14th to 18th April

Well this is it. We officially left New Zealand today but not before getting up to a bit of trouble. After checking out from the hotel, we were going to drive north to meet our cousin again and her husband as he couldn’t come the other night due to supposed chest pain. It turned out he has split part of his sternum which mimicked the same signs as a heart attack, so all good news.

You know these satnavs can be more trouble than they are worth and they caused heated disagreements when they screw up. Yeap, it had us heading south out of Auckland on the motorway instead of north. Finally, after overly warm discussions, the driver swapped to the passenger seat and vice versa. It worked a gem!!!

We were meant to get there at 10.30am but we didn’t make it until 11.00am as we get lost!! The day was starting to get away from us as we needed to be on the boat between 1-4pm.

The guys had made a beautiful spread which was greatly appreciated. We finished our conversations from the other night and tied off some loose ends. We hope in the future to get to know the guys better.

It was very sad saying goodbye to Di’s sister Paula and Dex her husband who have been wonderful to us and for us to get to know them. Like all of us, they have a few trials and tribulations so here is to 2019 being their year!!!

We boarded the Maasdam and acquaint ourselves to our tight living conditions for the next 24 days – here is hoping we have done the right thing by cruising back??

Following the lifeboat drill we were free to get to know the ship and we stumbled across this on the back deck. As we will be cruising very close to the equator for a lot of this cruise, we think we will get very familiar with this large bath tub.

The ship was docked right at the bottom of Queen Street at Queens Wharf. It certainly made an impression on the Quay.

A nice pano of Auckland City and half the harbour.

Now as many of you know, they are really into this towel folding thing on cruises and on Holland America they are no different.

Tonight was fairly obvious – monkey. 1/1.

At Sea – 15th April

Not much to report at all except a wide expanse of blue ocean. It was calm and we spent the day investigating the boat for thoroughly.

Tonight is also obvious in that it is a penguin. Couldn’t decide if it was a Fairy, Emporer or King penguin but we reckon that is 2/2 for us.

At Sea – 16th April

It got exciting on the afternoon of the 16th April as the swell got up to 4m and the winds blew like crazy. They shut the outside deck for safety reasons. The bad weather meant we would get into Nuku’alofa, Tonga, 1 ½ hours later than planned.

They are trying to test us a bit here but we think we have it covered – a seal. 3/3

Nuku’alofa, Tonga – 17th April

OK, so we are here in the capital of Tonga which is made up of a number of islands. We will actually be visiting two of them. The weather was overcast and though warm, the seas were pretty stirred up so decided we wouldn’t go for a swim.

We were greeted at the Warf by the Police Brass Band, dancing girls and lots of souvenir hawkers as one would expect.

We met up with a friend through Di’s cousins husband who took us for a tour around the island. It is not particularly big to circumnavigate and we got to see all we wanted in four hours.

First port of call was the tomb of the Kings and Queens of Tonga and then onto the Royal Palace which stands out and is also one of the best kept places on the island. Tonga has a population of about 100,000 people spread over all the islands.

Dave our driver. A lot of Tongans live in New Zealand and comes under the New Zealand umbrella. Haven’t got google to find out how this came about but there are a number of Pacific Islands that are managed by New Zealand. They must be a huge drain on the country as New Zealand’s tax base is small.

This was pretty cool. One long stretch of coastline has these pancake formations which must be weak as there are fissures throughout them which resulted in great blow holes. We didn’t manage to get a good photo but they were worth the visit.

The only mode of public transport on the island. They double up as school busses and whatever purpose they might be needed for. They drive on the left on crap roads.

This is where Cook landed back in 1643. Cook said they were welcoming but little did he know they were sorting out the veggies to go in the pot with him and just by chance, Cook left town – lucky man!!!

So this is Maasdam in port. Now we have all heard how the Chinese are making themselves felt in these island communities by providing infrastructure – the wording hints that they don’t give the islanders the money but the Chinese build it themselves – that way they will see something come of their money. The ship was pulled up alongside a brand new wharf and yeap, it was built by the Chinese. It had a monument at the entrance where it stated it was from the Chinese. Not to be outdone, New Zealand had put a couple of instruments on the wharf and made sure they were well advertised as coming from New Zealand. There was also this humongous new government building which appeared to be for local government which some of it was but otherwise it was the Chinese Embassy. Most of the western world is very concerned about Chinese development in these third world countries and so should they be. At this point there is no obvious paybacks that the Chinese are asking for but as they say, watch this space.

You can just make out Di and below is where we are actually situated on the boat….


arse end and above water line though last night the waves were splashing on our window!!

And our animal of the day is….

4/4 if you got a Stingray. Not sure if this is the variety that got Steve Irwin though?!

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