The Regal Princess would be our home for two weeks. This is a smaller ship than we are used to -- only 950 passengers plus crew or about 1250 people total.
The flight from Los Angeles (8:00pm California time) to Auckland, New Zealand took 12 hours. We attempted to catch a few short catnaps to no avail. We arrived in Auckland at 8:00am (their time) all spaced out from lack of sleep. Princess Cruises was there to greet us and take us to the hotel that we had booked for an additional day. At the hotel, we learned that the room would not be available until 4:00pm so we had to kill time by taking a harbor cruise and wandering around town. When our heads hit the pillow at 4:15pm we had been awake for 41 hours.
The white building shown in the photo above is the Princess Wharf. Our ship, the Regal Princess, was docked next to it the next day. From the the 14th deck we could look over the top of the building.
We set the clock at the hotel to awaken us at 6:00pm so that we could go to a restaurant to eat. We found a neat seafood restaurant and ate at an outdoor table. This restaurant gave an abundance of french fries with the mealómore than we could eat. Therefore, we took them to the dock nearby and fed the pigeons. As you can see in the picture, the pigeons were quite friendly. Around 9:00pm we returned to the hotel and went to bed.
It seemed like everyone must have had a boat as there were thousands of them of all shapes and sizes. Lynn called it a wet parking lot. These boats had to be accessed via a small skiff or raft while the owners of the boats below simply had to walk down the dock from the shore to get onto their.
The Princess Wharf, shown on the right, hosts a number of condos. Their cost per each ranges from $200,000 to $600,000 depending on the level, size and view. The appearance of the building on the wharf resembles a cruise ship.
The picture below shows the black sailboat that you see in the above photo. The photo below is of the same ship as viewed on the harbor cruise, from the other direction.
The picture taken previously of the Princess Dock was taken near the two white sailboats shown in the background. The tower in the distance is a part of the Sky City Casino. The top portion is a revolving restaurant that one must make reservations for at least a week in advance. The uppermost level is an observation tower from which to take pictures.
There were a number of boats such as this sailboat valued at $400,000.
Of course one might be thrilled with this little boat valued at 3 million.
However, this little boat was priceless. (The sign says "Everyone has a Porpoise in Life.") Ain't it the truth? The wood stove and boiler to power it are classic.
The brown building is one of the oldest in Auckland. It is the building that used to control all of the harbor navigation. Now only the top two floors are used for that task thanks to the advent of computers. The ground level floor has a high class (expensive) restaurant.
The hotel we stayed at was the Stamford Plaza Hotel that was a short three block walk from the docks. The hotel was very nice. It was a clean as the town. When we awoke the next morning we were told by the Princess staff that they had a continental breakfast setup for the Princess guests. We learned that their definition of a continental breakfast includes eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, fruit, cereal, rolls and an assortment of juices including coffee and tea.
As a part of our cruise package we opted to take the city tour offered by Princess. While we were having breakfast the cruise staff picked up our luggage from our room and transported it to the ship. Following breakfast we boarded a bus that transported us to our tour destinations.
The Antarctic Encounter was a bit of a surprise. About 15 years ago Auckland discontinued the use of a sewage basin that was located next to the bay. It was sold to a man who cleaned it and built the Antarctic exhibit within it below ground. As we descended the stairs we found ourselves entering a penguin exhibit. It is cleverly done. Surrounding the exhibit are rock like structures with large viewing windows allowing us to see them swimming below water as well as running around in a most natural looking cold environment.
The next step on the excursion was to board an enclosed small bus that held about a dozen people. The bus was surrounded entirely with glass. As we traveled through the exhibit a recording told us what we were looking at and experiencing. It was interesting to see what an Antarctic whiteout looked like.
View from inside of the bus into the exhibit. Notice how lifelike the ice and rocks seem to appear. They are made of concrete that is stained to the desired color of ice, snow or rock.
King Penguins having a chat about the intruders in their home.
A part of the exhibit featured a museum of sorts that showed how life was during the early days of exploration. Lynn was having a bit of trouble figuring our how to use, and not use, the flash on his new digital camera. (This was the first time he had used it.) Although it isn't clear why the printing press and set up table, shown below, were part of the exhibit they nevertheless were interesting.
The last portion of the exhibit is a walk via a moving walkway through an aquarium featuring a number of creatures of the sea. Lynn's camera was set on forced flash (he later learned how to control it) and he was unable to take any photos because of the glare on the glass from the flash.
However, there were some interesting creatures like the poisonous fish shown above.
Lobster Fest. Where's the butter?
We had never thought about how large a sharks jaws were until now.
Auckland War Memorial Museum
The museum features relics from New Zealand's past. The country was inhabited by natives who sailed across the seas and found a new land.
The Sir Edmund Hillary exhibit was being featured. The photo is a portion of a sign located outside of the museum.
Can you imagine sailing on the open ocean on a boat of this caliber?
We were treated to a musical / dance show by some descendents of the original settlers.
Sights About Town
Just Juice is a trade name for a juice company. We thought this was a real rolling billboard.
We were impressed with the cleanliness of Auckland and its old world trappings. The lights shown above are a part of the dock / harbor walkway along the bay.
Our Floating Home
Our ship pulls away from the dock at 6:30pm and will be our home for two weeks. This is a view from our balcony located on the 10th deck. Our ship took in the entire length of the dock that has no boats tied to it. Take note of the people just past the grey colored gangway sitting on the dock.
These folks are bagpipers. Each evening, while in New Zealand, as we sailed away we were treated to the sounds of the bagpipers.
Another ships awaits its turn to depart. The dock we had just left is shown at the right of the photo.
This is the atrium on plaza deck 5 of the Regal Princess. Note that there are three decks (floors) shown. The bottom floor is deck five. At the left is the pursers desk and at the right is a lounge where drinks plus coffee and rolls are always available. The two decks above, deck 6 & 7, have stores along each side selling everything from aspirin, clothes and jewelry.
This is deck 12. It is where people enjoy the sun during the day and relaxation during the evening if they want to. There were two swimming pools and eight hot tubs. At the far end is the Cafe Del Sol. It is a 24 hour buffet where one can go to get something to eat as they choose.
This photo is taken from deck 14 referred to as the Dome. This area houses the casino and a lounge.
One of the things we looked forward to was the floorshow entertainment in the International Show Lounge on deck 7. There were a number of shows involving juggling, dancing, humor and music. One of the best music shows we saw was a husband & wife team. He played the violin and she the cello. At times it seemed like the instruments talked. Another was a 74 year old man who not only did a great job of standup comedy but he could play the piano as well--outstanding performance.
The rugged mountains of New Zealand bid us farewell as we sail toward Wellington.
Next Stop: Wellington, New Zealand
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