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Fi mum23

Royalty, Wife, Mummy, friend, teacher, student & fitness blogger

Month

December 2015

What colour is your lifejacket?

Quite often, the Holy Spirit will prompt me on a future blog entry.  This happened to me on the very first day of our cruise, so I did what I always do in these situations, got out my phone and typed it into a note ‘for a time such as this’ (ha ha), when I’d find the time to sit at my Mac and blog about it.

As a little side-note, but still very pertinent to this blog, I am simply LOVING  (& very appreciative) how I have such a great ‘open phone line’ with my Heavenly Father, and in turn am often very aware of Holy Spirit prompting.  Now, I’m in no way saying that I always get it right, coz I so do not !!  There are times when I ignore that still small voice, or buy into the lie that it was ‘just my own thoughts’.  I always know this has happened as a turn of events play out and I’m able to see plain as day where I should have listened to the still small voice, and I didn’t.  Most of the time, it’s very small things.. nothing life changing by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure it’s exactly those times when The Lord is teaching me to lean on Him in EVERY situation.  It always prompts me to be constantly aware that if I don’t continue to work on and foster that relationship with The Lord, one of those times won’t be about a small, non-life-changing issue, but something much bigger.

John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom The Father will send you in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

So, with all this in mind, when I am confident The Holy Spirit has given me a message, I get it written down so that I can explore it later.

Because it’s always interesting to start off a ‘story’ or message with a ‘sizzling start’ (that’s grade 3 curriculum coming back to me right there), here we go…

It was a gorgeous sunny Friday, standing on Riviera Deck of the Sea Princess.  My family & I were standing with lifejackets in hand while waving off dear friends that had come to farewell us.

As you can imagine, it’s kinda awkward walking around carrying lifejackets.  They’re not the modern type you’d use when going on a speedboat etc, but the very ‘boxy’ type that I imagine are made that way for easy mass production, as well as efficient storage in small spaces.

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After waving off our friends, we headed to our super exciting safety Muster.  As we were walking to our muster station, carrying my boxy lifejacket, I really felt, within my spirit, that I was being told the following very clear line.

JESUS IS YOUR LIFEJACKET !!

Because it wasn’t a particular ‘must be dealt with now’ type of prompting, I didn’t think on it too much at that time (too busy listening to the fascinatingly interesting safety talk of course), but it was the following day when sitting quietly on Promenade deck with nothing but my husband’s silent company, a great book and a drink (non-alcoholic of course, as I assume some of you may not like me BUI.. Blogging Under the influence …Bahahahahahaha ), that my mind went back to that still small voice and it’s message to me the previous day.

What kept coming back to me was this notion of carrying that awkward lifejacket around with me the entire cruise.  I remember thinking to myself (which, yes, I know is kinda silly) “I wonder if our friends saw us with the lifejackets and thought we had to have them with us at all times on the cruise?.”  Yes, feel free to laugh, as it is a funny picture, as I know they’re clever enough to have not thought that.  When asking for clarification it was made clear to me that the idea shows me that we have Jesus with us AT ALL TIMES and he IS our lifejacket.  He protects us and gives us that amazing sense of security.  He keeps our head above the water, even when the ‘seas’ get rough and the ‘waves’ are high.  (Is anyone  else singing ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong in their heads right now?)

The biggest illustration though was that while the boxy lifejacket is cumbersome to carry around (& worse to wear), and we all couldn’t wait to put it back on the top shelf of the cupboard in our stateroom, to hopefully stay there for the remainder of our cruise.. the lifejacket that we have in Jesus is a pleasure and a gift to ‘wear’.

Another element to the illustration was about the colour.  The boxy lifejackets on the ship are bright orange.  Most lifejackets are bright aren’t they as one of their features needs to be high visability etc.  The question we need to ask ourselves is …  When our friends, family, circle of influence etc see us ‘wearing our Jesus lifejacket’, do they see a bright orange, highly visable ‘lifejacket’ or do they see a faded, shabby one?  I wonder if some people even like their Jesus lifejacket to come in a Camo design at times… like those times that we want to ‘fly under the radar’ and slip into sin areas we know we shouldn’t.

This illustration says to me that yes, we can choose Jesus as our lifejacket but do we wear it at all times, care for it, keep it in tip-top shape?  highly visible & effective, or do we wear it only when it suits us, throw in the cupboard for weeks or months at a time, change the design of it at times so that it’s ‘easier’ (less cumbersome) to wear etc. When we do that, we are actually hurting not only ourselves, but those around us.  Those people that are possibly put across our path in order for us to witness to them.  We are called to be light in the darkness.

Personally, while working with this illustration, I want my ‘lifejacket’ to be a BRIGHT FLURO orange.. I want people to see Jesus within me from far off… & not just in appearance, but in action & deed.

I have found from personal experience over the years that when the lifejacket seems burdensome and weary to wear, it’s at those times that I have let me relationship with The Lord wane.  I’ve not given him my best, my first, my time.  Praise The Lord, I’ve never wanted to take the lifejacket off, never even come close to thinking it, but I am honest enough to know that at times my lifejacket has appeared dull and barely visible.  It always continued to have it’s practical elements of protection, but was I wearing it with the straps undone… living on the edge so to speak. I’m extremely grateful for the influences I’ve had in my life, in particular within the last 5ish years, that have brought me to a place of doing up the clips, tightening the straps, cleaning off the ‘dust’ and bringing it back to HIGH VISIBILITY.

So, to wrap up what I’ve taken from this particular message from The Holy Spirit, I want to keep my lifejacket BRIGHT and VISIBLE !!! How am I going to do that?  No matter how much time, big or small, I already devote in quietness to The Lord, I’m going to work at increasing those times.  I’m going to increase the times that I read from my ACTUAL bible, as opposed to using the app on my phone.  It’s convenient, I know (believe me, I know.. because I can make the font nice and BIG), but it’s also easy to have a txt message or a phone call come in and then poof…  quiet time disturbed.. even if you ignore the call/message.

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Also, I’m going to increase my journalling.  I really enjoy it so it’s certainly not a chore, and much is learnt from each journalling entry.

Praise & worship is also a big part of my walk with The Lord.  So many modern worship songs are full of great teachable content, but you really can’t beat the old hymns.  They are so rich in God’s word…  with so many of them copied straight off the pages.  So, increased time listening to God’s word in song is in order too.

With all this in mind, I’d say 2016 is looking pretty darn exciting !!

Blessings Peeps  xox

 

 

 

Cruising to New Zealand Day 11 -15

At 0906 Sea Princess entered Dusky Sound the first of the Fiord transits of the day.  Sea Princess exited Dusky Sound at 1023 and proceeded around the coast towards Thompsons Sound entering at 1150.  After winding through the narrow Fiord Sea Princess was clear of Thompson Sound at 1300.  At 1622 Sea Princess entered into Milford Sound the last of the Fiord passages of the day.  Once at the end of Milford Sound Sea Princess started her thrusters and swung around and proceeded back out towards the Tasman Sea exiting Milford Sound and disembarking the Fiordland Pilot at 1752. 

We tried to set ourselves an alarm so we wouldn’t miss any of the Fiordland National Park but we kinda either set it wrong or slept thru it, I can’t remember.  Either way, Dusky Sound and Thompson Sound was pretty boring really compared to the grandeur of Milford Sound at the end of the day.  The weather was rainy, cold & dreary, but it was still lovely.

After nearly 2wks of seeing nothing but sky and ocean when going out on the open decks, it was kinda surreal to walk out and see these towering majestic mountain surrounding the ship.  We are 14 floors above the water level as it is, so it was amazing to feel dwarfed besides these mountains.  Seeing snow atop them was pretty darn cool also !!!

When it came time for lunch, we were torn what to do as we wanted something more than the outdoor grill but didn’t want to head indoors and miss anything, so we went to the dining room and talked the waiter into giving us a window table and opening the curtains up as WIDE as they would go.

The chicken was to die for… and having the view we had out the window beside us….  perfection !!

The kids were all busy at the youth centres and were missing everything, so I went in search of them and dragged their butts out into the open to enjoy this most likely once in a lifetime experience.

Room on the front open deck was at a premium while in Milford Sound.  It really was breathtaking and everyone wanted to experience it to the full.  It was quite cold to be out there, but well worth it.

It was really interesting to be told that the Fiords are far deeper than they are wide, so this answers the obvious question of how such a big vessel can get in there.

The wildlife consists of dolphins, seals and birds.  Introduced species include mice, rats, hare and deer.  Among the birds are the Kakapo, the only flightless parrot in the world.  Also, of course, there is the Kiwi.

Access into the park is limited, with the drive in being a 9hr journey from Christchurch.  Helicopters and scenic flights run and we did see a helicopter during our day there.  We did also see some kayakers which was pretty cool as they seemed like little dots down there in the water.

Sadly, the day did need to come to an end and we began our journey home. There were mixed emotions that evening as we realised we’d hit our home stretch, as we were keen to get home and see loved ones, but also, life on the ship is just so relaxing and we knew that we just wouldn’t relax to that degree once at home.  Surprisingly, the last 3 days at sea really dragged.  Our first sea day heading home was also our second formal night of the cruise.

It was on this formal night that we had the Princess cruises 50th birthday dinner.  They’ve been having lots of different celebrations all through 2015.  This is the menu from the evening.

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Also, just to show how much I fully immerse myself in a cruise, one of my favourite parts of the day was straight after dinner when the following days ‘Princess Patter’ would be waiting for us outside our stateroom.  It told of the following days events, weather, destinations etc.  Each day also gave you a rundown on a particular senior crew member.

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In the last few days, I headed out with my camera to hopefully get some good shots of the ship etc.

The second last night of the cruise was hands down my MOST favourite part of the cruise.  Christmas Carols in the Atrium with the senior officers & crew !!  As the average age of passengers on the ship was about 65, the crowd was full of ‘older folk’ who REALLY enjoy their traditional carols.. and man did they all get into it.  You haven’t been apart of Carols until you’ve done it with 4 packed levels of robustly singing cruise passengers.  Jordan Peterson was on the piano and leading the singing but really didn’t need to do much leading.  Jordan was one of the cruise entertainers who we had come to love listening to most nights after dinner.  He really is very talented and would have a go at anything requested of him …. and basically do a great job every time.

The last sea day of the cruise involved a lot of packing & organising etc as everyone needs to have their luggage outside their stateroom before going to dinner that night.  This is so the cabin stewards can collect them while everyone is at dinner, rather than possibly disturbing people by doing it later in the evening.

Enjoying the last few days of the cruise….  favourite spots on the ship, favourite food, favourite times of day (Movies Under the Stars), seeing the last few sunsets over the ocean.

Sadly, the day of disembarkation had to come around eventually, and on Friday 18th Dec, it was upon us.  We had chosen the latest disembarkation timeslot of 9.45am thinking we may as well not have to rush off the ship, but something more like 8.30 would’ve been better as nothing is really open & available anyway as the crew is busy preparing for the next influx of passengers arriving that afternoon.

Top things I’ll miss about the cruise & therefore the biggest blessings of going on a cruise –

  • Endless hours with my husband
  • no cooking & cleaning
  • staring out into the stunningly blue ocean with no land in site
  • Talking to my Heavenly Father on Promenade deck looking out to sea.
  • the cruise atmosphere.
  • Yeah ok…. THE FOOD !!  (However, I do only put on 200g, so I think that’s pretty darn good… the secret is to always take the stairs.)

So that’s it peeps…  Cruise done & dusted !!  I really want to shout out right now to my DH who, without his years of hard work and dedication to providing for our family, this cruise would not have come about.

The ships final log read…

At 0200 the Brisbane local pilot boarded us as we commenced our alteration to port to enter into Moreton Bay to assist us with our transit up to the Portside passenger terminal.  The passage itself took around 5 hours, with us approaching the berth to be all fast starboard side alongside by 0700.  

& finally, all I can say is… if you’ve ever dreamed of cruising.. you should so do it !!!!!!

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Blessings Peeps !!!  xox

Cruising to New Zealand – Days 9 & 10

Sea Princess log Saturday 12th December 2015.

In the early hours Sea Princess made her approaches to Akaroa Heads.  From there Sea Princess proceeded toward her anchor position in Akaroa Bay.  When in position Sea Princess let go her Port Anchor at 0644.  Shortly after, the first passenger tenders proceeded ashore.

Akaroa was our only port that required use of the tender boats.  We were going on another booked tour today..  Scenic Akaroa by Double decker bus.  This was a great sightseeing tour around Akaroa and the spectacular Banks Peninsula area while riding on board a beautifully restored 1960s London Routemaster Double Decker Bus. ( of course we sat on the top level.. why go on a double decker bus and sit on the bottom level?  I mean, seriously)  We headed all the way up into the hills and made a stop at the Hilltop Cafe (aptly named right) We had a great morning tea there as well as had pictures with a particularly friendly sheep.

While on the tenderboat heading ashore , we were chatting with the gentleman I was sitting next to.  He asked where we were from etc, all the normal question guests ask each other when chatting, but while talking to him, I really seemed to recognise his voice. Anyway, he went on to ask us if we ever attend the EKKA and as soon as he said that, I knew where I knew his voice from.  He’s an announcer at the EKKA, and has been for as long as I can remember.  It was really fascinating hearing some of his stories.  He actually does announcing work all over Australia, including all of the other ‘EKKA type’ shows in other states.

We sat with him & his wife up at the cafe and continued to chat while having a very nice coffee/hot chocolate.

The town of Akaroa was originally founded by the French, and it has certainly retained a lot of that heritage throughout.  Jaz unknowingly dressed to fit in beautifully.  LOL.

After being dropped off in the town centre by the DD bus, we leisurely made our way through the town and back towards the ship.  There was a lighthouse we’d been told was worth seeing up past where we would re-board the tenderboat.

The sights, mainly the gardens, in the town centre really reminded us of having been in NZ back in 2008.  The soil must be fantastic over there as the gardens are always stunning, as well as the general countryside being so green & lush.

This stop in Akaroa was the closest to anything we saw last time we did NZ.  We didn’t go to the North Island at all last time, so each stop there was completely new, and we also never got to the very bottom of the South Island, so the next stop of Dunedin was much anticipated.  One of the tours available from Akaroa was a bus trip into Christchurch,  which was one of the places we based ourselves in 2008.  You could also do the Tranz Alpine  train journey over Arthur’s Pass from this destination also. We did this last time and it was AMAZING !!  I would highly recommend it to anyone going to NZ.

After exploring the lighthouse and surrounds, DH & Master 13 headed off up a bush track in search of further adventure while Miss 14, Master 10 & I headed back to jump on a tender boat back to the Sea Princess.

Being out on Promenade deck was interesting to watch the passing scenery as we made our way out of Akaroa Harbour.  The ships log read as follows.

With all passengers back on board and all tenders recovered at 1735 Sea Princess commenced heaving her port anchor.  The port anchor was ‘aweigh’ from the sea bed at 1755 and brought home at 1810.

Hearing the anchor come up was fascinating too as it was a full 15mins of very loud ‘clunk clunk clunk’.  You couldn’t hear it from inside but as we were out on deck, we could hear it very clearly.

Sunday Dec 13th brought us to dock in stunning, but bitingly COLD Port Chalmers. The ships log read..

At 0537 Sea Princess embarked the local pilot and made her approach into the channel.  Swinging the vessel in front of the berth arriving all fast at 0722.

(I’m thinking whichever Officer did that log wasn’t in the mood for chit-chat.. LOL)

We had been warned by the Captain the previous night that the temperature in Port Chalmers/Dunedin was to be a chilly 11 degrees.  I promptly went to the store onboard and purchased an additional jumper, as well as a scarf.  As we were lining up to disembark, you could feel the cool air coming in through the open door at the gangway and many of us were commenting that it didn’t seem too bad and we’d probably find it quite pleasant.  Well, the very instant that you stepped out of the ship, the cold wind hit you.. and I’d say the wind chill factor was -50… ok, it probs wasn’t that cold in reality, but it sure felt like it.

We had a booked tour organised for Dunedin and the train we were to board was waiting for us on arrival and sitting only 50m from the ship.  You’d have thought we would have found it ok, being such a short distance, but no, that was the longest 50m of my entire life.  Brrrrrrr.

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The train took us through the dramatic Taieri Gorge on a journey that crosses 19th century cast-iron bridges and travels through 10 mountain tunnels.  I just LOVE train journeys so I really enjoyed this trip.  The commentary was great by the volunteers in our carriage.  They told us all about the lore of the central Otago region and it’s colourful gold rush days.

Disembarking the train at the heritage listed Dunedin Railway station, we boarded a motor coach for the scenic drive to Larnach Castle.

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William James Mudie Larnach, of Scottish descent, was born in 1833 in New South Wales, Australia. His banking career began in Melbourne then followed the gold rush to the Australian goldfields where he was manager of the Bank of New South Wales at Ararat. His bank was a tent and his equipment consisted of dogs, a gun, and strong boxes.

Gold was discovered in Otago, New Zealand, in the 1860’s. Larnach was offered the position of manager of the Bank of Otago in Dunedin, which serviced the extensive goldfields. He sailed for Dunedin in 1867.

Larnach’s brillant career encompassed his merchant empire Guthrie and Larnach, banking, shipping, farming, landholding, politics and… speculation. He travelled extensively and was a cabinet minister in the New Zealand Government, holding various portfolios, over a period of twenty-five years.

Larnach was married three times and had six children. He was pre-deceased by his first two wives and his eldest daughter, Kate.

He took his own life in the New Zealand Parliament Buildings in 1898.

Building Larnach Castle
Larnach was a man of great vision and created a magnificent residence for himself and his family.

A story is told that William Larnach and one of his sons went for a horse ride along the top of the Otago Peninsula to choose the best site for their home. Today you can still see why this site was chosen as it has wonderful panoramic views of Dunedin, Otago Harbour, the Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean.

First the site was clear-felled, then the hill site was levelled by putting pegs into the volcanic rock and pouring salt water on them to split the rock. Approximately 200 men spent three years building the shell of the Castle and then gifted European craftsmen spent 12 years embellishing the interior.

Materials from all over the world were used – marble from Italy, slate from Wales, floor tiles from England, glass from Venice and France. No expense was spared in creating Larnach’s dream home! Many New Zealand native woods were also used – kauri ceilings, rimu floors and honeysuckle panelling. In 1885 a 3,000 square foot Ballroom was added.

The Larnach Family
Larnach’s first wife Eliza Guise, had six children – Donald, Douglas, Kate, Colleen, Alice and Gladys. Eliza died at the age of 38 when Gladys was still a baby. Larnach then married Eliza’s half sister Mary Alleyne. They were married for 5 years when sadly Mary also died at the age of 38. Larnach then married a much younger lady, Constance de Bathe Brandon.

Larnach was struck by tragedy when his favourite daughter Kate died in her 20s. Five of the children were sent to England for their education. This meant long sea voyages and a lot of time away from the Castle and family.

After Larnach’s suicide in 1898 the family was further torn apart by legal battles over Larnach’s property as he died intestate. The family then sold the Castle in 1906.

Going up the very narrow 27 steps to the tower was pretty cool.  You can defs see the full 360 degrees from up there.

You can see from the picture above that the castle was built was scottish ‘castle like’ features, but also the Australian ‘Queenslander’ style with the wide verandahs.  You can see they are now glassed in, but originally there were open as William Larnach was  used to in Australia, but apparently they were soon to learn that they were very unprotected high on the hill, back when there were no trees to form a wind break etc.  It was very unpleasant to be outside so the verandahs were closed in with the glass you see now.

During the drive back, we were treated to all sorts of fun info on Dunedin & surrounds.  For example, one of their streets is in the guiness book of records as being the steepest street in the world.  Some of the other passengers from the Sea Princess had a go at running down it. (the younger passengers clearly)

The buildings throughout Dunedin were really lovely.  Very obviously Scottish design etc.  Another interesting note was the Welsh Dragon over the doors of the Dunedin Fire station.  I could show you soooo many pictures, but I’d be here all day.

At 1703 all passengers were back onboard Sea Princess and at 1704 The Captain gave the order to commence singling up the morning lines.  At 1705 all mooring lines were back onboard and Sea Princess began thrusting off the berth and proceeding out through the narrow chanel before setting South Westerly courses around the southern coast of New Zealand toward the Fiordland National Park.

Ok…  that’s it for days 9 & 10.  Man this holiday is taking forever to blog post.. mainly because my internet is rubbish…  bring on NBN…  hopefully that will greatly improve things.

Blessings peeps !!!

 

 

Cruising to New Zealand – days 6 – 8

Reading directly from the ships log, this is how Day 6 began…

At 0638 the local pilot embarked the Sea Princess to assist the Bridge team with our approach into Tauranga.  At 0720 all pre arrivals checks were completed and Sea Princess was ready to come alongside starboard side to quay at Berth Number 1.  At the same time, we made our one tug fast to assist us with the swing just off the berth.  Then at 0733 the first mooring line was sent ashore and at 0744 the mooring parties had finished securing the vessel to the bollards on the quay. 

During all this going on, we had to listen to what would become a very repetitive message about the local customs authority requirements etc.  By the 3rd port, you basically could have quoted the entire message as they feel it necessary to play it 3 or 4 times prior to each disembarkation.

Tauranga was a much anticipated stop for us, as it’s the destination that takes you to Rotorua & the active geothermal areas.  We chose a 9hr tour that took us to Wai-o-tapu Valley, then onto the Lakeland Queen for a buffet lunch and Maori performance, before heading to Rainbow Springs where we saw an actual Kiwi (the bird, not the people or the fruit) as well as a lot of rainbow trout and other cool species.  The tour guide/bus driver was really great, with a wealth of information about all areas we covered during the day.

Some of the colours (& smells) experienced on this day were absolutely amazing.  We had been warned that the smell of hydrogen sulphide was intense.  You did get used to it quite quickly though.  The min temp of these geothermal pools was 80 degrees celsius.  It was quite cool when we disembarked the Sea Princess, but as we got higher and further inland, the temps dropped even lower.  It was quite strange shivering besides the boiling bubbling mud pools and then steaming volcanic pools.

After boarding the bus just prior to lunchtime, we made our way to the Lakeland Queen, a locally built shallow draft vessel, where we enjoyed a super delicious buffet lunch and a very entertaining Maori performance.  They were very good, but funny too.  I’d say traditionally the guys don’t wear jox under their outfit, but we were all pretty happy they did.  LOL.  They asked for volunteers to come up, so of course that’s when Terry & I were most engrossed in our lunch, so we didn’t get ‘chosen’.

As soon as lunch was done, we jumped back on the bus and headed to Rainbow Springs.  This was basically a zoo/funpark that the kids would’ve loved to have had more time at as they had lots of fun rides in a different area of the park that we didn’t go to.  We went into ‘Kiwi House’ and saw a real Kiwi (well, everyone else saw it, I didn’t, but hey, I’m used to that.).

One thing that they most talked about at the zoo was that their rainbow trout pools were filled from a natural underground spring that comes down off the mountain.  It was delicious tasting water… don’t worry, we only tried it out of the bubblers or straight off the rocks, not out of the trout pools.. LOL.

We were pretty keen to get back to the Sea Princess at the end of this very long day.

The ships logs read ….

At 1708 all passengers and crew were back onboard.  Shortly after, the mooring lines were let go and Sea Princess began thrusting off the berth.  Once clear of the harbour and surrounding port limits, the pilot disembarked and we started to proceed on Easterly and then Southerly courses towards Napier.  

We enjoyed the later arrival time into Napier on Day 7 as it gave us a sleep in after the big day in Tauranga.  We lazed on the deck and enjoyed the gorgeous sights coming into Napier.  The ships log read as follows…

As Sea Princess neared Napier, the Ship’s Officers and crew prepared the vessel for arrival.  At 1041 the local pilot boarded the vessel and once he familiarised himself with the ship we began making our final approaches towards our berth.  Just outside the breakwater, the Captain swung the vessel through 180 degrees and manoeuvred the vessel eastern to come alongside starboard side to quay.  At 1208 all lines were made fast.  

It was pretty fascinating watching both from our stateroom window, and up on deck, how the boats assist us making out way into the harbour.

Napier is a closed Port, so we’re all required to board shuttle buses into the City centre.  It’s a fairly small city as we basically covered the entire thing on foot that day.

The beach at Napier was GORGEOUS !!  The ‘beach’ was a fascinating combination of black sand & black rocks/gravel.  Not so comfy to walk on I’ll say that right now.  We explored the city streets, had a super yummy, and way cheap, lunch at a coffee shop before giving into Master 10s pleas to play putt putt.  He asks ALL the time at home and we don’t really have any interesting ones near us, so we thought it was a good opportunity.  I mean seriously, check out that view behind.  We did also find this amazeballs skateboard/scooter park, but we thought it wasn’t worth the risk of injury.  Master 10 was a tad disappointed about this decision.

We boarded the shuttle bus to head back to the Sea Princess and found some interesting old cars (& their owners) back at the port.  DH enjoyed asking a few questions about ‘what was under the hood’ etc.

From the ships log..

All passengers and crew were confirmed onboard by the security officers at 1829.  At 1838 all pre-departure checks were complete and shortly thereafter all mooring lines had been let go as Sea Princess began thrusting off the berth.  Once out of the pilotage area the pilot disembarked at 1912. Sea Princess set various Southerly courses towards Wellington. 

We’d decided to make this night about celebrating Miss 14s grade 9 graduation dinner.  We ‘presented her’ as in we just said out aloud (ha ha) her awards and merit certificates.

We then enjoyed a relaxing, but getting rather chilly, Movie under the Stars that evening.

With a local Pilot onboard at 0629, the Bridge was preparing for the arrival into Wellington.  At 0742 the first line was sent ashore and Sea Princess arrived in Wellington.  At 0758 it was confirmed all lines were fast, and we were safely berthed and with clearance granted, gangway operations were able to commence and passengers could disembark.  

(I thought it was interesting to notice how different the logs sounded when quite obviously written by different officers on the bridge.)

We had made a plan to disembark early in Wellington and make our way into the city via the shuttle service (which cost $50) to secure a hire car and head off for adventure.  It didn’t happen as smoothly as we would have liked, but we were in a car by 10.30.  It was a little funny when we were collected in the city by the hire car shuttle bus to take us back to their premises, passing by the Sea Princess as we went…. so basically we headed in the WRONG direction going into the city, and had we planned ahead and booked the hire car prior to arriving in Wellington, they could have collected us from the port and we could have saved ourselves $50.. oh well, lesson learnt.  It was a predictably cold, rainy and windy day in Wellington, but being in the car most of the day kept us protected from that to a large degree.

First thing we found was a totally cool park, so we spent a little time there before heading off on our set course which was to be a roundtrip of 6hrs.  We managed to see lots of gorgeous sites in that time, as well as taste the local delicacies at McDonalds.  :0)

Sorry, those pics are way small.. sorry about that.

Getting back to the ship proved a little stressful as we had to make our way back to the hire car place from memory.  We didn’t have the forethought to organise an international SIM so we had no maps on our phones, no directions etc, only the paper map we got from the hire car place.

It was getting a little close to the wire, but in the end we really had a half hour to spare.

With all passengers confirmed onboard at 1733, pre-departure checks were carried our and fully completed by 1750.  Sea Princess let go her lines at 1756 and set various Southerly headings towards our anchorage at Akaroa.

Cruising to New Zealand – day 1-5

Once again, quite a while between blogs… sorry about that peeps, but in my defence, things have been busy, plus as you can from the title, I’ve been OS (literally.. LOL).

So, to begin covering this particular event, I’ll start back on the magical day of Friday Dec 4th when we woke to a beautiful sunny day, perfect for boarding a cruiseship and heading to New Zealand.

There was MUCH excitement that morning and it was a little torturous to have to wait until our boarding time of 1.30pm.  As it turned out though, we needed the time as we realised we needed a few things from the shops, plus we had to get to Officeworks to print out boarding passes (that I hadn’t realised I needed to print.. whoops).  Then, to keep the morning interesting, it wasn’t until we got back home again that I realised that one of the boarding passes hadn’t printed (whoops again).  So, with the only options being heading back to Officeworks, or leaving Miss 14 at home for 2wks, we went with option #1.  (lucky her right).

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Sorry for the blurriness…  Master 10 took it.

12.30pm saw us jumping in a maxi cab (with our hoards of luggage, but not as hoardish as it should have been.. more on that later) and heading to the Port of Brisbane !!  A little bit of waiting at the cruise terminal.. maybe an hourish, and then we were finally boarding the Sea Princess.  Dear friends of ours came to wave us off, so once we did a quick “Oooh, Ahhh” at the atrium of the ship and dumped our hand luggage in our stateroom, we went in search of an open deck so as to wave to said dear friends.  (It’s appropriate to mention that my wish came true and the ship was completely decked out for Christmas…  I was VERY happy about this.)

It’s funny because when you first get on a ship, even if you’ve full on studied the deck plans prior, it’s really hard to find your way around, but once you’ve been on there a few days, it’s like “Wow, how did we not know to just go to THAT obvious place to wave them off?”  So, where we waved them off was by far not the best place to do so.  We were up on deck 14, so a loooooooong way up from where they were down on the level 3 viewing platform.  Promenade deck 7 would have been sooooo much better had we realised at the time.  Oh well, must remember that for next time.

After waving off our friends, we headed to the compulsory ‘Muster’ which is basically the safety talk like you’d have on an aeroplane, but obviously related to sea-type eventualities, as opposed to air ones.  As there are 1500 passengers onboard, it was held in 3 seperate locations. Pretty darn boring really, so good to get that out of the way.  Next stop for Terry was an alcoholic beverage of some sort, because on a cruiseship, alcohol can apparently be drunk at any time of day..  LOL.

That afternoon, the ships log read…

At 1535 all passengers were aboard Sea Princess and all departure checks were complete.  At 1700 The Captain gave the order to let go the morning lines as Sea Princess began to back up to the swinging position, swinging her bow to starboard and Brisbane Pilot was off the ship and and we set ESE’ly course bounded to Auckland.

The kids were keen to ‘sign in’ at the youth centres.  Master 10 reaped the most benefit from kids club while on the cruise.  He made a bunch of friends and just had the time of his life.  He even took part in a ‘Jnr chef at Sea’ day and made & decorated a cake that we had for dessert that night.

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We throughly enjoyed the 3 sea days it took us to journey to our first port of Auckland, NZ.  It was seriously amazing being out in God’s gorgeous creation.  I cannot even begin to explain the stunning colours of the ocean.  From deepest deep blues through to pale aquas.. it was just beautiful.  I really enjoyed just staring out at it for many hours over the 2wks.  There was certainly something very relaxing about being in the middle of the ocean with no signs of land anywhere you looked.  It was most definitely a very blessed experience !!

For breakfast, we always used the buffet, coz seriously, who doesn’t love a buffet brekkie!!).  Lunch was either the outside grill, hamburgers & hotdogs with salad etc, or the buffet, and on the very last day, we tried the pizzeria.  We had chosen the 7.45pm dining sitting as we figured that we might like the extra time when coming in after shore days etc.  There were a couple of times that we wished we’d chosen the 5.30pm slot, but all in all, the later one was better.  You could always go to the buffet for dinner if you couldn’t wait that long anyway, but DH & I  never did (the kids did often though).  Dinner at the dining room was just too good, plus we loved our waiter Larry, so wanted to eat there each night.  Terry got very used to being called ‘Sir Terry’ by both Larry & our cabin steward, James.  LOL.

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A little about the crew which is quite interesting.  The majority of them have families back home but are on the ship for either a contract period of 6 or 9 months.  They are predominently from areas around the Phillipines but there were also some crew from South Africa, Japan, America and other areas.  Larry has 2 kids at home, aged 14 & 20.. seriously, he doesn’t look old enough for that does he, but he did show us pictures of them.  (Yes, you do end up getting on that well with your closest crew members.)

The menu was great, with a lot of selection staying the same throughout the cruise, but each night there would be specials for that night only.  The chicken and leak pot pie was a big hit and each of us had that at one time (Master 13 & Miss 14 had it a few times).  Desserts were, of course, always dangerously delicious.  The below pic of Jordan adequately shows his reaction to seeing the buffet for the first time… let’s just say the food was what he had been most looking forward to.

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Lots of relaxing happened on those 3 sea days, lots of reading on Promenade deck (soaking up more of God’s gorgeous canvas), lots of lazing by the pool, lots of enjoying the entertainment, lots of Movies under the Stars (well, actually we did that nearly EVERY night of the cruise.).  It certainly turned out to be a good thing to have those 3 days, as once we arrived in NZ and were going ashore each day, it did become quite busy and therefore tiring.

We had booked a tour for every shore day, but once we got onboard and found out that our older 2 children were classed as adults when it came to pricing, we cancelled all but 3 of our tours.  This actually turned out to be a good thing, not just money-wise, but because we found great things to do on our own.  It is always a gamble to know which destination warrants a paid tour, or whether you can explore on your own and see just as much.  It definitely pays to research prior, including looking at maps etc to see what is near enough to the port to explore and what isn’t.

It was during those first 3 sea days that we had our first formal night.  Now, this is the story about how our luggage was ‘not as hoardish’ as it should have been.  We realised on the first day that we had left our suit bag at home.  It didn’t just hold Terry’s suit, but basically ALL of our formal wear, and all of Terry & the boys collared shirts.  There is a dress code for the dining room in the evenings, so it could have been interesting, however, we managed to get by,  helped by the fact that they never super enforced that dress code anyway.  Terry hired a tux onboard and once we got to NZ, we were able to stock up on some good wear items… at surprisingly great prices.

Getting professional pics taken is always a fun part of cruising as you can  literally have as many taken as you like with no obligation to buy.  They simply print out EVERY photo they take and then you can just purchase the ones you want.  What we did was we’d go down and make a ‘maybe’ pile and add to it each time there were new ones, and hand back the ones we defs didn’t want, and then at the end of our cruise, chose what to purchase from our ‘maybe’ pile.  It was a good strategy I think.

The ships log read..

At 0537 Sea Princess embarked the local Auckland pilot before proceeding into the approach cannel arriving starboard side to quay. Queen’s Wharf Auckland at 0655.

Our first stop in Auckland was one where we chose to cancel our booked tour and head off on our own.  The shore excursion people onboard had advised us that it was a particularly easy port to get yourself around in, with the CBD being literally a stones throw from the dock.  Miss 14 had been the most disappointed with the missing suit bag as she had used her own hard earned money to purchase a formal dress that she was REALLY looking forward to wearing.  She’d purchased it at Dotti and as we were coming into Auckland, I was joking with her that I could see a Dotti store ahead… Funny thing was, we disembarked, headed up one of the main streets, and FOUND A DOTTI STORE.  Bahahahahahaha !!!  We managed to get, not just one formal dress but 2, for a bargain price of $130 !!!  Woo Hoo !! It’s amazing how quickly a stroppy 14yr old can turn it all around with a full shopping bag in her hand.. LOL.

After our shopping, we headed off in search of.. well, whatever we could find.  First stop was the Art Gallery, then onto the War Memorial Museum via the rather large botanical gardens.

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& Yes, we did totally run around the inside of this rotunda singing “I am 16, going on 17”.  I mean, seriously, it must be done.

Note to self – do not take fluro pink & yellow running shoes on holiday as your comfortable walking shoes… it’s the first thing I notice in EVERY picture.  arggghh.

My phone told me that we did in excess of 12000 steps that day, so it was VERY suitable to get in the hot tub once we headed back onboard the Sea Princess. PS.  That pool Miss 14 is in, actually this whole area was a designated kid-free area which we didn’t realise until AFTER this day.. whoopsie.)

With all passengers and crew onboard the order was given to let go the mooring lines.  At 1753 all lines had been let go from the mooring bollards on the quay and Sea Princess commenced thrusting off the berth and moving astern.  At 1845 the local pilot disembarked the vessel and shortly after we commenced increasing speed and making our way towards Tauranga. 

Ok.. so that’s it for days 1-4…  Next instalment coming right up.  xox

 

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