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Circumnavigate The Globe in 123 days with Bill & Mary Ann - 2011 World Cruise

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I am REALLY looking forward to reading your posts, Bill and Maryann. We are seriously contemplating this cruise for next January. IF you have time, could you also mention some of the shore excursions? We have requested this from our TA, but they say it doesn't come out until 4 months before the cruise:confused:....We are already budgeting since we want to be sure to have enough money to 'do it all!!' Bon Voyage and ENJOY!:D

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Dear Mary Ann & Bill,

 

I so enjoy reading about your trip especially tonight as we here in Northern Illinois are getting between 1 and 2 feet of snow - yes that is right FEET - and tomorrow night it is supposed to be 10 below zero. Sure wish I was on your cruise!!!!

 

Thank you for taking your time to tell us about your trip. I really look forward to reading about your travels

 

Kaye

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I agree with Nursekaye. As long as I don't look out the window here in Northern Illinois, I can almost imagine being in the South Pacific with Bill and MaryAnn. Thanks so much for inviting us along on your wonderful trip. I am truly enjoying reading your posts!

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Report # 29 January 31, 2011 Monday Day at Sea

 

We are now sailing northwesterly on a course to a little known island called Niue, pronounced new-ay. And today it was darn hot outside. Humid, slight breeze, hot, hot, hot! Clouds surrounded us on every horizon, but not rain clouds.

 

The news concerning Egypt has kept us all glued to the TV. The more we all discuss the possibility of touring this country, the more nervous we feel about doing it. Also, our stop in Jordan is important to many, since they have never been to Petra. It is one of those "bucket list" ports . We doubt that it will be too long before HAL makes a decision whether or not we go there. Time will tell.

 

There is another new exploration speaker by the name of Cluny Macpherson. A native New Zealander, he is an expert on tropical agriculture and research in these South Pacific Islands. His talk today will deal with progress in relation to telecommunications and population growth in this part of the world.

 

The first of the behind the scenes kitchen tour was held today after breakfast. The culinary staff produces 6000 meals a day, and you could have a chance to see how they do some of it.

 

The shore excursion staff gave a talk on the upcoming ports from Auckland to Papua New Guinea. Makes us realize how fast this trip is going, when they look so far ahead. Guess it is necessary to sell the tours available in these ports well before we get there. As for us, we began doing our homework on every port late last summer, and booked then. Of course, we also had tours offered by our travel agency, which we also pre-booked. In about one third of the ports, we will be on our own, since we have been there and done that several times.

 

Dinner was good again tonight. Only seven of us showed up, and all but one ordered the sweet and sour pork. It was so good, we all cleaned our plates. We don't think we have been disappointed yet with the many choices offered to us all.

 

We will be in Alofi, Niue very early tomorrow. Hope the tendering over is better than yesterday.

 

Mary Ann & Bill

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Mary-Ann and Bill,

 

Love reading your posts as usual. Welcome to our part of the world even though the weather is very up and down here this summer. We are having heat waves and floods down here in the south of Australia whereas poor Queensland besides all the floods is about to get the worst cyclone in history - a number 5 - which could destroy a huge amount of our beautiful far north including Townsville, Cairns and Port Douglas.

 

I am not sure whether the Amsterdam is going up north to this part of Australia but if so be prepared to see a war zone.

 

Jennie

Edited by Aussie Gal

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Mary-Ann and Bill,Love reading your posts as usual. Welcome to our part of the world even though the weather is very up and down here this summer. We are having heat waves and floods down here in the south of Australia whereas poor Queensland besides all the floods is about to get the worst cyclone in history - a number 5 - which could destroy a huge amount of our beautiful far north including Townsville, Cairns and Port Douglas.

I am not sure whether the Amsterdam is going up north to this part of Australia but if so be prepared to see a war zone.Jennie

 

 

Hi Jennie,

From Sydney they head straight up to Cairns.

Wonder if they will get in there?

We are watching events unfold up there with dismay and horror.

We have many friends up there and our thoughts are with them.

 

Sun 20/02/11 At Sea

Mon 21/02/11 Sydney / Australia 08:00

Tue 22/02/11 Sydney / Australia 14:00

Wed 23/02/11 At Sea

Thu 24/02/11 At Sea

Fri 25/02/11 Cairns / Australia 07:00

Sat 26/02/11 Cairns / Australia 03:00

Sun 27/02/11 At Sea

Mon 28/02/11 Madang / Papua New Guinea 12:00 20:00

Tue 01/03/11 Crossing Equator

Wed 02/03/11 At Sea

Thu 03/03/11 Koror (Palau) / South Seas 08:00 16:00

Fri 04/03/11 At Sea

Sat 05/03/11 At Sea

Sun 06/03/11 Manila / Philippines 08:00 18:00

Mon 07/03/11 At Sea

Tue 08/03/11 Hong Kong / China 07:00

Wed 09/03/11 Hong Kong / China

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David,

 

Thanks for the itinerary. We too have friends in Cairns and I phoned them today around 11am. They said at the time there was no wind or rain but all the bird life had just disappeared. They were busy taping the windows on their top story.

 

The cyclone is supposed to hit around 10pm tonight at the same time as a very high tide. I hope it doesn't develop into another Tsunami.

 

Jennie

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Report # 30 February 1, 2011 Monday Alofi, Niue

 

Well, here we are on yet another South Pacific island by the name of Niue. We have never heard of Niue before this world cruise was announced. Unlike the other islands we have visited, Niue is not volcanic, but a solid coral limestone rock. There are no lofty mountainous peaks, but there are a lot of coconut trees.

 

About 1000 people live here, with 600 of those living in the capitol village of Alofi. Even though the islanders are self-governing, they are under the flag of New Zealand.

 

This was a tenderboat port once again. The weather was good today, with seas much smoother compared to Rarotonga. We decided to go over early, because the last boat leaving the pier was at 1:30pm, a very short stay. Except we were in such a rush, we forgot our wallets, duh. Should we go back and get them? We decided yes, and we could also bring along our laptop, since it appeared that the island had free internet. Many passengers were already sitting on the few benches in the shade trying to log on.

 

So we hopped on the next boat, for the short ride back. By the time we returned to the internet spot, twice as many people were online. Of course, that jammed their small internet, and we could not log on at all. Oh well, it was a good thought. Maybe later, after we take a walk, and some of the guests go back to the ship, we will get lucky.

 

It was hot this morning, despite the fact that it must have rained hard here last night. Puddles of water filled the potholes in the streets. That just made things even more humid. To be frank, there was very little here to see. When we first landed, the few buses that were on the island were offering a $35 per person ride around the island. The buses filled up in 5 minutes. We considered doing that, but remember, we forgot our wallets! Our friend Martha had jumped one of those buses, so we will probably hear all about it later at sailaway.

 

In the middle of their shopping center, the locals had set up welcome desks with some samples of native foods and some souveniers. Shops lining the square had a meat market, a craft store, art and souvenier shops, a bank, and a convenience shop. We thought it strange to see signs outside the shops to leave your bags outside with a warning for no shop-lifting.

 

In the market, we found most of the meats and fish products were all frozen solid. Canned foods were among the other major items sold here. We heard later on, that half a head of cabbage costs $7. Everything that can be bought in Niue has to be flown here from New Zealand, and only once a week. Also coming from New Zealand are the government workers and teachers.

 

The rest of the shops were overrun by our anxious passengers trying to buy t-shirts. It was apparent that Niue was going to profit big time from our visit, which is nice to see on such a non-touristy island. We hate crowds, so it was a good time to take that walk and check things out.

 

All there was to see were the police station, two small cafes, a travel agency, car rentals, and eventually, a Mormon Church. In between these businesses were rural homes, all with at least one tomb in the front yards. On the water side of the road, were cliffs full of coconut palms and hibiscus trees. When the foliage thinned out, a perfect view of the ocean appeared with our ship right in the middle. A friendly young mom driving with her two boys stopped to chat. She told us that she and her family had been living in Niue for 6 months, having been transferred from New Zealand, probably job-related. In all of that time, we were the first large ship to stop here. Her kids were very disappointed that they could not go on the boat. At their ages, perhaps 3 and 5, they would never understand the security end of a ship in port.

 

There was no shade at all walking this road, so we headed back to town in hopes of trying the internet again. By then, two high school girls were performing a native dance routine, similar to the Hawaiian hula. Many young kids had filled this square, more interested in us than the dance performance. We happened to strike up a conversation with a local lady, who was most friendly. She had lots of information on life in Alofi. Her husband is a middle schoolteacher, and had been at a teacher's convention in Auckland, with all of the island teachers. School had been out for the previous two weeks, and would begin tomorrow, she said. Some interesting facts she told us included her expenses here. The only monthly bills she paid were for electricity and phone. The rest was free, however, she said their power bill was extremely expensive. The islanders only use reverse osmosis water for washing clothes and dishes. Drinking water came from the sky in the form of rain, of course. She also used rainwater to wash her hair, leaving it soft. It is so warm and sticky everyday, that the natives take 2 showers a day. You don't want to get seriously sick here.......there is no choice but to fly a very ill person to Auckland, a three hour flight away. And that plane only comes once a week. As far as ship traffic goes, only a few yachts stop here. There is no harbor for them to dock, so they have to use a dingy to come ashore. And since there are no sandy beaches anywhere on the island, they do not get a lot of tourists.

 

While we were talking to the nice lady, another younger lady was rifling through my bag, which I left sitting on a bench not 5 feet away. Nothing was missing, but we are sure if I had money in there, it may have been taken. When we said that was our bag, she quickly answered that she was just looking for a name. Who knows? But there has got to be a good reason for the no shop-lifting signs in the store windows.

 

We still had no luck with the internet, and we are not sure if the reason was due to our settings being changed on the ship. We knew the free internet was too good of a thing. And we never did find the perfect t-shirt. Most of them were already sold by noon.

 

The last tender left at 1:30pm, but we left shortly after noontime. Great planning, because we made it to the dining room for lunch for the first time. The air-conditioning and the iced water were most appreciated. We enjoyed a Mexican burger and a panini sandwich with small side salads. We had missed breakfast, so we felt no guilt ordering the pineapple upside down cake for dessert.

 

The sailaway at the aft deck was not well attended. It was too hot for most guests. So we had the pool almost to ourselves as the ship sailed away at 2pm. We are now headed towards Tonga, a new stop for us. And another event occurred at 10:08pm, when the Amsterdam crossed the International Dateline. We went from Monday to Wednesday, losing Tuesday.

 

The entertainer this evening was Judy Carmichael, a musician with sassy humor. We heard the next day that she was good. However, we missed the performance, because we wanted to see the movie "Salt", which was being shown on TV in our room at 10pm. Good choice, we thought.

 

Tonga is our next port of call.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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DW Debbie and I are really enjoying your posts. The last few days nearly 100 million people were impacted by a major storm that originated in Texas and traveled northeast. It was a real mess and dumped a couple feet of snow. Your posts provide an escape for the reality of winter here. We truly enjoy your commentary. Please continue to have a wonderful and safe trip.... Don

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Report # 31 February 3, 2011 Thursday Nuku Alofa, Tonga

 

The Amsterdam sailed into the industrial pier of Nuku Alofi, Tonga early this morning. This was a scheduled tender port, so it was nice that we did not have to use the boats to go ashore.

 

At least 170 islands make up Tonga, however, only 36 are populated. Tonga is one of the poorer of the Polynesian islands, but its history is rich, and the people friendly. And large. There are some pretty big dudes here, similar to people we saw in Samoa. And they are most proud of it!

 

This is our first visit to Tonga. Usually, we choose a tour that shows the town and its culture, but a more appealing excursion to us was a boat trip to a small island for swimming, sunning, and lunching. That 17 acre coral atoll was named Fa Fa Island, situated about 6 miles off shore.

 

About 20 of us lucky passengers booked this tour. A little bus drove us literally out of the port area, around the corner, to an adjacent fishing boat harbor. There were two boats waiting for us....one was a motorized fishing boat, while the other was a sailboat. Boarding these boats was a challenge, especially for those of us that were not as limber as others. When the tour descriptions are written, icons are attached to the difficulty of each tour. Well, this one had one icon, meaning that it was easy for everyone. One elderly husband said to his wife, "What have you gotten me into this time???" Obviously the hefty Tongan guide and his helpers were needed to help the older folks board the boats.

 

We picked the wrong boat. Yes, it was a nice little sailboat, but not for the eight of us that sat under the covered hull in the front of the boat. It was a long six miles, smelling gas fumes all the way. We felt bad for one lady, who kept informing us that she was going to be sick. Clever gals surrounding her changed the subject and got her talking about something else. She soon forgot to keep asking the guide, "Are we there yet???" Even our ship's rep, one of the young HAL singers, put on her headphones to listen to music, while dropping her head between her knees. Guess she was getting ill too.

 

Once at the island, a motorized pontoon was driven to our boat, where we disembarked and walked down the portable gangplank to the beach. That was nifty. Glad to be there, we finally had the chance to take in the beauty of the area, especially the azure waters that surrounded the white coral beaches. It was going to be nice to slip into that warm, tropical water, since it was really hot out. Thank goodness there was a nice breeze blowing as well.

 

Our guide led us and the other boatload of guests who beat us there, into the restaurant hut that faced the surf. Tables for four were set undercover as well as outside. The facilities were basic, not exactly the "resort" we expected to see from reading the tour's description. There were clean restrooms and a nice bar to enjoy. Of course, drinks like beer, were not included with the price of our tour. We knew that, but did not expect to have to pay for a bottle of water or soda. We were sure that the guide had announced that the refreshment was included. Maybe we heard wrong. We would find out later.

 

Our lunch order was taken. Now, has anyone ever heard of a European-style lunch buffet? We sure have not, nor did the staff of the shore excursions office know what that meant. We opted for the chicken lunch, but most took the fish plate. Our time was limited here, so we thought it best to go exploring the island and beaches first and eat later.

 

So we set off walking clockwise, discovering that in the groves of palm trees were small shacks or cabins, probably for day or overnight visitors. They appeared empty, but it was possible that the guests were not up yet. What a surprise they would have to find 20 new people looking at them!

 

The narrow shoreline was a treasure chest of seashells. We had been invited to collect all we wanted, so we did. One we located was buried in the crushed coral sand. It looked like a partial conch shell with spines sharp as knives. It was a keeper though. The beach began to disappear and rocks wrapped around the island's eastside. Since the tide was out, we could navigate our way carefully around the island. We came across some diving birds and shoreline birds. But the best event, was spying our friend Martha, who was sneaking up on something good. We guessed that it could be a crab or similar crustacean, but it wasn't. It turned out to be a very big six foot long white and black-striped poisonous seasnake. Yikes, Martha was obviously not sure if it was dead or not as she crept closer with her camera. She actually found a long stick that she used as a pole to pick up the creature. Boy, is she brave or what? It was dead, but freshly dead, more than likely washed up on shore hours before we got here. Bill posed with the snake as well, not believing that these snakes could be in the same waters we were expected to swim in. Anyway, it was one of those Kodak moments. Remember the show Survivor? We figured if we were on the same team as Martha, we would have survived the contest with the snake find........we had dinner!

 

It was time for lunch. Finding one table empty inside the small dining room, our guide asked us what we would like to drink. Soda and water were all we wanted. He inquired if we wanted water from a rain bucket?? or bottled. He was serious. No choice here....bottled of course. He then said it was $10 New Zealand. What happened to complimentary? Everyone else said the same thing. Oh well, our lunches came, plated with lots of sweet and sour chicken with taro root pancakes. No buffet, just served food. Guess that was European style? And it was absolutely delicious. So was the 1 1/2 liter $6 bottle of water, which was ice cold. Life-saving we should say. If you wanted dessert, it would have cost extra. No one asked for any. The others that thought the drinks were included were surprised when the resort person came to our boat with drink bills for some of the passengers. We could not leave until they paid.

 

We spent the remaining time laying in the sun and sitting in the water. The lagoon that surrounded the island was partly shallow sand, covered with seagrass. As we sat there, tiny fish surrounded us, followed by 12 inch long black and white fish. They were more curious, and actually nipped at our fingers. Knowing we had to dry off, we hauled ourselves back to the wooden lounges. It was then that a large fish jumped from the seagrass, right where we had been sitting, and nabbed one of the 12 inchers. Wow, good thing we got out in time. We had no idea the size or type of fish it was, but it sure made a big splash. Shark comes to mind.......

 

By 2pm, we boarded the boat, but this time took the fast one. It was heaven, sitting in front with the wind and water mist keeping us cool. The sailboat left after we did, and did not return for 20 minutes after we arrived back at the harbor. It gave us the chance to check out the nearby fresh fish market. That is, checking it out by holding our breath for 5 minutes. We're not sure how fresh it was, but the locals were proud to show off the variety they were selling. Everything that lives in the seas around here gets consumed. Even the most colorful tropical fish that we as hobbyists pay a fortune for. Survival is the name of the game here. We were surprised to see truckloads of bagged corn being sold for $5 (Tonga $). Never thought that corn could be grown in this humid climate.

 

When we got back to the pier, many souvenier stands had be set up near the ship. They were pushing island jewelry, carvings, and weavings. Pearls were again one of their specialties for sale, but if memory serves us right, we could do beter in Viet Nam. So we ended up buying nothing....we are getting better at this. One item really stood out among the offerings. It was a huge wooden bowl, made in the form for a kava bowl. Kava is an island drink made from roots, and can be mighty powerful, like alcohol. It tastes horrible and makes your mouth go numb....not our cup of tea! The cost of the bowl was $1500 US dollars.

 

The ship left at 5pm, but the sailaway was sparsely attended. It was just too darned hot for most people to stay outside for long. We had taken a dip in the pool, so we were comfortable. Next time, if we ever have the chance to visit Tonga again, we will see what we missed in town. From what we saw from the ship, the island was much like Niue, flat with many palm trees.

 

Drinks were two for one again in the Crows Nest and Ocean Bar before both dinner seatings. We were so tired from our day spent on the beach, that we just went straight to dinner at 8pm. A funny thing happened at dinner. Ellen, Bill, and I had ordered a salad after the appetizer. However, the entrees were served, and we thought we had eaten the salads, but were too tired to notice. In fact, they had totally forgotten to serve them! Our waiters were embarrassed to say the least. Now we will have two salads tomorrow we bet.

 

Two days at sea are on the agenda, then we will be in New Zealand. This trip is really going fast.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Great to hear its all going well.

We are looking forward to Sunday, when you are in Auckland as we are meeting up with our friend Liz,also doing the World Cruise, and who we met on Amsterdam many years ago.

HAL freindships seem to stand the test of time.:)

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Mary Ann and Bill,

 

Thanks again for another great episode. As so much is shipped into Tonga from New Zealand, the cost of drinks is understandable, though of course you should have been told that there was a cost before the excursion begun as the people of Tonga are poor and $6 or $10 is a huge amount to them.

 

Regarding pearls, the pearls in the South Seas would be cultured whereas the pearls from Vietnam are freshwater pearls. I know they are cheaper in Vietnam, actually everything is, but there is a difference in the quality and of course the way they are grown.

 

Jennie

Edited by Aussie Gal

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A very enjoyable report.

 

If I may add a few items. There is locally designed and made cloth in Papeete - hidden among the many stores with imported ware.

 

Niue's capital Alofi is nothing to rave about, but outside town, one finds enjoyable walks from the ring road down to the ocean. Two areas are very pleasant for swimming. The water is glass clear because no rivers muddy it. Other walks lead through the forest and dramatic rock formations. We took a private cave tour but missed the forest walk. With the population now even smaller, I am not sure that the two gentlemen who did the tours still live on Niue.

 

FaFA island would not have been my first choice for a day off the ship in Tonga. I stayed there in one of the cabins on my lay-over from Auckland to Niue. At the time, we had to go via Tonga. This kingdom - never a colony - is politically interesting, but the area you saw is a real let-down after the visit to Bora-Bora.

 

Now, I am looking forward to your next stop. :)

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Hi Bill and Mary Ann and all the other world cruisers:

 

Joseph and I are meeting the ship in Hong Kong on March 8, and we've been anxiously watching the news to see what's developing in Egypt. Any word from the ship's personnel yet about contingency plans? Have they indicated when a decision will be made about going to Egypt or not, and if not, what the alternative will be?

 

It sounds as though you're all having a wonderful time. We here in the Northeast are snowbound and icebound, and we're jealous as can be that you're in the South Pacific right now!

 

Keep having a great trip, and please let all of us know what HAL decides about Egypt if an announcement is made.

 

Grandma Ellen

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Report # 32 February 4, 2011 Friday Day at Sea

 

Since leaving Tonga yesterday, the ship has followed a course basically southwest. We are dropping like a rock down towards Auckland. We could feel the difference in the temperature and humidity when we took our early morning walk. Actually, it was nice, much more comfortable.

 

After breakfast, we stopped at the shore excursion desk to inform them about the tour we took yesterday. We were not filing a complaint, because we really did enjoy the excursion. No, we just wanted to let them know about the discrepancy with the soda/water thing. And they also needed to know about the touchy situation with the island staff coming after our guests with their bills they did not know they owed. The assistant noted our comments, and added them to their file for future reference. That was good enough for us.

 

Happenings today included talks by two explorations speakers.....Brigadier General Duke, Jr (space adventure). and Cluny Macpherson (social history of New Zealand). Outdoor games continued with guests earning Amsterdam dollars. One activity for us that has been a touchy subject was emailing. With the help of the internet fellow, we got back to our provider, not the ship's provider, and the speed was much better. This time, we waited until 6pm, when most people were at dinner or getting ready for dinner. Far fewer were online at that time, making sending and receiving better for us.

 

We spent the afternoon outside at the pool, where a strong wind was blowing across the deck. It had cooled off even more from this morning. Anyway, after a quick lunch, we headed back to our room to resume emailing. Surprised, we found a box on our floor. Thinking that the room steward left it by accident, then we saw a small card attached to the top. It was from our hotel manager, telling us that we would not go thirsty again on a tour. Inside the box was one dozen large bottles of water! Well, how thoughtful was that? That was a first for us. We will never know how our comments made it to Henk's attention so quickly, but his response was completely appreciated by us. We shall thank him first thing tomorrow.

 

Tonight, the dress was formal. Why so soon after we just had one a few days ago? Perhaps it is because after tomorrow, we will be in a New Zealand port for eight days in a row, and nobody we know likes to dress for a formal night on a port day.

We had the company of one of the fourth officers for our guest tonight at dinner, and a most young one at that. Ellen sat next to him, and soon made him feel welcomed and comfortable with our group. She works her magic on the toughest of them, we think. Since all of the senior officers are attending the Captain's Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, that gives the younger fellows and staff members a chance to mix with the guests. The dinner was named the Chef's Dinner, not to be confused with the usual Chef's Dinner on shorter cruises. This meal came with a special menu and included black and white checkered napkins. The waiters were dressed like chefs, and were loving it. The best item on the menu tonight were the cappachino bombs for dessert. We have a standing order of fresh berries every evening, and they went well with the delicious ice cream.

 

The show this evening was Encore, classic music sung by the Amsterdam's own Julie Bell and Paul Avedisian. We bet that Nightcap on Nine, or two for one drinks in the Crows Nest from 9 to midnight takes some of the passengers away from the show. We know that offer tempts our Aussie buddies quite often, since we usually do not see them out and about until much later the next day. Good for them!

 

Formal night meant gift night. We had two blue envelopes, each containing a wallet size magnifier , narrow as a credit card, and a larger one, suitable for a bookmark. Well, not a huge gift, but a useful one for the hard of seeing guests. Sometimes that includes us too.

 

One more day at sea before we get to New Zealand.

 

Mary Ann & Bill

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Hi Mary Ann and Bill,

After a rather grey start in Auckland today, the weather has cleared to a brilliant day, and its looking great for tomorrow , and your overnight stay in Auckland.

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Mary Ann and Bill,

 

Hope you will enjoy the time that you spend here in our little country, may the weather and seas be kind to you.:)

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for your efforts......I enjoy reading your posts each day....its nice to know some people really know how to live!!!!

 

Enjoy every moment(as its eems you do already)!

 

Full moon, smooth seas tou you & yours!

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Bill and Mary Ann,

We are signed up for 2012 WC and are eagerly hanging on to your every word. Based on your internet experience this time, how would I do with the $250 package checking email a couple of times per week and likely sending simple emails at about same frequency? I understand that this question likely defies an a precise response, but any opinions would be most appreciated.

Ralph and Judy

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Report # 33 February 5, 2011 Saturday Day at Sea

 

We had two jobs today. First was taping a happy birthday sign on tablemate, Barbie's door, since today was her special day. The second job was to thank Henk M in person for his water gift given yesterday.

 

Very early this morning, we quietly snuck around the corner to decorate Barb's door. Not wanting to be heard or seen by Barb, we quickly pushed the pre-taped sign on the door, pushing the tape to stick. Who knew the door would go bong bong as the metal caved in with the pressure? We knew she would still be asleep, so we kept our laughing down as we started to sneek away. Lo and behold, here comes Tom M, our host, running down the hall with another sign. He had the same idea as we did. So he taped his below ours, and we all tiptoed away without getting caught. It was a "Pink Panther" moment!

 

After breakfast, we finally located Henk and thanked him for the gift. We promised that we would never leave "home" again without it. Henk and his staff were very busy this morning, because it was the end of the first segment of the world cruise. A disembarkation talk was held in the Queens Lounge for just that group, with all of their luggage tags, questionnaires, and tickets to get off tomorrow in Auckland. They must have also received their preliminary bills, because there was a line a mile long at the front desk. We're so glad that we do not have to do this until May!

 

The weather today started out very overcast and cloudy, looking more like it would rain at any minute. Perfect walking temperature in the 70's. The humidity is still there, but nothing like it was even two days ago. We plan on doing a lot of walking tomorrow in Auckland, since we did not book a tour for our first day there. We will be docked very close to America's Cup Village, as well as the main street that takes us to the Sky Tower. It is all uphill, so we need to keep in shape for the hike.

 

Another Mongolian cookout took place in the Lido pool area at lunchtime. The staff sure puts a lot of work arranging these special events. Judging by the crowd they draw, it is well worth their efforts. We still enjoy our little sandwiches at the Lido window. The sandwich chef knows exactly what we like every time. We get a kick out of watching him pull the ciabatta rolls out from under the other breads. Yes, he hides the last two for us.

 

Even though it was cloudy, we still relaxed at the aft pool. Around 3pm, the sun finally peeked out of the clouds to reveal blue skies for the rest of the afternoon. If we remember correctly, we will need to be very careful to use lots of sunscreen, since there is a hole in the protective ozone layer in this part of the world. In the past, we have gotten burned in a short time exposed to what felt like a comfortable sunny day.

 

Cocktails were two for one tonight in all of the lounges before dinner. That sure brings the folks out of their rooms to fill the lounges. There were a few farewell gatherings too. We have gotten mixed numbers as to how many are leaving us and how many are boarding. And this all comes from staff members. This time we will verify the numbers before we report anything.

 

Dinner was really fun tonight because it was Barbie's birthday, of course. We had pre-ordered a special cake, which we thought would be like a strawberry shortcake, and big enough to serve 10. Well, it was big enough, but there was not a strawberry in sight. The frosting was pink, and flavored with extract. It did have three candles, and eventually enough waiters gathered to sing the special songs. We would have done it ourselves, with Barbie leading us!

 

Showtime featured Chris Blackburn and Aussie singer, Peter Cousens. Most all at our table wanted to attend, so we called it a night at 10pm.

 

The first Cruise Log was on our door this evening. The total distance we have sailed since Ft.Lauderdale is 9975 nautical miles, which computes to 11,471 statute miles. That's a long way from home!

 

Tomorrow......Auckland.

 

Mary Ann & Bill

 

PS No word on itinerary changes yet as far as Egypt is concerned. Once we find out, you will be the first to know.

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Hi Bigdipper,

 

We think that the $250. plan would be sufficient to last you if you are just sending simple emails. So far, we have used about 500 minutes of the 1100, but are sending photos and posting everyday.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Hi Bigdipper,

 

We think that the $250. plan would be sufficient to last you if you are just sending simple emails. So far, we have used about 500 minutes of the 1100, but are sending photos and posting everyday.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

Bill and Mary Ann,

Thanks for the response. We are looking forward to meeting you two in about 11 months. Enjoy Auckland and rest of NZ.

Ralph and Judy

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Some shots of the lovely Amsterdam in Auckland today..

 

003.jpg

 

Proudly displaying the World Cruise logo

 

004.jpg

 

006.jpg

 

Some of the action around the wharf area..

 

007.jpg

 

This "little" ducky flew in overnight.

Some sort of promotion gimmick, I think:D

008.jpg

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