February 20, 2017
Well, we had a scheduled sea day yesterday and were scheduled to be in Norfolk Island, Australia, today. In fact, they even had us go through Australian immigration yesterday (they have the authorities here on the ship which is unusual) in preparation for that port. Our lecturer told us about the island, it has only 2200 residents and 2 areas to anchor near the island. He said it was a 50/50 chance of any ship getting in due to the winds, it can be very risky. This includes the ships that they count on for their supplies. They are known for beef and lamb and grow most of their own vegetables. No one locks doors (where could you go on an island that is 3 miles from north to south and not much more east to west..if you committed a crime??) And the phone book uses only nicknames since everyone knows everyone else.
So we were looking forward to seeing this island, and yes, the Norfolk Island pines, but it was not to be. At the noon briefing yesterday, the captain said the winds were too heavy and the pilot advised that we would not be able to anchor and tender in. It was a bad news/good news situation, though, because he is heading straight for Auckland, New Zealand, where we will have two days instead of the scheduled just one. This makes especially the crew very, very happy as they get lots more port time at night when they are off duty. The passengers are mostly happy too because it means more time in a fairly major city.
Bruce Springsteen is doing concerts here right now and we miss him in our scheduled ports of one day, wouldn’t it have been great if he was in Auckland tomorrow? He will be in Christchurch where we will visit in a few days.
So yesterday we had the Gala tea. We never go to 4 PM tea since we eat dinner around 7 and it is just too much food otherwise. It is really nice, though, we see the setup when in Horizons for classes. They do the Gala tea in the theater and what a wonderful job they do. All manner of hors d’oeuvres, scones, crepes, macarons and such lovely table centerpieces. Here are a few pictures.
We have a pearl specialist on board and I went to her talk before buying pearls in Rangiora at the pearl farm. In Sydney they have a shop and she took a picture of another piece that I have to try to find complementary earrings when we are there. Anyway, she had a contest to guess what type of pearl was in a necklace that she had on display in the boutique. They had the prize drawing today. I had identified the correct type and to my surprise my entry was drawn and I won a beautiful pearl necklace! They even served champagne.
This afternoon I skipped the blackjack tournament (got knocked out early yesterday) to see the movie Whale Rider which was filmed in New Zealand and has a lot of the culture reflected in the story. It was very good and caused me to shed a few tears. It is a 2003 movie and I would recommend it. The young actress was apparently nominated for an Academy award.
Tomorrow in Auckland we plan to take the ferry to Devonport to explore this area. We have been to Auckland before but not to Devonport that time. On our second day, we want to find fast Wi-Fi (a continuous quest) and have plans to do the hop on hop off bus and see the art museum and the war museum which contains the largest Maori artifact collection.