Kimberly Expedition Cruise - the 1st part of our 5 1/2 month trip.
After the expedition, we spend 5 days in Perth with Adam then fly to Amsterdam & train it to Utrecht to pick up our motor home. From there we drive towards the Scandinavian countries, including Iceland, then to the Latvian countries, Russia, Poland, northern Germany, before dropping the motor home off in Utrecht. We have already sold the motor home to a couple from Darwin so they will take it over in later September. We will then hire cars and use train travel to see the Normandy region in France, and Basque region in NW Spain. We will be flying back to Australia on 16 October. Day 1, 2 & 3 on 12 to 14 May 2014 on the Kimberley Expedition
After jumping onto the bus at the Darwin Hilton Hotel, which the cruise company organised, they drove around to the Casino, Botanic Gardens and along the Esplanade before dropping us off at Stokes Hill Warf.
Boarding the ship was very easy, showing our passports to Customs and telling the Lindblad/National Geographic staff our name. Lindblad and the National Geographic have joined to cross-promote
each other's services which is an additional advantage of this Kimberley Cruise.
We found our cabin and settled in. As it is a ship which takes only 102 tourists, it didn't take too long to find all the facilities. It only has 1 restaurant, 1 lounge and a deck where breakfast is served. There is a lounge at the front of the boat were 24 hour coffee and soft drinks are available as well as 2 computers for people to download their photos from their cameras. There is a small gym (thank goodness), a spa and sauna as well as an area where you can get a massage. Morning stretches and yoga classes are offered every morning at 6.30am - too early for me!!!!
The welcome party was in the lounge, which included ample champagne, wine etc. as well as sandwiches and pastries.
We called our lovely children, Adam and Kerrie as we didn't know how accessible WiFi was going to be as we were first going to Com in East Timor so will be sailing for 2 days.
The welcome party melded into the 'sail-away' party out on the deck. We were quickly getting to
know our fellow passengers who were mainly from Australia, USA, Canada, and NZ. There is always so many travel stories to exchange. It is so interesting. The 'bucket list' just keeps getting longer!
The reason why we sailed into Timor was so that the total cruise could be registered as an overseas cruise and we therefore didn't have to pay GST!!!
On seeing the daily program we quickly learned of the fantastic advantages of being on a ship that included the National Geographic people. The program included Photographic lessons (how to take photos and how to use your camera) and information about what we were to expect to see on the cruise. We also had to book the optional activities we wanted to do.
We also heard a talk on how the Kimberley Coast developed geologically.
I went to the gym and worked on the 'stepper' for 30 minutes. It felt great, but it was an interesting experience as the boat was rocking so I was moving backwards and forwards with the motion of the boat. There was several of us in the gym and we all had a bit of a laugh at the feeling.
Our first dinner set the scene on the meals we were to expect. The dining room was used for each dinner. Each course was beautifully presented and small servings. Magnificent! This was so unlike the Pacific cruise we went on when smorgasbords were a recipe for gluttony!
Our king sized bed is comfortable so we both slept well. Wednesday 14 May 2014
Our 2nd day at sea and we were heading closer to Timor.
Our program for the day included tips for wildlife & landscape photography. We also learned about aquatic animals of the Kimberley by Ben Cropp's son, Adam. We also had a presentation on the ancient history of the seafaring life that developed the Kimberley region.
We arrived in Com after the magnificent sunset and by the time only 2 of us (Helen from Sydney & myself) boarded the zodiac to be taken to the Com jetty, it was dark. The expedition leader had painted an uninteresting picture of the need to step foot in Com, so that was the reason no one else decided to go. We were met by about 50 local residents. There was no electricity on the jetty
so a car was parked at the start of the jetty to shine light on all 50 people and their 'stuff' they were wanting to sell us. There was woven material, scarfs, shells and all else that you would expect from a 3rd world tropical town. We tried to talk to them but no one seemed to understand English.
We took a few very dark photos and got back onto the zodiac and returned to the Orion. That was Com. We felt a bit guilty for not buying anything.
Each night at 6.30pm we have a briefing & recap of the day's events by our expedition leader, Darrin Bennett. Darrin went through Cyclone Tracey with us....but he was only 11 months old. He is the son of Bennett's Car Yard so we knew his Dad when we lived in Darwin.
That night we attended the Captain's dinner, all of which was provided. Captain Vincent (a Frenchman about the age of late 30s) introduced his staff. The crew have been fantastic and continued to be so. We could not fault anything. We were looked after magnificently. After some champagne a beautifully presented and tasty meal followed.
Each night there is entertainment in the lounge by the onboard Glenn O'Neill, who also runs the Trivia during afternoon tea each day. Again that night we slept well.
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