1 June 2011

Our 50th Anniversary Cruise…..Part4

22nd December Sydney

We were optimistically looking forward to an early landfall at Sydney. Saving 12 hours due to the cancellation of the Arles trip. It meant we could extend our stay there as we were only scheduled to stay for 12 hrs. Would you believe it? The ship reduced speed to absorb the time, very disappointing as an extra 12 hours at the most prestigious harbour in the world have been fantastic. The extra time at sea was absorbed with games, lectures, music and sun bathing. As night drew in we retired unprepared for the dawn spectacular? Stepping onto our balcony as the engines slowed, we were met with the sunrise over Sydney.  A never to be forgotten sight.





We just stayed on the balcony in awe, as the ship settled to her mooring. Perfect, and only a few quid mooring fees????


We finished our breakfast and were off the ship as early as possible,10am. Walking around the harbour brought us into contact with allsorts of nationalities, busking students and backpackers entertained us as we made our way to the Opera House, passing the busy port on the way.



Pleasure trip boats seem to operate 24 hours a day from here but then you realise that the larger vessels are for commuting workers..



As we approached we came across this poster (pleased to see Billy doing so well).


What can we say about Sydney Opera House that's not been said before. We like millions before took loads of photographs but none can justify its spender.



There’s a huge park next to the opera house, you need to take a ride to see it all and our time was limited so we took advantage of the ride, a much reduced price is available for Australians but the British have to pay the full price, getting their own back!





These huge fruit bats were in decline, not sure what they did but they are now recovering,(artificial insemination?}


This tree a ‘’wongabilywanga’’ (only kidding) is the only specimen left and is thousands of years old. Why don’t they take a cutting you may ask, I did and was told that it is the ‘’male female’’ thing. Pleasing to know that they can’t manage without us fellers after all.

On our way back we stopped for coffee debating whether or not to take a taxi into to the city


We walked.


Then we realised that we should make our way back to the ship, ‘’tut sweet’’. We had blinked twice and it was all over and Melbourne was waiting. 


16 January 2011

Our 50th Anniversary Cruise…..Part 3

15th Dec.  Darwin Australia

After two and a half days crossing the Timor sea we docked at Darwin. You had to look out over your veranda to appreciate that you were underway as the ship didn’t move. We were entertained one evening by the Princess Singers and Dancers. The show “The Piano Man” was fantastic. It was a formal evening which gave me the chance to dress up. Grrrrreat !!


There were all sorts of activities to be involved in during the voyage, from Bingo to Art lectures and much much more. We enjoyed a mining film on recovering Opals, followed by a lecture on the grading and rarity and value. Of course you were invited to purchase from the mine owners direct if you had 8 hundred Dollars upwards spare. The whole process is fascinating, I now understand why they are expensive. The owners of the mine had presented the Queen with a priceless gem necklace when she visited Australia shortly after becoming Queen. The President of the company together with Australians in general are quite upset that she has never worn it.

We decided to try a new tactic at Darwin, instead of booking a trip we decided to do our own thing. We got off the shuttle bus which took us to the information centre in Darwin, from there we hired a taxi to take us to the points of interest.


It was a wise move as he took us to places off the tourist trail to enjoy without all the trappings. We were very impressed with the whole area. Surrounding Darwin is one magnificent natural parkland with picnic areas beautiful trees. This one is called the Fire tree.



We spent some time at a marina, but there are many marinas around the peninsula.


Strolling the parklands we saw these Plover ducks who nest in open grassy areas.  Get near them and they attack.   


The most interesting surprise for me was a visit to a huge building where old machinery of all descriptions were being stripped and painstakingly restored. The unusual thing about this set up is that whole families seem to get involved. Boys and girls of 5/6 years upwards accompany there family, they clean nuts and bolts with a wire brush, they paint small pieces of machinery parts. This is all voluntary work by enthusiasts who visit on work holidays from all over the world. Items are donated to the workshop world wide, what happens to them on completion? I don’t know.

         SAM_0525    SAM_0526

         SAM_0527    SAM_0528

          SAM_0530    SAM_0529


This is a Citron half track being restored, love to bomb around in that when completed.

The pictures show recognisable items but they represent only a small part of old relics. steam valves, tanks, fire engines, aircraft, steam locomotives, to mention a few. If they haven't got the bits to complete, they make them. Fantastic.

Crocodiles are a plenty in the Northern Territories, they frequently have to be removed from housing areas. We saw them in controlled conditions, but first we had to buy the hat!


SAM_0533                        SAM_0536

SAM_0539                        SAM_0540

They don’t look very big, however the largest is 16 feet long.


                          This girl was lowered into the water in a protective cage,

                                    she wanted a closer look, so did I ?????

This skeleton croc, dressed up in Christmas gear did nothing for me, in fact it was difficult to get into the festive mood, being 43 degrees.



  Crocodile Dundee…………….      Eat your heart out.!!


After a stroll around Darwin centre we had coffee, admired their attempt to get Christmas shoppers in the mood, only 10 more days to go. Then back to the ship.


16th &17th at sea arriving at Port Douglas on the 18th Dec.

We again were entertained at sea by the Singers and Dancers at the theatre as they performed “Port of Call”. There are two performances and we watched both shows as they were so good.

Our next port of call after anchoring at Port Douglas is Airlie Beach the port where you normally visit the Barrier Reef, being only a fifteen minute boat ride away. Imagine our disappointment when we found out that the trip had been booked up on the Web months before. Fortunately they had arranged another trip the day before from Port Douglas, but it took a hour and a half sea journey to get there. Having come half way around the world we just had to book it. How lucky we were as the sea lumped up overnight and Airlie Beach trip had to be cancelled as small boats would have been dashed against the ship.

Our hour and a half trip from Port Douglas was in idyllic, conditions were perfect.


                                                     Where is the mother ship?


                   After an hour at our speed she had disappeared over the horizon.


Getting ready to be submerged. We saw the Reefs in great detail. We have all seen it on TV but you can’t beat the reel thing, We sailed round in a partially submerged glass bottom boat affording us excellent visibility without getting our feet wet.. 

       Batfish       Black Anemone Fish

       Butterfly Fish 2       Chevron Barracuda

       GBR Anemonefish       Gorgonian Fan Coral 1 

       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                Green Turtle 2

       Hermit Crab       Humphead Maori Wrasse

       Moray Eel       Nudibrach 1

       Nudibrach 2       Nudibrach 3

       Pacific False Eye Butterfly Fish 1       Pink Anemone Fish

              Red Lionfish

       SeaStar       Spinecheek Anemone Fish

       Star Eyed Pufferfish         Titan Triggerfish

       True Clown Amenone Fish 2       True Clown Anemone Fish 1



A running buffet on board before heading back just finished a day to remember.

The eager beaver passengers who booked on line must be as sick as parrots, over a thousand passengers were disappointed. The crew spent a couple of hours trying to board passengers before the Captain called it a day and set course for Sydney

…..Part 4 to follow.