Geezer meets an older geyser

dsc07741r

Our next port of call was Tauranga – the above is of the sunrise as was we entered Tauranga harbour, which is a beautiful place to visit.

dsc07745r

Entering the harbour.

Maureen & I were fortunate because our daughter in law’s parents live in Tauranga and had offered to be our guides for the day, and to take us to Rotorua to see the geysers.

The drive through some beautiful countryside took about an hour, and as we drove through the town we were surprised to see steam coming from domestic gardens as well as the local parks. We were aware of the hot springs, but didn’t realise that the town had been built on top of an active thermal area.

dsc07788rThe above illustrates how peaceful we found Rotorua to be – I think this was a busy corner.

We explained to our ‘guides’ that if possible we would like to see a geyser in full ‘squirt’. They took us to Te Puia, which is shortened name for  Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao.

Te Puia is a cultural centre for the local Maori people where they train skilled artist in the old way of sculpture, building, repairing old Maori buildings etc so as not to lose the old skills and to pass on theses skills from generation to generation. Those who are interested to learn the traditional ways have to have certain skills to win scholarships so as to be trained. It is a long apprenticeship.

The local Maori people have lived in Te Puia since about 1325, because the place was a stronghold that had never been captured in battle.

dsc07748rThis is the main meeting house in Te Puia. The construction of Maori houses represent a person with the side supports being the leg and the roof support being the arms to welcome visitors. To enter a Maori home there is a traditional way of being greeted and accepting the greeting to enter. The above house is a traditional built building, but the tourists are not expected to be aware of the traditional welcoming / acceptance ceremony so as to enter.

dsc07753rWe were shown around the training area where the old skills are taught.

The only concession that I could see to the 21st century, was a mallet and chisel, everything was hand made from scratch.

dsc07754rThis local Maori took time out from his work to explain to some of the group what each of his tattoos meant.

dsc07756rAll hand made without the use of computers or machinery. Very time consuming and artistic.

DSC07757r.jpgTap, tap, tap, of the mallet on to the chisel.

dsc07759r

Ladies trained in making twine from the leaves of plants. Nothing was wasted.

dsc07760rLeaves of New Zealand flax were striped of the outer green by dragging a sea shell down the leaf. This is called ‘dressing’ the flax.

dsc07762r The outer green once removed leaves the white flax, which is used to make garments, baskets, matts, fishing nets etc the flax is extremely strong. When the Europeans arrived the Maoris traded flax ropes for European items, which eventually built in to the flax trade, first to Australia and then on to London.

I didn’t realise until I saw the flax plant that I have it growing in my garden as an ornamental plant. When I cut the long dead leaves they are very, very, strong and I have to use secateurs to cut them. I did try to pull them apart by using my hands, and all I managed to do was cut myself on the inner flax!

From being shown the old ways of life for a Maori we moved on to see the geysers.

dsc07750rc

The steam could be seen in the distance but the walk to the viewing area was only about five or six minutes.

dsc07763r

dsc07765rThe ‘lava’ flows in to the river – and the smell of sulphur (rotten eggs) wafts around, but is not overpowering.

dsc07768r

dsc07775rI think this geyser is referred to as the Prince of Wales Feather geyser because during a royal tour in 1901 the comment was made that the water / steam erupting looked like the feathers of the Prince of Wales emblem.

pow_feathers-3dsc07779rSometimes reaching 30 mtrs in height (100 feet).

dsc07782r

dsc07784r

A small boys delight – mud pools, but a little hot if you get too close.

dsc07785r

I tried to capture the bubbles bursting.

At the end of our time in Te Puia we visited the building that contained a kiwi bird. The bird only comes out at night to forage for food. Inside the building it is a black as it could be and you grip a hand bar as you make your way in to the building and your eyes become used to the dark. It was very quite and the only sound was the shuffling of our group as they groped their way past viewing windows with hardly any light in the hope of seeing the bird. In the last window I saw a large fern leaf moving so stared and stared at the spot in the hope of seeing my first kiwi bird. All I saw a a very dark blob move slowly near the fern leaf. I couldn’t make the creature out and the round black shape could have been a rat for all I knew. Maybe next time  . . .

kiwiTaken from the internet.

After lunch we returned, via another very scenic route, to Tauranga. It was goodbye to our guides, and for Maureen & I to board our cruise ship for our next port of call – Napier.

A roam around a ship

Checking in for our cruise was very easy – after checking -in  we didn’t have to wait to board even though we had been warned that a wait would be required, but were told to pass through emigration and security and to board immediately.
On entering our cabin (state room to be PC) we realised that it was much smaller than the same cabin on the previous Princess Cruise vessels. We’d booked a balcony cabin, and the balcony area was the smallest that we had experienced, but they still managed to squeeze in two chairs & a tiny round table.

dsc07478r

dsc07479r

dsc07487r
The storage area for our clothes was smaller than the other Princess ships, and even smaller then the Pacific Jewel, where we had an inside cabin.

Once we unpacked we realised that instead of placing our suitcases in the hanging part of the ‘wardrobe’ area we were able to stow them out of sight under our bed. Even though the area for our clothes was smaller, we were able to unpack completely and stow all our clothes and bits and pieces out of sight. Our shoes went under the bed along with my laptop & briefcase and Maureen’s carry – on bag, so all in all the sudden shock of ‘smallness’ was soon fixed.
The ship is well maintained and crew members can be seen constantly painting and touching up various areas. All the staff that we come in contact with were friendly and helpful.

Thirteen nights of having everything done for us – wonderful.

dsc07541rGoodbye Sydney – we sailed at 4.00 pm so I was able to photograph the sun setting over Australia.

I thought a few pictures of the Dawn Princess might help for those considering a Princess Line cruise.

dsc07520r

The Atrium, or heart of the ship for passengers.

dsc07525r

The pictures above and the one below are of the Vista Lounge and Bar, which is near the stern, it is a large bar with a small stage, which is used by various acts in the evening or lectures during the day, or an afternoon of quizzes when at sea.

dsc07559r

dsc07532rMagnum Bar – very quiet, and quite small.

dsc07581r

Wheelhouse Bar – quiet around 5.00 pm, but jumping by 8.00 pm with live music and dancing.

dsc07552r

The Riviera Bar near the pools.

There are other outdoor bars, but we didn’t use them.

dsc07561r

Not all that clear, but the water in the pool is overflowing as the ship’s movement causes a slight pitching, which in turn causes the water to rush to one end and then back to the other end.

dsc07562rThis picture gives a better idea of the ‘surge’.

dsc07526r

The Crooners Bar; a lime & soda for Maureen and a Guinness for me. On each of the Princess vessels in which we have sailed, the Crooners Bar is always a favourite, because of the staff and the live music which is never too loud so that you have to shout. The Crooners Bar on the Dawn Princess is the largest Crooners Bar that we have experienced, much larger than the Island or the Diamond Princess.
One of the bar staff in the Dawn Princess was a Scouse (from Liverpool UK) and he came from the next suburb to where Maureen lived as a child. The barman spends nine months cruising and then goes home to Liverpool, for a couple of months.

Each evening at 9.00 pm Paul Burton would sit in the Crooners Bar and play jazz on the piano & sing songs of yesteryear – he was perfect for the ambiance of this particular bar. I bought his CD, Live in London.

pb01

dsc07940r

If you fancied a night club there was always Jammers – a little too noisy for me  . . .

dsc07528rOur dining room was called the Venetian dining room – picture taken from the entrance.

 Unlike other ships where we had ‘any time dining’ i.e you fronted up and you entered the dining room if it was before 10.30 pm, but sometimes you had to queue due to demand etc. We used to arrive around 6.30 to 6.45 pm and didn’t have a problem. On the Dawn Princess, we had been allocated 5.30 pm dining, which was a little early for us, but we got used to the timings and adjusted lunch to fit . . . This also meant that we had the same passengers on the same table each evening with the same stewards. The passengers were not a problem, because we soon got to know each other. The wine waiter was preemptive because he used to put a glass of white wine down in front of me when I sat down & placed the ‘chit’ next to me side plate for signing. That was ‘service’ with a smile.
The following comments are only my opinion as to why they have fixed dining times on Australian based vessels.
Australian based Princess Cruise ships do not charge a daily gratuity. On ships that leave Australia and do not return to an Australia port at the end of the voyage, the gratuity is charged at approximately $12 USD a day per person. The gratuity is split amongst the face to face staff and the backroom staff that the passenger never meets or comes in contact with, but is still offering a service.
This allows for any time dining – you can have a dedicated booked time if you wish, but most people just turn up and wait a short while if the dining room is busy.

Because of the culture in Australia of not to tip unless they receive service above and beyond the expected service level for the price charged, the cruise companies have, I think, built in the gratuity in to the cruise price, but then encourages tipping of your cabin steward and your dining steward, hence the need to have set dining times so that you are served by the same steward & wine steward for the whole voyage, and you then feel ‘pressured’ to leave a tip at the end.
Overall I would prefer to pay the daily rate and not have the inconvenience of working out the required amount to tip the various staff. If the service is not up to scratch you can have the ‘compulsory’ gratuity removed from your account, so the pressure is still on the staff member to deliver a good service. I just add the daily rate to the overall cost of the cruise so as to compare apples with apples – at least the backroom staff receive something for their work, whereas only tipping the waiter one never knows if this is shared.

dsc07873rA general view of the dining room.

 On the Dawn Princess, they had two main dining rooms and four specialised dining rooms (extra cost for each of the specialised dining rooms). The pictures below are to indicate the standard for our dining room.

dsc08284rMain course evening dish for Maureen – lobster.

dsc08285r

and for me Beef Wellington – it was thick and just melted in the mouth – perfect.

The two Kiwis shown in the first photograph at the entrance to the dining room is because we celebrated Waitangi Day, 6th February, which is a national holiday in NZ, being the day that a treaty was signed between the British and the Maori people in 1840.

dsc07527r

dsc07668r

The Atrium was decorated in Maori motifs.

dsc07878r

If a formal style of dining is not to your ‘taste’ (excuse the pun) you can dine in the Horizon Court for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dress code is casual, whereas long pants for men are required in the Vincentian dining room in the evening, even for none formal evenings.

On the 14th February I realized when we went for breakfast that it was Valentine’s Day  . . .

dsc08073r
The Horizon Court is buffet style for each meal. Stewards are on hand to offer various drinks. As one would expect the buffet offered a wide choice of food from Asian through to standard western. It was very easy to over eat due to a great collection of puddings, cakes and jellies.
My lunchtime choice, after a morning of sightseeing, was always a light salad and cheese and biscuits with a glass of wine. Knowing that dinner was at 5.30 pm to 6.00 pm one had to be circumspect with earlier meals.

dsc07535r

dsc08304r
The above picture, and the one below, shows the Inside of the buffet area at the start of breakfast on a sea day (nobody rushes on a sea day)– everyone is required to wash their hands via a squirt of disinfectant from an automatic dispenser. A staff member stands near the machine and greets the passenger. If you forget to use the machine you are reminded politely by this person. Not a problem really if we are all to be free of stomach upsets.

Breakfast at 7.00 am – passenger custom just starting to build.

dsc08305r

Hot food from steaks to eggs cooked to order. Bacon cooked ‘American’ style or English style.
American bacon being cooked until it is a brittle streak with little meat and a danger when cut with a knife. Pieces of bacon shoot across the table or ping all over the place. Eating it with fingers is the only way to protect your neighbour.
The English bacon has more meat, so I tried both at the same time. Ever the diplomat.

I weighed myself on our return and I’d put on just over a kilo, which I will lose. It is very easy to put on weight on a cruise, so one has to be careful not to over eat – not having that second piece of cake brings tears to my eyes. . . . .