The last day of cruising and the sun rises in a huge ball of fire over the port of Tauranga.
The morning sun highlights Mount Maunganui as the tug boats gently nudge the Oosterdam into the dock. Tauranga is the home of my daughter and we will be meeting her later today.
Look at that blue sky it is a perfect Easter Saturday and we walk along the wharf and notice the cherry picker with a crew cleaning the outside windows. It certainly is a ship-shape ship. Only a 15 minute walk to the centre of Mount Maunganui and time for a short look around down town.
The local art group have a display in the park. The standard is high and we admire the paintings.
Then Jackie picks us up and we go for a coffee, then on to her place.
I’ve developed a sore throat and a slight cough, I’m not feeling 100%. There has been a lot of coughs and colds going through the passengers and I hoped I had escaped it, but it seems to have caught up with me on the very last day. So far Jack is OK.
Being Easter it is the Annual Tauranga Jazz Festival. 3 years ago we were here and enjoyed the music and dancing in the streets (Take a look at that post here) So after lunch we walked the short distance to the Esplanade to join the crowds enjoying the music.
Jack soon found a willing young woman to dance with him.
Then he found another willing person. I was fascinated with the dancing style of the bloke in blue behind Jack. What would you call his style?
We only had a couple of hours before it was time to head back to the boat. It was good to catch up with Jackie and Greg, even though it was only for such a short time. But we will be coming back again in a couple of weeks to stay longer.
So now it was time to pack our bags. The organisation of every thing on board is immaculate and the routine for the bags and leaving tomorrow morning is all orchestrated to the last detail. The bags must be outside our cabin door by 11pm with colour coded and numbered labels. Then some one will whisk them away ready for us to pick up as we leave. Tomorrow they have almost 2000 people to collect luggage and disembark. Without the organisation it could be chaos. I’m impressed.
Just a couple more details to tidy up, take the books back to the library and the video back to the front desk and at the same time check our account. There has been a couple of things I have to pay for but only expecting approx. $150 on our account. BUT it is just over $300… I scan the account. How can it be!!! Then I found it, “service charge”, Each day I had put the “service please” sign on the door, thinking, in my innocence, that was in the price of the cruise. The sign was to let them know we were not there and it was free for them to go in… Well I guess it must be some where in the small print that room service is an extra. Oh well I did enjoy not having to do any thing for 14 days and having clean towels, beds made. But it had gone through my mind that not many doors had the service sign out, I thought maybe they were all sleeping in….
Next morning we docked at Auckland the final destination.
I had requested a 9am departure as my son and partner would be picking us up. So we had time for one last delicious breakfast. The intercom started calling the colour codes and numbers at 7-30am. It was just after 9 when I heard our “yellow 5″ called. The bags were all lined up near the exit. We soon found ours and headed down the gang-plank with a group of the friendly staff waiting to wave us good-bye.
So what was my final impression of the cruising lifestyle?
For a totally relaxing holiday I would rate it a 5 out of 5. The food was excellent, plenty of variety and choice of restaurants. Immaculate presentation, well organised. Friendly, helpful staff. Good variety of entertainment every night. Plenty of space to, surprisingly, find quiet spots to be on my own. The cabin had a window and was larger than I expected, another plus.
Value for money, definitely. The extras were there to pay for, if you needed them ie. alcohol, spa treatment, personal trainer, casino. But the basic fare covered all you needed for life on board. ( We could’ve made our own beds!!!)
On the minus side, the tours were expensive and only having a few hours in each port it is very restricting for actually getting to see and appreciate each place. I like to take my time exploring new places and do not like moving around to a time frame with a crowd. But I knew New Zealand so the reason for this trip was not to see the country or go on the tours, but to experience a cruise. So on that basis I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.
Would I do another cruise? I’m not sure… I certainly would not take a cruise to a country I had never been to before, preferring to fly there and take my time exploring and travelling on land to my itinerary.
A few days after we settled in with my son, Jack developed the cold. We both had a very bad dose. Maybe because we had not been able to have the flu injections before we left Australia. The weather also was dismal. So we just relaxed enjoying life with Laurie and Kerry. And unfortunately sharing our cold with them…
We had another 4 weeks in New Zealand and have now been home in Australia for 3 weeks. My how time flies…