A photo of The Columbus and The Vasco Da Gama close to each other for transfer at sea of passengers and supplies.

If you read my last post you will see that nothing was mentioned about Coronavirus and you may wonder why.

Simple! it wasn’t a factor when we left home in February. It was only something happening in China and we weren’t travelling there.

On board we had no internet as very expensive and the tv channels were turned off and only showing movies. Hence our information was diluted and probably same as everyone else didn’t think it would turn the whole world upside down.

By the time we left Singapore for the second time we began to see that it was likely to affect some of our port calls and then just like that in a blink of an eye it all changed dramatically.

Malaysia announced we couldn’t dock as we’d been to Cambodia and so we were going to then spend two days at Phuket Thailand.

The captain anchored off Phuket and announced we needed to have a passenger taken off who was suffering pneumonia and had to be tested for Coronavirus before we’d be allowed into dock Portside.

24 hours later the whole world closed up and although the result was negative ports all around the world started shutting their docks to ships and the captain announced the cruise would be curtailed.

At first it was hoped Vietnam port of Phu My would allow us in to do a passenger exchange with the other CMV ship The Columbus that was in the vicinity and on their way back to England from their world cruise.

We would take the Australian and New Zealand passengers on board and they would take all ours from Europe, the UK and US.

In the end it was a week later and the exchange took place 18 nautical miles out at sea using both ships tenders.

It was an amazing feat and we sadly hugged Andrea and Thomas goodbye as they transferred to The Columbus.

Our destination now was our starting point Fremantle, Western Australia.

As with the rest of the world things changed daily and we went from thinking we’d all be able to get off and either fly home or take a holiday in WA to goal posts changing and doors shutting on every compromise we thought of.

We were told to have flights booked then the next day that changed to the fact we would be going into quarantine at Rottnest island then the next day passengers from WA would be the only ones going to Rottnest and the rest of us would be put in hotels.

Just on an aside, the government knew we were clear of Coronavirus and we hadn’t docked for almost three weeks so we were complexed as to why they didn’t get us all on the flights we had booked before the quarantine deadline which would have saved them massive dollars. And we could have all quarantined in our home states.

As a precaution they could easily have arranged testing while we were all on the ship.

Our cabin. Lucky we didn’t have to quarantine in here.

The kiwis had a cursory check before being escorted off and flown home to Auckland.

Anyways we were all transported off the ship with police escorts,the army involved with luggage transfers and border patrol officers doing the rest.

Before I go on I have to applaud CMV who still gave us a great holiday by ensuring it was business as usual on board.

Not one aspect of the cruise was compromised from entertainment, food, service etc.

All this when we were now on a free cruise as we were assured of a money back promise and with great discounts offered on a future cruise their future cruise desk was Packed for days.

Onboard we continued with our daily lives with James taking pilate classes, ukele and going to the gym.

I had a daily hour walk with Jennifer and art classes to attend. We did quizzes, met for pre dinner cocktails and music, attended evening shows, cabarets, on deck parties etc. all in all we were living in a happy bubble.

And most of all we were healthy.

Life at the Crowne Metropol.

On arrival we were given our room numbers and picked up our envelopes off a table and one room at a time we took lifts to our floors and rooms.

We were also given a dinner pack down stairs. Unfortunately due to the length of time food had been waiting it was not particularly edible as was the breakfast the next day.

Things did improve and we also were delivered some groceries by our friends living in Perth. We used those extras to supplement our massive rations at each meal. The problem was it was all very high carb so the fruit and yogurt, ham, bbq chicken, tomatoes, Brie cheese we had bought in was great. We were not eating about half of what we were issued each day.

Care package of groceries, felt like Christmas.

Just to be clear we are not complaining just telling it how it is.

Our room was extremely comfortable with a beautiful big bath tub and great view.

Unfortunately we had no window that opened so no fresh air.

And just in case you think we were staying in a five star hotel with all the perks NAH!

No alcohol, no cigarettes allowed no real cutlery, plates or even ice.

You couldn’t order in coffees or room service of any kind and not that we expected to get any of it for free if we could.

You could get delivery food but with no microwave to heat it was pretty hit and miss if it would be worth the cost. Hence grateful for our friends including a small sharp knife. Oh and tonic water and lemons for that illicit duty free gin I had. Shhhhh.

A knock on the door would let you know food has been delivered or fresh linen and cleaning products. Though no vacuum cleaner was allowed so floor got a bit messy.

Throughout our stay we kept each other amused with a group messenger site Vasco pirates with a group of our friends from onboard. There was some good laughs and funny video chats with everyone.

We played games like I spy by taking photos in our rooms or out our windows and giving the letter clue.

There was Friday formal frock night. Online exercises, online group music dance parties and so much more. Hence at the end of the first week I hadn’t even finished reading one book!

We spent time cancelling travel plans for the rest of the year, remember we weren’t due to come back to Australia till mid December.

Organising credits for those that didn’t give money refunds and we started to think about our options for when we got out of quarantine and flown back to NSW.

First we heard news that our friends on Rottnest had been told on the Thursday that they would be leaving the next day, we waited and waited to hear any news regarding those of us in the hotels. It didn’t come till late morning on the Friday with an announcement that we’d be free from 4:30 pm. Lots opened their doors and whooped with joy, and although no one overstepped the distance ruling we were quickly told to get back in our rooms!

We organised to all meet in the foyer and had a wonderful social distancing walk along the Swan river. To be fair we were too many in our group and although we were pretty good at the distancing thing knew we were getting a bit of leeway as we’d been cooped up.

Our flights back to Sydney we’re on the Monday and we’d been told that we would be put up for as long as it took to get home.

At Perth airport the gang waiting to fly to Sydney.

People including ourselves had flights booked then cancelled by the airlines as they either stopped flying altogether like Virgin or were running on the barest of schedules there were two flights a week showing for Perth to Sydney and none at all from Perth to Brisbane which is what we were really after.

Our thoughts on where we’d spend the next six months came down to this.

We didn’t have a vacant home we could move into so we would be renting wherever we went. We didn’t fancy winter in NSW in our caravan for more than a few weeks.

We decided to look for somewhere warm, somewhere coastal, somewhere we hadn’t been before ( so still like travelling and discovering ) and a place probably hurting from lack of tourists. Port Douglas fit the bill and the rental prices reflected the strain the town was feeling due to no tourists.

We registered as Qld residents, picked a fully furnished property and checked with all the appropriate departments etc.

Got our border pass online then began the journey to get there.

It was a flight, car hire, a flight, another car rental but we made it.

Our warm welcome from Belinda at Cairns airport

We are very happy with our choice of apartment. With its own plunge pool we don’t have to worry about the no swimming in communal pools, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms mean eventually people can come stay.

We made a list of the few extra things we felt we needed to make it a little more comfortable for us and set about setting up home.

A second hand coffee machine bought on our way from Cairns to Port ended up being fantastic and I purchased a smoothie maker too.

We finally were able to purchase push bikes from Kmart ( we bought our helmets and bike chains with us) and we also bought our motorcycle gear with us and will be looking to buy one before the four week car hire is up.

After spending a trillion dollars at the supermarket we settled in to life in the slow lane.

Push bike rides, swims in the pool, painting, exercise, binge series watching and back to cooking!

Looking forward to restrictions lifting bit by bit so we can explore more of the surrounding areas as we’re right on the Barrier reef doorstop as well as the Daintree and port Tribulation etc.

What a strange place the world is at the moment and most countries in the same boat so it’s a universal situation with lots of social media funnies and conspiracy theories to keep everyone entertained.

I wonder how things will be in a years time.


  1. Hi Guys. A great insight into your journey so far. Glad you’ve settled into Port Douglas. I’ll call soon. Love Annette.


  2. Fascinating insight into your aborted trip. Amazing to think that we probably would have met up today in Southampton ready for our cruise together tomorrow…..maybe in a few years.

    Yes we would have been getting together and toasting ourselves for new adventures ahead.


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