A fellow crew mate left the other day from Auckland, New Zealand. And that’s when I really realized how incredibly far away from home I am! 14 hour flight back to Los Angeles. Wow. The one thing that’s interesting is that when you’re traveling in a linear manner taking in all that’s along the way, you don’t notice the distance. It was said that sailing makes the world seem like it can fit in your palm. I’d have to agree.
Since I last posted, I’ve sailed from Tahiti right down to New Zealand. The best way to recount the journey is by looking at the photos. I’ll use this blog posting to recount random observations of the last week and a bit. I’ll use a numerical list so that it looks like my thoughts are organized even if they aren’t.
- I briefly mentioned that when we left Maui, Hawaii, lots of whales started popping up all around the ship. No leaping or anything dramatic…but still, seeing whales for the first time was incredible. Their tails gracefully arcing as they dove after blowing some water up in the air. Leaving Bora Bora, a bunch of dolphins started playing in the wake as I was watching from the bow of the ship. That was super-cool.
- I’ve moved from my luxury guest stateroom into an officer’s cabin. While I miss the space, the view, and the luxurious bathroom and bed…being up on deck ten was far removed from crew life. I’m glad my cabin is single, though, for the privacy and space. The bed’s still comfy and the desk practical. I have an inside cabin so there’s no window. It’s very dark, but that’s good for afternoon napping.
- This whole time difference thing is really weird, having crossed the International Dateline. I don’t really have it all figured out, but I lost a day (Feb 7th). Went to bed on Feb 6th and woke up on the 8th. On the 8th I kept saying to people “so, what did you do yesterday?” I also wish I had scheduled all my important meetings and/or tests on that day.
It all seems to make sense until I start thinking across the day difference. For example, if you respond to my blog in North America, your response will be posted the day BEFORE my original post. And my response to your response would be posted earlier in time than your response! Craziness.
- I cannot get over how late the sun sets. We’re averaging about 8:30pm (that’s like 4 hours later than the winter sun set in Canada! If we even see the sun through all the snow!) Leaving Fiji, I saw the fabled “Green Flash.” What is it, you ask. Sometimes when the sun sets it flashes really bright fluorescent green (and I’m not making this up like I made up the story about feeling or seeing the Equator). Generally it only happens in the far South, and the horizon must be completely crisp like on the ocean. What happens is that the horizon is so long and far that you still see the sun when it’s really curved long beyond your field of vision. And then it starts passing through various layers of atmosphere until only the green light spectrum is visible! It’s totally cool and lasted for about 4 seconds (not a flash, but the trailing end of the sunset just turned completely green).
Now, hardly anyone who didn’t see it would believe me. Many people have been working on ships for years and years and never saw the Green Flash, so it’s grown into a legend. Then I come on board and witness it after only a few weeks. I’m just lucky I guess…and I was in the right place at the right time.
- I’ve been asked whether there are many Canadians, and whether people generally know much about Canada. The answer to both questions is no. There are a number of Canadian guests – obviously wealthy, but no names that stand out to me as recognizable (one of the Molsens has sailed with Crystal, though, as has Sarah McLachlan). There are a number of Canadian crew members, including our current male lead vocalist in the production shows and another dancer.
Most who have been to Canada have only been to the places that ships can reach (Vancouver & Victoria, Montreal, Halifax). So they don’t really have a big grasp of the huge cultural and physical diversity of Canada.
Everyone also finds our mis-mash of metric/US measurement insane – the fact that we flip units for various things, but never use BOTH at the same time. Like driving 50km/h when it’s 20 degrees out to get to a 6 foot deep 80 degree swimming pool.
- To sum up the last few destinations…it’s been a fascinating mix of various cultural experiences, of rural and remote/undeveloped…of impovrished development, and now of returning to fully developed industrialized New Zealand.
It’s striking how much of a difference there is in the way of life of the remote Pacific Islands. Huahine, for instance, we were lucky to get to because we’re a small ship with a small guest population that wouldn’t completely decimate the island. It’s almost completely undeveloped and rural – going there was stepping into a pristine tropical paradise. Just walking down the street with vegetation everywhere. Amazing!
Then Papeete, Tahiti and Lautoka, Fiji were developed Polynesian cities in various states of disrepair and repair / wealth and poverty. These cities were incredibly expensive if I was to buy anything. Also, the buildings were very art-deco or 50sish…it felt like it would have been amazing to see them in their heyday of being beautiful and new.
In Fiji, I was surprised to learn about the huge population of Indian immigrants and their descendants. Workers from India were brought in years ago to work the farms as Fiji’s population grew…since native Fijians were used to only working in sea-related fishing or other ways of life. At one point people of Indian descent were the majority of the island, but it has now balanced out…and the first Fijian-descended President in many years was elected. Walking around saw many beautiful Saris and the market was full of spices. I look forward to visiting India soon!
Now we have arrived in New Zealand. It was quite the sharp contrast of spending weeks in a remote and less-developed part of the world to being in a highly developed country (I wasn’t completely aware of both the physical size of New Zealand and it’s prosperity. They have a 2.5%ish unemployment rate! It’s an expensive country to live in because it’s booming). Auckland was absolutely gorgeous, a miraculously clean cosmopolitan city of 1.5 million (rated in the top 5 cities of the world).
Today we visited Christchurch and I was surprised how much it looked like London, Ontario…350,000 people, big-box stores, both nice and run-down parts of downtown, etc. We also experienced a really rainy day in Christchurch. Remarkable, because that’s the first rain I’ve had this whole trip so far except for briefly while at sea!
Bye for now. I’ll try to post a little more frequently than this long intermission I just had.