Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monday continued

We walked through a replica of captain Scott's Antarctic hut (1911) and saw tools and equipment they used a hundred years ago.  Lots of sharks, stingrays, sea horses, eels, one octopus, crayfish, turtles etc.  Came back to our area and had lunch with Susan and had to saw good bye again.  Ray and I walked around this afternoon and went out to a pub for dinner where they served the toughest steak that we've ever had.  On our way back to our hotel and may stop for a snack along the way.  \We are weaning ourselves off the 6 meals a day we had on the ship.  Don't know who won the Oscars, it was on this afternoon here.  From Facebook it seems that lots weren't impressed with the hosts.  We're at the Imax for the internet and Ray went to find out if The King's Speech was playing. ...It was and it was $30.00 each for the tickets.  For that price, I'd want to see Colin Firth in person.


Went up the street to Sky Tower, which is the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere.  We went to the top and enjoyed looking for landmarks below.  Beautiful view of the islands and the North Shore.  Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand with about 1 1/2 million population.  Saw several do a sky jump off the top and also saw three people do the bungy across from our hotel.  Met our friend Susan at the Antarctic Show.  Saw lots of big penguins from the South Pole, Kings and Gentoos.  Took a ride through in a Snowcat, like a small train.  They are so cute. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Up early for breakfast at 6:30am.  Said goodbye to everyone.  Off by 8:15 and at our hotel by 8:45am.  In the downtown area.  Walked around, back to hotel for a nap, and out for dinner.  Going back early for a good sleep.  Meeting Susan, our friend from Calgary at noon to go see the Antartic show.  Big penguins this time.  Always a let down, after all the people and the activities of the ship.  Ready for some lighter meals now.. Great cruise but I'm now counting the days until we go home.

Friday & Saturday

Friday:  Tauranga, took tour to Agrodome, a show with 14 kinds of sheep, a cow, lambs, ducks, and sheep dogs.  Ray got picked to go on stage and milk a cow.  Then on to Rotorua to visit a Maori village.  Enjoyed a meal that was cooked in the ground.  They gave us the Maori greeting where they touch noses twice. Once to honor the people that have died and once to greet the person in the present.  We then went to a bird conservatory to see lots of birds and finally saw the kiwi, the national bird.  The last stop of the day was Hell's Gate where there were hot springs and lots of sulfer smell. Our friends we've met from Perth, Kevin and Diane had their 50th anniversary today. I arranged with the front desk to have balloons on their door and for them to have a cake at their dinner.  They had a great day and so did we with them.  After dinner we spent a lot of time with our friends, Michael, Kevin's brother and Susan from Calgary, & Brenda from Montana.
Saturday: Packing day today.  Got up early to see the |White Island volcano.  |Don't worry, it's inactive! Then back to bed until we had breakfast in our room at 8am.  Saw show  in the morning where the crew said goodbye.  \|Walked in the afternoon for breast cancer.  5kms or 10 laps around the 3rd deck.  We received t-shirts and wrist bands from the ship.  Very tired but glad we did it.  Dinner was the Chef's Master dinner and they all danced as they served us.  Great fun.  Saw the last show, magic, comedy and singing.  Spent time with friends we've met on the ship.  Lots of hugs and tears!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday:  Took a tour of Wellington sights.  Rode a cable car part way up to Victoria Mountain and the bus for the last part.  Could see all of the city and while up there found a monument that had lines to stand on that pointed to the South Pole and the North.  We stayed in the city and had lunch and shopped for a few hours.  Ray went to the Te Papa museum and saw a giant squid. I found cookie cutters in the shape of New Zealand and a kiwi, their national bird.  After dinner we went to see a magic show.  He was great and told good jokes.

Thursday:  Took a morning tour to Kidnapper's Cove and the Gannet colony.  It was very scenic, lots of hills, very steep roads, sheep everywhere.  On the point there were thousands of Gannets who were nesting there.  They have their young and when they can fly, they leave for the Great Barrier Reef off Australia and fly non stop.  They live there for 2 years and come back to the same area to have their young.  Left port early and had a relaxing afternoon.  Went to see the magician show us some of his tricks.  Signed up to do a walk for cancer on Saturday.  Ray is walking for his mom and I'm walking for Jennie, my aunt. Formal dinner tonight.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sunday to Tuesday

Sunday:  We docked at Port Chalmers and took the shuttle to Dunedin.  Shopped at the markets in the certre of the city called the Octagon.  Met Jennifer and Bill who are friends of Dinie and Matthew and had a lovely lunch.  Afterwards, Jennifer's dad, Jim drove us all over the Otago Peninsula and up to the Albatross Colony.  We saw thousands of sheep and the beautiful hills of the Southern Alps.  Took in a show,  lady singer from Cairns.  Great!
Monday:  We docked at Littleton and took a train through Christchurch and up to the higher mountains of the Alps to Arthur's Pass.  The views were breath taking.  Had tea and scones on the train.  Came back by coach and stopped at the little town of Springfield and had a great lunch in the community centre.  Then down to Christchurch for a look at the city.  In the city square we shopped and took lots of pictures of the lovely buildings.  On the way back to the ship, our tour guide took us to the areas that had damage from the earthquake this past September.  After dinner we enjoyed a show put on by the Phillipino crew members.
Tuesday:  Took the day off from touring.  Went into town of Picton.  It was raining, but most of the stores had awnings so it was no problem.  Went to a Maori museum.  Went shopping and after only an hour we heard about the earthquake in Christchurch.  Many of the buildings we saw yesterday are rubble today and everyone was crowding into any store that had a tv.  It was very sobering to see the devastation and to know that there are people who died.  A quiet evening on the ship, mostly sitting around talking to our friends.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tuesday to Saturday

On Tuesday we went on a tour in Melbourne to  the Dandenong Ranges National Park.  In the little town of Belgrade we took a ride on the Puffing Billy train, a narrow gauge steam train.  Great fun.
Wednesday we arrived in Burnie, Tasmania.  Tasmania is an island off the south coast of Australia and is also one of the seven states.  On a tour we took a ride into the countryside and was suprised that is was so fertile.  Lots of farms and cows, horses and sheep.  Stopped at a honey farm and had ice cream.  Had lunch at a wildlife park and saw lots of kangaroos, wombats, tasmanian devils, eagles, galahs, kookaburras and really enjoyed our last look at the animals.  On our way back to the ship, we had a tour of a chocolate factory and had dessert and hot chocolate there
Thursday and Friday we were at sea. Saw lots of shows, singers and dancers, a great piano player and ate lots of wonderful food.  Met lots of nice people from all over the world.  Some nights are casual and we've had two formal nights.  Last night we each had lobster and loved that.  We've been shopping in the shops on board and playing bingo, doing trivia contests and listening to the various musical groups. 
Today we got our first glimpse of New Zealand.  Went through Milford Sound at 6:30am, Doubtful Sound at noon and Dusky  Sound at 2pm.  We sailed into the fiords and the mountains were unbelievable.  Tomorrow the first time we go ashore..

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday & Monday

Yesterday we shopped at the market outside our hotel after breakfast.  We got a taxi to the Volendam around noon.  After the boarding was over, we had lunch and found our room.  Ray took a tour of the ship and I looked around, too.  We had a welcome party at 5pm and sailed at 6:30pm.  Watched Sydney sights and then got dressed for dinner at 8pm.  Afterward we saw a live show and bummed around for awhile.  I was feeling a bit rocky because it was choppy for a bit.  Okay this morning.  We've been at sea today.  Lots of food. Invited to the captain's brunch at 11am, held for anyone who has sailed with Holland  America before.  Had dinner at the Pinnacle Restaurant (finer dining) because it is Valentine's Day.  After dinner, we did a pub quiz in the Crow's Nest and then saw the show again.  In between we met the captain and crew. Champagne three times today and more food than we should eat in a week.  Back to Melbourne tomorrow to pick up more passengers and we are going to do another tour.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


We watched the vendors set up stalls outside our hotel while we were having breakfast. Called Clayton and Bax and had a chat, couldn't reach mom. Then took a free shuttle downtown to do our laundry. Walked around while it was washing and saw two streets that were close, one was Mary and the other was Foster. We thought that they met but they didn't. Got a picture, anyway. (My mom's maiden name was Mary Foster)On our way back we watched Psycho Sam, a street performer. He did a lot of crazy things, including swallowing an inflated 3 foot long balloon. Spent the afternoon shopping at the outside market and meeting lots of interesting people on the patio of our hotel. Out for dinner and spending our last night in Austalia. Almost 5 weeks here. Things are a little different here. North is warmer than South, this is Summer, Burger King is Hungry Jacks, Woolworths is a supermarket chain, and there's not a Walmart in sight.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Started early again this morning. Went on a tour of Sydney and the suburbs. We are in the Rocks area and we saw Chinatown, Darling Harbour, Kings Cross and Double Bay. Sat in Mrs. Macquarie's Chair and spent time at Bondi Beach. Passed Russell Crowe's Condo on the water (we could buy one for only $13 Million! Back home shortly after noon. Had lunch at the Circular Quay and went shopping at a market that was set up for the weekend around the corner from our hotel. After dinner we took a bus to Darling Harbour to look around the area. Walked back to the Quay and listened to a jazz combo. On our way back to our hotel. May stop for a desert.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Bus arrived early for our trip to the Blue Mountains. We were still eating breakfast but we made it. We stopped first at Featherdale Wildlife Park and had a great time seeing all the wildlife. Lots of koalas, kangaroos, wallabys, wombats, dingos, cassowaries, all kinds of other birds, snakes and crocodiles. Stopped for lunch at the town of Leura and shopped around for a short time. We stopped at Govetts Leap on the way up to the mountains to see the view of theJamison and Megalong Valleys below and it was unbeleivable. Then we stopped at Scenic World and took the steepest train in the world part way down the mountain, and saw an old abandoned coal mine before taking a cable car back up. Saw the "Three Sisters", a rock formation on one of the mountains. Not a place to be scared of heights but the scenery was great. On our way back we toured the Olympic Site (2000) and drove down to the dock at Parramatta and took a boat back to Sydney, going under the Sydney bridge and passing the Opera House on the way. After a short rest, we are out for dinner and the internet.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Our a/c didn't work last night, it was steamy. Got it fixed this morning. Had breakfast at our hotel and went for a walk around the harbour. We walked to the cruise ship terminal and around Circular Quay to the Opera House. Walked up the steps and went inside to check it out. Pretty impressive! Had a tiny tart and coffee, $22.00 for two of us!!! Arranged for some tours for Thursday and Friday. Walked along Pitt St to the Mall and window shopped on our way back to our hotel on George St. Had a quiet afternoon and dinner at our hotel. Downtown now to see another area of city after dark. I'm enjoying the weather, it's a little cooler and great for walking.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Had a short flight from Brisbane, arrived in Sydney around 3pm. What a beautiful city! We are only a few minutes walk from the Sydney Bridge and the Opera House. Both are awe inspiring. Our hotel is very old and Irish and has large rooms and a bath. The bathroom is huge. Pub downstairs and it seems to be a lively place. We had a drink on the patio and met a couple from England who had stopped for a drink also and we ended up walking with them to the middle of the bridge to watch The Diamond Princess leave port at 6pm. About 15 minutes from the hotel. The harbour is beautiful, lots of islands about that we are going to take a boat trip and visit while we're here. We went back to our hotel for a bangers and mash dinner and then took a walk down to the water and along George Street. We'll be ready to roll tomorrow. Nice and cool here, too about 22 or 23C. yeah!

Monday, February 7, 2011


We had an easy day today. I know we should have gone on another tour but I was too tired to do it today. We had a lovely breakfast on our hotel patio. Then we lounged around for a few hours. Ray so he could watch the Super Bowl game and I read and soaked my feet. This afternoon we took a cab to China Town and shopped for awhile, then had dinner there. Took a bus back to The Queen Street Mall to use the internet and browse the shops here. Tonight we pack again for Sydney tomorrow. Our last city in Australia. We've been gone 4 weeks today. Almost another 4 weeks left.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


We left early for the Australian Zoo. Steve Irwin's Zoo. Saw alligators, then fed the elephants, then saw a live show of snakes, birds, crocodiles. Saw the exhibits of koalas, emus, cassawaries, wombats, tasmanian devils, echidnas, kangaroos-including a joey(baby),snakes,more crocodiles. Also camels, alpacas and sheep. Lots of trash turkeys and dragon lizards wandering around. Joke about the trash turkeys: If you want to cook one, you put it in a pot with 4 rocks. Cook until rocks are soft and throw out the turkey and eat the rocks. While we were there it was 32C and humid, plus we had 5 heavy downpours of rain. On the way we saw the glass house mountains. On our way home we stopped at a fruit stand for a snack. After a rest we went downtown for dinner.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Friday & Saturday

We got a flight out yesterday and arrived in Brisbane last night. We are not losing any time in Brisbane because the train ride would have taken more than a day. We went out for dinner last night near our hotel and had an early night. Had breakfast at Queen St. mall today, and arranged to take a city tour. We went to Mount Coot-Tha and we could see all over the city. Th driver showed us where the floods were along the Brisbane river. Some of the buildings aren't opened yet but they look okay from the outside. One of the riverside restaurants floated down the river (we saw that on tv). Saw original convict built building from the 1830's and many other old state buildings. Stopped at Riverside Market and had lunch. On our way back to the hotel we picked up some food and I cooked dinner in our kitchenette. The food was about $25.00, that would have been around $90.00 in a restaurant. At McDonaaald's now for the free wifi.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday & Thursday

We spent Wednesday waiting out the cyclone. The hotel was locked down at 2pm and we received several updates about the precautions that we had to take. After dinner we had to go to our rooms for the night, although they let us out for awhile to go to first floor for drinks and snacks and watch a movie "Forest Gump". Our doors had to be locked, the patio doors had to be locked and drapes pulled. We had to fill our bathtub with water?? Hotel was on a generator after 8pm so we had no A/C/. We heard the howling wind start about 11pm and went to sleep shortly after. Couldn't see much because it was dark outside. This morning we found that the storm wasn't as bad as they expected and there was no loss of life. Lots of trees down around the hotel. We just came into town to use the internet. (that was out at the hotel) Lots of trees and branches down here too. Trying to get a flight out or if we can't we are here until Saturday at the earliest. We were supposed to leave today.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monday and Tuesday

No blog on Monday. We were late getting back to hotel from dinner and had to move rooms because of the a/c. Monday we took a boat out to the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef we stopped at was the Moore Reef. We were about 1 1/2 hours going out to the pontoon, after stopping at Fitzroy Island to drop off some people. The large boat was tied up to the pontoon that is anchored in the water. We took a ride in a glass bottomed boat and then went in a sdubmarine type boat. The reef was beautiful. Saw lots of fish. Had a great buffet lunch. Back by 5:30pm. Went into town for dinner at an Irish pub!!
Today we were going to have a rest and go on another tour tomorrow but we woke to news that a cyclone is bearing down on Cairns. It is expected in 24 hours. Our tour is cancelled for Wednesday, also our train to Brisbane that was scheduled for Thursday has been postponed until Saturday. It may not leave then, so we are going to try and get a flight. The airport is closed and they are moving people out of the low lying areas. We are safe in the hotel. They have generators if the power is out and will have lots of food on hand to feed the guests. Most of the guests here were supposed to leave but the hotel is putting everyone up for as long as it takes. The wind is supposed to start at 8am tomorrow and we will be watching from the inside. They have closed most shops in town early and taped the windows. Some have brought in sandbags because they expect lots of water too. We are safe and will let you know how it turns out.