Robert's Round UpFebruary 15 in Singapore ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C
After a smooth 10 hour flight from Auckland we have arrived in Singapore, only to find our next plane - the 14 hour flight to London has been delayed by two hours due to the bad weather (Storm Dennis) in the UK. While we are waiting I thought I would reflect on our holiday experience over the past 4 weeks.
In terms of the flights, Singapore Airlines was excellent, with good meals and refreshments on demand. On check-in at Auckland today, a very helpful SA staff member assisted us, and changed our allocated seats to give us extra legroom seats for the first leg of our journey. Great!
The hotels booked on our behalf by Cruise Nation were all of a very good standard. We were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked both Australia and New Zealand - everywhere was so clean, and the people were exceptionally helpful and friendly. A great sense of humour was evident throughout. The smaller places we visited all seem to have utilised local volunteers (often retirees), who gave us a beaming smile and warm welcome, along with free maps of the area and helpful suggestions about local attractions. We were surprised to discover that tipping is not expected (compared with USA where it is virtually compulsory). The standard of living seems high, and workers seem to earn a good wage, without needing to depend on tips. We also loved the beautiful plants and vegetation, as well as the huge variety of colourful birds.
Another interesting thing we noted in Australia was the extensive referencing to the country’s Aboriginal past - statements were read out before the opera, museum tours, TV programmes etc to the effect that it was important to recognise Australia’s indigenous people and culture. Australia Day coverage on TV highlighted the division in the country in as much as many people do not share the celebration of the arrival of British sovereignty with the first British ships on 26 January 1788. They instead refer to it as Invasion Day, mourning what is seen as the invasion of the land by the British and the start of colonisation. In New Zealand the indigenous Maori culture now seems to be part of everyday life for most New Zealanders, with the Maori language being taught in schools and spoken in the country’s parliament.
In terms of the cruise, we were very impressed with our first experience of the Holland America Line. The food and service were excellent and all the staff and crew (mostly Indonesian) were cheery, well mannered and helpful. The entertainment was perhaps more sedate than that on some of the larger Royal Caribbean ships we have been on, but the production shows were very good and the ship did have franchises with the Lincoln Center Stage and BB Kings Blues Club. As we have cruised with a variety of different lines, we noticed a number of ‘extras’ not normally included unless an upgraded stateroom is purchased eg we had included: bathrobes, Elemis toiletries; daily fresh fruit in the cabin; complimentary room service 24 hours a day (no cover charge); good quality real napkins at all meals (including at the Lido buffet); real hand towels in all the bathrooms on the ship; free ice cream; and delicious free Five Guys-type burgers, hot dogs and tacos. Our cruise was the last for our Captain John Scott, and there was an emotional ceremony on deck as he rang the bell before entering his home port of Auckland for the last time.
We picked up a few useful local words and phrases in Australia - Bonzer (good), Bogan (ned), Strewth! (It’s the truth) Yabber (to talk a lot).
And in New Zealand - The Dairy (convenience store), Kia Ora (hello), Yeah-nah (yes, but I don’t agree with you), Sweet As (wonderful).
All in all a wonderful holiday with many happy memories to treasure.Read more