A factoid about Quantas (besides the fact that per Rainman, it's the world's safest airline) is this:
When Cyclone Tracy devastated the town of Darwin at Christmas 1974, Qantas established a world record for the most people ever embarked on a single aircraft when they evacuated 673 people on a single Boeing 747 flight.
Gee, I hope they have forgotten or at least forgiven me!
Hello from Sydney. The Quay West hotel is a truely magnificant property right downtown, 3 blocks vfrom the cruise terminal. The flight was another story mate. Seems to me if you go to all that trouble to build the biggest, quietest, solid rock of an aircreft, you ought to pass on a bit of that to your customers. The advent of the 600 person jet has brought back the concept of steerage in economy. When you're3 packed in like sardines, it don't matter how big the tin is. All you know is that you.re surrounded by other sardines. Now, that bearable for a 3, even 4 hour flight. But 14 hours? Damn glad I'm taking the ship back to LA.
The plane itself is fantanstic! It is Quantas that sets the seat pitch and width and therefore the passenger density. Taker Emirates. Honestly cannot feel the wheels roll down the tarmac. The plane lifts off so gently it is amazing. In the air it is by far the quietest plane I have ever sat in. The air is humidified at altitude but they have not figured out how to remove the 2 gallons per hour of cologne people are using to cover up the fact they didn't shower before departure.
Internet wasn't working in my hotel, so I'm at McDonalds now at 5 AM on Saturday (I am 18 hours ahead of PST so, add a day, subtract 6 hours to convert). i.e. As I write it's around 11 AM Friday for you guys. Ha! I've already expe3rienced Sydney's hottest area, The Rocks on a Friday nite and survived! Think French Quarter with Guiness .
I took almost 100 pictures yesterday all around downtown. I'll try to skug in a few. So today, I'll go back to the hotel, pack my crap and lug it over to the cruise ship. Then I'm gonna do the bridge walk and shop before boarding the ship. As I sit here, the ship should be approaching the harbor. Debarks at 7AM or in about an hour. Boring stuff, I klnow, but travel days allways suck.
It 5:30 AM as we approach the southwestern side of New Zealand's south island. It's dark out. And cold. About 42 degrees. Blustery with squalls nearby. Getting coffee, hot chocolate and find a place to shoot some photos at sunrise. Will post any that turn out later today
Due to a series of screwups at my bank, my ATM card was convienently place on RESTRICTION because of activity outside of the US. This, despite the fact that I called them beforehand to let them know I would be out of Country and gave them the countries I'd be visiting. I never got to Dunedin, so I took some photos of the Port. A charming township with tons of old world style, this place was settled by the Scots in the 19th century and it retains all the charm of the Scottish lowlands.
Spent most of the day in port walking about the beautiful city of Wellington, second largest city in New Zealand and the capitol of the country. Bought mainly things I either forgot, used up, or could not purchase stateside. For instance, Cuban cigars. Bought a fistfull of them. They have a nice little En glish style pub on the ship where you can smoke cigars, drink Guiness, watch sports (World Series) and so on.
This is interesting. I wanted some Advil or ibuprofen. Not available, under those trade names anyway. But here'sthe kicker. In NZ, Ibuprofen is sold over the counter with up to 15mg of codeine in every 200mg tab. Wierd. So I bought some in the handy 24,000 unit bottle (kidding.. about the 24 thousand).
Pictures and comments attached. Bye bye from NZ.
BTW.... New Zelanders are not as friendly as I was led to beleive. maybe its just the big city syndrome. (Maybe they don't like Americans.)
Did you ever notice that only Americans go on vacation? The rest of the world goes on holiday! This 1st day of November finds us in Auckland just in time for the 10,000 person Auckland marathon which will upset the traffic patters for a while here in dowwntown. But, as I am on foot it will be no problem and should provide some photo ops. We shall see. The day looks to be perfect. Shorts are on order with a straw hat I think. We hare here until 10 PM. Plenty of time to trepse from sea to shining sea ( understand Auckland is situated on an isthmus that separates the Tasman Sea from the South Pacific). Here are some pics from the ship at sunrise. They snuck into port under cover of darkness, so no pictures of the harbor yet.
Fiji and Western Samoa
The port of call in Fiji was Suva, the capital. Fiji was our first tropical port of call, and a welcome change to the cool wet weather of New Zealand. The islands are very tropical and lush, but economically distressed. Lots of people out of work , sleeping on the sidewalks, and panhandling. Reminded me of our final destination, Los Angeles, USA.
I snapped a few pictures of the flora of Fiji. I saw so many species of plants that I have tried without success to cultivate at home, giving them the utmost attention nd care, growing beautifully from a crack in sidewalk. Location is everything I guess.
The city of Suva is a contrast of urban and rural, of luxury and poverty all compressed into an area that can be walked in a few hours. I took some pictures of the local architecture as well as an a rainforest road that dumps right out into the town.
Western Samoa and the town of Apia was the next port of call after a day at sea. This island was struck by a tusnami 6 weeks ago, and I took a picture of a sizeable ship wrecked on the reef as you enter the harbor.
The harbor was SO small you could never imagine docking a ship there, yet they did it without tugs (although the tugs are always there just in case. So far, no tug has touched the sides of the ship. If you want to know what it seems like, try doing a u-turn in your garage.
The island gets 200 inches of rain in the mountains, and they are emerald green. There was a river that emptied into the harbor, and I took a stroll up the river taking a few pictures. I ran across a local fishing in the river with a face mask and a home made mini spear gun. See the pic on that.
As we left5 the harbor, the sky was on fire and there were many beautiful amalgamations of light, cloud, and sky. So glad they invented digital photography. Up next is Pago Pago, American Samoa pronounced Pango Pango). Then Tahiti. Aloha!
Our second stop in Samoa was the port of Pago Pago. An amazingly beautiful deep water port created millions of years ago as a volcanic caldera collapsed. The port was built up by the US Navy in WWII because of its deep water, and the decaying waterfront of WWII is evident today in this city. But the largest ships of the US Navy in WWII were not even half the size of our 91,000 ton Princess Star. An Iowa class battleship weighed in at 45,000 tons and was nearly 200 feet shorter that our ship. Needless to say it was a tight navigation bringing the ship into harbor with a 35 knot crosswind. Add to that the 180 degree spin on the ship’s diameter so that the moored ship was pointing out to sea and it was a remarkable feat.
It was sunny, hot and humid at 9am as I was first off he ship. Shirts come pre-soaked with sweat it seemed. But throughout the day, as all your clothing became sweat soaked, a cooling rain would blow through. Most people rushed for cover, but I embraced it as it washed out the perspiration in my clothing and replaced it with clean rain water. The sun was back out before you knew it, the sweat returned starting the cycle again. You knew a needed rain shower would be through within the hour. Sign that should be posted in Pago Pago: Shower within the Hour.
I swam and snorkeled for the first time. This was the most beautiful anchorage we have seen yet. Stunningly beautiful I cannot describe it with words. I leave it up to the camera to tell you about this wonderful little island.
It is the third day of transiting from Tahiti at 15 degrees south to Hawaii at around 15 degrees north longitude (so, if the earth is approximately 25,000 miles around and the ship sails at a constant 21 miles per hour, how many days will it take to arrive Honolulu?) answer below.
This is the kind of stuff that occupies the mind at sea for days. Speaking of transiting the central Pacific ocean, I keep my eyes peeled to sight the supposed lost continent of flotsam and Jetsam. You know, that pile of trash and garbage that has collected in the middle of the Pacific that may well soon become our 8th continent? Couldn’t find it. Didn’t see it anywhere. Just pure crystal blue water. No birds, no fish, no other vessels, no signs of life at all for a thousand miles of ocean. This place is big!
You are left to your own ingenuity to some degree to pass the time. Surely onboard entertainment has been arranged and I am attending all the lecture series, but by and large, you have to find your entertainment. I did something I know I’d never do ashore last night. Something I would be embarrassed to be caught doing. I watched the movie Hotel for Dogs from beginning to end….. Under the stars of the tropical night, and enjoyed it. That stays here though.
Today, I feel it my duty to volunteer for the passenger vs. crew water volleyball competition. With so many passengers not allowed in the pool because of their diapers, I am convinced that every able bodied passenger must answer the call to duty. Also, there are a number of eastern Europeans crew that look more like the Slovakian national basketball team, so I will be there for the people!
The crew and passenger experienced the single luxury of an over night stay in Papeete, Tahiti.
Papeete is a large (for Polynesia) cosmopolitan city with fine dining, night clubs and an all nite urban environment. It gives the crew and passengers one opportunity to stay ashore late into the night and let loose as sailors are known to do. So around 11:30 PM I decided why not. I’m going into town to find a friendly native to have supper with and who knows what else as we didn’t leave port until 5 PM the following day. And so I did find a supper mate.
Here is a picture of her.
Oh, and here is a picture of the club where half the crew partied into the wee hours of the morning.
So that that. Got to go catch the first lecture of the morning “Making your own hat from indigenous plant materials from Hawaii” Can’t wait.
Always looking at the glass half full…. and searching for the bloke that drank the other half”
Answer to above question:Four days
15 degrees south to 15 degrees north is a total distance of 30 degrees out of a total of 360 degrees around the earth. 30/360 is 1/12. 1/12 of 25,000 miles is ~ 2,000 miles. At 21 mph, the ship will cover around 500 miles a day. 2,000 miles distance to travel divided by 500 miles a day equals 4 days!!!! No wonder sailors went bonkers when they finally arrived in port!
It is 3 AM in the morning and I could not sleep anymore so I dressed and wandered topside, finally arriving on the forward observation deck which sits directly atop the bridge on deck 15.
As I stood there I imagined the date was December 7, 1941, when, at this time in the morning , Admiral Yamamoto, aboard his flagship, the battleship Nagato, was likely doing exactly the same thing, peering into the dark of night, praying to remain undetected. Although Yamamoto approached from the north and the Star Princess from the south, and Yamamoto was probably 200 kilometers farther out from the islands, the sea conditions were likely similar.
I’m sure Yamamoto thought very hard and long about the decision that was imminent, and his alone to make. That was to radio :”Tora, Tora, Tora” to his fleet, the code that would initiate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Yamamoto was reported to later lament amid the celebratory ruckus on the Nagato that he feared he had only “awakened a sleeping giant”. He fear was well founded for it would be only six months later, at the Battle of Midway, that the Japanese Navy was put into permanent decline forever.
PS. Yamamoto’s flagship, the battleship Nagato survived the war only to be sunk to the bottom of the Bikini atoll in 1946, a victim of US atomic bomb testing.