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Standing Ovation from the Land Down Under - New Zealand 11 Nights Feb. 2, 2020


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Ovation of the Seas, 11 Nights departing from Sydney Australia to New Zealand For many years I avoided Alaska cruises on the premise that bikinis are better than parkas.  Then I finally did an Al

Cruise Summary This cruise was a pretty fantastic experience overall.  New Zealand is pretty amazing and every port was very welcoming.   Sydney was a great city to start from.   A couple of

As the sun was setting we sailed past the White Island Volcano.  The tragedy that occurred on December 9, 2019 resonates with me because I was originally booked on that excursion for this day. Ou

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Over on this side of Circular Quay I was able to see the bridge from another angle.

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I saw some little ants climbing the bridge.

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By this time it's close to noon and getting hotter.  Amazing views from up there and a glorious day to take it all in but it's gotta be hot, hot, hot in those jumpsuits.

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I wanted to catch up on some sleep so I could venture out tonight to take some night pictures.  After a few hours of sleep my stomach woke me up asking to be fed.

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The area right behind my hotel had some street vendors set up.

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This BBQ was appealing.

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Emu on the left and Kangaroo on the right.  Very good.

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The pizza vendor had some nice options so I opted for a Supreme pizza to take back to my room.  

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Grabbing a Victoria Bitter beer at the hotel lobby bar made for a complete dinner experience.

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I always enjoy exploring a city at night and taking a few pictures after dark.

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I loved seeing the exposed beams within this old building.  Located right across from the Overseas Passenger Terminal I imagine this used to be an important building in shipping commerce back in the day.

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With the HAL ship departed the pier was opened to the public.

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Near the Circular Quay train station is a street car station.

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Some of these street cars are surprisingly long.  

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Circular Quay is also the hub of a lot of ferry traffic.

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The Rooster:

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The venues near the Sydney Opera House were surprisingly busy.

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Walking out to the end of the Opera House yields a nearly side on view of the bridge.

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With that it was getting late and time to head back towards my hotel.

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I wanted to get some sleep so I could be out on the bridge hoping for another brilliant sunrise and the arrival of Ovation early in the morning.

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Day 1

IT'S CRUISE DAY!!!

But first, I need a ship... and some breakfast.

I had been watching the weather forecast and it didn't look as promising as my time in Sydney has been up to this point.  The morning looked okay but with increased cloud cover.  Possibly some rain later in the day.

My internal body clock is still mostly on eastern time so I didn't need an alarm to wake up earlier than I needed to.  Might as well head out...

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When it's o-dark hundred and you're hungry in The Rocks, there's always Pancakes on the Rocks.  It's open 24 hours.

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This is the quick menu, the full menu is much bigger.

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Time for an Aussie Sunrise.

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Now I can waddle up the hill to the bridge and wait for another Aussie sunrise.

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Looking back towards my breakfast venue and hotel in the distance.

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Looking down the street towards the cruise terminal in the far distance.

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A short walk in the other direction leads to this staircase.  It's early but other than some security here and there it's just me other than that shady character in the bottom left of this picture.

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Up the stairs and over to the next staircase where the bridge stairs are found across the road.  Did I mention I exceeded my stair count on this cruise and it's only day 1 of the cruise?  Pro tip:  Bring comfortable walking shoes.

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Looking back towards my hotel and the city behind it.

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That teenie weenie character through the pylon is security so it seems to be safe even at this early hour.

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Well lit walkway across the bridge even at night.

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A hint of sunrise starting to appear in the sky.

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Looking promising but not quite the same as the morning before.  

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That's when I realized that faint scent was becoming stronger.  I couldn't place it before, now it's unmistakably the smell of bushfire in the air.

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Soon enough I spotted a ship coming into view.

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I was hoping for a repeat of yesterday's sunrise but given the circumstances this will do just fine.

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While not as stunning as the sunrise yesterday, this will do.

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Security walking the bridge.

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My ship has arrived.  Phew.  The cruise can commence.

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Distinct haze in the air today that wasn't present yesterday or the day before.

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That haze isn't clouds or smog.  It's that smokey.

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You can't see it in this picture as well as you can see it live but there is a haze in the air and the distinct smell of bushfires that grew stronger as the morning came to life.

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The time in my last picture coming off the bridge was 6:28am so I have lots of time.  My plan was to walk back to my hotel, finish packing, go through these pictures and post some pictures from previous days and get ready to check out.  

I had my complimentary Pylon Climb ticket that came with the Bridge Climb so I thought I'd drop my bags at the port then walk back up the bridge once again and check out the Pylon Climb around 10am when it opened.  

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After dropping my luggage around 9:45am I headed back to the bridge!

This time with my backpack full of my camera gear again and I immediately noticed the albatross around my neck on the hike up.   I had a free pass to the Pylon Climb and time to kill before boarding so... 

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The Pylon Lookout is found on the first Pylon walking up the bridge from Sydney.  It opens 10am to 5pm and normally costs $19 AUD for adults.

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More stairs, a total of 200 to reach the top.  No lift. 

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Part of the way up the stairs get wider.

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More bridge climbers.

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Some views from the top of the pylon:

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Granted today is a little hazy so with better conditions the views would be even better. 

There is a small gift shop and some displays that provide facts about the bridge.   There is also a small theater running a video on a loop that talks to the construction and history of the bridge. 

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Back down walking off the bridge for the last time:

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Once down off the bridge and walking towards the ship on surface streets you can see the lower support sections where the bridge climbers begins the trek towards the arch.

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Back down to the ship I could see boarding was beginning.   

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The cruise terminal has no waiting area inside so appointment times are strictly enforced.  Once the ship is ready to board they’ll open the doors and start looking for early appointment times.

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With the new expedited arrival feature boarding is pretty quick and pretty much a non-stop flow through check in, Australian immigration and finally security.

To give you an idea how my timing went this morning, this next picture was at 10:15am as I walked towards the Pylon to start my climb.

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This next picture was at 11:41am after I had cleared security and was on the gangway about to walk on the ship.

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And with that the cruise can finally begin!

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Cabin tour

Standard balcony cabin, port side, deck 9.

I've come to really appreciate the Quantum class balcony cabins.  Plenty of storage and great bathroom layout.  These are probably my favorite standard balcony cabins across the fleet.

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The TV hinges outward for viewing from the sofa.

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Desk power includes two 110v North American outlets, 2 USB outlets and a 220v Euro power port.

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Bedside there is one 110v North American outlet.

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It's not every day your balcony view has the Sydney Opera House perfectly framed.

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I waited until we were at sea to take some balcony photos.

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The view down:

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This cabin is aft of the midship elevators on the indented sections.  The view forward:

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The view aft.

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Not bad at all.

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