Tuesday, March 3, 2009



Well, the drawers banged and things shifted in the closets all night. We rock and roll our way to Guam. By 8:00AM, we are sailing along the west coast of Guam. As required by regulations, or so we are told, we are met and escorted into Apra Harbor by a small, armed Coast Guard boat and a tug boat which the captain elects not to use. We dock around 11:00AM.

Everyone must clear immigration and customs, including the crew, so getting off the ship is a hurry up and wait deal. The officials do not arrive on time and are slow in processing us. Once through, we are given a green card stating that we are cleared to go ashore. We gather up our two boxes, which we plan to mail home, and head for the gangway where we run into crew members who think they are an official arm of U.S. Customs. We show our green cards but give the wrong answer when asked specifically if the boxes have been cleared to go ashore. They will not let us or many other people with boxes to mail leave the ship until Customs says it is OK. Eventually a customs man looks at the box, asks if there is any liquor in it, and says we can go. Carolyn asks for something to show the people staffing the gangway and he tells her they have been instructed to let people go. Boy are we mad at Princess or whoever caused this waste of time. But, we finally get off the ship and are in a taxi by 12:35PM.

We take a very expensive cab ($60) to the car rental place and pick up our Thrifty Car Rental car. The staff is very helpful. We then proceed to the Post Office where there are 30-40 other people in line. There are three clerks working and one is renting a P.O. Box that takes 30 minutes to complete. Another clerk leaves for lunch as we get in line and returns an hour later. We just love the service provided by our government offices. Don’t you look forward to them running the banks and health care? After standing in line for an hour, we finally get our two boxes mailed and head out to explore the island. It is about 2:15PM.

We first drive up to Nimitz Hill and the Asan Bay Overlook.This gives us a great view of the invasion beach from the Japanese positions. They were looking down the throats of the men on the beach! We also have a great view of Nimtz Hill falling away to the beach.We then drive down to Asan Beach. This is all part of the World War II in the Pacific National Park. There are some very interesting signs with photos taken at that spot in July 1944. Dick takes one or two shots trying to duplicate the location of the original photographer. We then head south past Agat National Park, another landing beach in the War in the Pacific National Park, to Umatac Bay where Magellan is supposed to have landed on March 6, 1521. It is a tiny, beautiful bay surrounded by a lazy unspoiled little village. The decorative Umatac Bridge with the spiral staircase towers is intended to symbolize Guam’s Chamorro-Spanish heritage. The village is home to the Saint Dionicio Church originally built in the 1690’s and rebuilt after the 1902 earthquake. The Manila Galleons, in their transit of the Pacific in the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries, used the bay as a place to get fresh water and provisions. We drive on around the bay up to Fort Nuestra Senora de la Soledad built in 1810 on a bluff overlooking the Umatac Bay. It is the best preserved of the four Spanish forts in the area. The stunning view from the fort overlooking the bay and of the coast to the North is well worth the effort! After Umatac, we head back to turn in the car. We make a quick stop to photograph the Talifak Bridge, a bridge built in 1785 on the Spanish era coastal road known as El Camino Real between Hagatna and Umatac. We also stop at the Plaza de Espana for a look at the Spanish Aches. At this point we get caught up in the horrible, Guam rush hour traffic. We finally get to the car rental office at 5:30PM and for $20 they shuttle us back to the ship. We arrive there shortly after 6:00PM and are some of the last to board before our 6:30 sailing.

For anyone doing Guam as a port of call, contact Thrifty Rental Car on Airport Road (not in the Airport) in Guam, make arrangements for them to meet you at the dock and return you to the dock. The car cost us $37 and a one-way transfer was $20! Driving is easy and you can drive all the way around the southern part of the Island in two hours plus time to stop at sites. The ship’s tours are $70-$90 each and you only see one or two sites. There was a free shuttle bus, but it went to the duty free mall and from there it was a long way to the war or history sites and the taxis are expensive.

Even with the sour start to the day, we have a good time and think Guam would be worth a return for some diving, snorkeling and more site seeing. Renting the car even with the expensive taxi is the way to go and cheaper than the ships tours.

Back at the ship, we go on deck to watch the sail awayand sunset with one of the 24ct margaritas. We are tired and tempted to order room service, but decide to go to the dining room.Dinner tonight is wonderful. We both have the shrimp cocktail, Talmousse, a puff pastry filled with Swiss cheese soufflé and a light truffle sauce, and roasted rack of lamb. Our headwaiter is making flambéed Cherries Jubilee. It is so good Dick has seconds, which he shares with Carolyn.

Well fed and with a rocking ship we turn in for a good night’s sleep.

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