Friday, February 20, 2009

January 29 Sydney

After leaving Melbourne, we had one more day at sea before we arrived at our final port of call on the morning of the 29th. We decided to spend three nights in Sydney before flying home to LAX.

It was a wonderful vacation overall, but it could have been better if we had more time to spend at our cities or places of choice. Next time, we may try to spend an entire vacation in just one place to really get to know spending a month or two and live like a local and not a tourist.

We were treated to a baked Alaska candlelight parade at dinner the night we spent the full day at sea.

The view that greeted us as we entered the harbor at Sydney

On our way to the Sydney Opera House, I turned my back and took a last shot at our cruise ship which was preparing to load a fresh bunch of cruisers on a reverse itinerary to Auckland.

Famous Bondi beach with no one but a solitary walker

Blue Mountain, Australia's answer (I supposed) to the US Grand Canyon. If you have seen Grand is!

Monday, February 16, 2009

January 27 Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne (pronounced "Melben" by the Aussies) is a city I have always wanted to see since I started traveling internationally. I was not disappointed with what I saw in the limited time I was there. I'll probably go back another time, may be see more of Australia as well.

Our cruise ship at Port Philip

An Australian equivalent of a Southern California lunch truck. It will freak me out if I see a Southern California food vendor in a tie!

Shown at the Shrine of Remembrance are military medals awarded to Australian soldiers

On the left side of the picture is Capt. Cook's cottage "transplanted" from England

Our river boat in the foreground cruising Yarra River

Check out the very narrow clearance between the boat and the bridge!

Champagne night on board!
Champagne anyone?

Long, narrow corridor between staterooms

Friday, February 13, 2009

January 26 At Sea

Very early in the morning there was a public announcement from the Captain that there was going to be an emergency evacuation of a passenger who was stricken ill and needed immediate surgery. Cruisers whose staterooms where immediately below where the helicopter was going to hover were required to leave and assembled at the Horizon Court (a buffet venue) and everyone else were told to stay away from the open deck topside. This is a safety procedure in case the helicopter accidentally crash in the evacuation operation.

Shortly a rescue helicopter came from shore, hovered over the ship, lifted the ailing cruiser in a stretcher and flew her to the nearest hospital on land. Although all cruise ships have medical facilities on board, they are not equip to conduct surgical operations. It is reassuring to know that in medical emergencies they know what they can and cannot do and always know when to call for outside assistance when needed.

After that little unplanned excitement, the rest of the day was spent celebrating Australia Day at sea.

The land-based rescue helicopter which came immediately to evacuate the ailing passenger

It was Australia Day!

Poolside barbie, Australian style

My photos did not do justice to the food made available poolside for the special day.

This musical trio was doing its best to liven up the poolside party

Cake eating contest! I was on the other side of the pool preoccupied with eating to bother getting close for a good shot LOL.

Aftermath of the cake eating contest. None of the contestants finished their cake within the specified time but the one who ate the most won.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

January 25 Hobart, Tasmania

Early in the morning of the 25th we arrived at Hobart in Tasmania. The ship remained at port till 5 pm before lifting anchor and sailing for Melbourne. We had enough time for a drive around Hobart to get a feel for the city and to visit a maritime museum, a botanical garden and an old mansion.

Diamond Princess at berth in Hobart

Hobart, Tasmania

A maritime museum in the city

A bedroom in the mansion we visited showing a chamber pot beside the bed. I'm sure when the mansion was in use that chamber pot was as far away from the bed as the room will allow LOL.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Two days at sea, January 23-24

It was more like three days at sea since we left Port Chalmers because we did not touch land at Milford Sound or anywhere else at Fiordland National Park. We were headed for Hobart in Tasmania and we were sailing in some of the rougher water in the route. They said the sea is always "lively" in this part of the Tasman Sea; luckily, our ship have stabilizers and they did the job well.

This is a shot from the Promenade deck around 9 in the morning


Our ever helpful waiter "undressing" the lobster tail

My main course - fillet of fish again. I love fish fillet but I am not that crazy about it. I just had to limit my dietary choice to food low in uric acid for the time being because "El Goucho" visited me (my gout flared up)!

I ran into our dining room waiter at the galley tour and I asked him to pose for me for a picture.

Shown in the Atrium are some cruisers in their formal attire

Sunday, February 8, 2009

January 22 Milford Sound

We were scheduled to visit Thompson, Dusky and Milford Sound but because of adverse weather conditions the plan to visit Thompson and Dusky Sound was aborted. The Captain proceeded directly to Milford Sound, hoping that by the time we get there, the weather will clear up. It did clear up a bit when we entered Milford Sound! Visibility was good enough for us to enjoy the unique scenery.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

January 21 Dunedin, New Zealand

After sailing all night we arrived at Port Chalmers around 8 am. The city of Dunedin is about 7 miles from this port and again, we pre-booked for a tour of the city.

The ship slowly approaching Chalmers port

It is keep left in New Zealand and Australia. If we have to survive as pedestrians we have to learn to look right, then left, and right again before crossing the streets. Luckily, most of their cities are not as populated as most cities elsewhere in the world...and traffic is consequently light and more importantly, less dangerous.

I took this shot from inside our tour bus on our way to Larnach castle.

A charming gazebo at Larnach castle

Those tiny mounts looked like islets...maybe they are considered as such.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lyttelton and Christchurch

Early in the morning of January 20 the ship docked at Lyttelton Harbor which is about 10 kilometers from Christchurch. For those who wanted to see the city on their own, there were buses that shuttle back and forth from dockside every half hour. We were pre-booked for a city tour so we did not have to worry about taking the shuttle.

This is the ship's outdoor pool shown here very early in the morning

The equivalent of a swap meet in Christchurch

A local mode of transport in the city

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christ's College

One of the nightly show at the ship's main theater