Crossing the International Date Line

Entering the Domain of the Dragon

Crossing the International Date Line – Where did the day go?

Crossing the International Date Line, or IDL is one of the significant milestones of our trip.  We have already transited the Panama Canal, crossed the equator, and changed our status from Polywogs to Shellbacks with a pool plunge and a shot of aquavit.  However, crossing the International Date Line contributed to a state of profound confusion for those of us who had never done it before.

IDL Confusion:

All during this trip, we have had to adjust our clocks, watches, phones, and other electronics back one hour every few days.  We were 6 hours earlier than EST.  On the calendar itineraries on our TV screens, we had five days at sea on Monday, January 29th, and it said crossing the International Dateline.  So many interpreted that as a sixth sea day to New Zealand.  Sunday evening, our cruise director reminded us that we would be crossing the IDL the next day and would lose a day.  So, we went to bed on Sunday and woke up on Tuesday. Well, not quite; we had to have the official ceremony first.  Poof, there went a day.  We are now 18 hours ahead of EST.  Huh?  But if you make calls to the U.S.,  we are still six hours different when scheduling appointments – just an extra day.  It’s confusing and weird until you get used to it and embrace the change.

Crossing The International Date Line Celebration:

Almost everything is a cause for a celebration on a Viking Cruise ship.  We had an equator party when we crossed the equator with the “Polywog” to “Shellback” initiation.  So, too, we had a fantastic party when we entered the Domain of the Dragon, where a day magically disappeared as we jumped over the IDL.  No expense was spared.

Our chefs receiving accolades for the amazing brunch aboard the Viking NeptuneAll the chefs and their teams worked hard to outdo each other and set the entire open-air pool deck up with bountiful and beautiful bowls of delicious food and drink.  The bar had the hundreds of specialty drinks of Bloody Mary’s and Mamosa’s waiting for us upon arrival.  They also stocked fresh hollowed coconut shells for celebratory pina colodas for our noon celebration.

Among the fantastic food offerings included:

  • Seafood table starring fresh oysters, shrimp, crab claws, and a fresh mixed seafood salad served on coconutSeafood Galore - International Date Line Crossing shell wedges.
  • Fresh whole suckling pig roasted to perfection
  • The Italian table served tagliatelle spaghetti with either Carbonaro or marinara sauces with fresh parmesan cheese, served out of the cheese wheel.
  • Table of cheese and cold cuts with a giant pan of sliced mozzarella and tomatoes with herbs and balsamic vinegar
  • Giant 12’ long sub sandwiches sliced into individual portions
  • an extensive display of bread, bread sticks, rolls, croissants, and donuts from the pastry team
  • Meat sliders, wings, and other delights from the grill team
  • Fresh fruit cut into beautiful ornamental flowers with melons, pineapple, grapes, and melon
  • And, of course, incredible desserts of every type, from tiny beignets to cakes, pies, and cookies.

There was much more, but I can’t remember it all.  Some were laughing; others were tearful and thankful to be part of this fantastic voyage.  There was much merriment around the deck as we made new friends, took pictures, and laughed a lot!

During this four-hour feast, every musician and singer on the ship, including the guest performers, took turns playing, performing, and having fun with us and each other.  This included the Two Tenors,  Pryor & Kidd, a wonder violinist and composer Roy Theaker, who joined with one of our pianists and all the Viking show singers.  It was a fitting party for many of us who had no clue what day it was.

Official Domain for the Dragon Ceremony

Entering the Domain of the Dragon while crossing the International Date Line

Along came Aoibhin, our cruise director, to guide our passage over the International Date Line.  Just before noon, she took the microphone, safely guided us across the IDL, and awarded us the mystical Domain of the Dragon award with a ceremonial talk, a toast, and a quick jump as we crossed this mysterious 180-degree parallel line in the middle of the South Pacific. Poof, there went a day.  We are now 18 hours ahead of EST.  Huh?  But if in making calls to the U.S. EST,  we are still six hours different when scheduling appointments – just an extra day.  So confusing until you embrace the change and get used to the concept.

Domain of the DragonThe crew, in their fantastic efficiency, big smiles, and friendly service, set up, worked throughout the day rushing to clear plates and drinks, and provided excellent service.  After the party, they quickly broke down all the displays and tables and restored the area to a luxury resort pool area in short order.  They were back again in the restaurants and bars with smiling faces and quick service as dinner was served.  Yes, we did gluttonously have dinner a few hours after the party.  After all, crossing the International Date Line also works up an appetite and need for liquid libations.  Skol!!!

Next stop:  Bay of Islands, New Zealand, which has a sub-tropical climate, lush green countryside, and fabulous diving opportunities, which is what I will be doing while Bob stays landside and checks out the highlights.

 

Our Next Stop is New Zealand, where we will spend a week exploring their beautiful country!

New Zealand: A Tapestry of History, Geography, and Culture

History:

Maori Settlement and European Exploration: New Zealand’s rich history is woven with the threads of Maori and European cultures. The Polynesian ancestors of the Maori people arrived in New Zealand around 1250-1300 AD, navigating the vast Pacific Ocean in waka (canoes). With their distinct language and customs, these early settlers established a unique society deeply connected to the land.

European exploration began in the 17th century when Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sighted the islands in 1642. However, in the late 18th century, sustained European contact occurred, primarily with the arrival of British explorer James Cook. Both cooperation and conflict marked the ensuing interactions between the Maori and Europeans.

Colonization and Treaty of Waitangi: The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 between the British Crown and Maori chiefs was a pivotal moment in New Zealand’s history. The treaty aimed to establish a legal framework for coexistence, but its interpretation led to disputes and land conflicts. In the ensuing decades, we have witnessed the rapid influx of European settlers, transforming New Zealand into a British colony.

Wars and Nationhood: The mid-19th century also saw the New Zealand Wars, a series of conflicts between the colonial government and Maori tribes. Despite the tensions, a sense of nationhood gradually emerged. New Zealand became a self-governing colony in 1853 and gained dominion status within the British Empire in 1907.

World Wars and Identity: New Zealand’s identity continued to evolve through the 20th century, significantly contributing to World War I and II. The ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) legacy from Gallipoli in World War I remains a symbol of national pride and sacrifice.

Modern Era and Treaty Settlements: The latter half of the 20th century witnessed social and cultural transformations, including recognizing Maori rights. Established in 1975, the Waitangi Tribunal addresses historical grievances, facilitating the settlement of longstanding land and resource disputes.

Geography:

Stunning Landscapes: New Zealand’s geography is a tapestry of breathtaking landscapes, from towering mountains to pristine beaches. The country consists of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, and numerous smaller islands. The Southern Alps, stretching across the South Island, include Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak.

Volcanic Activity: Geological activity shapes much of New Zealand’s scenery. The Taupo Volcanic Zone in the North Island hosts geysers, hot springs, and the iconic Lake Taupo, a caldera formed by a massive volcanic eruption over 26,000 years ago. Rotorua, another geothermal hotspot, showcases Maori cultural sites alongside bubbling mud pools and geysers.

Fiords and Coastlines: The South Island is renowned for its fiords, particularly Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, carved by ancient glaciers. The coastal areas are dotted with picturesque bays, harbors, and golden beaches, contributing to New Zealand’s reputation as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Unique Fauna and Flora: Isolated for millions of years, New Zealand developed a distinct array of flora and fauna. Notable examples include the flightless kiwi bird, the national symbol, and the ancient kauri trees. The country’s commitment to conservation is evident in efforts to protect endemic species and pristine natural habitats.

Culture:

Maori Heritage: The Maori culture, with its intricate carvings, traditional haka performances, and symbolic tattoos (ta moko), is an integral part of New Zealand’s identity. Marae, communal meeting grounds, are focal points for social and cultural gatherings. The Maori language, Te Reo, holds official status alongside English.

Kiwi Identity: New Zealanders, often called Kiwis, embrace a laid-back and friendly demeanor. The country’s isolation has fostered a strong sense of self-reliance and innovation. Outdoor activities like rugby, hiking (tramping), and water sports are deeply ingrained in the Kiwi lifestyle.

Cinematic Impact: New Zealand gained global recognition as the filming location for Sir Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, showcasing the country’s diverse landscapes. This cinematic success has had a lasting impact on tourism, drawing visitors eager to explore the enchanting settings of Middle-earth.

Culinary Fusion: New Zealand’s culinary scene reflects a fusion of Maori, European, Asian, and Pacific influences. Seafood, lamb, and unique flora like the native kawakawa and horopito spices feature prominently. The country’s wine industry has gained international acclaim, particularly Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.

Environmental Consciousness: Environmental sustainability and conservation are woven into the fabric of New Zealand’s culture. The “clean and green” ethos permeates society with initiatives to protect natural resources, promote eco-friendly practices, and address climate change concerns.

In Summary:

With its vibrant history, captivating geography, and diverse culture, New Zealand stands as a unique tapestry in the global landscape. From the early Maori settlers to the modern Kiwi identity, the nation has navigated challenges and embraced its distinctive blend of influences. With stunning landscapes, a rich cultural heritage, and a commitment to environmental stewardship, New Zealand continues to captivate the world as a symbol of resilience, diversity, and natural beauty.