Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Posts Tagged ‘cruising

Diamond Princess Atrium

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Diamond Princess Atrium

I’ve done a fair bit of cruising over the years, and I think the Diamond Princess is my favourite ship. It’s not too big – around 2500 passengers and probably around 1000 crew. That sounds like a lot but there are some twice the size. I’ve never been on one that big, so I can’t say what it’s like, but 2500 is rather like a village at sea… Small enough that you will run into the same people in the places you like to go, so you meet people and form friendships, get to know the staff in your favourite restaurant, and if you go into the same shop a few times, they remember you too. And if you prefer to keep to yourself, it’s amazing how much privacy you can find to read, think or meditate. And yes, you do have the option of eating yourself into a stupor if you wish, but having done it so many times now, I tend to eat normal sized meals, so I don’t feel sluggish – and my clothes fit as well getting off as they did when I got on. (That said, this ship has some of the best old-fashioned pizza you will find anywhere – I don’t know how they do it!)

So this is the atrium, three stories high. I love how the stairs and walkways sort of twist around, rather like an Escher drawing. This was taken late in the evening, so it’s quiet, but during the day it bustles like a town square, with musicians playing, people sitting in comfy couches with coffee or a glass of wine and a sweet. I’ve been on a few ships where this area is gaudy to the point of being almost blinding, but even with all the Christmas decorations, the Diamond is still a bit elegant and if not understated, very easy on the eye.

This was probably my best cruise so far, sailing from Sydney via Hobart & Melbourne, the south island of NZ and the up the east coast ports, ending up in Auckland, where we caught a taxi home. I’ll probably do it again in a couple of years. Can’t wait!

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31/12/2012 at 12:50 am

The truth about fog

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ship in fog

Carl Sandburg was wrong. Wrong. wrong, wrong… and here is the proof. Fog does not move in on little cat feet. Fog rolls in in massive waves, encircling and smothering everything in its path.

I watched this gigantic mist roll in and engulf the city of Wellington. The Inter-Islander was just ahead of us as we departed the NZ capital. It disappeared into the void. We followed shortly after, sailing in a velvet white mist that surely called for Rudolf’s services. It did not lift until this morning at about 10AM – for a perfect Christmas Day cruising through the exquisite Marlborough Sounds.

Merry Christmas!

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25/12/2012 at 5:40 pm

Sun worshipper

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Cow1 Melbourne

Currently at sea – a blustery day, though I’ve got the ranch slider to the balcony open just cos I can… Hi Melbourne yesterday  though it was mostly with my Visa (card)… but came upon his cow up a tree. No explanation was given, and I guess, if you need to ask, you don’ deserve to know…

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19/12/2012 at 6:33 pm

One Night in Sydney

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Proper travel advisers undoubtedly cringe when they read my travelogues and commentary. I just seem to do it all wrong and get amazing results. Of course I make the necessary bookings and comply with enforced regulations – I mean the thoroughly well planned and well thought out stuff – the lists of things you are supposed to do, that I mean to, but all to often I am rapt in something else. Fortunately the dramas that arise are often wonderful – getting bumped up to business class, discovering an amazing hotel for peanuts, sipping kava with a couple of locals or… flying to Sydney for a cruise around southeast Australia and then heading over the Tasman to NZ…

I am a notoriously cheap traveller and quite often book at the last minute, taking a punt on what’s available. Whilst I MUST have a window on a cruise ship (I will not sleep in a closet, I don’t care how roomy it is) generally a bit of natural light is all I require, not expansive sea views, which cost the earth. However, this particular cruise on the Diamond Princess departed Sydney 12 days before Christmas, arriving in Auckland on the 24th of December. Not a popular travel time and we discovered we could get a balcony room for a few hundred dollars more than a bog standard stateroom usually costs. I held my breath and coaxed my hubby into going for it. (The regular stateroom cost so little, it was cheaper than staying home!)

The flight to Sydney, was three and a half of the longest hours of my life. I had never flown Aerolingus before. An Argentinian friend had warned me, but I thought she was just being hard on her own. Oh no… it was rather like being in rattling collection of cans and nuts and bolts with cheerful staff that had never heard of the word service, but they did like to tell jokes. I can survive anything for three and a half hours (though I will probably find an alternative airline when I visit South America). It was raining hard when we landed. We had thought that we’d have a nosy around downtown Sydney before we got on the ship – but no, that was definitely a bad idea.

Check in was fine, the normal production of documents, signatures, searches and assignations. At last we boarded and made our way to our stateroom. How exciting! My first balcony! The rain was lightening as I stepped outside. And there she was, the Sydney Opera House in all her splendour – I hadn’t even noticed her since she was behind the ship! Sure enough, the rain soon faded and I spent the later afternoon and evening relishing the view and photographing.

The ship departed a couple of hours late – giving me the perfect opportunity to take this shot of the great lady as evening fell.

I still haven’t been to Sydney properly – I thought I might never do it, but some close friends recently shifted over the ditch, so I will have to go and visit them. Soon. Not sure I should try to outdo this pic, though.

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31/05/2011 at 1:47 am

Sunset at Sea

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I think this was the most perfect sunset I have ever seen, travelling around the northeastern coast of Australia.  I stood out there admiring it until the last smudge of fire had left the sky.

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30/03/2011 at 11:34 pm

As the day goes by…

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16/03/2011 at 10:58 pm

All at Sea

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PA133870After a month away, settling back to a ‘normal’ routine of life just isn’t easy. I resent having to get up and go to bed to suit someone else’s schedule. I resent my standard healthy omelette breakfast – my salad at lunchtime, my wonderfully balanced and wholesome dinner lovingly prepared by my spouse. I resent the lawn and the trees and the whole bloody lot – would trade it all in a minute for a life at sea. Okay, it’s not that bad. I don’t even have a lawn.

But there is something about life at sea that is dreamlike. Time becomes plastic, fluid – stretching and twisting, so you lose track of what day it is – never mind the time. You are nowhere – you are at sea.

And this trip was all about being at sea. With only nine ports in 25 days, there was a never-ending expanse of blue. Rarely sighting land. (Though I do wish I’d have got a glimpse of Iran as we sailed past, just eleven miles away.) And since we were in the tropics the entire time, every day was about 12 hours light and dark.

PA113788Unfortunately though, as we were sailing east, every 15 degrees, we lost an hour. The time difference between Dubai and Sydney is six hours and around India Malaysia and Thailand, they are fond of half hour time changes, making things even more confusing. Fortunately food is served 24/7 so no matter how often one may miss a meal, there is another going on somewhere. And if in doubt, complimentary room service is always perfect. We had it every morning, before going to the gym and pool. Just something light before a workout.

PA112634The thing I love most is the sunsets. They are extremely unreliable, but when they deliver, they are truly exceptional. How about this? The sun is below the Yard-arm – time for a drink!

This cruise was on the Dawn Princess, a fairly old (by cruise ship standards) ship and not as dazzling as the Crown or Diamond Proncess ships which we sailed on last year. But like every cruise ship I have been on, it had more bars than I could keep track of as well as half a dozen restaurants and of course the legendery buffet. I try to stay away from the buffet. 3000 calorie meals just arent’ good for you.

PA093448On the other hand, the dessert tables are irresistable and the ice sculptures always kitschily divine! I am a fiend for dessert – but after a couple of weeks, rich cakes and puddings really do lose their appeal. There is always an abundance of fresh fruit available if you want something sweet.

Incredibly, I gained less than five pounds – a tribute to daily gym workouts. I was building muscle!

Ever since childhood I have been a water-baby. I can stay in the pool all day and never get bored or cold. However, I am also extremely fair, which means I cannot stay out in the sun without getting burnt. I was horrified at the Aussies who lay out all day in the direct sun, getting browner and browner. All I could think of was skin cancer – several times I saw people with black patches that looked distinctly unhealthy. MindPA073317 you, the hole in the ozone is right over New Zealand, so sun-worshipping here is a form of slow suicide. The Aussies have a different attitude. Here’s one ready to leap into the pool. Don’t get in his way!

I was on my way to the Dawn Princess ‘back pool’ at the rear of the ship – it is covered for us delicate flowers. It was there I wiled away those sweltering days. Nothing like sitting in the pool or spa whilst staring at the ocean.

We had near perfect weather the entire trip, with the exception of a few rough days in the middle. While I’ve been in really rough seas with ten metre swells, this time around it was a relatively tame 3-4 metres. Enough to rock the boat a bit and to make the terribly squeamish sea sick.

The most exciting thing is what this rocking does to the water in the pools. My husband took this incredible shot:


I know I mentioned the sunsets, but check these shots out. (Click for a larger view)

PA092488 PA093464

PA093531 PA112656

The ship is itself is simply gorgeous – yeah, a bit glitzy and a wee bit gaudy… but for me – it could be my second home. And being home on terra firma – oh, I don’t know – I still feel all at sea.


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24/10/2009 at 9:51 pm

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