It was now time to say goodbye to our 2-week on-the-go schedule in Sydney. My boyfriend, my brother and I were very excited for a very uninterrupted relaxing, comfortable and should I say “luxurious” 2-week New Zealand Cruise!! We couldn’t wait to get our hands on the buffet, Niko was excited to hit the casino, my mom was excited to see what the shops had, we were planning on making lots of friends and everyone else was just simply excited to get on the boat and see what adventures awaits us. The funny thing is though, when we were checking in, I noticed I was in a sea of white-haired people – they were either in wheelchairs, walkers or canes. This should be interesting! So, I was thinking maybe the young ones were already inside but to my dismay, after exploring the entire boat, we came to the conclusion that Niko, Carlo and me were the youngest people in the ship! — Ayayay.
We realized then that Holland America caters to that age group and here I was telling Niko there will be so many people our age. We were even asked “how long have you been working on the ship?” a couple of times thinking we were one of the crew. Nonetheless, we still had an amazing time.
We were braving the waves of the Tasman Sea for two whole days before reaching our first port of call. It was two days of exploring the OOSTERDAM and it wasn’t even enough to see everything. There are so many things to do in the ship and here i’ll share with you few of my favorite things.
Lido deck is where the life of the party is during the day! With 2 swimming pools, the buffet, the gym and the sauna, your day will be packed! If we lose each other in the boat, there’s no where else to look for each other but the Lido Deck – most probably at the corner having some mexican or a burger.
There was nothing beyond us but the great open water.
I felt as if I went back in time when Titanic still had its grandeur. I have never had so many formal nights in my life — didn’t I mention it was going to be “luxurious”? We had a lot of formal, suit and tie, champagne, caviar kind of nights.
One thing I loved most about the cruise was the food! Everyday at the Lido deck was buffet breakfast, lunch and snacks and at night at 8:30, we sat on exactly the same table at the Vista Dining with a 5-course menu, serviced by our Indonesian Waiters: Made and Puto. The boys always ordered 2 appetizers and 2 entrees (talk about taking advantage of the free meal). Every night offered a different surprise to our taste buds– lobster, lamb, kangaroo, porterhouse steak…to name a few. Not to mention, the delicious dessert that came afterwards.
This is breakfast at the LIDO Deck
(L-R) Porterhouse Steak at the Pinnacle Grill; Lamb; Lobster; Kangaroo Meat: and the tasty Creme Brule
VISTA LOUNGE SHOWS
Every after dinner, we always watched the shows at the Vista Lounge (It was the biggest theater in the Oosterdam). For 14 nights, they had a different show going on may it be comedians, magicians, mentalists, gymnasts, and Oosterdam’s very own dancers and singers. The crew even had their very own show night which was very entertaining. I was very proud of our very own Filipino Show, they organized it pretty well.
Above shows the Captain’s toast on our second night and below is the Indonesian Crew Show.
This is the Screening Room, a little theater where they showed new movies that were mostly Oscar nominated movies – they even served free popcorn.
After the show at the Vista Lounge, it’s hard to resist the slot machines because you pass through it going to the rooms. I hate gambling but I gave it a try but lost $15! I swear, I cried! At night, when Niko gets lost, it was no surprise to see him hogging one of the slots.
NORTHERN LIGHTS NIGHT CLUB
Beside the Casino was the Nightclub that happened to be empty every single night. Meet our show host Jazzy who gave us a free bottle of champagne one afternoon.
After an entire day and night of eating, the best part is going back to a perfectly clean bedroom and seeing these cute little animal towel art made by our Indonesian housekeeper, Ade. Most nights, the boys and I would call the front desk and request for a “SHIP FLICK”, which is their on-board movies. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, we order hot coco or whatever food we felt like eating.
PORTS OF CALL
Our first site of New Zealand was the Fiordland National Park which happens to be a World Heritage Site. This includes Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds. Milford’s abruptly carved peaks rise dramatically from the fiord, while myriads of waterfalls tumble downwards (especially when it rains). It was a shame the weather wasn’t too nice when we visited, nonetheless, the view was breathtaking and not to mention, FREEZING!!
Port Chalmers/ Dunedin
Dunedin is said to be New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital. I wouldn’t disagree to that as you can still Victorian buildings in some corners of the city like the Dunedin Train Station. The main place of Dunedin is The Octagon with its many bars, cafes and shops in the area. Not too far is the Cadbury World for the chocolate lovers and the Speights Brewery for the beer enthusiasts.
We had to ride a tender to reach the quaint French inspired village of Akaroa. It’s a small town that has a lot of shops and cafes that obviously just caters to the passengers of the cruise ships that drop by for the day. If one wishes to go to Christchurch, you can do so from here which is approximately a 90-minute drive.
Wellington, being the Capital of the New Zealand, boasts museums, galleries, boutique shopping, trendy cafés and fine restaurants along the wharf. Wellington’s compact size makes it easy to walk around the city. Personally, I enjoyed this destination the least mainly because it was freezing, the city was empty and we didn’t know where to go.
Napier reminded me so much of Manly Beach in Sydney. They have a main road in the city center where no cars could pass by and it’s all shops in every corner. Right across is the black sand beach where people could go surfing in the summer. There were also a lot of parks in the area where you can just sit and relax.
Niko and I didn’t go down the boat in this port of call. We decided to stay in, pig out, watch movies all day, sleep and gym while the parents went on an excursion.
Cruise ships dock in Tauranga and many offer optional day trips to Rotorua, which is approximately 1 hours’ drive from the Port of Tauranga or go on a day trip to Hobbiton, where “The Hobbit” was filmed or or if you feel adventurous you can do a trek to Mount Maunganui.
Auckland was no doubt my most favorite destination! I met up with goof friends from Cebu who took us to a lot of places considering the limited time we had to see the city. Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city with breath-taking scenery, beautiful beaches, and great shopping in Queen’s Street.
Bay of Islands
The very last but not the least port of call. Bay of Islands consists of a lot of little islands that is best experienced on a getaway with the tranquil waters teeming with dolphins and other forms of marine life. There a lot of marine activities you can do here like taking an ocean safari to swim with dolphins, sailing on a yacht, taking a chopper to see all the islands, go fishing or paddling a traditional Maori canoe. We didn’t do anything though– all we did was walk around the little town of Paihia.
Whatever it is you want to do or see, I’m 100% sure you will get what you want when you do a cruise — whether it’s beautiful landscapes, being adventurous, learning about the culture, or indulging yourself in gourmet greatness. Holland America will leave you nothing but a remarkable experience.
(March 16 – March 30, 2014)