Monday, February 6, 2017

Ovation of the Seas - Monday 6 February, Auckland - New Zealand

11.25am - Auckland Bridge Climb!! Mum is not looking forward to this at all, she's been trying to prepare herself and keeps saying 'I've got to conquer my fears' but I don't think it's helping.

Sailing into Auckland Harbour mum got up early to get some photos and to see this dreaded bridge. After seeing it she said, oh it's not that high. I'll hold her to it!

The tenders getting ready for us!
The Ovation is way to big to dock in Auckland so we have to bob around in the harbour and tender to shore. We're not very far away from the docks so the tender trip was only about 5 minutes or so and once again ran very smoothly (well, smoothly isn't a great word to use for the return trip but I'll talk about that later ;-) )
Mum trying not to think about 'the climb'
We wanted to be off the ship reasonably early or at least in the queue to get off to make sure we had plenty of time to get to our meeting point for the climb. We were off in heaps of time and had a couple of hours to explore Auckland before getting the shuttle bus to the bridge. It turned out that the pick up area was just up from the tender drop off point and we had to walk right by it, excellent as we thought we might be cutting it fine coming back. This was why I had been trying to contact my sister just to ensure we had enough time to do the climb and get back to the tenders as the last tender was 3pm. It turned out we had plenty of time, I think we got back just after 2pm. No need for all the worry we had of missing the ship. We did take our passports with us, just in case!

I've been to Auckland a couple of times, the last was with nan in 2001 but I didn't remember anything about it! There was only one building that looked familiar. I think I'm getting old or I just don't pay enough attention! There is a lot of construction and building work going on at the moment so it's not looking that lovely. Part of the dock area has been all done up and this looked great so I'm sure once it's all done the whole city would look much better. We walked to the Skytower and then back to the wharf. The Skytower is very tall and if you are silly enough (which my cousin is) you can jump off it! I told mum we would do this on our next visit - not a chance was her response and I have to agree!

Skytower which we are NOT jumping off.
We walked backed to our meeting point to get our shuttle to the bridge. It was about a 10 minute drive. There were eight in our group with two of them also doing a bungy jump! No thanks, I'll stick to just climbing it not jumping off it!

We suited up and go our safety harness and helmet on and then head across the road to the bridge. Our guide said that was the most dangerous part, crossing the road!

Spoiler alert, mum hated it. She made it, very slowly, but she did not enjoy it one bit. Sorry mum, I will never make you climb another bridge ever again. Promise.

This is mums 'thank gawd that's over with' face!

I have climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge (with my gorgeous niece) and this, sorry NZ, doesn't compare. It was great to do and interesting to hear the history but no where near as spectacular or exciting to climb. For the most part you are walking along the bottom of the bridge, not really that high up but still high and over the water. This is what mum hated and didn't think she would be able to do. She had said after the climb that at one stage she'd said to me, in almost a cry, that she didn't think she'd be able to go any further (this wasn't too far into our climb) but I didn't hear her (honest!) plus there wasn't anything you could do. We were hooked on until the end. About half way across the bridge we came across the bungy pod. This is tucked away under the bridge and you can't see it unless you're in a boat right under the bridge or have walked to it like we did. Apparently that was one of the stipulations for when they applied for the bungy, it had to be well hidden. The two people doing the bungy were unhooked and led up some stairs to the bungy pod and 5 or so minutes later one of them jumped off the edge, It looked scary as hell, no way I could ever do that. Not that I want to. After they had both jumped they came back down, got clipped back on and off we went. This time we were starting to head up the bridge. This part mum didn't mind as much because she couldn't see the water, we were now above the road. It's not really a very high bridge and when you're above the roads it doesn't look high at all. Mum could handle this part but was starting to freak out a bit about going back as we had to walk back across the open walkway over the water. After some photo's and looking around we headed back. Mum just went as fast as she could to get it over and done with. She was still slower than everyone else but much faster than heading out! Once back we took off our onesies and went and had a look at the photos, of course we have to get them. We look so good in our miners suits! Mum needed visual proof that she'd climbed the bridge (we weren't allowed to take our cameras) as she had told her work mates she was doing it and they wouldn't believe her without photos! Good job mum, you did well. You may not have conquered you fear of heights but you never have to climb the bridge again or go up in the North Star so it doesn't really matter.

Heading for the tenders and our ship - yay says mum!
Back onto the shuttle and into town. We had been so worried we'd be late and miss the last tender but we were back in plenty of time. There were quite a lot of people waiting for the tenders, which we had expected, but all in all it didn't take too long to get onto a tender and head back to our beautiful ship.

We were almost at the ship when a rogue wave hit our tender and I swear we almost tipped over. It was quite scary. We rocked and rolled for a little bit until the driver could gentle turn us a bit to stop us. It didn't last for long but long enough to freak most of us out. The silly lady sitting near us had stood up after our tender had pulled away and was so lucky not to really hurt herself. I'm sure she had a few bruises. Stupidly enough though, once the tender stopped rocky she stood back up. The crew told everyone to SIT DOWN we will go row by row starting at the back. This was us! Of course other people stood up but again the crew told everyone to SIT DOWN and not to stand up until he said. He was thinking of our safety and after what had just happened I wasn't standing until I was told! Some people just don't care though, these are the people I hate cruising with (or doing anything with) they do what they want, when they want too bad about anyone else. I was so glad the crewman was very forceful and made sure everyone did as HE said. Well done.

Back on board and on our balcony for sailaway - bye Auckland, it was sort of fun hey mum ;-)
Another great day (wasn't it mum??) and our last port before arriving back in Sydney. We left Auckland at 4pm and once we got out of the harbour it was full steam ahead. The captain had said that to get back to Sydney on Thursday, taking two days, he needed to pretty much go flat out the whole way, this is why we left Auckland so early. The captain also thanked all the passengers and crew for a very good tendering service and said it was the best one to date. Again, I have to say how well run the tendering was on all of our ports. Incredible organisation to get so many people off and on with relatively little waiting and queuing. I am sure there will be people complaining of queuing for tenders but seriously, what do you expect with a cruise ship so big. 4,000 people and our biggest queue time was maybe 15 minutes with wait time for our tender number maybe 20 minutes (if that) I think that's pretty much as fast as you could possibly go!

Luckily there were no cruisers on the other side of the bridge!
Dinner tonight was in Silk, same menu to Icon just different decor. The food, as usual, was delicious. We prefer the decor in Icon but the waiters were great. The couple that sat at the table next us started by saying 'I have a headache'. I knew they weren't going to be happy, cheery people. They then decided to tell us how they didn't like any of the food or the ship in general and all the other ships they had been on that were so much better. Well cheers to you! Luckily we were going to a show so left soon after our main meal - I don't need to listen to people like that! We were loving our cruise!

This is more like it isn't it mum?? Next time I'll book a fancy restaurant not a bridge climb!
The show was in the Royal Theatre at 9pm which I had already booked. The Dream. It was beyond amazing! The sets were just incredible!! So impressive! Everything about the show was wonderful, we both really enjoyed it! If we had of seen it earlier on in the cruise I probably would have tried to book in again! A definite must see!!

Royal Theatre waiting for The Dream to start

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