A Trip to Australia and New Zealand
The Ship & the Fjords


This cruise we had a rather nice deluxe verandah suite and there was plenty of room for all of our gear. The very attentive cabin attendants found our baggage fairly quickly and the process of settling into our accommodations was swift and painless. After unpacking and sliding our bags under the bed we scouted the ship from aft to bow, port to starboard, top to bottom, and stem to stern. It didn't take long because we had sailed on Holland America before and all of their ships are pretty much set up the same way. After our explorations, we had the first of many delicious dinners while the ship got underway for our trip to New Zealand. cruising in the fjordsAfter dinner we went up on deck to superintend the exit from Sydney Harbor. There followed two very pleasant days at sea, accompanied by two time changes, some interesting lectures, and an opportunity to meet some of our fellow shipmates - always an interesting process. This trip we had signed up for "open seating" which meant that we had new table mates at each meal. We got very good at introducing ourselves and had a wide variety of conversations with a number of interesting people.

On the first day after crossing the Tasmanian Sea we awoke early and were on deck at the prow of the ship by dawn to witness the sun illuminate the mouth of Milford Sound - our first New Zealand fjord. The early morning air had a nip to it reminding us of the relative proximity of the Antarctic ice. The crew used the chill in the air as an excuse to provide some delicious hot chocolate. Very beautiful and dramatic scenery under cloudless skies followed for the rest of the day as we cruised through several of the fjords in the southeastern corner of the South Island. We quickly learned the hard way about the ozone hole that is positioned above this corner of the blue ball and turned bright red in a very short time. (Our advice is to not forget your hat when you visit New Zealand.)


These were waters traveled by Captain Cook several centuries before and it was easy to picture the Endeavor and Resolution tacking back and forth as they worked their way into the placid waters of the sounds. It was even possible to go back a few more centuries and envision the first Maori visitors in their long ocean-going canoes landing at one or another of the small beaches that sometimes footed the forested gorges carrying runoff from the glaciers high above. (We started to have trouble when we tried to imagine the huge birds that once inhabited these islands, but that was to be remedied by some of the museum displays that we were to see later in the trip.) We saw a variety of birds and even got a glimpse of some miniature dolphins, but the real treat of the day was the peaceful cruising through the outrageously beautiful scenery. On exiting the last fjord the bridge pointed out the site of a wrecked cruise ship from the day of sail. It was nice to know that we had the solid Dutch hull of the Volendam under us and the skilled hand of the captain at the helm.

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