Seabourn Odyssey LA to AUCKLAND January 5 to January 26, 2012
January 5th 25 passengers remained on board from Los Angeles. We will continue to Auckland for the next 20 days, but more than 100 of our fellow passengers are booked on board for the 60 day round trip back to LA. Several are doing the full Fort Lauderdale to Fort Lauderdale 96 day cruise including a nice couple we met from Manchester, Connecticut.
January 10th At about 2 PM we crossed the equator, and as is the custom on ships a proper(?) ceremony was carried out by the crew to celebrate the occasion. PHOTOS
January 12th After a week at sea we reached the Island of Nuku Hiva which is one of the islands comprising the Marquesas. We anchored in a secluded Harbor and used tenders to go ashore. The locals were friendly, but most did not speak English. In addition to the local Polynesian language, most also speak French. We walked along the waterfront, but the area was lightly populated and there was a bare minimum of facilities and shops. Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas with a population of about 2700. Only six of the 11 islands are inhabited and are said to be the most remote pinpoint of land in the world.
January 13th Hiva Oa is the largest of the southern group of the Marguesas Islands with 2000 inhabitants. This was another anchorage and a bit of a swell had developed so we just stayed on board for the day. The scenery was really quite spectacular with lots of clouds outlining the rugged islands. These are all volcanic islands, so white sandy beaches are rare. I have been rather surprised and disappointed by the lack of seabirds on this trip.
January 16th After two additional days at sea we arrived in Papeete, Tahiti. We were in Papeete about 25 years ago in conjunction with a cruise we took on a Windstar ship. We enjoyed the chance to stretch our legs and walk through a few markets and shops. Papeete would not rate high on our list of places to visit as it is not a particularly scenic city.
January 17th We were looking forward to returning to Bora Bora, which in contrast to Papeete is one of the most scenic spots we have visited during our travels. Not surprisingly it had built up since we were last there, but it is still very rustic without much infrastructure. There were many more small resorts with over water bungalows, but these are scattered throughout the area. We walked through a few shops and I enjoyed photographing a small church which was quite striking in its simplicity and beauty..
January 19th After another day at sea we were off the coast of Rarotonga for a morning. The water was too deep to drop anchor, so the Captain used his thrusters and prop to keep us in place and tenders were used to transport the guests to the island. The sea was rolling so we decided to skip the ride to shore and stayed on board. The island was not particularly photogenic.
January 20th The day was a total loss! (We crossed the international date line and whet to bed on the 19th and got up the morning of the 21st.)
January 24th Shortly after we departed Rarotonga the Captain announced it would be necessary to start traveling at top cruising speed in order to get within helicopter range of land (New Zealand) to carry out an emergency medical evacuation of one of our passengers. We were never given any specifics and were told we would not be allowed on the decks as the evacuation took place early on the 24th. The helicopter flew in and lowered a basket to the bow of deck 6 to pick up the passenger. I took a photo of as the helicopter left the area. Here is a LINK to the website of the non-profit trust that operates the helicopter. The following day the Captain announced that the gentleman that was activated was doing well.
January 25th We were at sea for four days and on the morning of the 25th we were anchored in the Bay of Islands between Russell and Pahia, New Zealand. This was familiar territory for us having stayed in Russell on our first visit to New Zealand, and in Pahia on at least 5 previous trips to New Zealand. Not much had changed in either of the cities, and it was as beautiful as we remembered. When we first booked this cruise we had planned to stay in New Zealand for a couple of months at the conclusion of the cruise. We definitely would have stayed in Pahia for a week or so. As things worked out the call of Hawaii was too much for us to resist and we finally decided to limit our time in New Zealand to 10 days in Auckland and from there fly to Hawaii.
We enjoyed a walk through Russell (which is were the Seabourn tenders dropped us off) and took the slow ferry over to Pahia. After checking out some of our old haunts in Pahia we returned to Russell and spent the afternoon packing our suitcases for disembarkation in Auckland the following day.
January 26th After breakfast we departed the Odyssey in Auckland. We were docked at a convenient berth and the whole procedure was totally civilized. We had cleared New Zealand customs the previous day on board the ship with immigration officials that accompanied us to Auckland. We had arranged to ship a suitcase containing our formal wear back home from dockside. A porter agreed to transport our luggage to the Quay West Hotel where we are staying which was only about three blocks from the dock. By 9:30 AM we were checked in to the hotel and headed for Queen Street with all of its shops and restaurants.
A FEW GENERAL COMMENTS At 36 days this was our longest continuous cruise. There were very few ports and most of the time was at sea. We enjoyed the down time, but prefer itineraries which include many ports where we can get off the ship and walk around the small villages. Our 28 day voyage on the Legend last spring was probably our favorite as regards itinerary. We can't say enough nice things about Seabourn, but are about to try a couple of other cruise lines based on itineraries. We are currently booked on an even longer 72 day circumnavigation of South America on the Regent Mariner next January.