Saturday, 22 October 2011

On the Rugby Legends Cruise for the Rugby World Cup

Volendam berthed at Mount Maunganui
We are just home from the 'Rugby Legends' cruise on one of my favourite ships, the 'Volendam'. The keenest rugby supporters started the cruise on October 4th in Australia, came across to New Zealand and have been in Wellington and Auckland, staying on the ship and attending the footy games for the Rugby World Cup.
   Some of the cabins hadn't sold and were released last week for a short 4 night cruise. That's the last minute deal I snapped up!
   We left Auckland on Monday evening and cruised overnight to Tauranga. Tuesday was spent in port at Mount Maunganui. Our friends from Te Puke met us and took us for a drive to Papamoa then out to lunch. We had a lot of catching up to do as we last saw them when we were on the 'Volendam' in March.
   The beach clean-up at Papamoa was in full swing with army personnel and volunteers working hard to clear the oil that had leaked from the ship-wrecked 'Rena'. The main beach at Mount Maunganui was open as the sand there was clean, but people were advised to stay out of the water.
   We left Tauranga on Tuesday evening and arrived in the Bay of Islands on Wednesday morning. The 'Volendam' anchored in the bay off-shore from Russell. Another ship was there also, the 'Orion' I wrote about in several blog posts last month.
   To get ashore we had to go in tenders to the wharf at Waitangi. Buses for the shore tours met the passengers there and a free shuttle bus into Paihia was on hand for those wanting to explore independently.
We met friends for an enjoyable afternoon tea at the cafe in the Waitangi Treaty House grounds. More talking!
   The cruise was supposed to overnight in the Bay of Islands but that plan changed and we left there in the evening to cruise for 24 hours before arriving back in Auckland on Thursday at 7.30 pm.
   I love sea days so especially enjoyed Thursday. The weather was a bit better too, sunshine instead of the dark grey clouds we'd had the rest of the time. We had superb views of the coastline and the full length of Great Barrier Island as we cruised all the way down to the Coromandel Peninsula before arriving back in Auckland as the sun was setting.
   We disembarked after breakfast on Friday - I wanted to stay longer! Our dog whined and cried when he had to leave the kennels - a bit like me having to leave the 'Volendam'!!
   Seriously though, fine food, great accommodation, excellent entertainment, friendly crew and all the hype of the Rugby World Cup made the 4 nights feel like 4 weeks away. I am soooo relaxed!

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