Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 22, 2017

18. Incheon (Seoul), South Korea–Feb. 18-19, 2017

~Hi All, (Written Feb. 19, 2017)

Editorial Footnote: Gigi I swear I wrote and published my apology before I read your comments on my boring editorial. Great minds think alike. lol.

Incheon:  We’ve had another port development since my last post.  Yesterday the Captain informed us that he could not dock the ship in Jeju (Cheju) City, Korea, scheduled for Feb. 19th because of poor docking facilities.  We, therefore, are overnighting in Incheon and proceeding directly to Beijing, China, arriving as scheduled, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.

The temperature outside in Incheon is 26 degrees F., so Susy has decided, due to trying to recover from a cold, not to brave the elements, especially since we have to take a shuttle 20 minutes to an outdoor marketing mall.  All the tours are long rides to Seoul or the demilitarized zone, but mostly include visiting markets for shopping. Needless to say, I decided to take the shuttle, do my internet, and give you a look at some markets.

Before going into town, let’s take a look at the port of Incheon. By the way the port is known for the year 1950 when the US Marines landed here in one of the major battles of the Korean War.  First from the port (left) side of the ship:




A close up of one of high rises, with a Samsung (whose headquarters is South Korea:


Going to the starboard side of the ship, we see the pier were we are docked (all warehouses):




Let’s go ashore, first the ship’s port sign:


On the ride to the markets, a look at the streets and some unique buildings:




As we arrived at the markets, this was the street view, but they told me to go down a stairway and I would find the underground market:



and here’s what I found:


Looking the other way:


It looked as if the underground market went on forever in both directions and I didn’t think I was going to have luck finding a Wi-Fi place, so I went back up to the street level and found this market:



Another market that looked like it would go on forever.  I decided to go back to the bus stop and walk into a store right there and inquire about the closet Wi-Fi.  It was an eyeglass store and the man said to take out my laptop, sit down, and I could use his Wi-Fi.  Talk about lucky, I finished my internet stuff, stepped out to the bus stop, and was back in the nice warm ship in 20 short minutes.

We now go to sea for a few days, reaching Beijing, China, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 and overnighting.  I’m going to take a 10 hour tour to the China Wall, so you’ll hear from me soon after that,  Until then:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 18, 2017

17. World Cruise–Nagasaki, Japan–Feb. 15, 2017

Hi All, (Written Feb. 17, 2017)

Editorial Footnote:  I want to apologize to my lovely daughter for implying that she had said my posts were boring.  The truth is I interpreted that from one of her emails to her mother.  I am completely guilty, probably because I feel they must be boring because we are not doing a lot as we go from port to port.

Nagasaki:  Now having said that, fasten your seatbelts, and if you don’t have a lot of time come back to read Nagasaki later, because this post is long.

As you may remember, Nagasaki was the site of the second atomic bomb drop in WWII.  We’ll begin with a look at the port from the ship.  The view from the entrance to the port:


Again, this confirms I was out there taking pictures even though it was in the balmy upper 50ths:


Looking at Nagasaki from the port side of the ship (left side away from the pier):


Up closer:


Now from the starboard side (right, onto the pier) a look up and down the pier:




And the main cruise terminal:


I focused the zoom lens on some interesting buildings:




Susy and I felt well enough from our colds to venture out and try and see the Park that had been created at the center of the site where the atomic bomb hit.

First the ships port sign:


Susy in front of one of the statues as we left the port:


And who could pass up a beautiful Japanese baby smiling at Susy as we passed:


Here’s a typical street view as we took a tram to the atomic bomb site:


And here’s the story of Nagasaki’s atomic bomb:


Just a reminder, that if you want to view any of these photos in a larger size, I believe all you have to do is click on them once or twice and they should enlarge.

The atomic bomb site is made up of three areas.  The first we will visit is called the "Peace Park".  Here’s the steps (with an escalator on the side for us older folks) from the street level up to Peace Park:


At the top of the stairs you encounter the Peace Fountain:




On the other side of the Peace Fountain we walk down the center of the Park:


All the statues you see have been donated by artists from around the world to the people of Nagasaki to promote world peace by remembering what war can bring as represented by the atomic bomb that was dropped here.

On the way through the park we came upon an actual survivor from the atomic bomb dropped here.  We got a picture with an argentine member of a band that plays in the ship disco, and the Survivor:


His story:


As we got to the other side of the park we came upon the huge Peace Statue that looks over the Park:



The second area as we left the Peace Park is across the street and is a small park which is located on the hyper-center of where the bomb hit.  Here is that area:



Several statues in this park:



The third site is a large museum dedicated to the Nagasaki atomic bomb.  We decided to by pass the museum and head back to the ship.  On the way you know Susy, like I know Susy, a shopping center:


Well, I finally got her back to the ship, home at last:


And on the way back to our cabin, one of our neighbors is an artist who posts these comical drawings on his cabin door, here’s the latest:


Next Port Incheon (Seoul), South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 16, 2017

16. World Cruise–Kagoshima, Japan–Feb. 15, 2017 (+Editorial)

Hi All, (Written Feb. 15, 2017)

Editorial: "Gary’s Space Has Become Boring"

It has come to my attention from my lovely daughter, that she  and several others believe my posts have become boring.  I just want to let you all know that I agree, but would like to explain why.  Susy and I had a long conversation last night regarding this subject and are completely in agreement.  First I would like to remind you that this is our 27th cruise, our first Apr. 2, 1982.  Since then we have spent 445 days at sea, visited 234 ports, 183 of those for the first time.  This cruise will add 111 days, 36 ports and only a few for the first time and none from a part of the world we haven’t visited before.  In other words, we have visited temples, castles, cathedrals, volcanoes, etc., etc.. In our younger days, we stopped at every port and took ever important tour you could take.  Obviously, my posts reflected those very active times.  Now we come to this cruise.  Susy and I have only one objective, to have sailed around the world and get a lot of rest and relaxation in the cruise atmosphere.  Unfortunately, we have been hit with bad colds and fever which is expected when you have over 2000 people bottled up on a ship for four months.  But getting back to the Posts, they will be boring because we are only going to take a few tours and in many ports will only get off to do the internet and walk around the city because as I have explained we’ve been there and done that.  For us a Buddhist Temple is a Buddhist Temple.  In one the Buda statues are gold, in another they are huge, etc.  In other words we been there and seen that, so at our age we’re just sitting back and resting around the ship, and believe me, apart from the colds, we’re enjoying ourselves but not with all the glitz, tours, etc., which lead to good posts.  I’m sorry, but I will continue to cover each port, but from the standpoint of looking at the port and commenting on how things are going for the two of us.  Boring, Yes, but that’s how it looks from your young eyes, not from ours.

Kagoshima, Japan:

Now to this beautiful Japanese port.  Kagoshima is located on the southernmost of the four main islands of Japan.  Because of its location much of Japan’s early contact with the outside world was via Kagoshima, first with China and then the Western world.  The city spreads along Kinko Bay, and as you will see boasts one of most unusual vistas in the world: Sakura-jama, an active volcano which sends up clouds of steam and has minor eruptions multiple times a day.  The volcano is 3,365 feet high and has a circumference of about 31 miles.  Because of the volcano Kagoshima is a hot-springs haven with the second-largest number of hot-springs in the country.

O.K. lets look at Kagoshima, first with this beautiful welcome park in front of the ship:



Looking out at this pier outlet we see the views from the city in front to the volcano and a Japanese garden in the rear:





Just so you know I’m still hereDSC01746

Yes, its still cold, in the high 40ths, which for this Floridian is freezing.

Susy stayed on the ship because of her cold, but I ventured out.  So our ships port sign:


Across from the ship was the port terminal:


and a close up of the signs and art work:



I’ll close this post with a panoramic view of the city:

DSC01716 Stitch 

And a close up of Sakura-jima:DSC01753

Next Port, Nagasaki, site of an atomic bomb drop, Aug. 9, 1945.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 13, 2017

15. World Cruise – Osaka, Japan–Feb. 12-13, 2017

Hi All, (Written Feb. 12, 2017)

Let’s start with a surprise.  I want to show you what a small world this is:


For dinner this evening we had the pleasure of having Eric Wiltshire as our guest.  Most of you won’t know Eric, but he was born in Argentina, came to the US as a young man, and ended up as a successful business man in the Detroit area.  He is now retired at the age of 91.  What makes this a small world is that Eric had been at several parties with us in Michigan  because he is good friends with the Carioni’s.  I ran into Eric at one of our sail-away parties, we started talking,  did not recognized each other and  today he met with Susy, we put all the pieces together and  realized the connection. we had a wonderful dinner. Eric is quite a gentleman and since he was getting off the ship today, we agreed/hoped to see him again in the future.

Now, back to our cruise.  If some of you were alert, you will notice that I didn’t mention Saipan in the title.  As we arrived at Saipan last Wednesday, Feb 8th, the weather took a turn for the worse and the Captain was concerned about taking the Amsterdam (and us) through a narrow strait to get to the Saipan pier. We had to by-pass it and head straight for Osaka.  The weather has been bad since then, but our Captain has avoided the worst of it and we have arrived safely without any bumps or bruises.

Again, this will be a short post because we’ve been to this area of Japan and have seen most of the sites and on top of that, we are both fighting bad coughs and colds.  Today we just did our internet stuff and tomorrow (we don’t leave Osaka until 11:00 PM) we just intend to stay around the ship.  Oh! by the way, here’s another shocker, it’s 34 degrees out there!!! We Floridians are freezing to death.

From the ship here’s a look at Osaka.  The city is huge, almost the same size as Tokyo.  It, like most Japanese cities, is new because it was almost completely destroyed in WWII. Looking off the port (left side of the ship) we see the industrial side:




Off the starboard side of the ship its just the opposite.  This is the pier we are tied to and it is not only a ship’s pier but a gigantic shopping center, with an aquarium and a large amusement center with a giant Ferris Wheel. And does Osaka welcome you:

DSC01672 Stitch Stitch 






One of many welcome signs:


And the skyline of a part of this city:


We did go down to the terminal, so here’s the ship’s port sign:


The spots on the photo is from the cold!!!!!  Going down the gang plank, we see one of our ships photographers (we enjoy getting our photo taken, lol):


Susy on her way to the terminal:


And more port signs:



OK, that’s Osaka.  If you want to see the sites around Osaka  such as Kyoto which is a wonderful place and totally preserved because it was never a target for bombing due to its cultural value,  and have a lot of time you can scroll down below to our 15th Cruise, Pacific Rim, and the three Japanese ports, mainly Kobe.  All these sites, temples, etc. are within driving distance of each other, no matter what port your in when your south of Tokyo  Our next Japanese ports are Kagoshima, Feb. 15th, and Nagasaki, Feb. 16th.  Until then:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 11, 2017

14. World Cruise–Guam (U.S. Territory), Guam–Feb. 7, 2017

Hi All, (Written Feb. 7, 2017)

I really want to make Guam and our next port, Saipan short posts, because, as I explained, I don’t have a lot of back ground info on them.  Here’s our map of Guam:


Our morning shots showed us a first look from were the ship was docked (the red arrow in the map above):


That is a photo of resort row and here’s one, the Sheraton, up close:


Well it is as close as I could shoot (the building that looks like a pyramid).  Next, here’s looking out the entrance to the harbor where we were docked:


A close up of that point:


Another view in another direction:


From the ship it looked exactly as we suspected, a little piece of America on a tropical paradise island.  We decided, again, to take the shuttle bus into town and do our internet stuff and return to the ship (that’s from the red arrow on the map to the blue star).  First our ship’s port sign:


Following are some views of the streets and the ocean from the bus, coming and going:


Above is "War in the Pacific" sign on the beach where our soldiers and marines landed to capture the island from the Japanese.





It looks like any town in the USA, doesn’t it?  The island still has a large US Air Force base, dollars are the only currency, and as we went through the mall, all the stores were the same as any mall in the US, and the people all spoke English with a mid-west accent (that is no accent)

On the way back I will show one shot of the water (my camera can’t do justice to  the beautiful colors):


and a last port sign:


That’s it for Guam and tomorrow is Saipan, but before I close this post Susy wanted me to show you our last Gala photo with one of the couples we have befriended on the cruise:



Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S.  Happy Birthday – Feb. 10th,  Teresa Mathis

        Happy Birthday – Feb. 11th,  Ilene Israel

Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 6, 2017

13. World Cruise – Majuro, Marshall Islands – Feb. 2, 2017

Hi All, (written Feb. 4, 2017 – ship date and time)

Have to start out with us passing over the international date line going West.  What happened is that at 2:00 AM, on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 we had to move our clocks ahead 24 hours and it became Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at 2:00 AM.  Don’t worry we’ll eventually slow down (setting our clocks back one hour as we pass from one time zone to another) until when we get back to Ft. Lauderdale we’ll be on your time, but until then we’ve jumped to behind you in time to ahead of you.  I’ll keep my Blog on ships time, so I hope that won’t confuse you.

Now the next hitch I’ve encountered is that Holland American has not been able to provide the Amsterdam with its usual port history information on Majuro, Guam, and Saipan (our next ports).  They’re going to get it for me, but it could be days.  I’m going to write these posts anyway with what I have and if I pick up anything interesting I’ll pass it along later.

As you probably are aware the history, tours, etc. of these small islands is the role they played in World War II.  Each one was held by the Japanese, and one by one re-taken by us and our allies.  There were many bloody battles, with monuments left behind to remind us of those days.  I’m going to skip most of that in this and future posts (plus there is a lot of information I don’t have) so let’s take a look at Majuro strictly from today’s perspective.

Here’s a map of the island, so you can see it’s just a narrow strip of land:


In my photos from the ship you can see in the next two photos how barren the island is (the ship is docked where the red arrow is pointing). Forward:




Since there wasn’t much to see, we got on a shuttle bus and went on our usual hunt for Wi-Fi.  The ships port sign:


As you can see from the map the island is just a narrow strip of land with a road (sometimes 4 lanes) down the middle and shops, stores, resorts, hotels, etc. all along the sides.  Here’s some photos as we drove and walked up the length of the island:



Local church bus:


A Church:


Have you ever seen a building like this?  (the roof is actually orange):


As we got off the shuttle bus we started looking for a resort with Wi – Fi, but on the way encountered some school girls:


The Street view:


Susy in front of a museum:


An interesting alley:


Here’s a look at one of the hundreds of boats located around the island, I presume fishing boats:


Lastly, here’s a photo of one of my posts on its way to you.  We have a lot of days at sea with Guam scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 and Saipan, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017:


Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Hi All, (written Jan. 30, 2017)

If you haven’t read 12. Honolulu, Post 1 of 2, please scroll down and read it before you read this.

Day 2 of our Honolulu overnight, was yours truly off, at 8:35 AM, on a five hour tour to the central palaces and Pearl Harbor.

As usual on leaving the ship I checked the ship’s port sign:


Our first stop was the Royal Palace.  I got this photo from afar:


As we parked the bus and turned the corner I really got excited.  There in front of me was the headquarters building of one of my favorite TV shows (most of us old people have know this program for many, many years).  Take a guess:


If you guessed Hawaii 5 0, you are right.  Just to show I was there I had a fellow passenger take this photo:


That statue is of King Kameham (for you Hawaii 50 fans) and here is the history of the King:


Back on the bus, as we neared Pearl Harbor, this is one of the many cemeteries for those fallen military on Dec. 7, 1941:



Then we entered the Pearl Harbor Memorial Center Grounds:


A look at the Arizona War Memorial from the grounds of the Center:


In one of the several museums within the Center this scale model best shows the sunken Arizona with the War Memorial above:


On Dec. 7, 1941, almost the entire US Pacific fleet were docked in Pearl Harbor.  Thankfully, the two aircraft carriers were out on maneuvers, and were not hit that day.  Our ships were lined up along the shore, one after the other, like sitting ducks for the Japanese.  Today all you can see is white floating markers with the name of each ship:


In the Center there is a Memorial to the ships:


If you look closely behind the lady in turquoise on the right, you can see a row of granite markers which are arranged in a semi-circle around the flag pole.  On each one is the name of a ship and its fallen.  Here is one:


You could spend a day just touring around the Center, with it’s two museums, submarine tour, etc..  Here is the submarine:


And an interesting center pole:


After an hour or so of touring the Center it was time to visit the Arizona Memorial. First we had a 25 minute movie on the history of that day, Dec. 7, 1941.  The movie was very moving as it included films taken by the Japanese from their planes as they torpedoed our ships, one after the other, and destroyed our airplanes which were parked out on the airstrips, wide open to being bombed.  The attack was a complete surprise, and even though we had radar, it was so elementary that our observers though the Japanese planes were a group of our own planes that were due in from the US mainland.

After the movie we climbed on a launch and visited the Arizona Memorial. I’ll just show you a series of photos which I believe speak for themselves.  This site is the grave site of not only the 950 sailors who were trapped below when the ship was sunk, but arrangements have been made to bury the remains of all the Arizona survivors within the remains.




As you look out to each side you see the sunken remains of the ship:


And of course the wall of the fallen 1177 on that day alone:


I don’t have words to express my feelings on that day.    I was fortunate to have a father who, even with 2 children, and being 34 years of age, enlisted in the Navy, went to war, and returned to spend many wonderful years with us. 

Enough of these sad remembrances.  That afternoon we sailed out of beautiful Hawaii, with Diamond Head behind us and another visit to "Paradise":


Now we’re off to 4 days at sea before visiting the next port; Majuro in the Marshall Islands, Feb. 2, 2017.  I’ll try to get these posts out then, if not, it will be four more days at sea until we hit Guam. 

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Hi All, (Written Jan. 29, 2017)

We had two days in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii and a major thriving city.  It has over 400 high rises. For those of you are interested in history, Honolulu traces its roots back to the 11th century when the Polynesians (Tahiti,etc.) arrived in their native canoes and settled the islands.

We decided to spend the first day at the local Starbucks to take care of all our internet and phone needs.  I’m going to use two posts to cover Honolulu, because on the second day I visited the Pear Harbor Memorial, Susy not wanting to view the sad remains of Dec. 7, 1941.

As usual, the morning of our arrival I shot several photos of the port from the ship:



Holland American seems to have a lot of pull in Hawaii because we were docked at Pier 10, the main pier, right in the heart of Honolulu, next to the famous Aloha Clock Tower, one of the cities famous landmarks.


The Pier’s welcome sign:


Here’s a close up of the Aloha Clock Tower:


As we left the ship, the ships port sign:


As we walked out, we stepped right in front of a statue I remembered from 2008 when we were here last:




Here’s one last one from 2008:


Back to our first day, here’s a look at the beautiful trees you see all over Hawaii:


After our internet and phone time at the local Starbucks, you can’t keep Susy away from shopping, so we hopped a bus and headed out to the "Largest Open-Air Shopping Center" in the world, Ala Moana:DSC01321

Oh! in case you didn’t understand that sign:


Just a look at the central court of the shopping center, which cover many blocks, having over 400 stores (including a Macy’s for Susy):


The day wasn’t over, because back at the ship we prepared for an evening of Hawaiian food and entertainment.  Here’s Susy at one of the ships pool side stands:


On the ships big stage that evening we had a wonderful Hawaiian show:


and the young Hawaiian dancers were great:


That ends the day and this post, but in my second post I’ll cover day 2 and my wonderful visit to Pearl Harbor.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | January 27, 2017

11. World Cruise–Hilo, Hawaii–Jan.25, 2017

Hi All, (Written Jan. 25, 2017)

Today we sailed into our first Hawaii Islands port, Hilo, Hawaii.  Hilo is the largest city (northeast corner) on the island of Hawaii.  Hawaii is the largest island of the Hawaiian  Islands and actually has more land area than all of the other islands put together.  Hilo is located near two shield volcanoes: Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.  One of the two went active in 1998 and is still active today.

Since Susy and I have been to the Hawaii Islands several times, I thought I would throw in some pictures of those trips between this post and the post I’ll write for Honolulu, Oahu Island.  Here is one from our first visit in 1974:

1974 Hawaii Trip008

Today at Hilo we just road into town and did some internet.  First I’ll show you some shots from the ship.  The port is far from the center of town.

DSC01257 Stitch


The ships shore sign:


And the first shore sign:


That’s really all I have for Hilo.  Hope to show you much more in the next post where we overnight in Honolulu.  I already have a tour scheduled to the USS Arizona Memorial, which we haven’t seen despite the many times we have been here.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | January 26, 2017

10. World Cruise–47th Anniversary–Jan. 23, 2017

Hi All, (written Jan. 23, 2017)

I have to share with you our 47th Wedding Anniversary celebration.  We were very fortunate that our favorite restaurant on board, The Pinnacle, had a Sommelier Dinner tonight.  What that means is a dress dinner with 7 courses, and 4 excellent wines.

First let’s go back to Jan. 23, 1970:

1970 Wedding -  (2)

Here’s your newly weds today:




and yours truly:


They even had a cake for us:


Here’s a few of the chefs and our table mates for the evening, Albert and Ruth:


The restaurant was sold out for the Sommelier dinner.  Here’s a look at the table set-up (notice the number of glasses):


Another table:


Finally I have to show you another picture of my lovely wife, hoping that I will have many more anniversaries with her:


We had a wonderful celebration, but missed being with our family and friends.  Hopefully we can make the next one with you all.  On to Hilo, Hawaii, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S.  The next evening we returned to the main dining room, only to find our waiter had a cake baked for us so we had a second celebration:


Here’s us with our waiter:



P.P.S Believe it or not the next evening our Waiter said he couldn’t save the leftover cake so he had another one baked for us:


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