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Published: February 17th 2023
World Cruise Part 5
6th February continued
Live entertainment was Sam Moore and his Flamenco Around the World concert. Who knew flamenco is not just Spanish?
Today’s film was Joyride. I didn’t go to sleep! Recommended should you come across it, set in Ireland with Olivia Coleman.
Tuesday 7th February
9.30 am. 8S. Bearing 211 degrees. Winds NEF5
169W. Speed 16.3 knots. 28degrees C
Destination Talk. Bay of Islands
There are 144 islands making up the Bay Of Islands. There are undeveloped beaches and private farms. The climate is mild winters and hot summers, and it is the cradle of European settlements. Russell is the largest town in the area in a 16 km wide inlet on the NE coast and is a well known fishing capital. Game fishing from here finds snapper, marlin, tuna and kingfish. There are also bottlenose dolphins in the area.
Where there is 10 m of the islands above sea level there are 30 m below. New Zealand is at the edge of the Pacific ring of fire, 20,000 years ago there were 20 active volcanoes, the islands are what are left.
Captain Cook was one of the first Europeans coming to New Zealand, and the whalers. William Hobson and James Busby came here as representatives of England and persuaded the northern chiefs to sign away sovereignty. This was Feb 6th 1840. The treaty was between the Maori Chiefs and Queen Victoria but basically Hobson claimed New Zealand for England. This was the treaty of Waitangi.
Russell is the most historic village and one time capital. In the 1800s whalers and sealers used to come here. Cook was here in 1769
"Wednesday 8th February
9am. 13 S. Winds SE F 2.
171 N. Temperature. 25 degrees
Impressions of Samoa
Trip we had booked did nor take place as not enough booked. The suggestion was to go into the town in a taxi have a look round. There were taxis outside the dock gates. We had been too slow this morning to catch the Samoan dancers and singers that had been on the quayside to greet our arrival. Shame.!!! There were souvenir stalls all along the quayside just off the ship with brightly coloured shirts, wraps, dresses, T-shirts etc, everyone was very friendly and smiling.
We found a taxi to take the wheelchair and shared with another passenger the couple of miles along the sea front to the town of Apia. We got out in the centre of the town, where there were shops. We noticed curbs seemed to be quite high as we hauled the wheelchair onto the pavements. We had a look round the shops, each seemed to have stalls outside the shops, altho they all seemed to be selling the same things, everything from pencils, to knickers to plastic flowers, sarongs, flip flops etc.
We decided to have a look across the road and see if we could get to the beach and find some beach bars. The crossing was very substantial so we didn’t have to go down onto the road. We followed the pavement around the side of the building, just in time to avoid the rain as the heavens opened. We were luckily on the leeward side of the building which had shelter all the way round. We could see why the pavements were so high….. to avoid the pedestrians getting wet feet. The weather is tropical here and rain showers are regular. Everyone seemed to have umbrellas. Standard wear for men and women seemed to be sarongs, T-shirts and flip flops. Possibly as when they got wet it didn’t take to long to drip dry! It certainly wasn’t cold.
As we sheltered the locals carried on around us, but everyone spoke to us saying hello and smiling. Some stopped to chat and ask us where we were from. Lots of people had toddlers in tow, and the children were beautiful. The young people were particularly handsome, but everyone was charming.
Eventually the rain stopped and so we ventured out back along the main road towards the ship. We had passed the cathedral on the way in,thought we could get a taxi back from there as it didn’t seem too far. We had had some info about it during the port talk, it is called Mulivae, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
It had originally been built in the 19th century but was badly damaged in and earthquake. It has been rebuilt and newly opened on 2nd June, 2014. It is very lovely with a beautiful carved ceiling, and frescos around the dome, very charming. A service had just started when we found the ramp ( Roger had gone in first ) and so we listened and were rewarded by singing in the Polynesian style. It was very peaceful and calming. We left when we realised it was a full mass.
Took a taxi back to the ship and had a closer look at the souvenir stalls…..
We departed Samoa soon after 5.30
6 pm. News from the bridge.
Heading straight for New Zealand. There’s a category 3 cyclone brewing off Queensland with a predicted course heading for Fiji. If we continue on our original course we will be directly in the path of the storm with predicted 7.5 m waves and winds of 60 mph gusting to 80 mph. Therefore for safety we are heading directly to Auckland. Where we will have an extra day.
The captain would be around on ship if wanted to see his weather charts.
Roger went off to book cinema tickets but was an awfully long time…. When e came back he said he’d been sitting with captain in reception looking at the weather charts and following the predicted path of the cyclone or tropical storm which curves in one direction. ( in northern hemisphere it’s called a hurricane) If the storm remains at sea it just keeps increasing in strength . Land slows it down. If we hadn’t changed plans our path would have taken us into the eye of the storm. However we should be able to dock before the edge of the storm hits New Zealand.
Tonight’s theatre offering was a tribute to John Denver. Film clips interspersed with stories and songs. He didn’t try to impersonate him but he sang well. An enjoyable evening.
Thursday 9th February
Ben Aldiss. Endemic Species
New Zealand has a lot of endemic species, that is plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world.
New Zealand is a long way from anywhere else in the world. It has highlands, lowlands, sea, coral reefs and 82% of its plants and animals are found nowhere else in the world. 80% of the country was forested in 1400AD when the Moaris arrived, now it’s only 23%.
Plants include the Silver Tree fern which can grow up to 10feet high. The back of them is silver and it seems to be a logo on los of New Zealand goods. The hebe is also an indigenous plant, 90% of worlds plants are from New Zealand, altho a common plant in UK and the Pohutukana tree, the New Zealand Christmas tree. The oldest of these is around800 years old.
The Kiwi is a flightless bird which has no preditors. There are 5 species, and they have their nostrils on the end of their bills! They produce the biggest egg by volume of any bird, 20% of is body, The giant Mia is now extinct, it used to grow up to 12feet tall.
(UK has the largest flying bird in the world, the Great Bustard which weighs approximately 44 lbs. The female is about 50% the size of the male)
The kakapo is the. heaviest bird on the islands and is the only flightless parrot. Reptiles include the tuatara, a lizard, one in phioto in captivity for 111 years. They have a third eye and are very ancient. Other reptiles are Hamiton’s frog the. He Ron skink which is very rare.
There are 13 species of penguins in the New Zealand, (18 in the world).
Insects include the Katipo spider which is related to the black widow. ( Similar to the Australian red back, one of the most venomous spiders in the world.)
The National butterfly is the Red Admiral, also there are Forest Ringlets and Monarchs.
After Ben’s talk we went and sat by the Neptune pool in the fresh air and then went to see the Film 5000 blankets in the afternoon, based on a true story, interesting enough to keep me awake!
This was followed by another Flamenco concert and supper was a Tropical barbecue based around the pool.
The Headliners show tonight was Mr Tickerton’s Clockwork Circus, with songs and dancing, culminating in almost all the songs from The Greatest Showman. They really are an excellent company.
Friday 10th February
5.30pm. 27S. 26degrees C.
Port talk. Sydney
Spent morning sending messages and photos by What’s App until lunchtime.
Captain out and about at lunchtime…….. Probably going to be rough and rainy in Auckland as storm changed direction slightly. We will now not be going to the Bay Of Islands as will be too rough to anchor out. There may be another port we can go to instead…… to be confirmed.
After lunch went to listen to an Audience with the Headliners who have completed their repertoire of shows. Very pleased to hear they are not getting off though and will be repeating them for the second half of the cruise.
Later went to see Movie South Pacific, a 2001 production I was unaware of with Glen Close and Harry Connick Junior.
Which finished in time to go to the theatre to see Tiptonic, a vocal harmony group. There were supposed to be 3 of them but there were only 2 guys, 1 left in Samoa in a hotel as his visa for New Zealand was not in order! They were indeed harmonious and enjoyable to listen to. Had some fun chat too.
11pm. S28.29. Bearing 208 degrees
E 179.29. 18.9 knots
We must have crossed the 180 longitude line.
Saturday 11th February
Port talk. Brisbane
As we went there in 2020 we did a tour then that went to one of the animal sanctuaries.
This time decided to go out to the Gold Coast., about 25 miles away with the famous Surfers Paradise Beach. More after our trip.
We went up to the Neptune pool to find somewhere to sit . The roof was practically closed, weather quite stormy with possibility of showers. Still pleasant though as protected from wind.
Had to pop down practise ‘step ‘ for tender, when ship anchors out. Have avoided it so far but I think there’s no option this trip. Managed it but not looking forward to real thing….. but I don’t suppose they’ve lost anyone yet!!
The Vocalist choir was performing in the afternoon. This was a choir made up from the passengers who had been practising since Southampton. Must have been 100 strong. They obviously had a good time and were happy to perform. Great fun, with the leader of the ships orchestra as the Musical director.
Sam Moore was doing his last Flamenco concert which we went to before heading off to supper.
The evening show in the Theatre was a variety show. Think they have run out of performers as today we had members of the ships entertainment team, 3 singers. Pretty good actually!
News from the captain was that the seas would be getting bigger, with 35 to 40 mph winds Force 5 to 6 . Cyclone Gabrielle now on national news as category 3 cyclone heading for New Zealand.
11.30 35 S. NE Force 5.
175 E. 22 degrees C. Showers
Bearing 205 degrees. 18.5 knots.
Sunday 12th February
Arrived Auckland early morning and tied up by 8am. Weather overnight had been quite rough, Force 7/8, but had calmed a little although we could see white horses out in the bay. As we were getting ready to leave for our excursion there was an announcement to say excursions cancelled due to high winds, the Bay Bridge was closed. So we decided to have a wander around the vicinity of the wharf.
Interesting streets….pavement was same level as road, no curbs, easy wheelchair access! Great.
We walked along a couple of blocks and found a New Zealand souvenir shop of the tasteful kind( if there is such a thing!) Next door was a mini market where found some clothes washing liquid. We continued our wandering in the gusty drizzly weather, being blown along at times. We eventually came across a coffee shop that served food which was perfect as it was now lunchtime.
We returned to the ship where we had a drink and then looked at the information provided for Tauranga. Then we went to the cinema to see the film Fisherman’s Friends,
After supper the theatre had Triptonic on again, still only a duo as No3 had actually returned to UK now , the weather having finally prevented him from joining the group!
I was very surprised to receive a weather warning on my phone earlier in the day to say to basically batten down the hatches, cyclone due to be really severe on Monday and Tuesday. Talking to others it appears this is a regular thing. Everyone in the city received it.
Also a possibility shops etc would be closed tomorrow.
Monday 13th February
Shore excursions cancelled. Weather warning. We thought to get a taxi and go to the War Memorial Museum in the Domain, the large park .
Spent half an hour first in the terminal building using the WiFi . The taxi drove us around the city and finally to the Domain to find the Museum closed. So Roger requested that we went to Sky City so we could go up the Sky Tower. There was little traffic on the roads it was again a blustery day with rain showers.
It was certainly an amazing sight, 55 floors up, despite the weather there was still lots to see, Roger informed me that a couple of the girls who were with the entertainers had done the step off the tower the previous day……. I’m not great when it comes to heights but Roger loved it and was reluctant to leave. He would have loved to have done the Sky walk.
Once we had extricated ourselves from the inevitable gift shop at the bottom of the lift we found a taxi to go back to the ship.
There seemed to be a blip in the entertainment for the theatre, the act who was supposed to come on was delayed by the weather and so the movie Top Gun Maverick, due on in the cinema, was put on the big screen in the theatre. Think I could watch it again and again, Great action.
Tuesday 14th February
All shore excursions cancelled.
Went ashore to get a taxi to see if museums open today. First called Roger’s sister to wish her Happy Birthday, still 13th in UK!
Replied to some messages.
Got a taxi to take us to the Maritime Museum close by first to see if open. Not. Driver looked up other Museum, also closed. Asked driver to take us to One Tree Hill which we’d heard about as high point in city. Spent the next hour driving round looking for a way up the hill. There were roads closed as he explored different routes, with trees down and landslides. He also mentioned some houses which had been in the news that had not escaped the storm and had collapsed in the city.
While driving around we passed a car on the side of the road selling flowers…driver offered to stop and Roger said yes and bought me some roses. Ahhhh, how romantics….they went with the card he got before we left home in January. Really organised!!
We eventually arrived at a beach area called St Helier at Mission Bay. Here there were shops and restaurants. The driver said he’d wait for us if we wanted to stop for a meal, and turn off the meter. By now it was lunchtime and so we agreed, a good idea.
A nearby restaurant looked ok, called Porch, menu looked interesting, Asian food. We really didn’t have any idea what we were ordering so we took suggestions from the waitress. It was delicious! We had some sticky chicken, chicken and prawn dumplings in a slightly chilli broth and some crispy fried cauliflower in some sauce.
Pudding was amazing….. a chocolate and fruit and sorbet platter and also a panna cotta in a coconut shell, complete with coconut with sorbet and fruit.
We returned to the ship after lunch where Roger booked a Māori cultural excursion at Tauranga for tomorrow.
Due to leave port at 6 ish but high winds making it impossible to do so. Due to lessen later so estimated time of departure now 11 pm. This means a delay in arriving in Tauranga…… forget the excursions! Arrive there now approx 4 pm, depart approx 11 pm with tides.
There is also a slow increase of Covid onboard. Masks compulsory in all indoor areas except when eating or in cabins. Neptune pool area deck 9 counted as outdoor when roof open. Could cause probs going to other ports.
Auckland a lovely city. Would love to spend more time here. Weather can’t be helped but we will certainly make it an aim to return one day.
Weather has affected several passengers with family here who had plans to meet. Many were unable to get to Auckland due to the weather, a great pity.
Wednesday 15th February
10am. Bearing 147 degrees. WSW FORCE 6/7
36 S. 20degrees C
176 E. Speed 13.7 knots
There is a whale conservation area around parts of New Zealand that has a 10 knot speed limit which we had just cleared so we could now increase speed to arrive at Tauranga on time.
Went to sit out by Neptune pool where the roof was open but it was quite windy.
New friends came by and sat for a while with their coffees and chatted. Roger came back from his walk and went off to lunch. I managed to knit for a while, despite the wind although had just decided to give up when the wind took my pattern with a fierce gust that I thought I had pinned down at that point. Thank goodness for a very alert waitress who rescued it for me! The wind tried to take my knitting too, which I ended up having to untangle from around the wheelchair.
After lunch I went to the Crows Nest bar where I did more knitting in the calm, I was on a roll, and could watch the ship approach Tauranga, we didn’t often dock during daylight. Managed about 5 rows of knitting during the day. A record, but I can see the pattern develop now and I’m getting used to the pattern. Have almost completed the 32 rows that make up the design! Only brought 4 balls of wool with me but think that will keep me going at half an hour a row! Lucky to do 4 rows a day with all activities.
Have discovered chatting to a dinner companion that there is a Games room where anyone can go and join in, don’t need a partner. That is board games and cards. Barbara said she was travelling alone and regularly went to play Cribbage. Quite fancy that, I remember my Dad trying to teach me once. Roger not interested.
As we approached Tauranga we could see Mount Maunganui, a great volcanic dome rising from the waters of the Bay of Plenty who’s rich green slopes are connected to the city by a wide spit of sandy beaches. Tauranga itself was 4.5 miles away. The berth was next to the small town of Mount Maunganui.
As it was 4pm most of the passengers who got off just walked along the promenade that bordered the narrow beach. There were wind surfers around and surf sailing, doing some pretty clever stuff in the still strong winds. We walked about half an hour , admiring the beech side properties across the road, not quite Hunstanton!
Passengers passing us on their return said there were no cafes or shops in the direction we were going, so we had a rest and returned slowly with lots of rest. It was warm and sunny though and a nice interlude after 3 days of rainy weather. Would have been nice to find a cafe but we found an ice cream kiosk instead next to port gates. Was also fish and chip takeaway backing on to a restaurant. Sounded like a plan but restaurant was hosting a 240 head fishing competition and couldn’t cater for more. ( the fish batter on board is a bit doughy I am informed so several disappointed passengers!)
We went up to the self service restaurant for supper and watched lots of yachts racing around the bay. The view was terrific from 9 decks up, all across the bay.
After supper today’s show at the theatre was The Power of 2, Ilia and Oksana, two acrobats who have performed at the highest level. They have performed in Paris and other places on the continent and in Circe du Soleil. Their blurb said acrobatic dance, harmony, power elegance and erotic movement. They were certainly very flexible!
Departing Tauranga 11.30 with the tide.
Thursday 16th February - Saturday 18th February.
3 days at sea now to Sydney.
Abbreviated notes here so I can get up to date before Sydney.
Port talks on Airlie Beach and Cairns.
Steve Simone, the Motown singer gave talks about history of Motown, Jazz and Reggae. Roger sat with him at breakfast one day and enjoyed chatting to him. He lives in Ireland now although originally came from Detroit.
Headliners did repeats of a couple of their shows, just as excellent second time around, and we had a variety show one eve with The Power of Two again, and two new young ladies, a soprano and a pianist, Stephanie and Caroline. The latter two are also doing afternoon concerts.
Weather sunny but with a very cool wind blowing across the upper deck. I retreated to one of the bars to catch up with this blog.
New Craft class! Really pleased to see it is Jennifer and her sister who were on our first cruise 5 years ago. I went to see what her offerings are this time and she remembered me! Still, I did really enjoy what we did on that cruise. Some things will be the same but I will go to some sessions.
It will be quite difficult to get to everything as there are talks going in at the same time as both the craft sessions in the morning and afternoon.
Posting this at sea on Saturday afternoon. Sydney tomorrow when meeting Jennifer who’s coming over from Melbourne for a couple of days. Looks like immigration will take some time as it’s collect a ticket like in US so will need to be early in Q.
Looking forward to exploring Sydney, weather forecast mid 20s and sunny.
Weather Friday calmer.. only Force 3 so much pleasanter sitting out on deck 9 in sunshine. Roger gone to port talk, Cairns. Will catch on tv when played after Airlie Beach.. Shorts today and suntop. Have put away long trousers and socks today!
Keep sending me messages please. Nice to hear from you all.
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