Day 49 — Feb 20 — At Sea
It is 02-20-2020 today. The British label it 20-02-2020 for they put the day before the month. Anyway, it is an At Sea Day for us. A walk on the sides of the ship during 3-4 meter seas now feels like a real cruise. I love the feel of a ship moving in the waves. All the way across the Atlantic and the Pacific were what the Brits call, A Mill Pond, so calm you barely feel the movement. As I hang out on the sides of the ship, a pod of dolphins crosses our path.
We also set a landmark today. We have traveled 10,000 Nautical Miles, further than we have ever traveled in one trip before.
We are called for a Muster Drill around 10:30AM and we go through the familiar routine. We see some random passengers that are beginning to object to the routine and we shake our heads. Even though we’d all prefer to do something else, Maritime Law requires these Drills every two weeks. Passengers in the next cabin to us have the nerve to ask a Steward, “Does that mean us?” Again, another shake of our heads. The Ship’s Captain is in our Muster Station and actually chases someone we couldn’t see shouting, “Put it Down, Put it Down!” We don’t ever find out who or what he was referring to.
The Drill over, a walkabout on deck reveals more dolphins swimming about around us. The weather has turned a bit chilly, being south of the South Pacific Islands now. The last two stops in New Zealand have started out cool in the mornings but got quite warm in the afternoons. We find ourselves getting used to both Military Time and Centigrade Temperatures as that is what is used on the ship and many ports in this area of the world. So 20 degrees for us is cool and 30 degrees is quite warm. (68 degrees F and 86 degrees F for us Yanks!) It has ranged from 20 to 30 degrees the last few days. One relief for us is the humidity has dropped substantially and the air is relatively dry as compared to the South Pacific Islands.
It is time for lunch now so I will go make myself a salad. A card game and table games and it’s time for a Show and Dinner.
Day 50 — Feb 21 — Wellington, NZ
We wake today to overcast skies with just enough of a break in them to see the sunrise poke through. Low sets of hills are on both sides of the ship as we slide quietly into Wellington Harbor. Before we know it we have sidled up to the dock and get an announcement that we cannot walk through the dock area but have to ride the Shuttle Buses into town. The first Shuttle doesn’t run until 9AM so we take a leisurely breakfast and gather our things for Port and disembark. We bring rain jackets with us for we feel we may need them.
The Info Store is not open yet so we walk around and find Cuba Street. An artistic street with eclectic shops that run for several blocks. A Ship Container turned into a Coffee Shop greets us. A Bus Road that is only for buses. We come across a strange yet famous fountain sculpture that was once to be torn down but the residents objected and it was decided to leave it intact. Many fun storefronts force our camera shutters to click. Even a meatless burger at a fast food restaurant catches our eye. I don’t think I’ll ever be interested in trying it!
New Zealand is nicknamed the “Shakey Isles” for all the earthquakes they have. This is probably the most Earthquake Prone area of the world unless Chili can beat it. They have in the vicinity of 3500 earthquakes each year which is an average of more than ten per day. We don’t feel any during our stay but they tell us that most are never felt. Being from California, we know what they feel like. Most City Councils take this very seriously and buildings are tagged if they are deemed to be susceptible to quakes.
We check the time and head back to the Info Store. A fun sculpture of Gandalf entertains our eyes. They recommend we visit a Museum that opens soon and has a very moving theme of War and depicted the Battle of Gallipoli, between Turkey and New Zealand.
The outstanding part of this museum was larger than life size models of soldiers and nurses during the war. The artist that created these used 3-D printers to build the models which were 10-12 feet tall. We saw a film onboard our ship that showed how they created the details and after seeing the actual sculptures, we were astounded! Right down to the individual hairs on the arms, hands and heads and even the beads of sweat on the people. It was impossible to not feel the emotion that was depicted.
There were other areas of the museum but they fell short after seeing the War Display. We did run into a large contingent of Soldiers from multiple nations that were there for an “International Commanders Conference”. We watched at least 100 plus Uniformed Commanders come in and Elee kept hearing British accents, but I heard as many American accents. We query two of the last group that sound American and sure enough, they are. They tell us what the group is about and we thank them for their Service to their Country. They are appreciative.
We leave the museum changed people, but we leave many places in the world the same way. We head back to the Info Store and find a 3 Hour Tour (bet you just sang the Gilligan’s Island Theme, didn’t you?) around the city that starts in just over an hour and we head back up Cuba Street to find lunch. After exhausting all options, we get a bite to eat in Mojo’s and have a BBQ Chicken Wrap and a Chicken Salad Sandwich. We also get water and forget our habit of making sure we get “Still” water and end up with “Sparkling” water that has been carbonated. Oh well, it hydrates but doesn’t impress.
We get to the Tour Bus in time and our driver is a fun Kiwi guy and he takes us around town. One of our first stops is the Cable Car, a “Funicular” for those of you that want to Google how we get up the hill. He drops us off at the bottom and makes a point of telling us to buy a one-way ride to the top. He faithfully picks us up at the top and we move on to the next sights.
We get to the Wellington Botanic Gardens and stop for a half hour to see the Gardens. Fun roses to keep our camera lenses happy (got to do that on a regular basis, you know!) and a small waterfall to entertain us. Back on the bus we listen to our driver as he takes us around the city and we stop again at the Wellington Museum. The history of the city is explained in antiquities and dioramas. An interesting Holographic Movie plays inside a Diorama on the top floor about the Women’s Suffragette Movement. A few waterfront photos and it’s back on the bus.
We pass by an interesting Wind Sculpture that moves with the intensity of the wind. Today is quite windy although if you ask a local, it’s just a breeze. We pass other wind sculptures which seem to be popular in this town. Even the Wellington Sign is a comedic rendition of wind as it depicts the end of the word has “blown away”. He then takes us to a hill on the end of the island with a 360 degree view overlooking the city.
By the time we make it back to the Shuttle to the ship, rain has set in, a hard pelting rain that blows sideways and we seek shelter under a large spreading tree that has “air roots” hanging from branches that actually absorb water from the air. Well there certainly is water in the air here to help this tree!
We go back to the ship contemplating whether we will get our laptops and head back into town to find some better WiFi than the ship has. By the time we reach the ship the rain has abated and we gather our laptops and go back into town. While I wait for Elee to retrieve something from our room, I go into the Terminal Building where I find they have WiFi but decide to go into town anyway because we want to have a couple drinks while we go online. A sculpture in the Terminal depicts a Sea Captain blowing sideways in a breeze seems quite appropriate for this city!
We make it back into the city and look for a magnet for our wall but, alas, stores here close at 5PM and it is after that now. So we head for a Pub and the winds almost blow us off our feet, literally! Totally windblown, we find a Pub with WiFi near the bus stop and also on the waterfront and they actually have IPA Beer! This is a Win-Win! Armed with a decent beer that has been elusive until we got to New Zealand (The beer on the ship is marginal at best) and a good WiFi connection, despite the fact that the wind in town claimed my reading glasses, several pages get published and a few more get drafted for later. We check the time and head back for the last shuttle to the ship. Just as we get near the shuttle stop, the rain sets back in and we take shelter under our familiar large tree until the bus arrives.
Once back on the ship, we see several of our shipboard friends and share the days stories and turn in for the night.