Several of our readers have asked about the menus and the amount of food we eat on the ship. Our schedule and ritual is very much the same as at home or at the cottage. We go to breakfast in the Lido (A large buffet like cafeteria with floor to ceiling windows) around 8:30 am and read the daily “Canadian” as prepared overnight by the ship. It is a summary of the Canadian news. We then do our emails and read our favourite accounts online, all the while sipping our coffee and orange juice. An hour of so later we finally hit the buffet table for whatever we feel like. Items are prepared for you as you wait and staff are eager to carry your breakfast back to your table.
We don’t have lunch but every once in a while we might get a snack mid afternoon.
For dinner we go every night at 7:15 to the main dining room where we have our own table for two, our own wait staff and fortunately for us, only two tables away from where the captain and his wife eat. Dress in the dining room is smart casual and on some nights formal which does not necessarily mean a tuxedo. Dress in the LIdo, for me, is my usual uniform of jeans and a golf shirt or sweatshirt. Susan dresses more smartly in both locations but is not into the ball gowns that some of the more seasoned world travellers seem to be able to haul out for each of the formal evenings.
Below is the menu from last night’s dinner. As you can see there is lots of variety and there is no limit to the number of items that you might like to have. For me, the choice last night was very easy for each of the courses. In addition to the printed menus which change each day there is a standing list of items that are always available should you not be able to find anything of interest on the menu. This happens very rarely. Enjoy as we we do!
It is really hard to decide what pictures to attach to a post. In any given day I take more than 100 shots. I download them to my iPad at night and then try and choose a few for the blog. When I have a few chosen I then have to reduce their size and resolution as they will not send if they are a very large file size.
Today’s blog adds a few more pictures from our trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. Stinger suits are rented to everyone that wants to go in the water to prevent jelly fish poisonous stings. The stinger nets as show in the previous post go all the way to the bottom preventing any type of jelly fish or other organisms from getting in to the swimming areas. Unfortunately most individuals do not swim within the designated areas. Bottles of vinegar are strategically situated along all the beaches as an antidote for a bite.
I couldn’t figure out why all the snorkelers also wore life preservers. It is a regulation that you cannot touch the coral reef in any manner. With a life jacket on you can view the reef but not get down to the bottom due to the jacket’s buoyancy. The bottom is less than a metre deep so you can see how easy it is to stand on the coral.
You can charter any type of vessel to get you out to the reef including a fleet of helicopters that land on small floating platforms on the water. The bird life and fish life in and around the reef and adjacent rain forest is spectacular and like nothing else that you have seen before.
We are now making our way up to the tip of Australia where we will then turn to port and head for Darwin. The water is a deep green, very shallow and we still have the reef pilot on board to guide the ship through the very treacherous waters. Once we make the turn to Darwin we can speed up.
For many years, the idea of actually going to the Great Barrier Reef was only a dream. On our last trip in 2013 the ship travelled clockwise from Sydney, Australia going around the southern end of Australia and up the western side. This time we left Sydney and travelled north up the east side. This route took us directly into the UNESCO Heritage site and the Great Barrier Reef.
For most of the trip to date we have been travelling in water over 1000 metres in depth. As we travel through the Reef the depths are dramatically different. Most of today, for example, we are in water less than 30 feet deep. Travelling this area we needed to take on a Reef Pilot (different from the various Port Pilots that guide us and take us in and out of their respective harbours). In a presentation to the passengers he noted that in many spots we would have less than one metre clearance under the ship, hence his assistance was vital to our safe passage through these waters.
The two main harbours that are the jump off points for the Great Barrier Reef are Townsville and Cairns; two relatively small towns north of Sydney that during the Second World War played major roles in the battles of the Pacific.
Both these towns were immaculate in their appearance; each had waterfronts that were catering to the walking tourist and economies based on the export of coal and sugar cane and the tourist. As with New Zealand, it would be very easy to come back and spend months further exploring.
To get to the Reef for exploring we took a high speed catamaran from Cairns some 50 minutes northwest. There we had an opportunity to wander through a rain forest that has developed as more and more vegetation grew up on the coral, and experience some of the finest beaches we have ever seen. It is, however very, very hot and too many tourists. We have been told that, like Antarctica excursions, there will come a time, very likely within the next few years, when trips to the Reef are no longer available. As we were walking from the catamaran to the shore with our bathing suits at the ready a shark swam by and that finished us for the snorkelling. We were content to walk the beach, and sample the underwater scenes from the safety of a glass bottom boat.
Stinger organisms are also present here in the water and swimming areas are netted off to prevent entrance by these poisonous creatures. Divers and those going snorkelling rent “stinger suits” similar to wet suits to prevent such injuries. Read the warning on the sign and one of the photos shows the netted off area for swimming on shore.
After the cities in New Zealand that we visited it would be hard to fathom a more exciting and dynamic city. Sydney is just special and world’s apart. The weather also cooperated giving us two beautiful day in port.
With so many larger cruise ships now plying the waters, everyone cannot get under the iconic Sydney bridge. The Amsterdam which does the world cruise is smaller than most boats doing this trip and can get into ports and harbours that others cannot. Clearing under the bridge we docked at White Harbour Terminal while others cruisers were next to the Opera House.
Walking, taking the hop on hop off bus or ferry makes it easy to get around downtown Sydney in any direction. On day one we elected to take a city bus tour that included most of the top historical sights and a visit to the famous Bondi beach. Walking the beach we saw the many surfers either learning the sport in classes or out on their own in the crystal clear water. On day two we chose the hop on hop off ferry which took us to a variety of docks in an around Sydney and we got off in Circular Key adjacent to the Opera House, the downtown business core and the ferry terminals. One of the biggest cruise ships we have seen was docked there and had the prime spot.
Sail away was spectacular as the sun set behind us on the Opera House and the Bridge. A number of the passengers did the Bridge walk and got back to the ship to talk about it. I was able to increase both my Lighthouse collection of pictures and add a Australian parrot to my Bird collection. The hard drive is quickly filling up with pictures. We are now in the Coral Sea heading north alongside the Australian coast enroute to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.