Friday, June 1, 2012
At last it is here, the Sun Princess is moored in Sydney and there is a band playing just near the gangplank belting out an American jazz tune, crew lined up ready to greet me. Of course I know all this isn’t for me, the excitement was great and yes it is just like the movies.
The ship left almost as soon as the passengers came on board. I love Sydney Harbour and believe me it is even more beautiful when you are on the top deck, sipping champagne and looking down at the ‘poor people’. We sailed under the Harbour bridge and I reckon there was only about 3cm between the ships aerial and the bottom of the bridge. I think everyone on board was ducking.
My cabin, which will be my home for the next 104 nights is about as big as a small motel room, I think it would be very cramped if there were two people my size living in it. The bathroom is small but workable; there is a lot of storage space, a TV and a fridge. The cabin is in the centre of the ship, no window and when the lights are off it is impossible to guess what time of the day or night it is. There is a steward for about 5 cabins and every night when I came back from dinner, I find 2 chocolates on my bed and the bed turned down for the night. This is going to be hard to take.
The ship is huge!!!!!! There are 14 decks, 7 eating places, 9 bars, casino, gym, spa salon, 1000 seat theatre, a desktop theatre and heaps more. The first day saw us all walking around with a map of the ship and a dazed look on our faces. There are heaps of lifts and staircases; I have made a promise to myself that I would only use the stairs. My God, I am exhausted by the end of the night, roughly going up and down 5 levels at least 20 times a day. There are around 1300 passengers from over 15 countries and 700 crew members. It is rare that all passengers are in the same places.
Life at Sea
There seems to be a heap to do while the ship is at sea, you can be as busy or as lazy as you want. Each evening the Princess Patter is delivered to your room which outlines what is happening the next day. There are all sorts of exercise available from just attending the gym, Tai Chi, table tennis tournaments, bowls and bike racing. They provide seminars on health management, canasta and 500 card games and a number of the passengers also meet in unofficial groups.
So far I have attended trivia afternoons, eaten heaps of food, made a toll paper card, won money on the wooden horse races, eaten heaps of food, attended a briefing about our first port of call Darwin, watched a couple of great shows in the Theatre and walked kilometres up and down stairs and of course my cabin is aft and all the action is forward so I walk heaps. Today I am going line dancing, learning how to carve vegetables, trivia, go to a mah-jong lesson and go to the evening show and then watch a movie under the stars and eating popcorn and go to bed about 12.30. This is our longest period at sea, 5 nights.
All passengers have been allocated to one of the two formal dining rooms and I was allocated to the Regency room on a table with 5 other people. They are very nice and they are all solo travellers and they come from all over Australia. Last night was our first formal dinner, everyone dressed up. Men were in dinner jackets, mess jackets, suits and the women wore long dresses, cocktail dresses and everyone looked fantastic.
The Captain welcomed us to the ship last night, they set up a champagne waterfall and then a lot of people took turns pouring champagne. Very flash, we all lined the staircases and it was like a picture out of the Titanic film.
You can eat 24 hours a day. I wander up to the buffet in the dining room on the top deck and can choose from a huge array of food, I have been having scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and fruit for breakfast.
Morning tea is then available from 10.30 onwards, leading into lunch, yesterday was a special sushi menu along with the normal buffet. You can order a pizza from the Italian restaurant, pie and chips from the café or ice cream from the icecream parlor.
Afternoon tea then is available and evening meal can be casual or very formal. The food is fantastic and a lot of it. I am trying to be good but I have 4 courses every night. Most days at sea a special menu is supplied, so far it has been sushi, Mexican and grilled fish on an outside b-b-que.
I would dearly love to know the average of the passengers. Think it would be in the 60’s if it wasn’t for the 4 or 5 children travelling with their parents. There are a large number of couples who have walkers and a few in wheelchairs. Most of the people I have spoken to have done 5, 6 or more trips to various parts of the world. Jim, who is at my table has done 40 trips and it seems they people continue to travel after their partners have died. It seems to be a mobile community as they seem to know each other. I am reminded of a Jamboree in more than one way, catching up with friends and health issues. A the entrance of the buffet is a hand gel set up with a staff member standing guard and daily messages about washing hands, sneezing and reporting illness.
I have teamed up with the people I had been talking to on Facebook and everyone on board is really friendly. There are people who are obviously very wealthy and then the opposite, couple who have saved up all their lives for their world cruise when they retire.
The staff are well trained and are from almost every country you can think of.
Wow, did I learn an expensive lesson the first night out. I logged on to my Broadband and downloaded my emails and this took no longer than 10 minutes and the cost, wait for it $56. Yes. It turns out that it was classed as International Roaming. I complained to Telstra then next day and they promised to repay it, I can’t afford to log on to find out.
I have bought time through the ship internet but it is very slow as the signal goes back to America as the Princess’ Headquarters is in America. The internet café is always packed and there are heaps of people standing all around the ship using their brand new Ipads, some of the people are in their late 80’s.
I will check my emails every day, so keep in touch.
The trip so far has been fantastic, the sea is really calm and now the outside temperature is warming up as we get close to Darwin. There have been a number of people swimming but they have been from Tassie and Victoria. I sat out on the deck today in my bathers but certainly did not go for a swim.
Tuesday the 22nd and we arrived in Darwin at 7am.