Fun and Games on Board…

Finding quiet moments on board a cruise liner are an option, but they have so many other options to keep every one amused that it is almost impossible to fit every thing into the day.

Here are a few of the things I enjoyed.

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Each day a computer workshop would be held to show how to do various things, usually quite basic. BUT they did not include any use of the internet. If you wanted to use internet connection it would cost US$55 for 100 minutes. The connection was very slow and unreliable so we all know how frustrating that would be… I didn’t connect with the internet for 14 days!!!!

The class is waiting for the tutor to arrive, notice what some are doing to fill in time????


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As I’ve mentioned the food was very good, and varied and regular cooking demonstrations were held. I went to a couple of them. After the demonstration we had samples to try. Yummy…


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This is the start of a dance class. The dance teachers, on the stage, very patiently took us through the basic steps of the samba, again and again. I have to admit that we just couldn’t get it. So when they had taken us through all the steps and then turned on the music we admitted defeat and just did our own bit of a boogie in the corner.

It was a competition and each session the best dancers, chosen by audience clapping, went on to the next round. On the last evening the finalists competed and the best couple won a cruise.


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If cards were your thing you could go along to this room and join in all different sessions.


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Are you a shopaholic? Then this is the place. A small shopping arcade and every time you bought any thing you received a raffle ticket. This is the scene at the big raffle draw…

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One of my favourites was the art auction.

Given a glass of bubbly and 20 minutes to wander round looking at the art. Any that interested you put a sticker on.

Just a small selection here. Then the auction began…

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It was a quick fire auction and some did get sold. I kept my hands firmly in my lap…


In the evenings the pace picked up with a choice of classical music played on the piano and violin.

Jack did this drawing of the pianist as I did not take a photo

Jack did this drawing of the pianist as I did not take a photo

There was also a piano bar playing popular tunes from the shows. A dance band in another area to dance the night away to. And BB King’s blues club.


Every night a different show was performed in the grand 3 level showroom. Singing, dancing, illusionist and my favourite was when our happy Indonesian staff performed a selection of songs and dances from their home country.

I did not take any photos of the showroom as the light was very dim, but Jack busily sketched away while we waited for the show to start.

These are just a small sample of the things to do.

Other things included an indoor and outdoor pool both heated with hot spars to soothe the aching muscles. The green room for massage, facials, hair care and all other things to pamper you (at a cost). The gym equipped with all modern equipment to keep you fit. And don’t forget we had to walk 3 times a day to the restaurant of choice for our meals.


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If it all became a bit too much you could just laze around and read a book on your Kindle.

But that’s not all… Most days we woke up to find we had docked at another port to explore…


To be continued….

Categories: cruise, Oosterdam, travel | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Sunrise from on the ocean…

On board a cruise liner there are almost 2000 other people sharing the space, plus another 800 staff.

But it is still possible to find a place to be alone, especially early in the morning as the sun rises. As Brie Anne says “almost everyone overlooks the early mornings“.  

To just appreciate the beauty of the surroundings and marvel at having an opportunity to listen to the pulse of the ocean, I would go up on to the Promenade Deck and watch the sun rise.  I did not get up early every morning, after all I am on a cruise! Some days were overcast when I peered through the porthole and then I would snuggle back down under the blankets.

There were 2 outstanding sunrises and one was the as we sailed into Tauranga. 

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This is the glorious sunrise as we sailed into Tauranga.

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The other one was quite different, no big blaze of glory but shafts of light (Crepuscular rays) that radiated from behind the clouds to highlight the misty outline of the distant hills. A gentle and gradual awakening of the day.

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There are so many things to keep you occupied on a cruise but it is these quiet moments that will live in my memory.

Categories: Mt Maunganui, New Zealand, Ocean, photos, sunrise, Tauranga, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , | 30 Comments

WordPress photo challenge : Luxury Afloat…

What a perfect challenge from the WordPress team this week. After 2 weeks afloat in luxury I would love to share it with you…

Obviously a great deal of thought and design has gone into the décor. I found it restful and refined. The royal blue of the carpets with lots of brass fittings, the sweeping stairs down into the Atrium with the large, impressive, magnificent, revolving Waterford crystal world slowly turning and catching the light from the chandeliers. Exquisite artwork adorns the walls. a warm palette of colors accentuating an extensive use of crystal, marble, inlaid woods and brass, lovely flower arrangements, antiques and a full wraparound teak promenade deck with padded deck chairs. Words cannot really do the atmosphere and ambience of this cruise ship justice so I will take you for a photo tour through this luxurious ship I called home for 2 weeks.

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This impressive globe hung above 3 decks of the Atrium area. Behind it you can see part of the art gallery.

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Unusual light fittings glowed in the star encrusted ceiling that glittered with tiny lights.Watson Bay cruise day 1 pc 040_3000x4000

 This corridor leads to the Casino. No photos are allowed to be taken in that area, but it had all the equipment to entice you to gamble the night away. This is a no cash environment, your door card, with your number and name, acts as a credit card for all purchases. So easy to run up a large bill. We were very careful, everything, including all alcohol, is charged at US$. But there is so much more entertainment available for free.

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Looking through to the Pinnacle Restaurant. This restaurant offered a fine dining experience and was the only restaurant that charged for the meal. From $29 to $69. We did not dine here as the other restaurants were covered in the cost of the cruise and we considered their food to be of an excellent quality.

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But I did take a photo of this restaurant.

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This is the entrance to the Vista Restaurant, the A ‘la carte dining room, these meals were included in the cost of the cruise. When they had the formal evenings we would go here for dinner. Notice on the right hand side there is a hand sanitizer? They were set up every where and there was notices requesting us to wash hands and be aware of healthy habits, even told at the end of announcements over the intercom to wash our hands…

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Jack all togged out in his formal Suit

This is the Vista Restaurant.

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Seats are scattered everywhere.

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Fresh flowers are everywhere.

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 All the dining tables have a dainty orchid on them. Jack carried his sketch pad with him all the time and did 2-3 sketches of ship board life every day. This is a sketch of the orchids.

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The Vista Dining Room also served afternoon tea every day. This particular day it was an Indonesian theme with delicious Indonesian delicacies to have with our tea or coffee. 

 It was the small details that impressed me. Every day these delightful fruit carvings greeted us in the Lido Bistro Restaurant.

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I loved this “Tromp l’oeil” art work. I could imagine strolling around this classic Italian style garden, so peaceful.

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These are the lift doors. Each lift  has a notice board on the wall alongside to let you know exactly where you are and what is on this deck. This is absolutely essential as the ship is so large I easily got lost in the first few days.

I realised that I didn’t get photos of all the areas. I missed the Green Spa area, where, for a price, you could indulge in various massages, facials, hair styling and cuts, manicures, pedicures and all that sort of pampering. The gym and a number of the bars I also missed. Maybe I will have to go on another cruise…

But apart from eating and wandering around admiring everything there was a great entertainment programme and of course there are the ports to be explored…

To be continued…


Categories: cruise, Oosterdam | Tags: , , | 44 Comments

Come for a cruise with me…

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The excitement of a new experience gets me out of bed early to explore this floating 5 star accommodation. Our “stateroom” (that does make it sound such a luxurious and up market space) is on the bottom deck, or Main Deck, of 11 stories that tower above us. The 3rd deck is the Promenade, perfect for early morning walks (are you with me Jo?) a sign tells me 2 circuits will be 1 kilometre. Great I will be able to keep fit doing circuits…

A staff member is busily washing the windows and I could see the teak wood decking had already been swabbed down. Everything sparkled.

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I briskly walked 6 circuits breathing in the fresh ocean air. This is the life I tell myself I will do this every day…

Jack has gone to the gym, great he says it has his favourite cross trainer equipment. (I didn’t get any photos of the gym, which is a shame as it was a very impressive area) YES he will keep fit also…

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The staff are industriously polishing and dusting, see how he is using both hands, there are a lot of stairs and balustrades to keep sparkling. I found out there are 800 staff looking after us…

Time for breakfast, the Lido buffet Restaurant is on the 9th floor so we catch the lift, after all we have done some exercise this morning…

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Notice when the lift doors open the mat tells us what day of the week it is, it is changed every day, one more job for the staff…

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Chrissie, one of the delightful dining room staff greets us with a smile. I cannot praise the staff highly enough. They are always smiling and helpful. Every one welcomes us with a cheery greeting. They set the atmosphere of happiness and relaxed enjoyment around the boat that has every one smiling and in a good mood.

The staff is all Indonesian or Filipinos and the Holland America Line has a training school for them. 

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We find a seat then check out the buffet… WOW… so much choice

I am amazed at the quality and variety and marvel at the amount of work that has gone into preparing and serving all this food. Apart from this restaurant the A ‘La Carte Vista Restaurant serves breakfast and you can have meals brought to your State Room. And all this food and variety is available for 3 meals a day plus afternoon tea and a snacks bar available all day on the pool deck.

Every meal we had was of the highest standard with a change of menus each day.

The food alone was worth going on the cruise.

But wait there is more. I will show you around the ship next….

As for the daily walk around the deck and Jack’s gym visits I’m ashamed to admit I only did 3 deck circuits during the 14 days. I did the occasional wander onto the Promenade deck to watch the sea go by. Jack did the same number of work-outs. After all, we rationalized, we were at the front of the ship and the dining room was at the back so we walked to our meal and back 3 times a day, so do the maths…Then there was all the walking when we went on shore…

Categories: cruise, travel | Tags: , | 42 Comments

A Life on the Ocean Waves~~~

Our lovely Airbnb hosts take us round to the cruise terminal and leave us with our bags, (the most we have ever travelled with) and we wave a fond farewell.

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The bags are taken away and after filling in countless forms we sit and wait for the boarding call. Jack sketches.

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There it is, the Oosterdam, our home for the next 2 weeks. I am very impressed, it is huge…

After the general welcome aboard we are told that we MUST all muster on the Promenade deck for a life boat drill, in case of emergencies, which, of course, they do not expect to happen, and we hope will not happen!!!

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Just a very small section of the passengers, mustering for the drill in our area. These will, hopefully, fit into our lifeboat number 4 in the unlikely event of an emergency. There are 1889 passengers and it took almost 30 minutes for everyone to be accounted for and ticked as present. We were told if we did not attend this drill we would be put off the ship… 

Then it was time to find our “stateroom”

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This is the door to our room, 1006, what a surprise when we opened the door…

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We have a window, oops I should maybe say “porthole”, and have been upgraded to a larger, 4 berth, room.

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Notice the TV and video? 3 wardrobes and around the corner is an en suite. We are delighted with our new home. More space than when we lived in Matilda.

At 5pm we went up on deck to watch as we slowly pulled away from Sydney

It was a grey and drizzly evening as we headed out to sea.

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Under the harbour bridge, past Lunar Park, we are on our way to New Zealand.

This is my first cruise and I am very impressed with the organisation and looking forward to the next 14 days.

Back down in our room the sun is setting over the ocean and our room attendants have been in to close the curtains and leave us chocolates and a cute towelling animal.

So the adventure begins…


Categories: Australia, cruise, Ocean, photos, Sydney | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

Sydney snippets… 3 day roundup, Art, Architecture and Gardens…

We have settled in to our Airbnb accommodation in Bondi Junction, our hostess, Shona, has welcomed us like one of the family.

Our Airbnb accommodation.

Our Airbnb accommodation.

It is only a 10 minute walk to the railway station and from there, with a $2-50 senior pass, Sydney is at our beck and call.

The weather has been perfect so here is a roundup of what we have done in 3 days…

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First a visit to the NSW Art Gallery. Can you see Jack?

It can be very tiring being a tourist

It can be very tiring being a tourist

After a morning absorbed with the beauty of art it was time for lunch.

Across the road in the Domain is the Domain Kiosk.

A favourite place for lunch

A favourite place for lunch

Now to immerse myself in the beauty of nature.

Follow me into the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney

Follow me into the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney

I have over 100 photos, the light was superb for photography, so I have many more to show you at a future date.

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Suddenly from a blue sky a summer storm passed over. Torrential rain for 10 minutes and every one ran for cover under the huge, spreading Morton Bay Fig trees.

It past as quickly as it came.

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No visit to Sydney is complete with out walking past these 2 icons.

Day 2 was again perfect weather so this time we visit another favourite, the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour.

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We had lunch in the garden Restaurant and then spent hours wandering around, sitting, sketching and enjoying the peace and tranquillity of these beautiful gardens.

Leaving the Chinese Gardens we walk through Darling Harbour to catch a ferry round to Circular Quay.

 On the way we pass under the “Old Coat-hanger”

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Cruise liner in port

Cruise liner in port

In Circular Quay we see this cruise liner tied up. This is not the one we are going on but I imagine ours will also be this big.

Day 3 we take a train to Surry Hills and wander around the galleries and interesting boutique style shops.

Then catching another bus we search out the UTS (Sydney university of technology) to see the Frank Gehry designed building. I will do another post about this amazing building, but will just give you a preview of the building here.

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We have walked miles and our legs feel at least 6 inches shorter. We have one more day before we join our cruise to New Zealand. So this will be my last post for about 2 weeks. I will miss visiting you all and will probably have internet withdrawal symptoms.

By the way Jude, you may notice quite a number of benches scattered around…



Categories: Airbnb, Art Gallery of NSW, Darling Harbour, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Bench Series : March, wooden benches.

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3 more benches to finish off March entries.

I will be back with more, time and internet connections permitting, in April.

In the meantime keep an eye on Jude’s “bench series to see benches from around the world.

Categories: bench series, photos | Tags: , , | 33 Comments

Another adventure is around the corner…

On Tuesday we leave for Sydney to spend 5 days in  Airbnb accommodation. What??? You have never heard of Airbnb? Check the details here. I will tell you more about it when we get there.

Then we board the “Oosterdam” on Sunday March 22nd for a 2 week cruise to New Zealand.

But I am getting ahead of my self first I have to pack….

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Oh dear, will it ever fit in…

This is quite difficult for me as we have not been on this sort of holiday before, previously our travels have been exploratory experiences spending months, even years travelling around Australia in Matilda, and only needing basic shorts, jeans and t-shirts. Before that our overseas travel was with a minimum of clothes in a small backpack.

 So I am not too sure what I will need.

I am dithering about how many “posh” type things I will need. I can picture me swanning around the pool deck in my usual shorts and tops and I don’t think they will fit the bill so I have actually been shopping!!!!! Not easy as I don’t like and don’t have the patience for it, plus I never seem to find things I like… Any way this time I took friend June with me. She LOVES shopping, so I think between us we found some suitable cruise type outfits. Must say I don’t exactly feel comfortable all dressed up… Maybe that will change after 2 weeks of leisure…

Jack had a great find at his favourite shopping outlet, the op shop… He found a brand new navy blue blazer style sports jacket, very smart, and a matching pair of navy trousers and a very attractive tie for the grand total of $18, $10 for the jacket, $6 for the trousers and $2 for the tie. He is always finding great buys at the op shops. I never can… So now he is all set to be invited to sit at the captain’s table.

So for the past few weeks I have been preparing the garden to look after its self. Weeding, pruning, mulching and today the mower man came to give the edges and lawn a final cut.

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It has been a long hot and wet summer and the flowers are slowly giving way to the ravages of the climate. The Bird of Paradise is starting to wilt

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And the ginger flowers are past their best. But many other flowers are still giving me a lot of pleasure.

Remember the small veggie patch? (click on the link to revisit it)

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Well the caterpillars are still munching the kale, but I am getting a few feeds from what they leave.

Beans are doing well

Beans are doing well

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And I have filled the rest with herbs. Notice the thick layer of sugarcane mulch…

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This was the sunflower patch, they are long gone and I have put in some small cuttings of a croton bush that I have been nurturing along. Can you see them among the protective mulch?

The compost bin is almost full.

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Jack has given the fish ponds their annual clean.

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Here are some more views from around the garden.

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Here it is all trimmed and tidy, I will miss it…

Categories: Australia, garden, photos | Tags: , , , | 41 Comments

Travel Theme : Graceful #3

Gracefully landing

Gracefully landing



Just another 2….


Wanted to put these 2 with the last post, but, I couldn’t find them. I searched and searched, I knew they were somewhere buried in the archives. I really should organise my photos….

But this morning I have found them….

So these will be the last I will post for Ailsa’s “Graceful” theme…

Categories: graceful, photos, travel theme | Tags: , , | 16 Comments

Travel Theme : Graceful #2

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The pelican in flight is majestic and graceful…


Couldn’t resist posting just one more for Ailsa’s travel theme “graceful”.

Categories: graceful, photos, travel theme | Tags: , , | 26 Comments

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Postcards from Ian and Margaret

We are a couple of retirees with a caravan. From our home in Sydney we are exploring Australia with short trips of 4-8 weeks. Our posts let friends and family know we are not lost and will come home when the fun stops.

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