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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