Q; How big is the Specific Ocean? A; Can you be more pacific?

MS Oosterdam

I've loaded fresh batteries in the TomTom, and Yineka-mou and I are getting ready to take off ( or in this case launch off) on another big trip. We are leaving Sydney in early April, onboard Holland America Line's cruise ship, the MV Oosterdam. Link

This is not your usual two week cruise, well, for one thing it's a month long….. and it's not really a cruise, more of a voyage…. in the cruise-industry vernacular it's a 're-positioning voyage'….meaning that the Oosterdam is leaving the Australia/New Zealand waters that she's been cruising in for the southern summer months, and is heading across the Pacific Ocean bound for Vancouver in British Columbia, to start her northern summer Alaska cruises. So we get to enjoy 29 nights onboard this fine ship, sailing across the Pacific Ocean. Having sailed on a HAL ship before, ( in 2010, the Ryndam, 7 days Vancouver to Alaska) and enjoyed the service and cuisine very much, I pretty much know what to expect. I've booked a Neptune Suite, and chose one of the corner aft 'verandah' suites, which have really huge 'wrap-around' verandahs, so there is the view both aft, as well as to starboard. There is plenty of room for YM and I to stretch out in comfort on the sun-loungers, enjoy a 'sundowner' or two, even have 'room service' bring us the occasional meal to eat out on the verandah.

Oosterdam, showing her aft cabins.

Although there are plenty of stops on the way, Noumea, Fiji, Vila, Pago Pago, Hawaii, Seattle etc…we'll also get to enjoy some long periods at sea. It's been 37 years since YM and I last sailed out from Circular Quay in Sydney, onboard the SS Australis, bound for America…… but this time we'll be doing it the luxury way….as passengers and not crew. ( although I doubt we'll have as much fun as we did back then…but I'll certainly be trying !!!) Of the ports we'll be calling into in the South Pacific, most of them we have visited many times before, when we both worked on the Australis back in the '70's. All hold special memories for us, but none more special than Suva in Fiji. Here, in March 1973, I had my very first date ( on dry land!) with YM …. we had arranged to meet on the corner of Cummings Street, and after shopping for a new camera for her, we took a taxi to the Trade Winds hotel for a romantic lunch at their waterside restaurant, overlooking the lagoon. I dont think that it was quite as romantic as YM hoped for though…. as also at the lunch with us were about eight or nine of my fellow 'crew' friends…the 'shop boys' the photographers, the ships barber, the Gym guy, the Information Officer etc ….couldn't have been that bad though, it didn't put her off …. and she's still putting up with me!….This is the only pic I have of the occasion, and it was taken by YM too…. (which is why she's not in it) …. I wonder if the 'Trade Winds' is still there? I'll find out soon enough.

At the Tradewinds Hotel, Suva, Fiji in 1973. Picture taken by YM, who thought she was having a quiet romantic lunch. I'm on the left, with long hair and 'mo', looking at the photographer

Below have look at some pics that I took way back in '75, when I worked on the Australis, and we were docked in Sydney. The last pic, with masses of multi-coloured streamers twixt ship and shore, is typical of those times. Passengers weren't just going on a cruise, they were on a long voyage to the other side of the world….throwing streamers, waving farewell to their loved ones, not knowing when or even if, they'd ever see each other again. Some passengers came prepared with huge 'balls' of nylon stockings that they had laboriously cut in two, then tied all together to make a very long makeshift 'rope'. One end would be thrown to their friends and family on the dock, and then they would hang on to the other end, sometimes tethering it to the ships rail. When the ship eventually sailed away, the nylon 'rope' would stretch and stretch and stretch as the gap betwen the ship and dock got wider and wider. Eventually of course, the makeshift 'rope' would inevitably break, severing the last ties with 'home'….. These were always very emotional farewells, and of all the ports we visited, Sydney drew the most passionate 'farewellers'. I've been told that the Port Authority no longer allow streamers to be thrown when a ship leaves….is that true?

SS Australis, flagship of Chandris Lines, at Circular Quay Sydney, 1975
SS Australis prior to setting sail for NZ, Fiji, Acapulco, Panama Canal, New York and Southampton, circa 1975.
I wonder if we'll ever see the likes of this again.... The last gangway is being prepared for removal and SS Australis is just about to leave on her voyage bound for America and Europe. Sydney, Circular Quay, circa 1975

I'll be updating this blog as I get closer to the sailing….and of course, I'll be posting new stuff during the course of the voyage…

 

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