After the long day we crashed into bed expecting a long, restful sleep. Two things conspired to thwart that. The first was that at 3:30am NZ time the day before, I had switched off the alarm. Unfortunately, I hadn’t cancelled it and the slim travel alarm was in my briefcase, happily bleeping the William Tell Overture at 1:30am. Needless to say, in the dark, I located the briefcase but not the alarm, so I lugged the case to the bathroom and switched on the light – after first accidentally switching on the full room lights! Needless to say, that didn’t go down too well with either of us, but especially Paula.
The second hiccup towards returning to a peaceful sleep was a badly aching right shoulder. No matter what my posture was, I was in a lot of pain. We eventually staggered out of bed about 8:30, not exactly rested, but ,looking forward to boarding which was advised at 1pm to follow the 12 noon rush, but before that, it was a stroll round the harbour to “Plate” restaurant for an excellent breakfast. We had intended stocking up, well I had, with a pack of cider as I expected there would be none available on board. Unfortunately, the Harbourside Centre shops didn’t open until 10am so it was a tube of Deep Heat from the pharmacy then back to shower and pack, check out and taxi to the ship. ($13 if anyone is interested...)
We dumped the three cases, passed the Jazz Band playing some excellent music, filled in an Australian health declaration and immigration departure form and straight to a queue free check in which was extremely quick. We were issued with our swipe cards, a small foldaway map of the ship and a boarding card for “group 4”. With a small food and drink stall in the tent, it was probably aligned to the Princess pricing policies with a can of lemonade or coke at $2.25 a can. No wonder others took on board a case of Coca Cola...
Meanwhile the Ratcliffs (Joanne & Garry) and Tullenors (Ros & Arnold) were travelling by limousine but with a following truck with all their luggage. After they had checked in, a quick impromptu jive in front of the jazz band (Jo & Garry, Paula and myself) and we were called through for boarding. The usual Disney trick. Short queue until you turned the corner to be faced with a long slow zigzag queue for immigration. We were lucky as the following group – 5, were hampered somewhat by the high winds knocking out the communications to the computers and it took them 2 hours to get through.
Up to the cabin – a bit smaller than the NCL ship’s balcony cabins, but something you soon adapt to.
We had arranged to meet the others in the buffet and some made it and some obviously didn’t.
We had heard negative comments about the buffet from some previous bloggers but as far as we were concerned, initial impressions were more than favourable. As an alternative to water, tea coffee etc, there were jugs of real lemonade – not the fizzy stuff and I managed to start the rehydration process. For future cruisers, at this point I decided that purchasing a soft drink concession card wasn’t really anything more than a hard sell, as the soda/soft drinks are the machine generated stuff and the lemonade was excellent.
An essential stage of cruising and we all trooped off to our muster stations on the 3:15 tannoy call – which interrupted our unpacking, as two out of our three cases had arrived. (The same two that were off the aircraft first... this time with a pair of (illegal!) handcuffs safely buried. (See Joanne’s blog...) Sailaway was scheduled for 4pm.
We listened attentively to the safety lecture and tried on our life jackets. Judging by the confusion around, some people would not survive two minutes if the drill was for real!
Then the dreaded announcement. As the temperature dropped and the winds howled and the rain gathered momentum; “Due to blah-blah-blah, we are not now sailing until 6pm – in the dark!
By the time we returned to the cabin to complete the unpacking, the last case had arrived, much to Paula’s relief, as it was 100% her stuff in there. The sailaway at 6pm was wet and miserable but nothing could disguise the excitement from the passengers braving the cold and the rain up on deck.
Note to the Sydney authorities: For future World Cruises, could you please switch on the opera house lights for a few minutes? Passing one of the world’s favourite and most spectacular landmarks in the dark is an instantly forgettable experience.
Then at 7:30pm, we headed for the dining room as a group of 12 and were seated on two tables of six. An excellent meal and for me (those who know me will know very well that the food comments will be a major feature from now on...) the prawn cocktail – an ever present on the menu was nice, the rib of beef and baked potato was excellent and to finish, a very nice plate of cheeses, dried fig, dried apricot, nuts and grapes, was also excellent.
The ship was moving around a little in a 7m swell, but most people seemed OK, though one or two had taken a precautionary pill.
And so to bed. A large comfortable King sized affair and keen to enjoy our first sea day of five, before getting to Darwin. As I write this, I am already two days behind, as believe me, there is so much on offer, that anyone who claims that life on board for so long with so many great people will be boring, should look in the mirror.
Now I have to catch up with adding pics...