Southern Fjords: Fjordland National Park

Fjordland National Park, New Zealand

It’s still dark on a cloudy morning when the Holland America Oosterdam enters the waters of the southern fjords of Fjordland National Park in New Zealand.  Because the passage is  narrow and dangerous it requires a special pilot to navigate the narrow passage.  He arrives in the dark of night . The ship does not stop to let him onboard.  He must board from his vessel while the ship is in motion.  He will stay on board  through Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound until we exit Dusky Sound into the open sea.  The ship quietly glides through the water.  Being up early to witness the tall tree-covered rock walls of the fjord as they surround the ship is an eerie sight, and creates a slight claustrophobic reaction.   They rise hundreds of feet above the deck.  As the morning begins to dawn,  a collective audible “Ooh” escapes from the people having breakfast on the Lido deck when they suddenly realize how close the walls of the fjord are to the ship.  Some grab their coffee and head out to the back deck only to return to the dining area after they discover the temperature is about 5ºC .  It is the fall season in this area of the world so early morning temperatures can be quite chilly.

Pilot boat
Pilot boat

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