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Saturday, 29 December 2012

View 2012 New Zealand Christmas on greynomadm's travel map.

Our last breakfast aboard was quite early as we were scheduled to disembark at or about 0730. Well ahead of time we were ready to head for the Wheelhouse Bar - our designated disembarkation assembly area. While sitting there and listening to the PA announcements it occurred to me that I had not declared the wooden frame of Kitti's canvas print on the AQIS declaration form.

I figured that honesty was the best policy so I amended the form and was duly sent off to the examination table when arriving ashore. The picture was safely stashed on the bottom of the case so all my gear had to come out. What a bloody mess !! The inspector was quite relaxed about it all, he examined the frame, told me it was clear to enter and even assisted in tossing all my gear back in the case. Tidy it wasn't.

Checked in at the Premier Motor Service office and sat/stood around to await departure time. We were fully an hour early but figured that was better than being 5 minutes late and missing the bus. Because of the increased patronage over the holidays, there were two coaches, one predominately for the South of Batemans Bay passengers and the other doing all the stops North of the Bay. Traffic on the highway was horrendous slowing down to walking pace for a considerable stretch approaching Kiama, Berry, Nowra and Ulladulla. By cutting down on the duration of the stops at Nowra and Batemans Bay we were only about 15 minutes late arriving in Moruya.

Michael was there to ferry us home and we spent some hours unpacking and sorting through the Christmas cards and other mail. I didn't even try to get on top of the email will leave that until Sunday.

The cruise duration was for 13 nights and included 7 port days plus Sydney for embarkation and disembarkation. The voyage was a total of 3726.6 Nautical Miles or 6894.2 Kilometres.

This will be the last entry for this outing, thank you for reading my scribbles and I hope you enjoyed the journey.

Posted by greynomadm 13:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Last Day at Sea

Friday, 28 December 2012

Lots of clouds about this morning but managed to capture a number of pictures of the sunrise. It is a bit strange to be on a vessel that's moving at 40 KPH and rocking a little from side to side and trying to focus on the sun and the horizon. Fortunately there is sufficient light to capture at near 1/1000 of a second. Even so, some of them show signs of motion blur.

Jenny went off to her Knitters and Natters while I attended the Culinary Demonstration in the Vista Lounge. The Executive Chef and the Maitre d'Hotel created a most entertaining session and cooked some tasty dishes along the way. There were more people than could be seated in the lounge.

The lunch-time display on Deck 14 was an extensive demonstration of the Pastry Chef's art. Cakes of every type and shape set off by displays of the sugar craft. A massive sailing ship made entirely of white icing formed the centrepiece of the display. After lunch Jenny went to the Vista Lounge for the Passenger Talent Show while I listened to one of the young officers who explained the workings of the bridge and all the equipment used to guide and control the ship.

Back to the cabin and the daunting task of packing the cases for tomorrow's disembarkation. The most difficult is sorting through the accumulated paper-work and deciding what to keep. We've also added a few Kg in the form of clothing and duty-free whiskey.

We've managed to stuff everything into our cases, we made it fit but they may be somewhat over-weight. Our last dinner in the dining room and we enjoyed our meals. There was the traditional parade by the junior waiters and the galley staff carrying Bomb-Alaska to the sound of clapping and cheering from the diners. Bade our waiters farewell and returned to the cabin for our last night's sleep.

We are due to arrive at our birth just after 0700 tomorrow, about 13 hours from now.

All clocks go back another hour overnight.

Posted by greynomadm 23:21 Comments (1)

Sea Day - Westward to Sydney

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Solid overcast this morning but no rain and a calm sea. The ship is travelling almost due West as we head directly for Sydney across the Tasman Sea. The forecast is for clouds with passing showers so there will be limited photo opportunities.

A light breakfast after a few laps around the promenade deck. I really miss the morning chats with Mr Paul from our March 2012 Asia cruise. I've not found a kindred spirit on this cruise or anyone that shares my morning routine.

Wrote a few lines and responded to some emails then made my way to the Vista Lounge for a demonstration by the Pastry Chef and one of his assistants. Between them they created a dazzling array of miniature fruits and other objects made with marzipan and icing sugar. By the end of the session they had all but filled a large table with delightful delicacies. When invited to come forward to view and taste the hordes descended as if they had never been fed and were soon 5 deep around the table. The only image I captured was an example of their work brought up from the galley.

Lunch in the Buffet on Deck 14 with an Italian theme and a long chat with two of Jenny's "Knit and Natter" ladies. Back to the cabin and the task of commending one or two members of the crew for their excellent service. It is difficult to remember them all and because we have no specific bar or dining table we have not made deep connections. Two of the crew whom we met on the previous cruise have made an effort to engage us and deserve some words of recognition.

A good selection of dishes for dinner but we had to leave before the coffee and deserts. The Captain's Circle Cocktail Party was on at 1900 in the Vista Lounge. Of the 2200 passengers, about 900 were repeat cruisers, of these about 600 were Gold status, 220 Platinum and 80 Elite. Some cocktails and canap├ęs and gifts for the top three frequent cruisers and three drawn from the bucket. Pictures with the Captain and it was all over by 1945.

Stayed to watch Jacques Renay billed as a Tom Jones style vocalist and comedian. His singing was pretty good, his comedy very ordinary.

Up to Deck 14 for a cuppa and I observed some of the splendour of the sunset. Because the ship is heading due West it was only visible from the bow and the camera was down in the cabin on Deck 5. By the time I got down and back up to Deck 15 it was all but over.

Ship's time goes back one hour so we get an extra hour of sleep.

Last full day tomorrow.

Posted by greynomadm 01:25 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Bay of Islands

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

View 2012 New Zealand Christmas on greynomadm's travel map.

Overcast, windy, quite cold not a great start to the day. We haven't been to this destination so we're going ashore regardless.

A quick breakfast and we report in for a tender ticket. We don't have long to wait and we're escorted aboard the first tender to take passengers to Waitangi Wharf. About 10 minutes of rock and roll had us ashore where a free shuttle bus was ready to take us into the town of Paihia.

The little town is totally geared for tourists with every form of water based activity available. There is also a helicopter for an aerial view. Sadly the drizzle continues to dampen the experience. The Craft Market was a treasure trove of handmade local jewelry and other art objects.

We figured it would be good for our health so we walked back to the Waitangi Wharf with a number of opportunities for photos despite the weather. When we got back to the wharf we considered the option of visiting the Waitangi Treaty House but decided that we'd head back to the ship. The tender trip back was almost as interesting as our ride in Akaroa. The little craft are no doubt totally seaworthy but they do rock about.

On our return to the ship it was almost time for lunch so we spent some time in the Deck 14 Buffet before returning to the cabin for the 1330 movie, "Overboard" with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. A lighthearted comedy with an unlikely plot. By the time it was over the weather had improved significantly and it was quite pleasant to watch the final tenders being retrieved and the ship weighed anchor and we headed off to Sydney shortly after 1600.

A pleasant dinner in the dining room and then we retired to the cabin to watch another movie. Judi Dench in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". It is about to start as I write this piece. An interesting story line and quite thought provoking.

Sea days from here on in, I'll try to find something to write about 8-)

See you tomorrow.

Posted by greynomadm 00:30 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Auckland for Christmas

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

View 2012 New Zealand Christmas on greynomadm's travel map.

Wet and foggy conditions this morning as we drift gently into Auckland. Wore the pixie hat to the buffet this morning, got a few smiles from the crew and even some of my fellow passengers.

There have been a number of activities planned for today and hopefully the weather will clear sufficiently for them to eventuate. Lunch at the Buffet featured a BBQ lavishly decorated with carved melons and an ice sculpture. There are a lot of people aboard as the weather is still very overcast and there's little happening in the city. We were here a month ago so we're not a bit disappointed.

After lunch we looked in on the Gingerbread House Decorating event. It had just started and we were about to leave and come back later when I was shanghaied by two of the crew. Spent a fun hour and a half messing with icing, marshmallows and jellybeans. At the end of the day there were 35 completed projects and I'd had a great time. My result was never going to win and there were some seriously good results which will go on display in the atrium.

Late in the afternoon Santa dropped in and had presents for all the kids. As always he was the most popular guy aboard. Dinner included most of the traditional Christmas dishes including turkey, ham and lamb. The portions appeared to be larger than normal too.

Tonight's show featured the crew including a lady from the casino and one of the technical guys who demonstrated an amazing voice. The traditional Princess skit had us all laughing and convinced that they were having just far too much fun. As one of the entertainment staff said today "It is almost criminal to accept pay for what we do", she's been doing this for over five years and loving it.

We've certainly enjoyed a memorable Christmas and will certainly consider doing another one in a few years time.

A new destination for us tomorrow, the Bay of Islands is where the Waitangi Treaty was signed.

Hope you had a great Christmas, we certainly did.

Posted by greynomadm 00:32 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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