A Travellerspoint blog

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SATURDAY - FEB. 12

AUCKLAND, NZ

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After a leisurely breakfast with some German tourists we packed up and headed south, stopping in the seaside town of Wangamata, passing through Hikuai and Wharekawa on the way (the Maori language is a bit a bit repetitive). We were reminded of home in Massachusetts - the local supermarket drops its "r's" as well!

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Back on the road we again drove south, through Waiharakeku and Whiritoa to the Gold Boom town of Waihi. Many of the roads we have traveled started out as pack tracks and mining trails. This is the Martha Mine, which was once again producing gold.

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The original miners' tunnels were opened up, creating this open Martha Mine which started in 1987. Once it is closed it will be filled with fresh water (taking 5 years to fill) and become a recreational lake.

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The only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys!!

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Mine own personal Stargate.

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Gold mining in Waihi spans three centuries and the present day town embraces its' past. There are many statues depicting the lives of the miners and their families.

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Also in this area is the Karangahake Gorge, packed with history and beauty, much of it accessible through a variety of walks. Gold was mined here starting in 1875.

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No more than 10 people allowed to cross the suspension bridge at a time.

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Part of the old mining rail line, high up the side of the mountain.

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The Windows Walk - more like climb! - brought us up the mountain to window-like holes made by the miners.

Posted by Swenigale 16:26 Archived in New Zealand

SUNDAY - FEB. 13


View SERENITY 3- WC 2011 on Swenigale's travel map.

TAURANGA, NZ

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We sailed overnight to Tauranga, actually about a two hour car ride from Auckland. Very quiet in the town on a Sunday!

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Our Sunday Worship Service was at 8am, so in the afternoon we headed for the surf beach - morning clouds gave way to a perfect beach day.

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After jumping waves and soaking up sun we walked back to the ship among families enjoying the weekend.

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Mount Maunganui, an extinct volcanic cone.

Posted by Swenigale 18:26 Archived in New Zealand

TUESDAY -FEB. 15

NAPIER, NZ

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The port today is Napier - which was flattened by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in the Art Deco style as it remains today. This clock tower is in the nearby town of Hastings, which also incorporates Art Deco architecture.

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These concrete sheep are a big draw for "tinys" ("little children", locally).

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A new friend who lives half the year in New Zealand and half the year in England was our gracious guide for the day. Napier is on Hawke's Bay, an area known for its wines. We met the owner/vintner of this little winery and sampled his wares.

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I can't believe we are here with roses blooming in February, the end of summer down under. Oh, don't forget, New Zealand time is 18 hours ahead of the USA East Coast time (e.g., 9am Wednesday the 16th = 3pm Tuesday the 15th!).

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The view from Te Mata Peak

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Nets protect grapes from birds and insects. This is Clearview Winery - a perfect place for a lunch of Bluenose - the catch of the day.

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Marine Blvd, Napier - everything is in place for the Art Deco Weekend and the thousands of visitors from New Zealand and around the world who bring their vintage cars, wear their vintage clothing, and have a vintage good time.

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Ceiling lights in the Municipal Theater.

Today was the first of five ports in five days (!).We will try to keep up with the blog or catch-up if necessary. We won't give up J

Posted by Swenigale 12:41 Archived in New Zealand

WEDNESDAY - FEB. 16

WELLINGTON, NZ

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We sailed into Wellington harbor on a calm, sunny morning. Wellington (New Zealand's capital) is the 2nd windiest city in the world - but today was a wonderful exception. This beautiful tug boat greeted us - it is brand new and made in Viet Nam.

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Wellington's soccer stadium is nicknamed "the .cake tin" - aptly so. There's serenity's shadow on the wall.

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Wellingtonians have had to create flat land, since they have obviously run out!

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Typical English-style phone booth, typical tourist with a map.

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We enjoyed a walk along the waterfront of Lambton harbor

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Town Hall and the attention-grabbing walkways and bridge

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What a great place to row!

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Stone sculptor preparing for an open-air exhibition

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Classy BK!

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Writing postcards on Cuba street - a long way from home.

Posted by Swenigale 11:46 Archived in New Zealand

THURSDAY -FEB. 17

CHRISTCHURCH, NZ

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Christchurch is located near the middle of New Zealand's South Island, on the East Coast. It is a "Garden City" which some say is more English than England! Excitement is mounting as the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2011 continues.

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This week there is a Flower Festival - remember, it's still summer! A topiary moose reminds us of home.

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Tinys on an outing. They take sun protection seriously here. Each school has its own hat for outdoor time.

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St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church

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The River Avon meanders through the city and the world famous Botanical Garden.

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We enjoyed a classic "Punting along the River Avon".

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Another romantic pair!

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Strolling through the heart of Christchurch we did see some evidence of the devastating earthquake of last September, but repairs are ongoing. We stopped for lunch in "The Bog" - mmm - a local specialty, green mussels

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Vintage trams circle the inner city - thus the need for this warning sign. (Another reminder of home - the Visitors Center is located at the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Oxford Terrace!)

Posted by Swenigale 11:11 Archived in New Zealand

FRIDAY -FEB. 18

PICTON, NZ

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Dawn's early light over Queen Charlotte Sound. We are docked in Picton in the Marlborough region at the top of New Zealand's South Island. The intricate waterways of the Marlborough Sounds make up a fifth of New Zealand's coastline.

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The Foreshore and Town Wharf and us set to do a short bush walk. Behind us on the right is Victoria Domain, which has several tracks for tramping.

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First, though, we did have to stop and support the local economy. Everything sold on the Green is made by the seller.

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There is a sailing regatta this coming weekend.

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Looking to the Sound from the Upper Bob's Bay Track - the little sail boats are being towed to the course.

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Our ship leaves at 1pm - we had better check our time!

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Bob's Bay is down there, where's the Water Taxi back?

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For you, Soren, Marika and Valena!

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...or one world cruiser!

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A picture perfect day in Picton.

Posted by Swenigale 22:16 Archived in New Zealand

SATURDAY -FEB. 19

DUNEDIN, NZ

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We arrived in Port Chalmers, the port for Dunedin after a 19 hour sail. Some passengers took this scenic Taieri Gorge vintage train directly from the port. Here we were passing them on the shuttle bus. The region is recognized for its spectacular scenery.

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The stone Flemish renaissance-style Dunedin Railway Station was the site for a vibrant farmer’s market today. New Zealanders are wholly into whole food eating. They love their “vege”.

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We spent the day walking around the city, one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere. We knew we were in a city that celebrates its Scottish heritage big time when we spotted these kids crossing the street.

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Turns out, today is a big piper band completion. The band leader here uses his electronic tuner on each pipe – who knew bagpipes could be in tune!

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High schools, colleges and other groups of all ages compete.

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St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, poet Robert Burns, and bagpipes – like someone set the stage!

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Bagpipe bands were playing on street corners, some taking their breaks (look for Hästa), and local shop owners were wearing earplugs (I made that up).

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In 2007 we had a magical 10 days in the South Island, never thinking that we'd actually be back here and having lunch in Speight’s Brewery again.

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We are so good for the local economies - a leather craftsman showed us his tools and his workshop after we bought one of his beautiful belts.

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Back in the Octagon (at the center of the city) judges were hard at work evaluating bagpipe band nuances.

Posted by Swenigale 01:26 Archived in New Zealand

MONDAY -FEB. 21

FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK, NZ

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After rounding the southern tip of the South Island we started to enter Dusky and Doubtful Sounds, part of Fiordland National Park. There are 14 major fjords formed by glaciers. Rain falls in Fiordland over 200 days a year.

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New Zealand native Peter Jackson used the area as scenic backdrop for his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

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Heavy rainfall creates a permanent forty meter layer of fresh water on top of the sea water in the fjords.

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These fur seals seem pretty content.

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The northern most fjord is Milford Sound, ten miles long, only one mile wide at its widest point and 1200 feet deep It is the only fjord accessible by road.

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The Serenity's rescue boat was lowered to give the ship's photographers a photographic advantage...

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..and to bring them to a waiting helicopter which circled us again and again, much to everyone's delight.

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Our expert Norwegian Captain slowly brought us to within 30 feet of the waterfall, in spite of a strong wind.

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Cheers from the watchers on deck thirteen. Later this evening we reentered the Tasman Sea, set to sail across its stormy waters for two days to Tasmania.

Posted by Swenigale 18:26 Archived in New Zealand

WEDNESDAY -FEB. 23


View SERENITY 3- WC 2011 on Swenigale's travel map.

HOBART, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA

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After two rocky days sailing across the Tasman Sea we arrived in Tasmania. We watched the news of the Christchurch earthquake with heavy hearts having walked those streets just a few days before. Our prayers are with all those affected by the tragedy. Here our ship is being secured to the dock - a crewman tosses the "monkey claw" and rope to the men waiting to tie us up. Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, nestled on a pretty bay at the foot of Mt. Wellington.

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Check out this world view.

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A massive forest fire denuded the mountain in the 1960's, but nothing can alter the fantastic view from the top.

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Along the waterfront old sandstone warehouses in the Salamanca District feature an array of intriguing shops and cafes.

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A view from Battery Point.

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Charming houses and beautiful flowers are everywhere in Hobart - a far cry from its early beginnings as a penal colony!

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We never got to see a Tasmanian Devil - just this one.

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The water birds are live.

Posted by Swenigale 03:51 Archived in Australia

FRIDAY -FEB. 25


View SERENITY 3- WC 2011 on Swenigale's travel map.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

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How cool is that! Hot air balloons were rising in the dawn air as we docked in Melbourne. This is the beautiful capital city of the state of Victoria.

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The Queen Elizabeth followed us into Port Phillip Bay and docked next to us. This is a favorite cruise ship port-it's a great city to visit, with elegant buildings, arcades, parks, and beaches.

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Since we would be docked overnight it was a good time to go off on our own (no chance of missing the ship) - we took a train to the Gold Rush town of Ballarat, a 90 minute trip into the country.

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Ballarat Wildlife Park was our destination, and we had plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal with the free ranging kangaroo population.

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Koalas are nocturnal - so we did get to see them sleeping! Not to downplay them or the Emu, Quokkas, Wombats, poisonous snakes, and crocodiles and lizards, but - kangaroos were definitely our favorite subjects.

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Please, Sir, may I have some more?

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Posted by Swenigale 22:31 Archived in Australia

SATURDAY -FEB. 26

SATURDAY –FEB. 26

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

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The public transportation system in Melbourne is excellent! We took an early Saturday morning tram to Queen Victoria Market, a historic landmark and the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Need eggs?

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The global allure of fairy and princess costumes

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There’s fresh produce and a wondrous range of wares, clothing and souvenirs and…Hästa?

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After more time spent wandering through the streets and stores of the city we took a tram to St. Kilda’s beach on the bay. Anyone prefer lying on the grass instead of the sand? Sounds nice.

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We meet Murray, the palm tree climbing dog – trained by his owner to scramble up the tree and grab the dead palm branches and rip them off! Amazing!

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We walked and walked – but the ship was still far, far away! No worries, as they say here. We made it back to the ship in time to sing with the Crystal Chorus. It was a treat and a privilege and the first time done – we sang “What a Wonderful World” from the ship’s bridge over the speaker system, as Crystal Serenity prepared to sail away from this beautiful city.

Posted by Swenigale 02:51 Archived in Australia

MONDAY -FEB. 28


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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

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The grand exotic adventure continues - and more wonders await at this start of the fourth segment of the World Cruise.

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Sydney is the turnaround city between segments and we arrived in port early on Monday, docked in Circular Quay across the water from the beautiful Opera House.

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The weather was changeable today so we started off on foot after getting the laundry done (washers and dryers down the hall - a very nice included feature!). In our continuing quest to buy a Hills Boater hat (don't ask) our search was finally rewarded in Strand Hatters in the Strand Arcade.

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The weather was holding, so we decided to ascend the Sydney Sky Tower, reputedly the highest tower in the Southern Hemisphere.

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.which has the highest mail box!

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Here's a view to the Pacific Ocean across the Royal Botanic Gardens and Sydney Harbor.

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After a few more miles of walking (and just a wee bit of shopping) we were back onboard just before the rain became serious. This picture was taken from our verandah just after the rain stopped.

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Our room is not far from the exterior stairs and the stern of the ship - what a view there of the Sydney Harbor Bridge with (scary face) Luna Park below.

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Turning to the right- the Opera House

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A special concert was provided by Crystal - two of the sopranos from the Opera House performed onboard in the evening, since we didn't sail until midnight. Wow! Bravo!

Posted by Swenigale 18:11 Archived in Australia

WEDNESDAY -MAR. 2


View SERENITY 3- WC 2011 on Swenigale's travel map.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

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Brisbane, capital of Queensland, Australia, is still recovering from severe flooding. The city is located on a peninsula with the ocean on one side and the meandering Brisbane River on the other.

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The city proper shows little sign of the damage caused by the flooding - repairs and clean-up must have been quick and efficient. This is the Eternal Flame of Remembrance in ANZAC Square. (Australia New Zealand Army Corp).

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We took a bus to the top of Mt. Coot-tha for a bite to eat and a wonderful view of the city.

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The squiggly line on this brass plaque shows the lazy path of the river.

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The mountain top was a good place for a snack, for people and birds!

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Another view point above the river - hi everyone! We are once again in the warmer latitudes, so heat and humidity (remember them?) are with us again.

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We rode on a City Cat up and down the river and eventually back to a pier near the Serenity.

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Bridges of all shapes and sizes cross the river, connecting the city. It will take some time for the sediment and debris from the flood to clear from the waters.

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Many docks and piers are washed away, erosion of the riverbanks is extensive - the boats still have to watch out for things like floating park benches.

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Posted by Swenigale 19:31 Archived in Australia

THUR & FRI –MAR. 3-4

AT SEA EN ROUTE TO CAIRNS

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This is Friday in Australia and we are now cruising inside the Great Barrier Reef, which is over 1,200 miles long! We have a Great Barrier Reef Pilot on board for the entire passage. He says he doesn't know where all the reefs are, but, more importantly he knows where they AREN'T! Tomorrow we will spend the day in Cairns (pronounced "cans"), and maybe get a chance to peek below the surface of that sparkling water.

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Meanwhile, let the games begin! Competitive games take place midway through each Crystal World Cruise, complete with all the requisite fun and hoopla! Competition ranges from basketball to Scrabble, with an opening ceremony, lighting of the "flame", and an awards ceremony. In true Crystal style, the hosts for the "Games" are world class: Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, and Olympic figure skating champion Dorothy Hamill. Far out! Remember the Hamill Camel?

Posted by Swenigale 05:06 Archived in Australia

SATURDAY -MAR. 5


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CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA

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Hi! As it turns out, we got more than a "peek" under the water! We took a catamaran from Cairnes, speeding 90 minutes out to the Outer Reef. The crew advised the use of "anti-sting suits" (for the potential encounter with bad jellyfish) so we looked like the Blue Man Group snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef!

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After motoring to another reef we took a small launch to a pontoon helicopter landing pad for a 20 minute flight to see the reef from above - amazing!

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We're going to land on that?! Well, we did, then we snorkeled some more over the beautiful coral and colorful fish before heading back to shore. We made it back to the Serenity just before they raised the gangway - phew!

Posted by Swenigale 19:46 Archived in Australia

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