I woke up early to the sound of the engines, and had a look outside. Still dark. We seemed to be moving very slowly, and were obviously close to Auckland, judging by the lights on the land in the not too far distance. Went back to bed to savour the last minutes of the cruise.
When I finally got up and looked outside, we were docked and so close to the Hilton Hotel on the pier that I think we could have touched the people standing on their room verandas having a look at the ship docking. They seemed even closer than the people in Sydney had been – quite an odd experience.
We had trouble getting Kate up out of bed, but managed eventually, and then went up to a quick breakfast. We gave Violetta and Alex a small Australian souvenir as well as their tip. People in the suite next door were having their photo taken with Alex. We eventually made it to the Olympic where a private disembarkation lounge for Captain’s Club members had been set up – only to find that our number (Red 2) had already been called. So, we headed off the ship.
More customs inspections and dogs, but no problems taking our chocolates and remaining tea bags off. Our bags were waiting for us, and we went outside to wait for our tour guide to arrive – he had given us very clear instructions, so we knew where to wait. We were early so watched the disembarkation process for a while, and the narrow space available between two buildings for all traffic was a logistical nightmare – traffic going both ways, reversing, turning, removal trucks, pedestrians. But, in spite of all that, people got off the ship, onto buses for tours or taxis and the area kept clearing without too much people congestion at all.
Our guide, Guy King of Select Tours, arrived right on time, and pulled into the parking lot where we were waiting. We then had a delightful tour of Auckland, and benefited from Guy’s prodigious knowledge of history and of current events. We stopped at Kelly Tauntons to see king penguins up close – very good. We had lunch at the Yacht Club on the waterfront where the America’s Cup lived, and watched people climbing the Harbour Bridge – but it didn’t seem to be as much of a feat as the Sydney Bridge Climb is. We then continued our tour, finally ending up at the airport, where Guy escorted us until we went through to boarding. Our upgrades to business class had come through, so we had a good flight home. I’d recommend his company if you are looking for a personalised tour of the city – it was a very, very pleasant day.
I called our Alaska cruise decadent, and cruising is a wonderful way to escape reality for a couple of weeks. I can see why people get addicted to cruising, and I’m certainly saving hard for our Scandinavian cruise next year. For me, cruising is about relaxing and not having to be anywhere at any particular time, so we spend a bit of time just doing nothing much. I know others spend more time in the bars and nightclubs and have a great time, and I think that is the beauty of cruising – you can always find somewhere to spend time alone, or you can be with lots of other people if you want to. Lovely.