Day 58 — Feb 29 — At Sea
I manage to sign up for the Darts League today. We’ll see how I do!
At 5:00PM today, we got our New Itinerary and Official Port Cancellation List that we’ve been waiting very patiently for. NOT! Not patiently, that is. But now we know officially that we will not be going to Papa New Guinea, Korea, Japan, China and Cambodia. We are still scheduled for Viet Nam and Singapore. We have worries about Singapore for at least 3 cruise lines have canceled arrivals in Singapore.
But we know our ship intends to keep us safe and we embrace these changes. We have 6 ports canceled and 8 New Ports Added. Our new ports include another port in Darwin, Australia, several in Indonesia and Malaysia. Several places we have never heard of are on the list.
So as we retire this evening, we sit and compile our new destinations as we prepare to visit Yorkey’s Knob, Australia tomorrow and find an excursion to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, one of our Bucket List Items.
Day 59 — Mar 01 — Yorkey’s Knob, Australia
Today dawns like any other port day. The ship sails in at 6AM but we aren’t able to get off the ship until 7:30AM. We get on the Tender and get to land around 8AM. Then it’s on the shuttle to Cairns which takes about a half hour. We find the “Info” office and look at the few excursions left available and decide on a Snorkel Excursion to “Green Island”.
As we approach the boat docks, I spot a Camera Rental Store that rents Underwater Gear. Now chastising myself for not packing my Underwater Rig (I weighed the options of packing it to the prospect of using it 2 or 3 times on this trip and decided against it) and I am thrilled to find this. So, $39 Aussie Dollars later, about $30 USD, and I am armed with a camera!
We ARE in the Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World after all, and what better to do than Snorkeling! So we board the next shuttle boat to Green Island to get our day going. What else to do but take a Cruise Ship only to get off for a day to take more boats!
So our arrival at Green Island is much anticipated and a scenic sight also. We walk the dock onto the island and a few steps later (The island can be walked from end to end in about 10 minutes!) we check into the Dive Shop where we rent our Snorkel Gear. This time we actually get fins with our gear, not like Bora Bora with only snorkel and mask. We also opt to rent “Stinger Suits”, lightweight Lycra body suits to protect against the region’s “Box Jellyfish”, a jellyfish the size of our pinky fingernails that reportedly can be deadly! What a charming thought! But we are assured the suit will protect us.
We have an hour before the next boat so we take advantage of the local burger stand and get a Seafood Plate with Fries and a Burger with Fries, and chow down before we queue up for the Dive Boat. Once on the Dive Boat with several Snorkelers and a few Divers, we cruise out only a hundred yards or so before setting anchor.
We gear up and get in the water to find random colorful fish and corals as we snorkel around the boat. We come across Sea Turtles and the Divers from the boat and my camera cheers for me. As I move around in the water, many sights display themselves to us and suddenly Sea Turtles appear near the Divers. It turns out the Divers found the Turtles and I find the Divers. A Win-Win for all of us!
Back on the boat later, the Divers were marveling at their find of ‘huge turtles’. I was impressed with seeing them, but I have to call them, ‘Toy Turtles’ after spending time in the Galapagos a couple years ago. Now don’t get me wrong, Sea Turtles are ALWAYS fun to see. These Turtles were approximately 18-24 inches across measured by their shells. When we swam in the Galapagos, they were 4-5 Feet across.
Nevertheless, the Turtles are fun to swim with and the Coral and other Fish are fun to see. The Great Barrier Reef is supposedly dying due to all the human activity such as we are doing. It’s sad to think that we are part of the death of the Reef. But human awareness has come around in the last several decades and we do our part in not touching or damaging the Reef.
The snorkel tour comes to a close all too soon and the boat takes us back to shore. We take our snorkel gear around the island and back out into the water to find more fun stuff. We even see some man made pipes in the water and I follow them for a while. Back on shore, I chat with some Aussie Lifeguards and find out this tiny island has its own Desalinization Plant to stay Ecologically Stable.
Elee finishes her snorkel adventure and comes ashore and we take a hike into the interior of the island, even though it is tiny. The island has its own Rain Forest with tourist info signs to inform us of the wonders of the island which started as a Coral Reef, transformed naturally and formed vegetation that eventually turned into a Rain Forest!
Our hike take us through a totally different environment in the interior that is hot, humid & dark. It is amazing that we find a place that has different environments only a few yards apart. We walk along and the paved trails, like a boardwalk, lead us around with occasional signs explaining what we see. Jasmine Vines climb the trees and occasionally smother them, causing the trees to die which lets in more sunlight so other trees and vegetation can grow.
The trail leads eventually to the beach where the shore is lined with old coral that almost looks volcanic. We make our way back to the ship’s dock as it is getting to the time for the last ferry to leave the island. Hot and parched, we go to the bar which has closed but gladly gives us glasses of ice water to quench our thirst. They are trying to close up also as the ferry we are headed to is the last of the day and even the workers on the island want to return to the mainland of Cairns also.
Everybody queues up for the ferry and boards. As we depart from the shores, our cameras capture a few last images and we ride the 45 minutes back. Once we are safely ashore, all we have to do is find a ride back the 30 minutes to Yorkey’s Knob. The last shuttle bus has already left. So I return the rented underwater camera and head to the Info office to inquire about transportation. As our place in the queue (Everyplace has a queue, it seems) get to the front of the line, Elee spots and hails an Uber Driver and he gives us a ride back to the Tender Port.
We still have most of an hour to the last Tender and we’re right at the Tender location. And there’s a restaurant with live music right here! So in we go and order cold beer and wine and we sit and make more new friends as we enjoy the hot humid port of Yorkey’s Knob. Well, all good things must come to an end and we board the next to last Tender back to the ship.
Goodbye Yorkey’s Knob, it was fun while it lasted!