2019 World Cruise - Days 42 thru 50

Day 42, Wednesday 02.13.19 - At Sea 

I woke up around 7am & began working on the blog, while Shelly slept in. 
A few days ago, she developed an infection in her leg (inner thigh). We suspect it was while where at the motu in Huahine. At 10:30am, when she woke up, it looked like it was getting worse, so I urged her to go to the ship doctor and see what they can do.  The doctor on board did not like what she saw and contacted Princess' main doctors to see what the next course of action was.  They decided it was best that my wife get immediate medical attention at the closest hospital.  They contacted the coast guard and made arrangements for her to be taken to the nearest hospital.  The captain made an announcement that the ship was going to have to slow down so we could make an emergency disembarkation.  At first, we were told that there would be an evac chopper to take her to the nearest port., but I would have to stay on the ship until the next port.  I was instructed to pack her an over night bag with any necessary medications and items. I left her in the clinic so I could go back to our cabin & pack her a small overnight bag. I was so upset not knowing what was going to happen and how I could not be with her.  The doctor and nurses were great about checking in and letting us know what was being discussed.  The coast guard and ship crew were trying to decide if it was better to use a boat or the helicopter.  This went back and forth several times and not until the last minute did we learn it was a boat.  I was told I can only go so far with her to the plank? due to security reasons and the boat would only have room for her.  The captain made several announcements, so when the coast guard arrived many passengers were out on the deck watching.

Around 6:30pm, they loaded my wife into a boat & whisked her away. This was one of the hardest things I have experienced. In the nearly 6 years that we have been married, there has been only one night that we have been apart. I am fighting back tears now, thinking about how much this woman means to me. In two days I am supposed to meet up with her somehow in either Dunedin, Napier, or Hastings New Zealand.  I didn't know what to do next or how to handle it.  I know I am so thankful we bought the additional insurance, because they were super helpful throughout this whole experience.  
My wife took her cell phone with her, but didn't have a New Zealand charging plug, but luckily the kind nurses at the hospital were able to find her one. She kept in contact with me via texts as things progressed.  

I went back to the cabin to clear my head, change clothes, & put on a brave face to go give the news to my new friends/tablemates at 7:45pm MDR Dinner.

I had…
Mussels - these were very hard to open. Once I was able to get inside, there was some savory morsels to be found.
Today's Only Special Appetizer from Executive Chef Giuseppe
Fresh New Zealand Green Lip Mussels

Crabmeat app - this was refreshingly sweet.
Crabmeat, Apple and Melon Ball Cocktail
dressed with citrus juice, chives and lemon confit

Surf & Turf - The steak was awesome. Cooked to a perfect medium rare. I wish they had given me a bigger piece. The lobster & veggies were great as well.
Surf & Turf
beef filet mignon and jumbo shrimp with jus reduction, Bearnaise sauce, string beans, gratinated fennel and chateau potatoes

Sorbet - off menu item. Our waiter said that they bought some prepackaged because of all the complaints about the sorbet machine being broken since the first day of the cruise.
Mango Sorbet

I heard from my wife that they took her to surgery almost immediately.  The surgeon and anesthesiologist the hospital used had to be called in, meanwhile, the operating room was being set up.  She says all of the staff at the Gisborne Hospital in Poverty Bay were exceptional and felt she was in good hands.  
She woke up after the surgery and was told they got all of the infection out.  She was told she had necrotizing fasciitis, aka flesh eating bacteria; if not caught soon enough most people die from this.  She was not out of the woods yet as her body was in shock, kidneys were failing, blood pressure was all over the place, she was definitely scared and I was on a ship far away from her.  I really feel the hospital staff took excellent care of her and did everything to keep her calm and focused on healing.  

Day 43, Thursday 02.14.19 - At Sea 
I woke up & began working on the blog (day 5) while trying to pack our bags.

At around 11:45am, I ordered lunch from room service. 
A bacon cheeseburger + pickles with crispy french fries, honey mustard & ketchup. Somehow, they misunderstood my requests & sent me 3 burgers & fries + yellow mustard (that I never asked for) Sadly, none of the fries were crispy. I have noticed that in the MDR, they use a pretzel bun, while at the BBQ or Room Service, it’s just a standard hamburger bun. Also, in the MDR, the burgers are always served with red onions. Today’s burger had white onions. 
bacon cheeseburger w/ pickles with crispy french fries, honey mustard & ketchup + yellow mustard

After lunch, I went down to the front desk to return Shelly’s ukulele & see what else I needed to do in order to disembark tomorrow. I spent the rest of the afternoon packing before meeting The FamDamily for dinner upstairs at the Bistro. 

Shelly contacted me several times to let me know she was doing better and health wise she was improving.  She was in ICU, but they were talking in a couple days she would be moved to a regular floor.  This eased a lot of more worries, but I still missed her deeply and time seemed to go so slow.  At least I had the FamDamily for support and caring.  I don't know how I could have gone through this time without them.  They encouraged me to keep coming to dinner and to hang out with them.

Tonight I had…
 spring rolls - a little greasy but surprisingly good. I really liked the sauce.
Crispy Vegetarian Spring Rolls
presented with Asian honey-soy dip spiced with sesame and mustard

Lasagna - what’s with the tiny “trial size” portions? This was a damn good, meaty lasagna. I ordered two of them
Lasagne al Forno alla Bolognese
homemade fresh pasta layered with savory meat and béchamel sauce, topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese

Panna Cotta - thick, creamy dessert, that I could not finish. 
Panna Cotta
custard cream in a swath of caramel sauce and whipped cream curls

A cruise is not the same without your love.  I was told by the cruise ship I would be getting off in Dunedin, but since there were no connecting flights to Gisborne, then I would have to stay one night.  The insurance helped me find a hotel and scheduled my flights.

Day 44, Friday 02.15.19 - Dunedin, New Zealand
Details from the Princess Cruise Lines:

Day 26 - 15, February 2019

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Arrival: 8:00 AM

All Aboard: 5:30 PM

Dunedin (Port Chalmers)
Perched on the hills above one of New Zealand's loveliest harbors, Dunedin is a Kiwi city with a Scottish heart. Hailed as the "Edinburgh of New Zealand," Dunedin is proud of its heritage. A statue of famed Scottish poet Robert Burns graces downtown, and the presence of New Zealand's only kilt maker and whisky distillery - as well as many bagpipe bands - keep Dunedin's ties to Scotland alive. The city also boasts a distinguished architectural and cultural history, a legacy of New Zealand's 1860s gold rush.

Port Chalmers, gateway to Dunedin, is located eight miles from the city center. Dunedin is a planned city: its streets and suburbs fan out from the city's octagon.

Travel tip: Dunedin is pronounced "Dunn-knee-din"

At 8am I met Princess Rep, Yuliya in the steakhouse in order to clear customs. Sadly I had to give up our jar of honey, as it’s not allowed to be brought into NZ. Afterwards, I walked around deck 10 & took pictures

Then it was back to the room to take more pictures from our balcony & hang out until lunch.

Before I went to the buffet, I took more pictures of the library. It was easy to get a bunch of shots, while the room was empty due to most of the passengers being ashore.

Nothing on the buffet looked good so I settled on a few slices of pizza & French fries from room service. 

The rest of the afternoon I chatted with Shelly via FB messenger until it was time to head to the hotel.

 She informed me they had moved her to a regular room, but the hospital has no a/c and this time of year the temperature is in the 90's.
They were able to get her a fan and propped open a window.  Still, she hates the heat and this was not fun recovering and being hot and sweaty the whole time.  She was able to have a room by herself and the staff checked on her frequently.

2:30pm: I went down to be escorted off the ship. Luckily I ran into Gail & Carl, who sat with me while I waited on a taxi. 

4pm arrived at Distinction Hotel Dunedin 

Lucy at the front desk was a big help in scheduling me a ride to the airport. There is a standard 30 minute pick up window. I'm scheduled for 4:30am - 5am & it will cost $30nz. At the time I checked in, there was no bellhop, so I loaded my own bags on a buggy & pushed them up to the room. I actually like this better, as it meant I did not have to tip anyone. OH MY GOODNESS, this place is amazing! There is a washer & dryer in the bathroom. So I immediately began on laundry once I got into the room. 

After I started laundry I began to set up my laptop & noticed that my U.S. plugs would not work here. Allen at the front desk, loaned me an adapter. 

7:45pm Room Service Dinner:
I ordered a big ‘ol burger that was mighty delicious. A huge patty topped with all the fixins & sandwiched between two toasted buns. The fries were better on the ship though.
Angus Beef Burger
Quarter pounder pure Angus beef grilled, topped with cheddar cheese, gherkin tomato relish, served with fries & salad garnish

Day 45, Saturday 02.16.19 - Gisborne, New Zealand

I woke up at 3:30am to make sure I had everything ready to head to the airport for my morning flight, that has a 70 minute layover.
NZ680 16 FEB Departing 6:25am Dunedin & arriving in Wellington 7:40am
NZ8282 16 FEB Departing 8:50am Wellington & arriving in Gisborne 10:05am

Emerald Hotel Gisborne

I arrived at the hotel around 10:30am, check in is not until 2pm, but my room was ready so they let me in early. Upon walking into the room, I was hit in the face with the extreme heat. I set the a/c to “arctic” & grabbed a taxi to meet Shelly at the hospital. 

Gisborne Hospital AKA Hauora Tairāwhiti
Shelly was first admitted here into the ICU on 02.13.19
Now she is in Ward 8, room 8-19. While the staff is extremely supportive & friendly, I am a little bummed about there being no air conditioning or WiFi in her room, but delighted that she has such great care. The hospital is located in an area called Poverty Bay.  One nurse, Queenie, was especially friendly and helpful. She kept our spirits up and shared some local food with us. The staff told us that they actually held a successful fundraiser in order to purchase an A/C unit, but accounting figured out that they would not be able to afford the expense of maintaining it, so the funds were redirected. 

I spent the rest of the day with my wife and so fortunate to be with her again. 

Day 46, Sunday 02.17.19 - Gisborne, NZ

I woke up around 6am, took a shower, then ordered breakfast from room serviceI forgot to tell them I wanted scrambled eggs. What came was 2 perfectly poached eggs with nice runny yolk to dip my toast in. Sometimes accidents can be a great thing. The menu lists the bacon as crispy but sadly this was not. Tomorrow I will need to remember to tell them extra, EXTRA crispy. 
Bacon, pork sausages, grilled tomato, creamy mushrooms, hash browns, toasted bread & eggs your way

I took another $20 taxi ride to the hospital to visit Shelly. I’m so happy that she is doing better. 
After visiting with her for a few hours, I went downstairs to the Flavours Cafe.
I had macaroni carbonara, salad with balsamic vinegar, and a chicken & mushroom pot pie. 

I also bought a ham sandwich & several bags of chips to snack on later.

Later on one of the nurses told us that Shelly made the local newspaper, The Gisborne HeraldI paid $5 for a seven day online subscription so that I could find the article.

In a small personal victory, I was able to tether my laptop to my phone & access the internet via 4g. 

Day 47, Monday 02.18.19 - Gisborne, NZ

I woke up around 7am, took a shower, then ordered breakfast from room service. Once again the bacon was not crispy. I made sure to say EXTRA crispy when I called in my order. Oh well. 
At the hospital, there are no protien options, so I would order am extra plate of sausage & bacon to smuggle into my wife.
Bacon, pork sausages, grilled tomato, creamy mushrooms, hash browns, toasted bread & eggs your way

Another $20 cab ride to the hospital. Tonight will be my last night at the hotel, as they are booked up. So I brought two of my bags with me. 

Today they told us that Shelly would probably be here for another 6-8 days. Also, they began using a wound vac, suction machine on her to treat the wound. This has to be used at least 3 days, emptied, then maybe another 3 days. She was encouraged to walk around the hospital and get out of her room for awhile.  Since I did not have a hotel room, the hospital has family rooms available and they gave me a key to one of the rooms if I chose to stay in there.  I opted to stay in the room with my wife & they brought me a big recliner and some sheets.  Also, they were able to fit me onto the food service schedule, but it was typical hospital food. Nothing really worth picturing here. If you really want to see the pics, I have put them all hereThen one of Shelly’s nurses, Queenie, surprised us with a couple of meat pies. The first one (beef & cheese) was in a plastic package like you would find in a grocery store freezer section.

 The other (mince meat) was in a paper bag & I was told that it came from a local bakery. 

Both were great. I liked the crust from the bakery & the filling from the store brand. I’m going to offer her some local cash & see if she will bring more.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sweating & working on the blog. Late that evening, I went back to the hotel for the last time.

Day 48, Tuesday 02.19.19 - Gisborne, NZ

I ordered breakfast again from Nick’s Bistro inside the hotel. I had the NICK’S GRILL, one last time. Once again, they barely cooked the bacon.
Bacon, pork sausages, grilled tomato, creamy mushrooms, hash browns, toasted bread & eggs your way

I packed my last 2 bags, checked out of the hotel & took another $25 taxi to be with Shelly in the HOT Hospital. 

Our favorite nurse, Queenie, surprised us last night with McDonald’s & ribs from a local restaurant. The day before we had asked if there were any differences between the McDonald's in NZ & the U.S. I guess she misunderstood & thought we were homesick for a burger from the clown. 
She then refused to take any money from us.


Day 49, Wednesday 02.20.19 - Gisborne, NZ
This would have been another sea day. Also we missed the 11am meet & greet at the Steakhouse. Instead we sat around in the heat waiting for the ship’s doctor to decide if she will accept Shelly back on board as the hospital cleared her safe for travel. At around 10:30am, we lost power to one wall in her room. This resulted in losing 2 fans, the tv & power to my laptop. The nurses told us that it was due to a maintenance issue that should only last for 1.5 hours. At 11:18am, all the power came back on. We still have no AC.

After lunch, we went walking around downstairs. On the way back, we ran into Shelly’s doctor who said she had some news for us. She met us back in her room & explained that the ship’s doctor would NOT be allowing us to rejoin the cruise. So begins the struggle of getting back home…..

The doctors said that it would be ok for Shelly to leave the hospital to go out to eat or just see the town. We debated on whether we really wanted to go. It was miserably hot & when dinner was delivered, it sealed the deal. The food here is just awful. So we elected to eat at Portofino Restaurant GISBORNE

We shared a plate of burrata - this is shipped direct from Italy.  This is so decadent with a mild flavor.  The peaches with it added a sweet tang.
italian milky burrata cheese, orange segment, grissini & rocket

I had the costolette di agnello -  These were some of the best lamb chops I have ever had. Thick cut, moist & full of flavor. The jus was divine. I usually I like my chops with a little bit of char on them, but these were perfect.
filetto al pepe
grilled genuine angus eye fillet steak with a pepper, mustard beef jus, served with kumara, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms & potatoes

Shelly had the filetto al pepe - Wow!  I am not sure if it was so long since I had a great steak, but this was divine!  The filet was a lean tender mignon with deep flavors enhanced by the peppercorn sauce.  The meat practically melted in my mouth and the sauce gave an excellent spice note.  The vegetables served with it were soft and scrumptious.  
costolette di agnello
grilled lamb cutlets, kumara, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes & red wine thyme jus

Also we both had our own insalata mista - we thought this would be a side dish. This was big enough, that it could have been an entree or we could have shared one of these.  A terrific spring mix salad with a light tangy dressing.
insalata mista
mixed seasonal salad (mixed greens, cucumber, carrots, tomato & olives)

The insurance company called us and informed they found flights to get us home the next day.  We would need to take a taxi to another town as there were no flights directly out of Gisborne.  So I called the taxi service I had been using to setup the 4 hour drive to Tauranga. We were both so happy to be leaving and getting home, even though we would miss most of our world cruise.  My wife was alive and that is what matters most.

Day 50, Thursday 02.21.19 - Gisborne, New Zealand

We were able to get a flight home today. The journey to get there is something crazy....
9:30am Gisborne Taxi Service picks us up. We have a 4 hr ride to Tauranga Airport, then roughly a 1 hr flight to Auckland, then 12-14hr flight to Los Angeles....THEN another 4 hr flight home to Houston. 

Gas station snacks

Gas station snacks

We arrived at the Tauranga Airport at around 1:30pm. We then spent 45 minutes waiting on the cab driver while he fought with his credit card reader. 

He never could get it to work so we paid him $660USD cash. Then we had to repack all of our luggage to keep them all at least 23kg each. Luckily the ship had given us 2 pretty nice souvenir bags, so we were able to use those to redistribute the weight. The airport at Tauranga is so small. There are only 2 terminals, you walk out on to the tarmac & go up the stairs into the plane.  This first plane was like a greyhound bus so small and tight.  The stewardess handed out water and nuts.  The actual flying time was only 15 minutes.

Once in Auckland we were able to have someone help us as my wife needed to be in a wheelchair.  They met us at the tarmac and took us to the lounge area.  Since we bought our flights through PrincessAir from Houston to Fort Lauderdale flew first class, so the insurance put us in first class for all our flights home.  This was amazing!  I have never flown first class international and it is something to behold.  First, you get to have a special lounge area to wait for your flight.  This lounge had a full spread of food and drinks.  My wife loved the coffee barista, she missed her delicious cafe lattes since the ship.  We were able to eat lunch, relax, and they had private showers & dressing rooms where we could change her bandage.

We bought a bag of burger rings snacks at Auckland Airport.

The Auckland to LA flight was wonderful.  Each seat in first class folds out into a bed, you have a private tv to watch movies, tv shows, music, or play games.  Also, they give you a fold out menu with selections for dinner. In all the hustle & headaches of trying to get home, I neglected to get any pictures of the menu. I did get a few of the pretty damn good burger I had. 

As well as Shelly's delicious duck dish.

The service is great and they keep the drinks coming.  I opted to sleep in my chair, but my wife had them set her bed up and took a nice nap.  They give you a toiletry bag with socks, eye mask, toothbrush and paste, and a few other goodies that come in handy on such a long flight.  

Once in Los Angeles we had to go through immigration and then catch our next flight.  All the airports in New Zealand are so clean and everyone was so helpful and friendly.  Back in LA there is disgustingly dirty bathrooms and rude staff.  I was so ready to be home.  The rest of the trip home was pretty mundane and we were happy to finally be home.  
From the time we left the hospital until we arrived home was 36 hours, but still Thursday, a very long Thursday.
We needed to go to the emergency room to have her wound bandage changed.
Once back in the states we were able to get her scheduled with a surgeon to oversea her healing for the next couple months.  Other than having to haggle with insurance and issues with them the care she received was good.  She is totally healed now and healed a lot faster than the surgeon thought she would.  She really focused on eating healthy and doing everything she could to heal well.
While she was in New Zealand the doctors were so caring and have amazing bedside manners, one of them sat with her and really conversed with her health and what she could do to better herself.  Having a brush with death really brings a whole new prospective to life and wanting to live it to the best that we can.  If you have read my other blogs you have noticed that we have cut out most carbs and eating a lot more greens and vegetables and healthy proteins.  This has helped so much and hopefully we will have an opportunity to do another World Cruise in our future.
Thank you for reading and sharing this experience with us.

A few shots of our new cruise buddies:
Betty & Steve

Gail & Carl

Donna & Jim

The Whole FamDamily

My Shelly & I


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