Friday, July 6, 2018

Food and Meals on the Coral Princess

Food on the Coral Princess Panama Canal Cruise

Chocolate Journeys
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  When discussing desserts and the various other scrumptious meals we experienced on the Coral Princess Panama Canal cruise, it’s a must.  Words couldn’t possibly come close to doing any of the dishes justice.  Therefore, check out the slideshow of delicious eats.  
One note, the absolute “not-to-be-missed” dishes were the Chocolate Journeys desserts.  All were unforgettable. 


Links to related posts:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review of the Coral Princess

Fall in Love with the Quirky but Lovely Coral Princess

Dear Polite Traveler,
So, after several cruises on the much larger ship—the Grand Princess—we now are on a smaller ship; our first time on the Coral.  While the Grand is grand in size, it is not as homey...or quirky.  The Coral hosts 1,000 guest cabins compared to the Grand’s 1,301.  The Coral’s cabin sizes are much smaller, as well, with the average balcony cabin at 225 square foot compared to Grand’s 253 square feet which makes taking a shower even more interesting than on the larger ships—not that it is ever easy.  
Our Stateroom  
Quirky is as quirky does
Many fellow passengers shared the same first impression of the Coral: it’s quirky.  For my fellow polite cruisers of larger ships, you probably recognize the long, sometimes tight, hallways leading to our staterooms.  Coral definitely follows suit with one notable exception.  On most floors, these hallways include turns.  It’s somewhat like walking a maze.  Interesting.
The negative aspect of quirky is found in the middle of the ship.  The International Café, which serves yummy sandwiches, beverages, pastries and salads is open to the Casino.  Gasp!  Yep, cigarette smoke wafts in to mix with our cappuccinos and pastries.  Granted, most often it was barely noticeable, but still....  Call me crazy, but as a non-smoker I am not a fan of secondhand smoke.  

Entire Ship Video by HF World
Does a smaller ship equate to limiting activities?
Absolutely not!  Nevertheless, grunts and grumbles greeted us quite often during shows.  The Universe Lounge layout restricts viewing of the stage in several seating areas.  Plus, I’m sad to write, that some guests are not as polite as others.   Some insisted on filming productions.  Not only is this prohibited due to copyright laws, it also obstructs other’s viewing pleasure.  Sigh.  
That said, the shows are good—some great—and the smaller rooms didn’t affect the typical daily activities, like bingo and Zumba.  
 Small ship, but grand atrium!

This might be a small (ish) ship, but the atrium was very interesting and... shiny.  Many of the exciting activities and entertainment is found in the center of the ship—the atrium.  
Panama Canal is amazing, but much of the fun is on the ship.
There are so many continuous and various activities at all times of the day, it’s difficult to choose.  Nevertheless, I was able to fit in my Zumba, walking the decks, swimming and chatting with passengers from all over the world.  We sat in on a few games as well, like the daily trivia games and nightly couple’s games.  The couple’s games were hilarious!  
Below is a video of my favorite FUN times on the Coral.
Please share your experiences! 
The new locks are directly next to the old.  Our videos show both.

Extended video cruising through the Panama Canal.

Fun on the Coral Princess.

Food on the Coral Princess.
Links to related posts:

Polite Cruising

Importance of Being Polite When Cruising

Poor Behavior by Rude Passengers on the Coral Princess Panama Canal Cruise

Dear Polite Travelers,
Surprise!  We’re talking civility here.  Who would have thought?  
Sure, most of us consider ourselves polite, civil people who treat others kindly.  Then why do many of us cringe when observing the behavior of fellow cruisers?  Simple answer: many travelers have unrealistic high expectations that are bound to result in poor behavior toward those attempting to please us.  This is especially true with cruisers.  
What?  Rude Passengers?
Okay, so here’s a scenario I observed.  My travel-partner hubby and I were sitting at the Explorer’s Lounge Bar—very small and intimate—enjoying a wonderful conversation with the bartender and a couple of servers.  With one of the servers, I had the opportunity to become more familiar and found that she’s actually a nurse who gave up her career to work for Princess, so she could be nearer her husband who works on the Coral.  Can you imagine giving up that type of career to schlep drinks to dismissive, entitled ingrates?  Besides her credentials, she is a sweetheart.  
That trivia aside, a trio of disappointed cruisers confronted her while we looked on.  Evidently, they believed that would be some sort of reception for them and they were blaming the only one they could at the time--her.  The woman in the group was “in her face” and belittling her.  I almost stepped in, but the bartender gave me “the look” which meant, “This is part of our job.”  
Unfair Consequences 
Using this one scenario as an example, once a complaint is made about an employee, that person is disciplined, which means that some negative action is taken.  Most working on a ship receive goodies when they are praised by cruisers, like a day treated as a passenger or a dinner at one of the fine restaurants.  This is something most covet and, unfortunately, won’t materialize for this former nurse or any of the other dozen employees I witnessed being denigrated for simply being.  
Observed Reasoning Behind Rude Behavior
Being nice shouldn’t have a price tag or reward.  None of us is more important than anyone else.  Thus, we should be grateful for every little thing others do for us.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many—if not most—passengers once they ascend the gangplank.  By observation, it appears the current, prevalent view is that since we pay dearly for our cruises, those working on the ship work for us, which is somewhat true.  Nevertheless, many treat these hardworking people as slaves.   I suppose it helps those committing these crimes against civility feel important.
Consequences of Being Nice
I call it “passing out cookies.”  Yep, I’m a cookie passer-outer and proud of it.  As silly as it sounds, I observe people: their attire, manners, smiles...most everything.  When appropriate and at the proper moment, I use that information to compliment and try to make a connection.  For example, I noticed a young junior waiter who appeared to be observing every movement of the senior waiter she worked with while also observing all her diners.  She appeared anxious, as if she had a great need to prove herself.  When she arrived at my table, I complimented her on what I observed, which was her efficiency, and included that I thought she would advance quickly. She nearly cried but saved that for later.  Not only did she cry on our last night, she gave us her address in Slovenia, so we could visit and stay with her when traveling.  
Did she advance?  Yep!  Just that small gesture gave her the confidence she needed.  Now that felt good.  And, that is what being nice is.  It’s not just the right thing to do or something we do for our benefit.  Being nice spreads good will.  A win-win for all.  
Oh, and that nurse??  She’s now my best bud on Facebook.

The world would truly be a lonely place if we didn’t share the good inside us.

Your thoughts and observations??

Trip Videos:

The new locks are directly next to the old.  Our videos show both.

Extended video cruising through the Panama Canal.

Fun on the Coral Princess.

Food on the Coral Princess.

Links to related posts:
Cruising Through the Panama Canal on the Coral Princess  

Cruise Review: Panama Canal; Coral Princess

Cruising Through the Panama Canal on the Coral Princess

Panama Canal Cruise Review

Dear Polite Traveler,

Today, I’d like to share with you tales of our Princess Cruise through the Panama Canal—some were amazing and some...not so.   The “Not so,” I’ll save for another post.  Prepare to be amazed!
“The event to be celebrated tomorrow will probably always be known as the 'Wedding of the Oceans.'”
Direct Wire in the Oct. 10, 1913, edition of The Times

Mere words cannot describe the wonder and intricacy of the canal dug through the middle of a mountainous country to join two seas.  Just imagine waking up to see beautiful Panama City facing the mild Pacific and toasting the wilder Atlantic in late afternoon.  Granted there is plenty of rising and lowering of the ship squeezing through locks and cruising placid waters in between. 
History on the Water
Nevertheless, this is more a cruise of traveling through history.  Every inch of this canal cost thousands of lives and millions of dollars. In fact, supposedly more than 25,000 people died and Americans, alone, spent about $375 million dollars during the entire build. 
My favorite book on the subject is The Path Between the Seas, by David McCullough.
Old vs New
Luckily for us, our ship was small enough to traverse the smaller, old canal, which is significant due to the construction of the walls and gates.  Please don’t spend the entire trip on top of the ship.  The real show is down below when the ship is raised and lowered.  I still cannot believe I was thrilled to see old rivets in the gates!  But, I was.
Seeing is much more fun than reading.
Instead of going on-and-on about my experience, check out the video/slideshows I created.  One is the entire trip through the canal.  The second is limited to going through the locks.  Both are captioned. 

The new locks are directly next to the old.  Our videos show both.

Extended video cruising through the Panama Canal.

Fun on the Coral Princess.

Food on the Coral Princess.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Market Review: Dukes Lane Market & Eatery

A Must Stop When in Waikiki: Dukes Lane Market & Eatery

One Stop Shop, Dine and Drink

When my hubby and I heard that a “super” ABC Store will open soon in Waikiki, we were ecstatic.  Learning that it would be open upon our return, we knew what our first mission would be: get there as soon as our bags are unpacked.  And, we did.  What we found was exactly what was needed—a full market, a grab-and-go market, wine and spirit shop, a bakery with beverages, a full restaurant, with full bar, and simpler fare, such as pizza and sandwiches.  
Note: All these stores and restaurants are within steps of one another.  In fact, Chill, Island Gourmet Coffee and the Bakery share the same counters—built in an “L” shape.  Thus, one can grab a pastry from the Bakery, order a cup of Kona coffee from Island Gourmet Coffee and choose a cup of gelato from Chill all at once.

Great little ABC Store: Market
This ABC appears a bit higher end than the typical ABC with its perfectly arranged produce and fine gourmet foods.  Their cheese selection was impressive. 
Daily 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM

Find the best wines and spirits in The Vault
They even have the excellent Far Niente and Clos Du Val Cabernet for a reasonable price.
Daily 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM
Be in and out fast with Dash—fast and fresh
Just need a fast ready-made gourmet sandwich, sophisticated salad or bottle of water?  How about cut fruit in a glass or pastry wrapped and ready to go?  Find it here at the Dash.
Daily 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM

Chill out at Chill
Find unique Teapresso Boba beverages, various iced teas, lemonade and gelato at Chill.  The gelato is the best I tasted in Honolulu.  (Find out what Boba tea is here.”
Daily 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Need some Joe or soothing tea, try Island Gourmet Coffee
Island serves only the finest Kona Coffee and tea grown locally
Daily 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Yummy treats await those who visit the Bakery
It’s difficult to choose a treat when faced with freshly baked Malasada (especially those filled with coconut cream), donuts, breads, scones and cookies.  All are delicious.  On our first visit, I had to try a Malasada since I had seen them on the Hawaii Five-O television show.  Lucky for us, two were misshapen, so the young man at the counter gave us three for the price of one.  Yum!  In earnest, they are so dense and filling, I could only eat part of one.
Check out the doughnut schedule per their website.

Only the best at Ono’s Burger Bar 
So much better than the typical fast-food fare, these are made from free-range beef that result in juicy burgers served on brioche buns.  We had ours with their garlic fries—pure heaven.
They also have chicken, fish, and veggie burgers.
Mon - Sun... 10:30 AM - 10:30 PM

Our favorite is Spitfire Rotisserie and Flatbread
We tended to order the flatbread, which was always delicious.  Perfectly baked with fresh flavors.  Our favorite was the “Yes No Meat!” $ 9 with grilled eggplant, squash, wild mushroom, kale, and tomato sauce.

They also have:
Plates, served with your choice of two sides for $12-$18.  
Fresh Poke bowls for $11 - $15
Salad for $9 
Note: You’ll notice many walking the streets with Spitfire’s boxes in their hands.  It’s that good!
Mon - Sun 10:30 AM - 10:30 PM
Fine Dining at Basalt 
When I first peaked into Basalt—around their lovely full bar—I was sure it was an over-priced upscale venue.  That’s simply not the case.  Sure, the food is top notch.  But, the prices are mindboggling for Hawaii.  The highest priced item on the lunch menu is $22 and that’s for steak and fries!  We would pay that in Davis, CA.  This place is a gem.  Their happy hour is even more impressive.  
Happy hour: Every day 3-6 PM. 
Cocktails, beer and wine.
Lower priced appetizers and various menu choices.  For example, burgers are $5!
Note: Inside and outside dining with over 150 seats. 
Restaurant: Mon - Sun 7:00 AM - 10:30 PM
Bar: Mon - Sun 7:00AM - 10:30PM
Dukes Lane Market & Eatery
2255 Kuhio Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815

Please share your experiences!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Activity Review— Honolulu Parades and Rallies

What to Expect of Parades and Rallies in Oahu

Lots of Love and Unity Shared in Honolulu

Honolulu Star Advertiser
After witnessing the Pearl Harbor 75th Commemoration Parade last year in Honolulu, my expectations about the MLK parade were limited.  I figured the parade would arrive late and disorganized, but still memorable.  Was I surprised?  Oh yeah.  And, how about the People’s Rally/Women’s March?  Well, that was worth the price of admission.

MLK Parade Honors a Remarkable Man with a Remarkable Parade

Marching bands...check.  Unknown persons riding in cars...check.  Typical, right?  Some aspects of this parade simulated most.  Nevertheless, most of the multiple marching bands were animated, each member displaying emotion not typically found in the “typical” parade.  After all, we’re in Hawaii.  I never flashed so many “Shaka” signs in my life.
Enough of my opinion.  Check out the video above.

The People’s Rally Honors all People—Hawaiian Style
Not to get political here, as each of us has our own opinions and beliefs on what our government should be.  For this rally, much of it is left leaning.  However, the message was of love.  Or should I say, “Aloha.”
Please share your experiences.

Activity Review: Waikīkī Aquarium

What to Expect When Visiting the Waikīkī Aquarium

Memorable.  Learning Opportunities.  Simply Amazing!

I must admit; my hubby and I are two lucky people.  We stumble across a docent who is an expert of amphibians and reptiles at the Honolulu Zoo.  And, then the very next day, we stumble across a retired Professor at the Waikīkī Aquarium.  How lucky is that?!    Having someone at our side explaining habitats and the ocean life we were witnessing enabled us to enjoy our visit more.  We came to see, and we found knowledge.  

To fully appreciate this gem, please watch my video.

2777 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Open daily, 7 days a week
Adult $12
age 13 to 64 
Junior $5
ages 4 to 12 (Must be accompanied by an adult)

Children Free
age 3 and under 

Kama‘aina $8
age 13 to 64 with current I.D.
Senior $5
age 65+, Persons with disabilities
Active Duty Military $8
with current I.D.

Please share your experiences.