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Matauri Bay & Whangaroa

Oct 23, 2010 – Saturday – Kerikeri – Matauri Bay & Whangaroa, New Zealand

I’m up first and have my morning coffee in the kitchen while Keith prepares breakfast, but my friends are soon up, so we move to the dining room for the main event. Keith makes us a wonderful meal to start the day: field mushrooms on toast with ham, fruit, cereal, homemade yogurt, and a vast selection of jams and marmalades, as well as more of his very good Bodum-style press coffee.

Matauri Bay & Cavalli Islands from the ridge

Matauri Bay & Cavalli Islands from the ridge

Keith suggests a route for us to drive today, which goes north to Matauri Bay, and then to Whangaroa (fang-a-roah). Both locations are superb, and we enjoy ourselves. The beach at Matauri Bay is outstanding and not crowded. The Rainbow Warrior was sunk by the French while the ship was in Auckland, and the wreck is now re-sunk just offshore from Matauri Bay, to be used as a diving reef. We stop along the way and take some photos of spring lambs and sheep in a beautiful pasture, and then drive a bit further to the lovely bay at Whangaroa. We climb the hill up to the pretty Anglican Church on the hill behind the village to take some photos. We don’t travel the complete route which Keith suggested, but perhaps tomorrow we will explore further.

John, Wendy & Joe at Pear Tree restaurant in Kerikeri

John, Wendy & Joe at Pear Tree restaurant in Kerikeri

Keith makes a reservation for us at the Pear Tree restaurant for dinner this evening. We walk down the hill the short distance to the restaurant, which is right across the street from the Stone Store. There is a new pedestrian bridge across the Kerikeri River, which replaces the old single lane vehicle bridge that used to be there, so the road on the other side now dead ends at the Old Stone Store (where we ended up yesterday). Our meals at the restaurant are very nice, but we find the charge of NZ$120 pretty high for three entrees, three beers, and one dessert.

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Auckland to Kerikeri, New Zealand

Oct 22, 2010 – Friday – Auckland to Kerikeri, New Zealand

My friends and I disembark from the Volendam for the last time this morning at our assigned 9am time. We pre-cleared New Zealand customs and immigration while we were at sea on the 19th, so we simply walk ashore, let the Beagle dogs sniff our bags for any unauthorized foods, and then pick up our bags, which are waiting for us in the departure hall.

End of 2010 South Pacific Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland aboard the Volendam


My friends and I decide to roll our bags the six blocks to the Hertz car rental office. The last block was a steep hill – a killer! I rent a Ford Mondeo, with the three of us named as authorized drivers. I pull out of the rental office driving on the left, and make it the three blocks to the on ramp and onto the motorway (freeway), heading north across the bridge and out of town. I am very anxious to get out of the city before noon, since this is the Labour Day holiday weekend. We are on the road by 10:30am, making our way north to Kerikeri with only moderate traffic.

The Frederick Hundertwasser Toilets in Kawakawa

The Frederick Hundertwasser Toilets in Kawakawa

We make a brief pit stop at the service centre just south of the new toll section of the motorway near Warkworth, where we pay the NZ$2.00 toll fee for a rather ridiculously short stretch of toll roadway. There is no toll booth – it is a self-serve system where the toll can be paid at a vending machine in the service centre, by using your cellphone, or through a website.

Our next stop is to see the Frederick Hundertwasser-designed public toilets in Kawakawa. Kerikeri is only about 20 minutes further down the road, however some of the roads had changed so the in-vehicle GPS we were using takes us down the wrong road. We end up at a dead end at the Stone Store & Kerkeri Mission House, so have to find our way back into town and approach Glenfalloch B&B by using a newly constructed diversion road. We finally find the place after asking for directions. By now it is 3pm, so we are glad to be done with our first day of driving on the left side of the road. Keith, who owns and runs the Glenfalloch B&B isn’t home, but the front door is open so we go inside and wait. He arrives just a few minutes after us, so we are soon settled into our rooms, and he makes us some coffee.

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Tauranga, New Zealand

Port of call on a 2010 South Pacific Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland aboard the Volendam

Oct 21, 2010 – Thursday – Tauranga, New Zealand

My friends and I are scheduled to go on a sailboat cruise around the harbour this morning, but the wind is so fierce the sailboat can’t dock. Our Mount Classics Tours tour coordinator quickly arranges a very nice private land-tour in a minivan with our own driver taking us around Tauranga. First stop is The Elms Mission Station, then we drive north of town and see the city from an overlook. We then drive south of town, with the first stop being Kiwi360 in Te Puka, where all things to do with kiwi fruit are on display. We drive a bit further south and stop for lunch at a small seaside café in Maketu. The tide is out, and the Maoris are gathering shellfish in the huge tidal flats in this area. On our way back, we stop at the Comvita Visitor Centre in Te Puke to see the honey display and have some wonderful honey ice cream before we return to the ship.

Tonight I face up to the fact I have to pack everything that has been in the cabin closets for 30 days back into my single suitcase. It is a daunting task, but I finally fit everything inside and put my bag out in the hall for collection before going to bed aboard ship for the last time. All 800 disembarking passengers’ bags will magically appear ashore in the departure hall tomorrow morning. What a job!

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Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Oct 20, 2010 – Wednesday – Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Port of call on a 2010 South Pacific Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland aboard the Volendam

This is our first port of call since our departure from New Caledonia. We are anchored in the Bay of Islands, so we are tendered ashore to the Waitangi wharf. They have shuttle buses to take passengers to Pahia, which is the main town for the area.

We go ashore on the tender and take the lunchtime version of Darryl’s Dinner Cruise. We find the boat on the pier in Pahia, and have a very nice time with a bunch of Australians, who are on a bus tour of New Zealand. It is a bit choppy out on the harbour, however we travel around the little bay by Pahia, as well as down to within sight of Opua, then around Orongo Bay. There are some beautiful glimpses of Volendam before we return to Pahia wharf. Along the way, we are served our choice of New Zealand Lamb Chops, roast venison, or catch of the day, along with salad, steamed potatoes, and even a bit of chocolate for dessert.

JoeTourist: Food &emdash; Wendy McDonald's birthday aboard ship in the Rotterdam dining roomAfter walking around Pahia for a while, we return to the ship mid-afternoon. It is Crew Performance Night in the Rotterdam Dining Room, so the dining room serving staff dance between the tables, starting with placing napkins on everyone’s lap through to serving Baked Alaska (sans sparklers). After the Baked Alaska, the servers surround my friend who is celebrating a birthday and sing her a version of “Happy Birthday” in Filipino. Her chocolate cake is served in addition to the Baked Alaska, so everyone is overstuffed by the time we leave the dining room.

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Noumea, New Caledonia

Port of call on a 2010 South Pacific Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland aboard the Volendam

Oct 17, 2010 – Sunday – Noumea, Grand Terre, New Caledonia

Welcoming dance troupe on the dock at Noumea

Welcoming dance troupe on the dock at Noumea

We arrive in port on time this morning at 8am and are serenaded by a local dance troupe performing Polynesian dances on the dock. Noumea is a large, and well developed city, however since it is Sunday, most stores are closed. “Casino”, the supermarket across the street from where we are docked is open until noon, which according to my friends who lived in France is “very French”, since Sunday afternoon is reserved for time with family. The prices in the supermarket are as I expected: about three times higher than anywhere else for foreign imported goods, and reasonable prices for local goods and those items imported from France. New Caledonia is a French colony.

I quickly decide during our little excursion to the market this morning that it is too hot to bother with any tours. I return to the ship and have a swim in the Sea View pool. There is lemonade being served poolside, so I soon cool down. I go out on the Promenade deck and sit in a lounge chair in the shade and work on my journal and photos – watching the world go by. There are huge numbers of sailboats moored in the harbour…almost to the point of it being crowded. People in power boats scoot alongside our ship, waving hello before taking off again

A local dance troupe Temonoroa Dance Group put on a terrific show of Polynesian dancing in the show lounge aboard ship this evening. They get some audience participation going, with both the men and women in the audience appearing on stage. The Volendam departs right after the show, once the troupe goes ashore with all their costumes and gear. She creeps out of the harbour dead slow past all the sailboats that are moored for the night.

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Port Vila, Vanuatu

Port of call on a 2010 South Pacific Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland aboard the Volendam

Oct 15, 2010 – Friday – Port Vila, Vanuatu

It is cloudy again today in Vanuatu as we pull into the dock in Port Vila right on time. I take another shore excursion this morning to Paradise Cove, which is only a short distance on a motor sailboat from the main town. The underwater wildlife in this area is nothing short of amazing. I see more varieties of fish, coral, and other creatures in the hour and a half we have to snorkel than all my other snorkelling adventures combined. Too bad my underwater camera is hooped; however I get a copy of someone else’s underwater photos, so at least I have a record of what I saw.

Port Vila is much more prosperous than Luganville, and is such a pretty location, with the harbour surrounded by a series of small islands. There are lots of upscale resorts and homes built around the harbour, and some very exotic yachts are to be found in this harbour. As with yesterday, it is nice to return to the comforts aboard ship after our shore excursion. Hot showers, good food, air conditioning, clean surroundings, and warm greetings from all the staff make for such a welcoming home-away-from-home.

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American Samoa

Port of call on a 2010 South Pacific Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland aboard the Volendam

Oct 8, 2010 – Friday – Pago Pago, American Samoa

I set my alarm this morning, so I can see and photograph our arrival in Pago Pago. The island of Tutuila is strikingly beautiful, with tall craggy mountains covered in vegetation. The channel into Pago Pago harbour is narrow, and the harbour itself is quite small, however there was a cruise ship docked ahead of us – the Sapphire Princess. She is huge compared with Volendam. Needless to say, it is pure bedlam in the little town with two cruise ships in port at once.

Looking at the Sapphire Princess from Volendam's Sport Deck in American Samoa

Looking at the Sapphire Princess from Volendam’s Sport Deck in American Samoa

I go ashore for an hour in the morning. Once I find the post office and mail my postcards, I wander up to the Governor’s Mansion. The guards chase me out of there, so I return to the ship, since it is so hot and humid. I am glad to return to the comfort of the ship, and immediately go for a swim in the pool. There are some tropical downpours while I am swimming.

There are some Samoan visitors to the ship today. They all have cameras and are taking photos of themselves, so I volunteer to take their photos so everyone could get into the shots. As we depart the very pretty harbour of Pago Pago, I take sequential photos in order to build a time lapse video of our departure.

Volendam Departs Pago Pago 2010 – time lapse from JoeTourist InfoSystems on Vimeo.

The Holland America cruise ship Volendam sailed from Vancouver, Canada to Auckland, New Zealand September 22 to Oct 22, 2010.

HINT: Click on the little four segment icon beside the “HD” in the lower right corner of the video window to view the video in high definition mode.

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Seattle

Port of call on a 2010 South Pacific Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland aboard the Volendam

Sept 23, 2010 – Thursday – Volendam in Seattle, Washington, USA

We arrive in Seattle on time at 7am. I discover my cabin is near a big noisy winch motor, which starts up as the ship approaches the dock. I rest in bed for another half hour before getting up and join my friends for breakfast in the Lido. Lots of passengers are disembarking in Seattle, so it is pretty busy this morning. I plan to walk to the Space Needle, so I wear a raincoat and leave the ship a bit after 9am. There is a mist coming down, but it isn’t too bad. I find out where the entrance to the corridor park is located, and start off. In true Seattle fashion, the mist soon turns to light rain, and then it really settles in and I am starting to get wet. I pull my camera bag’s raincoat over it, and put up my hood, and then decide to wait it out under a tree. No such luck – it looks like the rain is here to stay for the day, so I head back to Pier 91 and re-board the Volendam.

JoeTourist: Food &emdash; Chris Paris behind the Explorations Espresso BarAfter drying off, I find the Explorations Café and Lounge, order a cappuccino (US$2.10), and settle in with my notebook computer. I think this will be my usual haunt, since it is quiet here, the view is great, and it is an Internet hotspot. I experiment with the ship’s Wi-Fi, ensuring auto login is off. I’m in good shape for staying connected while crossing the Pacific Ocean.

My friends and I go to the Rotterdam Dining Room for dinner at 7pm this evening, however all the open seating is taken until 8pm. We sit in the Explorer’s Lounge until then. Dinner is served on the upper deck of the Rotterdam Dining Room, which is normally reserved for fixed seating, so essentially we are in the 8pm fixed seating. It is a very elegant dining room, and needless to say, it is huge. Service is excellent, the food is very nice, and probably what surprised us all…the portions are not too big. We all have Scallop Ceviche for an appetizer and Alaska King Crab Legs for our main course. I have a tiny Caesar Salad and an equally tiny chocolate cake for dessert, with a cappuccino to finish. All in all, everyone agrees it is a very satisfying meal.

By the time we leave the dining room at 10pm, the ship has cleared Cape Flattery and is taking a 10-15 mph wind from the south. We are currently on a westerly heading, however I expect we will soon swing around to a SW heading, since my handheld GPS tells me that is the direction to Lahaina, Maui – our first stop in Hawaii. Distance to Lahaina is 2,253 nmi or 4,157 km. Our speed is 16kts, so that means it will take us 5 days, 21 hours to arrive. By 11:20pm, the ship has changed heading to 223° (SW) and the wind has increased to 23mph still from the SW. I tried to connect to the onboard Internet, but no go. There is no cellular service either, so I suspect the satellite link is being disrupted by the pitching of the ship.

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Departing Vancouver aboard Volendam

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 – the start of the South Pacific Cruise

Leaving Lions Gate Bridge behind as we depart Vancouver

Leaving Lions Gate Bridge behind as we depart Vancouver

Pacific Coach Lines (now the BC Ferries Connector) takes us from Victoria across the water to the mainland on BC Ferries to the Canada Place Cruise Terminal in Vancouver without a hitch. They drop us off right inside the terminal, and our bags are delivered to our cabin aboard ship…what terrific service!

Boarding the Volendam is pretty easy, despite having to go through three stages before actually stepping aboard: security screening (like airports), US Customs and Immigration, then Holland America’s own check-in.

Somehow I manage to leave my dress jacket at home, so once I’m settled in my cabin, I leave the ship and make a quick dash to Dunn’s Tailors on lower Georgia Street where I buy a new dress jacket. So now I will be ready for the seven formal nights we have scheduled while on board this cruise. I arrive back on board in time for the compulsory lifejacket drill just before our departure.

The Volendam slips away from the dock at 5PM, and we are on our way! There are some folks who boarded today in Vancouver and who will leave the ship tomorrow in Seattle – a one day overnight cruise! No doubt they will party hard tonight to take advantage of all the fun stuff aboard.

Sailing under Lions Gate Bridge is spectacular this evening, with great views of the North Shore Mountains, the harbour, and Stanley Park. It brings back memories of when I sailed under the same bridge in 1981 aboard the Cunard Princess bound for the Caribbean. Everyone is very excited as we pass under the bridge, but then it is time for dinner. We opt for a BBQ dinner served alfresco on the (covered) Lido deck beside the pool. We watch the sun set over Georgia Strait and Vancouver Island as the ship slowly makes its way overnight to Seattle.

Vancouver Departure of the Volendam 2010 from JoeTourist InfoSystems on Vimeo.

HINT: Click on the little four segment icon beside the “HD” in the lower right corner of the video window to view the video in high definition mode.