Saturday, 26 February 2011

Cruising The Indian Ocean To Bali

Tuesday February 15th

Today we are cruising the Indian Ocean and we’ve been hit by the edge of the cyclone that is causing havoc to North West Australia. There is torrential rain and gale force winds - needless to say the planned ‘Dancing Under The Stars’ on deck has been moved indoors to The Club.

Wednesday February 16th

Still at sea and the skies are overcast and it’s still raining we have been told that the winds will increase to gale force 8 and the seas will have 20ft to 25ft waves tonight. It’s a bit frightening but exciting to watch…lucky that we now have good sea legs!!

Thursday February 17th

Again at sea but the storms are passing. I didn’t sleep much last night as the ship was all over the place so I had a cat nap this morning and feel much better….it’s amazing but I haven’t felt sea sick at all.

Last art lesson with Gregory today as he is getting off in Bali …..really pleased with my final effort.

Friday February 18th

Arrived at Padang Bai in Bali, Indonesia. We were greeted off the tender by locals who dressed us in sarongs – even the men – before we were taken to the Royal Temple for a Balinese Banquet and a show of local dancing and singing. Had a really brilliant evening – make sure you see the photos.

Saturday February 19th

Still in Bali. Went ashore but got engulfed by street vendor selling everything under the sun…everyone was calling out “just one dolla…only one dolla”. Too much hassle so back to the ship where we had the pool to ourselves as most others stayed ashore…this is how the rich live…we like it!!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Cruising The Great Australian Bight To Perth

Friday the 11th to Sunday 13th of February

Three days at sea so time to relax, unwind and enjoy the festivities and onboard classes.

Beginners bridge classes are starting to make sense – a bit!! And I’m still continuing and enjoying my art classes and playing the on deck games of Shuffleboard and Baggo.

Sunday was the crew tug-of-war between the different departments to see who’s strongest. The teams chose topical team names like Breadsticks (waiting staff), Hangovers (bar staff), Coconut Cream Boys (kitchen), Rust Busters (deck maintenance), The Sweepers (housekeeping) and Drama Queens (entertainers)

After several tug-offs refereed by the Captain… The Coconut Cream Boys won. Great fun in the sun.

Monday February 14th

Happy Valentine’s Day to all. I made Vance a ‘collage’ Valentine card in art class… aah… but where’s my card??? Love him.

Docked in Fremantle today and decided against the 40 minute bus ride into Perth so just took the local tram bus into the centre of Fremantle – what a treat. Population is only about 25,000 and named after Captain Charles Fremantle an English naval officer who first established a camp at the site. The locals call it Freo.

The city is amazing with beautiful 19th century buildings but with a definite small town feel to it. We visited The Round House with its tiny cells which lodged the first prisoners of the Swan River settlement and is the oldest building in the state. I tried to lock Vance in the stocks but he escaped!!

We then paddled on the beach and wandered around the marina before strolling back to the ship for our usual cold beer mate.

We loved Freo so much we have decided when we return to Oz on our longer trip we will use it as our base in Western Australia.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Cruising The Bass Strait To Melbourne And Adelaide

Monday February 7th

At sea all day. It is Super Bowl Sunday (but showing here on Monday – we’re one day ahead!!) between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers so there is a huge party in The Grand Saloon with the yanks cheering for their favourites whilst munching on hot dogs, burgers, chips etc etc … and it’s only 10.00am in the morning - apparently the Packers won!!

Rest of the day lazing on deck as the weather is good today.

Tuesday February 8th

Melbourne is the second most populous city in Australia with approximately 4 million inhabitants.  We took the city centre free tram ride to see all the Melbourne attractions and visited the massive Queen Victoria Market – it must have covered an area equal to about 10 football pitches! Mostly looking but did buy a few bits and bobs. Exciting city but much to busy for me… I’m just an urban gal!!

This evening there is another full world cruisers event – A visit to Werribee Park. This is a magnificent mansion build in 1878 to emulate a grand English estate.

We enjoyed champagne and canap├ęs as we wandered the impressive rooms and admired the massive gardens from the balconies. We then dined in the ballroom and were entertained by some of Australia’s finest opera singers. The soprano Margaret Orr was really fantastic. The evening finished with a selection of famous Aussie folk tunes sung by a local girl’s choir.

Wednesday February 9th

Cruising The Bass Strait – Again!!

Started art class today with Gregory Burns an American artist and author based in the far east and well know in China. I haven’t painted (apart from the bathroom walls) or drawn since my school days. I was really pleased with my first effort which was in watercolours and oil pastels – Vance says it looks like an elephant but in fact it is a flower – honest!! It looked so easy when Greg showed us how to do it.

Vance and I restarted our Kinesis classes in the gym after a break of three weeks so we’re feeling a bit stiff this morning. Also followed it with a Tai Chi class which was surprisingly difficult – my bum muscles are really aching. Must really try and keep these lessons going for more than a week this time especially as I still hope to lose half a stone during this cruise!!

Thursday February 10th

Arrived in Adelaide this morning at 8am and took a tour to the Cleland Wildlife Park up in the hills. A wonderful morning with the Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas and even a Tasmanian Devil all out in open parkland…..the Devil was in an open enclosure but with an electrified wire around the inside as apparently they bite!!

After that we drove to the peak at Mount Lofty for spectacular views of the city followed by a return visit to the main sights of Adelaide. Loved it here so clean, open and bright with massive parks and greenery – then of course back home to the ship for a cold beer mate before lunch.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Day Sydney Melted

Saturday February 5th

7am sail-in party on the observation deck and it’s already 75f. Good job the champers is nicely chilled!! As we entered the straits we got our first view of the Opera House and Sydney Bridge – Wow what a view.

Our tour today included a visit to Bondi Beach (I just had to go and have a paddle), views of the city and a tour of the Opera House both inside and out. It really is a fantastic building and deserves all the accolades it has received. A few of our fellow passengers are going to a performance of Madame Butterfly tonight.

It’s now 3pm. OH…MY…GOD… IT’S HOT!!!  the temperature has just reached 120f and even the slight breeze is hot. Even the Aussies are saying it’s too hot. Can’t believe that yesterday I was complaining that it was cold!! Needless to say the swimming pool is packed…it’s the only way to keep cool…apart from cold beer of course.

Today is a sad day because half the guests disembarked and friends that we’ve made over the last 31 days are leaving us. To all those who left today we hope you follow this blog and enjoy our further sojourn.

Sunday February 6th

Day 2 in Sydney. We caught the shuttle bus into the main shopping area around Queen Victoria Mall in George Street and then walked the length of the street – about 30 minutes – to ‘The Rocks’ with its harbour setting, ferry terminal and covered markets.

Still very hot so returned at noon for our usual cold beer mate!! Then to our outdoor lunch at the Colonnade Restaurant at the back of the ship. Bliss….or it was for a little while as the ship was hit by a mini cyclone which swept away the food, wine, napkins, crockery, cutlery and even started moving the chairs around…luckily the tables are screwed down to the deck. Scary… but exhilarating. We quickly moved inside to view the 20 minute storm and finish our lunch!!

Over 200 new guests joined the ship this afternoon….we’ve named them “Newbies”….hope there are some new friends to be made. At our 6pm sail-away party this evening the temperature has dropped to 50f with really stormy seas. What a difference a day makes!!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Hobart, Tasmania

Thursday February 3rd

Arrived at Hobart the state capital of the Australian island of Tasmania. Founded as a penal colony  the locals joke that ‘Horbartians’ will always manage to extract some money from the tourists (by fair means or foul). Vance and I just went walk-about today around the beautiful harbour and we found the place where the first British Antarctica Expedition started from in 1898. The exact spot is marked by a selection of full size bronze sculptures depicting the men and the equipment taken.

Back on board for a goodly lunch then a lazy afternoon by the pool…weather now back to 80f with no wind and low humidity…phew thank goodness for that.

An exciting occurrence: A seagull dropped a full load on Vance sprawled on his sunbed provoking much laughter of course but not from Vance!! So I decided as it is supposed to be lucky that we should get an Euro Lotto ticket the numbers being based on the longitude and latitude of Hobart. We asked Peter our friend in Bristol to buy one on our behalf…not heard from him since!!

Friday February 4th

Cruising the Tasman Sea again today this time on our way up to Sydney. The highlight of the day is The Galley Buffet where all the lunch food is collected by us as we view the galley facilities while the food is being cooked in front of us. No waiter service today - apart from the excellent wine service of course!!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Cruising Fjordland And Crossing The Tasman Sea

Monday January 31st

Today we sailed past Fjordland National Park which is in the South West corner of South Island New Zealand. It has many deep Fiords which were carved by glaciers. We passed through Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and then entered Milford Sound. Wow….what an exciting visual experience. Took loads of photos… Click Here To View.

Have noticed a real drop in temperature today as we are now the furthest south we can be without visiting Antarctica.

Pinch, Punch First Of The Month…

Tuesday February 1st

At sea all day and the seas are starting to get very rough. Clocks back one hour tonight.

Wednesday February 2nd

Still crossing the Tasman Sea to Tasmania commonly called ‘Crossing The Ditch’ Really bad weather now cold, high winds and deep rolling seas (there’s a song there somewhere) we’ve been told that we’re catching the edge of the cyclone that is hitting Queensland. Clocks back another tonight…all this extra sleep…

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

New Zealand – South Island

Friday January 28th - Akaroa

Today we had a complimentary Seabourn Event ‘The Akaroa French Fete’

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Originally the French tried to colonise the island but the English (good ol’ boys) beat them by a narrow margin of 10 days however the first French settlers decided to stay at Akaroa and even today it retains its Gallic charm.

We were driven to French Farm and enjoyed a selection of French tasters and New Zealand wines followed by an hour of entertainment by the brilliant Ashley Clarke Band, a flute soloist and finally a famous New Zealand opera singer. It was a wonderful day and as you can see from the pictures we had a lot of fun.

This evening we should have been dancing under the stars on deck but unfortunately the weather has turned nasty so we have all retreated indoors to the Club saloon for a right old knees up…and just a few more drinks…honest!!

Saturday January 29th – Lyttelton / Christchurch

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Didn’t see much of Christchurch today because we spent most of the day looking for a dentist… at 9:30am we went shopping with the Exec Chef Graeme at a farmers market in Lyttelton where he hoped to pick up some local produce.

Vance decided to taste the local plums and promptly broke his front tooth veneer on a plum stone … Vance says the person who says fruit is good for you is an idiot!! As it was a Saturday all the dentists in Lyttelton – all 2 of them – were closed and the only emergency appointment we could get was at 1pm in Christchurch a 35 minute drive away. Brilliant job by the dentist and Vance is now back to his normal handsome self!!

As we had to be back onboard by 4:30pm we only had about an hour left to sightsee.

It’s now 7pm but the sun seems to be as it is at 3pm in summer at home – really bright and still quite warm. Sunset here is not until 9:30pm tonight. Ship is really rolling now and the captain says the waves are about 15 to 20 feet. The spray is coming over our veranda so we’re keeping our patio doors very tightly shut.

Vance says that people that travel the world in those small boats must be very brave … I think they must be very stupid!!

Sunday January 30th - Dunedin

Just a quick visit to Dunedin today for a visit to what is known as little Edinburgh.

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Back on board we decided to take afternoon tea in the Observation Lounge – freshly baked fruit scones with strawberry jam, clotted cream and decaffeinated earl grey tea…very British …AND delicious.

Here’s Vance's tech update for those sad enough to be interested:

Temp = 62f
Wind Speed = 58 mph
Ship Speed = 15 knots
Sunrise = 6:30am
Sunset = 9:30pm
Distance to Hobart 1000 nautical miles which will take about 3 days