HERE WE GO AGAIN!
Right from the start I want to say in all honesty we didn’t mind loosing the first seven weeks of this cruise as it gave us a chance to spend time catching up with family and friends. I still could have stayed longer to spend more time with the kids who lead such busy lives time is always hard to find to share lots of good quality time together.
So this time out was a bonus and we will make sure our scheduled visits home in the future allow for longer time frames.
We boarded at White Bay and found our cabin to be in both a good spot in the middle of the ship ( good for me with my tendency for seasickness) and a good size. We packed backpacks each for this trip with an extra shopping bag full of books and an emergency folding duffle full of toiletries.
Having ample hanging space and drawers we quickly had things away and backpacks stored under the bed.
We did the requisite walk through the ship and were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the refitted public areas. Lovely bright and open bars where live music is played and two good sized pools on the main open deck.
The gym was perfectly placed on the 2nd deck which for me is fantastic. Little movement there means I’m likely to get there more frequently.
We have made a decision at this point to not drink at all or very rarely on this trip. Having travelled for over nine months now it’s time to pull the “this is a lifestyle” not a full on holiday of indulgence 24/7 and reign in the bad holiday, habits. we both want to walk off fitter than we have been lately.
I’m sure a few drinks will be had but we’re trying to keep it to the minimum.
Over the next few days we settled into life at sea and after a couple of sleep ins began getting up earlier and doing our exercise thing after a quick coffee one floor up at the Plantation restaurant I started walking the circuit with a group and James headed to Pilates. This followed by breakfast and a session at the gym meant we were starting on the right foot.
The rest of the day while the weathers been pleasant is spent poolside on a lounger in the shade reading and snoozing.
Dinner is at 8 pm and after sitting on our own for two nights with no shows from whom ever was supposed to be sharing our table we happily accepted an invitation to join Robyn,Paul, Stuart and Karen at their table.
This has ensured great starts to our evenings and often we all go onto the 10 pm show from there together.
We have continued to be surprised by the difference at the attendance of people out late each night compared with our last cruise. For a ship of mostly over 50s they’re a party crowd and the bars are well attended till very late. Even the parties which haven’t started till 10 or 11 pm have been well patronised including the 60s night held on top deck.
YORKYS KNOB: Wednesday 28th February.
Our first port of call and we were SOOO EXCITED to be met by the fabulous Ms Julie whom we had met onboard our World cruise 2017, along with her husband Matt they had been part of our family of friends till they left us at Dover, but the powers of Facebook meant we had kept in touch and here we were reunited for a fantastic day of a personal tour of Cairns and surrounds.
We first drove to Palm Cove a gorgeous seaside area reminiscent of Noosa and met up with her brother Michael whom joined us for some of the day and as we drank coffee in a local cafe we listened as the days plan began to unfold.
A coastal drive up to Ellis beach gave us views of the long stretch of coastline that goes to Port Douglas and beyond.
It’s beautiful country where the rain forest meets the sea.
White sand and inviting blue water gives you that idyllic tropical view but deadly repercussions should you dare swim in those waters from September till end of April.
Giving the nippers surf clubs up this way the normally “out of season” “in season”.
We took a short side trip to Smithfield shopping centre for us to pick up a few things and we drove on up to visually attractive town of Kuranda and stunning Bowen falls before heading to Julie and Matt’s stunning home for a little “scan” ( senior citizens afternoon nap) of around 20 minutes on their comfy outdoor lounges overlooking their pool and magnificent views to the hinterlands beyond.
Julie dropped us off in Cairns as she had to do a short 1 1/2 hour stint at work. We had a walk around the seafront shopping area and had a drink with Julie and her delightful daughter Cassidy when they came back to reclaim us.
What a wonderful day we had and from the sounds of everyone else’s story I think we had the best day. Look forward to taking our caravan up that way and poking around this gorgeous area in a much more in-depth way.
I confess I was a bit teary saying goodbye, good friends are just the best.
The next few days on the ship we met more people, kept up my morning walk and James his Pilates but changed our gym to late afternoon and made more use of those sun loungers .
DARWIN, SUNDAY 4th MARCH 2018.
We looked forward to meeting James cousin’s daughter Nadine in Darwin who had offered to pick us up and show us her home town even though she had never met us before. What a lovely gesture and what a lovely person she is.
We really felt immediately relaxed in her company and we went into town for a coffee and chat about what we’d do that day.
As we drove all around Darwin we were impressed with the many public green areas some teeming with kangaroos. Had a stop at the museum to go through the Cyclone Tracy exhibit and other great exhibits including some awesome art. We enjoyed lunch on the waterfront at one of the marine clubs after looking at some beautiful homes on the waterways very reminiscent of the Gold Coast and Mooloolaba areas.
Another stop at K Mart to pick up a few last things we felt we needed to make our cabin stay more comfortable. A lovely walk through the botanical gardens and before we knew we had come to the time to say thank you and goodbye till next time to Nadine.
Our next stop will be Komodo Island and a visit onshore to see those mighty dragons the islands famous for.
KAMODO ISLAND, Wednesday 7th March 2018
We were taking a ships tour today for the Dragon experience and although it was fantastic to see the Dragons up close and a lovely walk through the forest I wish I had checked out private tours as there is a lot more to this gorgeous island paradise than it’s namesake monster lizards.
It is beautiful here, lots on very green undulating hills, beaches and marine life to enjoy as well.
I would definitely consider a tour here for more time to enjoy it all.
It’s exceedingly hot today and as our tour only was for a few hours we have plonked our selves poolside hiding in the shade with frequent pool time.
The Dragons are an incredible story of survival as the likelihood of making it to adulthood is extremely difficult what with predators after them from the time they’re just an egg till they’re hatched and growing to adulthood and not just other animal predators but they’re cannibals and even parents will eat their young.
The island is home to humans as well and of course you have to walk the gauntlet of store holders wanting you to buy. Sadly if they left you to look at leisure you would be more inclined to stop and peruse. James did want a tank top for the gym but they were quoting ridiculous prices even with bartering would have been way too overpriced and the shirt ended up being bought at our next stop Manila.
Sailing away through the beautiful waters with glorious green islands was stunning and a real highlight.
The ship life is continuing to agree with us and we’ve had pretty smooth sailing.
Our dinner companions are great company and the shows at night have been enjoyable.
Drinks packages on here have been very reasonable and they’ve captured quite a few purchasers and probably one of the reasons the bars are busy and full till late.
MANILA, PHILIPPINES, Sunday 11th March 2018.
We arranged to be picked up by Ronnie at The Manila hotel which was just off the port we were docked at for our stay in the city.
Ronnie was our room steward during our world cruise in 2017 and James and he have kept in contact via Facebook.
We were delighted and thrilled to be invited to his home to meet his family including his wife Tina and their two daughters, son in law and brand new grand daughter.
We were welcomed into their home and given lunch before we walked around to their friends home where the son was celebrating his 21 st birthday with karaoke which had we stayed later would have got louder I’m sure as more friends were expected to arrive as the afternoon wore on into the evening.
Not knowing we were coming they certainly didn’t blink an eye and made us very welcome. Opening wine for us and bringing out different dishes for us to try.
Not wanting Ronnie to have to leave the party to drive us back we grabbed a Grab and headed to the Robinsons shopping mall where the ship had organised a shuttle from.
James bought that tank singlet and a real coffee before we took the shuttle back to the ship and a lovely warm evening on deck as the three main male singers entertained everyone as we sailed out of the harbour and started our journey to Shanghai China.
We had had a great day and as we drove through the city and suburbs we got a good view and tour by Ronnie. There’s a lot more to see here and who knows there may be another time to explore more.