Holland America Volendam
Auckland to Singapore cruise
February 27- March 31, 2011

Click here to see the cruise itinerary
Our first cruise day was at sea. We spent the day passing through the beautiful New Zealand coastal islands. This is White Island, an active volcano.
One third of it is above water. The central crater has eroded and steam constantly escapes from the caldera.
  Our friend Julie, from Maui, hiked with us
to the top of Mount Maunganui to overlook
our ship, the surfing beach and the city of Tauranga.
Tasmania! We could hardly believe we were here.
Like in New Zealand, we rented a car and
drove into the countryside.
  The vast expanses showed no signs of civilization.
Signs warned us and we saw some road kill,
including a wallaby (small kangaroo).
  Funny-looking, yellow-faced birds made calls that sounded like monkeys.
We headed for Cradle Mountain to see the
Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary.
  These two little guys didn't look like Devils, but we learned that their bite will crush solid bone with no effort. We reluctantly petted one and hoped it wasn't hungry.
Fall flowers decorated the roadsides.   The little town of Penguin was on
the north shore of Tasmania.
Melbourne is the capital city of the
Australian state of Victoria.
The historic buildings show their Scottish heritage.
  But the vast majority of this vibrant city is cutting-edge modern with no signs of a recession.
The Queen Victoria Market (a two block mega farmer's market) had beautiful displays of produce, beef, lamb and seafood; like these locally caught Blue Swimmer Crabs.   The Old Melbourne Gaol (pronounced Jail) was where 135 people were hanged in the 1800s. Today it is part of the University campus and students were playing rugby on the exercise grounds of the old prison.
The Sydney Opera House was
right outside our window when we woke up.
  Later in the day we walked along the quay
to see it up close..
The Royal Botanic Gardens had trees filled with hundreds of fruit bats
that looked like foxes waving their wings to keep cool.
Paddy's Market displayed Dragon Fruit
along with other foods we didn't recognize.
  Several aborigines were in the town center.
Now this says, "Australia!"   Flocks of Lorikeets filled the trees. . .
a wombat. . .   and cuddily Koalas only an arm's length away.
Hamilton Island off the Queensland coast was featured on Oprah's show when she brought her audience to this resort to stay in the Great Barrier Reef.   We enjoyed this beach and infinity pools
at Cat's Eye Beach.
In the Aboriginal village of Kuranda, we hiked through the rainforest. It had just rained and we had to wade
through the streams that were flooded.
  Back in the village, we saw several unusual examples of Aboriginal art - including bottle openers made from kangaroo paws and scrotums.
Coin purses, hats and belts were made from
the skin of Cane Frogs.
  Intricate carvings and designs were displayed in the shops.
The Skyrail gondolas carried us for 40 minutes from Kuranda down to Cairns over the rainforest floor with views of
Barron Falls, blue butterflies and tree top bromeliads.
A guide told us about the local legends, flora & fauna.   Back in Cairns we saw a guy practicing wakeboarding by being pulled on an overhead cable through a race course.
For two days we cruised through the
Great Barrier Reef and saw hundreds of
uninhabited islands and beaches.
  This is Boobie Island where in the 1800s cargo & whaling ships left their mail in a cave for passing ships to deliver. Today the cave is inhabited by a 10 ft. crocodile.
The aboriginal women in the town of Batchelor wore colorful dresses and looked like relatives
of the shaman in Crocodile Dundee.
  Giant magnetic termite mounds near Darwin
are sitting on the edge of the Outback.
The termites use spit, dirt and poo to build them
at the rate of about one yard in 10 years!
A Merten's Water Monitor sat at the edge of Buley Rockhole. This small one was about 3 feet long, but can grow to double that size.   We had a great view of the Outback from a ledge near Tolmer Falls.
On Komodo Island, Indonesia we saw 6 Komodo dragons, including a baby. We were warned not to enter the island if we had cuts, open wounds or if women were menstruating. The animals can smell blood for up to 10 miles, will attack humans when hungry, can run up to 9 miles per hour and the 10 ft. long adults weigh 250 lbs. We were happy to have guides protecting us with sticks (yes, sticks!, no guns!). The wild dragons roam freely and the 1,000 islanders have placed a fence around the single village to protect themselves and their children.
In Bali, both men and women had to wear sarongs to enter the sacred temples.   The Monkey Forest Sanctuary was a strange place and filled with wild monkeys.
As Paul sat on the temple steps,
a monkey came up to search for food he might have.
  One monkey grabbed Vicki's necklace
and tried to chew off the beads!
We were fortunate to visit the Hindu Mother Temple during the Good Luck festival that lasts 3 days.   Families came in their finest attire bringing food and offerings in baskets the women carried on their heads.
Men and women worked in the rice patties.   Fishermen checked their nets
after bringing in the morning catch.
On the island of Java, we went to the world's largest Buddhist temple - Borobudur.   It is hundreds of years older than Europe's greatest Cathedrals and still retains details in its stone carvings.
In Jakarta, our ship was greeted by two 8 foot tall
"ondel-ondel" dancing on the dock.
  We moved through the heavy traffic quickly
in our "tuk-tuk".
At the Sunda Kelapa Harbor we rode in a wooden "water taxi", piloted by a man with one paddle,
to the nearby fishing village.
We saw a man on a bamboo raft collecting
plastic trash from the water for recycling.
  At the market in Chinatown, you could buy live frogs with their legs tied or dead ones already cleaned.

The posh Café Batavia was quite a contrast
in atmosphere to other areas of Jakarta. After lunch, we tried the most expensive coffee in the world - Luwak coffee - which costs $30 per cup in New York.

  Civet cats are fed the coffee beans and when they poop out the undigested seeds,
people toast then grind the beans to make coffee.
It tasted strong, yet smooth and not bitter.