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  1. OK, we have been through our second April 20, April 21, and we are now starting April 22, I think. As I said we’ve been notified that we have to miss Dutch Harbor and they gave us another port and they passed out the schedule. But then last night I got excursion tickets from destination services that say today we’re going to be in Kodiak Alaska. So I’m not the only one that gets confused. I will head down to destination services this morning to make sure where we are. The second April 20 was uneventful, except our trivia team placed first. April 21 was a Sunday and they had the Sunday brunch. The way they have it scheduled they’re really wasn’t a crowd whenever you wanted to go. It was a very nice display and I’m glad we went. I have no pictures but I need to say how great the food has been in Compass Rose. We are on our 21st or 22nd day and I have not seen a repeat in the menu. I will provide more details from either out to sea or Kodiak Alaska, once I figure out where we’re going to be
  2. We paid for the entire cruise, not by day. The cruise was identified as Tokyo to Vancouver, and showed when we would cross the international dateline. However, I don’t remember seeing both April 20 listed when I was making dinner reservations in the specialty restaurants.
  3. It’s still April 20 as we finish the first one and start the second one. finally, our trivia team placed on the first April 20 and it was first place at that. Hopefully we can do a repeat of this on the second April 20. As shown by the invite above, you have to spell out which April 20 you’re talking about. We headed to dinner in the Compass rose, and there was a line. (this is very unusual.) It seems everyone else wanted to get an early start on their evening, The clocks get set ahead two hours tonight as we head toward the international dateline. We will have to wait and see what the second April 20 brings us. The question for us on the second April 20 is what pills out of our pill organizer do we take since we are having two Saturdays.
  4. April 20, the first one We are on our third day since we left Otaru. I called this April 20 the first one because we will be having a second April 20 tomorrow, we are crossing the international dateline. We keep ourselves busy with bingo, reading, trivia, watching the scenery go by, it is very relaxing. Since we boarded April 1, the service has been fantastic. Crewmembers always have a smile on their face while they are working very hard. An example of their service happened yesterday. DH and I had gone to the La Veranda for lunch. We found a table and then went to get what we wanted. I went out to the pool grill to order a sandwich and came back sat down and didn’t seem DH. I said s__t, where is my husband? A staff member walked up and asked if she could help me. I said no thank you, I’ve just lost my husband. She looked up looked around and found him for me. Yesterday Regent had an event that was new to us. They organized all the states and countries that passengers are from and divided it up into five or six sections. So at 6 PM we went to the section that included Oklahoma and met other people, mostly from Dallas, it was a nice event.
  5. No their arms were by their side (mostly). I think this was their first outing, since they had to be reminded often to hold their place on the cord. They were very cute with fluorescent yellow hats.
  6. Now I will discuss umbrellas in Japan Keep in mind that Japan is a small country and many places have small stores, gathering, places etc. and it rains quite a bit. I started noticing umbrella stands outside, or just inside the entrance too many places. After thinking about it, I’ve come to realize that putting your umbrella in the stand as you go into the store, keeps water from dripping all over the place and making a mess or causing someone to slip. The first umbrella stand, I will show you is from the Tokyo Hilton outside the door in a covered area There appears to be a common one at a lot of stores. There was another interesting umbrella stand that also had large strings of some type of cloth so that you could dry your umbrella off when you put it in the stand. We saw that in immigration at one port and planned to get a picture of it on the way back, Murphy’s Law meant that we were ushered through a different mouse maze going through immigration coming back and we did not get a picture. One more picture I want to share with you is the creating the creative solution of having the umbrella always ready. I am not sure if this umbrella belong to our guide or the bus driver that day. I really don’t think there’s a problem with petty thieves messing with the umbrellas stowed outside stores.
  7. April 18, Thursday, sea day We lost an hour last night, and I think we will be losing one every night until we get to Alaska. Last night we went to Pacific Rim for dinner, I have pictures, and it was a very nice delicious dinner. Above are the appetizers, potstickers and salad. Thai Red Curry Everything was delicious
  8. Wednesday, April 17 Otaru Otaru is a suburb of Sapporo Japan We walked into town. This town is known for its canals throughout the ports and warehouses. We saw quite a bit walking around the town. There were some nice, duty-free shops, and several small cafés, all converted from large warehouses that backed up to canals. There were a lot of people out walking and enjoying the day, even a small group of preschoolers, walking along, holding to a common cord with their teacher learning how to cross the street. A local brewery, in fact, it brews a Otaru beer. This was a very large warehouse and had a hint of Germany in their bar. DH ordered a beer and I ordered a Pilsner. The beer was very good. They did their brewery for those and the copper tanks were right in the middle of the public area. We bought some souvenirs and headed back to the ship in a light rain. To get onto the ship, we had to go through Japanese immigration to get our passport updated to show we are leaving Japan. We then turned our passports over to the ship so that they can work our entrance into the Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
  9. Tuesday, April 16 Hakodate Our excursion today was a panoramic bus tour. We first drove to a parking lot and walked over to an area for good views of the city and the port. On the way, the guide gave us interesting information on the four churches, all at one intersection: Buddhist Temple, a Roman Catholic Church, a Russian orthodox church, and an Episcopalian church. A couple of the churches had burned down at least twice in the early 1900s. The Buddhist Temple finally was rebuilt with reinforced concrete. The town has many long steep sloping streets. The important streets will be heated when it snows so they can still be traveled on. we then traveled to the top of the mountain overlooking the town. The mountain was formed by a volcano, and up until modern history was an island separate from the rest of the town. Many plants and animals are unique to the peninsula that formed connecting the island to the island of Hokkaido. The view from the top of the mountain was pretty awesome, but there were quite a few steps and sloping walkway, which made it difficult for some people. In my opinion, this town would be a great port for a late night departure or an overnight stay. The restaurants and shops are very close to the port, and seem very welcoming.
  10. Monday, April 15 Miyako. Hills and Mountain are back in the picture of the horizon. Today we took the shuttle bus into town to look around and go shopping and the community was very welcoming and ready to help anyone from the cruise ship. There were interpreters with yellow vests on throughout the town. After seeing the sites of the town and buying some souvenirs, DH decided he needed to rest. We found a bench in front of a small store and sat down and watched the traffic go by. DH is still recovering from back surgery and he had a hard time getting up out of the bench. Several ladies from the store came out to watch. I don’t think they could’ve helped, DH eventually got up. (after drawing a crowd) We walked for several more blocks, sightseeing,window shopping and decided it was time to find a place to go in and have a beer As we were looking around an interpreter, came up and offered to help. We explained we wanted to have a beer and a place to sit down for a while. He took us to a convenience store, and the owner took out two beers but I said we wanted to sit down. Soon the husband of the convenience store came out from back with two folding chairs, and set them up in front of the store While enjoying our beer and watching this traffic and people go by, a couple people stopped and asked if they could take our pictures. One last thing I wanted to do while in town to find some type of cream for achy joints/arthritis. I found a pharmacy close to where the shuttle bus will pick us up and DH and I went in. I attempted to explain to the pharmacist that I needed some type of cream for my husband’s, swollen hand and joints from arthritis. The pharmacist looked at DH hand and then looked at me and motioned that I interpreted him to say “Did he hit it with a hammer?” Finally got it understood that it wasn’t an injury but arthritis. The pharmacist took me over to a bunch of shelves and pulled out a roll-on ointment told me to use it three times a day. It works.
  11. Sunday, April 14. Hitachinaka This town originally started as a company town for Hitachi. We took the shuttle bus into town to be dropped at a very large shopping area. We did have some things we needed to pick up and everybody throughout the mall gave us some very good directions to get where we needed to go. Up until today, the horizon had always been mountains. Today the horizon is flat. We became part of a new trivia team since our other team got off the ship and we’re going to have a lot of fun together getting to know them
  12. We are on Explorer right now, Yes have been since April 1. I haven’t experienced any problems with Service. Yes they are offering chips and pretzels but the trays that I see also have some canopies on them. I agree with other posters that you need to talk to the hotel manager or food and beverage manager, or the head bartender with any issues that you have.
  13. Saturday, April 13. Some friends that we made will be leaving the cruise. And we will need to find a new tribute team. Surprisingly, we were little affected by the change over with some people leaving and new passengers coming on. We were given pink wristbands to wear in the port area so people knew we were transiting passengers. We decided to take a walk to see the Maritime museum that we had noticed when we were driving into Port 11 days ago. we got a map and instructions at the tourist information and they pointed us in the correct way. Well, it was a nice walk, but the museum was closed and it looked like it had been closed for longer than just a day. So we walk back to the ship, this walkway seems to be very popular with people who have dogs we saw several dogs being taken on an outing, and they seem to be very happy.
  14. Friday, April 12 we sail into Tokyo Watching the sailing in to Tokyo Bay was very interesting. We soon saw what looked like a very large sailboat sail, blue and white striped on the back side and white on the front. But it wasn’t moving. A quick search on the web show that it was in “air vent” for a tunnel that is under Tokyo Bay. We took a taxi into the Ginza district which from the pre-cruise trip, looked to be very interesting. It was raining and very crowded. It appeared to me that all the office workers were out for a fast lunch and packed all the little restaurants. Many of the restaurants that were on second floor, only had access via steps, and no handrails. I did find a needle workshop. I bought a piece of Sashiko with instructions and threads and of course needles. There have been some articles about this style in needlework magazines that I get. Looked around some other shops and didn’t see anything that interested us and headed back to the ship for a relaxing afternoon. After dinner, we went to the observation lounge. The nighttime silhouettes of Tokyo skyline was really pretty.
  15. Thursday, April 11 Sea Day Today was a laid-back day with a couple of naps. This afternoon we had a cognac tasting, of Hennessy Cognac. The tasting was elegantly presented, and we received a lot of useful, new information on drinking various types of cognac.
  16. April 10 Kagoshima This morning as we sailed into the harbor, we were met by many individual people waving flags, all types of flags. They didn’t miss a country I bet. The buses looked very close to the ship, but looks can be deceiving. To get to the bus we had to walk a mouse maze to the port building on shore, show passport, and another short maze to the bus our tour was going to Chiron to the homes of former samurai, they are former because of feudal system that supported them no longer existed The neighborhood we walk through now resides many descendants of samurai. All of the homes are separated by beautiful hedges. There was a wide walkway and openings to the houses through the hedges. The homes that I saw were all the same floor plan with the visitors room looking out to the garden. The gardens were very nice, but nothing was in bloom, the guide pointed to one location in a garden that you could sit and see the mountain which was part of the design. After looking at four homes while very interesting I headed back to the bus. Our next stop was to the Chiran peace museum. This museum is dedicated to the kamikaze flyers of World War II. It was very interesting museum with a plane that had been recovered. A picture of every pilot that was killed in action was displayed. There was an example of a triangular house, which was a place a pilot stayed before going on a mission. It was called triangular, because most of it was underground, and all you saw was a triangle of the roof. This was a very interesting museum and we could’ve spent six or seven hours there We made it to trivia and our team came in first place.
  17. We then went to peace Park, which was a large grassy area with many monuments donated by many countries in the world. This all centered around a blue man statue, which I’m sure has a very unique story, but I couldn’t hear the tour guide, so I’ll have to look it up later. We then went to a reproduction of a village known as Dejima. There was a small scale, reproduction of the Portuguese village, and then many reproduction of various shops and homes. This village reflects the first main trading that Japan did with other countries. And then back to the ship. We missed Trivia, and had a nice dinner and called it a night.
  18. Tuesday, April 9, Nagasaki We thought it was going to be a lazy morning since our tour didn’t leave until after lunch. But we then learned since we were re-entering Japan we had to go through Japanese customs and immigration. And then we saw some areas we could go shopping in the terminal. we got on our tour bus around one in the afternoon and we had four or five places to see. The first place we went was the museum of the atomic bomb and we walked through the museum. It was very interesting. we then went to Ground Zero, there is a monument there of a piece of metal that survived the blast.
  19. Monday April 8, Busan South Korea Today we decided just to ride the shuttle bus to town and do some shopping. Well, we headed out, went immigration and found the shuttle bus was on lunch break. So we got a cab. The driver took us on a small tour of the city. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom the previous day, so they were still beautiful. We also saw a UN monument and a beautiful beach in the center of the city. We got to the shopping area, looked around and decided we were thirsty. We found a little sushi restaurant and had a nice break. Not finding any thing we wanted to buy we headed back to the ship. Busan is a very large and modern city. Driving back to the ship I saw one of their artificial “police”. It was a blowup image waving an orange traffic flashlight warning traffic of road work. (I wasn’t fast enough to get a pic). We made it back for Trivia, short one team player, but still placed third. Had a lovely dinner with new server, many came on board this morning.
  20. We were in an Explorer G for a transatlantic. The Queen bed size did not bother us. At that time (the first year) they were changing the name quite a bit. So I think it is a bit larger than a US queen. The thing that bothered us about the size was the coffee table. Since it is low like a coffee table and has a rim around the top (Explorer had more of a cage around the lower part) it really seems to make the table wasted space and we felt the smallness of the cabin. We have moved up to F levels.
  21. The trip to the excursions was very interesting. The last spring we went to had a place that people could soak their feet in. Back in port we had to go through Japanese immigration and customs since we were leaving Japan and heading to South Korea. We made it to Trivia, we had a complete team. We managed to place third place. Dinner in Compass Rose was again very good. I had Mizo Glazed Sea Bass and really enjoyed it.
  22. Beppu continued We next went to another spring that has a red pond. The garden around the spring was just beautiful. The spring is red because of the iron content. The last spring we visited, had a blue pond and even prettier gardens. All of the shops that we visited also had gift shops with items made from their mineral Springs snacks, and one had a sake tasting.
  23. April 7 Sun I finally got down to the Coffee Connection this morning and got a Cronut, delicious, I am going to have to control myself with these. Our tour in Beppu was to several hot springs. As the bus was approaching the area you could see “vents” of steam rising from many places on top of the horizon. Our first stop was to a place with several small thatched buildings. It was explained that minerals were produced by letting the steam in the huts become liquid and then condenses and crystallized into the mineral, There was a basin of water from the spring to dip our hands in. Different springs contain different minerals.
  24. We also went by the area that had been Hiroshima Castle and was destroyed in 1945, the moat still exists. Recently, they had rebuilt part of the castle. Artur ended after trivia had started so we just came up to our room and relax with a drink and got ready for dinner. Dinner again was excellent, we both had the destination dinner, which was Mizo glazed monkfish, wonderful.
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