Day 35

A lazy sea day and we slept in. After a light breakfast, we were off to a 10:30 lecture by Dr. Alan Stern, a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, and author. He spoke knowledgeably on “The Promise of Commercial Suborbital Spaceflight.” Within the next couple of years, travelers will be able to go into space. Make your reservations today, they are going fast. Thousands have signed up so far, for $250,000 per person. He spoke about three companies that are leading this niche market; Virgin Galactic (by Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic), Blue Origin (by Ted Bezos of Amazon) and World View (by private investors of which the lecturer is one). He illustrated the technologies each was using; a lift plane carrying a rocket to high altitudes for launch, a rocket launch from the ground boosting a capsule into space, and a helium balloon lifting a passenger pod into space. Suborbital is defined as 130,000+ feet, well above the atmosphere, where you can see the earth’s curvature. The first two achieve a weightless experience for 4 minutes before returning to earth. The balloon ascent allows 4 hours before returning for a lower price of $70,000. All these companies are far into their programs with testing of prototypes. There was so much information provided and confidence that this is coming really soon to a spaceport near you. Be watching for it.

With our minds still spinning after all that science, we settled into the noontime Gather Together Games in the lounge. Today, answers were to be given in numbers or dates. Our team came in second winning 2 Regent points, which I quickly stored in our room safe.

Early afternoon, we entered Milford Sound, a fjord-like entry way into the steep mountain-side waterway with waterfalls cascading over the edge. The ship proceeded slowly allowing plenty of time for pictures. The passage lasted 4 hours, and the weather did not fully cooperate. We entered under low clouds and rain. The rain remained intermittent and the clouds rose to the peaks but I still got photos of everything.

Regent offered a special dinner for the world cruisers with the staff and captain mingling with us. The menu was special. We were in tonight’s group. Half of us were in last nights group because the Veranda restaurant couldn’t hold all 192 of us. We were at a table with Shirley and Harris, who we have come to know quite well, and got to meet Kris and Skip, a daughter, father team from California and Wisconsin. Shirley and Harris had just returned from an overland tour through the mountains of New Zealand and into the fjords. We picked up this group of 15 at about 5PM. They said they had a great time.

After this wonderful dinner of red snapper or lamb, we went to tonight’s performance- Nick Nicholas, a comedian and magician. He was very funny and did some amazing tricks.

We turn our clocks back an hour tonight, so we will be 17 hours ahead of our family and friends.

We have two sea days (almost 1,000 nautical miles) to get to Sydney, Australia.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac