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Seek Timeless Treasures with Bill & Mary Ann - 2019 World Cruise -131 days

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Knowing that so many people were going to be off the ship during Mardi Gras, that was nice they changed things and celebrated early.

 

Hokey Pokey ice cream -- very nice treat.

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Report #46   Sydney, Australia   March 5, 2019   Tuesday   Partly sunny & 83 degrees     Part # 1 of 4    80  Pictures   Day #1

 

Well, here we are, docked in the White Bay Terminal, berth #4, but arriving around 7am.  The scenic sail into this fabulous harbor  was done in the dark of the early morning, shortly after 4am.  The Captain had no choice but to follow orders from the port authorities that dictate his position in the line of vessels arriving this morning.  Since we have done this sail into the harbor several times over the years, we were not disappointed to miss it.  But for those that were doing this for the first time, it was too bad.  Of course, they still could have listened to the commentary in the Crow’s Nest by Ian, we assume, at 4:30am.  They did advertise orange juice, coffee, and Opera House rolls at that ungodly hour.  By the way, it is a law now, and has been for some time, that no outdoor commentary can occur with any cruise ship, or there could be an $11,000. fine for each infraction.  You better bet there was no sound at all.  Other ships in port today were the Sun Princess next to us, and the Radiance of the Seas in Circular Quay.  Since that ship will not fit under the Sydney Bridge, they got the good spot. 

 

Between 7 and 10am, every passenger had to be inspected by the immigrations officials.  Those guests who chose to return to the ship, had to wait until everyone was cleared.  And since we were not in our usual spot, the waiting area was under a large extended tent.  We exited the ship when the final number #19 was announced, which was around 9:45am  The procedure moved quickly, except for those few that did not fill out their entrance cards according to the instructions.  After our passports were scanned, we turned them back in to be returned to the lock-up on the ship.  Job completed, we were off to wait for the next shuttle to Darling Harbor.  And the good thing was that it was going to be a warm day in the 80’s with a breeze and sunny skies in the morning.

 

The ride was quick, since the worst of the commute time was over.  Our friendly bus driver dropped us off near the Aquarium, same as last year, although, we could have sworn we were brought to the Rocks.  Would have been nice to be closer to Circular Quay, but those days are over.  The center of the business district is still undergoing renovations to put in a light rail system, and many of the major streets are closed to traffic.  It looked much the same for the last couple of years. And probably will for a few more.

 

But first, here’s a little info on the country of Australia.  It has a population of over 21 million people whose main language is English.  This country is big, but compared to the USA, they have far fewer people.  That is mostly due to the fact that the majority of Aussies live in cities scattered along its coastline.  The interior, the Australian Outback, is a combination of sunburnt horizons, red hues of Uluru (Ayers Rock),  opal mines, cattle stations, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, platypuses, and wombats.  It is also a nation of contrasts, with crocodiles, deadly spiders, sharks and snakes….some of the deadliest in the world.  Or you have the cosmopolitan cities, like Sydney, with iconic opera houses, fabulous beaches, spacious wineries, pubs, football, rock oysters, and vegemite.  It truly is a country with immense character and some of the friendliest folks you could ever meet.

 

The city of Sydney is the oldest and largest in the country.  There is no other harbor like it in the world that compares to the sail-in, in our opinion. And two days here is hardly sufficient to see it all.  But we have done many tours over the years where we did tour the city as well as the outlying areas not to be missed.  The ship offered many of these excursions for today and tomorrow.  Some of them included local site-seeing, a harbor cruise, a trip to the Taranga Zoo, or a chance to climb the iconic Sydney Bridge.  Hard to believe, but the cost to do this through shore excursions was $600 per person.  Wow.  Out of the area tours went to the Blue Mountains or a flight on a sea plane.  This evening, some folks will attend a performance at the Opera House, setting them back between $255 to $335 for A or B seating.  However, for some, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

We followed our usual hike pattern which brought us up and over the hills from Darling Harbor to Circular Quay, around the Opera House, then into the gate of the Royal Botanic Gardens.  That has got to be one of our favorite places in Sydney, besides the pizza restaurant, that is.  Taking our time strolling through this spacious garden, we tested the several benches with viewpoints along the way.  We covered most everything, with the exception of Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair.  At one point, we crossed paths with Eddy and Callista, who were also taking in the garden sites.  Like us, it is right up their alley, considering they are the ship’s expert florists.  

 

The time was slipping by, so we left the park, and made our way towards the Rocks area above Circular Quay.  Our lunch destination was Caminetto’s, a small Italian mostly outdoor café In the Argyle section of the Rocks.  In fact, the same table for two we usually have was available this afternoon, a good sign.  Ordering two happy hour draft beers, we shared a delicious Margherita pizza, and a Jamaican mud cake for dessert.  Once again, the best part was being able to relax and watch the world pass by for over an hour. 

 

There were two more stops we wanted to make before heading back home.  That was a stroll through the Queen Victoria Building for photos, and a shopping opportunity at Woolworth’s, the one stop lace for most everything we needed.  The best buy of the day had to be the one liter of #50 sunblock lotion for $9 Aussie dollars, which equates to $6.50 USD.  Here in Australia, they take their sun safety seriously, and make the lotions very reasonable to encourage their use.  In the ship’s shop, we paid $15 for a 3 ounce tube.  Yes, it is convenient that we can buy it here, but something is wrong with that price.  The second best buy had to be Tim Tams, which we will savor ever so slowly.

 

The shuttle bus was waiting for a few more folks before leaving on the ½ hour.  They will operate this shuttle until 11:15 tonight.  By the time we arrived back to the pier, the Sun Princess was on her way out of the harbor.  Around 6:30pm, while we were busy with photo processing and reports, the ropes of the Amsterdam were dropped, and we moved into the Princess ship’s berth.  Why, we really don’t know.  Anyway, we are here until tomorrow with all aboard at 6pm.  It is also the end of another segment and tomorrow close to 40 or so folks will be leaving, with an equal number joining.

 

Barb had a great day with friends Greg and Heo, who picked her up with two other buddies for an afternoon drive and lunch.  The guys will be joining us in Singapore for the remainder of the grand voyage.  Looking forward to welcoming them onboard.  The dining room was not busy this evening, since many people were off the ship or dining earlier.  There was no show at all in the Mainstage, but there was an 8:45pm Mardi Gras Bead Party in the Crow’s Nest.  The big draw was happy hour drinks, music, and dancing to celebrate Fat Tuesday.

 

Got to rest up for another marathon day tomorrow…..

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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Enjoy reading your reports.

 

Glad you were able to get your Margherita pizza.  That is an excellent buy on the sun lotion.

 

What are Tim Tams?

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Report #47   Sydney, Australia   March 6, 2019   Wednesday   Chance of rain & 85 degrees   Part # 1 of 4     80 Pictures   Day Two

 

Well, as you can see in the title, rain was in the forecast, but it was mostly sunny when we woke up. Come to think of it, our bus driver yesterday warned of a storm system coming from two directions soon, and when it hits, there could be some significant downpours.  But that was yesterday, so we thought the threat had passed.  Wrong…..but we would not find that out until much later in the day.

 

Waiting for the tours to go off, we set off for another day of exploring the city.  Our destination was Darling Harbor (really spelled harbour, but this computer does not like the spelling).  Once the bus finally arrived to the cruise terminal, we had already lost ½ hour waiting in line.  Not that we were in a hurry, but the buses were slow in arriving back from town.  Most all crew members and staff as well, wait in a separate group, then board the buses last.  Most of them have far less time to spare, so if they do get on ahead of us, we never complain.  Not so with some other passengers, who started getting hot under the collar when he saw this group move closer to the next coach arriving.  This man was ready to go tell someone who cared that they should wait.  Although we knew they were going to wait, this man and his wife were not listening to us.  Lucky for everyone, a very big bus pulled up, and we all fit.  As a matter of fact, yesterday the Captain’s wife stepped back, and waited with the crew to get on the shuttle.  Guess she has been caught in the middle before too.

 

The ride was quick, considering that the commute hours were over.  What we did notice was that the sun was disappearing behind some pretty big clouds.  Since none of the locals were carrying umbrellas, we figured they knew something we did not.  Nope, they just don’t mind getting a little wet.

 

We walked the length of Darling Harbor, dodging the many areas that are currently under construction.  The IMAX Theater is now gone, but being replaced with a huge project which will include a new theater complex.  The Sydney Convention Center and Exhibition building seem to over-power this end of Cockle Bay.  Passing the Chinese Garden of Friendship, we ended up leaving the area, and heading towards Chinatown. 

 

Chinatown in Sydney will probably be the closest we will get to anything Chinese, since we are not going to Hong Kong this year.  There will be Chinatown in Singapore, so that will be another substitute.  Since we were walking through here well before lunchtime, it was fairly quiet.  Last year, we were visiting on a weekend, and the streets were full of bargains.

 

At the end of the street was Sydney’s Paddy’s Market, Australia’s version of the Hong Kong Night Market, only bigger, and inside a building.  Most everything here is souvenir-type merchandise and more.  One whole section is dedicated to a produce market and meat and fish vendors.  This area made for the best photos.  The prices for the food products were sky high we calculated.  But we did find one bargain with a pair of reading glasses for $5 Australian, which computes to $3.62 USD. 

 

Making our way back to Darling Harbor, we checked out menus at every café and restaurant at this end of the harbor.  We are always on the lookout for another pizza place, but most of them we located, were more of a fast food venue.  The one place we like to go is the Hard Rock Café located in the Harborside Shopping Center.  Today was the first time in three years that we were able to purchase the city t-shirt.  They have been out of them every time.  So today we bought two….one for each of us.

 

Going up the escalator, we went to the restaurant area, which was not too crowded yet.  We split the haystack salad, which has just about disappeared from all the other HRC we go to.  They serve it with either grilled or Tupelo fried chicken, which really is the best.  Breaded and fried and really good.  We added two Stella beers and ended up sharing one order of the apple cobbler dessert.

 

There was free Wifi here, so we updated the Kindle and uploaded two games while we dined.  We should have brought the computer as well, but did not think of it until later.  There’s always Singapore, where we can go to another HRC there.

 

All aboard was 6pm, so we still had time since it was only 2pm by the time we left.  So we headed across the Pyrmont Bridge after passing through the mall shops and restaurants.  Gosh the sky was getting darker, but we really thought the rain would hold off.  We ended up back at Woolworth’s to pick up a few items we had forgotten yesterday.  That’s when we saw that their assorted flavors of popcorn were half off.  Had to bring back 5 more bags of the light treat.  While waiting in the cashier’s line, we looked out the opened door and saw that the rain had begun.  People were scurrying up and down the streets, most everyone without umbrellas.  Oh well, we will not melt, and it was still warm and muggy.

 

Turned out to be more of a passing cloud, which blew over briefly.  By the time it began to sprinkle again, we were close to the escalators and elevators back down to Darling Harbor and the waiting bus.  Once the bus loaded up, we were off for a ½ ride back to the ship in lots of traffic.  At least we had gotten back well before 6pm, but at least two crew members came back after 6pm, which we are sure they will have to answer for that.

 

Despite the weather, this was one sail away we did not want to miss.  The actual “party” was being held in the Lido Pool area under a closed dome.  This is not the best place to really watch the exit out of the harbor, so we stayed at the aft pool.  And it had a reward to it, since we outwaited a passing shower, to be presented with a double rainbow.  It was brief, but most folks missed it.

 

After 6:30pm, the ropes were dropped and we were off.  Passing all of the icons of the Sydney Bridge and Opera House, we slowly exited the long harbor, while watching the sun set.  Even though it was not the ideal exposure, once the sun went behind the hills, it was brilliant.  One of the best sunsets we have seen so far.  By the time the ship reached the headlands, the wind had picked up a lot, but we stayed until the last of the color was gone from the sky. 

 

It sure was a busy and exhausting two days in Sydney, but then, our visits are always the best.  We barely made it to dinner on time, but it was good we did, since the meal was better than usual.  Except for Barb’s friend Cecile, who joined us.  She had ordered the barramundi fish, upon the recommendation of the head waiter and Slam, but when she got it, it tasted not quite cooked enough.  That is not good for fish, unless you have ordered ahi tuna.  After sending it back, it still tasted “off” to her, which is a shame since that fresh water fish is usually quite tasty. 

 

There was an entertainer tonight, Patrick Roberts, a violin virtuoso, but all of us agreed we were tired and most ready for bed.  Hopefully he will perform again, because he was given a hard day to get tired folks into the Mainstage, especially the 10pm show.

 

A good saying seems appropriate for today’s report:  Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.  Anonymous.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

 

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Report # 48   Day at Sea   March 7, 2019   Thursday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees

 

Today was a mixed bag with the weather.  Our windows were covered with water, so we realized that it would be a rainy day.  In fact, the rain began in the evening, and continued all night.  It was not going to be a pool day for us.

 

The good news was that the fresh berries were back onboard for breakfast.  Gan served us a glass dish filled with raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and a few blueberries.  We wonder how long the new supply will last.  Hopefully more than a couple of days.  The Greek yogurt has not appeared yet, but we have high hopes it might be tomorrow.  In the meantime, we are getting used to the soupy brand.

 

Our two weeks had arrived for the President’s Club amenities.  This time we asked for flowers, but instead of the soda, we requested a beverage card.  It should be worth $40, but since they do not make the card in that amount, we got a $50 one instead.  A much better deal for us.  The only difference is that we can purchase our vitamin water or Coke Zero at the Explorations Café.  Or if we want special coffees, we can buy those as well.  If we went to the lounges, we could use the card for cocktails as well.

 

The seas have turned choppy as we sail up the east coast of Australia.  According to the Captain, we are sailing fairly closely to the land, although we cannot see it.  What we are seeing are cargo ships coming and going.  At least we do not feel all alone.  And during the day, we also spotted some dolphins jumping in the distance.  Every now and then, we saw some seabirds.  They were too small to be the albatross.

 

During his PM talk, Captain Mercer said that a storm of some significance is headed our way.  We could expect to see more of the rain, which could be heavy at times.  Hopefully it will be over before we get to the next port of Townsville.  We do not remember this type of weather in this part of the world, but then, we are three weeks later than we normally are.  We figure if you don’t have some bad weather, then you’ll never appreciate the better temperatures.

 

Two new guests speakers have joined us.  The first is George Friend, who dealt with World War II in the South Pacific.  The afternoon lecturer was Dr. Dennis Whitford, who specializes in coral reefs today.  Important for those onboard that will be going to the Great Barrier Reef soon.

 

Another movie screening, #2 of 5 was shown in the show lounge.  It was The Favourite, with the female Academy Award winner.  While that was being shown, many folks were learning to dance the waltz in dance class.  They will be practicing what they learned in the Ocean Bar later.

 

Today was a 4 meal day for us.  Starting with our light breakfast, we ended up meeting Barb in the dining room for a light lunch.  Soup, salad, and appetizers.  She was happy to report another “win” at trivia.  One of her teammates knew the answer to a question about Sesame Street, and she doesn’t even have kids.  They have a diverse group that absorb info like sponges.  Since we will be missing dinner tonight, it was a good time to chat.  Half of our fun is joking with our waiters Gan and Feri.  Nice guys.  Then around 4pm, we split a small sandwich in the Lido.  Otherwise, it would be too long a stretch for the 8pm dinner.

 

The Pinnacle Grill featured another Sel de Mer night, and we had reservations at 8pm.  Expecting a crowd, we found it half full.  It seems like every time we go there, we run into the Captain, Karen, and Hazel enjoying the mostly seafood meal.  Except for an ahi tuna salad, we ordered the pepper-crusted steak, which was cooked perfectly.  It comes with frizzled onions on the top, skinny French fries, and a salty cream-like gravy.  Starters were crispy French bread, salted herb butter, and a tray of assorted dips.  The menu is basically French Mediterranean, but you can make it what you like.  We saved a little bit of room for dessert, which was one profiterole tower and one apple tatin with caramel-drizzled ice cream. 

 

When we got back to our room, there was a plate of sweet/salted chocolates waiting for us. But they will be a treat for tomorrow.  And better news, the clocks went back an hour this evening.  Always welcomed by all.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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A storm headed for you -- doesn't sound good.

 

Your Sel de Mer dinner sounds delicious.  But I don't like salted herb butter -- HAL has tried that several times over the years in the Pinnacle.

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Report # 49   Day at Sea   March 8, 2019   Friday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees

 

Upon leaving Sydney a few days ago, we have begun another segment of the grand voyage, which ends in Singapore.  The last segment was from Auckland to Sydney, and during that short period, the number of eggs consumed was reportedly 15,120.  Now that is a whole lot of omelets.  The fuel used was 79,251 gallons, a significant amount as well.  The number of officers and crew is 614 with a total of 33 nationalities among them. 

 

The re-loading of food and supplies has paid off, since the good Greek yogurt and assorted fresh berries showed up for breakfast this morning.  Probably with the added help of our waiters, the berries were the largest we have seen so far.  And tasty.  Yes, they do spoil us.  After dinner last night, Slam presented us with bowls of Hokey Pokey ice cream, a complete surprise to us, since he said it was all gone.  By the way, the theme for tonight’s dinner was Rainbow with multi-colored lanterns suspended from the ceiling.  The idea was to celebrate life, healing, sunlight, nature, harmony, peace, and spirit.  No, we did not make this up….it was written in the description of Rainbow Dinner.  Gan told us the waiters would be wearing floral vests with gold lapels and bowties for the occasion.

 

With the sun shining for the better part of the day, we spent it outside.  The heat and humidity has increased noticeably as we head north west.  This part of Australia can be very warm as we recall.  The Captain mentioned in his PM talk that while in Townsville tomorrow, the UV index will be 15.  That is the highest we have ever heard.  Gobs of sunscreen will be needed if we plan on walking the town like we normally do.

 

Although we missed the talks on the next two ports in Australia, we did pick it up on the TV.  Of course, we have been to all of these places before, but it is always a good idea to get the updated version.  Things can change, like the story we have been hearing that Townsville was hit by heavy rains and winds recently, and some places may be closed for business.  On our last visit here in 2016, we found that several shops and restaurants had closed permanently.  We shall find out soon.

 

We had some questions concerning participating in ship’s tours.  Yes, we have done the majority of them over the years, either with HAL or with our travel group.  Our reasoning was that if a port was new to us, we could get the lay of the land with a group.  Then we could decide what ports were easy to navigate on our own, or not as safe as we would like.  And unless we have to take a shuttle to exit the port area or a trip to a mall, buses are not our thing.  Large numbers of passengers on a bus also does not agree with us anymore.  The biggest complaints we have heard from many people has to be the waiting for everyone to get on and off, too many bathrooms stops, and hours of riding with folks that have colds or worse. Inevitably, we end up sitting in front of the sick ones.  Not to mention lunches in places that offer strange food, where the only thing we recognize is rice or bread. For us, it is so much easier to do things on our own, dining where we like, and waiting on no one but ourselves.  That way we are free to return to the ship at any time we wish, as long as we are not late. The same applies to most overland excursions we do.

 

Back to our day at sea.  There seems to be more work happening onboard such as repairs being done on one of the lifeboats.  Most times this is done while the ship is docked and most guests are off.  For the last three days, the lower promenade deck has been closed off to through traffic with a section roped off.  It does tend to create a dangerous situation when too many walkers change directions and round the blind corners.  Some folks insist on speed walking, cutting corners on the wrong side.  That’s an accident waiting to happen. Right now the only thing preventing this is the fact that it has been very warm and humid, keeping lots of people inside enjoying the air-conditioning.  Guess this is to be expected on a ship that is soon to turn 20 years old.  We sure don’t hear or see repairs going on while on the Eurodam for instance.  New can be nice.

 

It was nice to be back at our table for dinner with Barb and her friend Cecile.  She has joined us for a few days, while her roommate, Diane, has left the ship to visit family in this area of Australia.  Our shared appetizer bowl of hearts of palm has returned, since they ran out of them several days ago.  We also have a plate of assorted cold veggies like celery, carrots, cauliflower, and olives.  With a side of ranch dressing, we all feel we are eating healthy.  As much as we love to eat the rolls, we have been substituting the rabbit food instead.

 

The show tonight featured a comedian by the name of Jim Short. His claim to fame was appearing on the shows of David Letterman and Conan O’Brien.  Doubt we will go since the heat of the day has left us both rather sleepy this evening.

 

And when we least suspected it, we had gifts left in our room.  They were black umbrellas, another useful gift.  Hope that does not mean the threat of a thunder storm will not happen tomorrow as the Captain warned.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Wonderful and informative report.

 

Sorry to hear that so much work is being done around the ship.

 

We have also gotten to hating to be on crowded buses and like you we always end up in front of those who are sick.

 

Hope it doesn't rain tomorrow and you have to use your new umbrellas.

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Completely agree about the crowded buses. We stay away from them and either do a van/car tour or just a walk about. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your posts are a delight. Your New Zealand and Australian posts have been a really interesting. Stay safe and have fun.

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Loving this...but how do I find pictures???  What a beautiful writer you are...thank you...

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Report # 50   Townsville, Australia   March 9, 2019   Saturday   Chance of rain & 86 degrees     Part #1 Of 3    80  Pictures

 

It should not be a surprise to us, but we are visiting this part of Australia during the time they get 70% of their annual rainfall.  Located in North Queensland, Townsville is a most popular tourist destination.  Not just for visitors, but for Aussies as well.  On average, they get as many as 320 days of sunshine, and most of them at dangerous UV levels.  Tomorrow the index has been predicted at a “15”, so sunscreen will be a must.  It’s no wonder that all of the local wear hats, including most all of the little kids.

 

There is a waterfront promenade called The Strand.  It is ideal for walking as it runs for over a mile, maybe more, along the sandy beach.  Today the red flag was flying to warn people to stay out of the water due to stinging marine jellies.  It is even unsafe to stroll the beaches , since the dying jellies can also harm you if you happen to step on one. 

 

There are many things to do and see here and out of town also.  You can visit the museum, or the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium right in town.  A visit to the Anzac Memorial Park and the Queen’s Gardens Botanical Park are pleasant spots to stroll.  Castle Hill is a prominent red mountain with an elevation of 938 feet.  You can get some pretty fantastic views up there.

 

Out of town activities include trips to the Billabong Sanctuary, 27 acres of natural tropical bush with local wild life.  And The Wet Tropics Rainforest, with claims of being the oldest surviving rainforest in the world – it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Then there is a 20 minute catamaran ferry ride to Magnetic Island, a resort island with native animals and a chance to swim in protected waters.

 

Shore excursions onboard offered three tours today which took in the city sights and out of town trips starting from $86 to $240.

 

The Amsterdam was docked by 8am, but it sure looked like the weather was going to be wet.  Sure enough, it began to drizzle as we left the ship after 10am.  With the temperature at 86 degrees, we figured the humidity equaled that number, making it feel like 120 degrees.  No kidding.  Today we had a long walk to reach the cruise terminal, full of nice souvenirs, then a short walk to the waiting shuttle bus.  That took us to the city center, about a 15 minute ride.  Compared to Sydney, there seemed to be plenty of buses, and a short time to wait. 

 

Although it has been three years since we visited here, it all came back when we arrived to town.  This part of the town has many colonial-style buildings that have converted to hotels and restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.  We seemed to recall that most of these establishments did not open until evening.  Riding with us in the bus was Barb and her friend Cecile.  They mentioned that one of the volunteer information ladies had told them that the aquarium was free today.  Well, we would have to check that out, because it sounded too good.  Especially when many folks had paid for a tour that included this aquarium visit.  There would be hell to pay if they found out it was free.  And the adult fare was $28, by the way.

 

Well, we went inside the aquarium and asked.  It was funny to see the look on their faces, because it was the first they heard about it. This was almost true, but the free entry today was for the adjacent Museum of Tropical Queensland.  Now that would work, since it was still raining outside, and we would have time to explore this venue. And besides, the aquarium was so hot and crowded already, we were glad to leave it.  The main subject of this museum was Exhibition 0f The HMS Pandora, the ship sent by the British Admiralty in 1790 to capture the Bounty’s mutinous crew in Tahiti. This was even more interesting since we recently came in contact with the descendants of the Bounty at Pitcairn Island.  Anyway, the Pandora’s crew was unsuccessful in locating the mutineers, and tragically, the ship hit the Great Barrier Reef and sank in 1791.  It laid on the bottom for 186 years, and today objects recovered from the wreck are part of this display.

 

Today happened to be the final day for the World Science Festival Brisbane comes to Townsville.  This was a hands-on science activity for families, so therefore, the admission of $15 per person was waived.  And because it was a Saturday, dozens of parents brought their kids, and the museum was crowded.  Then you add the cruise passengers on tour, and the museum was busting at the seams.  We breezed through the displays, then continued on our walk.

 

It was still raining, and heavy at times, but with umbrellas, we stayed mostly dry.  With a dozen maps and brochures, we headed towards The Anzac Memorial Park, which is the beginning of The Strand.  Besides monuments and dedications, this lovely park is full of old growth banyan trees.  They added a stately ambience to this peaceful place.

 

Further up the waterfront street, we passed the Waterpark which included a public swimming pool, and a shallow set of pools for the kids.  This water park was full of fountains and buckets that drop water unexpectedly on the little ones.  Picnic benches and grassy areas were perfect for family parties, which were happening today.  

 

Row after row of hotels, restaurants, and shops lined this street.  One that looked like a possible lunch venue caught our eye.  It was Longboard Bar and Grill, but it did not open until 11:30am.  Checking out the menu, we decided to come back here after 1pm.

 

Turning left, we went two long blocks to the Queens Gardens, established in 1870.  It was vitually empty of visitors, so we had the whole place to ourselves.  Although the showers had let up by now, the trees and grass were really wet and drippy.  It still was nice to stroll through the paths to see the many varieties of tropical flowering trees, heliconias, palms, and our favorite….frangipanis.  The rose and herb gardens were being renewed, and the small aviary ws empty of birds, since it was being updated. 

 

Besides the specimens of figs, almonds, Hoop pines, mangoes, and Moreton Bay Ash trees, there were birds.  We spotted some ibis, magpie larks, a  laughing kookaburra, and a pair of bush stone curlew.  After leaving the gardens, we walked back towards The Strand and saw more birds.  The street trees were blooming, and they were full of rainbow lorikeets, almost invisible to the naked eye.  You could hear them chattering, but it took some time to spot them in the dense foliage of the trees. They are masters at blending.  Further near the beach, we saw some of the large red-tailed black cockatoos.  They seem to hang around the trees that were dropping the seeds they love to eat.  We watched one brave magpie lark tormenting the parrot, trying to get at this source of food.  But the cockatoo was much larger and fierce-looking as he fanned his head feathers as well as his brightly-colored tail. 

 

It was time to head back to get seats in the Longboard, and hopefully order some ice cold beers.  By now, the sun had come out, and it was unbelievably hot.  The place was full of guests, some of which were from the ship.  Sitting at a table with a beach view and a wonderful breeze, we had to buy the beers at the bar, then purchase the Margherita pizza at the restaurant side.  A waitress brought the beers, and eventually a most delicious tomato-saucy, cheese topped crispy pizza crust.  We added a most interesting dessert, the only one they served.  It was a pineapple cut in half lengthwise, then scooped out and frozen. The pineapple was diced up into small bits, then frozen along with the shell.  Then it was topped with coconut and strawberry ice cream, with a scoop of mango sorbet in the center.  All of this was sprinkled with sliced strawberries and blueberries.  On the very top, there were meringue sticks rolled in coconut flakes.  We considered the treat mostly healthy, and enjoyed every bite, proving it is fun trying something new and different.

 

It was time to move on, since all aboard time was 4:30pm, and it was already close to 3pm.  We back-tracked, but took a wrong turn and were heading towards the Casino and the Ferry Terminal to Magnetic Island.  Since we will be here again next year, perhaps we will check out the island for a change.  Just as long as we know the ride back will work with the ship’s leaving.

 

Back at Flinder Street the city center, we boarded the shuttle that went back to the terminal.  And we discovered that there was a second coach that took folks to The Strand.  On or last visit, we had taken a bus back from the end of the promenade where the Kissing Point Boardwalk, lookout, and Rockpool are located.  If we had more time in port and if it wasn’t so hot, we could have walked to the end. 

 

At the terminal, we checked out the souvenir tables.  One vendor was pushing an oil that would help with the aches and pains of arthritis or muscle strain.  There were forms of magnesium or potassium elixirs that attracted the attention of just about everyone on this ship.  Wonder if these oils help?  Something tells us these small bottles were pricey, since many were looking, but few were buying.  Other souvenirs included tie-dyed silky tops and dresses, costume jewelry, locally-made clothing, and Aussie trinkets.  We made it through the maze unscathed this time. 

 

Sail away activities began at the Seaview Pool at 4:30pm, where trays of crocodile appetizers were passed around.  Really?  Those who tried the breaded and fried chunks said they sure tasted exactly like chicken.  One of us was game, while the other more cautious one did not.  Even the waiters admitted they had not tried one.  As we exited the harbor, we sailed past what we believe to be Magnetic Island.  There were several small islands, but this one seemed to have the ferries going there.  Visiting with many of our buddies was nice, since every one of them had done something different.  We stayed past sunset at 6:30pm, but it could not compare to the memorable one we had leaving Sydney.

 

Dinner was a mixed bag with choices.  The fish appetizer was not so good, but the bowtie pasta was even better when Slam had the chefs add marinara sauce instead of the creamy one.  We split that with our salad entrees.  Although we never ordered it, there was a cold smoothie fruit soup offered tonight.  It could be served for a dessert item as well.  Since we had indulged with dessert at lunch today, we passed on ordering it tonight.

 

The entertainer was Michelle Montuori, with a vocal performance  mixed with humor.  We were so tired, we passed. Another port, Cairns, is coming up tomorrow, and we needed to get some quality rest to take it on.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

PS  A note about the ferry ride in Sydney:  go to - captaincook.com.au for info on White Bay availability

 

 

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Report # 51   Cairns, Australia   March 10, 2019   Sunday   Showers & 85 degrees     Part #1 of 5   80 Pictures

 

By the time we woke up this morning, the Amsterdam was already docked in Trinity Wharf of Cairns.  Captain James Cook first sailed to this area in 1770, which happened to be Trinity Sunday.  So he named the inlet Trinity Bay.

 

Over a hundred years went by, when gold was discovered and the settlement became Cairns.  A train was created in 1885, helping  shape the town further, although the gold rush was over.

 

But what has put this city on the Aussie map has to be that it is the jumping off point for the Great Barrier Reef, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the reef has attracted millions of visitors to enjoy its beauty.  We have taken two different tours on fast catamarans to swim and snorkel off of pontoons situated over the reefs.  It was a long ride out there and back as we remember.  Having sunny days also helped for viewing the fish and corals.  We highly doubt that today’s weather contributed to both the boat ride or the snorkel experience.  It is the luck of the draw, but well worth trying.

 

Some of the ship’s tours included an excursion to the reef for $300 for 8 hours.  Two other islands offer a similar experience, but snorkeling off of the islands.  One was Fitzroy and the other was Green Island.  We have done Green Island and would not recommend it, since it was nothing like being at the real reef.  Of course, the price was better at $200 for 5½ - 7½  hours.  Outside the city, a better choice would be the Skyrail Rain Forest Cableway tour, or the trip to Kuranda on the train.  They are a good way to experience the rainforest in the nearby mountains.

 

As one might guess, it was a mostly rainy day with passing showers….some heavy at times.  With the temperatures in the high 80’s, the humidity must have risen to 100%.  When it rained, the streets literally steamed.  It’s no wonder that the city and surrounding rainforests are so lush and green.  During the drier season, Cairns is really another beautiful vacation destination for visitors and local families as well.

 

So when we walked off the ship after 10am, it began to rain.  This would be a good time to pay a visit to the modern mall at the Railway Station, about a one mile or more walk.  We were here two years ago, when many of the major streets were under restoration, getting a facelift.  This city is known for their fruit bats that always “hung around” in the city’s trees, where many pedestrians shopped or dined out.  Needless to say, it was a messy problem.  So the story we heard, was that if they removed their favorite trees, they could control where they roosted.  It seemed to work, because we did find these strange creatures concentrated in one area around the library and government buildings.  In fact, there were signs posted warning the passerbys that sprinklers would automatically go off every 15 minutes.  The purpose was to help keep the fruit bats cooler during this hot period.  How thoughtful…..

 

Anyway, back at the Central Mall, we discovered that was where most all of the locals go on a rainy Sunday morning.  We found that there were anchor stores like Coles (grocery store), Target, Kmart, and Myers.  Every mall-type shop was there too.  We did not need anything today, but it was nice to walk in an air-conditioned venue for an hour.

 

Simply by accident, we came across a large veggie, flower, and souvenir market.  We have been to their Night Market before, which does not open until 4:30pm, but not this one.  What we liked was to be able to photograph some of the different produce that we do not have at home.  One such item was bamboo.  Big chunks of the bamboo were sold along with the fresh veggies and fruit.  Since today was Sunday, this market was bustling with shoppers. 

 

We still had a lot of ground to cover, so we headed off to see those bats.  There was still a lot of construction happening in the central business district with hotels going up we assume.  There are a number of resort hotels here already, so the demand for more must keep the locals busy.  We did pass by several places that were closed today, because it was Sunday.

 

The one part of town we always like to see is the Esplanade.  It is a 1½  mile walk from end to end, and a haven for bird watchers like us.  Located on the lagoon, we followed the manicured pathway, taking us past many cafes, restaurants, and vista points with bird plaques.  The tide was out, so what birds were there included masked lapwings, bush stone curlews, Caspian terns, gulls, magpie larks, whimbrels, and pied oystercatchers.  But the best sighting had to be the Australian pelicans, big as all get out, and fearing nothing.  This small flock had staked their territory and were not moving for man or beast.

 

By the time we got near the end of the esplanade, we were stopped by a local policeman, who asked us to wait for a few minutes.  He informed us that a rescue helicopter was on the way to land in the grassy field right across the road from the local hospital and perhaps 100 feet from us.  So we witnessed the noisy landing, and watched as the paramedics took a patient from the copter and got him on a hospital gurney.  Since this chopper came in from the ocean side, we assumed it was a medical evacuation from the reef.  But we saw that the man was Aboriginal, and looked injured, as in an accident.  He seemed alert, so that was a good sign he will be OK.  We were afraid that the patient may have been someone we knew from the ship, like when our friend Bill was suddenly taken to the hospital in Hawaii this last fall.

 

Continuing on, we made it to the mangrove section of the lagoon, and decided it was time to turn around and head for lunch, as it was getting near 1:30pm by now.  All aboard was 5:30pm today, so we needed to squeeze in every stop we wanted to make.  On the way back, we passed by the little kid playground and some picnickers that were making use of the BBQ stations located along this promenade.  Eventually we reached the public swimming pool, which did not go any deeper than 1 ½ meters.  It is spread out like a lake with fountains here and there.  At one end, there is even a real beach with sand, where one can enter the pool just like going into the surf.  It is ideal for the families with young kids.  And today it was so warm and sticky, we could have gone in….clothes and all.

 

As the lagoon came to an end, so did the Esplanade walkway.  Continuing on, we walked around some barriers where more shoreline work was in progress.  This is where the small boat marina is located, and many good restaurants.  By now, we were hungry and thirsty, and we knew exactly where to go.  Running into Ginger and Bill, they recommended a café with Salt in the name.  They had wood-fired pizza and some good fish dishes.  We said we may go back there, if the place we were going was not there.  Well, as it turned out, the Marina Paradiso had gone out of business.  Another one bit the dust.  But right next door, was a good alternate choice, since we did not have to walk all the way back.  One of us was feeling the effects of the long hike, so Dundee’s Waterfront Dining was the best choice for us today.  It was nearing 3pm, and the chefs stopped cooking at 3.  So we ordered a meat-lovers pizza and two beers XXXX Gold.  The pizza was delicious with thinly sliced ham, smoked chicken, and chorizo.  The beer was wonderfully cold and tasty.  Asking for a dessert menu, our waitress brought a fully loaded tray of their dessert assortment.  They all ,looked tempting, but we chose the date and ginger muffin topped with ice cream.  Sitting in a puddle of caramel, the dessert was warm enough for the ice cream to melt.  Another new treat for us.

 

The ship was docked so close to here, we could see the aft section from this restaurant.  We had gone full circle in 6 hours.  Running into Susie and Eddie, they told us they had just gotten back from the trip to Kuranda.  They had heavy rains as well up there….probably a lot more than we got down here.  But then, they saw the rainforest in all of her glory.  Then they were off to do the same hike we had done earlier.  They are real troopers.  Bet we see them at sail away.

 

Working on photos, we relaxed in our room until 5:30pm, then went to deck nine to take even more pictures.  Just as we expected, Susie and Eddie did show up at the Seaview Pool as the sun was setting.  We all agreed that it was nowhere near as nice as Sydney’s sunset, but nothing probably ever will compare to that one.

 

At dinner, we found we still had our guest friend, Cecile, joining us once again.  One of her tablemates was due to return today from an overland adventure, but she wrote her to say her flight had been cancelled.  You never consider that these things can happen, but coming from a smaller town, anything is possible. 

 

Did we mention that some new items have shown up in the dining room?  Namely, they are new butter plates, which are ceramic, and not the chilled stainless steel bowls.  These plates are so small, they only hold 2 pats of butter.  In addition, new sugar and creamers have replaced the older pieces.  Now you have a creamer with no handle, a nice rectangular metal dish for sugars, and a tray to put them on.  Some guests like hot milk, so this may be a problem.  Also, it will difficult to hold these creamers without getting your fingers in them.  Nothing stays the same, does it?

 

Really looking forward to three days at sea now, as we begin the Great Barrier Reef Experience.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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I'm still working my way through your posts - I'm only at about Report #22 - but so far, it seems like you have been having a blast. Thanks for sharing your World Cruise experience with us all! One day, I would love to go on a world cruise. It seems like such an amazing experience, getting to see the world and meeting so many amazing people along the way. 

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Just got caught up with your last 2 days of ports.

 

I wonder if you two have ever thought of keeping track of all the miles you walk each day as well as the entire cruise.

 

 

 

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Report #52   Day at Sea   March 11, 2019   Monday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees    Part #1 Of 1     50  Pictures

 

Today was a day at sea, or as we like to call it, a day of recovery from two intensive port days.  The forecast for the weather was only half correct.  Sunny, yes it was, but the temperatures were 20 degrees off.  It felt closer to 90 degrees or more in the sun.

 

After breakfast, we took our morning walk with a mostly empty deck.  With one exception……there had to be two teams of crew painting every little bit of rust they could find.  Mostly overhead.  It is great that the ship is kept in as good condition as possible, but the fumes of the white paint were suffocating for the workers as well as the passengers.  Must have been the high heat and humidity that intensifies the aroma.  The good thing was they were gone by 10am, as it must have been break time.

 

Although we had a lot of work ahead of us with yesterday’s photos, going to the aft pool to swim was a much better idea.  We have three days at sea to catch up, and as long as it was not raining, spending time in the fresh air was good.  No doubt about it, with a following wind, today was going to be a scorcher.

 

One of us has been reluctant to use the ladder into the pool with a knee that has been hard to bend.  Feeling much better, there was no better time to test the waters, literally, and give it a try.  Well, it was OK and the almost cool water was heavenly.  Many newcomers have been surprised to discover that the pool water is fresh, and even warmed.  Cold would have been better today, but what do we know.

 

It was also a good test of the new sunscreens we have bought along the way.  The ones that are # 50 seem to be the best in preventing burns.  As the ship heads up the east coast, it always impresses us how hot it can get when we are surrounded with so much water.

 

We think this is an appropriate time to mention some things NOT to do in public on a cruise ship.  Wearing of bathrobes in the Lido, or the elevators and definitely not in the dining room at breakfast. Yes, we have seen this on the Eurodam.  Attempting pedicures on the lower promenade deck or at the swimming pools should be prohibited.  Not a pretty sight to behold.  And here we thought the lady with the shower brush sluffing off her dead skin by the pool was bad.  No, we don’t make these things up.  It does help to have a large book to read to block the strange activity.

 

Right now, we are sailing through the Great Barrier Reef with the expert help of a reef pilot.  All day long we passed by small islands and atolls that all appear to be uninhabited.  This is also the channel for all other shipping traffic.  These containers and freighters added color to the local scenery.

 

The morning guest speaker, Denny Whitford, dealt with sea turtles, sea birds, and sea snakes.  Right up our alley, but we’ll have to catch his lecture on TV later.  The afternoon lecturer dealt with World War II and the impact in the South Pacific.  Darwin has a lot of history during that period, so we guess his talk will tie in with that.

 

Another feature movie was Beautiful Boy shown in the Wajang  if nothing else, it is a good way to keep cool during the hot afternoon.  There were three chances to see it - 3, 6 and 9pm.  Perhaps it will show up on TV tomorrow.

 

After a light Lido lunch, we worked in the coolness of our room until the sun began setting.  Time to go up to deck three and take some more photos.  It was not spectacular, but with some clouds on the horizon, there was some color to it.  As it got darker, we noticed flashes of lightning in the sky.  That activity would continue all through the evening. 

 

Dinnertime found the three of us back, with no guests.  Barb’s friend had come down with a cold unfortunately, and decided to stay in for the evening.  Phillip stopped by for a chat, asking us what we thought of the dinner menu.  Well, we informed him that we preferred the simpler appetizers and entrees from past cruises.  Sometimes over-creativity leaves a lot to be desired, when we have gotten used to regular meals.  The fancy sauces, or over-spicy dishes with strange garnishes are really not for the three of us.  Give us good old country cooking, and we’d be happy campers every night.  Also, we are glad to have the recognizable substitutes offered every day.  Phillip informed us that a new menu will be introduced in the Pinnacle Grill sometime this voyage, adding that the Canaletto already has been updated.

 

The entertainers this evening were David Meyer and his wife Dawn with a musical venue “unlike anything you’ve seen before”.  Except we do think we have seen it before, but on another ship.  As promised, it was an electrifying show.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Strange things seen on ships -- on one cruise we were in a Neptune Suite -- had full view of the PS.  A man continually came out in the buff to use the whirlpool.  Noticed several people taking pictures of him.

 

Do agree about food -- we like the simple things -- no fancy garnishes and fancy sauces and don't need things spicy.

 

Enjoying your reports.

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Report #53   Scenic Cruising Torres Strait   March 12, 2019   Tuesday   Partly sunny & 82 degrees    Part #1 Of 1   20  Pictures

 

Today from 8am to 12 noon, we sailed through the Torres Strait with intermittent commentary with Ian, but only in the Crow’s Nest, the outside decks, and also on TV.  For those who decided to get up early, there were Torres Strait Rolls served in the atrium and Crow’s Nest as well. 

 

Our breakfast time is always around 8:30am on sea days, for at least an hour, so we missed much of the commentary.  But from what we saw outside the dining room windows, it looked much the same as yesterday’s sailing.  But the good news, is that a tray full of the delectable rolls were being passed around all of the tables.  Usually we decline the sweet rolls, but not the Panama Rolls.  At least the bakers are keeping the filling the same, and not substituting something like bean curd.  They did that once when we sailed into Hong Kong, and few folks ate them.  The crew members were happy since they loved them. 

 

We should remember to read the daily newsletter early in the day, because we missed the unveiling and sale of the 2019 Grand World Voyage t-shirts and caps.  These are the shirts that have the ports of call printed on the back.  Really, they should have been in the shops when we boarded, but they were not.  Nor were they promised to arrive at any time during this trip.  So it was a surprise to us when we found out that most all of the men’s t-shirts were sold out.  In fact we heard that people lined up all the way down the hallway to wait for the store to open.  The general consensus was that the women’s sizes were much too small, but the men’s were a better fit for both men and women.  We did inquire late in the day, and were told more might come in further into the cruise. 

 

It was going to be another warm and sticky day, so we went to the Seaview Pool, only to find that the crew were netting it.  Eventually, we noticed that it was being drained.  Either someone got sick in there, or perhaps there was another problem.  Oh well, there were always the showers back here to use to cool off.  A few hours later, a crew of three workers came with cell phones, and took pictures of the ladder area.  Turns out there was a leak big enough that the pool may be closed for a while, although we sure hope not.

 

After lunch we had a job to do……use our complimentary $50 gift card at the Explorers Café.  That should buy us 19 cans of soda, but the girl only had 7 on hand.  No problem, as we could always get the rest tomorrow.  Well, when she brought out the sodas, we found them outdated by a lot.  Like Dec 2018 and January 2019……more than two months old.  And we thought this only happened when they delivered us cases to our room that were outdated too.   And yes, you can taste the difference when they expire.  The nice girl immediately apologized and located two cases of sodas in the Ocean Bar with dates in April.  We bought all of them, and paid the difference.  The funny thing is that with a drink card, you do not get the Mariner discount.  The bargain is already built into that card, because the cost was $40, but it had a value of $50.  Fair deal.  The extra sodas were ½ off for us, as long as we bought them here, or through room service. 

 

Tonight’s dinner was gala with a theme of Under the Sea.  One of our favorite evenings, the decorations were blue and turquoise with centerpieces of seashell-filled vases with little “candles” in them.  The seat covers were green and turquoise with matching napkins.  When helium balloons were allowed, the decorations were a variety of fish, and most colorful.  Back then, everyone walked away with the balloons to use in their rooms or decorating their hallway doors.  Can’t say we miss that.  All of that has been banned these days.

 

Anyway, we had the company of one of the navigation officers, a young fellow from the Netherlands.  He brought the wine, and the three of us added the conversation.  Barb was happy because she was in “caviar” heaven with several servings for one appetizer.  This special treat has been barely seen on the menus so far.  One of us had the surf and turf, minus the lobster.  The other had chicken Caesar salad, with the alternate shrimp cocktail.  But the surprise dessert was the best…..Slam had located the Hokey Pokey ice cream, and served all four of us a glass full.  The officer, Casper, really liked the New Zealand treat.

 

The clocks went back ½ hour tonight, the first of the unusual time zones we will encounter as we circle the globe.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

 

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Sorry you missed out on the world cruise t-shirts.

 

Hope they do get another shipment in.

 

Doesn't sound good about the aft pool for a few days.

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Report # 54   Day at Sea   March 13, 2019   Wednesday   Partly sunny & 75 degrees       Part# 1 of 1    49  Pictures

 

We did not think it could get hotter, but today’s predicted temperature of 75 degrees was way off.  Right now, at 3pm, it is 86 degrees (in the shade) with 91% humidity.  Making it feel even hotter, the wind is clocking in at 6 knots.  Barely nothing.  But then, we recall this is Darwin heat this time of year.  Unreal.

 

Going to breakfast in the dining room is always fun.  Of course, we always have customized meals, compliments of our waiters, which are always good.  But the fellows are better entertainers than the nightly shows.  We are enjoying getting to know them better, as they like to share some aspects of their lives onboard the ship, as well as at their homes.  One of those aspects was apparent today when we spotted many of the guys with new haircuts.  Gan explained how their ”barbershop” worked in the crew quarters.  Each section of their hallway has one guy that has the talent for cutting hair.  And they take turns opening up shop to give their friends $5 haircuts.  Gan says it is territorial, and each group respects those boundaries.  Most all of the guys get the same type cut, with the sides and backs almost shaved, leaving the top a bit longer to put in the gel.  Feri, our assistant waiter, says the guys all look like pineapples!  We all laughed with his remark, except for his friends, who jokingly chased him with their knives and forks.  Anyway, the fellows are getting ready to look “cool” for their families as we approach their homeland of Indonesia.

 

Wonder why the promenade deck was mostly empty this morning?  Must have something to do with the heat.  Two times around the deck, and everyone is soaked through and through.  It’s probably worse for the workers who have to wear overalls while scraping and painting.  We asked Caspar, our dinner guest last night, about how many independent contractors were working onboard the ship right now. His answer surprised us when he stated about 30 guys are working, but mostly behind the scenes. Guess it takes more work than one would expect to keep these ships operational.  And it is no surprise that the ships routinely need dry docking to get the maximum repairs done all at once.  This one is due for a dry docking after the 2020 grand voyage we understand.

 

While many folks were attending talks in the air-conditioned lounges, we went to the Seaview Pool with no water.  Two workers under the direction of an officer, were fixing the places where the leaking was suspected.  If it is a hit-or-miss thing, then this might take a while.  We sure hope not.  Since it was so hot out there, we left an hour earlier.  Once we finished our quart jugs of ice and Crystal Lite, we were out of there.  Even friends, Bill & Leta, who visit us back there often, only stayed 15 minutes.  There have been a few times that the sunburn appeared after a short time.  Today would have been one of those days. 

 

Lunch was a light one in the Lido with a new salad server behind the counter.  The regular fellow went home, and he has been replaced with one of the younger waiters, who happens to serve coffee in the dining room at breakfast.  He proudly told us that he was recently promoted to salad server, and he looked forward to seeing us there soon.  Well that was today, and he was so happy to do his job.  There sure are a bunch of nice fellows (and gals too) in this crew.

 

Today there was a notice on the front page of the daily newsletter regarding our stop in Komodo Island.  It stated that the entrance to Komodo Island would be restricted to only those who were on a pre-arranged tours, either through Shore Excursions, or privately.  The remainder of the guests would be denied leaving the ship.  We already knew this from previous visits, but unless we missed something, this is the first warning we have read.  It wasn’t so long ago that everyone was allowed to tender over to the island, and pay a local guide a fair amount, like $25, for a 2 hour tour to see the dragons.  On the way back to the tender landing, people had the chance to purchase souvenirs under the tents.  Now it runs about $96 per person to do the same thing.  So far, we are leaning towards staying on the ship, but who knows….we may change our minds.

 

We happened to be across from the Ocean Bar when another session of Special Edition Sip & Savor or wine with appetizers was held in the Crystal Terrace, deck 5 atrium.  The draw is the price of $5 for a glass of wine, which normally runs $9.  Today, the entire area was full of sippers and tasters.  They have created a winner here.

 

The sun set around 7pm, so we went to deck six forward to get some photos.  Not promising to be a great one, it slowly developed into a pretty nice one.  We had just enough time to make it to dinner on time.  Tonight there was meatloaf on the menu. Even though it is not considered fancy cuisine, it sure tasted good for a change.  So did the everyday chicken noodle soup.  The shaved beef salad was refreshing on such a hot day, and sharing a pumpkin muffin with chocolate sauce was even better.

 

There was a variety show with comedian Jim Short and musician David Meyer.  With all the sun and heat today, we decided to turn in early, since tomorrow will probably be another hot one in Darwin.

 

Bill & Mary Ann

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