Day 51: Monday February 25th. Latitude: 27,22,54S; Longitude: 153,9,48E.
Because Arcadia was so large we were moored up in a commercial docking area. On arrival into Brisbane it was absolutely pouring with rain! I passed through the Customs area with no difficulties, having been sniffed at a couple of times by trained dogs who were on the lookout for banned substances. All of us passengers had been warned to not bring foodstuffs of any kind whatsoever from the ship, nor anything made of wood, etc. Bottled water was allowed, they really were very strict! The visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was so lovely, I saw koalas, kangaroos, various birds and a baby crocodile, but the duck-billed platypus was asleep and therefore did not show itself. It didn’t stop raining, and I was utterly soaked through by the time I returned to the ship. It was all well worth the visit though! After an extremely wet day in Brisbane, we were then heading south towards Sydney, where we would stay for two days. I was hopeful that it would be a little dryer there! On the map it doesn’t seem that far to Sydney, but it is around 475 miles and Arcadia has an average cruising speed of twenty to twenty-five miles per hour. Add docking time, manoeuvring in and out of berths, often assisted by tugs, the time soon mounted up. It was also fascinating to watch.
Wednesday February 27th. Latitude: 33,51,30S; Longitude: 151,12,36E.
Our arrival into Sydney was utterly breathtaking, especially as we were moored up immediately across from the Opera House, with a completely clear view of it. I had a tour of the city, as well as a visit to Bondi beach, which I walked on! It wasn’t as large a beach as I had imagined though. Following a return journey via other sights, I had a tour of the Sydney Opera house. That was much, much larger than I had imagined, with several different concert halls! After lunch I walked along George Street, where many major shops were to be found, including the Apple Store. You know me! I used their free WiFi to upgrade the software in both my iPad and iPhone. It really was a great help having the ship berthed so close to the city centre. My evening meal was in the Orchid restaurant on board ship, it made a pleasant change. Staying in Sydney for two days meant I was able to take a leisurely stroll into town. I was not booked on any tours, I simply wanted to stroll around the place and do a bit of shopping. So after breakfast I did just that. As I left the ship there were a great many people queuing up to get on board, I was told later there were around 700 new passengers! I had coffee and a doughnut in a McDonalds, but sadly the coffee wasn’t as good as I had rather expected. I returned to the ship for lunch and had a chance to review the photos I had taken. My timing was good, as the rain then started in the afternoon. This time every passenger on board had to attend an emergency drill, including putting on a life jacket, but I could do that easily by then! We were towed off our mooring by a tug at around 6.30pm and set sail for New Zealand. The following day was of course St David’s Day, but not many on board recognised it as I did. After leaving Sydney the weather was not at all wonderful, with rough seas and force 9 winds. It did start to calm down a little, though the ship still rocked at times! It was not a problem. Temperatures were down a little too, only 21C, 70F the next morning!!! We also changed time zones once again and were now twelve hours ahead of UK time. Temperatures continued to fall as we were of course heading south, it was only 18C, 64F, though that was considerably warmer than back in the UK just then! Some open deck areas of the ship had been closed off for safety reasons, but it would all calm down once we reached New Zealand. Our clocks went forward again at mid-day the next day, making us thirteen hours ahead of UK time.
Day 57. Sunday March 3rd. Latitude: 44,36,24S; Longitude: 167,50,6E.
My first sight of New Zealand was as we arrived in Milford Sound. We only had time to cruise around for a short while there before leaving and continuing our journey around the base of South Island towards Dunedin, where we would arrive the following day. The weather was not particularly good just then, with stronger winds and rougher seas forecast, especially overnight!
Day 58. Monday March 4th. Latitude: 45,48,30S; Longitude: 170,37,48E.
The following day we were docked at Port Chalmers, a sheltered port near to Dunedin. The weather was changeable with showers, the temperature was lower than we’d had for a while, only around 13C, 55F. This meant wearing a jumper and a coat whilst on our tour of Dunedin! Physically, I had now been the furthest away on this planet from the folks at home that I would probably ever be. From now on, I moved closer.
Day 59. Tuesday March 5th. Latitude: 43,49,24S; Longitude: 172,55,18E.
We made several stops in New Zealand, the next one was a lovely day with blue skies, sunshine and friendly people in Akaroa. I was on a walking tour of the town which was extremely interesting and informative. Though a few of us chuckled when one passenger asked where the bus was! They were politely informed that the town was so small it did not need one in order to see it. I did chat to the local guide, who informed me that the earthquake that had occurred two years before in Christchurch was a mixed blessing. It meant that cruise ships could not call in their usual place, so they now called at Akaroa instead. The guide pointed out that the population of Akaroa was just over six hundred, so compare that to there being around two thousand five hundred passengers on board our cruise ship, every visiting cruise ship was a welcome sight for the trade in that town!
Wednesday March 6th. Latitude: 41,16,19S; Longitude: 174,47,18E.
Until now we had been seeing some of the sights of South Island, but now we moved up to North Island and our first stop was a view of Wellington. The locals call this place ‘windy city’ and I can understand why, as it really was very windy there, but I thought a certain place in North America was also given that title! I visited a sheep farm, we had a drive along a private coast road in order to get there. The views were amazing and the coach stopped a few times to allow photographs to be taken by those passengers who wished to. It was decidedly windier there than in town!
Day 61. Thursday March 7th. Latitude: 39,28,30S; Longitude: 176,55,18E.
The day was lovely and sunny and by 10:00am the temperatures were up to 18C,64F. The ship was docked in an area of Napier surrounded by huge containers and tree logs – there were hundreds of logs there, just as there were in Wellington. It was a short stay though, as we departed for Auckland that afternoon. On the map it didn’t look all that far, and by road it probably wasn’t, but by sea we had to go a fair way round, out of Hawkes Bay, then through an area called the Sea of Plenty.
Day 62. Friday March 8th. Latitude: 36,50,30S; Longitude: 174,45,54E.
I spent a lovely day out in the sunshine, first on a bus tour around Auckland which included a guided tour around a local museum by a knowledgeable guide, then lunch back on board ship followed by a short walk to the Sky Tower. This is, I was told, the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and the views from the top were spectacular! After that I met up with old friends and had a lovely pizza with them. But I was very mindful of the time, as I was on a trip of my own. The ship will not depart until all passengers on organised tours are back on board, but those who go off on their own must be back by a specified time. Those who do not manage to, must make their own way to the ship’s next docking point that they could organise, no matter how far away. But port and other authorities were available for guidance and assistance, also the cruise line, P&O, had their own set of contacts. At each port of call, our onboard newspaper had relevant details. I knew I had to be back on board Arcadia by 7.30pm and I managed it – with just five minutes to spare… That evening the seas were rather brisk, in fact they were described as ‘a rough sea state and average to heavy swell’, which meant the ship was rocking around a bit more. It did calm down overnight though. Not a problem to me either way.
Day 64. Sunday March 10th. Latitude: 27,38,0S; Longitude: 178,30,54W.
It was amazing how the weather could change overnight, although we had travelled a bit of a distance north since yesterday. The sea had calmed down, with sunshine and blue skies now! You may notice that longitude is now West, not East, though officially we had not crossed the International Dateline just yet. However we would do, meaning that Sunday March 10th would occur all over again for us. So instead of being thirteen hours ahead of UK time, we were suddenly eleven hours behind…for now, anyway!
Because we crossed the International Dateline, this day occurred twice!
Day 65. Sunday March 10th. Latitude: 20,32,0S; Longitude: 174,3,12W.
It felt strange to live the same date more than once, but it did all balance out over the next few days. It was such a beautiful day with sunshine, the temperature was up to 28C, 82F and last night when I walked out onto the open deck it was so hot and humid compared to inside the ship that my glasses steamed up again! The hot weather tired me out though, I’d had a later start this morning and took things easy throughout the day.
Day 66. Monday March 11th. Latitude: 14,16,36S; Longitude: 170,41,18W.
We arrived in Pago Pago and I had a look around. There was some cloud, but bright sunshine and at 10.00am temperatures were about 28C, 82F. Despite there being a few organised tours of the island taking place many people were looking around on their own. The ship was securely docked opposite the entrance to the port and around a dozen stalls had been set up there by the locals to sell their wares. This meant that everyone had to walk past these stalls in order to exit the port! At around 10.00am an exercise drill was carried out by the crew, including the sounding of ship alarms, but I knew there was only one alarm signal that passengers had to respond to – the rest we could ignore. This was a working port, so adjacent to the passenger exit there were a great many containers. It still fascinates me to see how the containers are lifted on and off lorries so easily and so accurately. I also knew this must be American Samoa, as I found McDonalds on the waterfront!
Tuesday March 12th
Because we crossed the International Dateline, this day did not exist for us!
Wednesday March 13th. Latitude: 13,49,36S; Longitude: 171,45,42W.
Arcadia was now docked in Apia, Samoa. As you can clearly see from the latitude and longitude numbers, we were not far from Pago Pago. However, we had leapt forward in time again! We were now fourteen hours ahead of UK time, instead of eleven hours behind. This would change again – very soon. It was extremely hot there, for me, anyway, but I am used to living in a temperate zone, not equatorial. At around 11.30am local time today the temperature was 29C,84F.
Thursday March 14th. Latitude: 9,2,6S; Longitude: 169,51,12W.
Still at sea, it was a bright, sunny day with relatively calm seas. Even at 7.30am the temperature was 27C, 81F but that was not surprising, as we were almost on the equator itself! Tonight Arcadia crossed the International Dateline again, going back in time so we would live March 14th again. This aligned us with Hawaii and we would not have any further date adjustments to make during the journey back to Southampton, just the appropriate time zone changes – one hour every fifteen degrees of longitude. This morning, as I watched the news, a new Pope was elected – Pope Francis.
Because we crossed the International Dateline, this day occurred twice!
Date: Thursday March 14th. Latitude: 1,31,6S; Longitude: 166,55,30W.
Our clocks went back by twenty-four hours this morning, as we had crossed the International Dateline. At 1:00pm we crossed over the equator into the northern hemisphere, on our way to Hawaii, our next port of call. Naturally it was hot, in fact at 8.00am it was 26C, 79F.
Coming up… A special day for me.