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Thanks for dropping by. This year, our annual get-away was a 14 day New Zealand Discovery cruise onboard Holland America's (HAL) MV Oosterdam. This was our second cruise aboard this particular ship and also our longest cruise.

The cruise departed from Sydney on 23 November and returned to Sydney on 5 December 2012, travelling a total distance of 3901 nautical miles with five full days of sea travel.

Naturally (thanks to digital technology), vast amounts of photos were taken. The initial number was 3,680 (including about 1000 timelapse images) and 21 videos. The number was whittled down to a smaller 1,669 photos of which about 700 are available for viewing if you'd like to drop by for a slideshow one evening. Of course, even 700 photos is way to many to show here, so I guess what will follow is a selection of the best for your visual pleasure, including links to the two timelapse videos.

So. Where did we visit? In order of Ports/Cities of Call - Hobart | Port Chalmers/Dunedin | Akaroa | Wellington | Napier | Tauranga/Rotorua | Auckland | Waitangi/Bay of Islands.

I'll refrain from boring you with a chronological order of images. Instead I've grouped basically the selected photos into groups so you might get a selection of photos from every Port of Call in the one file. Each of the groups has a linked to a new webpage. The video files have been uploaded to an external website called Vimeo, so all you need to do is follow the provided link, turn up your PC's sound system and click play. And finally, like recent overseas trips, I've scanned various guides, maps, receipts and other odds and ends for you to have a squiz at. Actually, you will find that page right here, along with a various collection of signs - here.

Let's begin with the Ship. The Oosterdam is HAL's second "Vista Class" ship. As mentioned earlier, this was our second cruise on the Oosterdam. The first being to Alaska back in 2008. Although not old in ship terms, you can however see the wear and tear of 24/7 cruising since it's launch/dedication back in 2003. At the end of our cruise, the Oosterdam was having a couple of weeks in dry-dock to keep it 'ship shape' (so to speak).

You can't have a cruise without People. People from all parts of the world made their way to Sydney for this cruise and I photographed many taking photos, of me, the ship and the views, mainly because they kept standing in front of me. But that's OK. My favorite is one very similar to this. I'll let you discover which one I mean. Our tour guides/coach drivers were generally exceptional. Except for the grumpy old fart who attempted to show us the ruins at Port Arthur. The crew and in particular the staff on board the Oosterdam were outstanding, with special thanks to our Cabin Boys and our Waiters in the Dining Room.

Forgetting those who spoil, or even enhance the view, we did see some pretty amazing buildings and sights in the towns, cities and countryside we visited. A standout could well be the panoramic view of Akaroa harbour. Considering it is a flooded extinct volcano and the recent history of the region, I did wonder how "extinct" it really was.

One thing about all the ancient and recent, volcanic activity around New Zealand, plantlife thrives. We would have liked more time exploring the Botanical Gardens at Wellington. What we did see was a highlight.

The Oosterdam was our home away from home for 14 days, but it wasn't our sole means of transport, with plenty of tourist buses to climb in and out of to look at the view (with signs). Because we were so close to the sea (strange that) and what seemed to be every second Kiwi owning a boat of some kind, there are way to many photos of ocean going vessels included here. Of course, without the boats/ships we would have missed out on seeing the wildlife.

Finally, the videos. The first was taken during the late afternoon prior to and during our departure from the Bay of Islands. This is made from a combination of timelapse images and video that has been speeded up. The time period covered is about 4 hours and goes for around 3.5 minutes. See if you can spot the dolphins. The second video is from our arrival back into Sydney Harbour on 5 December and again it lasts for around 3.5 minutes. This one is made from two speeded up and one standard speed clip. Make sure your PC's sound system is turned up - LOUD.

Happy to receive comments or questions on any of the above, via Facebook or "jonesesofcanberra@yahoo.com.au". So, until our next cruise.

cheers,

Karen & Wayne

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