So close, but yet so far away…
Day 40/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. In port….but not in Auckland…yet!
This morning I woke up quite late. It was after 10am. A 3am coughing bout, did a number on me, so much so that Richard was up making me hot water, honey and lemon at 3am. While we were up at 3am, we decided to check on the DP World Tour leaderboard from Dubai. We knew that Rory had been leading the tournament and it was his to lose, only to find out that he had to come from behind with a 15 foot birdie putt on 18 to beat his arch rival and LIV golf tour member Patrick Reed. If you’ve not been following golf, I’ll give you a quick synopsis of the past week in Dubai. Patrick Reed goes up to Rory McIroy and his caddie on the driving range before the tournament starts to say hello. Rory refused to acknowledge Patrick and then Patrick throws a LIV golf tee at Rory and walks away. The press were calling it “TEEGATE”!! It gets better. Rory was asked by reporters in the pre tournament press conference what the issue was and why he didn’t acknowledge Patrick when he came over to speak to him. Rory says that Patrick Reed had issued a law suit and Rory was served on Christmas Eve when he was trying to spend some quiet, holiday time with his family, so why would he even give the guy a ”hello“ on the driving range, when he upset his family Christmas. Fair enough. Now here is where things get interesting. Golf tournaments are 4 rounds. Rory is leading after 3 rounds. Reed is playing in the foursome ahead of Rory and is making birdies and eagles and has taken the lead away from Rory in the final round. Rory has to birdie the 17th and 18th final hole to actually win the tournament. And he does it! We are both big Rory fans and he grew up in Northern Ireland in a town called Holywood. My grandparents on my dad’s side lived in Holywood until they died, and we have played Holywood Golf Club which is where Rory grew up playing. While we don’t know Rory, we definitely like what he stands for, so when we were awake at 3am, we were both quite happy to read the story of what had transpired in Dubai and with that, we both got back to sleep quick quickly with a smile on both of our faces! Chalk one up for the good guys! And congratulation to Julien Brun from France who finished 5th! Julien stayed with us in Canada when he was playing on the Canadian Tour a few years back and we still text him to congratulate him on his accomplishments. The 5th place finish for Julien was his best ever on the DP World Tour and a huge payout for only his 2nd year on tour. Way to go Julien!
Speaking of good guys, this morning Cruise Director Bruce came over the P.A. System around 10:20am announcing that another change of plans had taken place since yesterday when we learned we would be missing Bay of Islands and heading straight for Auckland due to bad weather. At first we were worried about what Bruce was going to say, because we usually only get announcements at noon each day - the Captain’s update, followed by Bruce’s update, or when we are in port, we may get some port related announcements. So this was strange to be getting a mid morning update when we were still at sea. Bruce said that given the fact that there was a big storm approaching Auckland this afternoon with winds expected to be 40 knots, the Captain had called ahead to the Port authority in Auckland and requested an early docking of the Neptune. So instead of arriving at 5pm this afternoon as our new plan was to be, we were going to be docking earlier. The situation though was that the Queen’s Wharf port where we were docking had dock workers, working on the port and the Captain had to agree not to let anyone off the ship until at least 5:30pm, to allow us to dock early. He had agreed to these terms to get us into port early, avoid the storm and high winds. Fair enough. It seems like a good trade off.
Watching for land and having a hot honey and lemon this morning after hearing we were closer to Auckland than we had thought.
About 11:00am the Captain came on the P.A. system to let us know that the Pilot would be jumping on board around 11:30am to bring us into Auckland and that we would be docking around 1pm this afternoon. Sure enough, at 11:20am, we looked down and the pilot was about to jump from the pilot boat, to the Neptune, in very rough seas.
The pilot getting ready to come onboard this morning. Notice the helmet, these guys aren’t messing around in the rough seas we were experiencing.
We were wondering if Team Trivia would even go on this afternoon at 12:15pm, since so many people were up in the Explorer’s lounge watching as we headed into the port of Auckland, ‘The City of Sails’. Team Trivia went ahead as per usual, and again we were unsuccessful in our attempts to win! We lost Richard part way through Trivia to take photos for me of us arriving in Auckland.
Coming into Auckland harbour with the assistance of the tugboat in very windy, conditions today.
After lunch we were having our first meeting regarding the latest Viking onboard competition: the “Viking Neptune 2023 World Cruise Ship Building Competition”! We had heard rumours that there had been ship building competitions on other Viking World Cruises, so some of us had been speculating that there would be a similar competition on our ship. Now who brings with them stuff to build a ship with the luggage capacity we were allowed, as well as the limited space in our cabins? Especially when most of the material is supposed to be recycled material! Anyway, we had our initial team meeting and I think the timing of the meeting was good, now that we are near land for a few days, to be able to think about what supplies we might need to help with the construction of our ship!
I worked on an arts and crafts project this afternoon while Richard napped, since we couldn’t get off the ship. The project may or may not be something we can use in the Ship Building Competition, so its best I try and finish it and then see what the rest of the team thinks. I cannot reveal more at this time of course because you just never know who reads this blog!
Margaret and Gene had invited us as well as Sharon and Mike and Sue and Steve (new faces for us), to have dinner with them at The Chef’s Table this evening. The menu was called ’Sweet and Salty’ and we have not tried this Chef’s Table menu before, so were anxious to try it out.
The meal was interesting. Richard was not a fan of the Amuse Bouche since he isn’t a cold soup kind of guy and the Amuse Bouche was a Tomato & Watermelon Gazpacho, but with some very small pieces of feta and watermelon in the gazpacho.
The dessert was a bit weird, but I guess for presentation purposes, the bird’s nest on top of the dessert was just for show. It tasted good, other than the nest, and everyone quite enjoyed it. The Black Hawaiian sea salt was an interesting touch to go along with the sweetness of the dessert and I guess that was the point of the ‘Salty and Sweet’ menu name tonight.
After dinner we moved over to the Living Room for some post dinner drinks and I had beverage Manager Andre make me a hot whisky lemon to make sure I didn’t have another bad night of 3am coughing. So far so good! This cold has been a ‘doozie’! I’ve not had a cold in over 5 years, but this one definitely knocked me down hard!
We have an Included tour of Auckland tomorrow afternoon which will be a 2 hour bus ride around the city, but we do not depart until noon, so we will have a quick breakfast, have our rain gear on, and try and get out and about by 9 or 9:30am. When we have the chance to be on land for a few days, we have to jump on it, and make the most land days. New Zealand has very strict biohazard standards and a mandatory bio security inspection will take place for all guests planning on going on shore. No food can be taken off the ship either. Frankly we are ok with that as I’ve already scoped out the best Thai food restaurant in Auckland, which isn’t too far from the ship. I’ve also scoped out the various districts in Aukland which we can explore on foot to get a better feel for the City, which to us is much better than sitting on the bus for the included tour. Richard will also call the golf club tomorrow to see if we are still ‘a go’ for golf the day after tomorrow. We have no idea how the golf course we plan to play was impacted by the recent flooding in Auckland, so it is best to check and fingers crossed, we won’t have any issues. The bigger issue will be the weather, since it looks like potentially a 40% chance of rain. Temperatures are ranging from 19-25C so it is not extremely hot, but it is supposed to rain with thunderstorms overnight tonight, until 10am tomorrow morning. I’m sure this City is fed up with rain after all the flooding they have had.
It definitely was strange being in port finally after 5.5 sea days and not being able to get off the ship. So close and yet so far away!
Auckland looks like a nice city, from what we can tell anyway because we are right in what appears to be the financial district, and everything looks very walkable and close. I guess we’ve got the next 3 days to really figure it all out and make the most of our time here in Auckland!