MACAU: Magical Charm
AUSTRALIA, TA: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
USA, NM: Santa Fe – Downtown Retreat & Mountain Ranch Resort
PERU: Lake Sandoval, Amazonia: Mundos Intocados – Untouched Worlds.
USA: Route 66 Texas to California RV Trip (Part 2)
USA: Route 66 Chicago to Texas RV Trip (Part 1)
AUSTRALIA, SA: Hopping Across to Kangaroo Island
USA, WY: The Legend of Buffalo Bill
KIWI: Southern Comfort - Invercargill's Safari Lodge
USA, NV: Top 10 Las Vegas Travel Tips
KIWI: Stewart Island's Natural Beauty
KIWI: Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track - Stairway to Heaven
KIWI: Sitting on the DOC of the Bay - A Campervan in the Coromandel
HONG KONG: Top Ten Must See Attractions
MACAU: A Macanese Affair to Remember
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 2
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 1
KIWI: Top 10 Kiwi Coastal Department of Conservation Campsites
KIWI: South by Southwest Auckland
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Campervan Adventures on the Great Tropical Drive
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s Adventurous Atributes
KIWI: Top 10 Adventure Activities to Experience in Auckland
KIWI: The Gems and Jewels of the Tutukaka Coast
AUSTRALIA, NSW: A South Coast & Southern Highlands Tasting Seduction
USA, WY: Unadulterated Wilderness - Yellowstone National Park
KIWI: Island’s in the Gulf
USA, MT: Montana’s Forgotten Ghost Towns
UAE: Abu Dhabi - More Than A Flight of Fancy
USA, ID and MT: Call of the Wild
WESTERN SAMOA: In the Footsteps of Robert Louis Stephenson
TONGA: Vava’u Island Group
KIWI: Unpack, Inhale and Unwind – Breathing Easy on Auckland’s West Coast
KIWI: Waiheke Island – Paradise Found
USA, ID: Sun Valley Lodge, Ketchum
USA, ID: A Big City with a Small Town Heart
SOUTH KOREA: Temple Tourism Where Silence is Golden
KIWI: Waipoua Lodge, Northland
AUSTRALIA, TAS: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
AUSTRALIA, TAS: A Taste and a Tipple in Tassie
KIWI: Conjuring Up Some Matakana Magic
USA, AZ: Tombstone - To Boothill and Back RV Trip
FIJI: Cavorting on the Coral Coast
USA, CA: Jamaica Bay Inn, Marina Del Rey
NEPAL: Kartwheeling in Kathmandu
KIWI: Going With The Flow - A Day on the Dart River
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 2.
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 1.
SINGAPORE: Capella Hotel, Sensosa Island
USA, HI: Hairpin Highway to Hana and Beyond
KIWI: Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown
ENGLAND: Haunted by Heathcliff - Yorkshire's Bronte Country
USA, CA: Handlery Union Square Hotel, San Francisco
KIWI: This Restless Land – Hiking the Tongariro Crossing & Mt. Ruapehu
KIWI: On My Bike - Mountain Biking and the Queenstown Bike Festival
ENGLAND: Mark it in Your Calendar – Visit Skipton, Yorkshire
SCOTLAND: A Scottish Highland Fling
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: Wrestling Wrasse on the Beara Peninsula
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: 48 Hours in Cork
AUSTRALIA, NSW: Quarantined In Luxury
ENGLAND: The Land of Romans, Myths and Medieval Castles
SCOTLAND: 48 Hours in Edinburgh
WALES: Wandering North Wales
USA, CA: In Yountville Pushing the Epicurean Envelope
ENGLAND: On The Trail of Lancashire’s Pendle Witches
USA, CA: Highway 1 - The Convict Coast RV Trip
THAILAND: Sky High in Bustling Bangkok
TAHITI: Lazy Hazy Days of Winter - Tahitii and Moorea
AUSTRALIA, QLD: In Seventh Heaven
VENEZUELA: Where Angels Dared To Tread
NORFOLK ISLAND: Isle of Exiles
AUSTRALIA, QLD: A Taste of Sunshine in Queensland
NEW CALEDONIA: Flavours of New Caledonia
KIWI: The Wonder Country - Campervan Ventures in Southland
USA, FL: A Highway That Goes to Sea - Florida Keys RV Trip
MALAYSIA, Sabah Borneo: In The Land of the Red Ape
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Taste of the Tropics

KIWI: High Seas Sensations – Cruising New Zealand

As a virgin cruise passenger I was apprehensive about spending four nights at sea with about 1900 other souls on Holland America Line’s MS Oosterdam, who would probably all be well versed in cruise line etiquette and the in's and out's of life aboard a massive vessel that operates like a medium sized New Zealand town.

AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: ©Shane Boocock 2014


As a virgin cruise passenger I was apprehensive about spending four nights at sea with about 1900 other souls on Holland America Line’s MS Oosterdam, who would probably all be well versed in cruise line etiquette and the in's and out's of life aboard a massive vessel that operates like a medium sized town. Though catering to multi-generational travelers, clearly these cruises appeals mostly to Holland America's core demographic: mature, sophisticated, well-traveled couples, the majority of whom are repeat cruise passengers.


So after getting my bearings I wandered the passageways with a ships map in hand in search of the restaurants and bars – as you might expect there is a plethora of dinning options on board a large cruise ship - from International selections in the Lido Restaurant to five course meals in the Vista Dining Room or char-broiled burgers around one of two swimming pools to fine dining in the Pinnacle Grill; there seems to be types of cuisine to please everyone.


First port of call was Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, known locally as 'the Mount.' I hadn't booked any shore excursions, as all I wanted to do was hike around the Mount and check out the town centre, having never been there before.


There are two or three different trails you can take on the Mount and they all offer good views of the coastline. The shore trail is the longest, so expect to hike about six kilometers. The trail was surprisingly busy with many young mothers pushing strollers, or joggers getting their training runs in. A fair number of the cruise passengers had also opted to get some exercise too on a beautiful, clear sky day.


From a glorious day in Tauranga where there wasn't a cloud in the sky, to high winds and huge seas off Gisborne a day later. The overnight passage was a rough affair as a strong wind had materialized, throwing up big swells. There was a big thump every so often as the bow of the ship smashed into a big wave, making it hard for me to enjoy a good nights sleep.


In Gisborne there was also the problem of disembarkation as the ship was held offshore because there is no deep-water port and therefore all shore excursions were by going to be by tender using the ship’s life rafts. In fact the weather and swells were so rough they cancelled all the day trips deeming it too dangerous. It was then that we sailed on to Napier - the Art Deco capital of New Zealand.


A highlight of day two at sea was being invited onto the bridge to meet the Captain, once he had docked in Napier. He had spent 10 years as a Captain of Holland America Line ships. His bridge is one of high tech gadgetry and looks something akin to a bridge on a Star Trek movie. What was surprising was how small the ships navigation wheel was – about the size of a sports cars steering wheel. Apparently the wheel is very responsive so the Captain informed me.


A point worth mentioning is in regard to shore excursions. Always allow plenty of time to get back to the ship after you day of activities ashore, unlike one of our group who arrived five minutes before departure to find that the main gangplank had been withdrawn. She made it back onboard via a service gangplank by the skin of her teeth.


Dinner on board that night was a formal affair so it was just as well I brought my tux! We dined in he ship's signature restaurant, the Pinnacle Grill which specialises in steak dishes, although there are seafood alternatives on the menu. I started with lobster bisque with crème fraiche, followed by filet mignon and jumbo prawns on whipped potatoes with a garlic rosemary beurre blanc. Dessert was one of my favourites, crème brulee in three flavours; caramel, chocolate and coffee.


Napier, our port of call the next day was overcast and a tad chilly with occasional showers cleaning the downtown streets, it’s known for the deadly 1931 earthquake that destroyed most of its downtown district. It occurred at 10:47 am on Tuesday, 3 February 1931, the Hawke’s Bay earthquake (also known as the Napier Earthquake) is recorded as having caused the largest loss of life and most extensive damage of any quake in New Zealand’s history. The official death toll was 256, and 593 people sustained serious injuries. The effects of the earthquake were greatest in the towns of Napier and Hastings, yet other towns in the Hawke’s Bay also suffered major damage. However, the city was rebuilt quickly in the style of the period, Art Deco and what a tourism draw card they have now.


On my last night at sea and my last night in a deluxe verandah stateroom I started drinking French Champagne at 3.30 pm to celebrate on my small deck as we majestically cruised out of Napier Harbour heading to Wellington via the Cook Strait. Now that’s what I call a sophisticated departure.


Another highlight of the trip was to be served an authentic Indonesian dinner that had been prepared by the Indonesian ship’s chefs (the guys who chef only for the crew) from down in the labyrinth of passageways in the bowels of the ship. We started the meal with Gadu Gadu from Jakarta - a salad of sprouts, cabbage, green beans, sliced carrots in a peanut sauce followed by Nasi Goring - beef cubes, fried chicken, satay chicken and Indonesian rice. For the last course they served an unusual variation of a fruit dessert in yogurt.


Bon Voyage. I was slightly sad to leave the ship but very happy to be catching up with an old buddy of mine. Oscar picked me up from the dockside in his Alfa Romeo and whisked me to his hilltop home in Eastbourne, a suburb of Wellington. We took his private gondola to his private hideaway where we could see the MS Ossterdam berthed in port on the other side of Wellington Harbour. She dwarfed the city and later that night slipped out of the harbour as the sun was setting – a magnificent sight and one I’ll remember fondly as being my first cruise – hopefully I can bring my tux out of retirement again in the not to distant future and find myself cruising in Alaskan waters, through the Caribbean or even around the Mediterranean? Now that would be sensational.





Top Cruise Tips - My tips for taking a cruise while on board are: 1 exercise regularly.  2 regulate how much food you eat. 3 drink good champagne. 4 Buy wine at your ports of call for your room. 5 take in a range of onboard classes. 6 Use your expensive internet minutes wisely – type drafts first then log on and send. 7 read up on your ports of call in advance. 8 make new friends onboard. 9 bring sea leg tablets. 10. dress up on formal nights and boogie the night away.


Shane Boocock travelled on the MS Oosterdam courtesy of Holland America Line. Go to:


MS Oosterdam Features:


The Culinary Arts Center: a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen offering interactive gourmet cooking lessons taught by our own Master Chefs or culinary guests


The Digital Workshop powered by Microsoft: Guests will be able to show and tell" their vacation memories, learning how to share all their digital memories through email, blogging and social networking


Greenhouse Spa & Salon: facial, hot stone massage, steam in a thermal suite, hair and nail salon.


Vista Dining Room: features impeccable service and an extensive wine list. Five-course menus include continental cuisine, vegetarian and low-carb options


Pinnacle Grill: This intimate reservations-only venue offers an elegant, sophisticated dining experience. Featuring premium ranch beef, inspired seafood dishes and many select wines


Canaletto Restaurant: Canaletto is your destination onboard for an intimate Italian dinner. The evening begins with the chef’s selection of antipasti with a taste of the delicious fare and personal, polished service to follow.


Lido Restaurant: offers a relaxed ambiance for all three meals and features a variety of fresh, cooked-to-order specialties


Explorations Café: a comfortable, coffee house environment where you can browse through an extensive library, surf the Internet and check email or simply read the morning paper.


Vista Show Lounge: features talented vocalists, dancers, illusionists, comedians and variety acts


Crow's Nest: offers sweeping 270° views during the day, and a hip, fashionable nightclub each evening


Club HAL®: dedicated youth facilities and activities for kids ages 3 - 12


The Loft: designed exclusively for teens (13 - 17) to have fun, socialize and hang out




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