A Travellerspoint blog

Rainy Day off Airley Beach

Friday, 21 March 2014


View 2014-03 Singapore on greynomadm's travel map.

The day started off wet and stayed that way all day. We decided against going ashore and after breakfast spent some time in the Tahitian Lounge reading and watching the rain dripping down the windows. We went off to the Buffet for a hot drink and struck up a conversation with a lady in some form of uniform. Turns out she's the representative for the local Port Agent responsible for the coordination between the local authorities and the ship's staff. We have seen the small entry in the daily Patter that provides contact details for problems while ashore, she's the other end of that communications link. She spends the day aboard the ship and deals with any problems that may arise. A most interesting hour and a great insight to an aspect of the industry we were unaware of.

Spent most of the day curled up with our Kindles there being very few photo opportunities and no on-board activities as it is a 'port day'. There was a brief break in the rain late in the afternoon and I took some photos of the catamarans that provided the tender service for those hardy souls that went ashore. These 'cats' can carry about 200 people in air conditioned comfort but appeared to have less than 50 each trip I witnessed.

We decided to try the 'Elite and Suite' special Cocktails and Hors d' Oeuvres offering before dinner. The Hors d' Oeuvres were enjoyable and we didn't bother with the cocktails. We may not do that again.

A great dinner and Martin, our waiter, twisted my arm to try a desert comprising a chocolate cookie, topped with ice cream and swimming in chocolate sauce, decadent and delicious. After dinner we went to the Cabaret Lounge to listen to the outrageous Diane Cousins described as "power house voice and squeaky clean comedy" most accurate and appropriate. Fantastic.

Back to the cabin to find a note from the Shore Excursions desk, Cancellation of the Komodo Island Tour !! Jenny was ready to rip into someone - then she read on further. We've been transferred to a slightly later time - there were not enough booked on the early tour. All is well and someone's life has been spared.

Three sea days as we make our way North through the Barrier Reef and then West through the Torres Strait on our way to Darwin.

Despite the lack of photo ops this link should take you to today's image on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-03-21
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 14:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

At Sea to Airlie Beach

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Woke up at a more sensible time this morning and walked a number of circuits on Deck 10 while searching for the sunrise. There were almost horizon to horizon clouds so nothing as spectacular as yesterday. Enjoyed an Al Fresco breakfast and then returned to the cabin to prepare for this morning's activities. To fill in some time I read for a while in the Club Bar which is adjacent to the Club Restaurant and watched all the people going in to have breakfast in the dining room. A quick estimate by the head waiter indicated 150 to 200 people which is almost 1/3 the total passengers. It struck me as an unusually high turnout. In the over 150 nights we've sailed I think we've only had breakfast in the dining room once or twice.

First lecture today was the Airlie Beach port lecture which left me with the distinct feeling that the main attraction of this port is the Whitsunday Islands and other cruises to the Barrier Reef. The ship's Shore Excursions offer tours starting at $160 to over $250, a lot of money when the weather is marginal and I don't do swimming anyway.

Next lecture was a Grand Tour of the Solar System including many of the NASA images and video captures. Lesa Moore has a great talent and vast knowledge to make her presentations most enjoyable.

Up to Deck 9 for an Al Fresco lunch where we watched the white-caps on the waves. The sky is still totally overcast and the wind is causing the ship to pitch and roll a little. Spent an interesting hour or so watching and listening to Peter Headley as he presented photographs taken around the world between 1838 to 1880. Amazing images.

Went up to the Bistro on Deck 9 for a hot drink and to watch the wild waves and rain that has enveloped the ship. There are very few people about. An hour or two back in the cabin to catch up on breaking news regarding the Malaysian Airlines missing aircraft. That mystery deepens as time passes.
At the risk of repeating myself- we had another excellent dinner tonight. On return to the cabin we found our freshly laundered clothes, first time we've used the service. Not only were the clothes all there - no losses, all the shirts and even a pair of shorts were on individual hangers and it was free because we are at the Elite level.

We're not going to the production show tonight, I'm going to do battle with the Internet connection and see if I can get through.

Airlie Beach tomorrow and it will depend on the weather as to whether we go ashore or not, been here twice in recent times and there isn't much to see. Might just take the tender for the enjoyment of the ride.

This link should take you to today's image on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-03-20
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 03:39 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

In the Port of Brisbane

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


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My morning didn't start too well, I messed up the resetting of the clock so woke up an hour earlier than required. We had embarked the Pilot at 03:00 and were well into the channel of Morton Bay by the time we had first light. I walked a number of circuits of Deck 10 and was joined by Jenny for breakfast. By the time the sun rose we were well into the Brisbane River and the sunrise was almost directly astern.

After breakfast we filled in some time reading our Kindles before going ashore at about 09:00 to meet up with Len - a fellow passenger from March 2012. Other passengers from the March 2012 cruise, Mike and Rachael, had arranged with Len to pick us up. We had a most enjoyable trip out of the City and up to the hinterland village of Mt Tambourine. Breathtakingly beautiful forests forests as we climbed the escarpment. We stopped for coffee and drove back to the ship to arrive there just before 14:00.

After a relaxed lunch we returned to the cabin to sort through this morning's images and scribble some words. I made up for the very early start and studied the inside of my eyelids for an hour or two. Woke up in time to watch the ship slip her lines and head off down the Brisbane River.

Then it was time for another gathering in the dining room. An excellent dinner as always with far too many delicious choices. A quick visit to the cabin and then on to the Cabaret Lounge for a great show. The orchestra played a series of tunes before the show started with the singers and dancers performing a very energetic routine.

After a lengthy introduction by the Cruise Director each of his staff made a short appearance. Then the main act came on. The man with a million voices - Denny McMaster had us in stitches with his jokes and flawless impersonations. With the time now after 21:30 there isn't much more fuel in the tank to do more than write up these final words and hit the hay. I will upload this lot tomorrow.

A sea-day tomorrow so there will be more on-board activities.

This link should take you to today's images on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-03-19
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 03:37 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

At Sea, Bound for Brisbane

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Managed to capture a view of the sunrise this morning from the top deck of the ship. The sea was calm and there were no clouds to speak of so it is quite a simple image. Joined Jenny for some breakfast and returned to the cabin for a quick shower and a change of clothes. Found the Future Cruises Desk and booked the first part of our planned September 2015 Alaska Land and Sea Tour/Cruise. We hope to link that with a re-positioning cruise through the Panama Canal to Ft Lauderdale.

Attended the Port Lecture in the Cabaret Lounge where Deb presented the highlights of Brisbane. She was followed some time later by Lesa Moore who presented a well argued lecture on the causes of Global Warming. She pointed out that the Northern Polar region was warming faster than Antarctica. There is also a reduction in the temperature difference between the Equator and the North Pole causing the Northern Jet-stream to slow down.

Enjoyed lunch in the aft open section on Deck 9 at the Panorama Buffet, very pleasant with views of other ships towards the horizon. Back to the cabin to catch up with some sleep and prepare for the formal night. I managed to write some of this and read a few pages before nodding off for an hour or two.

First order of business this evening was the Captain's Welcome Party, on previous cruises this has taken the form of a champagne fountain in the atrium with passengers hanging off the stairways. As with a number of other things, the Ocean Princess does it a different way, we're invited into the Cabaret Lounge where the Captain greeted each of us, shook hands and shared a word or two. Very classy. We are all seated and served with cocktails and canap├ęs, the top level staff are introduced by the Cruise Director and then the Captain took the floor. He chatted, joked and created a very relaxed party atmosphere. Another plus for this little ship.

Another excellent dinner and stop in the cabin on the way to this evening's entertainment in the Cabaret Lounge. Another Plus for this little ship, everything is close to everything else and it takes little to no time to walk from one venue to another. So far this cruise we haven't used the lifts.
The live entertainment was provided by "Livewire", a male guitarist and a female violinist. They performed many Celtic tunes in honour of St Patrick's day and mixed in a number of very energetic duos. It certainly topped off a very busy evening.

I'll try to upload these notes and today's images.

Brisbane tomorrow so we set the clock back one hour.

This link should take you to today's images on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-03-18
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 04:06 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Embarkation in Sydney

Monday, 17 March 2014


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An early start this morning as we loaded the carry-on luggage into the car. We appear to be travelling light this trip, even the bigger cases weighed in well under 20 Kg each. Up the Kings Highway to Queanbeyan in just over two hours and Natalie had the jug boiled for a coffee. Had a quick conversation with the family before she drove us into Canberra to catch the 09:00 Murray's Coach to Sydney. Arrived at Central Station just after 12:30 and after a quick trip in a taxi we were at the ship's side just after 13:00.

Check-in was quick and efficient. We've been given a cabin upgrade, still an inside stateroom but somewhat larger and more to midship rather than the forward location we'd expected. We've gone from #7002 to #7052. The cabin is relatively spacious and nicely appointed with the luxury of a couch and an abundance of hanging space.

The ship itself has the air of a boutique guesthouse. Accommodations start on Deck 3 and Deck 10 is as high as we need to go, the main dining room is on Deck 5 and the Bistro is on Deck 9. The main 'theatre' is also on Deck 5 so we don't have a lot of stairs to climb.

Our cabin stewardess is Emma and she's from Mexico, great personality and she's already discovered that it is fine to side with Jenny and pick on Tony. The dinner menu was surprisingly varied given the size of the ship and despite the understandable first-night confusion (passengers) the service was relaxed and prompt. So far we've encountered at least three couples who were also on our 2011 Cherry Blossom cruise to China and Japan.

After dinner we watched a crazy Irish movie, it was St Patrick's Day after all, by the name of "Waking Ned Devine". Quite apart from a most unlikely plot, the film could have done with Sub-Titles as much of the dialogue was lost in the thick Irish brogue.

It looks like my battle with the Internet connection continues so I'll have to upload by way of the USB thumb-drive.
I'll upload this tomorrow and as I'm almost falling asleep at the desk.

A sea day tomorrow as we sail North along the Australian East Coast, destination Brisbane the day after tomorrow.

This link should take you to today's images on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-03-17
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 04:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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