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Navigate the World with Bill & Mary Ann on the Zuiderdam's 128 Day 2023 Grand World Voyage


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So far the dining room menu for lunch has been changing daily on this voyage.  In particular, the hamburgers vary from day to day.  Their salads and soups change as well.  

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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40 minutes ago, WCB said:

So far the dining room menu for lunch has been changing daily on this voyage.  In particular, the hamburgers vary from day to day.  Their salads and soups change as well.  

 

Bill & Mary Ann

That's nice.  I'd love to see that myself but I'd understand if  that's not in the cards except for world cruises.  Thank you for answering.

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Yes, we have heard the news about the flooding in Auckland recently.  We are scheduled to stop there on February 2nd.  So far Captain Friso has not indicated any changes concerning that port, but that could change.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Hi Bill and Mary Ann. I am Barb's neighbor back here in Virginia. I am reading your blog every day and enjoying traveling along with you.  For the last few cruises I have not been able to comment on the Blog page because "it" says I am not a member.   Just wanted you two (and Barb) to know that I will be with you virtually on the GWC.

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Report #30   Sunday  January 29, 2023  Day At Sea Enroute To Nuku Alofa, Tonga   Cloudy With Rain Showers 85 Degrees  Sea State- Rolling Swell  Part #1 Of 1.........16 Pictures

 

Sometime this afternoon, the Zuiderdam crossed the International Date Line.  And we can prove it because we all received a certificate saying as much.  At dinner this evening, we all agreed that we own enough of these documents to wallpaper a room in our homes.  How lucky is that?

 

The day began rather bleak with overcast skies and rain at 7am.  At breakfast, Captain Friso made a sweep through the upper dining room, chatting with the guests.  We brought up the fact that the weather was so warm and muggy, that rain might be a good thing.  He added that the extra high humidity was testing the air-conditioning system on the ship.  Then we inquired about the recent flooding in Auckland, where we will be headed on February 2nd.  We heard through the grapevine that the Noordam had ropes snapped from the extreme winds.  He did admit that one of the ropes broke, but the ship was OK.  Hope the weather improves as we would hate to miss that port.

 

During our morning stroll about the ship, we did spot one tropic bird.  It must have been lost, because it disappeared within minutes.  We kept watch for another sighting, but it never happened.  Normally our veranda is cooler, but today with the following winds, we about melted out there.  The day was saved when the rains began around 1pm, cooling the temperature about 10 degrees or more.  Eventually the skies cleared the rest of the day was dry.  Eventually, a few more birds appeared but they looked like shearwaters.  They were so high and far away it was difficult to identify them. 

 

The usual activities took place, especially promotional ones.  Besides the Shops, there were deals to be found in the Fitness Center, Explorers Lounge, and the photo department.  Did we mention that the Photo Gallery has gone back to the old way of displaying the pictures?   Most of the desks that had the touch screen computers were removed during the dry dock in December.  For the first time ever, we had one of the photographers taking shots of guests walking the promenade deck.  He may have had a few takers, but that is not the place we consider ourselves looking the best.    Especially today when we were sweating bullets. 

 

Room service lunch included items from the noontime dining room lunch menu, as well as some from their regular menu.  Their chicken noodle soup remains the best.  Instead of a tablespoon of ingredients in the bottom of the bowl, their soup is loaded with diced veggies and plenty of spaghetti or vermicelli.  And served hot as can be.

 

One of us ordered the chicken cordon bleu and one ordered the trout plate at dinner time.  We’ll have to remember to have the pork chop next time because even Barb ate the whole thing, unusual for her.   Of course we teased her that unless she cleaned her plate, there would be no dessert.  Boy, do we remember that from our childhood days or what?  That must have been when the “clean your plate” syndrome was cemented in our heads.

 

We should be arriving to Tonga early tomorrow.  Perhaps we will run into our fellow President’s Club friend, Roselle again.  We heard that she was on this cruise, but did not see her until we were in Papeete.  She loves to walk in the port cities like we do, and credits her good tennis shoes that give her the ability to do it…even at 90 plus years old.  The cute thing about the shoes is that they have to match the outfit of the day.  And they sure do.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, WCB said:

Report #30   Sunday  January 29, 2023  Day At Sea Enroute To Nuku Alofa, Tonga   Cloudy With Rain Showers 85 Degrees  Sea State- Rolling Swell  Part #1 Of 1.........16 Pictures

 

 

 

  Did we mention that the Photo Gallery has gone back to the old way of displaying the pictures?   Most of the desks that had the touch screen computers were removed during the dry dock in December. 

A failed experiment? There were issues with the server as well as the face recognition technology when we were on the Zuiderdam in September. Although it's fun to browse the photographs on display, it's a bit of a step backwards in terms of waste and the environmental impact.

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On 1/28/2023 at 12:05 PM, WCB said:

 

 

Later in the afternoon, we got a letter titled Health Reminder.  It was a general reminder to continue with precautions we have been taking for Covid.  The wearing of masks has been down-graded to recommended now and not mandatory.  So fewer guests are wearing them.  We are still uncomfortable in a crowded elevator, so have decided to keep the masks in or pockets just in case we need to use them.  We are all being asked to report any Covid symptoms to the medical staff who will provide testing at no cost to us.  We may be reading more into this message, but we feel that the Covid numbers are on the rise.  People on either side of us have had it, as we can hear the coughing and sneezing.  And with New Zealand and Australia coming up soon, we bet there will be testing before our arrival. 

And unfortunately the testing will probably come up positive for some who won't be allowed off. 

 

Don't forget to carry your mask and sanitizer in NZ as the variant spreads there. 

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Report #31  Monday  January 30, 2023  Nuku Alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga  7am-5pm   Mostly Sunny With Clouds 85 Degrees   Part #1 Of 4.........31 Pictures

 

If we happen to hear “Malo e lelei” today, we will know we are being welcomed to the Kingdom of Tonga.  It simply means hello or welcome, but nothing can compare to the live music of the Police Brass Band and dance of Tonganese men and ladies we witnessed after the Zuiderdam docked in Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga.  The total population of all of the Tongan islands is 106,500 in an area of 747 square kilometers.  Much smaller in comparison to where we just came from.  By the way, the money is Tonga pa’anga with 2.25 equal to $1 USD.  The US dollars are gladly accepted.

 

Their favorite foods are all types of fish and sea creatures, as well as pork and chicken.  Small pigs are roasted on a spit over an open fire, while a very large pig would be cooked in an oven in the ground.  The most common veggies are taro, sweet potatoes, and yams all of which are commonly grown on these islands.  Most of the green veggies we have at home cannot be grown here easily.  Many fruits compliment their diet such as coconuts, bananas, papaya, mangoes, guava, pineapple, and passionfruit.  Kava, a pepper root drink is widely consumed and used in ceremonies.  While on past tours, we have witnessed these ceremonies, and even participated in the drinking of the kava liquid.  Well….almost.   After seeing how this drink is made, we simply pretended to drink it, as did most everyone else.

 

Since there was a football game on TV at 9am, we stayed onboard and watched the first half of the 49ers and Eagles game.   We left at halftime since it was not the 49ers best game ever. And we had the cleaning crew on the veranda hosing everything down.  Good time to leave. Even at 11am, the local music was still playing when we left the gangway.  One thing we noticed that was different was the fact the wharf area had dozens of containers on one side of the road.  Even some souvenir tents were set up in front of them.  We noticed that these containers had Chinese markings on them, and we guess they may be related to some ongoing reconstruction here in town.  We never found anyone to ask.

 

One thing about today that stood out the most…. was the heat and humidity.  It sure was different last fall when it was raining and way cooler.  We took our usual path to the produce market, dodging cars and trucks all the way there.  Not sure why, but the traffic was the worst we have ever seen it.  We had to be most careful crossing the street or walking up the narrow side streets with no sidewalks.  This particular market is quite dark on the inside.  There were several tables of locally-made purses and fans.  Most of the jewelry was made with seashells or carved bone.  Half of the market was dedicated to produce which included root veggies and tomatoes, cucumbers, long beans, cabbage and some lettuce. 

 

We ran into Greg and Heo touring this market like us.  They had already decided it was time for beers, if they could find a place that sold it.  Way too hot and humid, we hope they found it.  From there we wandered up the ramp to the second level.  There are usually many tables of jewelry and carvings, but today only half of the place was occupied.  Clothing and shoes were also sold up there, but they appeared to be more for the locals. 

 

Making our way up the side road, we located the Catholic Cathedral by the name of St. Anthony of Padua.  This church is more modern and new compared to the very old church up the road.  Two tall spires are about all that is left of the roof these days.  The church itself was made of basalt rocks, but sustained much damage during the last storm that hit here causing a tsunami.  Many years ago, we had toured the interior of this church, but these days, it is off-limits to all.  Rumor has it that the king is unwilling to spend the money needed to restore it. 

 

Across the street from the church is the Royal Tombs and surrounding grounds.  Many kings are buried here along with their families, so it is considered sacred.

 

Walking towards the water,  we came across the Methodist Church, the one that the king and his family attend.  We have seen their entourage leaving the church a few years ago.  The king actually rolled his window down, and waved as did the rest of his family.  Just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  This is also the area that fruit bats can normally be seen hanging from the branches of the large mango trees.   However, some of these trees have been cut down, and the remaining mangoes have no fruit yet.  So therefore, there were no bats. 

 

On this same corner is the Royal Palace, which is closed to the public.  Photos can be taken from the fencing that surrounds the property.  Turning left from here, we walked the water’s edge until we reached the Seaview Lodge, a nice place to find ice cold beers and a good lunch.  However, it was closed today, just like their website said.  Never hurts to try.  It was so uncomfortably hot and sticky, we decided to head back to town and the ship.  For the first time we can recall, there was absolutely no other cruise ship guests walking here today.  We did pass some local families enjoying the shade, and they were most friendly.

 

Back in town, the traffic was almost at a standstill.  We had passed by two school buses, which doubled for tour buses today.  They were open-air ones filled with many people we knew from the ship.  Being on foot today, we ended up back to the gangway before the bus folks made it back.  Reaching the opening of the gangway, it was like walking into Alaska with the air-conditioning. 

 

We did not leave the room after that.  Missing the end of the game, we discovered our home team lost big time.  The following game had begun, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Bengals.  So we ended up watching some of that while having a wonderful room service lunch.  As the day advanced, many more clouds appeared and it did begin to rain before we left.  The sail away party was moved to the promenade deck, but we did not attend.  Watching the sail away from our veranda was so much nicer. 

 

Captain Friso came on the speakers and mentioned that we are still awaiting the final word on whether or not we will go to Auckland in a few days.  He said we will continue as planned, doing 20 knots, to arrive there on February 2nd.  We left the port a bit later due to strong winds, and eventually passed a pod of lazy dolphins.  Nice way to say goodbye to Tonga once again.

 

Dinner was fun as we all had stories to share.  Barb and Woody held down the fort, while Heo and Greg ended up back to the ship never stopping for lunch.  Susie had wandered off, but soon came back after a run through the marketplace.  Entrees were different again tonight.  Never heard of breaded lamb chops, but some of our tablemates tried it.   Barramundi was the fish dish, as well as sauteed salmon, which I ordered.  Chicken scallopini rounded out the choices.  The chefs are getting quite creative we think.

 

As on many port days, the Mainstage featured a movie called Joyride.  None of our group planned to attend because we were all beat from the heat.

 

We will have two lazy sea days as we head south towards New Zealand.  The Captain promised more comfortable temperatures, except we might be hitting some rain.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

 

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Greetings Coco39,

 

We relayed your message to Barb, but she needs your first name as she is not familiar with Cruise Critic handles.  Are you Lois???

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Loved Tonga and you brought back memories of (and still feel) the stifling heat/humidity from 2020 when the King "allowed" us to dock. Our clothes were soaked just from walking around town. But very nice people. Did you notice or hear from locals how the rebuilding is going after the storm damage? 

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4 hours ago, WCB said:

Greetings Coco39,

 

We relayed your message to Barb, but she needs your first name as she is not familiar with Cruise Critic handles.  Are you Lois???

 

Bill & Mary Ann

Yes. That's me. 🙂

 

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So enjoy being along for the cruise thru your blog  🙂 One of my treasured memories from Tales of the Pacific last year was the beautiful tour guide putting her arms up in the air, smiling ear to ear and singing out to our bus "Welcome to The Kingdom of Tonga - Where Everything is Free".

When we asked, she stated, we are all the same poor, we share everything. 

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Report #32   Tuesday  January 31, 2023   Sea Day Enroute To Auckland, New Zealand   Cloudy With Showers  78 Degrees  6' Seas    Part #1 Of 1.........34 Pictures

 

The seas became increasingly rougher as we head south now towards New Zealand.   This fact became apparent this morning when Captain Friso made his sweep through the upper dining room, as he does on occasion.  He surprised us my mentioning that he sometimes feels the “motion of the ocean”, which we thought strictly applied to the guests.  We also discussed yesterday’s heat and humidity while in Tonga.  He and Chantal had gone off bike riding perhaps a bit too far, when they realized the heat had become oppressive.  Instead of biking back, he waved down a fellow with a truck, who loaded their bikes and them into the back of the pickup.  Then he whipped out his cell phone to show us the photo, which he thought was pretty amusing.  So did we…..

 

It was another sea day of relaxing, eating, and checking out the sales in the Shops.  Nothing was really for sale there, but it’s always fun to look.  Then the New Zealand money was available at the front desk beginning this morning.   We usually do the exchange on the ship and don’t worry much about the rate, as it is always fair.  But something strange occurred after we did the exchange.  The front desk girl counted out the exact New Zealand money carefully, and we watched just as carefully.  It was 100% correct.  No more, no less.  Then about 10 minutes later, we had a call from the front desk.  The same girl called to say there may have been a mistake with the exchange.  We had put the money folded within the statement of the transaction in the safe, so we said we will double-check it, and call back.  Counting it three times, it came out perfectly each time.  Calling back, we reported that news and their answer was a cool OK, not even a “sorry about that”.  The feeling was that we were not being honest, and believe this, we would have returned an overage immediately.  And if the mistake was a shortage on our end, we would have followed up with that as well.  Maybe we should consider doing the money exchanges in the bigger cities and not on the ship.  Or use credit cards, as the exchange is probably better in the long run.

 

One of us made a trip to the brand new library to find the corner of the room cordoned off.  Apparently there had been a leak in there, flooding the carpets and walls.  Then at breakfast this morning, our buddy told us another story about flooding on deck one where even the walls were over-flowing.  Some of this widespread flooding happened while we were on the Tales of the South Pacific last fall, but we figured that would be addressed during the dry docking.  Hate to think that this ship is getting older, but nothing holds up forever.

 

While taking our evening walk, we noticed that all of the teak lounges were being tied down on the promenade deck.  Either the deck workers were getting ready to scrub down the teak decking, or we are headed into some rough waters and winds.  Time will tell.  And as for the ship being able to dock in Auckland on the 2nd, the Captain announced he was still waiting for that confirmation. 

 

On our way back to the room, we ran into Greg and Heo, and they asked if we were going to listen to the singer, Stephen Barry as they had suggested a few days ago.  We thought, well why not?  It was close to 7pm, so we snuck into the back of the Mainstage and listened to a couple of his songs.  He indeed had a powerful voice with a wide range, and perfect voice control.  The speakers up on the third level were very loud, so we did not stay long.  Besides it was dinnertime and we don’t like being late.

 

There was a total of five of us tonight as the fellows were invited elsewhere.  We closed the chairs closer, but still had a hard time hearing due to a very noisy group in the center of the aft dining room.  Usually our backs are to these tables, but we soon learned where the noise was coming from.   We had to laugh because we know for a fact that our group had also been noisy back in the day.  But we were smart enough to keep it down until most of the diners left the room.  At one point, we heard a crash, as if one of the noisy guests dropped something big.  Finally they were quieter. 

 

Anyway, we have noticed that different items are still popping up on the menu.  We all get the Orange Club menu which offers a special entrée every night.  We ordered one tuna entrée and one pork chop without the bone with extra apple sauce.  Very good.  One of us likes chocolate and there was nothing close to that tonight.  But our waiter found a chocolate tart with strawberry compote.  He added mint chip ice cream on the side, which I like way more than Bill does.  I was forced to help him out and eat the ice cream after having the modified fruit plate.  They are running out of fresh fruit and berries now, so we hope we make it to Auckland for provisioning.

 

Rocking and rolling may help us all sleep good tonight.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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9 hours ago, WCB said:

Report #32   Tuesday  January 31, 2023   Sea Day Enroute To Auckland, New Zealand   Cloudy With Showers  78 Degrees  6' Seas    Part #1 Of 1.........34 Pictures

 

The seas became increasingly rougher as we head south now towards New Zealand.   This fact became apparent this morning when Captain Friso made his sweep through the upper dining room, as he does on occasion.  He surprised us my mentioning that he sometimes feels the “motion of the ocean”, which we thought strictly applied to the guests.  We also discussed yesterday’s heat and humidity while in Tonga.  He and Chantal had gone off bike riding perhaps a bit too far, when they realized the heat had become oppressive.  Instead of biking back, he waved down a fellow with a truck, who loaded their bikes and them into the back of the pickup.  Then he whipped out his cell phone to show us the photo, which he thought was pretty amusing.  So did we…..

 

It was another sea day of relaxing, eating, and checking out the sales in the Shops.  Nothing was really for sale there, but it’s always fun to look.  Then the New Zealand money was available at the front desk beginning this morning.   We usually do the exchange on the ship and don’t worry much about the rate, as it is always fair.  But something strange occurred after we did the exchange.  The front desk girl counted out the exact New Zealand money carefully, and we watched just as carefully.  It was 100% correct.  No more, no less.  Then about 10 minutes later, we had a call from the front desk.  The same girl called to say there may have been a mistake with the exchange.  We had put the money folded within the statement of the transaction in the safe, so we said we will double-check it, and call back.  Counting it three times, it came out perfectly each time.  Calling back, we reported that news and their answer was a cool OK, not even a “sorry about that”.  The feeling was that we were not being honest, and believe this, we would have returned an overage immediately.  And if the mistake was a shortage on our end, we would have followed up with that as well.  Maybe we should consider doing the money exchanges in the bigger cities and not on the ship.  Or use credit cards, as the exchange is probably better in the long run.

 

One of us made a trip to the brand new library to find the corner of the room cordoned off.  Apparently there had been a leak in there, flooding the carpets and walls.  Then at breakfast this morning, our buddy told us another story about flooding on deck one where even the walls were over-flowing.  Some of this widespread flooding happened while we were on the Tales of the South Pacific last fall, but we figured that would be addressed during the dry docking.  Hate to think that this ship is getting older, but nothing holds up forever.

 

While taking our evening walk, we noticed that all of the teak lounges were being tied down on the promenade deck.  Either the deck workers were getting ready to scrub down the teak decking, or we are headed into some rough waters and winds.  Time will tell.  And as for the ship being able to dock in Auckland on the 2nd, the Captain announced he was still waiting for that confirmation. 

 

On our way back to the room, we ran into Greg and Heo, and they asked if we were going to listen to the singer, Stephen Barry as they had suggested a few days ago.  We thought, well why not?  It was close to 7pm, so we snuck into the back of the Mainstage and listened to a couple of his songs.  He indeed had a powerful voice with a wide range, and perfect voice control.  The speakers up on the third level were very loud, so we did not stay long.  Besides it was dinnertime and we don’t like being late.

 

There was a total of five of us tonight as the fellows were invited elsewhere.  We closed the chairs closer, but still had a hard time hearing due to a very noisy group in the center of the aft dining room.  Usually our backs are to these tables, but we soon learned where the noise was coming from.   We had to laugh because we know for a fact that our group had also been noisy back in the day.  But we were smart enough to keep it down until most of the diners left the room.  At one point, we heard a crash, as if one of the noisy guests dropped something big.  Finally they were quieter. 

 

Anyway, we have noticed that different items are still popping up on the menu.  We all get the Orange Club menu which offers a special entrée every night.  We ordered one tuna entrée and one pork chop without the bone with extra apple sauce.  Very good.  One of us likes chocolate and there was nothing close to that tonight.  But our waiter found a chocolate tart with strawberry compote.  He added mint chip ice cream on the side, which I like way more than Bill does.  I was forced to help him out and eat the ice cream after having the modified fruit plate.  They are running out of fresh fruit and berries now, so we hope we make it to Auckland for provisioning.

 

Rocking and rolling may help us all sleep good tonight.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

Hi Mary Ann:

Just wanted to tell you not to worry so much about HAL's response when you said money exchange was accurate.  Don't take it personal. 

I was a Bank Manager for many years.  When we had cash drawers or Main Cash Vault out of balance $$ missing and not accounted for.  Had to investigate what happened.  There are reasons they can't disclose to you that could cause the missing $$ & therefore could not say more than what they did.

Don't think they didn't believe you --- they were most likely hoping beyond hope that the staff member had made a mistake.  And were disappointed to hear it was accurate. 

I surmise, they were asking every passenger who did currency exchange that day with same question.

There must have been a large enough outage in the Currency Exchange Drawer --- and they have to investigate cause.

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Report #33   Wednesday  February 1, 2023    Sea Day Enroute To Auckland, New Zealand    Cooler With Showers 78 Degrees   Rough Seas 13'    Part #1 Of 1........25 Pictures

 

Another day at sea brought us further south, and graced us with cooler temperatures.  The worst of the humidity seemed to be gone as well.   It sure made for a much better walk after breakfast, although we were sailing through a series of passing showers early on.  Eventually, we left the rain clouds behind us and we began seeing more blue skies.  Even better than that, we began spotting birds.  They were either shearwaters or small petrels.  They are the fast-flying seabirds that sweep over the tops of the waves.  Sooty brown or gray on the top, they have white underbellies which can been seen when they fly high.   When they skim over the water, they are difficult to see as they blend perfectly.  The further south we sailed, the more birds flanked the ship.  Unlike the boobies, they stay far away from the ship.  And because they are much smaller than the boobies, they do not seem to feed on the flying fish……they are too big for them.

 

Usually after our promenade deck walk, we take a ride up to deck 10 to walk up there.  It is totally open to the wind, and always feels so good to cool down.  This morning we happened to catch the last of the cornhole game being played between the Rolling Stone Lounge Band and some guests.  Once they all left, we tried our hand at it.  It looks easy, but guess what?  It isn’t.  The best strategy is to wind up, close your eyes, and give the bean bag a throw.  One of us actually landed one right in the hole that way.  Total accident really.  Shuffleboard is also on this side of deck 10, but we have only seen it used a few times.  Opened to the sun, this wide deck can get extremely hot.

 

There were three lectures today beginning with a Q & A with Ian and Nyron .  Then at 11am, Dr. Nocita lectured on sand, while Dr. Woodman spoke about both the New Zealand and Aussie languages.   We sure wish these talks could be televised, but we know that will not happen.  Only the first talk with Ian may be on TV since it probably dealt with port and tour info.  While we are on the subject of tours, Captain Friso announced later in the day that some of the Auckland tours had been cancelled due to the recent flooding.  No need to visit the front desk, as all of the excursions would be refunded to everyone’s shipboard account.

 

For lunch we ordered excellent burgers from the dining room.  They were hot with crispy French fries even when they were brought to us at 2pm.  Dinner for the two of us was in the Pinnacle Grill this evening.  It would be the first of ten complimentary dinners we get in there.  These days our “freebies” only can be used for a regular meal….not a pop-up.  That would exclude any Tamarind, Sel de Mer, cellar master, chef’s table, and sommelier dinners.  

 

We both enjoyed their wedge salad with the candied bacon on the side.  Now there is a charge of $7 if you order an extra appetizer.  The bacon is a special treat, and goes very well with that particular salad.  For entrees, one of us had the halibut, and the other the 8 ounce filet mignon.  Sharing a small baked potato was plenty.  For dessert we ordered one crème brulee and the smallest Almost Baked Alaska they could find.  There is no such thing as small with that dessert, but we managed to finish it off. 

 

Looking forward to landing in Auckland tomorrow….no matter what the weather brings.  It is a wonderful city to visit.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Report #34     Thursday  February 2, 2023  Groundhog Day  Auckland, New Zealand  6:30am-5:30pm   Cloudy With Chance Of Rain 75 Degrees  Docked In Front Of Hilton- Port Side  Part #1 Of 5..........68 Pictures

 

Well here we are in another country, and one we truly like…..New Zealand.  Kia’ora from the island of the long white cloud.  The population of this country is 4.5 million folks that speak English and Maori.  Their capital is Wellington, which we will visit in a few days.  The two islands that comprise New Zealand are considered the ultimate escape, and described as green, peaceful, and accepting.  A South Pacific gem, it is full of snow-capped mountains, fjords, beaches, rainforests, and volcanoes that are still active.  Wineries and micro-breweries bound these days.  When you think of this country you see sheep, kiwi birds, Maoris, the All Blacks rugby team, sailboats, and the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.  Since the two islands of New Zealand are long and thin, you are never more than 120 kilometers from the sea.

 

Now on to Auckland.  This fabulous city is built on extinct volcanoes and spans two harbors.  It wasn’t long ago that this city was named as one of the world’s most livable cities.  It also has the largest Pacific Islander population in the world.  Tours offered today included a city drive and museum - $80, Waitekere Wilderness - $150, Wine tasting - $110, and the Hop On Hop Off bus - $40.  among others.  Yesterday, a few of the tours had to be cancelled due to the recent flooding.  We have been on most of these tours over the years, but now we are quite content  to explore on our own.

 

The Zuiderdam sailed into the Waitemata Harbour in the darkness of the morning, where the ship was turned around, then backed into Princes Wharf.  Our room faced the Hilton Hotel, which is built like a ship.  The residents must love looking our their windows and seeing all of us so close by.  There were two other cruise ships here……the Viking Neptune and the Ponant Le Laperouse.   It is so nice to see that so many more cruise lines are back in business these days.  A message was broadcasted several times concerning the removal of certain items from this ship.  No fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, sandwiches, dairy, eggs or honey were allowed off.  No flowers, seeds, or plants could be brought off.  Only commercially bottled drinking water was allowed off.   Anyone who tried to do this would face steep fines.  We even saw posters taped inside every elevator this morning. 

 

So we went off of the ship by 10am to mostly cloudy skies, but still warm and slightly humid weather.  We pretty much followed a path we always take.  Going up Queen Street, we passed by the high end shopping area of downtown.  We began going uphill and soon noticed the Sky Tower to our right.  It is an icon of the city that measures 328 meters high, the highest in the country.  We were on our way to Albert Park, when something really dramatic occurred.  Two cars stopped at a red light, when all of a sudden, a police car sped up the street, blocking the second car.  Then two officers jumped out and pulled the driver out of that vehicle without even asking that person to get out of the car.  Not sure if the driver was a man or woman.  The car began rolling backwards, when one of the officers put it in park and set the brake.  Within seconds, that person was hand-cuffed and put in the back of the police car.  Another police car arrived and helped to clear the car out of the way.  It was like watching a cop show on TV.  We did not stick around to watch any more of the action, since we did not want to get in the way.

 

From here, we slowly hiked up the trail to access Albert Park.  It was very steep getting to the top, but worth the views and the breeze.  There is a well laid out garden with a fountain in the center facing a statue of Queen Victoria.  Nice benches are all around to relax while taking in the numerous flower beds.  Some of the oldest trees have to be planted in this park.  From here we crossed the bridge over Welleslay Street which brought is to Symonds Street and the old cemetery.   This entire area seems to be full of universities and housing for the students.

 

Then it was on to the Grafton Bridge, which crosses over a series of freeways to the Grafton area and the hospital.   That led to the entrance to the Domain, a large park that houses the Wintergardens and the Auckland War Memorial Museum.  We noticed that the stadium area was a lake from the recent flooding.  It was full of birds enjoying the new pond.  We made our way to the Wintergardens and found that a big part of it was under reconstruction.  The flower hothouse was still opened, as was the fern garden.  There are even more benches that surround the center pond with fountains.  We happened to run into Mike and Pauline who had arranged a small tour for their friends.  They do this often in many ports.

 

We did not take the time to explore the museum as we have been there several times in the past.  And for the first time we can recall, we are only in this port for one day.   So much to see, but so little time.  After taking a load of photos, we made our way down the now mushy field of grass and the street that would take us to the Parnell Village district.  This area is described as full of boutiques, eateries, and charming historic buildings.  One of those happens to be the Holy Trinity Cathedral, a beautiful gothic Anglican Cathedral.  Walking slowly down the steep street, we checked out the cafes along the way.  One of us spotted a sign that had pizza in the title.   One of the busiest ones happened to be Non Solo pizza, an Italian café.  Checking their menu, we saw they had pizza and beer, so we took two seats at a high top table and ordered two Peroni drafts.  It was heaven sitting there with ice cold beers after that hike.   We had a margherita pizza, which was rather pricey, but good.  Seems that inflation has hit here as well.

 

We made our way back down to Quay Street and Countdown, the local supermarket.  We needed to pick up a few things, as well as some extra treats for our room.  On our way back to the ship, we ran into Bob who was on his way back from an all day tour.  As the three of us were heading towards the ship, a group of mostly French-speaking people asked us if we were on the Zuiderdam.  Yes, we were.  Then they asked where we came from and where we were headed.  When we said it was a world cruise, they were absolutely giddy with amazement.  They had just debarked from the Majestic Princess and stayed a few days in Auckland.  They admitted they could not imagine being on a ship for 128 days.  None of us mentioned that we had been on more than a few of these cruises.  Then they went on their merry way. 

 

We did check out the Gelato shop near the ferry landing, but they did not have Hokey Pokey ice cream.  We shall search for it tomorrow.

 

Back on the ship, we relaxed in our room until it was time for sailing away which did not happen until 6:30pm.  By then, the clouds had come over and it did begin to rain a bit, but we did have perfect weather all day.  We have seen better sailings out of this harbor, but the dark clouds made everything looked rather grey.  Too bad we did not have an extra day here.

 

We were all back to the table tonight, exchanging stories of the day.  Most all of us had the fried brie cheese appetizer, cabbage and bacon soup (a bit salty), and salads.  Mains were pork piccata with spaghetti and tomato sauce, and one fish plate – cobia with farfalle pasta.  Everyone else ordered the Club Orange shrimp jambalaya, and liked it.  A different crisp was on the menu tonight – a pear crisp.  Looks like this might be an everyday alternate.  By the way, the ship got major provisions today.   Hope to see some fresh berries at breakfast tomorrow.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Report #35    Friday  February 3, 2023  Tauranga, New Zealand  7am-5pm    Mostly Cloudy With Some Sun And Showers   78 Degrees& Muggy   Part #1 Of 4.........70 Pictures

 

Our port of call today was Tauranga, a short distance from Auckland, it is a vacation area for many.  One of us was up early to watch the sailing into the harbor, even though at 5:30am it was still rather dark.  The lights of the town and surrounding commercial docks and marinas lit up the bay. 

 

There was rain in the forecast, and despite the heavy overcast, it never did rain except for a few scattered drops.  Guess we got lucky once again.  The Zuiderdam pulled alongside the dock area starboard side, so when the crew drill was announced, we got to watch the activity with manning the tender boats and the dropping of them into the water below.  These practice emergency drills happen quite often and it is re-assuring to us that everyone knows their job well. 

 

Shore excursion offered some tours here today, but by the time we remembered to check them, they were erased from the TV.  The only one we saw was a trip to the Hobbit movie set for 5 hours at $200.  We left the ship before 11am, and remembered there was no cruise terminal here…only a tent with brochures.  Many of the same tours the ship were selling were available onshore.  Except for the for the ho-ho bus or a bike or trike trip up Mount Maunganui,  most of these trips were out of town.  You could take a ride to the Bay of Plenty and see many kiwi and avocado orchards, or where honey is made.  The Rotorua geothermal area is a big attraction with steaming lakes and bubbling mud pools and geysers.  Been there, done that.  Anyway, the tour operators promised you will get back to the ship on time.  That is very important.

 

This part of Tauranga is flat, except for the mountain, which is full of sheep grazing.  We figured the trails would be muddy today, but we did see many folks headed that way for the hike up.  We had enough of the hills yesterday to last us for a long time, so sticking to town was a better idea.   Leaving the checkpoint, we walked the wooden boardwalk along the thin stretch of beach on the bay side of the peninsula.  The waters are protected and the sandy beach is an excellent place for families with young kids.  Swimming is very safe here with no fear of undertow or waves.  We have visited on weekends and the grassy knolls and sandy beach were full of picnickers for the afternoon.   Today it was fairly quiet.

 

Walking around the base of Mount Maunganui, we passed by the Hot Pools and a string of cafes all the way to the beach on the open ocean side.  This is where the majority of vacationers were located.  There are many condos and hotels at this end – all with views of the rolling waves of the ocean.  Most folks were beachcombing, while some of the younger set were surf boarding.   Little kids played in the sand with their moms watching close by.  A large group of what appeared to be lifeguards in training were doing some routine practicing. 

 

There is a small rocky island where you can access from the beach at low tide.  One of us went out there, but the other stayed back while watching the activity in the water and the beach.  Yesterday’s walk had awakened new muscles and they were a bit sore today.  Nothing that time and rest could not heal.  Making our way back up from the beach, we headed towards town after visiting with fellow walkers Gyl and Howard.  Being avid dancers, they have organized a friendly dance class on their own time with folks they know.  What a fun idea for those guests that do not have the option of having dance teachers onboard the ship like they used to have.  If there is a will, there is a way.  And they also had a surprise yesterday while shopping in one of the grocery stores.  They ran into Bruce Scudder, our former cruise director for many years.  He was the new cruise director on the Viking Neptune and doing well.  We all agreed when he left HAL, it was a big loss for them.

 

Back in the downtown area, we located a very intimate Italian café that had just what we liked for lunch.  That would be pizza of course.  We ordered two Peroni beers and a parma ham pizza to share.  Gosh it was good, and the prices were much better than in Auckland.  The waitress asked where we were from, and we said San Francisco.  She was curious how we got our tans, so we told her we have spent many days sailing in French Polynesia.  Then she added that the weather in Tauranga had been very wet with 2 months of constant raining and one month of sun.  It affected the amount of visitors to this vacation area as well.  She was so happy we had come on a dry day.

 

Then the best part of the day had to be stopping at the ice cream shop and finding they did have the famous hokey pokey ice cream.  Made our day having one waffle cone and a cup of the best ice cream ever. 

 

We strolled back to the ship going through the security booth where both our room keys and driver’s licenses were checked.  They are very strict in New Zealand especially with the agricultural warning, which we heard at least four times earlier this morning.

 

Back in our room, we downloaded photos and worked on reports while relaxing on the veranda as well.  It was still about 78 degrees outside and muggy.  We thought it could rain any moment, but it never did.  All aboard was 5pm, with an advertised sail away in the Hudson Room also at 5pm.  Really, the Hudson Room?  Does anyone ever read the activities at a glance?  Ian did come on the speakers and announce a change there with a laugh. 

 

Dinnertime found only 6 of us, as Susie had decided to stay home.  She was feeling a bit under the weather, and Woody had admitted they had lunch onboard, then went out and had fish and chips in town.  Woody came alone because Susie had checked the dinner selections and saw meatballs as one of the entrees.  He likes meatballs as much as I do, but when we read the menu, it said “neatballs”.  What the heck is that???  We figured it was another typing error, so Woody had it.  No, it wasn’t a mistake,  it was neatballs made with black rice and was the vegetarian entrée.  Sort of missed seeing that tiny leaf alongside the wording.  Two bites, and he was done.  And even though another entrée was offered, he said no, he would just wait for dessert.  That was a fruit crumble and double scoops of vanilla ice cream.  It appears that the fruit crumbles will be an everyday item on the dinner menu.   One of us had the sole plate, and the other the pasta noodles with chicken slices.  Both good.

 

The entertainment this evening was a singer by the name of Debora Krizak.  Greg and Heo were happy to go see her, since the show lounge was dark last night…no show and no movie.  They have figured out the scheduling of weekly entertainment and said four nights will be entertainers such as singers, dancers, or instrumentalist or comedians.  One evening a movie is shown, and two nights are dark or venue closed. 

 

Tomorrow we will be in a new port by the name of Gisborne.  The only ones that have been there are our Aussie buddies, and they said not to expect a whole lot.  It is a tender port with short hours of 8am to 2:30pm.  It will be a walkabout for us. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Report #36   Saturday  February 4, 2023   Gisborne, New Zealand 8am-3pm    Sunny  75 Degrees  Tender Port   Part #1 Of 5...........66 Pictures

 

We sure did not expect to see such a beautiful view of Gisborne as the Zuiderdam entered Taranganui-a-kiwa or Poverty Bay early this morning.  What was unusual to us was the color of the water in this bay because it resembled the tropical waters of French Polynesia.   This is what Captain Cook saw when he made landfall in Gisborne in 1769, along with Young Nick, the surgeon’s assistant who was first to spot land.  They even named the entrance Young Nick’s Head in his honor.  

 

Unlike the last two ports, this one was a tender port with the ship at anchor instead of docked.   It was also a short day here with all aboard at 2:30pm.  Too bad, because this was our first visit here, and we sure could have spent more time in town.  It turned out to be a gorgeous day weatherwise.  Despite the shorter time, there were several tours here.  A visit to a winery was $100, a ride on their steam train was $150, or a tour of a 2100 acre homestead ran $160.  More reasonable excursions included a bike ride for $130, or a tour of their arboretum for $100.  A popular tour was a walking excursion through town with three different stops for tastings.  That ran $120.  Later on, we heard that the tastings included some of the local wines and beers.  One of our friends said the walk got harder and harder, so the tour operator called for a minivan to drive the guests from pub to pub.  Only a few of the ladies took advantage of that.

 

We stayed on the ship until close to 11am, then proceeded down to the tender platform.  It surprised us to see the boat bobbing up and down so much since it looked so calm from our room.   Many helping hands got us onboard safely.  The ride took at least 15 minutes or more, and ended up in a channel to the dock.  That’s where we found two nice information gals that were handing out excellent area and street maps.  We asked where the main walking street was, and also inquired if there was a special pizza place they could recommend.  One of the girls whipped out her cell phone, and called to check a favorite restaurant they liked, but found out they only opened at 4pm.  They said there was a Domino’s or a Pizza Hut……or we could stop at a place called The Rivers, which they said was good food and beer.  We promised to look for it.

 

On our way towards the main street, we passed Greg and Heo already heading back to the ship. Having been here before, they covered the territory quickly.  So we hiked up Gladstone Road taking photos of all of the historic buildings that lined both sides of the street.  They have mostly been converted to small shops and boutiques and cafes.  In the center of the shopping and business district stood the tall art deco clock that was built in 1934.  It was right on time as the chimes went off at high noon. 

 

Since we were not shopping for anything today, we went down a side street where we saw a river.  Turns out there are three rivers that converge in town.  The Taruheru, Waimata, and Turanganui rivers meet at Marine Park.  We came upon one of these rivers after passing a nice McDonalds on the way.  They were in full swing because it was lunch time.  We made our way to the river trail where many bikers passed us.  We are so used to hearing “on your left” that it is hard to remember everything is opposite here. The bikers pass on your right instead. 

 

We located the area where the Farmers Market was in progress.  It was a small one, but the produce was really nice.  In addition, they sold honey and local wines.  There were a few food vans and places where the locals could eat.  Across the road, we also found the rose gardens and a craft market.  Heo had said to stop and see it, even though it was “girly” stuff.  He was correct, as most of the handmade items appealed to the ladies.  Something that appealed to the fellows had to be the Mexican food truck serving spicy food.  Sure smelled good.

 

It was a good time to head back and find that restaurant on the corner.  It was called The Rivers, an appropriate name.  We went inside and found it resembled an Irish pub.  Checking a menu we saw they had some nice appetizers and draft beer.  They must have had a shortage of wait staff, so we needed to go to the bar and order drinks.   Eventually a waiter came and took our order of nachos to share.  A plate arrived full of beans, cheese, hamburger, avocado, tomatoes and chopped onions which was piled on top of nacho chips.  It has been ages since we shared this treat.  Went well with Stella beers.  We did add a slice of decadent chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Our time was limited, so we had to leave to catch one of the last tender boats. 

 

This time the boat was full but left the pier right after we boarded.  Getting back on board was interesting as the swells were still strong.  Once again, many helping hands got us off safely.  Back in our room, we watched as the last of the tenders were loaded back onboard.  The anchor was pulled up, and we left the bay around 3:30pm.

 

We had an invitation to a private President’s Club Get-Together to “catch the officers, release our queries, and shoot the breeze” from 4:30 to 5:30pm in the Gallery Bar.   By the time we arrived, the room was full of guests, drinks in hand, and firing away those questions of the officers that attended.  Within seconds, Twinkle brought our drinks and a round of canapies were passed around.  We joined Maja, the guest relations manager, as well as the staff captain, Folkert, and the purser.  We had a very nice visit with them, and did get many answers to our questions.  Henk stopped by quickly and made sure we were fine since he has not seen us out and about too much.  That is due to the fact we are enjoying the comfort and convenience of our room.  We also thanked him for seeing that the traffic mirrors were installed on the promenade deck as we suggested last fall.  He agreed that for safety reasons, it was an easy fix.  Even though the officers left by 5:30pm, many of us stayed visiting for a while.  It is seldom we see all of our group in one place.  We did hear through the grapevine that another similar party was happening in the Crow’s Nest at 6:30pm for the Neptune suite folks. 

 

All of our tablemates were back tonight sharing stories of the day.  The menu had even more different items such as sliced tenderloin, cobia fish, another type of duck, pot roast, and the always available chicken or salmon.  Everyone seemed pleased with their choices, except for Barb who ordered only appetizers.  She was feeling a bit under the weather tonight, and we sure hope she is not getting a cold or something else.  Tomorrow is her birthday…..80 something, and she needs to be OK for the birthday cake.

 

Wellington will be our stop for Sunday, and it looks like it may be a windy one, according to Captain Friso. 

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Oceansaway17 said:

can you share at least 3-4 photos here on cc.  I like your writeups, but wish you woulsd share photos.I do NOT to facebook.

I

They are on their blog not Facebook.  I used to get emails from their blog but I don’t anymore.  Hopefully someone will share the link to the blog.

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