A Travellerspoint blog

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MONDAY, FEB. 16: AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

1. One out four “Kiwis” live in Auckland, the “City of Sails”. There are “more yachts per capita than any other city in the world” – and it’s hilly too. Auckland is built on fourteen extinct volcanoes!
2. Skytower is a familiar landmark.
3. The highest point we walked to today was in Albert Park – we rested on the way up and Hästa aroused some local interest.
4. University of Auckland Clock Tower building
5. Queen Victoria reigns supreme among the blooms.
6. Here’s one clock that Ed can’t hang on the wall, and we can’t take it home with us. Whew!
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Posted by Swenigale 13:20

TUESDAY, FEB. 17: AUCKLAND & WAIHEKE ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND

1. Today dawned bright and beautiful. We sadly said farewell to friends who disembarked in Auckland. This begins the 3rd segment of the World Cruise, and even with some passengers leaving and others joining, the Serenity remains only half-filled, yet with a full complement of staff, lecturers and entertainment. And food, of course.
2. The Auckland skyline receded in the distance as we took a ferry to the island of Waiheke for a Winery Tour.
3 -6. The three vineyards we visited are all boutique wineries which make very nice New Zealand wines. We were told the climate is similar to that of Burgundy in France.
7. Our French wine guide shows off their Chardonnay grapes. 8. The views from the island were spectacular! I just can’t believe the color of the water.
9. Back on shore in Auckland is the Maritime museum, displaying the 1988 Americas Cup challenger, K Z 1 – “The Big Boat”.
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Posted by Swenigale 20:26

THURSDAY, FEB. 19: TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND

1. The Seaside town of Tauranga from the Crystal Serenity
2. & 3. We headed out to sea with “Butler’s Swim with Dolphins”. What an amazing adventure! After sailing for 2 hours in the beautiful Bay of Plenty we found a pod of about 100 dolphins.
4 & 5. To “swim with dolphins” you put on a mask and snorkel, climb down the back of the boat to a 2 foot ledge, crouch in a waiting position and when the Captain yells, “All right, put them in” – you slide down into the water holding on to a bar with both hands and looking underwater – as the boat continues to move slowly forward. That’s me on the right.
6. Oops – that’s me pulling myself back to the boat (which was still moving, I might add!) after my hands slipped off the bar!
7. Yay! Safe back onboard!
8. Guess this was my day!
9 & 10. The Mauao Mountain is sacred to Maori people and thus it is undeveloped. It juts out into the bay and there is a wonderful walking path around the whole perimeter (about 3 miles).
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Posted by Swenigale 21:41

FRIDAY, FEB. 20: NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND

Our arrival in the Art Deco town of Napier was not until noon, so there was time for talks by two of the guest lecturers. General Nick Halley gave the first of his three lectures. He is an internationally recognized expert on leadership and terrorism. This first talk was “The Origins of the War Against Radical Islam”. I tell ya, dolphins one day, world history the next, how lucky can we be! And not to mention the “Hill Billy Hoedown” the entertainment staff presented last night!

1-4. So – here are some rainy day pictures of Napier which was rebuilt in Art Deco style after it was leveled by an earthquake in 1931. This weekend in February (their late summer) is their annual Art Deco weekend and residents and visitors dress in 1920’s style clothing and close the streets for a big celebration.
5. Here we are – inspired by Napier’s Art Deco theme, I bought some feathers and we’re ready for a night in the town – on the ship!

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Posted by Swenigale 00:35

HE GOT AWAY!

The picture below should have been one of the dolphin pictures from Feb. 19 - guess he got away!
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Posted by Swenigale 00:35

SATURDAY, FEB. 21: WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

1. Cook Strait, between the North and South Islands of New Zealand, is only 20 miles wide and is like a wind tunnel. Wellington is on the strait on the North Island and is nicknamed “The Windy City”. We were there during their “Cuba Street Festival” and all its frivolities, a Mardi Gras Kiwi-style. These men were performing the traditional English Morris Dance.
2. Lots of families crowded the streets in a party mood.
3. Preparations were underway for the night parade. Here “Beach Boys” music was being played near the “Wave” and girls were getting bikinis painted on themselves (no pictures included).
4. More parade prep.
5. Calling family.
6. The Regional Championships - in Monopoly!
7. Cable car to the Botanical Gardens.
8. Hästa heeds the warning.
9. The Serenity was docked bow to stern with a logging ship – we had a bird’s eye of the loading operation.

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Posted by Swenigale 13:36

MONDAY, FEB. 23: DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND

1-3. Dunedin is a Scottish stronghold in New Zealand’s Southland. Since it was another drizzily day, it was a perfect time for a visit to Cadbury World! We went on the tour of the chocolate factory with our young New Zealand guide – we understood MOST of his English. We donned our hair coverings, removed watches and other jewelry and stored our cameras – we expected to be greeted by Willie Wonka at any moment!
We now have eaten all the chocolate bars they gave us on the tour – we had to – it’s Shrove Tuesday! No more chocolate for us in Lent!!
4-5. The Dunedin Train Station. This time we went inside and enjoyed the beautiful turn of the 20th century architecture.
6. Robbie Burns sits in front of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral.

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Posted by Swenigale 18:25

TUESDAY, FEB. 24: DUSKY & DOUBTFUL SOUNDS, NEW ZEALAND

We rounded the Southern tip of New Zealand and entered Dusky Sound (following the same path as Capt. Cook when he first explored the fiords of New Zealand) and exiting via Breaksea Sound. We then sailed into Doubtful Sound and exited via Thompson Sound. Today’s photos were hard to choose – lots of beauty in land and sea and sky – and dolphins! The dolphins played right next to and under the ship as we leaned over the side of the ship to watch them.
Here are just a few of our many pictures of that day. The last picture is from the Mardi Gras party onboard later that day.
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Posted by Swenigale 14:01

ASH WEDNESDAY, FEB. 25: MILFORD SOUND

We were up before dawn for our approach to Milford Sound. The sky was clear and the seas were calm as we sailed in.
To the delight of all the passengers and crew Crystal had arranged for a helicopter with some of Crystal’s photographers onboard to circle the ship many times, hovering high and low and creating a heck of a lot of excitement among all of us. Note the helicopter above the falls in one of our pictures.
Our Captain brought the bow of the Serenity close enough to a water fall to soak the gathered crew – but, being a big ship we had to move slowly – time enough for a couple of little boats to sneak in the shower first!
All this happened before our 10:30am Ash Wednesday Service. We then sailed out of Milford Sound, leaving New Zealand behind and heading into the Tasman Sea toward Sydney.
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Posted by Swenigale 20:01

SATURDAY, FEB. 28: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

1, 2 & 3: A glorious sunrise appeared behind the ship as we sailed into Sydney Harbor. Captain Edvardsen had told everyone to be up early for the beautiful approach – and we were.
4, 5 & 6: The Serenity docked in prime position right in Circular Quay near both the bridge and Opera House. “Sydneysiders” are as fond of the Sydney Harbor Bridge as they are of the Opera House, so that meant we had to climb it – and we did! The whole deal is a 3 ½ hour event complete with training, special jumpsuits, caps, belts and safety gear. No cameras, watches or anything that could drop and smash through someone’s windshield are allowed. The climb was a thrill! An adventure, well worth the equivalent price of a ticket to the opera!
7, 8 & 9: Bondi Beach – a long time hang-out for Aussies and just a half hour bus ride away. We didn’t surf, obviously – just soaked up some sun and Aussie chatter. I was hoping to see Hugh Jackman walk by but it was not to be.
10. An evening stroll brought us back to the mother ship.
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Posted by Swenigale 20:21

SUNDAY, MAR. 1: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

1 & 2: It’s the first day of Autumn down under – go figure! We had breakfast with an unbeatable view.
3, 4 & 5: “The Rocks” - the scene of the weekend craft fair. We were feeling some bridge climbing muscles we forgot we had, so we decided to stay local today.
6. There are lots of interesting wood crafts made from native timber at the market.
7. More intrepid bridge climbers on their way to the top.
8. The Jacaranda tree has purple blossoms in the Spring.
9 & 10. Our sail-away completed an awesome two days in Sydney – starting the fourth segment of the World Cruise. At the start of each segment new lecturers and entertainers come on board so we won’t get bored (ha-ha)! Look closely at the bridge – are those climbers waving goodbye?
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Posted by Swenigale 21:06

TUESDAY, MAR. 3: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

1. The 4th segment – Sydney to Singapore.
2. Melbourne is the capital of the State of Victoria, Australia. There has been a drought for 12 years and Melbourne is just an hour’s drive from the terrible fires that are still burning in the bush. The beautiful buildings in Melbourne were built with money from the Australian Gold Rush of 1851. This is the central railroad station with the tall “Eureka” building behind it. The huge gold-leafed square at the top of the Eureka represents the gold wealth with which the city was built. (Rumor has it Nicholas Cage has bought a place up there).
3. St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral.
4. Federation Square with the National Gallery. Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open is nearby.
5. One of the beautiful Victorian arcades.
6. A more modern shopping complex: Australia on Collins.
7. Hästa visits the State Parliament.
8. Fun parts of the city are the many small passageways.
9. The Royal Exhibition Building – the only World Heritage Building and gardens in the country.
10. A free city circle tram is shown at a stop in front of the Princess Theater.
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Posted by Swenigale 23:01

THURSDAY, MAR. 5: AT SEA

Since setting sail on January 21st the Serenity has been blessed with mostly calm seas. Well, now we have been through some pretty serious weather- a “low pressure system” (Captains must not be allowed to use the word “storm”). Some waves broke over the bow of the ship – these pictures were taken from our window on the 7th floor across the walking deck! Today’s Thursday March 5th and the sea swells are calming down – but since we left Melbourne on Tuesday evening we’ve been moving slowly westward often as slow as 5 knots per hour in order to ride out the storm. The waves were as high as 45 feet and everyone and everything on the ship was tossed about. Last night around 7pm we were hit by a couple of waves that made the ship list and then right itself. Wow! That made for lots of broken plates, glasses and wine bottles! But no broken bones we’ve been told.
So – we are behind schedule and we expect to dock tonight in Adelaide and we will remain one day behind schedule for now. We are all fine, it was all pretty exciting - thank you God for strong ships and wise captains.
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Posted by Swenigale 00:05

FRIDAY, MAR. 6: ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

“Adelaide, Adelaide – Prettiest Town the Ozzies Ever Made.”
1. Adelaide is known for its mild climate and countless manicured parks. Unfortunately, the trees and gardens have suffered enormously in the current 12 year drought. The dry ground these birds are pecking is pretty common.
2. On a morning tour we sampled Australian wines at the University of Southern Australia. First time we have seen that on a University Campus!
3. A giant fig tree is surviving the drought.
4. The site for the city of Adelaide was selected and the layout was designed by this gentleman, Colonel William Light, and the city is known as one of Australia’s most livable.
5. Rundle Mall – the pedestrian shopping street – these porkers won’t be on the barbie!
6. The Kangaroo and Emu (pronounced “Emew”!) are in the emblem of Australia. This is the entrance to the Adelaide Arcade.
7. German Lutherans were early settlers and they brought their farming and craftsman skills to this town of “free-settlers”. Bethlehem Lutheran Church is one of the many churches in this “City of Churches”.
8. Central Market – the largest City Market in the Southern Hemisphere with 250 stores under one roof.
9. We couldn’t have set this one up!
10. Victoria Square is the center of the one square mile business district which is also anchored by four other parks and a green belt – an urban oasis in a city of a million people.
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Posted by Swenigale 18:41

MONDAY, MAR. 9: FREMANTLE, AUSTRALIA

All is mostly well on Serenity, but due to the weather delay and some ship propulsion problems we are having to skip 3 ports: Broome, AU, and Komodo Island and Semarang, Indonesia! We hope to be in Bali on March 15th Bali time, which will get us back on schedule. So, basically we are on a slow boat to China, or as some are joking, a cruise to nowhere! But what better place to be at sea than on Serenity!
Today’s pictures are of our evening visit in Fremantle. The ship docked overnight and stayed the following day.
1. The mouth of the Swan River as we sailed in for our evening arrival. 2. Many of the Federalist style buildings are well-preserved, thanks to the efforts of the citizens of Fremantle.
3. Did you know that “Breaky” is breakfast Down Under?
4. Evening light makes the buildings glow.
5. No kidding – this is not a model train – and those are real trees – Norfolk pines to be precise.
6. Bathers Bay.
7. A good catch.
8. Sunset from the fishing marina.
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Posted by Swenigale 07:26

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