16-17/4/16. What a contrast! Life at the moment is very different to the last few months.
The ship was docked right by Circular Quay and our excitement built as the ferry from Cockatoo Island went right past it on Saturday morning. By crikey, it looked big as we went past.
Being in the “cheap seats” we had to check in and board at 11 o’clock even though departure was not scheduled until 7 in the evening. We made sure we found a good spot to be when we set sail – there surely cannot be a more spectacular send off anywhere in the world with the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House both lit up and within a couple of hundred yards! Our vantage point was high above the water – level with the tops of the apartment blocks on the Quay – and so we were actually looking down on the Opera House and almost at the same height as the deck of the Bridge meaning that our perspective was not one seen by many. The views were wonderful all the way to the open sea and we were among the last to head off for dinner.
The opulence of the public areas is very American in style – classical pillars around the grown ups swimming pools and jacuzzis, a grand atrium 3 or 4 floors high on the central shopping mall. It’s not really to our taste but hey!
The amount of food available is just unbelievable! And for the most part is of very good quality. We are going to put back on all the weight we have lost in 5 months on the road. Breakfast and lunch are both buffet style with many, many options in the cafe available pretty much all day. You can also have dinner there in the evening but we have been to the dining room both times since boarding and have been extremely impressed by the quality and choice. At this stage we cannot see us being tempted by the specialty restaurants (Asian, Italian or steak) which are available at extra cost.
They are clearly very careful (almost paranoid) of infections spreading through the ship with hand sanitizer dispensers on the way into every eating location and repeated admonitions to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water at the obvious times.
Our cabin (Stephen absolutely refuses to use the term “stateroom” which is how the ship refers to it, and calls himself a “passenger” rather than a “guest”. We are on a ship for goodness sake! And while we are in Grumpy Old Man mode, will they ever learn how to say “Caribbean” properly?) is perfectly adequate although having the two bikes in there does make space a little limited. (Our steward was most impressed to find the bikes in there – a first for him.) The absence of any windows means that we cannot tell if it is light or dark outside – quite disconcerting when we have been so used being so attuned to the world around us. The ensuite bathroom is a real luxury after traipsing across campsites to go to the loo in the middle of the night. The shower cubicle is “cosy” and we imagine some of the other passengers, being “built for comfort rather than speed”, may find them a bit of a squeeze to say the least!