Tag Archives: Saipan tour guide

The Maasdam 24 see Saipan in a Day

[Photographs by Ferdinand “Ding” Ramos]

“It was a dark and stormy night…” Oops, wrong opening line. (Sorry, Snoopy.)  Ahem. It was a bright and sunny day,  and the Holland America cruise ship, Maasdam, was scheduleed to dock at the port on the island of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on Sunday, Sept 8, 2019.

As an island consultant, I’m occasionally asked to provide information on the islands to visitors.

This time, my photographer, Ding, and I showed up at 7am to be sure that THIS time, the ship would, indeed, dock. (Yeah, that’s a whole other story for another time!)

Maasdam at the dock. Check.

With that little detail confirmed, we headed back to the airport to pick up the vans for our arriving guests.

Invited guest guides for a day, Robert Hunter, and Gary Liddle and I discuss logistics.

While awaiting the paperwork, world renown author, ethnographer, oral historian and “birder,”  Rlene Santos Steffy, arrives from Guam. I had the pleasure of meeting Rlene on Guam during my recent Guam Writers Workshop Learn more at : https://guamwriters.com/

Gary, Rlene, Robert and I chat while we wait

The paperwork is completed, vans are assigned, drivers are briefed, microphones are checked, signs are posted in the windshields….time for a convoy!

“Pig Pen this here’s the rubber duck And I’m about to put the hammer down.” (10 points if you know that reference!)

Once at the dock, guests begin exiting the ship after passing through US Customs, and we load up the vans. Two of my guests, Lorrin and Nina Lee, are on a three month tour (see Lorrinlee.com), and were the first of my guests to sign up way back in March!

Finally, we meet! (See www.LorrinLee.com)

We head out to our first stop: American Memorial Park.

 

First stop, American Memorial Park…Welcome! Introductions….and the strict rules of my tour! (You’ll have to sign up to discover just what those rules are!)
Watching “An Island Called Saipan” at American Memorial Park

 

Post-documentary debriefing and preparing for day’s tour

 

Robert Hunter, Director of DCCA (Department of Community & Cultural Affairs) shares facts and triva about wartime Saipan

 

Pointing to the Court of Honor (currently under construction)
Visiting the Chamorro & Carolinian memorial
Yeah we got a little ol’ convoy Ain’t she a beautiful sight
At the Carolinian Cultural Center

 

Robert gives background on boat building and celestial navigation
At the boat house, one of DCCA’s projects

 

At Ladder Beach

 

 

As Lito Airfield
What on earth is everyone staring at???

Answer: One of the largest war time structures on the island: the Bomb Magazine at As Lito airfield.

Inside the Bomb Magazine
The sad, yet beautiful Banzai Cliff

 

Gary holds court at Suicide Cliff

 

Looking down at the suicide leap from another vantage point

Then we went In Search of Amelia Earhart

The Old Japanese Jail
Going back in time through the corridor of the jail in search of Amelia Earthart
Read more about Amelia on Saipan here: https://www.discoversaipan.com/amelia

By this time, the “Saipan in a Day” adventure is officially ended. Robert and Gary have departed and taken our visitors back to the dock, However, a smaller group of WWII buffs are treated to a special private collection of relics and artifacts from the Japanese era and Battle of Saipan.

a unique collection
Guests enjoy interacting with the pieces
Explaining the uniqueness of this particular relic

 

The Maasdam WWII History buffs on Saipan

 

We say our goodbyes!


“What’s that?  Yes, you can definitely write a TripAdvisor Review! I’d be honored and it would help a lot! Thanks for asking!”

Maasdam departs Saipan

“As the sun sank slowly over the horizon…” Oops, sorry, wrong epilogue…Wait! That one fits! As the sun sank slowly over the Saipan horizon, Maasdam pulled away from the dock, and sailed off into the sunset on its way to Guam!

“We’ll catch you on the flip flop
This here’s the Rubber Duck on the side
We gone – Bye Bye!”

Thanks to everyone who made this tour special and run smoothly!

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Watch Ward & Kimie on their Saipan Amelia Mystery tour!

I’ve recently been creating post-tour videos for my clients to help promote my newly revived DiscoverSaipan Youtube Channel

Here’s the latest of four, featuring Ward and Kimie, who came from Japan with a particular interest in learning more about Amelia Earhart’s connection to the island! They got a special treat and private audience with a Saipan celebrity as part of their adventure!

 

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Tourist couple scams local vendors on Saipan, CNMI

In what appears to be a scam conducted on the island of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the couple in the photos below arrived on Saipan in October, stayed at Coral Ocean Point and then the Hyatt between October 20 and October 23.

During that time, the couple, who went by the name Jim and Yao,  paid for tours, skydiving and scuba diving using what now appears to be several different stolen credit card numbers.  The scam was discovered when, 30 days later, charges made to these cards by local as well as online vendors were disputed as “unauthorized” by the legitimate card holders.

Vendors within the CNMI are cautioned to be wary of such scams, to be mindful to take all security precautions particularly for online sales, and to note these individuals in particular. (Note: in such cases, the charges are reversed–debited from the local vendor account– and the local vendors lose out) .This may indicate the early stages of a pattern of young travelers spending lavishly using stolen credit cards.)

“Jim” presented himself as a young tech entrepreneur along with his girlfriend “Yao” and spent lavishly on accommodations and activities on Saipan.

 

Vendors beware.

 

 

China Travel Channel created a video for me!

A few months ago, I gave some producers from the China Travel Channel a tour of the island. Just got an email from Alex with a gift! Using some of the shots of us together, they created a short promotional video I can use to reach more of the Chinese tourists Saipan is attracting!

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The short happy tale of the 42 Americans, Canadians and Germans and the Jamaican on Saipan

October 2015. Well, it’s happened again! Back on Oct 12, the island of Saipan was visited by the Holland America cruise ship, the Statendam, and some of their passengers got treated to a personalized Jamaican on Saipan tour experience! Here are some photos from the day!

In years past, I’ve had singer and entertainer Gus Kaipat, Carolinian elder Lino Olopai, Humanities Council director Scott Russell as special guest guides for my tours!

Unlike any other tour available that day, we could boast that we had Robert Hunter, the director of the CNMI museum, as the special guest guide for our clients! Thanks, Robert!


Picking up vans in the morning.


The Statendam docks!


Entering the port with Statendam in the background


Getting through the chaos in the parking lot

Click here to watch and listen to the welcome at Memorial Park


Touring the Memorial Park grounds


Robert Hunter keeps ’em enthralled at the Carolinian Village Utt


A light moment while spam shopping!


Okay, let’s roll!


Entering the Bomb Magazine at As Lito


Inside the Bomb Magazine

 


We had four vans rolling convoy style around the island!


At Lao Lao Bay golf course

 


Posing with the Ladies of the Statendam!

 


Overlooking the Statendam


Banzai Cliff


Revealing secrets


Driver/Guide Catherine confers with Robert


“I think it’s THAT way!”

 


The Last Command Post


Robert shares some history


My troopers were willing to brave the elements muddy water and all to get inside and experience a bit of history


Inside the Command Post


Bird Island

Of course, there was a whole lot more we shared during the day, but you’ll have to book your own personalized tour to get the full experience!

Special thanks to photographer, Ferdinand Ramos of facebook.com/paradisesaipan, and also to Willy from Fiji, Microl Toyota, Hertz, Kathy Odle, Cathie Slota and to all the guests who made the day special!  To book your own tour, visit www.discoversaipan.com!

Chinese idol group, SNH48, films video on Saipan

Chinese Idol Group SNH48 films video on Saipan

As I prepare for the next “Jamaican in China” nomadpreneur travel adventure starting with Macau in a few days, I’ll share my most recent “passionpreneur/follow your passion and do what you love/Jamaican on Saipan/saipanpreneur” adventure!

Now it can be told!

Back in January, ZanyBros, Korea’s biggest video production company (known for their work with K-pop artists in the global “Hanryu” Korean Wave pop culture explosion) , contacted me to help them arrange a video shoot on Saipan for Chinese idol group, SNH48, for their latest release. After months of planning and preparation, an advanced team arrived on March 17, the remaining film crew arrived on March 20, and filming took place from Saturday March 21 to Monday March 23. Here are just a few of the 1200 photos documenting the project with me as location manager along with my project partner, Chang Yoon Suk, PR Director of the Korean Association here on Saipan.
(photos by Ferdinand Ramos)

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan

Meeting Director Kim, Assistant Director Lee, and Producer Nomura at the airport

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan

Chang, me, Lee, Kim and Nomura scouting locations days before the shoot

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan

Chang has an idea

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan

Shooting around the island ( Banzai Cliff) 24 artists, 25 artist support staff, 17 film crew, 5 fifteen-passenger vans, 2 siennas, 2 pickup trucks, Korean-English translator, Korean-Mandarin translator, drivers, equipment, generator….now let the fun begin!

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan

Doing the location manager thing…

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan
Internationally famous Carolinian singer, Gus Kaipat, as sound engineer

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan
Drivers for a day, Mario, Conrad, Kevin, Alejandrof, along with me and Nomura

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan
Producer Nomura, Chang, Marlin and me

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan
On location at the Bird Island trail

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan
Behind Hyatt Hotel

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan
Camera on the ground, camera on the crane, camera in the air

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan

Me and a little more than a quarter of SNH48

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan
Chillin’ with the local crew

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan

Watching the filming…it’s a great gig if you can get it!

ZanyBros and SNH48 video on saipan
Final shot at the airport with ZanyBros! (photo by one of “Saipan’s Finest!”)

The weather was perfect!
And with our international team consisting of a Chilean overseas marketing producer, Korean film crew, Chinese artists, Japanese producer, along with a uniquely Saipan mix of Chamorro and Filipino drivers, Carolinian sound engineer, vendor owners and hotel managers from Czech Republic, Bangladesh, India, Russia, Korea, Hong Kong and the United States, along with one Jamaican location manager, we pulled it off! Things went smoothly, and all filming was finished in three days! Stay tuned for info on the release of the video and see if you can identify the various filming locations around Saipan!

SPECIAL THANKS TO
Angelina at ZanyBros, Nancy McDowell and Pamela at Hyatt Hotel; Kazu, Martin, Das and Joseph at Fiesta Hotel; Helen, Yukari and Yulia at Aqua Resort; Hafa Adai Hotel; Doug Brennan and Jocelyn Pangelinan at Microl Toyota; Alex and Kit at Hertz; Divine at Islander Car Rental; Ephraim at Thrifty Car Rental; Tati and Shane at the Department of Public Lands; Top Development; Coastal Resources Management; Saipan TV, Noli at Marianas Studio; Domingo at Hanmi Hardware; Gus Kaipat; Cinta Kaipat; Lino Olopai, John Joyner; Joe Hill; Godfather’s Beach Bar; Anna Chang and the staff at Canton Restaurant; Byung Hoon Park at The Grill Hai (Fusion) restaurant; Frank Li at U-Save Car Rental; Darlene and Debra at Joeten Supermarket; Joseph at Island Equipment Rental; Gordon Marciano; Mario, Alex, Conrad, Jude, Kevin, Alejandrof, Gids, Dave, and Joe , Ichi Ban Marine Sports, plus all the security personnel, front desk clerks, and other staff, plus extra special thanks to photographer, Ferdinand Ramos, for capturing it all!

Check out SNH48 at https://www.snh48.com and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNH48

Read more about the idol group phenomenon which started in Japan at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_idol

Check out ZanyBros at https://www.zanybros.com

Read more about business services (location management/logistics) at SaipanBookings Business Services

Saipan day tour for visiting cruise line passengers! Let’s do it again in 2013!


It’s been in the works since July of last year when the first cruise ship customer contacted me! It’s true! The Jamaican in China will be returning to Saipan once again to conduct a special tour for visitors from a major cruise line! The last once we did was a raging success! This one will be better!

If you’re one of the passengers scheduled to arrive on Saipan, CLICK HERE to arrange your day tour of Saipan! I can arrange a special World War II tour, and private tours for even a single person, so there’s no excuse!

The short happy tale of 41 Australians and the Jamaican on Saipan!

Now it can be told!  One of the reasons I returned to Saipan from China specifically when I did was to arrange a special tour for a group of visiting Australians to the island of Saipan. Way back in October of 2010, while I was in Beijing, China, I received a request through my DiscoverSaipan site from Narelle M., one of the activity organizers on a 45-day Sun Princess Cruise Lines tour originating in Sydney, and then continuing to Hong Kong to Japan, a few Pacific Islands and back to Australia. (One of the beautiful benefits of running internet-based businesses is the ability to do so from any location on earth with internet access).

Narelle and I continued our communication throughout my China adventure and we built the  excitement as the date approached. However, by the time the cruise kicked off in early March, Narelle was not able to be physically present on the cruise, so I continued organizing with Gaye H. As things progressed, the “Cherry Blossom Tour,” as it had been billed, had to cancel its stops in Japan due to the recent events there. However, the Pacific island leg of the tour was still on!

Most of the arrangements for transportation were made back in November (Thanks for the assist, Miki!), and as the number of interested cruise passengers increased,  I had to add more and more vans to handle the ever-increasing group.

Once I returned to Saipan, I met with Scott Russell and Merced Alda of the Mariana Council for the Humanities, as well as local saipanpreneur, Catherine Perry, and Gordon Marciano of PDI, who graciously helped pull things together in the few days before the ship was to arrive.

I wanted to offer our visitors a Saipan experience unlike the standard “big bus, big guns” tour most visitors receive. I wanted to show them the Saipan I fell in love with: the fantastic scenery, the local culture, the warm-hearted residents, and simple daily lifestyle that make Saipan a secret paradise and coveted escape from the ills of modern living. For that, I would need to assemble a special team.

Both Catherine and Scott suggested “Uncle” Lino Olapai as a representative of Saipan Carolinian culture (Lino is author of a book entitled The Rope of Tradition, which can be ordered here; Saipan residents may purchase at Bestseller Books), and John Castro as a representative of things Chamorro.


John (left), Lino and I meet at Java Joe’s a few days before to discuss the tour

My friend, Norman Xing, suggested a Chinese NMC liberal arts student and former tour bus driver who would also be part of the team.

And, to add some feminine energy to the team, John recruited Catherine Shai, homemaker and former cultural dancer.

I awoke on the morning of Tuesday, March 5, 2011, to an auspicious Saipan sunrise. The past three days had seen rain and overcast weather which, if it continued, would threaten the fun and excitement of my Saipan in a Day Tour.


The sunrise on the actual morning of the tour.

We learned a day or two before that, due to an issue with a faulty engine, the ocean liner was delayed and scheduled to arrive at 11:45am.


Vans are picked up…Thanks, Cheryl and Jenny at Microl Toyota!


More vans are picked up…Thanks Layer and Monica at Hertz!

The team met, vans were picked up, logistics were arranged, and all was proceeding well.

The A team: Chamorro Korean Catherine, Chamorro John, Carolinian Lino, Chinese Tom, Jamaican Walt. Thanks Doug! Great Photo!


By 11:00am, the ship could be seen making its final approach to Saipan

We arrived at the dock, and as  the members of our 3-van/1-SUV caravan waited for our turn to enter the restricted area, a torrential downpour began at about 12 noon!

Storm clouds gather ominously

After about half hour of rain, the clouds began to pass and we were able to see breaks of blue sky coming in from the south. I knew this would be a good day!


By the time the passengers started to alight, the sky over Saipan was a stunning blue!

We met our group, headed out to my favorite spot, did our special welcome, and did our thing!

Lino leads the group of visitors towards our vans


Welcome, introductions, flowers, mwars and the fun begins!

As I told the visiting Aussies (and New Zealanders and at least two Americans): There is only ONE Lino Olopai  on Saipan, and we’ve got him! If you want local expertise on Chamorro culture, there’s only ONE John Castro, and we’ve got him on our tour too! I assured them, that once they returned to the ship and compared notes with the other passengers, they would have had an experience like no other!


Looking on intently

I’ll have to keep some of our Secret Saipan tour, well… a secret, you understand, but I’ll just say that based on the feedback we received, as well as the happy goodbyes, a good time was had by most!


An adventurous ten took Walt’s trek to the best scenic spot on Saipan


Sacred spots and more!


As it was requested by some of our guests, we decided to incorporate some of the big guns into their experience


Next to a big bus….”Ok, where do we go next?”


Bird island


Lino holds court at the Micro Beach Pavilion….history, culture and more!

As the evening drew to a close, I noted to myself that the cloudy evening sky obscured one of Saipan’s greatest assets: the famous Saipan sunset. However, almost on cue, even with an invisible sun, some streaks of hot pink emerged to color the sky and water in front of Micro Beach seemingly just for the benefit of our guests. It lasted no more than 5 minutes, but was enough to elicit some oohs and ahhs from the crowd, and provide a nice end to a special day!


Sunset makes a special brief appearance just for us.


We dropped our visitors back at the dock and said our goodbyes….You should have been there!

And thus concludes The Short Happy Tale of the 41 Australians, the two Chamorros, the Carolinian, the Chinese, and the Jamaican on Saipan!