Regent Mariner AKL-LAX

 ***sorry about all the mess before, i am having problems with wordpress.. It is December 2. For most of you, as I write this, it is December 3rd. We lost a Monday flying across the International Dateline. For some weird reason, I’m glad we didn’t lose a Friday. 

For the last couple of years, I’ve written about transatlantic voyages. It’s my belief that type of cruise is a perfect way to see different ports, and still have a good amount of sea time. This year it’s a kind of transpacific. Talk about sea time, we are on an 18 day cruise from Auckland through Tahiti and then home. We’ll have twelve sea days.

Our Qantas flight departed at 8:30 PM, a 747, and took 12 and a half hours. That long in Economy felt like eleven air days. I had read a lot of whining reviews on the net about Qantas, but my wife Michael and I were impressed with the service. We had a dinner, free booze, breakfast and very attentive, friendly flight attendants. the empty seat between us was a plus. Warning, Qantas is very strict about carry-on. No more than 15 pounds per piece, and it better fit in that little measurement cage. There is an attendant that will pull you out of line and check if it looks like you are over their limitations.

Welcome to Auckland!

We went through the usual immigration. Ironically the entry form required a statement that you had not been in prison in the last ten years. I guess those that had would be forwarded on to Australia. 

We were met by Regent personnel; luggage was taken, to be seen next in our cabin. From there, to a coach (it’s a bus; what’s this coach stuff?) to join other passengers and wait, and wait, and wait for Maria. Oops, Maria didn’t make the plane. To get that determination took close to an hour.  

The drive from airport to the Stamford hotel was lengthy due to morning traffic. Thanks Maria. We were ushered into the hotel, and then to a large room with lovely table settings and a “continental buffet”. I thought what continent? I know Australia is a continent, is New Zealand part of that? I’ll have to ask Charlie Gibson. 

Michael and I walked around the shopping area, enticed by the 50cents to one dollar rate. While I was taking some photos of the contrasting architecture,

she waved to me from across the street indicating she’d be in a store. Finished, I crossed the street and then started canvassing boutiques. The first had an entry of seven steps. The last six with about a 4 inch rise. It was the first one with a 10 inch rise that tripped me. Looking at the stairs I made the mistake of assuming US standards existed this far south. My foot went up four inches and my body dropped about 4 feet. A man and his wife strived to help me, but I waved them away and said I was fine. Then started up again and made the same mistake. Bang! Me one way, camera another, battery another, chip the fourth; a perfect compass rose of pain and embarrassment. This time I didn’t wave them away. I’m sure this guy saw it all.

Next stop, a pharmacy for Tylenol or Advil, but the clerks had heard of neither. We bought Act-3. I may attend the Twelve Steps program on the ship.  

Although the Mariner didn’t officially accept boarding passengers until 2:30, our bus, (put me in coach) took us to the ship at noon, where we went through the whole process of leaving the country, passports, departure forms, and cruise tickets. I wonder what happens with the entry and departure forms. I guess some apparatchik logs it all and writes a memo “upstairs”. We’ve got to do something. Tourists are coming and leaving the same day. What makes them want to leave Auckland almost immediately? 

The minute you board Regent you know you are on a ship that is not a cut but a whole hairdo above the others.

Champagne is poured, at every elevator stop there are at least two crew members waiting to greet, answer questions, or point towards your immediate goal. They all say good afternoon. 

When we opened our Penthouse Suite on the tenth floor, Michael said “Wow”. No more appropriate word could be uttered. It is a beautiful room, divided by curtains, with a floor ceiling glass running the width of the outside wall, and walk in closet.

We lunched at La Veranda (the lido) and were blown away by the service. We had our choice of a grill presentation

and eating at umbrella shaded tables by the pool, or a more inclusive buffet and eating inside or on the aft deck. The aft deck it was, and there was hardly a second when a finished plate was not cleared; drinks were immediately refilled, and the food was excellent. 

From there to a short nap. Michael closed her eyes at 3 PM, she opened them again at 7……..AM!

Next, morning dawns.

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