A Travellerspoint blog

Off Northern Borneo

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Rain, thunder and lightning prevented any sight of the sun-rise. Also deterred me from my usual walk around the Lido deck. Instead I sat and talked at length with Paul and looked at the many plots on his charts. During discussion he gave me some insight to his time in Vietnam with the US Air Force in the late 60s.
Attended William Roberts' lecture on the battles in the area of Malaya, Indonesia and the other islands in that part of the world. He claims that invasion to be the most extensive and well executed in any war before or since. His talks are so popular that it is almost 'standing room only' in the Princess Theatre.
Heather Clement presented her lecture on the trials and tribulations of Anwar Ibrahim and tied them to events in contemporary Malaysia.
St Patrick's day is recognised throughout the ship with green themed decorations, a green cake and fruit carved as leprechauns on display at the entrance to the Lido Bistro. During lunch we shared space with an older couple, one time residents of Ballarat and now living in Port Macquarie. They claim to have left cruising too late in their life but are determined to continue for some time yet.
Jenny is off to a fashion show while I've been trying to select favourite images from the past 14 days. As I write this we are passing a number of production oil rigs to our starboard side - too far out to photograph. The bridge cam is showing mainly clear sky and calm seas ahead.
Lined up early to attend Lindsay's destination lecture for Hong Kong, 30 minutes before it was due to start there wasn't a free seat in the theatre. Fortunately her presentation is recorded and played back on the in-cabin TV.
The menu in the dinning room was 'International' with each dish identified by country of origin, Jenny had 'Surf & Turf' from the USA while I had a dish from Russia which comprised of salmon and mushroom in a pastry shell - bit like a beef wellington. Four scoops of ice-cream, each a different flavour.
The show in the Theatre was Amber Jade again but with a different repertoire of music. Quick visit to the Lido for a cuppa and a cookie.
I asked some of the more experienced cruisers if these lectures were a common feature on all Princess cruises. The answer is yes, there are generally two lectures each sea day, obviously on port days most people are ashore. This cruise has a high percentage of sea days and the lectures take on a more prominent role.

Posted by greynomadm 06:37 Comments (0)

South China Sea and the Equator

Friday, 16 March 2012

Standard early morning routine a good bit of colour in the sun-rise and sort out our plans for the day. Spoke to the night manager at the front desk and he's promised to work out an average age for the passengers on board. My estimate is 70 to 75 so it will be interesting to see what it comes in at.
Attended another lecture by William Roberts covering the attack on Pearl Harbour and the island of Midway. There was a lot of luck on the US side, things could have been much worse if their aircraft-carriers had been in port.
Heather's lecture was on the Buddhist belief and its spread from India throughout Eastern Asia. She finished just in time for us to go to lunch. There was the usual array of things to eat and it is difficult to walk past it all without putting some samples on a plate.
After lunch there was a meeting of RV and Caravan enthusiasts, we looked in there and I decided it wasn't to my taste to be listening to people holding forth on where they'd been or were planning to go.
At 1500 we were visited by His Royal Highness King Neptune. He and his Queen held court and sentenced a few selected passengers and some of the crew to various punishments. A lot of food ranging from jelly, raw eggs and whipped cream was smeared over various parts of bodes, mainly the head and face. Fought our way into the Lido for a cold drink and some fruit.
Caught our breath in the cabin and started to work on our appearance for tonight's formal dinner. Numbers were down in the dinning room as a number of people must have opted for the more casual dinning on the Lido deck. The choice of dishes continues to be both interesting and varied and it is always difficult to choose one from so many excellent choices.
After dinner we made for the Princess Theatre for the production show entitled "Stardust" a collection of old-time favourites presented by Jennifer Ward, Callum Hood and the Sea Princess Dancers. All round a very good show and high energy dancing.
On return to the cabin we found our certificates from King Neptune to mark our crossing of the equator. I suspect this will be a one-time thing.
Time to upload this little lot, fingers crossed that the connections hold up.

Posted by greynomadm 06:14 Comments (2)

Through the Java Sea

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The ship is crossing the Java Sea in a North-Westerly direction making for the West coast of Borneo. There is a very strong wind and combined with the ship's speed there is a 50+ knot wind over the deck. Sun-rise was not spectacular but still the best we've had for some days.
A quick breakfast and a few laps of deck 14, a shower and sit in the "Explorers Bar" to read for a while. Struck up a conversation with another couple and just made it to Lindsay's "Welcome to Kota Kinabalu" lecture. The Princess Theatre was 'sold out' a good 15 minutes before she started her talk and I had to stand as there wasn't a seat anywhere.
Wandered up to the Lido deck and spent a good while watching the setting up of the central display area. Today's special was "Subs Your Way" - a great range of rolls, bread, meats, cheeses and other fillings. My major interest was the ice-carving and the fruit and vegetable flower display.
After lunch off to the Vista Lounge for William Roberts' lecture on the relative strengths of the Japanese and Allied Navies in the Pacific at the outbreak of WWII. Almost standing room only, fortunately I was there in plenty of time.
Next activity was afternoon tea with the Cruise Critic Roll Call group for a final briefing on the tour organised for Kota Kinabalu.
Time for dinner, tonight's theme was Tai or more generally Asian. So far the daily menu has not had any repeat dishes. There are many variations and unusual combinations. I sometimes wish i could try them all.
Tried to capture the sun-set but the ship is aimed directly at the setting sun. All access to the open forward decks are closed because of the continued strong wind. Safety is their primary concern.
After dinner the show in the Vista Lounge an interesting variety of acts performed by Pearson and Harvey of the "Four Kinsmen". Bit like the parson's egg, very good in parts.

Posted by greynomadm 06:13 Comments (1)

At Anchor in Bali Indonesia

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

View 2012 Cherry Blossom on greynomadm's travel map.

Up relatively early and had breakfast ahead of the crowd that normally sleeps until 0900. A few turns of the Promenade before they closed it off to deploy the tenders. We dropped anchor at about 0640 We have officially arrived at Benoa on the island of Bali.
Changed some of our Indonesian bank notes to smaller denominations with the local money agents that set up a stall on deck 5. Eventually we made our way to the Princess Theatre to be assembled into our tour group. We've bought the ship's "Denpasar Highlights" tour at $49 each. There's a significant delay because the swell is making it difficult to bring a local high capacity catamaran along-side. They eventually rigged up a solution and we boarded the "Bali Hai II" for a very comfortable transfer to the port of Benoa.
We're greeted warmly by local dancers and directed to the appropriate bus. A very modern mid-sized coach with both front and rear doors and a charming tour guide who found almost everything he said highly amusing. The traffic is interesting to say the least. There is no public transport hence almost every one of the 4 million inhabitants owns and rides a motor-scooter. Sometimes the whole family rides on a scooter, dodging cars, trucks and a swarm of other scooters.
First stop was the Jagatanatha communal temple dedicated to the supreme Hindu god "Sanghyang Widi Wasa". Next door is the Bali Museum comprising a number of separate buildings each representative of a local regional style.
For some additional culture we were taken to the National Dance Academy where we were treated to some refreshments and brief recital. The dance and music is closely linked and so the academy also teaches the local music. Both art forms are quite spectacular but to my ear were both repetitive and lengthy.
Next stop, more culture, the traditional craft of Batik prints. The demonstrations were of the hand painted method. The shop sold mainly articles made from printed material. back to the docks and onto one of the ship's tenders for an 'interesting' trip back to the ship.
These tender runs have some remarkable time scales - there's the time to load 100+ passengers - that can take up to 10 minutes. Then there is the sailing time out to the ship, about 45 minutes on this occasion. Then there is the time for the 100 people to step off the tender and onto the ship,this can take another 10 to 15 minutes depending on how much of a swell there is. After all this time there is then a further delay as each person is 'checked-in' and we are scanned through security.
Finally back on board and it is almost time for dinner and as we hadn't had lunch as such we both ordered four courses. Jeffrey managed to provide me with a bowl of ice-cream in addition to the creme-broulee.
After dinner a brief visit to the cabin and then off to the Princess Theatre for an excellent performance by Amber Jade, a pretty blond who danced, sang and played the clarinet and the saxophone. Great concert.
Two very tired old farts were well and truly ready for bed. Good night!!

Posted by greynomadm 06:12 Comments (1)

Across the Timor Sea

Monday, 12 March 2012

Steady rain, grey skies and leaden sea combined to exclude any significant outdoor photography and also restricted any walking circuits to the Promenade deck. Managed to put in about half an hour of activity.
Breakfast was followed some time later by the destination lecture by Lindsay in the Princess Theatre. We've purchased a ship's tour so we're unlikely to explore many of the places featured in her talk. Jenny attended her craft class and I wandered around the ship to record some of the interior images.
Lunch on the Lido and stood for a while overlooking the pool area while the rain bucketed down reducing visibility to about 100 meters.
Off to the Vista lounge for Heather's lecture on Hinduism.
Later in the afternoon I attended a lecture on the War in the Pacific with this first lecture setting the scene with an outline of events involving the Australian forces leading up to the fall of Singapore. There will be another 19 of these lectures over the remainder of this cruise. The speaker is retired US Navy LtCdr William Roberts.
Up to the Lido for a cuppa and a scone and it is almost time to prepare for dinner. The day continues to be overcast and there is a slight swell giving the ship more motion than at any time up to now.
Another first class dinner and there was time to capture the sun-set from deck 15. The humidity is messing up the lens or the internals of the camera, it just refused to focus.
Dropped the camera off in the cabin and joined Jenny in the Vista lounge for a performance by Timothy Hyde - a mentalist. Some amazing 'tricks' that defy understanding.
Back in the cabin and checked the camera, it is all performing normally. Hope there's no permanent damage.
Another very busy day at sea and another one tomorrow.

Posted by greynomadm 05:27 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

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