Radiance of the Seas Cruise to New Zealand
Week 2, 14th -20th January 2017, Days 9-14
Day 9 (Saturday 14th January) we were at sea, sailing from Picton to Tauranga (Mount Maunganui). We started the day with a visit to the gym and Mel also did a few laps of the running track. After breakfast we sat in the Solarium and read for a while and then we went to the Aurora Theatre for a presentation by the Entertainment Team. This was a question and answer session with members of the team followed by a backstage tour. This was an interesting and informative event, which explained a lot of the queries we had about how they put on their shows.
In the evening we had dinner in the Windjammer restaurant and afterwards we went to a performance in the theatre starring Craig Dahn, a show pianist in the style of Liberace. He was very good as again were the RC orchestra who accompanied him.
On the morning of Day 10 we got up at 6am as we docked in Tauranga and after breakfast proceeded off the ship to find our tour bus and guide. We met Nick and our fellow passengers near by but we had to wait for a couple who thought the tour began at 9am instead of 8am. Eventually they arrived and we set off with 9 other people on our trip to Rotorua. Nick gave us an interesting commentary all the way to Whakarewarewa, a living Maori village near Rotorua. Here we had a guided tour around the village, shrouded in steam from the geothermal springs and geysers, with a heavy smell of sulphur in the air. The tour finished with a performance by a Maori group, which was very entertaining demonstrating the Maori culture.
We went to the Lakeside Café in Rotorua for lunch and then headed back towards Tauranga, stopping off at a kiwi orchard on the way. The weather wasn’t the best, low cloud and some rain but it didn’t spoil a very enjoyable day.
In the evening after dinner we went to listen to a female vocalist, Catherine Alcorn. She was an excellent singer in the style of Bette Midler and amusing too.
On Day 11 we were in Auckland for the day but we had a session in the gym first as we had all day to explore the city. After breakfast we walked off the ship straight onto the waterfront and quickly found the Hop on, Hop off Explorer Bus. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and fastest growing city and is known as the ‘City of Sails’.
The first part of the journey took us out along the harbour to Bastion Point and then back up to the Auckland Museum. We got off here and after a coffee in the museum café we got on another bus which took us to Mount Eden, an extinct volcano with impressive views over Auckland. We continued on the bus journey around the city and back to the centre and alighted at the Sky Tower. We went up the Sky Tower to the main observation level (186m) where there is a 360-degree view over the city. This is the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere and the views over the harbour and city are breathtaking.
Mel went for a session in the gym and then we went to dinner. Afterwrads we went to see the comedian and magician, Nick Nicholas who was quite funny and entertaining. After the show we went to The colony Club to listen to the Radiance of the Seas Orchestra playing Big Band music; they are excellent musicians who can play any sort of music really well.
We sailed into the Bay of Islands on Day 12 and anchored near to a place called Waitangi. We got up early so that we could be sure of getting off the ship on one of the first tenders. We did this successfully and caught a shuttle bus to a small town called Paihia, where we boarded the boat for a tour of the bay. It was a lovely day, hot and sunny and the view across the bay to all the islands was stunning. We first of all stopped at another seaside village called Russell (Kororareka) before sailing out to the Hole in the Rock on the island of Motukokako. The (female) skipper and crew were very informative and very professional. She very skillfully sailed through the Hole as the boat narrowly passed through, particularly with the swell of the ocean.
On the way back we stopped off at Otehei Bay on the island of Urupukapuka and walked up to a high point with amazing views in all directions across the Bay of Islands. We arrived back in Paihia at 1pm and after a brief walk round the town we caught the bus and tender back to the ship. It was a very enjoyable day and well worth doing the boat trip.
In the evening the show was a spectacular called Buenos Aires Tango with guest dancers and musicians alongside the RC dancers, singers and orchestra. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance, the dancing (Argentine Tango) was amazing and the music brilliant; they really do put on a professional show.
The last two days we were at sea sailing back to Sydney. We went to the gym in the mornings but on both days we experienced rough seas and strong winds. Mel felt quite sea sick on the last day so we didn’t do much then.
On the last evening there was a comedian from Liverpool performing on stage and he was quite funny. This was followed by a grand finale by the RC singers, dancers and orchestra and the Entertainment Manager, Steve Davies giving an excellent rendition of Lulu’s ‘Shout’. Then representatives from all the different crew came on the stage from the Captain and his officers to the entertainment team, chefs, cabin staff, waiters etc. This was quite unexpected but it was a good way to thank the staff, as they had been excellent throughout.
We arrived in Sydney early on the morning of the 20th January and after breakfast we disembarked very efficiently and took a taxi to the Ibis Hotel King Street Wharf. We were able to check in and take our bags to our room which was a bigger one this time on the 4th Floor.