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19 Feb 2020

Auckland, NZ and The Muriwai Gannet Colony 2020

New Zealand is about the size of California and has 5 million inhabitants. (CA has 40 million). About a third of them live in Auckland. 
Day 1 was shopping and enjoying the city center. Every single person we met was nice.I even bought some shoes. I need to upgrade my attire.
Given that we overnighted here, we ate dinner off the ship with friends at Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill in The Ferry Building  (yellow building in bottom right of top photo) . The food was great as was the ambiance. Service was slow but nobody really cared (once the wine came). 
After dinner there was an entertaining acrobatic couple performing on board.
Day 2 was the best though. Although Auckland is on the East Coast, it is about the narrowest part of the country making it just an hour drive to the West Coast. That is home to the Muriwai gannet colony, perhaps the most amazing sight to date on this cruise.
About 1,200 pairs of gannets nest here from August to March each year.
The nests are just inches apart. 
Many have left already as they spend most of their days in Australia. About five years later they return to lay eggs in the exact same spot they were born. Amazing.
Each pair lays one egg and the parents take turns on the nest. They are monogamous.
Even the view itself, without the birds, is magnificent.
Also included in the tour were two wineries with wine tastings. My favorite was the apron.
 








17 Feb 2020

Bay of Islands, New Zealand 2020

Today was our first of eight New Zealand stops on our cruise. Our port was Waitangi in the Bay of Islands which is the far north. It remains quite pristine.

Pulling away from our ship and just looking out the bay was extra magnificent because of the clouds. We started with overcast and a tiny drizzle that soon gave way to sun and a spectacular sky that magnified the pretty water. 
The islands were beautiful; each seemingly with its own unique vegetation.
We only saw a few boats. This one was a beauty.
In the middle of all this loveliness is their iconic Hole in the Rock. It is world famous and quite a sight.
Allyn thinks it's funny to capture me napping. Sometimes I get tired watching all of the beauty.
People ask why we would revisit a place where we have been. One of the reasons is we do different things. In 2009 we actually took an exhilarating speed boat ride in this general area, but the experience was totally different.
Speaking of exhilarating, last year we took a V8 Trike tour and it was fast, scary, and very fun. They are powered by big Chevy V8 engines.

 









11 Feb 2020

Our World Cruise and Coronavirus Impact

Friends and family are writing about what is happening to our world cruise due to coronavirus.

Everybody here is fine, but changes are happening all over the world. For starters, we are in the South Pacific and certainly not close to China, nor were we scheduled to be. 

Our ship, and the entire cruise industry, has instituted several policies:

Absolutely nobody can board if they have a Chinese, Macau, or Hong Kong passport.

 Absolutely nobody can board if they have been to China in the last 14 days.

No visitors are allowed on board.

Serious screening is being done to all boarding passengers and nobody with 100.4 fever or more gets on.

Extra special cleaning protocols are taking place all over the ship.

 All port, land and tour operators must sanitize all terminal areas as well as  vehicles transporting our guests.

We are on the Crystal Serenity and its sister ship, Crystal Symphony, was scheduled to go to Hong Kong and cancelled of course. Both Taipei and Manila would not allow them access. Singapore is their  new transfer point.

We were scheduled to visit Tonga today, here in the middle of the South Pacific, but they refused entry to all four cruise ships. Ridiculous in my opinion, but certainly no big deal from a tourist standpoint. It shows international uncertainty and panic though.

I feel safer onboard the ship than probably most other places.









07 Feb 2020

French Polynesia 2020 Part II

When most of us speak of Tahiti, we really mean French Polynesia. Actually Papeete is the largest city and capital of French Polynesia. It is located on the island of Tahiti.
Many of our group ate dinner off the ship in Papeete. Right next to the port, Place Vai’ete fills with roulottes, or food carts, in the evenings. It's always a fun experience.
All over the world it is enjoyable to visit the local markets. 
Our fifth, and final, French Polynesia island stop this year is Raiatea.
The migration of Polynesians throughout the Pacific began on Raiatea as it was central and the most sacred area. From here, original settlers offered blessings and then ventured north to Hawaii and west to New Zealand. 
Like other similar small ports of call, in Raiatea one can ride around the island, enjoy the local village or do something on the water.
I just walked around as both the dock area and the local people were quite pleasant.
Allyn kayaked.








06 Feb 2020

French Polynesia 2020 Part I

The first stop on our 2020 World Cruise was Nuku Niva in French Polynesia. It is pretty, but not much was happening. It was nice to be on land after a week though.
Their claim to fame may be that their time zone is 30 minutes different than neighboring time zones.
They are known for their outstanding wood carvings.
Here is a shot of Allyn as part of the entertainment when we were here in 2010.
Stop two was Bora Bora where, unfortunately, we got rained out this year.
Our next island visit was Moorea. It is a feast for the eyes.  
It's hard to beat soaking up the sun on a 60' catamaran heading towards the snorkel area.
Some of us snorkeled.