So let’s go. The ship leaves today for Australia in a roundabout kinda way. Why the hell am I going back to Australia? I hear you cry. Simple really, the only ship that goes to Nauru leaves from Brisbane next month. After the P&O cruise last November, I made a few friends in Carnival, the guys who look after Princess, P&O, Costa, Cunard and all that lot in this neck of the wood, and asked them (nicely!) if they’d let me stowaway on one of their ships to Oz from NZ. To my delight (and surprise) they said yes, so long as I did some publicity for them along the way. I HEARTILY ENDORSE THIS PRODUCT AND/OR SERVICE.
As the Scarlett Lucy only goes to Nauru once a month and I had already missed the January sailing, why the hell not eh? For that matter, why not take a cruise that stops in at Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin along the way? I’m in no hurry. So long as I get to Brisbane by Feb 20 I’m quids in.
And so, in a nutshell, that’s how I managed to blag myself a free cruise. One that should have cost me thousands. Hey, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know…!
But before I was due onboard I had some old friends to catch up with. I don’t know if you remember Kerri and Andrew, but I certainly do. They were the wonderful yachtie couple that rescued me from Antigua all those years ago. Man, that was THREE YEARS AGO. THREE YEARS!! When I started this adventure I was 29. When I finish I’ll be 33. So. Frikkin. OLD!!!
Kerri and Andrew were in town for the Seafood Festival, and being a lover of all things seafood, I elected to join them for a few hours. It was great to catch up with some bona fide Odyssey Heroes (there’s a part of my website that’s WAY overdue for an update!). They left on the 3pm ferry back home, I ran to the Queen Street Backpackers, picked up my backpack and checked onto the incredibly large cruise ship just waiting for me in the port.
If you ever come to Auckland, come on a boat. Seriously, it’s walking distance to the city centre. The airport is MILES away!
And so I was allowed on board, dressed like a travelling clown, not only that but I was SPOILED. Like, seriously SPOILED. My room had champagne on ice, a free mini-bar and a bunch of flowers waiting for me. Damnit, why isn’t Mandy on board with me? The nameplate on the door said “Mr. Graham Hughes and TBC TBC Guest”. That could have been Mandy. Thinking about it, it could have been YOU.
I familiarised myself with the booze and, given my computer, old Dell Boy, had finally had the gonk, asked if I could perhaps borrow a laptop for a few hours. No problem, here you go, give it back when you leave. Seriously? Yes, seriously. And the internet? Normally charged at $2.75 a minute? Oh yeah, that’ll be free for you.
I almost burst into tears. Free cruise, free booze, free food, free internet, free laundry? Are you kidding? Life is sweet man, life is SWEET. I don’t care that I don’t own a house, a car, a telly or a coffee table. I don’t care that I’m never going to play for England or be a rock n’ roll star. I don’t care that I’ve earned less than £50,000 so far in my entire life put together. I don’t care that people have lined up to screw me over, use my unique abilities to line their greasy pockets. I don’t care that I’m never going to achieve all that I want to in life (there’s not enough time) RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW… I F—ING RULE!!
That night the ship pulled out of Auckland and I waved a fond farewell. But this would not be the last I’d see of New Zealand: the ship was due to visit Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin before I could kiss goodbye to this great southern island, country number 194 of The Odyssey Expedition. Do you know what country 36 was? Iceland. Country 131? Djibouti. Country 180? Brunei. We’re getting there, my fellow Odysseans, only SEVEN nations left now: Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles and South Sudan.
BRING IT ON!!!!!