Standing in front of the Sapphire Princess in San Francisco seems like it was years ago. Nothing in those moments before sailing away would I even think that any of it was real and, even to this day I need to look at the pictures to remind myself that everything really did happen. It wasn't until we, Collen, Sarah and I
were standing at the front of the ship sailing under the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge that I was actually sailing towards a dream.
Our first 4 days at sea was our acclamation period of the cruising life. It was in those beginning days where our group of friends began to form. We didn't know then that we would become so close in a short amount of time but we shared one common thing, our young hearts and minds and the passion to travel and party.
The first two ports, Hawaii and Maui, was a reunion in many ways. Sarah and I met working at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla and we seem to meet with old colleagues along our voyage, Aaron and Mike respectively. It was nice to see them both - it brought back memories of our "old" days working at the Hyatt and how much we have grown since. Not only was it a time to meet with old friends but to remind me how long it has been since I've ridden a wave.
It has been six years since I've last paddled out to sea and surf back in to do it all over again. Yet, there was more of a struggle to paddle out and a survival to stay on the board back to shore. It was like riding a bike except never being able to ride without the training wheels. I miss surfing and one day I will be out in the ocean again but none the less, it was a great day. Maui was also our last US port before we headed out to sea for four days, cross the equator by kissing a fish, and begin the beauty you see in postcards.
Before we hit our first Polynesian island, we spent four days at sea where many things developed. Our friendship with the "young crowd" formed that now includes Stephanie, Colleen, Sarah, Vincent, Monika, Woody, Chani, MJ, Jordon, Cheryl, Lindsey, Carissa, Ryan, Laura, Gloeta, and of course myself. We were the young ones who participated in pool games, survivor, went to Gloeta's fantastic lectures in oceanography, and whatever other activities there were but mostly keeping the "night club, " Skywalkers alive. It was our late night meeting spot after we finished our "2 hour" dinners and our entertainment shows. Yet friendships weren't the only things that also began to develop.
Princess cruise ships is not called the "Love Boat" for nothing. Of course being only one of a few young ones that weren't married, it was bound for cruise romance to happen with each other and/or the crew. Four days at sea means there's no where to go but around the ship and see what develops. And, I can only speak for myself but I will say that I am glad that a friend of mine was able to move up the line of romance if you know what I mean, but of course I mean it in a good way.
Without getting too much into a tangent (and if you've read all my old depressing posts) I went through phases of sadness and then into a rampage after my ex. It was this summer where things clicked back into place for me and it was this cruise where I remembered what it feels like to have someone next to you. But its just the beginning of this cruise and as we keep sailing along, more develops along the way. (Don't ya just love the suspense?)
Out first Polynesian island, Moorea, was beautiful when the sun decided to shine. With nothing planned, it took the four of us, Stephanie, Colleen, Sarah and I awhile to figure out what we were doing. I take that back, Sarah had a plan and well, I tagged along for a bit. I'll admit, I wanted to go to the beach to see where this cruise romance would lead. He didn't hang out with us but I knew what beach he would be at. Anyways, if I could only swim better, my snorkeling experience would have lasted longer than it did but it was beautiful to see the coral and fish swimming around. After our snorkeling adventure with a few bar staff employees, I found the guy and had every intention to slyly flirt. Me, sly? Yeah okay so maybe I made sure to graze my hand across his arm and bat my eyes....hey I might have been lost for the past couple of years but I didn't forget the mechanics of flirting! Back to the adventure, Sarah and I met up with Colleen and Steph to switch off so
we can take the dune buggy/kart around the island. Thats exactly what we did, drove around the island in the rain having a blast sliding around corners and stopping to take pictures. Beautiful day but it didn't end because our only overnight in Papeete or Partieete as Jordon likes to call it happens.
Partieete was more appropriate for our night time experience. All of us, got off the ship to go to Club Paradise to party off the boat and celebrate the "guy's" birthday and my chance to see if this attraction is mutual ;). It was an awesome time and even though it just seemed like one big party that moved from the ship to shore, it was great that we were able to hang out with crew and dance the night a way. I was already forewarned that it was expensive to buy drinks in Tahiti so our pre-drinking helped my time at the club. It was a night we all danced away and a walk holding Sam's hand back to the ship was a nice way to end it all. ;)
The next day, Steph, Colleen and I toured around. We rented a driver and drove around to get away from the city and see more of the island. Though I imagined Tahiti differently, it was a beautiful island.
Bora Bora, our next stop....needs a moment, wait for it....
SIGH....it was all you expect it to be and more, and it was that and more. There are no words to describe my day except for you to experience it yourself. The only thing I can say is that when you see your screen saver of the island, its all that you see. Nothing can beat Bora Bora and though I've reached my peak in beauty of places to see, there are few words that can ever describe it because everyone's experience is your own and mine has few words that sometimes I think it was all just a dream. Vincent, Monika, Sarah, Steph and I along with other passengers, Dot & Nancy all enjoyed a tour where we swam with sharks, touched and fed manta rays,
had a spa moment and then enjoyed a private island. At the end of the day, when we sailed away watching dolphins swim next to the ship and whales breaching from Bora Bora I was high on life. There were so many moments that I still can't believe I was there. Every moment of that day I savor and know that I am absolutely blessed that I was able to experience it all.
Days following Bora Bora are a blur. It seems like now I'm trying re-live the high I felt being in Bora Bora but enough bragging, the cruise is continuing on to the next island. Pago Pago or pronounced Pango Pango in American Samoa was a beautiful island but hard to be a follow after Bora Bora, sorry to say. Sarah, Colleen, Steph and I hired a driver to take us around the island. It was beautiful, and I wasn't expecting it at all. We did a little bit of hiking and saw what the island had to offer. The picture whore that I am adventured across rocks to climb a few rocks in the ocean for a photo op.
Sometimes, I wonder if I can help
it and then I remind myself that we're all a little vain. Anyways, we hung out at a beach and enjoyed some beer. Another cruise ship was also in port, so a few other cruise members from the other boat were on the beach, mostly dancers. I couldn't help but admire they're stares at me...hey...I said we're all a little vain! We saw them at McDonalds - where I wanna know why we don't sell apple pie al a mode??? It was delicious and anyways there was a little flirty flirt going on....not really from my end but I let them get a little entertained. Its okay to feel attractive...still being vain...okay maybe it was a day of it...I'm not gonna lie, when you wake up at 7 am to do some circuit and stretch training, your body looks pretty good.
Apia, Samoa....oh what a day. I had a great time and Apia was beautiful. Yet, sometimes when your in a big group trying to travel around, it gets large in a small van - Vincent, Monika, Jordon, Mum(Cheryl), Sarah, Stephanie, and myself. Like I said, I had an amazing time so there's no complaints but there's always a story, right? Now, you may hear the story of how there was a huge knife and everyone was going to die....well, no one was going to die. In Samoa, you have to ask to be on the beach and jump in the water, well, we didn't do that and a guy with a knife came to tell us to get out. I just felt bad for the couple who came with us to see the island. They probably thought, why did we get in the bus with these young kids. I will say though, I ate some amazing fish and chips, delicious.
Well, the next couple of days was another unforgettable experience. But before that, we had to cross the International Date Timeline which means we lost a day, 10/10/10....can you believe that? For some, it was a milestone losing a 10/10/10, to me it was just another day but we had to celebrate cuz technically, we had about half an hour of 10/10/10 which we celebrated by having a shot of beer every minute for 30 minutes which we also had some champagne prior. I guess when we party, we party. Well the next day was kinda important....and I'll admit I should have been in my own bed so I wouldn't be late for a special invitation to the bridge by the captain....oh yeah and to top that off, the captain deviated a little from the course so that we could see Tonga which is beautiful for our friend Monika whose family is from Tonga. Can you believe that? I will proudly admit that I started tearing up in the bridge because of all of our experiences, memories, friendships and everything else. You know when you haven't cried in a long time it just pours out? Well, I'm not saying it poured out all at once for me but from that moment on....tears have been formed in my eyes, don't know what it is but its been emotional for some odd reason. I must be making up lost time for all those tears I didn't cry over spilled milk.
Fiji, now I will say I expected it to be more beautiful. I guess in my head I thought of it to be really exotic....I mean, Fiji water is $5 bucks in the states with a beautiful logo you kinda expect it to be something. Not that it wasn't, I just had a different idea in my head...then again we were on the other side of the island. Nonetheless, Colleen, Steph and I went to go visit a Fijian village where we learned about their culture. It was quite the experience. I'll admit the thought that they might want to eat me did cross my mind, they at one point exercised cannibalism....just saying. They were very nice, friendly and welcoming people. Their police even played the band and danced as we sailed away.
So, I did say that I wasn't going to cover each and every port but it seems to be all that I can remember. If I dug really deep into my feelings into everything, nothing really would come out except for those tears again. There were times where I was ready to get off the ship, it was hard to have some alone time. Nights that I really just wanted to lay back and catch a movie in bed was hard to do when you know you only have so many days with people you actually love hanging out with and I would just need to find a little bit of motivation to get the party started and once it started, it was always an amazing time. Its hard to find beautiful people with beautiful souls. Its not the end of the cruise yet, so no farewells quite yet.
The next couple of days were rough out at sea. That boat sure did rock but I got sick once, got used to it and it was just a matter of holding on to a rail so you wouldn't fall. So, to continue the cruise romance, I will say that Sam Sam had his own show. Did I mention that he was a singer? An exceptional one at that....when we'd all hang out at "Rosie's Club" she'd always ask him to sing. Which by the way, Rosie is the epitamy of a lounge singer, very entertaining. Anyways, he had his own show which was amazing. This whole time hanging out with him, I was sorta in the middle. I'd say that I really didn't like him but all my actions showed different. I'd say I sorta did and I would catch myself just staring. The reality of it all was that in the end, I was getting off the ship and life continued. So my feelings were up in the air because my mind and heart was thinking things realistically. It was nice to feel something again and wake up next to someone. But once again, the cruise isn't over yet so lets continue, shall we?
New Zealand....oh New Zealand...how I loved NZ. I think I left a part of my heart there. We had four ports, two on the North Island and two on the South Island. Auckland, the first of our ports, the longest day and I have to say the most free falling of them all.....literally. Bungy jumping, sky diving, white water rafting were activities that us "young" ones wanted to do when we got to NZ. Its the capital of adventurous sports ya know....mostly. Well, Jordon, Woody, Sarah, Lindsey and I did one for sure. We attempted to go sky diving but the weather didn't hold up so we decided, lets jump off a building, then lets bungy off a bridge
and to top off the day, lets sail on America's Cup Boat. Can you believe it? I was hesitant at first, not to jump but you know...money doesn't grow on trees and I still have a life to live in a new country. Nonetheless...thats what we did. It was exhilarating....I think I was the only one who didn't think jumping off a building was that great...partially because it was a controlled jump. Not my idea of jumping I guess, give me a parachute and go base jumping I say. I had a blast but bungy jumping now that was something that gave me a few nervous breakdowns before jumping. After sailing the five of us hung out a bar where the wings were finger licking good.
I think we licked the bowl dry. It was nice to be able to hang out with locals and chat. Being on a boat for thirty days, seeing the same people...you kinda yearn for a local bar. And did I mention the hotties that walked around town? Oy, there were so many good looking men. I mean hot damn, either I've been on a ship too long or my eyes were seeing models everywhere. I wasn't the only one who thought so...Jordon and Woody thought the same thing...joking. It did help that there were rugby players everywhere, now there's some muscle - and guys dressed all preppy/business casual. Someone help me off the staring stage, thanks, now where was I?
Wellington, our next port. More hotties! Okay, off the men....now someone remind me what I did other than stare at men some more. Museums! Vincent, Monika, Sam and I roamed around in the rain visiting the many museums. One in particular, Te Papa, was absolutely amazing. I could have spent a week in that museum just checking out everything. It was a hands on museum that incorporated science, history of NZ and the natives, Maori, social issues
, geography, etc. etc. Its where I'd bring a date to and see if they would be able to handle the geek in me. Afterwards, I ventured off on my own. It was one of those times where I was able to get away by myself. I almost needed it in a way. Just a few minutes to go walk and try to see more of Wellington, the capital. It was nice to just take in the moments and let my thoughts have time to reset and continue. A way to prepare for when I would be left alone in 'Stralia.
Lyttelton/Christchurch was another day of adventure and museums. A nice relaxing day that was supposed to be a day where we would go white water rafting but missed the bus. I guess it wasn't meant to be. Probably a good thing since it was cold. We went from hot and humid islands to further south where its cold in NZ. No matter, Colleen, Steph, Woody, Sarah for a bit, and I had a great time exploring. Sarah and I went on a little bit of a hike and saw some amazing views. Hiking for me is just another way to just let my mind let go and let my ideas flow out and clear the thinking cap. Whats there to really think about when you're on a 30 day cruise, I dunno, but my overly analytical mind needed to sort out feelings and prepare for the reality that in a few days I would be "homeless, " and my friends would soon leave to go home. Anyways, Sarah hiked back to the boat and I took a gondola to meet back up with Colleen, Stephanie and Woody. We hopped on a bus to go punting! It was very relaxing sitting in a boat down a river through the botanical gardens. The smell of fresh flowers is just, lovely. We then hopped on a cable car around Christchurch and saw a few sights. I went off on my own and saw Christchurch Cathedral. I guess I needed more alone time, I don't know. I think its my ADD where I just want to explore and I forget I'm with people and I just take off, either way, I was able to get some souvenir shopping done which by the way, I hate doing. I'm not a big fan of cheesy souvenir gifts just to get people. Its got to have some use or something reminds me of that person. Ugh, I hate it...its bringing back frustrations...lol....maybe cuz I have a few more people to get gifts for...do ya mind if you just get a smile from me since I'm back? Yeah I think that should do...I mean, some of ya are living vicariously through me so that should be enough...now if you send me some money then maybe I can head out and get you a little something...j/k.
Port Chalmers/Dunedin....our last port....sad. I have to say that I wanted to hang out with my friends, the people I built a strong relationship with and get all of us together for our last port day but that didn't happen. It was a "boys day out" instead which was still a lot of fun since I was able to hang out with Sam Sam but boys mean it was the gay boys day out, JT, Bruno, Sam, and myself. You know how I feel about that....oh well, I survived. It should have just been a day out with Sam Sam since we sorta did our own thing anyways. We hit a few museums and went to the butterfly exhibit...can it get anymore gayer than that? HA! It happens, flames come out and the wings show...whateves. But there are two things I must mention....the "lunch muffins" and burgers....YUM and YUM. The lunch muffin was spinach, tomato and....something else and it was oh so good. And then Sam Sam and I had burgers from Velvet Burger....oi, it was so tasty. And even though it rained through out the day, it was nice to be all cuddly with Sam Sam. A pretty good day overall even if there was a little bitchiness around. Not from me! It wasn't my day to be all moody, I already had it thank you very much! HA!
The last days of the cruise were sea days. They are always the hardest to write about because its all goodbyes and there's nothing really happy about those except the memories and experiences shared. And its not really a goodbye, just a farewell for now until next time. I will say that our last formal night, I had an idea to go out with a bang since there were a few of us "young" ones. I'll let the picture explain it all.
As far as what happens with the whole cruise romance....like I've mentioned, reality is that I was getting off the ship and his direction was heading back to the states, literally, and I was disembarking to a new and exciting adventure. And I honestly didn't know where my feelings stood. Yeah, I'll admit, I enjoyed hanging out with him, holding his hand, waking up next to him and if I wanted to settle down with someone, he would be a great guy to do that with but, sadly I hate to admit this but inside I didn't know if I really feel/felt anything inside. And its weird because when I wasn't with him while on the cruise I would miss him, people said that I had that stare when you like someone when you look at them, and when I watched the ship leave Sydney I missed him but my reality is that maybe its because I knew that I didn't know who I was going to meet or what would happen while I was in Australia that maybe I wasn't allowing myself to like him or plainly, I just didn't feel it inside. Its not that I'm looking for something better because I've always said that distance isn't a problem if its the right guy and everything clicks. Maybe I'll wake up one day and feelings will hit but until then I consider him a good friend and continue to keep in contact with him and yeah I miss him on and off...confusing isn't it? I know it is for me too!
In conclusion, I ended up talking about each port and I'm sure there's a lot more to say, but you get the jist of my life at sea through the South Pacific Ocean. It was an amazing and wonderful experience and I'm glad that I shared it with the people I consider part of me.
I could write a whole section of each person and our relationship and how close I feel to them but that would turn this short novel into a real book.
Maybe it was all a dream, maybe I really didn't visit all those islands and when I wake up the only thing thats left is a blur. But then I look at the pictures and I relive that moment all over again as if it happened yesterday when it feels like it was years ago in another lifetime. And then I feel the closeness of the people I shared all those experiences with and my heart beats with love.