour.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Day 3 Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

All passengers will be tested twice for Covid. Today a medical personnel, assisted by our cabin attendant, knocked on our door at the appointed time. The test kit we used on ourselves was different from the 5 previous tests the two of us had.

Our understanding is that for those people who test positive will be quarantined in a cabin. Follow-up tests will be given and individuals will remain in isolation until test results come out negative.

All passengers will be given another Covid test prior to disembarking in San Pedro.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

At Sea - Day 2 - Cruising in the Times of COViD

Aloha Everyone,

So far it’s been a rather challenging voyage for me. Since leaving San Pedro, we have been crossing rough seas. J.J. ordered breakfast in our stateroom. Interestingly, food is free unless you asked for things outside of the printed menu. 

I remained in bed and binged watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” on TV. J.J. purchased a box of Dramamine for me. Looking forward to feeling “normal.”

Each passenger is issued a medallion which we must carry with us at all times. It opens our stateroom door, enables us to pay any items on board and access our personal account, WiFi, etc. Although we heard from other passengers that unless you are on the upper decks, even their satellite signals are spotty.

Aloha -- Cathi