Sunday, April 12, 2015

Oosterdam Diverts to avoid Big Seas

Just one week to go before we sail down Sydney Harbour and across the Pacific Ocean. Holland America has opted to abandon the planned itinerary which included rounding the South Island and visiting the Fiordland National Park and has opted to set out for Australia via the Cook Strait.

Oosterdam's Position at 17:00 Saturday, 11 April 2015 AEST

The most likely reason for the change is the massive swell and strong winds (up to 60 knots) in the Tasman Sea which would have made negotiating the narrow entrance to Milford Sound impossible.

Swell in the Tasman Sea

For those who are a little interested in some of the details about the ship we will call home for just over three weeks, MS Oosterdam is one of four ‘compass-point’ Holland America Line (HAL) ships.

Until mid-April 2015 she has been based in Sydney, Australia circling New Zealand and many islands of the South Pacific, with 2- and 4-week cruises. Once we reach Vancouver, Oosterdam then sails the 7-night Alaskan fjord coast run. Cruises operate in alternate directions between Seward (the port for Anchorage) and Vancouver. From October 2015 onwards she sails out of Fort Lauderdale with 11- and 21-night cruises of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean.

Oosterdam is a Vista class vessel - a class of Panamax-type cruise ships, built by Fincantieri Marghera shipyard, in Italy. Vista class cruise ships are also operated by P&O Cruises, Cunard Line, and Costa Cruises. The ships are equipped with a diesel-electric power plant and an Azipod propulsion system. They've been designed so that eighty-five percent of the staterooms have ocean views and sixty-seven percent have verandas; the extensive use of glass in the superstructure of Vista class ships is also reflected in the class name.

ms Oosterdam

The ship has seven formal to casual dining areas. The two-deck main Dining Room serves open-seating breakfast and lunch. For dinner guests can chose between set-seating at first or second servings, or open seating on the upper deck.

Dining Room

There are two alternative restaurants: The Pinnacle Grill for steaks and seafood, and the Italian-American-influenced Canaletto.

Pinnacle Grill

At night the two-deck Vista Show Lounge offers (twice nightly) musical productions, cabaret, and live variety performances. Other entertainment offered throughout the ship includes musical recitals, dancing to the backing of a band ensemble, televised live sport in the multi-screen sports bar and my favorite - the pianist (or the guitarist earlier in the evening) in the Piano Bar.

Piano Bar

Recent movies are shown in the Screening Room. Through the evening the disco and nightclub happens on the top deck into the early hours of the morning. Though not my cup of tea, the casino has lots of playing options.

Interior Stateroom

Our planning is nearly complete. Books, movies and TV shows all safely stored on HDD. Documents all printed and stored electronically, Google calendar updated with the detailed itinerary including the local time zone. Cameras checked and luggage labels sorted. Banks and DFAT ( notified. Even filled in our Customs and Border Protection outgoing passenger cards.

If you'd like to follow our little adventure leave your email address in the Follow by Email box on this page (on the right) and you'll get a message whenever I post something.

Another post coming soon.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cruise Commences in Auckland

M/S Oosterdam has just concluded her previous cruise steaming overnight from Tauranga to Auckland to be berthed alongside Queens Wharf around dawn.

A large number of the passengers who we will be meeting on board our Pacific Ocean crossing will be embarking on the New Zealand segment of the voyage today.

They will be enjoying an itinerary similar to our cruise aboard M/S Volendam (except in reverse) back in 2009.

Queens Wharf lies at the foot of the Auckland CBD and offers a unique vantage point overlooking the sparkling Waitemata Harbour. Home to two of Auckland’s signature buildings, Shed 10 and The Cloud, Queens Wharf has been transformed from a private working wharf to a public waterfront space.

The Cloud bathed in blue light with Pacific Pearl alongside Queens Wharf and
Volendam? alongside Bledisloe Container Terminal Wharf 

Below is a web cam view of Queens Wharf just after sunrise yesterday

Dawn breaks over Waitemata Harbour
and below just 24 hours later we have a completely different picture with Oosterdam alongside Queens Wharf and Sea Princess slowing as she approaches Princes Wharf immediately to the west (and just out of shot).

Oosterdam berthed and Sea Princess approaching.
Sea Princess has arrived from Brisbane and will also sail for Tauranga tonight.

Webcam view from Sea Princess Bridge

Sea Princess Itinerary
Until May 2015 Sea Princess is based in Brisbane sailing to New Zealand, many Pacific islands and Papua New Guinea.

On 22 May 2015 Sea Princess begins a 104 night world cruise departing Sydney and heading west to the Middle East through the Suez Canal then the Mediterranean, the UK, Iceland, Eastern seaboard of the US, Caribbean, Panama Canal, Inca coast of South America, Easter & Pitcairn Islands, and New Zealand. In October 2015 she has a minor refit in Singapore, then returns to her base Brisbane.

Finally at 16:15 Oosterdam pulled away from her berth,

maneuvered into Waitemata Harbour and headed out into the Hauraki Gulf to round Cape Colville (the northernmost point of the Coromandel Peninsula).