Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Monday 5th October
We decided to have a fairly leisurely day today. Singapore has a very modern cruise port, much like an airport terminal which take you directly to a couple of very large shopping centres. We decided to give the city centre a miss as we have been to Singapore a few times in the past. Another couple joined us to take a taxi to the Jurong Bird Park which has a spectacular array of birdlife. We took the little overhead train around the park and instead of walking for hours we saw most of what there is to see in about ½ an hour. We’d had our Taxi wait for us and then took it back to the port. The GD and I treated ourselves to a delicious Thai lunch on the rooftop garden of one of the shopping centres at the port. After a nana nap we went back to the shopping centre where I had a hair cut and blow dry for 35 singapore dollars. Apart from the hair cut the only thing I bought was a 25 singapore dollar watch which only went for the length of time it took me to get back on the ship. Hopefully it only needs a battery but I guess the old saying “you get what you pay for” applies. We set sail about 7pm on a beautiful barmy evening sipping a good wine up on top deck. It felt a little sad to us in a way, as it is the last foreign port on this long voyage, before we disembark in Darwin in a few days time. We are going to spend a few days there before flying home on Tuesday 13th October. It’s been quite an adventure but now we have to start thinking about home and the real world

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday 4th October
Shopping shoes – sorry those were the first two words which came to mind as I sat down to write this entry. The GD earned a few brownie points today as he patiently waited for Gemini to explore the shoe shops at Klang. Since we have been to KL a couple of times and as it’s a long way from the port of Klang we opted to take the shuttle bus into the relatively new shopping centre at Klang instead of going all the way to KL. It met all my expectations and after a nice lunch (randang for the GD and ginger chicken for me) we returned to the ship – carrying 3 pairs of new shoes, mine of course. It appears that sometime in the not too distant past, a lot of money was invested in Klang which is still waiting for a return. There are a lot of relatively new buildings standing empty between the port and the town. The weather has been kind to us again and although it was cloudy it didn’t rain. We cruise through the straits of Malaca tonight and should arrive in Singapore at about 7am tomorrow

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday 26th September - Saturday 3rd October.
Goodness me, a whole week has gone by and I haven’t written a thing. We survived house arrest throughout India with a few insignificant shots from the deck of the ship. We didn’t get off scott free as we were summonsed to the dining room on the third Indian port at 7.45am with about 130 other passengers without visas. They (Indian Immigration) still wanted to compare our faces with our passports and put a stamp on the (the passports that is). A bit of a joke if it wasn’t so annoying and inconvenient. The ship left India on 28th September and then we were at sea from 29th September until our arrival in Phuket on the 2nd of October. We did an easy tour of Phuket, which took in some of the scenic places and of course temples and places to spend your money (not ours). They are mostly Buddhist, nice people and nice surroundings. Our tour didn’t take in the beaches that would have been nice.
Today, Langkowi, Malaysia. We took a tour visiting various places of interest, including museums etc.. It seemed it was a busy weekend for weddings, passing no less than 4 villages where a marriage was taking place and according to our guide, everyone from the village is a guest. The monkeys were very visible along the road in some places. We were unsure if our bus was going to make the journey as the first hill almost saw us rolling backwards. It was a little tired and not long for buss world, we think but it got there and back again with great difficulty on relatively small hills. We both thought the most interesting place we visited was the rice museum, a small working rice paddy and processing museum. The scenery is very pretty here with the coastline dotted with small islands. We left Langkowi at about 4.30 this afternoon and now cruising towards Klang, the port for Kuala Lumpur. Since we have spent some time in KL (about 60kg from port of Klang) before and have seen the places on the list of tours, we plan to spend a part of the day in Klang after a restful morning on the ship. We’ve seen the usual good quality entertainment in the past week but taking a night off tonight to recoup. These shore days are quite tiring for an old couple like us.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tuesday 22nd – Friday 25th September

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, all sea days much the same as any other sea day. I know that sounds boring but there is always something different to try. The GD and I checked out the gym – for real, yesterday – and it’s free. We both tried out the walking machines. The GD burned off 100 calories and I burned off 60. With the air-conditioning it’s much cooler than walking on the promenade deck. You’re also looking out to sea at the aft end of the ship. We’ll give it another go today and most likely each day till we return to OZ. We also went to a photography lecture.

Friday: We have arrived in Bombay this morning and as we suspected, we are not allowed ashore because we don’t have a visa, thanks to incorrect advise given to us by a representative of Princess line before we left home. Actually, quite a few of their staff could do with a lot more training before being let loose on the public. That said, most of them are very obliging and courteous. The better staff are exceptionally good at what they do. Most of what we can see of Bombay, looks tired and polluted. The water in the harbour is full of floating rubbish. From on board lectures I’m sure there is some places of interest here but I think most people going ashore are doing so to shop and India obviously doesn’t want our tourist dollar. Though we didn’t have to go through any of the immigration processes to go ashore, we did observe the most stringent processes and paper trails that has been the case in any other port, including USA or Egypt. Well back to the laundry – no queues today to use the washing machines. We will also be under house arrest (I suppose you could call it that) for the next 2 ports in India so the next port the GD and I will be getting off at is Phuket on the 2nd October

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday 21st September
We berthed about 7.30am in Dubai. As the passengers were allowed ashore, there was an Arabian dressed brass band and also a red carpet laid out to walk along. The terminal that we landed at is not quite finished so there were only a couple of stalls trading, inside. The GD and I took a shuttle bus in the city in the morning. We were disappointed when it took us the ‘the biggest shopping mall’ in the world with all designer labels and excessive prices and we had thought we were going to a market. Even though it was a relief from the 40 degree heat, we didn’t stay there long. Back to the ship for lunch and a short nap. I decided to take a tour in the afternoon and left the GD sleeping. Apart from having to put up with the heat, the tour was great. The tour took in the beach – all men except for tourists of both sexes, A view of the hotel which looks like a ship, past the zoo, past the artificial ski run, to a mosque (outside only), then to an interesting museum in an old fort. After that, we had to take the local open wooden boats, like dugouts along and across the creek to the Gold Market. There are no rules on the water with each boat jostling for position. It was rather fun. I didn’t find any gold bargains and I thought most of it was rather grouse. It’s the end of Ramadan and a holiday, so everywhere was crowded – yes – mostly with men, Indians, Philipinos, Arabs and various other nationalities. As for religions in this part of the world, most of them are practiced here except for Jewish. They are not even allowed to enter the country. It’s a very modern city and even the bus stops are air-conditioned. It’s very clean and no sign of graffiti anywhere but even though smoking is said to be prohibited in public, the beach was littered with butts. Those darn seagulls! I arrived back to the ship after the start of dinner. I showered, put on my nice shirt I had bought (and a skirt) and joined the GD for desert. We turned in fairly early after a show. We will now be at sea until we arrive in Mumbai early on Friday the 25th September, that’s unless there is a change of plans because of the student protests going on there at the moment. We may not be allowed on shore anyway has be don’t have a visa for India.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wednesday 16th – Sunday 20th September
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday we spent at sea and quite uneventful except for the usual on board activities and shows. A couple of the shows were quite good but we haven’t been going to all of them. During this time, we have decided to disembark in Darwin on the 10th of October and spend a few days there before flying home. This gets us home a couple of days earlier as well. From Darwin to Sydney there are no stops so we won’t be missing anything except the crowds at Sydney airport, which is a plus. It will also give us a chance to sort out what to post home, which will be cheaper than paying excess again, as we had to on our flight from Brisbane to Sydney in the beginning of the cruise.
Today we are in Mina Qaboos Oman until about 1.30pm. It’s something of a surprise and quite different to anywhere else we have been. The landscape is rocky, mountainous and barren. The town is clean, white and has lots of fountains and green grass, which is quite a contrast with the surroundings. We have spent a couple of hours in the Souk (market) this morning and the GD has outfitted himself as one of the locals. It has been one of the better markets, which we have visited – big enough to have a good browse but not big enough to get totally lost in even though it’s like a rabbit warren. The locals are about as strict Muslim as it gets so we had to try to get close to the dress code to go ashore (though some passengers were a bit slack) or run the risk of having to return quickly to the ship. The locals all shop at this souk and there was no hard sell like some of the other markets we’ve been to. We felt quite safe with no fear of pickpockets. Very few cruise ships visit as it is a major commercial / industrial shipping port. We weren’t even allowed to wander on the port but had to be shuttled at least to the gates of the port. Tomorrow it’s a full day in Dubai, 9am to 10 pm. It could also be the end of Ramadan depending of the first spark of the crescent moon, when they get into celebrations and feasting. This could mean many shops are shut but I’m sure they will be out for our dollars one way or another. We are about to set of so I will try and get a few departing shots on the camera. Bye for now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday 13th – Tuesday 15th September
Sunday was spent cruising through the Suez. Just like sailing through the desert with an occasional village or oasis along the south bank and desolate sand and rock to the north along with some vacated (or appeared to be) military posts. We sailed through the Red Sea and arrived in Safaga on Monday Morning. There were tours to the Valley of the Kings from this port but after Cairo I didn’t take the tour. The GD had already been there many years ago. There is little – nothing to see in Safaga so we spent the day on board watching the comings and goings of the port activities. There was big line ups of the locals coming back from Aman with trolleys laden with their purchases, including air conditioners, lounges, bikes, carpets, enclosed bundles etc., etc., going through customs in ordered chaos. They then proceed to old trucks and busses and loaded them up to head for Cairo with the owners clinging to the top or on the back of the trucks. To our amazement, they didn’t have any stalls set up to sell their merchandise here. Cruise ships do not use this port too often. It is still Ramadan so after sunset the town was full of glitter and feasting. We headed for the Princess Theatre at 6.30pm to see some of the locals doing some folk dancing. One of their performers did a twirling dance which was rather spectacular. It went on for about 5 minutes and he did not get giddy. Tuesday – Today is a full sea day so it’s back to normal, except we will be having a Piracy drill in about 10 minutes. Bare in mind we are now approaching the area where the Somali pirates have been a problem of recent times. We will now be at sea till the 20th when we arrive in Mina Qaboos in Oman.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday 12th September
We have now reached the land of the Pharos, Egypt. The thing that became most obvious was the lack of pride the Egyptians have in their environment and how lucky we are to live in the country that we do. Since the GD has seen the Pyramids and the Sphinks before, he didn’t join me on my tour to Ciaro and the Pyramids. It was a three hour bus ride to the site. There was about 1300 people from our cruise ship who went on the tour. That was about 16 buses in convoy – the safest way to travel in this part of the world. Many of the houses and buildings along the way have never been completed. The reason for this is that up till now they haven’t had to pay taxes (land taxes I presume) until the building is completed. We were told that that is about to change. You can imagine how unsightly that looks added to the fact that almost all of the buildings are either a grayish red brick or concrete with twisted metal reinforcement sticking out everywhere. The parts of the building that are occupied then have all their washing hanging from their balconies. At least it adds a bit of colour to the scenery. The people seem to be clearly divided into the very rich and the very poor. Litter is everywhere and some of the canals running off the Nile have garbage banked up against small bridges including dead animals. Only one way to describe it – filthy. Add that to the dust, both on the ground, the buildings and the air and you get the picture. However, all that said the pyramids are truly a site worth seeing. I don’t need to describe them I’m sure, as there is plenty written on them, but to see them puts them in a much grander dimension. It’s rather interesting to see how green the desert can become in places where there has been water added. On one side of the road there can be desert and on the other side lush vegetation and crops. It’s Ramadan here at the moment and one has to be prepared for a scarcity of food outlets during the day. Our tour included a huge snack, supposedly for the morning but we didn’t get it until 1.30 and also lunch, which we didn’t get till 4pm. The lunch (dinner) was at the Merriot Hotel in the middle of nowhere. It was quite lavish by any standards. As you would expect, everywhere you go, you are bombarded by street hawkers. A tour of the Museum was also included. It amazed me that in this day and age it is not air conditioned. It was very hot and crowded with people so I didn’t spend as much time in there as I could have. Weighing it all up the tour was a very memorable experience. We got back to the ship at about 7.45pm and set sail into the Suez canal about 1am today, Sunday and at the moment we are anchored in the great lake just waiting our turn to head into the last part of the canal, hopefully to arrive in the city of Suez and the Red Sea at about 1.00pm. The GD spent his day doing the laundry and shopping on the dock.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday 11th September
Well that’s Limassol. The british influence is everywhere except for the shopping. It was just like many of the other ports, old windy streets with heaps of souvenir shops but probably more bargains. We took the shuttle bus into the town area and wandered along some of those narrow streets. The traffic seems to travel one way up each street and on the correct side of the road for a change. Late morning, we sat in one of the tavernas and had coffee and then a beer with another couple from the cruise and people watched for a while. Then we did some more shops before having lunch and a bottle of what we thought would be local red (turned out to be French) at another tavern called “Alo Alo”. The pace here seems rather laid back and they all speak English. There were some tours which went further afield but since I will have an 11 hour tour tomorrow in Egypt we didn’t even consider a tour today. The GD is going to have a lazy day on his own as he has seen the pyramids before. The buses on tour tomorrow will travel in convoy and I’m led to believe we will have armed guards escorting us. Will talk to you again at the Suez.

Hi Nessa,
Yes your emails are coming thru & also the photo's - poor Oscar looks terrible with that haircut - hope he is getting better.Glad that boys are enjoying that sport.
Today we are in Egypt & am sending off a postcard for the boys.It has been stinking hot in the last few ports & today is no different.We are going to have a look around the town for a little bit then head to the beach with Jayne & Warren. We were undecided as to wether to do a tour but after seeing all the tour buses & how late they were in leaving (8.30am instead of 7am) we are glad that we did not as also the trip there & back is 3hrs+. We will probably be late in leaving port tonight.We had an absolutely fabulous time in Rhodes & that made up for the other hiccups. It was such a beautiful city & where we docked was the old town which had a fortress all the way around & the streets were very narrow & cobbledstoned. You MUST email with suggestions for the boys & that info for the watch as we will be in India soon & I can probably pick up some good bargains for the boys there. Also would James like some historical books on Egypt etc.Thats all for nowLove you heaps.PS - have a good time on your holiday.Mum xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday 8th – Wednesday 9th September
Well, what an experience Istanbul was! We arrived in a heavy thunder storm early in the morning but due to the fact that the port is very busy and you have to wait your turn to dock, we were very late docking. When in Rome (in this case Turkey) you do as the Romans do. As a result of our late arrival all tours had to be adjusted to suite. We hadn’t booked as we have chosen to take a tour of our choice on stand by. That way, when armed with as much information as the tour lecturer gives we can decide shortly before a tour if we want to take it or do our own thing. At one stage we thought we might miss out in Istanbul but our luck held out and we got on one which was supposed to leave about 7.30 but it was more like 11.30 when we left. This three and a half hour tour lasted about 6 hours. This wasn’t because we saw any more that the tour indicated, it just meant we spent a hell of a lot of time stuck in traffic. We thought Naples was bad but Istanbul takes the cake, even worse than we have found in KL on a visit there. The place is full of tour busses, public busses and trams, people pulling barrows and private cars all wanting their share of the many narrow roads. We really admires the skill of the drivers as you see very few cars with dings in them. The bus drivers could go where, I’m sure none of our local drivers, would dare to go. What did we see? We crossed over the Bospourus (spelling?) from the European continent into the Asian continent to a coffee stop with a view from a very high hill overlooking all of Istanbul. We then came back and crossed the Golden Horn ( a natural waterway) into Old Istanbul, past the ancient aquaduct and a new dig where they were planning to put a station for the new unfinished underground system. In this dig they found (I think) 7 wooden ships in an ancient harbour so the station will be on hold for quite some time. Then we drove slowly past the Blue Mosque (not part of our tour) and on to a carpet factory outlet and enjoyed an apple tea while they showed us their wares and then to the Grand Bazaar. We were allowed about an hour at the Bazaar but didn’t see much of it. We were afraid we may get lost in there as it is huge and all under cover, so we stuck to the centre alley.
We met our tour guide outside at a designated location and then walked to St Sophia built in the year 300 and is under restoration. It took only 7 years to build with slave labour. It has been used for both a Christian church and a Mosque. The inside is all marble. Considering this area gets earthquakes regularly it is amazing that it is still standing in such good condition. There is too much to tell you about this church in this page but it’s worth looking into it’s history. We then had another 15 minute walk to get our bus and back to the ship. We missed lunch and did more walking than expected but it was a great tour. The GD managed to smuggle himself a bread roll out for his lunch. If he hadn’t he would have been in serious trouble.

Wednesday: I woke this morning with the aftermath of all our walking with a very sore knee – old Arthur playing up! Hope it improves for Rhodes tomorrow. We sailed into Anzac Cove this morning and there were two services held on the open deck, one at sunrise and another at 11am. We attended the very moving 11am service. We were only able to get within a mile of the beach but the monument was clearly visible and by blowing up our photos you could make out the white crosses. The sun came out just long enough for the service. Then the clouds moved in again and it has become quite cool.
There’s two more ports and then the Suez if all goes according to plan.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sunday – Monday 7th September
We landed in Pireus (port for Athens) about 3pm, about 9 hours later than our original scheduled arrival. Greece excelled itself and although many morning tours were cancelled, they did a great job of accommodating passengers on alternative tours. The last one back was a little after 8pm. The GD and I took an easy tour of Athens and although we didn’t climb up the Acropolis to the Parthenon our tour did take us to the foot of the mountain where we got some pretty good shots of the Parthenon. We were also able to wander around the area of the Temple of Zeus and other ruins. After the tour, we were catered for with coffee and cake at the Park Hotel. Our tour got us back to the ship about 7.15pm.
Monday: We woke up in a bay at Mykonos in brilliant sunshine. It was a relief to have a much cooler day than we’d experienced in many of the other stops. What a delightful place – certainly one that will stand out in the memory banks. The wind had picked up while we were on shore and it was a rocky ride back to the ship on the tenders. We left Mykonos about 2pm and are now headed for Instanbul but not sure what time we will arrive there with the switch around of ports, due to our lost time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Friday 4th – Saturday 5th September
We arrived early in the morning at Naples. Since we had nothing in particular planned we took it easy and after breakfast etc., we took a stroll into town. Boy, is the traffic chaotic here. Traffic lights don’t seem to mean much. You just watch the locals and follow them to cross the roads. Of course you take your life in your hands doing it but the alternative is to stand on the corner and go nowhere. We made a couple a purchases and bought a few cards then headed back to the Ship for lunch. We decided to take an easy tour of Naples in the afternoon just to see what there was to see in Naples itself. One would really need a few days here to explore the surrounding area so, who knows, we may pass this way again one day and make Naples the base for a little while. We were late leaving port as someone took very ill and needed to go to a hospital shortly before we were due to leave.

Saturday: Today was supposed to be a full day at sea, however we found ourselves cruising into a harbour at Mesina, Sardinia. Another passenger had taken ill during the night and we had to make and unscheduled stop to send them off to hospital. We are now running about a half a day behind. This will be most inconvenient for those who were booked for a tour in the morning. We were due to arrive in Athens about 6am tomorrow. The ship will try to make up some time and they are trying to re-arrange tours. Greece would have to work a little more efficiently than Italy for that to happen successfully. We found the ports in Italy lacking in cleanliness. At some of the more popular tourist spots they appear to be cleaning up their act a little, but have a long way to go compared with other places we have docked. I expect the afternoon will be pretty much as the “Princess Patter” (the ships newspaper) indicates. Did I mention we get abbreviated versions of western newspapers, including an Australian version? It contains just enough information for us to know that down under is still there and what the weather, and for those who are interested, the sports outcomes. The weather has been terrific but unfortunately, yesterday we couldn’t get a good look at Mt Vesuvius as it was shrouded in a haze and clouds. After today we have about 8 ports in a row which takes us to Safaga, Egypt, on the other side of the Suez Canal. Hope we can stand the pace.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday 2nd September
Monaco seems like days ago already. Today we arrived in Livorno the port for Pisa and Florence. We spent the morning on board ship and booked for a tour for Pisa in the afternoon. It was nice just to take our time over breakfast, spend a little time on the computer, settle the ship board account, write a few postcards, then have an early lunch and a nap before joining our tour to Pisa at 1.30. Livarno is a busy port oriented city and nothing of interest to see. Florence was only included in the full day tour and a bit much for us oldies. It was about a ½ and hour bus ride to Pisa then on arrival we hopped on a trolley train to the garden of miracles where the leaning tower is where we had refreshments, complimentary (a vino or a beer), then a walk to the tower and the cathedral. We didn’t walk to the top. Once again, we’re glad we made the effort to take the tour. The history of it is fascinating, particularly for the engineering minded. They knew it was sinking before it was finished and took steps to try and counterbalance the building as it went upwards. A few centuries ago Pisa was a sea port but now it’s miles from the sea. This is all as a result of natural reclamation of the sea. We arrived back on board in time to shower and dress for dinner. Tomorrow morning we will wake up in the port of Civitavecchia (Rome).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday 1st September
Spring in the Med. The forecast was for 23 degrees but I think it was more like late 20’s. We didn’t book any tours today since the Principality is rather small and the cost of tours from the ship is rather inflated. We opted to walk a little way from the ship, up about 60 steps (a bit of a struggle for me) and then take the escalators up to the top where the Palace and the Old town are. We got to the top just as a little trolley train was about to take off on a tour for half an hour. It was free. It took us from one end of the principality to the other and back again. There were on board recorded players telling you were you were at each important place of interest. There is not one little bit of space not utilized in the area. There’s tunnel roads and roads through buildings or at least they seem to go through, parks running onto roves and busy. When the trolley tour finished, we found a restaurant in one of the very narrow streets (no cars allowed here) in the old town and had a pizza and a salad, water and a bottle of vino. We then took a tour through the Palace for a small entry fee. The rooms that are open to the public are rather small, including the throne room. The harbour is full of millionaires water toys. A great little spot on the map but apart from being a tax free location I don’t think we’d be in the category to spend much time here – one brief visit will do us nicely

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Monday 31st August
Another month has gone by and our first ports of call seem so far in the past. When we awoke this morning we were docking in Barcelona, Spain. After reading up on the place this morning we decided it was too much to take in on our own, particularly as we don’t speak or understand Spanish, so we booked a couple of spare seats on a tour of the highlights of Barcelona. Glad we did, because not a lot of people got to see the inside of La Sagrada Familia (the Sacred Family), designed by Gaudi , which is still under construction after about 127 years. When it’s finished it will seat several thousand people. It should be finished in about 2025. It really was worth the visit. It is quite an interesting city. We have just watched a show with 2 fellows playing several instruments in a south American style. The same ones we watched a couple of nights ago, then to the Wheelhouse bar for a little bit of dance music before returning to our cabin to turn in. Tomorrow morning we will be in Monaco.