Day 44 — Feb 15 — At Sea
It starts as a normal At Sea Day. Elee has signed up to compete in “Master Chef”, an onboard cooking competition. It begins with 12 contestants drawing numbers for position. Elee draws number 5. 3 will compete each day for four days. So Elee will compete tomorrow. This is good for she gets to watch the first day to see how it all works. 3 chefs compete and a winner is chosen for the day. Elee has the afternoon and night to decide how she will approach the competition.
Tonight’s show is the onboard Talent Show the passengers have enrolled in. It is entertaining, some are good and some are not. But it is all entertaining. The results of the Escape Room are announced and it turns out we placed in 4th or 5th, just out of the top 3 of 24 groups. Only 8 groups actually ‘escaped’ of which we were one, so 4th or 5th is a decent showing!
Day 45 — Feb 16 — At Sea
Elee competes today in Master Chef and does well. The judges are impressed with her cooking skills. She unfortunately doesn’t win as she made a critical mistake with her cream sauce to go with her mushroom chicken and the judges choose a different contestant to win the day. The Restaurant Manager sees us in the elevator later and reveals why they didn’t choose her. Oh well, live and learn!
The show tonight is hosted by the Cruise Director Tony and he has the different singers on board come out and sing as their favorite performers. The show is hilarious and garners several Standing Ovations and it is a big hit!
Day 46 — Feb 17 — At Sea
A normal At Sea Day. Games in the morning, watched the Master Chef and games in the afternoon. Tonight is a Formal Night so it’s off to the cabin to put a suit on. Dinner and the show are good, but nothing special.
Day 47 — Feb 18 — Tauranga, NZ
An early Port Day today. The ship docks around 4:30AM and we can get off the ship around 6:30AM. We have a Ship’s Tour today to visit Hobbiton and it leaves at 7:15AM. We get up and have breakfast early and make the bus on time. Our New Zealand driver is fun and tells us all about our surroundings on the hour plus ride. We arrive at the Hobbiton Movie Set around 9:30AM and pick up a local Hobbiton Guide at the main buildings.
New Zealand is in their summer and have a drought that is normal for this time of year. The hills are similar to Southern California hills in the summer, brown and dry. But in Hobbiton, they water the surrounding hills for effect and everything is green and lush. We start our walking tour and soon come across Hobbit Holes that are charming and look just like in the movies. Oh wait, they are the same ones that were used to film the movies! Some are large and some are small and we are told this is because they had to make some characters look large and some small and this was for effect. This is a fun place to walk around. We even get to stand inside a couple of them and have our photo taken!
After our tour of Hobbit Holes, we are brought to the Green Dragon, a restaurant also used in the filming of the movies. Here we have refreshments in the nature of the movie and I have a Dark Stout and Elee has a Cider. We are treated to scones and muffins and have a Tea just like Bilbo would have. We visit the gift shop and find our obligatory magnet for our wall. Then it’s back on the bus for the ride back to the ship. We board and change out bags and cameras. Then it’s back in town to find WiFi but we decide to climb a small local mountain instead.
We run into a couple of shipboard friends and climb the 2 mile trail for glimpses of the town and harbor and the climbing is difficult but worth it in the end as we get some great views. I decide to quit climbing about halfway up but my friends continue on the trail and I catch my second wind and catch back up to them. It turns out to be worth it when we get to the top. The trail down is easier but tiring and we get back to the ship and have a beer with our friends back on board.
Then we decide to cool off in the swimming pool on board and end up at the swim up bar for another beer. We watch as the ship departs and we say goodbye to Tauranga. It’s Casual Night on the ship which is normal for a Port Day and we kick back in our room and write our blogs and edit photos. We’ll eat in the Bistro tonight and go look for and find a couple shipboard friends that are leaving the ship tomorrow and we find them going into the restaurant for dinner. Hugs ensue and we bid them adieu. To the pub to pick up a nightcap and to the room to write this and edit some photos and turn in early for it’s another Port Day in Auckland tomorrow.