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Airlie Beech North Queensland

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

View 2012 Cherry Blossom on greynomadm's travel map.

Our first port of call and the weather is overcast but not yet raining. There are enough dark clouds to make us think it prudent to pack our raincoats.
Up early, we're still adjusting to Queensland time, and up to the Lido for a light breakfast. We are well within sight of land as we pass between islands of the Whitsunday group. The sea is mirror-smooth and ship appears motionless.
Our ship anchors a good distance out from the port and the tenders are launched. In addition to four of the ship's tenders there are two large catamarans. At 0700 we headed down to the tender allocation desk and expected to have to wait a fair length of time as there were very few passengers ready to leave. By 0715 they decided to send off the first boat although we were well below capacity. It took about 10 minutes to reach the marina where we came ashore to be greeted by a bunch of enthusiastic locals acting as volunteer ambassadors. We surprised them a bit as they weren't fully set up.
As it was raining, what else ??, we took the bus into town. By the time the bus dropped us off the rain had reduced to a light drizzle and we walked up and back along the main shopping street. According to the bus driver there are over 50 places to eat and as many places to drink.
Our sole expense was for some sorbet from a market vendor. He was a smooth talker and proceeded to enlighten us with his tales from many years as a commercial fisherman. Walked back to the marina where we had but a short wait for a tender to take us back to the ship. All done and dusted by about 1100.
Time for a cuppa and a scone and jam and then lingered until 1200 when the lunch service commence. After lunch not much to do so retired to our stateroom where we succumbed and indulged in a short nap - which lasted until almost time for dinner.
Dinner in the Café Corniche where we had anti-pasta, pizza and Italian deserts. Very nice as a change from the more elegant dinning room. We'll do it again but not often.
The show in the Princess Theatre was the amazing voice of Adam Scicluna with a wide range of songs taken from those made famous by Tom Jones, Elvis and Sammy Davis Jnr.
Underway again, next stop Darwin.

Posted by greynomadm 21:42 Comments (1)

Off the Queensland Coast

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Up early to catch the sun-rise but it was very disappointing this morning. Walked a circuit on the Lido deck as the Promenade deck is closed while they wash it down. I was up and about before 0600 and the ship is very peaceful with only the deck-hands and hotel staff performing their cleaning and tiding tasks.
Back to the cabin where I battled with my watch for a good while trying to adjust the time. Gave up and pulled out one of the spare ones. Had no trouble setting it, must be the way you hold your tongue. Checked with the front desk and confirmed that my Military Credit had been recorded. $250 bonus !!
Restrained ourselves at breakfast and returned to the cabin where we decided to rearrange the bed. In the double-bed configuration there was limited access on either side. So we split it into two singles and we now have a generous central space. Philip will need to source single sized sheets and doonas, the room feels quite a bit bigger now.
Attended the Special Interest Lecture looking at the events of 2011 and what they say about the Australian character. Jenny went off to the craft workshop and I made my way to the ice sculpture demonstration. One of the chefs managed to reduce a huge block of ice into a fair representation of a fish leaping out of the water.
Tried lunch in the dinning room, all a bit stiff and formal. Very nice but having to order from the menu we had no idea what would turn up on the plate.
Went along to the Princess Theatre for a lecture and slide show by Reef Pilot Alistair Heron. His topics were the early explorers and the Great Barrier Reef. Many interesting facts on the structure of the reef and exquisite images of the coral and the other inhabitants. He will be aboard through the Torres Straits and on to Darwin.
We were joined by a different couple for dinner this evening. They're from Toronto NSW and were most pleasant and easy to talk to. We found too that there's an alternative to the main dining room being Café Corniche a Pizzeria with a range of pasta dishes and pizzas.
After dinner joined a capacity crowd in the princess Theatre to listen to the accordionist Ross Malo who wowed us again with a variety of high energy tunes.
Visiting Airlie Beech tomorrow, access is by tender so there could be delays getting off and back on the vessel. Will let you know how it goes.

Posted by greynomadm 21:40 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

First Sea Day

Monday, 5 March 2012

Up early and walked circuits on the promenade deck. The sun-rise was spectacular but brief and I managed to capture some images.
Spoke to the staff at the front desk regarding the extra on-board credit for ex-military. Something has dropped off somewhere but I'm assured it will be fixed. Spent some time with the Future Cruise Consultant and signed up for $200 of unspecified future cruises over the next 4 years.
Port of Call lecture for the good guts on Airlie Beach, how we get ashore and what to do when we get there.
Lunch and a long chat with two ladies, one from Perth and the other from the USA. They met on the internet and alternate their holiday departures, USA one year and Australia or the region the other.
Attended a lecture titled "How well do you know Asia ??" by Heather, according to her we Australians are better informed than a similar group of Americans. She speaks very well, great knowledge and passion. US accent, has lived in Japan for some time, has been a lecturer on Princess ships for a number of years. Had to leave early to meet up with the Cruise Critic group, turned out to be a bit of a shambles because a Princess staff member had not passed on the agreed arrangements. The lead lady was not pleased.
To ward off any chance of starvation we attended "Afternoon Tea". Great array of sweet and savoury bites and at one stage we had five waiters hovering around our table. Certainly can't complain about the service.
Wrote up the bulk of this item before heading for the dining room for dinner. Meals were excellent and we were joined by the couple that didn't show last night. They aren't actually a couple, each paying the single supplement and separate staterooms but they are neighbours in the same complex. We exchanged first names but not much more in the way of identification. I mentioned being ex-Army and she suggested we may know some people in common. Turns out she's the widow of some General who was around when I was still a 2Lt in Port Moresby. They were not bad company but we don't have a lot of common ground.
Dinner out of the way and off to the Vista Lounge (deck 7 Aft) to be entertained by Ivor Richards, a very funny pommy comedian. He maintained a fast paced pater of gags and one-liners for over an hour. Lots of old gags but a good laugh.
We're winding back the clocks by an hour to bring us into line with Queensland time.

Posted by greynomadm 21:38 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

All Aboard - Day 1

Sunday, 4 March 2012

View 2012 Cherry Blossom on greynomadm's travel map.

An excellent night in our hotel but we were up and about by 0700. Walked to Central Station and found a café that was well patronised by State Rail staff so figured it must be OK. An egg and bacon roll each, juice for Jen and a coffee for me. Walked 'around the block' to burn off some calories and back to the hotel.
All packed and we departed just before the 1000 check-out time. Scrolled out onto the footpath and hailed a cab. In no time we were at the dock and joined the hundreds of eager passengers waiting to check in. There was also a crowd of people still in the process of disembarking.
Nothing much happened until 1100 and we proceeded through the check-in. We then waited to visit with the Border Protection staff and finally through the security scan.
We found our stateroom E342 0n the Emerald deck ready and met with Philip (from the Phillipines). We dropped our carry-on and proceeded to deck 14 (Lido) for a buffet lunch. We explored some of the outside vantage points and made our way back to the cabin to find that our main luggage had been delivered.
Our next activity was the safety exercises which were different to any we'd experienced on other cruise lines. I suspect the recent Concordia grounding has had an influence.
Dinner in the Traviata Dining room, table 125 early seating at 1745. Our waiter is Jeffery and his assistant is Rex, both from the Philippines. Excellent meal and I was very pleased to see ice cream featured in the 'always available' section. Jeffery concocted a sundae, because it was Sunday, especially for me. He's got my vote !!
The introductory show in the Princess Theatre presented a variety of acts to give an indication of what's in store. There's a magician who's also very funny but for us the star act was a baldy old guy who played the piano-accordion which has been wedded to a synthesiser and wordlessly hooked into the sound system. I'll watch him time and again. He even made it sound like bagpipes and his fingers mesmerised as they danced up and down both the keyboard and the buttons.
Worked late into the night to write this up and will upload it if I can get it to work. I've paid $175 for 500 minutes of connect time and yet to find out if it is going to work.
Will post again when we've fully settled in.

Posted by greynomadm 20:07 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Moruya to Sydney

Saturday, 3 March 2012

We awoke somewhat earlier than necessary had breakfast and counted down the time. Our friend arrived at 0830 to drive us into town where we waited for the coach to Sydney. The trip to Sydney was quite routine, we've travelled it previously. Stops at Batemans Bay for morning tea and Nowra for lunch added to the actual travel time making a total of seven hours.
Traffic was heavy as we entered the city and the rain intermittent. There were crowds of people at Central Station arriving to watch or take part in tonight's Mardi Gras Parade.
We walked the two blocks to the hotel we;d booked on-line. The Royal Exchange on Chalmers St. "Reception" is the public bar and the check-in process quite simple, the manager copied my driver's licence and had me sign it acknowledging that I'd 'checked in'. Credit card paid the $130 for the night. The room was much better than expected, a sitting room and separate bedroom. Tall ceilings added to the feeling of space.
We met up with our daughter at Darling Harbour for dinner, she and husband were in town for her job. We ate at the Hard Rock Café. Food was excellent but the constant loud sound (music ??) made any conversation difficult. It was certainly an 'experience'. We waited at the light-rail station for our return trip to Central Station but after waiting about half an hour there was an announcement that there would be an extensive delay to the service. We opted to catch a taxi and we were back at the hotel in short order.
Quite ready to turn in for the day.
One more sleep to go !!

Posted by greynomadm 20:04 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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