January - April 2014
  • Day55

    Manila, Philippines

    February 27, 2014 on the Philippines ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We left Airlie Beach and made a brief stop, anchored off Cairns to allow Australian Customs / Immigration officials to embark, do their work and disembark and then we headed north to The Philippines. On the way we had an extraordinary day. The sea was flat calm and bright blue. Slowly it turned to turquoise and then a bright green before turning to silver in the evening. It was a spectacle that amazed all the passengers. We headed to the northernmost point of Australia before turning west into the Torres Straits with Papua New Guinea on the starboard side. We sailed past Borneo before passing through the Sulu archipelago, the southernmost region of the Philippines. We arrived in Manila at 8am and it was 28C. We were given a wonderful welcome by a large band of musicians playing on the quayside and locals dressed in colourful costumes. We had booked a tour to see old Manila and off we went, firstly to St Augustin Church, a UNESCO world heritage site, which was a lovely building, richly ornate. We then visited the Casa Manila, a house furnished as it would have been in the C16th. We saw Fort Santiago and the tropical gardens and then Rizal Park, a large park named after Dr Jose Rizal who had been executed by the Spanish in the 1890s for rebellion. Lastly, we went into the Hotel Manila for some rest. A beautiful hotel! As we left the quayside in the ship, a large band was playing. We had a most friendly welcome and departure!Read more

  • Day48

    Airlie Beach, Australia

    February 20, 2014 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    On our way to Airlie Beach, the ship took on board a reef pilot to assist in guiding the ship through the Great Barrier Reef. At 7am it was already 29C and humid. We had booked a rigid inflatable boat trip to one of the Whitsunday Islands for swimming and snorkelling. It was a fast and bumpy ride to the island, where we then anchored off the beach. We put on our stinger suits to prevent us being stung by jelly fish and dropped into the water. The whole experience was disappointing. There must have been a storm some days earlier because the water was very cloudy and the visibility was poor. I did manage to swim to the reef and saw quite an abundance of fish but it was not the best I have ever seen and my wife, because of the poor visibility, was not happy swimming at all. So we did not spend long in the water. On the way back we stopped at another island for refreshments and we spent time walking and looking at the views, which I have to say, were disappointing. Perhaps we had not come to the best part of the Whitsundays. After arriving back in Airlie Beach, we strolled around the town, which we thought was lovely and it has a great man made swimming lagoon close to the sea. If we come again, this is where we will spend our time.Read more

  • Day46

    Brisbane, Australia

    February 18, 2014 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    The departure from Sydney was impressive. The Harbour Bridge was fully illuminated and so was the Opera House as we slowly left the dockside and headed out of the harbour. our journey to Brisbane was reasonably smooth and we arrived at about 7am.The temp was 25C but due to rise to 29C. We had booked a tour to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and headed there by coach leaving at 8.30am. It was already very humid. The sanctuary was fascinating. Erica had a photograph taken holding a koala bear, which she said was extremely heavy and we also fed some kangaroos. There was an interesting collection of wild life and birds and because some of the site was heavily shaded, it was relatively cool. On the way back we stopped at Mount Coot-Tha, the highest point near Brisbane for some great views and then drove through the south bank of the city before crossing the river to view the city sights. Brisbane is quite compact and mostly modern but with some architecturally striking buildings. A lot of passengers had left the ship that morning and several hundred new passengers had embarked. We will have to make new acquaintances and perhaps friends.Read more

  • Day43

    Sydney, Australia

    February 15, 2014 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We arose at 4.30am to witness our progress into Sydney and the ship docked directly opposite the Opera House and just by Sydney Bridge. Could not have been better located. The forecast was for drizzle for some of the day so we decided to take the hop on, hop off bus for a tour of the city and surrounding areas. The tickets cost Aus$30 each (a discount as we were aged!). The bus took us through the main shopping and business areas. We then changed buses and took the one for Bondi Beach. This was a disappointment. The beach itself is lovely - wide and clean, but the surrounding area needs a lot of refurbishment. We then continued to Dover Heights, which overlooks the harbour and then to Rose Bay and then back into the city. We changed buses again and hopped off at Darling Harbour, a bustling, attractive and interesting area, which contains the Maritime Museum and a replica of Captain Cook's ship 'Endeavour'. We continued to 'Paddy's Market', a large indoor market, down George Street and then to the 'Rocks' area, an old part of Sydney.

    The following day, we took the ferry to Manly, situated on the far side of the very large bay. The journey cost Aus$15 each and took thirty five minutes. This is a much more attractive resort than Bondi Beach and there was a surfing competition taking place. The town was full of people. We returned by ferry close to the Opera House and went inside. It is a stimulating building from the outside but inside it felt cold and uninviting, due, I think, to its construction of wood and concrete. We then walked through the botanical gardens, which are beautiful. Great city.
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  • Day40

    Bay of Islands, New Zealand

    February 12, 2014 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    The Bay of Islands are situated in the North East of North Island. Again the temperature started at 18C but was predicted to rise to 23C. We left the ship by tender, arriving at Waitangi. From there we walked to the local town of Paihia where we spent about an hour walking around the craft stalls and shops. We then took the ship's shuttle bus back to Waitangi. Waitangi was the location of the signing of the historic pact between Great Britain and the Maori chieftains in 1840, which affirmed Maori rights and also established the foundations of New Zealand. We bought tickets to enter the National Reserve, costing NZ$25 each. The reserve is beautifully maintained and lovely to walk through. We viewed a Maori canoe, called 'Ngatokimatawhaorua, built in 1940 and 120 feet long. We visited the house where James Busby, who did much to bring the treaty about, lived with his family and also stood by the Flagstaff, which marks the location where the treaty was first signed. We attended a performance of a selection of songs and dances performed by a group of Maoris in a beautifully ornate meeting house. It was a very stimulating and moving experience. It was a fantastic culmination of a visit to a country we had never previously visited and will leave a lasting impression.Read more

  • Day39

    Auckland, New Zealand

    February 11, 2014 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    Not the hottest days, starting at 18C but expected to climb to 23C. Quite a number of passengers left the ship here, only to be replaced by others, some only travelling as far as Sydney. After disembarking, we took the ferry to Devonport, only a ten-minute ride across the bay. This is a quaint, old part of Auckland with attractive wooden houses, craft shops and cafes. We had a very relaxing stroll around before taking the ferry back to the city, where we headed for Sky Tower for some fantastic views across the city. I am not too good with heights, but still enjoyed it. We walked to Albert Park, which contained a number of illuminated Chinese figures and dragons in celebration, no doubt, of the Chinese New Year. We like Auckland. Very friendly.Read more

  • Day36

    Nuku'Alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga

    February 8, 2014 in Tonga ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    27C at 7am. We disembarked to the sound of the Tongan Police Band playing a selection of music for us. Terrific. We took a tour to Pangaimotu Island, a short boat ride from the town, for swimming and snorkelling and then walked around the island. It took about thirty minutes only. We had a drink in the beach bar before heading back to the town by boat. Not too much to see in the town, except the royal palace, but everybody was so friendly and welcoming. We listened to the beach band again, who played "When will we see you again' as we departed. Very sad to leave.Read more

  • Day33

    Pago Pago, Tutuila, American Samoa

    February 5, 2014 in American Samoa ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    The sail in was beautiful, steeply rising hills covered in dense vegetation and very photogenic. 28C and a beautiful blue sky. We joined a group of fellow passengers and hired a bus, converted from an old red lorry and toured the southern part of the island, visiting his own house and '2 Dollar Beach, where we stopped for drinks and relaxation. The driver, an ex rugby player, was very friendly and happy to talk about anything to do with his beautiful island.Read more

  • Day28

    Honolulu, Hawaii

    January 31, 2014 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    24C when we arrived and the sun was shining. We decided to take the open topped red city tour bus, costing US$25 each but is an excellent way of seeing all the highlights in one go. We hopped off the bus at Waikiki Beach and strolled along the long promenade, passing the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian Olympic surfing champion. The water was 26C and the beach was busy. We caught the bus again, passing the statue of King Kamehameha, the founder of modern Hawaii, the Iolani Palace, Chinatown and the Aloha Tower.Read more

  • Day22

    San Francisco, USA

    January 25, 2014 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    It took five to six days of good sailing before we reached San Francisco and we arrived on a flawless morning. Chilly but a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. We were all on deck to witness the ship sail under the Golden Gate Bridge, a tremendous sight. We passed Alcatraz on the port side and docked close to Fisherman's Wharf. Immigration formalities delayed our disembarkation but as soon as we were allowed to leave the ship, we walked to Fisherman's Wharf and to Pier 39, home to the sea lions. We caught up with our friends, Pamela and Peter and had a clam chowder with beer in one of the seafood restaurants.

    The following day we caught the Hyde/Powell cable car to Union Square, visited Macy's and then headed off to Chinatown. It was the Chinese New Year and the area was crowded but vibrant and colourful and we took in all the smells and the sights. We wanted to climb Coit Tower for the views but, regrettably, it was closed for renovations.
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