Picton, New Zealand
PLEASE NOTE: Once we arrive in Sydney at the end of the week, I plan to find a land-based internet location and upload the dozens of photos I haven’t been able to from the ship – these photos will go all the way back to Lima, Peru a few weeks ago.
Picton, originally called Waitohia, is a very pretty, picturesque port at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound – to get here, we had to navigate a narrow, shallow channel nearly 10 miles long. On either side of the channel are towering hillsides dotted with small villages & hiking trails. This is a very small community – only 3,000 residents. Similar to the other New Zealand cities we’ve visited, much the same was found in terms of friendly people, manicured gardens, & overall cleanliness. They produce a lot of white wines here from several large vineyards…they say it’s one of the world’s top manufacturers. We don’t drink white wine, but many passengers do. As they returned from their vineyard tours, many could be seen getting off the buses with several CASES of wine. As I mentioned elsewhere, Holland America has no issue with passengers brining alcohol on board on the World Voyage – all other cruises they impose strict regulations, as with all other cruise lines.
Near our berth you can see the battered, but still floating, hull of the old East Indian Edwin Fox – they tell us it’s the ninth oldest ship in the world. Built of teak in the Bengal region of India, the 157 foot, 760 ton vessel was first launched in 1853 and in its long and varied career carried convicts to Perth, troops to the Crimean War and immigrants to New Zealand. Presently, the Edwin Fox is slowly being restored at a cost of several million dollars, but they say it will float for another 200 years. See photos above – we spent nearly two hours listening to a lecture about this old ship, then actually toured the vessel…crawling around the inside, then taking a ladder deep into the hull – incredible exploration – if the walls could only talk! The ship made 39 trips around the world and the associated history of events is amazing.
We set sail for Sydney at 5:00pm this evening – 1,200 miles to our northwest – weather forecast is good…cloudy, but relatively calm seas. As we leave New Zealand, we take many fond memories with us. The people, the culture, the heritage, the manicured gardens & clean cities – it sure exceeded our expectations in every respect. These folks have much to be proud of. Sometimes they say ONE person in a country can make a lasting impression on you, and I have an example I’d like to share with you. Regardless of which country or port you may be, your credentials and identification cards are checked by immigration officials as you reenter a port to return your ship – it happens on all cruises. Typically, you take a shuttle bus from the port entrance to the gangway, and a security officer boards the bus and checks everyone’s ID, then allows you to proceed to your ship. New Zealand was no different…with ONE very distinct difference. As we approach the pier, the bus driver announces on the intercom that we need to pull out our ship card and a government issued photo ID for inspection. We stop…the door opens…a security/immigration officer steps aboard, takes the microphone from the bus driver and says, “g-day, mates…I’ll now be checkin’ your ID’s, please.” With that, he approaches each passenger, takes the two forms of ID, looks at you and calls you BY NAME with a smile…”Thank you, Robert…Thank you, Cheryl.”
You may be thinking…SO WHAT! Let me tell you, in every other country/port we’ve visited, these guys board the buses with scowls on their faces, some carry visible weapons, they don’t greet you, they don’t call you by name, and they certainly don’t thank you for visiting their country. You often times feel like a criminal…like you’ve done something wrong.
ONE person CAN make a difference – these security officers (probably minimum wage) made EVERY passenger feel good – their attitudes were truly reflective of their country and the way they live. Think about this the next time you meet a tourist in the U.S. – be kind and extend a courtesy to them – give them a lasting impression and memory of their visit. There are 1,100 passengers on our ship – EVERYONE is talking about the friendly, courteous, well-mannered people of New Zealand!