Monthly Archives: November 2012



Finally, we are back in the USofA and have FANTASTIC wifi..

I am posting all the places we have been to since last we had internet. Sorry to have to bundle them together. I have had some problems.

1. I lost one blog post… Hamilton Island, Australia.. I have no idea where it went and I don’t remember posting it, so I will have to rewrite it.

2. SYDNEY, Australia… we spent 2 days with Tracy and family and I want to do that post justice by spending time so I need more time to put it together.. forgive me for not posting Sydney in the order it was suppose to be posted.

3. We will have 5 days at sea before we get to San Diego and I hope I will have time to write about Sydney and Penrith (where Trac lives), the crazy dessert extravaganza that the ship puts together, and post it when we get to San Diego.

We spend days at sea full of activities.. Wools calls it … “Cruise Camp”. The days at sea are full of lectures, cooking shows, knitting circles, FOOD, entertainment and tons of games, arts and crafts, watercolors and so many other things to do that there seems not to be enough hours in the day..  But I will get to it, I promise…

Hope all is well with everyone..

Love you all!!!




Stuff on the Ship


Stuff on the Ship!

This page will be a series of things that have happened on the ship. I am not sure where I should put them all so I am going to lump them all together.. except for the Dessert Extravaganza, which I will post later (haven’t put it together yet!)

1. We saw a 80% eclipse while on this voyage. On the flight out to Seattle to catch the ship, I sat next to a couple who told me that there would be a total eclipse in Australia about the time we would be there and it was. If we would have been further North we would have had a total eclipse but since we were on our way to the Bay of Islands and heading in the right direction we got pretty damn close and it was amazing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t photograph it.. I tried to do it with the glasses over the lens but that didn’t work. but we all looked pretty funny lying in the sun with those glasses on. Almost like that iconic photo of people at a drive in watching a 3D movie.


Here is a photo of the sun directly from the camera without the glasses.


This is a photo of the reflection of the inside of the glasses. Seems that the reflection of the camera is what came out.. Silly!


2. We had 2 celebrity chefs on the ship.. One had dinner with us (can you guess who she is? She has been on Iron Chef, Top Chef and has a restaurant in Aspen, CO)

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and the other owns his own Michelin star  restaurant in Stowe Vermont. (Michael’s on the Hill). I so loved his attitude for cooking that I took his class and was impressed.



3. The flowers on the ship are beyond words. There is a couple from Norway that work on this ship, and the flower arrangements are like nothing you have ever seen and they never repeat themselves. They incorporate items that they purchase in the ports into the arrangements.

















Apia, Samoa


Apia, Samoa

We have been here before but loved it then and love it now.. Apia is a beautiful island in the South Pacific with beautiful people.. Our cruise director kept reminding us how the people of Samoa are the most beautiful people in the world.. He kept saying that because he is Samoa. .but they really are beautiful people both inside and out.. (not everyone, but you will see!)

The last time we were in Samoa we went to town and to Robert Louis Stevenson’s home.. Vailia is the name of his home, about 3 miles from the center of town. So this time we just went snorkeling and unfortunately, my camera isn’t waterproof and we took Kal’s small camera, so if the pix aren’t great, sorry.. We wanted to be back in time for the Samoan show that was going to be on the ship at 3pm. We had an auction for a Samoan Youth Group. All the kids came aboard the ship and preformed for us.

There was a group dancing and singing for us as we arrived at the port, and they had tents set up with crafts and tee shirts for sale. GOD it was HOT…





We (Jim, Wools, Joe, Sylvia, Kal and I) to the beach which was just right outside the port.. just a few hundred yards away.


We paid the $2 entrance fee and passed the “changing rooms” on the way to the beach, good thing we wore our suits, YIKES





A Samoan Family


We got back to the ship in time to take showers and get to the show.. here are the beautiful people I was talking about..Aren’t these girls absolutely stunning?



The whole group



The Samoans have a tradition of “tattoos” where the men tattoo their entire body below the waist up to the knees..including their butts! They weren’t gonna show us, would have been fun, though!  Women just do their upper thighs.. can you imagine the hurt?



The belt of the outfit she is wearing is made out of the bark of a tree and is called Tapa and is dyed with natural vegetable dyes.

The day ended as good as it started.

Now we have 5 days at sea till we get to HAWAII ..

We are almost done with this leg of the journey!

Lautoka, Fiji


Lautoka, Fiji

Everyone thinks that Fiji is one of those beautiful paradise islands in the South Pacific and in part that is true but we didn’t go there. Last time we went to Suva which is the capital city and it was way prettier and had beautiful beaches nearby where we could go snorkeling or even diving if we wished, but not this time. For some unknown reason we went to the other side of the island to Lautoka is just a city (town really) with a big sugar mill and food market. There really wasn’t much to do except walk around.. It was extremely HOT and HUMID!!!

Fiji is Melanesia which is nothing like French Polynesia (which is were Tahiti is).

The people of Fiji are different than the people of Bora Bora, or Tahiti. First off, they were cannibals until the 1930s or so.. Vanuatu (another island in the South Pacific were cannibals until 1958!!)

The craft markets are full of masks, kava bowls, and cannibal forks.. The forks come in different sizes for different parts.. Quite disgusting actually!



If you are asking what Kava is.. it’s a root that the locals grind up and make into a drink that they use in rituals.. it is kind of hallucinogenic. They use spit to make it soft and then add water and pass it around.. NASTY stuff but the bowls are beautiful, made out of the local wood (usually mahogany) and carved.




The veggies and fruit are amazingly fresh and cheap.. and the spices are sold by weight.. There are tons of Hindus in the town and you can see their influence in many of the shops with the typical jewelry.


While wandering the market we heard music and voices coming from outside and went to investigate.

There was a march going on for peace and getting rid of corruption..


All the women wear these colorful outfits and some stores sell Indian Saris too.


India’s Influence




The Raw Sugar Harvest. Trucks were coming in to the Mill by the dozens, full of sugar cane.



The train that transfers the sugar cane. You can just make out the railroad tracksDSCN8408

Waiting for the train. There were fields full of similar bundles of cane.


Up close and personal with the cane


Since our ship was parked in a commercial port there were fishing vessels everywhere unloading their catch, and drying their laundry


They freeze the fish right on the ship..

Below, it’s being loaded in a truck for delivery



This was a small port in the South Pacific but definitely not paradise!!

Auckland, New Zealand


Auckland, New Zealand

Wow, so this is the second time in my lifetime that I have been to Auckland and maybe my last.. and both times we have been washed out!!!

We have had great weather up to this point and now it is pouring! None of us have any real interest in getting out. Last time we went to the museum and that was great but we did get drenched getting back to the ship from there so this time we had no desire to go anywhere but we bundled ourselves up and headed out at least for a bit.

Since it really started to pour after a while, I really didn’t want to take out my camera to take pix so there won’t be many for Auckland..

Thank God there was a indoor shopping mall right near the pier where we were parked so we didn’t have far to go in the rain.

Since it was Sunday we had to wait until 11 for shops to open and we heard a rumor that there was a yarn shop at the Mall, so maybe it wouldn’t be a total wasted day!

A New Zealand Cowboy waiting to help us on our way. (Many of the towns we visited provided volunteers to help us find our way.)


Entrance to the Mall


Fire and water sculpture in front of the Mall.


The yarn shop at the Mall.. Who knew it was named after Wools???


A beautiful shawl of possum wool, can anyone figure out how it was made? Hopefully, I will be able to copy it.


Sky Tower. If it would have been a beautiful day, we were planning on having lunch at the top and take in the view and all the crazy bungee jumpers who jump from the top of the tower!


We ventured out a bit further when we thought the rain stopped for a bit and there was this older gentleman and his puppet on the street. The puppet danced to music.. it was adorable.


This is how they park their bikes when they enter the Mall.


The beginning of Christmas!!!


What I made from the yarn I purchased at the yarn shop (it was pretty cheap.. $2.50 a skein) The sweater just needs some buttons.. (Thanks Bon, for help in figuring out how to make button bands and other stuff!!!)

This is for Tiago, Wools and Jim’s grandson!! Good practice for when my kids have kids!!! Whoo Hoo!


Port of Waitangi, Bay of Islands, NZ


Port of Waitangi, Paihia

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

One thing I have realized, that once we left Sydney, Australia it seemed as if that was the turning point to our voyage and we all felt that we were ready to go home.. and from Sydney on the ports were not any that we look forward to. They were quant and lovely in their own ways but the atmosphere changed and many of us chose not to even get off the ship at certain ports.

We had been to Paihia on the last Grand Australia cruise we took in 2009.

It is a sweet little resort town for tourists from the North Island of New Zealand. NZ is broken up into 2 islands the North Island and the South Island.  Auckland is the Capital and largest city on the Northern Island and Wellington is the largest city on the Southern. Personally I prefer the Southern Island with Christ Church, Dunedin and other adorable cities, also Milford Sound (where they filmed Lord of the Rings) but we didn’t go to the South Island.

Back to Paihia.. We were tendered into the town where there was an Arts and Crafts show going on full of great crafts.. Paihia is full of artists who come together from surrounding towns to sell their wares. I couldn’t take too many pix of the items since they wouldn’t allow me, but I did sneak in a couple of shots.



The white picket fence is the entrance to the public library grounds right behind where the A&C fair was taking place.


This was a quilt tent with this quilt just hanging on the outside of the tent.


I fell in love with this wood turner.. His work is amazing but we couldn’t afford to buy one of his pieces they were way up there.. But absolutely beautiful.




There was this group of kids on the plaza who were preforming native Maori songs and dancing for a charity.


A replica of a Maori Canoe


The public toilet.. It was right there, open to the street with toilet planters on the roof, can you see them?? Hilarious!


We asked a local where is the best place to eat “Fish and Chips” and she directed us to “Vinny’s Take Out” and here is our lunch.. YUM and so very fresh! It came in butcher paper, wrapped up.. At least it wasn’t in newspaper!



Since there wasn’t that much to do except walk around and we did the town twice, after lunch we walked along the beach and then headed back to the ship.. There was a parasailing flying above the ship..


A woman walking her border collie on the beach . (for you Elayne!)


Some views from the tender!


Just outside of town!


Eden, Australia


Eden, Australia

I need to write about Sydney, but since Sydney is going to be a very long and special blog I want to save it for when we have many days at sea and I can concentrate on sharing the best pictures of the day with you. So, I am jumping over and writing about the stop after Sydney.

Eden was our last port of call in Australia.. so sad, wish we could continue our journey and stop in more places in Australia…

Eden is a sleepy little coastal town south of Sydney but North of Melbourne. It was pretty chilly when we got there.

Eden and the southern part of Australia and New Zealand are pretty close to the Antarctica, which makes it pretty chilly even in the summer, and it is basically late spring now coming into summer.



There is a very nice winding pathway winding up the hill to the town above called Warren Walk. You can’t walk along the road it is not made for pedestrians so you must take this winding path, which we did. Once you reach the top there are volunteers who greet you with a sticker that says you have reached the “summit”.



As we wandered the main street in the town we came across a pub that had a collection of: (This is for you L’via)


Snow Globes from all 50 States in the USA.. So weird..

Eden was a Whaling town, which means that the fishing fleet in Eden hunted whales. The local story is that  is that there was one Orca whale that they called “Old Tom” who helped the fishermen catch the other whales. He and his group of Orcas (also known as Killer Whales) would work together to round up the other whales so that the fishermen could capture and kill the other whales. But now that whaling is banned and Old Tom has since died the practice has stopped and so now whales come to Eden to spawn and you can see whales up and down the area. (Not while we were there, though..) We heard that a entire pod of whales were there the day before. Whenever someone in town sees whales they sound the alarm and everyone comes out of their homes to see them. Most homes are situated in a way that they all have views of the sea.



Looks like any other sleepy hill town near the ocean, doesn’t it?

Mel, ever think you would see a boat named after you? (Even if the owner doesn’t know how to spell??)


The only yarn in the whole town.. located in the discount store.. Not very good stuff and over 2 hours to Melbourne to find a real yarn shop, ouch!! We saw some arts and crafts stores that were selling simple hats, scarves and baby sweaters out of this yarn.. UGH.. Can you see on the bottom shelf they have the ruffle yarn?? So many women on the ship were making that stuff. I wouldn’t call it knitting per se!


What’s this about??? What’s a Svitzer??? A sweaty boat??? HUH???