2011 February 14 – Day 40 – Fiordland National Park Scenic Cruising

At long last we had a day with nothing to do.  Theoretically, that is.  The ship spent the day sailing into and then out of three of the sounds of Fiordland National Park which is located on the western coast of New Zealand’s South Island.  This coastline is along the notorious Tasman Sea; long known as one of the roughest bodies of water in the world.  The sea is 2,000 km (1,200 miles) across and 2,800 km (1,700 miles) from north to south.  This large expanse of open water is referred to as The Ditch by the Australians and New Zealanders.  To go ‘across the ditch’ is to go from one country to the other.

I was startled awake in the early morning by a very loud bang that reverberated up the decks.  Our cabin was on deck 3 of the passenger decks (about half-way up the ship) so we had been slammed with a pretty large wave in order for me to feel and hear it that much.  Consequently I was up and had finished breakfast as we sailed into Dusky Sound at 8 am.The weather was not too hospitable and I huddled in two jackets and a blanket to combat the strong, cold wind.  John arrived as we were leaving Dusky and we went back to the cabin to warm up as the captain set sail for Doubtful Sound.  We spent about an hour in Dusky Sound, sailed two hours to Doubtful and spent an hour there before entering Milford at 3:30.  The ship’s speed rarely rose about dead slow all day. The low, gray clouds kept rising throughout the day and by the time we entered Milford sound we were blessed with a bright blue sky and sparkling sea.  Milford is the most dramatic of the glacially-carved fiords. The average rainfall in Milford Sound is 20 feet and it is unusual to have a day without at least some rain.  We were fortunate to have one of those days; one of the best days the captain and crew had every experienced in the area.We passed many cascading waterfalls dropping hundreds of feet straight down and into the waters of the sound.

At Bowen Falls the captain rotated the ship 360° so every passenger, no matter which side of the ship they were on, would have a close-up view.

Many smaller tour boats and cruise ships will sail almost to the base of the waterfall.  If you are on an outer deck, you will get wet!

It took a bit of tricky navigating to turn the ship around for the return trip out the sound and back to the Tasman.  We had two sea days before we  arrived at Hobart, the first of two ports-of-call in Tasmania. Since it was Valentine’s Day, it was a formal night and the decorations were up in the dining room and around the ship.                                Matt and I had matching sequins.

Every night our cabin stewards decorated our bed with a folded-towel animal.  That night we had kissing swans.

This was our last formal night.  After our two days in Tasmania the ship docked in Sydney, Australia – our destination – and we disembarked.  But first….Hobart and Port Arthur.

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