We left Vernon at 12 noon on Saturday, September 28, 2013 bound for the Kelowna Airport and out short Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle for our South Pacific & New Zealand Cruise with Holland America.  It was cloudy and 11 C / 52 F when we left.  Passing through airport security, Richard for the first time ever was subjected to a random security check and the first time ever he had to remove his shoes at security in Canada!  While waiting we met a couple from Penticton and one from Kelowna on our flight and who also would be on our same cruise.  Our flight was one hour late departing making for our arrival in Seattle at 5 p.m. the pass through Customs, collect our luggage and secure a taxi to take us to our Seattle hotel for a 7 p.m. arrival.  Seattle was raining and we had a relaxing dinner and a quiet evening.

 

Sunday, September 29

 

At 11 a.m. we departed our hotel by taxi for Pier 91 and the embarkation process to board our ship.  The morning was cloudy, 13 C / 55 F after a night of rain and the prospect of more rain as the day progressed.  The embarkation process was smooth and efficient in that it took only 45 minutes for us to reach our stateroom.  The rain and winds had began in earnest just as we walked onto the ship.  We enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the dining room then unpacked.  The mandatory Fire & Safety Drill on the Promenade Deck at 3:15 p.m. was cold, wet and windy.  We later met our friends, Ken & Judy from Coulee Dam, WA in the Ocean Bar.  Next, our Captain announced that due to severe storm conditions on the Pacific West Coast our departure from Seattle would be delayed and we would be remaining in port overnight. [Monday morning we found us to be just 1 of 3 ships remaining in port awaiting the end of the storm]  When it came time for our first dinner on board we learned that we were seated with Ken & Judy at the same table joined by another couple from a small town near Detroit.  We chose not to attend the first evening show in the Vista Lounge and instead visited the Piano Bar prior to retiring.  Conditions in the Piano Bar were cold and Richard registered his complaint with one of the ship’s officers.

 

Monday, September 30

 

At 9:30 am. the Captain provided us an update advising that at 12 noon we would be departing Seattle.  The morning was cloudy, cool and windy.  At 11:30 a.m. the Captain updated us on our noon departure and warned us that we would expect some rough sailing after 4 p.m. today and again at 8:45 p.m. we were warned of possible rolling action later as our ship turned south.  Leo Ward, Master Illusionist, provided our evening entertainment in the Vista Lounge.

 

Our ship, the Oosterdam, 935 feet in length, carries 1,818 passengers and a crew of 808 and is considered a mid-size ship.  She has 12 decks and is served by an adequate number of elevators.  Onboard facilities include 2 pools and hot tubs, 6 bars, casino, gymnasium, greenhouse spa, medical centre, photo gallery and retail stores.  Entertainment is offered nightly in the Vista Lounge and movies are shown daily in the Queen’s Lounge,  Onboard dining is in the Vista Dining Room, while buffet meals are provided in the Lido Restaurant.  The Terrace Grill also serves lunch and Canaletto offers Italian at dinner. The Pinnacle Grill offers an elegant, sophisticated dining experience featuring premium Sterling Silver beef, inspired seafood dishes and many select wines.

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 1

 

The ship did some ‘rock and roll’ overnight but nothing serious and we remained comfortable in bed.  This was a day at sea and the morning was cloudy.  At our breakfast table we sat with a couple, Gail & Howard, from Comox, with whom we had cruised with in 2006 [South America Explorer Cruise Winter 2006].  Gail had recognized me as soon as we joined their table.  Weather and sea conditions improved as the day progressed and at noon, 14 C / 57 F but with sunny skies.  Our Captain advised how Holland America would recoup our lost day … we’d have only 1 day, not 2 in Honolulu; no stop in Hilo as docking privileges were no longer available to us and our planned stop instead was to be Lahaina, Hawaii.  In the Vista Lounge, Chris Pendleton, Comedian, provided laughter.  Later we spent time in the Piano Bar for a tribute to Elvis before turning in.  Air temperatures in the Piano Bar continue to be cold despite our earlier complaints.

 

As on previous cruises our onboard ship routine with Richard doing his morning one hour walk on the promenade deck  For the first time Anita brought crafts with her, a large tablecloth which entailed extensive cross-stitch.  This she spent countless hours on during our sea days.  The afternoons saw Richard spending quality time on the outer decks reading with Anita joining him on occasion.  Lectures and presentations were attended when the topic was of interest.

 

As on previous Holland America cruises, The Canadian, headline news of events in Canada is again available at various locations on the ship as is the American version, Times Digest, eight pages of headline news from the pages of The New York Times, and versions for Australia and the Netherlands, just to mention a couple.  This allowed us to keep abreast of major events and weather.

 

Wednesday, October 2

 

A day at sea that had windy conditions on the outer decks.  At noon 19 C / 66 F and we welcomed the warmer temperature.  In Los Angeles we expect to gain some 700 new guests and loose some who are coming off the Alaska portion of the cruise.  Pianist Ryan Ahern provided some good entertainment in the Vista Lounge after dinner.  Later piano entertainment in the Piano Bar offered a tribute to the Rat Pack.

 

Thursday, October 3

 

In port at Los Angeles, CA.  We needed to go ashore to change our reservation for our previously booked boat ride excursion as our ship was only to be in Honolulu for one day and not two as previously scheduled.  It was 19 C / 66 F at noon under sunny skies.  For the second time we had to attend the mandatory Fire & Safety Drill before sail away.  It was an evening of comedy and music with Dave Levesque that evening in the Vista Lounge.  We’d seen this performer before on another cruise.  A short visit to the Piano Bar brought our day to a close.  Clocks were turned back 1 hour tonight.

 

We learned that Holland America had put up those guests joining our ship here in Los Angeles for the extra night … don’t know about those guests departing the ship as most likely their air line reservations had been lost due to the late arrival in Los Angeles.

 

Friday, October 4

 

Day 1 of 4 sea days as we began our crossing of the Pacific Ocean.  Tonight’s Dress:  Formal.  Tonight, “Ballroom Blitz” featuring the Oosterdam Singers & Dancers in the Vista Lounge.  After a short visit to the Piano Bar we retired for the evening.

 

Saturday, October 5

 

We awoke to partly cloudy skies and another sea day to enjoy on board.  The seas were calm overnight.  Temperatures had now began to warm up and at noon today saw us with 23 C / 73 F which made it most comfortable on the outer decks.  A pleasant change saw gymnast Lance Ringnald on stage tonight.  Lance is a retired gymnast who participated in the 1988 Olympics and we enjoyed his performance.  Tonight, for a change, the Piano Bar was a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the music.  Clocks were turned back 1 hour tonight.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Lance Ringnald         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lance_Ringnald

 

Sunday, October 6

 

Sunny skies and another sea day greeted us upon waking.  This morning Richard received the Guest Breakdown by Country for the Seattle > Sydney segment of the cruise.  Canadian guests were third on the list in numbers behind Australia and the U.S. which has the largest contingent.  The Aussies are home bound after visiting North America and other locals.  At breakfast we met a couple from Penticton, B.C. who spend their winters in El Centro, CA and who know our daughter-in-law’s parents who also winter there.  At 12 noon the Captain told us of an ill passenger that either had used all available medicine on board or who needed that which the ship did not have on hand.  The Coast Guard had dispatched a plane with what we later learned was blood to meet us as the distance from Honolulu was too far for a helicopter to made the journey.  Our ship stopped and dispatched a tender boat to receive the drop and the Coast Guard plane made 4 passes, dropping two packages on 2 of the passes and using the other 2 to insure that the tender boat had indeed picked up the packages.  At 1 p.m. we enjoyed 26 C / 79 F temperatures.  Encore performances in the Vista Lounge with Dave Levesque and Ryan Ahern provided our evening entertainment.  For the second straight evening it was warm in the Piano Bar.

 

Monday, October 7

 

This was Day 4 at sea and partly cloudy skies greeted us when the curtains were first opened that morning.  Tonight’s Dress:  Formal.  Temperatures outside were most agreeable with 27 C / 81 F being recorded at noon.  Evening entertainment in the Vista Lounge was a Variety Show featuring Lance Ringnald and Leo Ward.  Clocks were turned back 1 hour tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Breakdown for Cruise Segment Seattle > Sydney

 

Nationality

Total Count

 

 

Antigua and Barbuda

1

Australia

301

Austria

2

Belgium

4

Canada

286

Czech Republic

4

France

2

Germany

32

Ireland

2

Netherlands

19

New Zealand

23

Russian Federation

2

Saint Lucia

1

Slovenia

1

South Africa

1

Sweden

5

Switzerland

20

United Kingdom

45

United States301

1,102

 

 

Total

1,853

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 8

 

At anchor off Lahaina, Hawaii this morning and partly cloudy skies greeted us as we made our way to the Dining Room for breakfast.  The tender process was utilized for the first time on our cruise to go ashore.  As the morning progressed the sun came out to give us a temperature of 27 C / 81 F making for a pleasant day on the outer decks.  Tonight we watched the movie, “Blue Hawaii” starring a young Elvis Presley.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Lahaina, Hawaii     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lahaina,_Hawaii

 

Wednesday, October 9

 

In port at Honolulu, Hawaii for just the day due to our revised sailing schedule.  Mainly sunny skies this morning.  We’d booked a 2 hour Catamaran ride off Waikiki Beach with Ken & Judy and were not disappointed even when all 4 of us got wet during the time out on the water!  “Dreams of Polynesia” in the Vista Lounge featured traditional Polynesian dance and music that evening and we chose not to attend.

 

 

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Honolulu, Hawaii     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honolulu

 

Thursday, October 10

 

A day at sea and we had partly sunny skies at breakfast.  Tonight’s Dress:  Formal.  The comedy & impressions of Jeff Burghart was tonight’s entertainment in the Vista Lounge after which we visited the Piano Bar before retiring.

 

Friday, October 11

 

Another sea day and we were greeting with mainly cloudy skies that morning.  At 12:30 p.m. the temperature was 29 C / 84 F and at 2 p.m. we encountered a brief rain shower.  “Garage Band” featuring the ship’s Singers & Dancers was in the Vista Lounge.

 

Saturday, October 12

 

Mainly cloudy skies in the morning after some showers earlier and another sea day.  We had enjoyable conversations sitting with the Aussies at both breakfast and lunch in the Dining Room exchanging travel talk and such.  Richard spent quality time on the outer decks that afternoon under sunny skies and temperatures matching those of Friday.  “Motown & More” with Horizon was on tap in the Vista Lounge for evening enjoyment.

 

Sunday, October 13

 

At 4 a.m. this morning we crossed the Equator.  A day at sea and Tonight’s Dress:  Formal.  Mainly sunny skies greeted us when we first opened our curtains that morning.  Today makes it 2 weeks since we first boarded our ship in Seattle.  At 12:30 p.m. it was 28 C / 82 F outside.  Dan Horn, Ventriloquist, provided us with laugher in the Vista Lounge following dinner.  We paid a short visit to the Piano Bar before retiring.

 

Tuesday, October 15

 

We crossed the International Date Line losing Monday, October 14, Canadian Thanksgiving Day.  Another sea day.  Clouds and rain in the morning with rain showers off and on for the remainder of the day.  Sent out some laundry for washing today.  In the Vista Lounge tonight was a second performance by Horizon, “Motown & More 2” which was not to our liking and we left early.  Clocks were turned back 1 hour tonight.

 

Wednesday, October 16

 

In port at Apia, Upolo, Samoa and is our first visit to Samoa.  The morning brought mainly cloudy skies.  We went ashore, hired a taxi for a tour of the heart of Apia and visited an historic waterfall high above this capital city.  The countryside was very scenic with the weather hot and humid.  During Happy Hour later that afternoon there was a brief but intense rain shower.  The ship’s Singers & Dancers performed “Simply Broadway” in the Vista Lounge for our evening show.  Clocks were turned back 1 hour tonight.

 

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Apia, Samoa     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apia

 

Thursday, October 17

 

A day at sea and morning brought us mainly cloudy skies.  A note was sent to all staterooms advising that the ports in Fiji would be revered in visitation order due to other cruise ship traffic in the area.  At 12:30 p.m. the outside temperature was 28 C / 82 F and pleasant outside.  Richard booked our next Holland America cruise for 2015 on board with Cruise Consultant Lisa.  Bernie Fields on the harmonica provided great music for our evening entertainment in the Vista Lounge.  We then went to the Piano Bar but found the room far too cold for our liking and were told that this was the second night in a row of the coldness there.  Richard indicated he would again complain to the Front Office in the morning.  Clocks were turned back 1 hour tonight.

 

Friday, October 18

 

At anchor off Dravuni Island, Fiji for our first visit there and under mostly cloudy morning skies.  During our breakfast it rained and winds caused a delay in the commencement of the tender process.  The seas remained too rough for us to warrant going ashore.  No evening show in the Vista Lounge, instead “The Marriage Game” quiz show with host, Cruise Director Michael posing questions to 3 different married couples.  Hilarious!  Far too cold in the room of the Piano Bar tonight and so it appeared that complaints to the Front Office are not being listened to.

 

Further word from the Front Office pertaining to the coldness of the Piano Bar told Richard that one complaint was not sufficient cause to act upon.  He requested to speak with the ship’s officer in charge of heating and ventilation but got nowhere with that request.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Dravuni Island, Fiji   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dravuni

 

Saturday, October 19

 

In port at Suva, Fiji which is the capital and the second most populated municipality of Fiji.  Again, our first visit here.  We’d nothing planned but did go ashore under cloudy skies.  Richard’s visit was short as he learned that Saturday was Market Day and not a day for sight seeing.  He walked along the inlet next to the ship and on the return got wet due to a rain shower.  Showers then continued off and on for the remainder of the day.  Glen Hirsch, comedian, appeared in the Vista Lounge that evening.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Suva, Fiji     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suva

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 20

 

A day at sea and the morning brought us mainly cloudy skies.  The temperature rose to 28 C / 82 F during the noon hour.  We enjoyed Happy Hour in our stateroom with Ken & Judy joining us.  Tonight’s Dress:  Formal.  Johanna Hemara, Australia’s country sensation, provided great singing in the Vista Lounge.  Surprise … tonight’s visit in the Piano Bar was warm and comfortable for a change.

Monday, October 21

 

In port at Port Vila, Vanuatu for our first ever visit here.  Port Vila is the capital and largest city of Vanuatu.  The morning was partly cloudy.  We participated in a shore excursion, “Paradise Cove Sail & Snorkel” following a room service breakfast.  The shore excursion was good, a pleasant boat ride to a nearby beach where Richard was able to snorkel for the first time.  The water was wonderful!  We enjoyed gypsy fiddler, Martin Lass in the Vista Lounge that evening and followed that up with a short visit to the Piano Bar before retiring.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Port Vila, Vanuatu     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Vila

 

Tuesday, October 22 

 

At anchor in Easo, New Caledonia … our first visit to New Caledonia.  Not much was said about Easo so did not go ashore.  A Variety Show featuring 3 performers we’d seen previously, Berni Fields, Johanna Hemara & Glenn Hirsch was the evening presentation in the Vista Lounge.  A short visit to the Piano Bar brought our day to a close.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Easo, New Caledonia   http://www.hereandthere.org/cruise/cruise-lifou.html

 

Johanna Hemara     http://www.last.fm/music/Johanna+Hemara/+wiki

 

Wednesday, October 23

 

In port at Noumea, New Caledonia.  The morning brought partly cloudy skies.  Our shore excursion with Ken & Judy, “Yellow Tchou Tchou Train” [wheeled trolley] that morning provided a guided orientation tour of the city and resort area, complete with the best viewpoint of the peninsula.  Most enjoyable under sunny skies and a snack was provided … something we’d not anticipated!  At 3 p.m. there was a brief rain shower.  Amber Jade, multi-instrumentalist, performed tonight in the Vista Lounge.  A short visit to the Piano Bar afterwards found the room again to be very cold.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Noumea, New Caledonia     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noum%C3%A9a

 

“Yellow Tchou Tchou Train”    

http://reviews.hollandamerica.com/9041/5716/yellow-tchou-tchou-train-reviews/reviews.htm

 

Thursday, October 24    

 

At anchor in Kuto, New Caledonia on a cloudy and overcast morning.  While we heard about the fine beaches in Kuto the weather dictated that we not go ashore there.  We received information on Australia Customs, paper work that required our attention.    The Aussie Boys made their first appearance in the Vista Lounge and provided a great show.  Afterwards we listened to the Adagio Strings in the Explorer’s Lounge before retiring.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Kuto, New Caledonia   

 http://www.worldsbestbeaches.net/france/new-caledonia/kuto-bay-new-caledonia.html

 

Aussie Boys     http://www.aussieboys.com.au/

 

Friday, October 25

 

The first of two sea days before being in Sydney, Australia.  We enjoyed morning sunshine.  Tonight’s Dress:  Formal.  The Oosterdam Singers & Dancers performed a collection of music from some of the greatest musicals and movies of all time in “Stage & Screen”.

 

Our cruise has been great so far with just one exception … a lack of sunshine!  While our days have been pleasant and warm the clouds have prevailed.  Just goes to show that one cannot control the weather!

 

Saturday, October 26

 

A sea day under sunny skies.  All guests received notification that we could expect high temperatures and poor air quality in Sydney due to the wild fires currently burning in the vicinity of The Blue Mountains.  Also received the Cruise Log for the Seattle>Sydney portion of our cruise.  No evening show was scheduled tonight so Ken & Judy joined us to watch a Miss Marple DVD in our stateroom.

 

Sunday, October 27

 

In port at Sydney, Australia and to start, under partly sunny skies.  We will be losing a large number of guests here while new ones should take their place.  We needed to go ashore that morning and pass through Customs & Immigration.  We had docked in Circular Quay and could see the Sydney Opera House directly outside from our port side window in our stateroom  At breakfast we were seated at a table that provided us a great view of the Sydney Bridge.  After completing the Customs process and once outside it became cloudy and cool.  We had to wait until the ship had cleared all guests before we could go on board again.  Anita sat in the courtyard of the Quay while Richard roamed around taking photos then both of us visited a nearby bar to partake of some good Australian beer [at least Richard did!].  Just prior to noon we were cleared to rejoin the ship and after lunch relaxed spending our time reading and people watching.  For the third time we had to attend the mandatory Fire & Safety Drill before sail away.  That evening we sat at a new dining table that provided all 6 of us with chairs.  Our previous table had only 3 chairs and a low bench for the other 3 to sit on … most uncomfortable!

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Sydney, Australia     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney

 

Blue Mountains     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mountains_(New_South_Wales)

 

Cruise Log:   Sunday, September 29, 2013

                        Depart Seattle, Monday, Sept 30 @ 12:08 p.m.

                        Sunday, October 27, 2013

                        Arrive Sydney, 7:00 a.m.

 

 

Ports

Mileage

Average

Speed

 

 

 

Seattle to Los Angeles

1,212

18.3

Los Angeles to Lahaina

2,228

19.4

Lahaina to Honolulu

77

10.4

Honolulu to Apia

2,255

17.6

Apia to Dravuni Island

700

17.3

Dravuni Island to Suva

127

9.9

Suva to Port Vila

612

16.4

Port Vila to Easo

212

15.7

Easo to Noumea

148

10.8

Noumea to Kuto

153

11.4

Kuto to Sydney

1,044

 

 

 

 

Total Distance

8,768

 

 

1 Nautical Mile = 1.155 Statute miles = 1.85 Kilometer

 

Staff on board are most cordial and both of us were astounded by the number of them that call each of us by name, mainly first, not surname, and no matter what department.

 

Monday, October 28

 

A day at sea.  The morning was cloudy, dull and very overcast.  Tonight’s Dress:  Formal.  The Aussie Boys were back for a second time in the Vista Lounge.  We turned in our Passports this morning to the Front Office for entrance to New Zealand.  Richard received the Guest Breakdown by Country for the Sydney > Auckland segment of the cruise.  The Piano Bar was a comfortable stop that evening … first time in a long while.

 

Tuesday, October 29

 

In port at Melbourne, Australia and the morning began with cloudy skies.  We planned to meet our friends, Phil & Sue at 10 a.m. and spend the day with them.  We went to their home, enjoyed our time with them, short as it was, enjoying good wine, beer and a steak BBQ.  Driving to their home from the port we stopped at an Aldi outlet for last minute items needed for the salad at the BBQ.  It was a wonderful visit with our friends and the weather turned for the better from early morning.  A repeat performance of “Garage Band” performed by the ship’s singers & dancers played out in the Vista Lounge.  We chose not to attend.

 

Over the course of our cruise we received numerous invitations to lunches, cocktails and other functions on board the ship.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Melbourne, Australia     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melbourne

 

Aldi [Discount Supermarket Chain]     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldi

 

Guest Breakdown for Cruise Segment Sydney > Auckland

 

Nationality

Total Count

 

 

Antigua and Barbuda

1

Argentina

2

Australia

211

Belgium

2

Brazil

2

Canada

219

Chile

6

China

12

Columbia

2

Czech Republic

4

France

6

Germany

20

Indonesia

1

Ireland

3

Italy

6

Japan

11

Latvia

1

Malaysia

2

Maldives

1

Mexico

2

Netherlands

19

New Zealand

27

Russian Federation

16

Saint Lucia

1

South Africa

2

Sweden

1

Switzerland

9

Ukraine

2

United Kingdom

69

United States

1,118

 

 

Total

1,790

 

 

Wednesday, October 30

 

Day at sea as we left Australia making for Tasmania and our day in Hobart.  The morning brought partly cloudy skies and at the noon hour, 15 C / 59 F , noticeably cooler since leaving Sydney.  Tonight’ show in the Vista Lounge was not good, Benny B who was billed as one of Australia’s finest comedy jugglers.  We walked out far before the show ended.

 

Thursday, October 31

 

In port at Hobart, Tasmania.  We’d been here previously in 2008, our first visit to Australia.  Skies were mostly overcast.  Sent out laundry this morning for the second time on this cruise.  Our planned shore excursion, “Hobart Highlights” and our first one this cruise with Shore Excursions Group was good.  Some places we visited include Salamanca Place, the restored sandstone Warehouses, Battery Point, an area filled with quaint cottages and Georgian mansions, the historic Cascade Brewery building and Anglesea Barracks, the oldest Australian Army Barracks still in use today.  In the Battery Point vicinity we passed by the St Ives Hotel a place we stayed at during our 2008 visit.  The Hotel was substandard to what had been portrayed to us during our internet booking and we had stayed only one night and not the two we had originally booked.  There was no entertainment scheduled for tonight, instead a Halloween Bash in the Queen’s Lounge which we chose not to attend.  Clocks were advanced one hour tonight.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Hobart, Tasmania     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobart

 

Anita finished her cross stitch tablecloth project today.  Throughout the journey fellow guests kept abreast of her project and provided encouragement along the way as she had undertaken a big task.  Well done, Anita!

 

Friday, November 1

 

A sea day as we made our way on the Tasman Sea towards New Zealand.  Tonight’s Dress:  Formal.  At noon 12 C / 54 F under partly cloudy skies.  Our Passports were returned to us together with paperwork for the New Zealand Immigration process that we needed to complete.  Scheduled entertainment in the Vista Lounge was a repeat offering from the October 16 original presentation so instead we watched the movie “Red 2” starring Bruce Willis in the movie theatre.  Clocks were advanced one hour tonight.

 

Saturday, November 2

 

A day at sea with cloudy and overcast skies.  At noon, 15 C / 59 F.  Chris Watkins, violinist and entertainer, provided a great evening show in the Vista Lounge.

 

Sunday, November 3

 

Today, scenic cruising of Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park transit.  We awoke to find us cruising close to land in Milford Sound under cloudy skies.  Cruising of the Sound had begun at 7 a.m. just as Richard was having his morning shower.  We were able to enjoy some of the sights during breakfast … spectacular waterfalls and mountains rising directly up from the sea.  The sights were very similar to those of house boating on B.C.’s Shuswap Lake.  Richard only got photos as the ship was exiting the Sound.  He took more afternoon photos passing through Dusky Sound.  There are no beaches or shoreline here like we have on our inland lakes.  We did not enjoy the presentation by Peter Gross in the Vista Lounge that evening

Web Sites of Interest

 

Milford Sound     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milford_Sound

 

Fiordland National Park     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiordland_National_Park

 

Dusky Sound     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dusky_Sound

 

Monday, November 4

 

In port at Dunedin, New Zealand and the morning brought partly cloudy skies.  Our shore excursion here, “Panoramic Dunedin” was a panoramic motor coach introduction to the city.  The port was a 10 mile drive from the city and Dunedin featured a wealth of Victorian and Edwardian buildings.  We passed Baldwin Street, the steepest residential street in the world, climbed Signal Hill for spectacular views across Dunedin and Otago Peninsula, before viewing town highlights and obtaining photos at the Railway Station, Town Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral.  Activity at the port depicted extensive log activity … exporting to China.  We did not attend the repeat performance that evening of “Ballroom Blitz” with the Oosterdam Singers & Dancers in the Vista Lounge.

 

Since our cruise began back in Seattle, Richard has had the good fortune of enjoying his Canadian Beer on board in the Ocean Bar and on occasion, in the Dining Room.  Today was his last day drinking Molson Canadian at Happy Hour as the supply was exhausted.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Dunedin, New Zealand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunedin

 

Tuesday, November 5

 

At anchor in Akaroa, New Zealand and morning brought us sunshine.  Akaroa is the port used by cruise ships since Christchurch experience recent earthquakes in 2010, 2011 and 2012 damaging the port at Lyttleton.  Our scheduled tour, “Banks Peninsula & Christchurch” was great and we enjoyed sunshine and a temperature high of 24 C / 75 F our best weather yet for a shore excursion.  Akaroa is 84 km / 52 miles from Christchurch and half that distance was on mountainous roads with steep hills and sharp curves.  Our coach was “gutless” to say the least as on the hills we had to slow down and climb in first gear making for a longer journey and at the end causing us to be some 25 minutes late returning and almost missed our evening dinner.  The scenery was spectacular and the sights of Christchurch amazing and yet sad as we viewed first hand many of the buildings destroyed by the quakes and the ongoing restoration of the damaged ones.  There were empty parcels of land where previously there had been homes condemned and torn down as well as vacant houses on hillsides missing porches and such and also condemned.  Many of the homes still had chimneys missing and holes in their roofs.  Later we visited Lyttleton, a port town and suburb of Christchurch before our return drive back to Akaroa.  That evening in the Vista Lounge we enjoyed a second, but new, offering of “The Marriage Game” with Cruise Director Michael in the Vista Lounge.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Akaroa, New Zealaand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akaroa

 

Christchurch, New Zealand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christchurch

 

Lyttelton, New Zealand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyttelton,_New_Zealand

 

Wednesday, November 6

 

In port at Wellington, New Zealand and dark, cloudy morning skies … what a change from Tuesday!  Our morning shore excursion “Wellington At Ease” was comprehensive with cool and windy conditions for the city tour portion.  Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, after Auckland and Christchurch.  City tour highlights included the famous Beehive and Parliament buildings, and Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral is an example of 19th century Gothic Revival architecture adapted to colonial conditions and materials. It is constructed entirely from New Zealand native timbers, with stunning stained glass windows.  We also took a ride on Wellingtons iconic cable car.  It began raining during our drive on the coastline and up to the lookout at Mount Victoria and continued as we returned to our ship so very view photos were taken during this portion of our tour.  The port exhibited more evidence of extensive log exports to China.  That evening we enjoyed a piano concert by Van-Anh in the Vista Lounge.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Wellington, New Zealand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wellington

 

Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_St._Paul's,_Wellington

 

Thursday, November 7

 

In port at Napier, New Zealand and a morning shore excursion, “Hawke’s Bay Wines, Brewery and Napier Art Deco”.  Touring the city we learned of the 1931 earthquake, New Zealand’s largest natural disaster, how the city was destroyed and why it was rebuilt in the Art Deco style of the 1020’s.  City tour was okay but not as good as in previous ports.  Napier apparently has a population of some 58,000 we were told but has no Hospital … nearest one is some 20 km / 13 miles away!  We visited Mission Estate, the oldest winery in New Zealand and later had free wine tasting at 2 others plus free beer tasting at a micro brewery.  From early morning rain the weather improved as the day progressed.  Once more this port was busy with log exports to China. 

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Napier, New Zealand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napier,_New_Zealand

 

Mission Estate Winery     http://www.missionestate.co.nz/

 

 

Friday, November 8

 

At anchor in Gisborne, New Zealand with no shore excursion planned for this location.  Tonight’s Dress:  Formal and our last of the cruise!  The morning provided partly cloudy skies and we chose to stay on board and relax as the next day we had booked a day long shore excursion.  The evening show in the Vista Lounge was again a repeat so we chose to watch TV in our stateroom after the dinner hour.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Gisborne, New Zealand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gisborne,_New_Zealand

 

Saturday, November 9

 

In port at Tauranga, New Zealand … our last full cruise day.  Our booked shore excursion “Te Pula Geothermals & Kiwi 360 Tour” commenced at 10 a.m. under sunny skies.  The tour was good with just 4 of us, the other couple being from New York.  En route to Rotorua we stopped at Kiwi360, showcase of the Kiwifruit industry.  Our drive to Rotorua was scenic and once there attended a Maori Cultural Performance.  We then took a short walk through the geothermal valley of Whakarewarewa to view the mud pools, the famous Pohutu geyser and hot pools that make Te Puia unique.  We also saw New Zealand’s iconic flightless bird, the Kiwi in a purpose built Kiwi-house.  Following a short but relaxing lunch our guide then drove us back to our ship but via a different route.  This is a MUST visit for anyone planning to visit this area.  At our final Happy Hour we said our farewells to new made friends and bar staff and did the same at dinner with our tablemates and dining stewards.  We received the Cruise Log for the Sydney > Auckland portion of the cruise.  There was no feature show in the Vista Lounge, only the finals of the ship’s Dancing With The Stars which we had not followed.

 

Web Sites of Interest

 

Tauranga, New Zealand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tauranga

 

Kiwi360     http://www.kiwi360.com/

 

Rotorua, New Zealand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotorua

 

Te Puia , Rotortua     http://www.tepuia.com/

 

Pohutu Geyser     http://www.tepuia.com/attractions_geysers_pohutu_geyser_rotorua.htm

 

Sunday, November 10

 

Skies were cloudy as we awoke to be in port at Auckland, New Zealand.  We enjoyed one final breakfast in the dining room prior to leaving the ship at 9:20 a.m. for the final time.  Wed did sit with Ken & Judy in the Ocean Bar while awaiting our call to disembark.  We engaged a taxi and by 10 a.m. were at our Auckland Hotel near the airport and were most pleased to find our room ready for us upon check in.  It was cloudy with a cool Spent the day relaxing and retired early as we had a long day ahead of us on Monday.

Web Sites of Interest

 

Auckland, New Zealand     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland

 

 

Cruise Log:      Sunday, October 30, 2013

                        Depart Sydney, AU at6:30 p.m.

                        Sunday, November 10, 2013

                        Arrive Auckland, NZ at 7 a.m.

 

Ports

Mileage

Average

Speed

 

 

 

Sydney to Melbourne

604

16.9

Melbourne to Hobart

496

13.3

Hobart to Dunedin

1,300

16.8

Dunedin to Akaroa

160

13.1

Akaroa to Wellington

193

15.3

Wellington to Napier

214

14.6

Napier to Gisborne

112

10.0

Gisborne to Tauranga

219

17.3

Tauranga to Auckland

130

12.0

 

 

 

Total Distance

3,428

 

 

1 Nautical Mile = 1.155 Statute miles = 1.85 Kilometer

 

 

Monday, November 11

 

Flying home we departed Auckland, NZ on November 11 and arrived home on November 11, gaining back our lost day while crossing the International Date Line.  We arose at 4:30 a.m. in Auckland to take the 5:30 a.m. shuttle to the airport to check in for our 7 a.m. flight to Sydney with Air New Zealand.  That plane had no individual climate controls for seated passengers, instead, one central ventilation system for the entire plane … set for air conditioning!  As a result, Richard caught a cold on the flight that lasted almost 4 hours due to congestion at the Sydney airport.  The flight should have been only 3 hours in duration.  When told about the cold condition on board the plane all the attendants did was suggest using the blanket provided … and we know how small and thin they are!

 

Flying home direct from Auckland we had two Remembrance Day celebrations for November 11 … in Sydney, AU and in Vancouver, B.C. where, at 11 a.m. in each location the call came to stand and remain silent for two minutes.

 

We arrived in Sydney with it raining and 15 C / 59 F, not like when our ship was there on Sunday, October 27 under partly sunny skies.  There was some confusion when it came time to find the departure lounge for our Air Canada flight to Vancouver as our flight was not posted on the display boards.  By asking an Air New Zealand agent we learned the gate number far earlier than it was published.  Arrived in Vancouver where it was 10 C / 50 F and partly cloudy skies.  Checking at Air Canada for our connecting flight to Kelowna we learned that our existing flight no longer existed, having earlier been changed twice since Richard first made reservations back in March.  With this new information it became necessary to inform our friend at home who planned to meet us in Kelowna.  We had no cell phone with us so using a pay phone called our son in Port Moody who in turn passed on the new information for us.  Our flight to Kelowna was neat in that cloud cover was high allowing us to see the fresh snow on the mountains as we flew above.  To us, 5 C / 41 F was cool in Kelowna upon arrival and 3 C / 37 F at 4 p.m. when we arrived at our apartment in Vernon.

 

Conclusions

 

This was our second Holland America cruise this year.  Both Anita and I felt comfortable on this somewhat larger vessel, were most pleased with our stateroom, its location mid-ship, enjoyed our daily visits to the Ocean Bar for “Happy Hour” and all the other services provided onboard. This ship was not as comfortable as others we’ve been on and we found most public areas on board a bit too cool for our liking.  Our cruise was without incident and could have enjoyed more sunshine but no one has control over the weather.  As on previous cruises it seems that guests on the initial sailing tend to bond better than the second group that joins part way through said cruise.  Also, the initial group was younger and more able-bodied than was the group that joined us in Sydney.  We enjoy what Holland America offers and look forward to our next cruise in 2015.