Whitsundays - March 2018

Oceans and Seas
March 6th 2018
Published: March 5th 2018
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Brisbane to Airlie Beach

Tuesday 6 March

Boarded just in time in pouring rain at 2pm but once on board all was good. Have been on Pacific Dawn once before some years ago but it has undergone a refurbishment, for the better, and neither Roz nor I remembered much of it.

Our cabin is 5187 - an ocean view cabin - which in fact is quite roomy. The location of the bed on the side of the room rather than under the window is much more functional than our previous trip. The shower bay is (relatively) huge compared to other ships we have been on. I can at lease swing a cat in there.

Had the usual safety at sea presentation and tried on our life jackets at 3.30pm and then the ship was underway shortly after 4pm. The rain has not stopped making open deck viewing most unpleasant.

Managed to get a 5.30pm booking for Luke Mangan's Salt restaurant to celebrate the birthday.

Our large bags arrived at about 4pm so plenty of time to unpack. The laundrette and ironing room is just up the corridor on Deck 5 and I got our ironing done while everyone was off watching us depart.

Dinner in Luke Managan's Salt restaurant at 5.30pm and we enjoyed a three course meal. Lots of choices available but we chose our usual fare - Roz had grilled barramundi and I got a steak. Good service although the staff were a little difficult to understand - one Indian and one Chinese. Roz had mentioned that It was my birthday when we booked earlier in the day and the staff sent along a little chocolate cake with a candle to help us celebrate. A good dinner.

After dinner to one of the bars and got a pleasant surprise to see a singer and a piano player we had last seen on Azamara Journey last year. Cannot remember the name of the group then but only two of them are on this cruise and known as Dial 2. Again, excellent music from them both - they will sing anything thrown at them and do it well.

On to the show for the evening in the theatre. A very good lighting and LED backdrop set up but the show did not live up to expectations. the singers and dancers did well themselves but the theme of the evening was not all that flash and that affected the choice of music. Hope that aspect improves.

Back to hear the end of Dial 2 and then ck to the cabin at about 10pm.

In all a good start.

Wednesday 7 March - at Sea

A good night at sea with just gentle rolling to help us sleep. slept in to 6am and did an hour's walk on the jogging track. tried the gym first as the track on the open deck had a strong winds sign on it. but the gym is so small, decided to chance my arm and went onto the track anyway - got away with it and managed over 7000 steps to start the day. Beautiful morning at sea with some cloud and blue sky - much better than the photos from Brisbane were showing.

We had a relatively quiet day - reading, crosswords, resting and lunch. there does not seem to be a full complement of passengers onboard - things are quiet and not so crowded - both good !

Missed the port lecture on Airlie Beach but the Captain is saying it is likely we will have showers and winds ashore -will wait and see. We have to tender ashore tomorrow - the ship is too large to dock.

Dinner in the Waterfront restaurant tonight - nice roast lamb.

Afterd inner - back to the Orient Bar to see Dial 2 again - they are a great duo with good music - and then stayed on for a "Name that Tune" trivia contest. Got most of the artists and songs but not competitive - the price was P&O hats so we were fortunate not to win !

Back to the cabin around 10pm and to bed.

Will take it easy tomorrow getting off the ship - no rush.

The seas have picked up and there is a definite roll this evening - will see how that develops overnight.

Have been impressed so far with the staff on board - all are friendly and are doing well with service. The condition of the ship is good too - it had a refurbishment last year and the renewed furnishings and finishes are well reflected.

Thursday 8 March - Airlie Beach

Woke about 6am while the ship was manoeuvering into position near the Whitsundays. Very overcast but got about 45 minutes of walking in before the rain started moving in.

Shop dropped the anchor at 7am and the tender service to Abell Point in Airlie Beach started. They thankfully used a combination of ship's tenders (small) and a couple of larger catamarans to ferry people to the shore. By the time we decided to go ashore around 10am,, we walked straight on without having to wait.

I have only visited Airlie Beach once before about 15 years ago when I was working for TAFE and that was only a drive into Cannonvale and then to the township and out again - so did not see much at that time. There did not seem to to be much evident damage from Cyclone Debbie close to the port area. I was looking for tarps on roofs and half completed repairs but did not see any of that.

In fact the town is looking great and I am sure they appreciate the influx of tourists from the cruise ships to help support the local businesses. The cafes and smaller shops were full of cruisers and backpackers.

The pride in the Airlie Beach township is evident - clean streets and well manicured trees and bushes - it is looking very green.

We took a gentle stroll up one side and back down the other of the main street and poked around in shops on the way. Ended up heading to a cafe for lunch and coffee after a recommendation from the locals in the pharmacy. We had to head for cover frequently as scudding showers moved through all day - but it was warm and the street is made for wet weather with lots of awnings to shelter under.

Back on board by about 3pm for a bit more reading, a coffee and getting ready for the evening event.

Tonight is a "Bianco" night - or White Party with guests encouraged to dress in white for the night - which most did or made an attempt to do so. We had the usual array of very good outfits - one lady even came in her wedding dress - and the not so good. Amazing how people can stand in front of a mirror before exposing themselves to the public and convincing themselves that "they look good". Whatever - it ends up as fodder for entertainment watching people toing and froing in various states of undress / dress/ intoxication.

We had booked to go to a specialty restaurant - Shell and Bones - (aka seafood and steak) - and we chose a hot seafood tower for two. It did look very impressive, the seafood was well presented and it tasted great. But I knew I had made a mistake with my choice when I I saw the beef ribs arrive at the next table - they were immaculate and when I questioned the gent who had ordered them, he confirmed they were fantastic ! Oh well - next time ! The dining concept in Shell and Bones is a little different in that it is a la carte - unusual on ships where a flat charge is usually made in specialty restaurants. At least you only pay for what you order.

After dinner, we moved on to the Atrium to see our favourite band, Dial 2, who were in full swing with a large crowd joining in. This pair are just so versatile and talented - Indonesians and the keyboard player has never had any formal training. He amazes us by the way he plays great music for each song without reading any music sheets,

To bed around 10.30pm. A day at sea tomorrow and then back in Brisbane at 6am on Saturday morning.

Friday 9 March - At Sea

Slightly more movement at sea overnight but not too severe. Some sunshine but a significant wind over the deck making it unpleasant to be out in the open.

A quiet morning reading followed by lunch in the Pantry. Went to the Future Cruise desk and paid the fee for another booking fee to be used within 2 years.

Afternoon spent repacking - bags have to be out by 8pm - a bit early compared to other ships.

Dinner in the Waterfront restaurant - got good service from Dianne after we were initially turned away at 6pm and told to come back later. Dianne found us a table for two in a not too crowded restaurant. Not sure what the problem was.

Looked for some reasonable music but our favourite band was not playing tonight so did a bit of people watching over a coffee and then headed to bed early as we know we would have to be up early for arrival.

Saturday 10 March - Brisbane

Heavier seas overnight due to the weather further north and this made our arrival back in Brisbane one hour later at 7am instead of 6am. There was a fair bit of rocking and rolling last night and we heard conversations about how sea sick some people were.

Out of our room by 7am and waited in one of the lounges. Although we were No.17 in the disembarkation groups, we went off at about No. 9 so that we could get our luggage as soon as it had been delivered ashore. Worked well and we were on our way from the port around 8am.

We have enjoyed the break - it was very restful and good to see the refurbished Pacific Dawn.

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