Day 51 — Feb 22 — At Sea
The Tasman Sea, between New Zealand and Australia, has 3-4 meter seas. I have decided this is my favorite size of waves to have on a ship this size. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were virtual Mill Ponds with 1-2 meter seas. Almost couldn’t tell you were on a ship. Passing by the Bay of Biscayne near France and Spain were 8-10 meter seas, a Bucking Bronco that was fun but unsustainable for long term on a ship. The seas today have movement and remind you of where you are without too much difficulty in getting around.
This morning’s game was Ropes and Ladders, another fun children’s game like others we play every sea day to occupy our time. We have amassed a group of approximately ten people that competes with another 8-10 others. The highlight of the game is that Elee wins today, her first solo win and we all cheer her on!
A couple of our group left the cruise in Auckland and we hope we’ll pick up some more by the time we get to Sydney in 3 more days. We’re told that almost half the passengers on the ship (about 1200) will be finishing their trip in Sydney and 600 will be getting on.
We hear that the Owner of the ship has boarded in Auckland and our Captain will be leaving in Sydney. After that we are scheduled to go to Arlie Beach and Yorkey’s Knob. And after that we don’t really know. The original plan was to visit Japan, Korea and China followed by Viet Nam and Cambodia. But China and Hong Kong have already been canceled for over a week now because of the Corona Virus outbreak. We all wait for news of our ships destinations and we’re sure we’ll hear soon.
This afternoon we were invited to a Galley Tour that we missed when we had our Chef’s Table last week. If you have never seen a Ship’s Galley, you are missing out on seeing how meals are prepared and served on a ship that carries up to 2000 people. It is quite the operation to prepare, cook and clean up.
Day 52 & 53 — Feb 23, 24 — At Sea
Normal Days At Sea. Master Chef finishes up with the winner getting Dinner for 2 in the Steakhouse.
Day 54 — Feb 25 — Sydney, Australia
We sail into Sydney before dawn and don’t get much of a view. Australia marks our 6th Continent, another Bucket List Item checked off our list. Australia has the strictest Immigration Laws we’ve seen yet. Every Passenger has to have a “Face to Passport” check and no one can return to the ship until everyone on the ship has been checked.
We manage to get through the checkpoint without much difficulty and get on the shuttle bus that takes us into the city. A 20 minute bus ride and we step foot in the City of Sydney. Continent 6 on our Bucket List! We take some photos at the waterfront and our cameras are happy once more.
We have heard of a ‘Free’ Tour and we locate it with the trusty map we have been given. What we thought was a ‘find’ turns out to be distributed to everyone who comes here! So we take some photos inside St Andrews Cathedral while we wait for the tour to organize and soon 3 tour guides show up and give us tickets for the tour. They split us into 3 groups and we get lucky and get the company owner, Justine, as our guide. She is well spoken and spirited and she leads us around the city explaining what we see along the way.
Then we go underground into a mall that stretches for many city blocks without being seen from above. We even talk to shipmates that have been here several times that have never heard or known about this mall.
Justine takes us to Hyde Park with views of gardens and another Cathedral and she tells us the history here. Native birds to Australia walk about, called “Ibis”. Very strange birds indeed. A random film crew is filming what appears to be a commercial but we never find out. Many other sights assault our camera lenses including a sky tower which my camera unsuccessfully begs me to find a way to go see it.
She takes us along the streets and shows us a ‘Lucky Pig’ that when touched brings luck. We walk through streets with interesting buildings and overhead lamp displays.
We take a short break in the tour and grab a cold beer and a hard cider and refresh in the heat. We have discovered that when our ship’s Captain tells us the ‘Peak’ temperature for the day, he is really telling us the ‘Current’ temperature and it has taken us this long to figure it out. He told us today the Peak would be 24 degrees. That translates to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It was that when we got off the boat. It easily hits 33 degrees C today which is 90 degrees F.
We carry on and see many more city sights and our feet are less happy than our cameras. Justine brings us to the waterfront with a view of the Opera House and bids us goodbye. It is suggested we pay what we feel the tour was worth and we are told the organized tours charge about $36 AUD. We are armed with some AUD Currency and we give her $20 AUD which is approximately $15 USD.
Can you identify the American Name of this company? This is what it is called over here!
There is a ship in port here that carries approximately 4000 people called the “Voyager of the Seas”! It is a small floating city! Interesting restaurants and sights of the harbor abound. We find a restaurant that serves local food and we sit and enjoy Kangaroo Steaks and Crocodile Burgers. We like the Kangaroo best but both are very good!
We find out how to get Ferry Tickets because we want to see the Opera House from the water side and with a little walking back and forth, we figure it out. We board the Ferry in Circular Quay (pronounced “key”) and soon we are seeing the famous city skyline and the Opera House as all the magazines depict it. We are here live and the brilliant white color is not as brilliant white as we expect. There are brownish tints and details that our cameras don’t seem to render correctly and the whites come through.
The Ferries here travel on the clock precisely. You’d think that boats would have variable arrivals based on unpredictable factors but you can almost set your watch by them. As we travel across the bay to our destination in Watson’s Bay we see many sailboats out and about. A Racing Catamaran catches my cameras attention and I get some good shots of this large catamaran completely out of the water with only its keels touching the water! We also see many small sailboats with an interesting design doing the same thing. They appear to be a single hull catamaran type pontoon with ‘wings’ for the pilot to sit on and they ‘float’ on the water with only the keels touching the water. Very exciting to watch!
A short walk about this quaint little town finds my first shot of Lovers, which those of you who know me know that I try to get a photo of Lovers on every trip I take. We grab a Ferry back to Circular Quay (pronounced “key”) and then we try to decide where we want to walk to next. Our feet decide to weigh in on the discussion and we object to their choice and head towards the Botanical Gardens.
After another mile walk our feet convince us they were right and we turn back and head for the Ferry to Barangaroo which drops us very close to the shuttle bus stop back to our ship. More views of the Opera House under the Sydney Harbor Bridge and our cameras are happy again. We even get to see a glimpse of “Luna Land”, an amusement park near the bridge as the sun starts gleaming off the windows of high rise buildings! A luxury yacht cruises by and we wonder if it’s someone famous. It certainly is someone rich!
We meet up with a couple shipboard friends and get back in the queue for the shuttle bus which easily has 100 plus people in the queue. Doing the math which includes a 47 seat bus (standard bus around the world) and an ‘every half hour’ estimate, this tells our aching feet that we will be in the queue for likely 1.5 hours, one of our group hails a taxi and questions the driver as to price to take the four of us back to the ship. With an estimate of $25 AUD, it’s a no brainer and we hire him to take us back. We knew a passenger that was 4th in the queue for the bus and when we finally get back on board we arrive before her. This was definitely a good decision! A couple roadside views produce shots of a fun sign and a statue.
Back on board, we go to the pub and another fellow passenger friend tells me of an IPA Beer that I hadn’t found yet that is much more to my liking and we imbibe and visit as we share the days stories. Back in our room, we shower and refresh and go get a bite to eat for dinner. As we are finishing our meal, the ship leaves the dock and heads out. That is our clue to head up top with our cameras to get night shots of the Sydney Opera House after dark.
Virtually the entire ship is up on deck and we vie for a spot to take photos. Well, as a seasoned pro, it doesn’t take long to squeeze in for fun photos at night and my wife, among others, prods my expertise for advise on camera settings to achieve decent results. The Ship’s Doctor, who has taken a liking to me for some reason, also has some experience with cameras, but it becomes clear that he should stick with his day job as his camera expertise tends to rob my time with questions and amateur opinions.
My camera satisfied with images and a nightcap glass of wine in my hand, it’s time to retire for the evening.
See you all tomorrow!