Sea Princess & Sydney - 8 to 14 March 2020

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Oceania » Australia
February 15th 2020
Published: March 8th 2020
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A short trip on Sea Princess and four days in Sydney.

Sunday 8 March 2020 - Brisbane

On board with minimal fuss and straight into our cabin - D623. We have only taken an obstructed Ocean View Cabin this time - the life boat is right outside our window so we do not get a good view but we do get light.

A bit of lunch in the Horizon Court and back to the cabin to find our luggage has arrived already. Mr Ricardo from the Philippines is our cabin steward.

Safety brief at 3:30pm and then the ship has just set sail about 10 mins late. The Captain said there is a bit of wind and it is likely to be choppy in the Bay and to hang on !!

Smooth sailing in the river but a few bumps and grinds in Moreton Bay. Having to watch ourselves on the stairs and moving around. Nothing too bad though.

This voyage is the step up from Platinum to Elite with Princess (150 nights at sea or 15 voyages) and with that comes a few extra bits and pieces. We get one free mini bar setup (little bottles of whiskey, vodka, and gin, 2 x cans of beer, 2 x cans of coke, tonic water, water. Noice.

We can also get afternoon tea (as if we need more food !!), get shoes shined and have the laundry done. But will not take these latest benefits as we only have one day at sea tomorrow. Also get 150 free minutes of internet each.

Five O’Clock Wine O’Clock in the Wheelhouse Bar to start proceedings and then to dinner in the Traviata Dining Room.

We had two sets of ladies and another couple at dinner. Trevor and Jenny were from Tamworth, a mother and daughter team , Michele and Taylor Rose from Beaudesert and two American ladies – Gloria and Kerry from Washington State near Seattle made up the table. Good conversation throughout dinner – very enjoyable.

The cruise seems to be in two parts. Those of us just taking the couple of days to Sydney and the remainder circumnavigating Australia and visiting PNG over 28 days, disembarking back in Brisbane.

Sea Princess is aging but is being kept in good condition. Built in 2004, it was refurbished in about 2017.

A day at sea tomorrow and then disembarking in Sydney at 7 am on Tuesday. All good so far.

Monday 9 March - At Sea

A bit of movement in the sea overnight with a rolling motion. Made a bit worse by the fact our bed is aligned across the ship instead of fore and aft, making the rolling motion seem more significant.

Clocks put forward 1 hour to accord with daylight saving south of the border.

Sunrise at about 6:40am and broke to a very windy and overcast sky. I managed to get on deck by 6:30am and waited for a spectacular sunrise at sea. Sadly did not happen due to the thickness of the cloud. Only a short walk to loosen the limbs as it was very unpleasant on any of the open decks.

Finally up to breakfast at 9:30am.

Princess is taking the virus issue very seriously. The handwashing routine at the entry to the buffet area is strictly controlled and policed. No passenger is allowed to pick up any item of food – it is all being served at the point of delivery by staff members, even though the layout is still in buffet mode. Cannot argue with that. If you want to re-enter the buffet area for food, after you have entered and washed hands for the first time, you still have to use hand sanitiser to re-enter. A few delays and queues to be endured but if it keeps us healthy, that is OK by us.

The rest of the morning taken up with crosswords and reading in an area refurbished as a “Sports Bar” As expected, lots of TV’s showing sports events but the bar itself does not kick off until 9pm at night. Good quiet sitting and reading area.

Light late lunch and then back to the cabin for a rest. Amazing how relaxing and doing nothing makes you so tired !! Might be the sea air.

Not much on their activities program that interested us. The Trivia session today started early at 10am and we missed that while having breakfast.

The sea state seem to have increased through the day and the rolling and pitching motion is much more noticeable this afternoon.

Dinner in the Traviata Restaurant with a couple from Bribie, a bloke in a wheelchair and Mario and his missus from Townsville. Interesting group for a chat. The Bribie folks and Mario are on the 28 day around Australia cruise.

We had seen the Production Show on Majestic Princess – The British Invasion – so decided to give it a miss and concentrate on packing and getting organised.

Seas have abated somewhat and the motion is much more gentle at the moment.

Tuesday 10 March 2020 - Sydney

A few bumps in the night but nothing to get worried about. Smooth sailing into Sydney Harbour in the early hours of Tuesday. Sunrise here at 6:40am so no "down the harbour" shots as we were already maneuvering alongside at the Overseas Cruise Terminal at that time. Overcast but fine and a tinge of coolness in the air.

Up at 6a, shaved, showered and ready for a light breakfast before disembarkation. Travelling pretty light for this trip so elected to walk off the ship with our luggage and we were ashore by 8:15am. Only a 1.5km walk to our AirBnB so took the gallop through the backstreets of Sydney CBD arriving to meet our host Edmond at Trafalgar Apartments, 361 Kent Street Sydney. Apartment 34 on the 4th floor - no views but more than adequate for a few days in Sydney.

Edmond kindly arranged for us to store our luggage in the apartment until it became available after cleaning at 2pm.

After dropping the luggage, headed downtown to see the shopping sights (oh joy). Actually a good time to be in the city with all the workers heading to their desks and not too crowded. We are only about 500 metres from the centre of Sydney and quite near Darling Harbour in the other direction.

Lunch in Queen Victoria Building - useful trivia information that one of my forebears (Michael Napthali) was the licensee of a pub on the site of the QVB in the early 1800s. The QVB was built in 1898 and refurbished in 1986. No trace of the hotel in the refurbished building - no free drinks !!

Got a call from Edmond to say the apartment was ready at 1pm - bonus !!

Short rest and then out to Woolworths to stock up for breakfasts and light meals until Saturday. Also a recce to determine the route and inclines to drag our luggage on Saturday to Town Hall station for the journey from the City to the domestic airport terminal on the Sydney Airport Train. Once on the train, it only takes about 20 minutes to Kingsford Smith Airport, with no traffic delays and is about half the cost of taking an Uber or taxi.

A pizza dinner and a couple of wines at Caffe Amici, just two doors down from our hotel - the same one that we had coffee at this morning. Very friendly staff and a surprise gratis Limoncello at the end of the meal. Must have been homemade - it came out of a Jim Beam bottle !

Long day from the early start. Back to the hotel for a shower, a bit of reading and bed.

Catching up with Stewart and Kathy Mitchell tomorrow. Stewart was the RAAF Group Captain Defence Advisor in PNG back in 1979-81 (a bit over 40 years ago) when we were there and we have remained friends. We are travelling by train to Penrith, where they will pick us up and we will have the day with them at the Botanical Gardens near Bilpin. Morning tea and lunch with them.

John - 15,680 steps today - just over 12km !! We dun good after being slack on the ship.

Wednesday 11 March 2020 - Sydney

Good night's sleep. Despite being inner city, the area around this hotel is very quiet into the evening and overnight. The bed and pillows are comfortable. Good deal all round.

Slightly overcast and cooler this morning - down to about 15 degrees outside. Helps with sleeping soundly after the heat and humidity we have had in Brisbane.

Left the apartment at 8am and made our way to Town Hall station where we caught the train to Penrith - T1 Line to Emu Plains from Platform 2 - $4.35 fare. Train right on time - a double decker - and it took about 1 hour and 10 minutes to Penrith.

Kathy and Stewart picked us up at the station and we headed to the Olympic rowing complex nearby to have coffee at the cafe on site. Massive waterways with a number of courses. Everything very green.

Continued the journey to the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens near Bilpin (took about an hour) and started walking the site. The evidence of the recent bushfires was everywhere on the drive up with secondary growth and greenery stating to make itself known. Elsewhere though, the ground is bare where the deadfall had been consumed by the fires. When you see how bare the earth is following the fires, it makes it very clear that was the principal cause of the severity of the fires - not climate change.

The Gardens were essentially untouched but some areas did receive fire damage and these areas were roped off. The rest of the Gardens though appeared to be pristine, evidenced in the attached photos. Colours were magnificent.

Lunch in the Gardens cafe and finished the back end of the tour. Back on the road around 3pm and had a coffee half way down the mountains toward Penrith.

Arrived Penrith Station about 3:45pm and got a train straight away back to the City which arrived back at Town Hall just on 5pm.

Took the stroll over to Darling Harbour in the (blinding) late afternoon sun and after a look around had fish and chips at the Blue Fish cafe on the Harbour. Naturally overpriced for its location but the meal was OK.

A walk over the Pyrmont Bridge aback to the apartment and a quiet evening at home reading and watching TV after a full day out and about. Great to catch up with old friends and have a chat.

A Sydney Convict Walking Tour tomorrow morning at 10:30am and dinner at the Red Lantern in the evening at 6pm are the booked activities for the day.

John - 10,130 steps today - 7.3km according to the app.

Thursday 12 March 2020 - Sydney

Another good sleeping night and woke to sunshine and blue skies around 17 degrees.

Breakfast sorted and off to Circular Quay to join a Journey Walks: Sydney Convict Colony History Tour. April was the tour leader and she did a great job of informing and entertaining us as we wended our way from Customs House into The Rocks area, stopping at significant historical sites and interesting locations.

Started at 10:30am and finished at 1:00pm.

Walked back into the City and to the QVB building for lunch, then into The Strand where Roz got some spices and we had a coffee and a sticky bun.

Back to the apartment for a "feet up" after all the walking and got ready to head out to a Vietnamese restaurant - Red Lantern, 60 Riley Street, Darlinghurst for dinner.

Uber to the restaurant - $12.

Greeted by Adam and looked after by Tran at the table. Quite one of the best meals we have had anywhere. We chose the Saigon Scrumptious banquet - too much food - but so delicate and tasty it was hard not to enjoy and have it all !!

If you are visiting Sydney and are looking for an Asian meal - this one is Vietnamese, influenced by Like Nguyen and Mark Jennings - this is certainly one to try. One review says it "is the world's most awarded Vietnamese restaurant".

Walked the 1.6km back to the apartment let dinner settle.

Meeting other friend s from PNG days tomorrow - Lance and Delma and heading to the Shangri La hotel for lunch.

A good day at the ranch !

John - 13,656 steps today - 9.75km.

Friday 13 March 2020 - Sydney

Another cool but bright start to the day in Sydney - down to 14 degrees !Even slept in to 7am.

Met friends - Delma and Lance as planned at the Shangri La Hotel on the 36th floor. Magnificent view of Sydney Harbour and we could not have asked for a better day to see it.

It really is a great place for lunch - they have a 2 course offer for $65 and three courses for $80. Food was great and the service very friendly. The Blu Bar is adjacent to the restaurant and offers good views over Barangaroo and up the River. Talked for hours - I thin we were among the last lunch table to finish and they were getting ready to ask us to leave !!

Too full for dinner so just walked the City for the exercise, went back to the unit and had eggs on toast and then started the packing routine for tomorrow's departure.

Its been a good visit to Sydney and there is so much more we could have done but time is the problem.

Departing at 1pm flying back to Brisbane.

John, forgot to get the exact count but about 10,000 steps in the day.

Additional photos below
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8th March 2020

Birthday trip
You do it in style Jim and Roz ❤️
8th March 2020

Thanks Den & Jim - think we would prefer to be on your ship and itinerary !!
11th March 2020

Certainly sounds cooler in Sydney. Great photos at the Gardens

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