Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Silver Muse cruise, Day Eight - Goodbye 2019

With thanks to Silversea for this cruise
There are thousands of people not so far from where I am who have been driven down to the beach by the horrific bush fires in East Gippsland, and are stranded there right now in hellish conditions, the sky deep red, the sun blotted out, the air thick with smoke. It's terrible.
So it seems very trivial to complain about being lost in Melbourne this afternoon - but I will. That's 'lost' in the transitive verb sense, you see. I didn't lose myself, my so-called guide lost me. And, worse, didn't find me again.
We arrived early in the city which, in typical Melbourne fashion, had temperatures of 40+ yesterday but this morning was barely scraping 17. So I scuttled off to the National Gallery of Victoria to get some indoor culture. It's a really well done museum - big, modern, airy, arty design - and has some great works in its collections. Naturally I walked past the Colin McCahon gallery without a sideways glance, and concentrated on the traditional masters - Turner, Manet, Constable, Picasso - which were beautifully displayed. I really liked one room where there were dozens crammed in together without labels, making the whole thing an artwork in itself. Though this painting, titled 'Anguish' was tough to see.
They had a gorgeous collection of Venetian glass, too, quite exquisitely delicate and detailed, and full of beautiful pieces. My favourite though was this modern work by Richard Marquis, pleasingly titled 'Non-functional teapot'. 
I was delighted to see women's fashion included too - extraordinary clothes designed by Rei Kawakubo that could have come straight out of a WOW show but apparently were part of actual fashion parades.
"Goodbye - we hope you found something to love" said the sign by the exit, and I certainly did. Well done, NGV.
When I came back outside, the sun was shining, it was hot, there were people in holiday mode everywhere, in cafés, along the Yarra River, walking, sitting and all enjoying themselves against the background of impressive skyscrapers.
It was the enclosed, rather than the exposed, that the afternoon concentrated on, though: an Arcades and Alleyways tour arranged through Silversea. There were only seven of us in our group and our guide, from Chicago long ago, took us first onto one of the city's efficient network of modern trams into the heart of the CBD. She led us through a series of wonderfully ornate Victorian (in both senses) arcades, and along grungier laneways full of street art and eateries. 
We heard history, got some architecture info, had public artworks pointed out, passed by the statue of my hero Matthew Flinders, and were generally getting on pretty well.
And then, dear reader, Joy said "Have a look at the Christmas display in Myers as we go past, before we go into another alleyway to our coffee stop." Look, I've re-enacted it since - I looked away from her umbrella for no more than TEN SECONDS at the slightly creepy display of a koala dressed as Santa, and then when I turned back, it was gone, she was gone, the others were all gone. Gone!

So, not being able to identify the alleyway, I stood in the middle of that pedestrian street, in the sun, in the open, waiting for her to come looking for me, as she had for another group member who'd strayed earlier. And waited, and waited, for a quarter of an hour, and she never came. So - fortunately knowing what to do and where to go from this morning's gallery visit - I lit out for the shuttle bus back to the ship, which was due to sail in not much more than an hour. Black mark for Joy, I reckon (and a grey one for myself, of course.)
We joined another Team Trivia group this afternoon since our own had dwindled, presumably through lack of success, to just the two of us - and did much better: 16/20 and came third. Rather easier questions today included: what does eg stand for; which pop icon died in August 1977; what two letters of the alphabet both mean 1000; which English queen had 17 children; and what's the capital of Libya?
The Christmas decorations had been modified with black, white and silver balloons for New Year's Eve, and we duly all dressed up ourselves (as much as I ever do - but there were plenty of sequins on display). Dinner was with a big media group and conversation included Jacinda Ardern, evaluating the payback from advertising, keeping anonymous on famils, and women changing names, or not, after marriage.
The Châteaubriand was exquisite; and afterwards for those who had room there was a huge range of chocolate desserts on the pool deck, a dj, prize giveaways, and dancing - all of which we, of course, observed from a distance. 
Pleasingly, though we had left our mooring, the captain anchored Silver Muse out in the harbour so we could watch the midnight fireworks display over the city in comfort - and it was good, if a little distant. Many of the fireworks were red, though, which was an uncomfortable reminder of what those poor East Gippsland folk were seeing, hunched on their beach, no doubt hoping for better in 2020.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Silver Muse cruise, Day Seven - Bores and beads

With thanks to Silversea for this cruise
I suppose going, unexpectedly, to Turkey twice in 2015 still holds the record - but visiting Tasmania twice in the space of a few weeks is also pretty extraordinary, I reckon. Back in November, I was doing the Maria Island Walk, fretting over a delayed suitcase, and sleeping in a tent. This time I'm popping ashore from a 5-star cruise liner to be wafted along to the last bit of the state I haven't visited yet.
Well, maybe not wafted. It was a bus tour, and though driver Ray was good, guide Ron was yet another *sigh* OWM bore. His specialty was identifying for us, as we drove along, things like a café ("It's been open 5 months now!"), a petrol station, cattle and sheep. Never mind. Tasmania was its usual pretty, bucolic self today. We bypassed Burnie ("Fifth-largest port in Australia!") and drove along the coast, past long sandy beaches and rocky little coves, and through rich farmland towards Stanley and The Nut, which is a 160m high plateau sticking out into the sea, a volcanic remnant of some sort. 
Before we got to Stanley, we called in at their historic house, Highfield, which is getting on for 200 years old and has been lovingly restored from being lived in, at one point, by sheep. They've done an especially good job with the storyboards, though they were a bit too artistic for me to read easily; and I was struck, when entering the main bedroom, to hear an invisible woman sobbing - intro to a sad story about a little girl who lived here being killed (by a runaway dog cart). Well done.
Then we went on to Stanley, a little town of 200 souls, full of pretty wooden villas with metal lace around their verandas, colourfully painted, and with neat gardens. Here we took the gondola up to the top of The Nut, and I marched around the circuit on top, enjoying the fresh air, hearing the birds, and looking at long and lovely views enhanced by the gorgeous blue sea. I even spotted a pademelon.
When I got back to the gondola station, though, it was to find that there had been a power cut and everyone was having to walk down the very steep concrete zigzag path - and some doughty souls were walking up it too, in even more unsuitable shoes than I was wearing. (Apparently, they used a generator to get the people off the gondola who were stranded on it - since you ask. Well, I did, anyway.)
We drove back towards Burnie, occasionally learning interesting things (still growing opium poppies for the US market, but at a reduced rate and now experimenting with medicinal cannabis instead) but mostly just having obvious things labelled for us. Thanks, Ron.
Back on board, we glided smoothly away from the pier, and the huge mountain of wood chips there (for Japanese particle board) and then headed down to Trivial Pursuit. There were only three of us today, but we managed our best score yet, 15/20 (would have been 17 if we'd allowed two of Jeff's answers, ulp). Questions included: happy birthday in Spanish; how many pairs of ribs do we have; how much lemonade in a shandy; first transplanted organ; which South American country encompasses both the equator and Tropic of Capricorn?
Dinner was at La Terazza, where the antepasto were so generous that all I had was the duck papardelle - very nice. On Silversea, when you arrive at a restaurant you can request a shared table, which is a gamble that often pays off (but didn't last night), or a private table. Tonight we were advised that it would work better to sit alongside, rather than with, others who might not turn up. We did in fact have a good conversation with our neighbours, about: the Sydney fires, using Qantas airpoints, Herefordshire, fireworks, the "filthy rich" passengers on board, and driving a Fiat 500 on Italian motorways. It all went swimmingly, until they [Australian, Christian, have not left the ship since boarding] referred to Oscar Wilde as a "homo". Good grief!

But the evening was salvaged when we wandered by the boutiques, which are filled with the most dispensable of goods - stupid watches, fancy jewellery, clothes, perfume, Fabergé eggs - and chatted to gorgeous Daniel about the handbags on display. It was the third time I'd been drawn to look at these extraordinary items: artworks, really, each different, shaped and beaded in extravagant designs like cruise liners, a skull, a violin, a champagne bucket. We had a satisfying conversation about the designer, the Indian women who made them, the fun element that made their impracticality irrelevant - and learned that people had been buying them, bigly. 

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Silver Muse cruise, Day Six - Just, er, cruising

With thanks to Silversea for this cruise
And the laid-back vibe continues, today with added sunshine and heat as we head towards baking Australia. So there's very little to report: people scattered all over the ship, lying about reading or squinting at screens in the bright light on the various outside decks, or more comfortably in the lounges. Presumably there was action in the gym and the spa but they were, as ever, closed books to me.

I can attest that the pool was busy, all the loungers a-sprawl with people, and some even in the water braving the impressive tsunami that was continuously sweeping from side to side and end to end. In the Panorama Lounge, heads were down and the atmosphere silent and concentrated for Bingo - unlike the rowdy bunch a bit later in Dolce Vita for Team Trivia, which continues as undisciplined as ever, with blatant cheating and helping, and even some calling out. I've given up on trying to stick to the rules and have joined the herd.

We were a team of seven today, and scored 13/20, unplaced despite the cheating. Questions included South America's highest mountain; capital of Mongolia; the name of the fourth musketeer; which sport begins by throwing salt; and what does the mathematical symbol II mean? The answer to that last one is not eleven, by the way - though it was such a good joke, it was allowed.
Dinner, at Atlantide again, was a dull affair, though the food was excellent (prawns and filet mignon) and it was pleasing to be offered wine from a vineyard with which we will soon have a tenuous family connection. The others at our shared table were a well-travelled (superfluous adjective - everyone on board is) Australian couple and a Brit-turned-Tassie who was sulking, not unreasonably, because he lives near tomorrow's port of Burnie, but isn't allowed to disembark there and instead has to continue to Melbourne and then fly home. He annoyed me because, despite boasting of 280-odd nights with Silversea, he insisted on mis-naming the line Silverseas. I'm petty like that. The conversation was dominated by the two OWMs and, though I made a few attempts to break the deadlock, I soon lost heart. The topics (in between long silences) included: the current NZ-Oz cricket scandal (yawn); silly season stories in the press; Raffles hotel; showering on board the Emirates A380, first class; and distinguishing brands of flour.

The show tonight was Broadway hits, but only one of the six singers has a really good voice, the others seeming to strain just a little for the high notes - though full marks for effort. I seem to be getting very picky. Time to go ashore, I think.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Silver Muse cruise, Day Five - Tasman Sea sloth

With thanks to Silversea for this cruise
Days at sea are like a holiday, on a cruise. No excursions to busy yourself with, no - well, no excursions is pretty much it. But once you slip into cruise mode, with everything done for you, all desires met, not even having to think about paying for whatever takes your fancy, the discipline of an excursion looms large. So having, right now, two consecutive at-sea days as we cross the Tasman, the danger is that we won't be able to stir from our lethargy at all when we get to Burnie, Tasmania, on whatever day it is (at-sea vagueness about such things as dates not helped at all by the usual Christmas-New Year limbo).

That's not to say, of course, that there aren't things going on, on board. Meals, naturally - breakfast notable to me for the animated conversation witnessed between married couples, which really doesn't seem like normal behaviour. And today there were also a couple of lectures: the first an American woman talking about the Aboriginal people, which is a dicey topic to discuss, especially with Australians in the audience, but she managed well, I thought; though she did let slip the phrase "victims of an incomplete genocide" which rather gave the game away. Most of it I was familiar with - but I had no idea about the huge animals that used to live in Australia when the Aboriginal people first got there, maybe 70,000 years ago. Wombats eight times the size of today's - imagine! Bit of a shame she used the name Ayer's Rock though, and not Uluru.


The sea was mercifully calm today - and remarkably so too, for the notorious Tasman - but the waves in the swimming pool were dramatic as we lunched alongside it, wrapped up against the wind. There was napping - including, I'm ashamed to say, during the rather dull afternoon lecture by a Major-General OWM about convicts in Tasmania, which ought to have been a lot more riveting - and then we roused ourselves for Team Trivia, which was very popular today. We had six in our team but still managed only 14/20 again - though for once that was good enough to earn third place points. Not that we deserved them: the blatant cheating continues, with the quizmaster and waiters quietly supplying answers as they wander around, and a loose attitude to the final marking. Not right at all. Questions this time included: Sherlock Holmes's address; where did canasta originate; who voiced Porky Pig; who wrote Rigoletto?


There was a classical piano concert before dinner which I had hoped to enjoy but although it featured mainly Chopin, it was pieces that mostly allowed the pianist to show off, rather than deliver an actual tune, so my low-brow musical appreciation faculties went unsatisfied.


At dinner in Atlantide (Chilean sea bass - very nice) we shared a table with a Singaporean couple - he had a big hand in sleep apnoea research - and some Aussies from Melbourne. Conversation topics included: 60 laps of the pool deck takes the Aussies 90 minutes, spurred on by step-counting sibling rivalry via Apple watches; growing olives; spurning a Green Card in favour of moving to Australia (no regerts); Christmas decorations in Reykjavik; and (shhh) the superiority over Silversea of Crystal cruises - entertainment-wise, at least.


The proof of that was in the concert that finished the evening: 60s pop songs sung enthusiastically but not 100% well by one of the six cast members on board. The audience was on her side though, until she made the alienating statement: "That was a big hit for Dusty Springfield in 1967 - which was the year my mother was born." Cue sudden chill.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Silver Muse cruise, Day Four - It's Australia's fault

With thanks to Silversea for this cruise
Silver Muse sailed last night from Stewart Island along Foveaux Strait and around the bottom of the South Island, with the plan to enter Doubtful Sound first thing this morning, and then Milford Sound this afternoon. As has so often happened on our cruises - on most people's cruises, I'm guessing - the weather got in the way. There were 50 knot winds and 3 metre waves, plus low cloud and rain, and the captain decided that it wasn't safe to try to enter either Sound. 
It was a great shame, and disappointing to everyone - though rather less so to us, since we did this route with Azamara a couple of years ago, and of course we've been to Milford a number of times over the years. For the foreigners, though, of whom there are very many on board, it was their only chance to see the Sounds' properly spectacular scenery, and they had been looking forward to it. For some, it was their second, and even third, attempt. Instead, their only consolation was watching the little pilot boat bouncing around in the waves as the NZ pilot attempted to leave the ship. He'd have had to stay aboard till Burnie in Tasmania if they couldn't get him off - I imagine that wouldn't have been a tragedy for him.

I heard several Aussies complaining bitterly about the let-down of the weather, and only just restrained myself from explaining, loudly and clearly, that it was all due to the big H that's been parked over Oz for so long, delivering all that hot, dry weather that's been causing their dreadful fires, and simultaneously condemning NZ to unseasonably cool, wet weather. But, dear reader, for the sake of trans-Tasman cordial relations, I restrained myself.

Team Trivia today introduced some ethical grey areas - first, sneakily corrected answers by the quizmaster (Roy Perez, our Cruise Director, from Cuba) as he prowled around; and also, when you decide on one answer, and then change to another, and then find the first was correct, you don't count it, right? But Jeff from California, and Anne from Scotland disagreed, and insisted our score was a mighty 15/20 instead of the usual 14 I thought it should be. Sample questions from today: how much does a litre of water weigh; which Italian leader was afraid of the Devil's evil eye; what is the standard length of the English military call-up; and what did the Montgolfier brothers invent?

Dinner tonight was at La Dame, which is one of only two restaurants you have to pay for on board Silversea: USD80 each for super-attentive service in a tiny venue with a classic French menu and and an equally classically superior French MC/sommelier. I had escargots, mushroom velouté (ie soup), Dover sole and Grand Marnier soufflé, all of it beautifully presented and delicious.

Naturally, as we headed away from New Zealand into the Tasman Sea, the sun came out and the evening was blue and bright. Ahead, a day's sail away, lie heat and sunshine in Australia. Bring it on!

Thursday, 26 December 2019

SIlver Muse cruise, Day Three - Boxing on around Oban

With thanks to Silversea for this cruise
Today we opened the curtains onto Oban, the one and only town on Stewart Island, and home to no more than 300 souls. It was my third visit here - which is pretty good going, because far more Kiwis have been to Australia than to New Zealand's third island - so, having done all the usual things, I arranged the use of an e-bike. The Stewart Island Electric Bike Hire place was doing good business, and a bunch of us got our instruction together. 
It was all very clearly explained, and I paid attention, but once aboard my nifty bike, skimming off past the South Sea Hotel and along the shore of Half Moon Bay, I was all about the power button and completely forgot about changing gears. It comes of being a Christchurch girl - flat city, spent my childhood on a bike with no gears - but I really should get over that. It meant that when I got to the end of the tar seal, and was confronted by steep hills and loose gravel, there was a lot more skidding and struggling than there should have been, and several times I ended up ignominiously - and sweatily - pushing the bike up to the top. Nitwit.
But the scenery was lovely: little bays of golden sand streaked with black ironsand trickles, picturesquely battered old fishing boats lying on their sides, bush and gum trees full of noisy birds, cute - and also seriously impressive - baches cribs, a historic stone cottage with a wonderfully neat sheep-grazed lawn around it, and rows of colourful boatsheds lined up above still, reflective water. 
Once I'd got the hang of the shingled roads, I really enjoyed whirring along, boosting my power with the press of a button, and gliding up the hills. I took Back Road and got right away from the not-teeming throngs in Oban, saw kiwi signs but no kiwi, and reached the ends of a good number of no-exit roads. There is a total of only about 27km of road on the island, all of it in and around Oban, and I reckon I rode more than half of that. All the rest of the island is just bush, beaches, peaks and walking tracks, and it would be great to do the Rakiura Track one day. It takes 3 days, and daytime spottings of kiwi are practically guaranteed.
So, after about four hours of mostly effortless pedalling, that was Stewart Island done, again, and I headed back to the ship for today's session of Team Trivia. We had two more players in our team, but still scored only 14/20, and were unplaced. The shame! Though we were all emphatic that of course it's about fun, not winning. Questions included the river that runs through Madrid; number of dots on two dice; Che Guevara's real first name; and which fingernail grows fastest.

For dinner we went to the Grill on the pool deck for yet another delicious Hot Rocks experience, and (unlike yesterday's lobster) it didn't disappoint. Beautifully tender and flavourful, and fun to cook ourselves on the sizzling square of lava in front of our bibbed chests. It was an extra bonus that the staff were so relaxed and helpful, and didn't object at all to our request to take our glasses of port/cognac back to our cabin suite to have for dessert with the Christmas cake we'd brought from home. "We know where you live!" the waiter said with a smile.


So that was nice. And the show tonight was a pleasing tenor doing British pop, Beatles to Adele, which rounded off the day nicely.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Silver Muse cruise, Day Two - Chrimbo in limbo

With thanks to Silversea for this cruise
We spent today pootling down the east coast of the South Island, at the grand speed of 8 knots, which even total landlubbers like me will immediately recognise is pretty slow. So it's been Christmas Day in Nowheresville, the coast barely visible in the cloud that made sea and sky uniformly grey - but the sea at least was calm (there were bigger waves in the swimming pool) and it was only mildly cool. Not bad weather for this latitude.
It was pretty lively inside - Santa arrived for pressies and selfies, to loud appreciation from the surprising number of families on board (children are not usually a Silversea thing) as well as the crew. People mainly just chilled during the day, hanging out in various lounges and in their cabins suites. The busiest place on board was, as usual, the Arts Café, which is deliberately fairly small with limited seating, so it's always in demand. It was just lovely to catch up there with server Miriam from Peru, who remembers and recognises us (and *cough* my dress) from the previous two cruises we've been on together - friendly, cheerful, TINY and cute.
It was a soporific sort of day, the ship just easing from side to side with minimal - and comforting-sounding - creaking. There was napping, there was delicious deep-fried camembert at the Grill on the pool deck under a heater, and then there was Team Trivia. We fronted up with hope in our hearts, and ended up placed in a not-very-prepossessing team of just four, with one younger Californian man and an older Scottish lady. But we did pretty well: 14/20. The winners got 19/20 but they were a team of eight, so if you calculate points per player, we were well in front... Questions included: What is DCL in numbers; who starred in Monster; and where is Barajas airport?

The evening brought the ritual Venetian Society gathering, where dinner-jacketed crew, from the captain down, met to schmooze with the many repeat guests on Silversea, and to celebrate those who (rich, greedy, habituated, unimaginative, addicted - or, of course! simply discerning) had accumulated big numbers of nights on board Silversea ships. The star tonight was 1131 - pretty impressive, but somewhat short of the 5000+ night record of someone on the last Silversea cruise we did. What really struck me were the several couples who had completed 78 cruises. That's pretty mind-blowing, I reckon. (We're up to 8 cruises ourselves, by the way, with a total of around 80 nights so we've some way to go before we reach the grand total of 100, which brings the coveted reward of free laundry. Though we will never qualify for that because - sorry, it's my job - we have only actually paid for 10 nights.)

We shared our dinner table with two other Kiwi couples tonight, and had a jolly time not having to explain anything we talked about - which included the green water in school pools 50-odd years ago; earthquakes; a hairdresser in common for a couple of us (in New Zealand we do two degrees of separation); and penguins. The others had traditional roast turkey but we were again sucked into ordering Maine lobster, and straight away regretted it, because NZ crayfish is infinitely superior.

The evening concluded with opera favourites, nicely performed by the show team of six. That was no match for Explorer Dream's cast of thousands - well, 50 - but it felt perfectly fine in the intimacy of the Venetian Lounge. And that was Christmas Day 2019. No complaints.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Silver Muse cruise, Day One - Lovely little Lyttelton

With thanks to Silversea for this cruise
Car, ferry, car, road tunnel, plane, car, road tunnel, ship - the journey wasn't without incident, mainly because of the Chinese Uber driver at the end who didn't understand English, which you would have thought would be a fairly major daily handicap for him - but we got here finally. As a Mainlander, it's always good to cross Cook Strait and see the golden beaches along the top of the South Island, then the mountains with, currently, Indian snow (no? Apache here, Apache there (old joke, not mine)) and then the squiggly braids of the Kaiapoi River north of Christchurch.
The city itself looked lovely in its green, flowery, neat summer incarnation, but we swept straight through, under the Port Hills, end emerged in Lyttelton, somewhere I haven't spent any time for ages. 
So, spurning the elegant comforts of the Silver Muse, I headed straight out and up to the Timeball Station for an overview - and my goodness, it did look gorgeous today. Turquoise sea, sun-baked rocky ruined crater walls all around, and little Lyttelton's pretty wooden villas clustered around the port with its big cranes.
The 2010/11 earthquakes did some serious damage here, and the Timeball Station itself fell down over two shakes. The tower was carefully dismantled and then fairly recently reconstructed exactly as it was, which is lovely to see since it's not only of historical importance - erected in1876, one of only two purpose-built in the world - but also part of the backdrop to town life. The ball drops at 1pm, but I didn't see that. I did though see the bronze statue of Skippy, the local dog that used to come running every day when she heard the ball being wound up, to bark as it dropped. Cute.
Back down in the town, there are plenty of buildings still showing damage, but mostly it's a gently buzzing little place well supplied with coffee shops and bars, and boutiques selling the sort of quirky, arty items that are fun to look at but which I can only imagine (other) people buying. The shop owners will be looking forward to increased custom now the port is back in action and they won't be losing all those cruise ships to Akaroa any more.
On board Silver Muse, we had a personal lifeboat drill session (we alone are joining the cruise five days after it began) which surprisingly delivered new information. Did you know you should always clip the top strap. under your chin, so the crew can use it as a handle to grab you and pull you on board the lifeboat? Essential knowledge right there.

Still clutching our lifejackets, and thereby disconcerting a number of fellow passengers guests, we plonked ourselves down to eavesdrop on the Team Trivia session that was under way. We got about 12/20 ourselves, were impressed by the questions - what day was 9/11? what's a group of polar bears called? what colour hair did Christopher Columbus have? - and left hoping to infiltrate one of the teams tomorrow, with more luck than we had with the total washout team we joined on Silver Wind in August.
The Christmas decorations on the ship are lovely - very tasteful, as you would imagine - though I have to say, Explorer Dream's gingerbread houses were superior. The crew are all wearing Santa hats, and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas with apparent genuine good will; and the ones who came trooping through the bar we were in pre-dinner loudly singing Jingle Bells all seemed to be having a good time.

We joined a group table for dinner, which was long rather than round so not that great for conversation, but we still enjoyed chatting with the American bridge professionals on board (for a month, playing twice a day only on at-sea days - sounds like a pretty good gig), a couple from near Sydney and a Kiwi vet and his wife. Conversation topics: the days of the 10/6 leg of lamb; the superiority of a schnoodle to purebred schnauzers and poodles; the post-Inca Trail e.coli infection of a cruise ship (not Silversea). And the special Christmas Eve dinner (lots of Europeans on board - this is their thing, and very happy we were to share it with them) was very good - seafood bisque and then roast goose with caramelised shallots (the goose suprisingly meaty, but nice) and cherries jubilee.
In all, a very pleasant and encouraging start to this Silversea cruise which began in Auckland (not for us) and will loop around the South Island before heading over to Tasmania, Melbourne and smoke-choked Sydney. Ten days of nothing but enjoyment ahead. Merry Christmas!

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