Published: March 13th 2012March 12th 2012
We made it into Sydney, just. They closed Highway 5 that we were travelling on as there had been an accident and Ken Ken didn’t want to know about taking an alternative route so with the aid of the compass on our iphone, we somehow managed to get to where we needed to be. Having dropped off the car we needed a taxi to get to the ship but looking like a reasonably tidy version of ‘The Clampits’ – remember the TV programme many years ago? 2 drivers refused to take us but eventually a nice man stopped for us. The Cunard ship Queen Mary was also in port and had pinched our berth and made our ship look like a rowing boat but talking to some passengers the following day, we were very glad we were where we were, unless you pay top dollar on QM you don’t have full access to the entire ship, you pay for just about everything and they had also had a problem with the plumbing and several cabins had flooded.
We go through the check in procedure, Sal panicking as you had to sign a form to say you didn’t have
a cough, cold or the trots to the loo – cough of course was still hanging on. Our cabin was a bit of a shock. We had decided to go the whole hog and book a suite and looking at the photographs on the website and the 180 degree view they do of it, the size seemed pretty good – how clever are cameras these days, though we have now got used to it and it is roomy, it just wasn’t what we expected. In fact, we now realise that we probably chose the best cabin on the ship, we have got plenty of room, there is loads of storage space for our stuff, which turns out to be nothing compared to the many many suitcases some people brought and we have the most fantastic view, we are right at the front of the ship, directly beneath the bridge, so we look out at where we are going – it really is superb.
Waiting for us in our cabin was suitcase number 1 that we had put on the ship in Southampton and most of our stuff had stayed in reasonably good shape. Our other suitcases had been whisked away by crew at the terminal and we like many others were waiting for it. We had assumed that most people would be doing the entire world cruise but in fact about 75% had disembarked at Sydney and the same amount joined as we did.
We got a call asking us to come to an area as they were concerned about one of our suitcases. When we get there, we are met by the head of security, not sure of his nationalality, but he tells us there are concerns with our suitcase as it has see saws in it. We both look at him blankly. He takes us to our suitcase which is marked SUSPICIOUS.
He says we are not allowed see saws and the scanner has showed that our suitcase has see saws in it, so we have to open the case and rummage about until we find a pair of …… scissors ! Which Sal had only purchased the day before for some of the needlework she had intended to do, and they were confiscated, to be returned in Southampton.
There are 2 sittings for dinner and we had chosen the early one so off we go and discover we are on a table of 6. Harold and Hilda from Hampshire, Tinkerbell from Torquay and Benny from Benidorm via Wolverhampton. All names have been changed in case they don’t like what we say about them and get sued!. Tiknkerbell and Benny used to be neighbours but didn’t really know each other but had decided they both wanted to do a world cruise and it cut the cost to come together and share a cabin – obviously this was never going to work and also Benny had decided that he didn’t want a Fred Olsen cruise, he wanted to be on the Queen Mary so found fault with everything including Harold and Hilda so it was a bit tense to say the least. Col of course immediately forgot his instructions and went into happy chappy mode to jolly things along!!! The ship is Norwegian so the captain is from Norway but the rest of the officers are multi national and the majority of the crew come from Phillipines and are absolutely lovely. Our table waiter is called Gusty and comes from Bali and is a very nice lad.
Next morning, having unpacked everything, we were still in Sydney and were not sailing until 2pm so eventually decided to go for a walk though it was absolutely pouring with rain. We remembered it quite well from our previous visit so took a walk to Circular Quay under the bridge and towards the Opera House.
Back on board and a spot of lunch was to be followed by life jacket drill, they were very strict on ensuring everybody was there and we guess after the Costa disaster, most would come willingly. We set sail at 2.30 and the clouds kindly disappeared, the sun shone and we sailed under the bridge, with a great view of the harbour and the Opera House. A group of people were doing the bridge climb and waving to us like mad and the ship sounded its mighty horn, must have frightened them to death! The ship has its own orchestra, The Black Watch Orchestra who struck up on the back deck and people were dancing!
Before arriving in each port there is a talk about it, with a bit of history and what tours are on offer and the first talk was this afternoon, which was very good, to the point and gave you all the info required. Dinner, which was a a bit tiresome as they were all up the wall with each other and 2 of them wanted to let us know they were on the posh deck (so are we but we let them carry on!). Every evening there is entertainment and dancing but as this was the start of the 3rd
leg of the world cruise, they were also going to be telling us what was on offer as far as activities and lectures were concerned, which we hadn’t really been clued up on at all and had no idea these events would happen through the cruise. It all sounded great and we wanted to do most of it so our leisurely cruise was disappearing out of the window fast! The entertainment was a husband and wife pair, him on the guitar and her on the flute, and they were fabulous.
Each evening when our cabin stewardess turns down our bedclothes, she delivers The Daily Times which lists all activities/events for the next day, we highlighted what we wanted to do and, boy, did we have a busy day! If it is an at sea day, then there were plenty of things to do.
Our first full day at sea turned out to be extremely busy. We joined the line dancing class – bloody hell were we useless. The law of averages says that if you haven’t got a clue what you are doing, you would maybe get it right 50% of the time just by luck. I think we can say that 99% of the time we were wrong, on the wrong foot, facing the wrong way, doing our own thing – we were knackered at the end of it. This was followed by another port talk as 3 ports come fairly close together and then we were off to singing - yes singing! Neither of us has ever sung but they put together a choir on each leg of the voyage and we thought we would join in – we really enjoyed it!
Time for lunch, great choice of hot and cold food, from the buffet or cooked to order, if the weather is good and we are at sea there is a choice of eating in the dining room or on deck. Next on our activitity list was ballroom dancing, though we had done this previously (badlly though nothing to do with our teacher as she might be reading this!) we enjoyed the class and there were a few, one in particular who didn’t just have 2 left feet, he had somebody elses feet altogether and was most entertaining. Time for a cup of tea (full afternoon tea is available with sandwiches and cakes) before the art and craft class which we had also decided to do as, coincidentally, we had been talking about an idea for making stuff for Hearing Dogs and this sort of tied in. All of these activities have meant that we have met all sorts of different people and on the whole they have been very nice and very enthusiasatic for us to join in whatever activity, of course there are a few we have come across who are just naturally unpleasant and some who look like they are chewing a wasp!
Tonight was a formal night, so dressed up in our long frock and dickie, off we went to meet the Captain and guess what, more food but we have ploughed on with our table mates, just ignoring their grievances and it wasn’t quite so tedious and hopefully we have lightened the mood.