Days M127-128: The Auld Alliance

Wed 01.02.12-Thu 02.02.12:

Christchurch is not somewhere for holidaying at the moment, and since the major earthquake last year, cruise ships have been calling at the place down the road, Akaroa. What’s interesting about Akaroa is that it was intended to be the beginning of a full-on French colony that was to encompass the whole of the South island. Could you imagine? Two New Zealands: a British north one and a French south one. Eek!

Luckily for New Zealand, before the first French colonists arrived, the British had signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the Maori tribes, giving them power of attorney (or something) over both islands. Yeah, I know you think that’s a bit mean saying they were lucky not to be colonised by the French, but ten of the richest countries in the world were British colonies and ten of the poorest were French colonies. Just sayin’…!

The French colonists were allowed to stay, so long as they didn’t try to impede British sovereignty and shaved their armpits. So Akaroa has this charming Frankish feel to it, a bit of Gallic oh-la-la that I found quite endearing. The lovely architecture helped.

It therefore seemed fitting that the next day we would call into Dunedin, the place I should have been last week for Burn’s Night. I had stumbled around Auckland asking all and sundry if anybody had haggis on the menu. It wouldn’t have been hard in Dunedin: the city was founded by Burn’s Nephew. Seriously, there’s a massive statue of the great Scottish Poet himself in the middle of the town square.

The options on the table for Dunedin included a trip to the chocolate factory (BRING IT ON!!) or a tour of the local brewery.

So then, Speight’s brewery it is. A fine old-fashioned brewery still using the traditional big wooden vats. The best bit? At the end of the tour you get left in a bar, five beers and one cider on tap and you can drink as much as you can in 20 minutes. Oh boy.

Upon seeing the massive queue for the bus back to the cruise, I opted to (cheekily) sneak onto the P&O bus which was going to the berth next to ours. With a little time to kill, I sauntered over to the village next to the port in order to grab a cheap bottle of wine, since you’re allowed to bring on board one bottle a day. Fortunately for me, I happened to stumble upon a few buddies from the cruise and asked them (very nicely) if they wouldn’t mind carrying a bottle each on board for me. They didn’t mind at all, and I was stocked for the next few days.

Back on board the ship I proceeded to maximise the boozy advantage and slipped effortlessly into the beer vortex. Goodbye New Zealand, my sweet little 194th country. NEXT UP: THE RETURN TO OZ!!!

Days M129-131: Three Sheets To The Wind

Fri 03.02.12 – Sun 05.02.12:

Friday took us around the Southern Cape of South Island and along the majestic Fjords of the incorrectly-spelt Fiordland National Park. As part of the deal for the free cruise, I had offered to do a talk about my travels for the delight of my fellow passengers. The talk went down quite well, and I was buoyed by the presence of my new buddies onboard, the Young Guns.

You see, there were not many 32 year olds on board the Sea Princess. In fact there was only one. I know that cos I met him. So the options consisted of hanging out with people old enough to be my grandparents or with people barely old enough to buy cigarettes. Of course, I balanced this out rather well, managing to get myself adopted by the grannies during the day and being the irresponsible adult corrupting the youth of Athens during the evening. As only half of the Young Guns were old enough to be in the nightclub after 10pm, we ended up in the library playing board games until the wee small hours.

With my lecture out of the way and with nothing to get up for the next morning, it was time to down the remains of my minibar and cause as much mischief as I could get away with. Which was a surprising amount. The next morning, thunder rolling in my head, the phone in my cabin was ringing. I was too scared to answer it, thinking it might be reception giving me a right royal telling off for last night’s shenanigans.

Turns out it was reception, but they just wanted to ask me if I’d like to come up for a tour of the bridge. Whoops!

Saturday was formal day, and since I had been invited to cocktails with the captain in the evening, I decided that this might be the day I would wear the suit that Mandy had lugged over from Australia for me and that I had been lugging around New Zealand for the past two weeks. The shoes made me wince (I’m big on being smart, not looking smart) but I endured: it was a good excuse to get my laundry done. So, all shaved and respectable-lookin’ I rambled around the ship until it was time for the ‘Where In The World’ quiz, which I won, on my Billy Lonesome, just to prove I could.


After downing the prize: a bottle of champagne, I set off for the ‘new year’ party that was taking place in the main atrium. A bit of goofy dancing later and I was outside the Razzmatazz Nightclub, three sheets to the wind. Apparently at some point I stood up, declared that I was far too drunk for this kind of thing and took myself off to bed. True story.

Sunday was the last day of the cruise. By now we were very close to Australia, having ploughed across the Tasman Sea in at record speed. That night the Young Guns had decided that there would be no sleep til Brooklyn, and who was I to argue?

Must... Destroy...!

I’ve pulled more all-nighters than the average bear and with what was left of my wine, I made sure that I was sufficiently intoxicated to meet the customs guys at 6.30am the next day.

This was a fun cruise. A very fun cruise.

THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!!!!!!