Friday, June 8, 2012

Singapore to Mumbai

It was funny sailing into Darwin Port; I got up about 5.30 so that I wouldn’t miss anything.  I was surprised at my emotions, I thought that I didn’t like Darwin but the intensity of my feeling surprised me.  Guess when you think of it I have spent over 30 years of my life there with John and the children and have many fantastic memories and seen a lot of changes.  OK, enough of that mushy stuff!

Most of the passengers had disembarked by 8am.  I was impressed how professional everything was.  The Darwin Port Association had locals providing information, the Princess had shuttle busses waiting and it seems that happens in most Ports for a cost of $14 for the day.  I hadn’t seen Forts Hill Wharf and it is very impressive.

Tonya picked me up and I spent a nice day home and of course did my washing. Tonya dropped me off about 1520 and due to a bus being delayed we sailed out of Darwin at 1610.  It was a fantastic sight watching Darwin disappear and the sun setting.  It was amazing how any jelly fish were in the water and they were all heading towards Darwin!!

We were told that we are only allowed to bring on board, one bottle of wine or 6 cans of beer per person and definitely no spirits. It seems the experienced travellers ignore this rule in Darwin; they bought on ‘heaps’.

It is tradition to have a ‘sail-a-way’ party and the group of travellers I have teamed up have found a quiet place tucked away at the rear of the boat and we had our own farewell party.

We now have 4 days at sea until we reach Singapore.  We cross the equator just before we reach Singapore.  Not sure if we have a special event to recognise the first time crossing the equator.  The people at my table just smile when I ask them what happens.

Wednesday 23 May 0700 Timor Sea – We have travelled 2756Nm from Sydney and we have to travel 1741Nm to our next Port of Singapore.  Temperature on desk is 27.2 degrees.  Sea conditions – Small wavelets of 1.2 metres.  Spent the day eating, playing trivia, drinking coffee and playing with wooden horses and did I mention eating.

Thursday 24 May 0700 Lombok Sea – We have travelled 3199 Nm from Sydney and we have to travel 1239 Nm  to our next Port of Singapore.  Temperature on desk is 28.7 degrees.  Sea conditions – Small wavelets of 1.2 m. Travelling 18 knots. Spent the day eating, reading, drinking coffee, eating ice cream, horse racing, playing trivia and did I mention eating. 

Friday 25 May 0700Java Sea Sorry, I was sitting in the spa and forgot to look at the TV in the cabin.

This was a formal night in the dining room and once again everyone looked fantastic although not a ‘over the top’.  We had lobster on the menu which is our reward for dressing up. The weather is getting warmer now as we get closer to the Equator.  People are lying out in the sun for hours on end and spending more time in the pools.  Then ice cream stand is doing a great trade, it would be a kid’s dream, free icecream.
Saturday 26 May 0700. Karimata Straits. We have travelled 4102 Nm  from Sydney and we have to travel 346 Nm  to our next Port of Singapore.  Heading 306.5 Temperature on desk is 29.2 degrees.  Sea conditions – Small wavelets of 1.2 meters.  Speeding 17.8 knots.

We all gathered on Deck 14 around the large swimming pool (the 1700 passengers and 800 crew) and King Neptune and  Queen Neptune DD arrived with their entourage along with ‘poly wogs’ who are Equator Virgins which were made up of 4 prisoners from the passengers and all the crew members who had not crossed the Equator.  After a few speeches the action began with the Captain being thrown into the pool and then eggs, paint and flour were thrown over the ‘poly wogs’.  It was controlled mayhem as I understand that it took the crew days to clean up after a previous trip.  I was disappointed that the passengers were not allowed to be involved but I guess things cannot be controlled.  A ‘crossing the Equator’ certificate was sent to our cabins that night.  One more thing crossed off my ‘bucket list’. 

Tomorrow – Singapore.  

Sunday 27 May – 0700. Malacca Straits Arrived in Singapore.  Departed 5pm.

What a beautiful city to sail into, I was up early and up on the deck to watch the ship sail in.  We docked in a brand new terminal which had only been opened the day before and we were the second ship to dock.  The terminal was huge and we had to walk ages to get outside of it.

The whole disembarkation system is very impressive.  The Singapore Immigration people come on board in Darwin and we had to hand in our passports prior to Darwin, the process is done during the trip and all we have to take when we leave the ship is our ship card and a photo ID card which is my Driver’s licence.  That’s all.  It feels odd not taking the passport, though I never seem to have mine as it always seems to being processed.

I have teamed up with a lady who is my age and she is really nice and we have begun to “hang around together’ which is nice as this is a huge ship and a lot of couples. It would be easy to hide in your cabin with free 24 hour room service.

Yvonne and I were found having breakfast with the Oranutans in the Singapore Zoo.  There were about 80 of us leaving the ship and we had a lovely man as our tour guide.  The trip was nice, travelling through the city.  It is incredible to hear that when John and I were first there in 1970 a heap of the island had not been reclaimed and so much of the island id not exist.  It is a beautiful city and so clean.  We were checked to make sure that we didn’t have any gum and the smokers were charged a duty fee to bring cigarettes into the country.

We arrived at the Zoo and walked straight through to the Ah Meng Restaurant and sat down to a huge western/Asian buffet breakfast (great another meal) and after a few minutes the guests of honour came down and joined us.  There were 4 large monkeys and a couple of babies.  They were well behaved.  The Oranutans have free access around the zoo and can be seen up in trees all around the areas.  It is a lovely zoo and I hoped that we could have seen the elephant show that John and I had seen when we were there last but unfortunately we had to leave before it started.  We saw some great sights and them we travelled back to the ship.  Passengers asked to be dropped off at Orchard Road and the Chinese section of Singapore.  I went straight back to the ship and had lunch at about 1500hrs.  Lovely day.  We went to the back of Deck 11 for the Sail-a-way party. Spent a quiet night eating and drinking!!

Monday 28 May – 0700. Malacca Straits Arrived in Port Kelang. Malaysia. Departed 7pm.
The ship sailed into port and docked in one of the busiest ports in the world.  It used to be the busiest but has been over taken by Shanghai. The walk to the Terminal was very long and a lot of the older passengers found it very difficult.  We were allocated our busses and proceeded to drive into Kelang, the traffic is very well behaved and was only busy a couple of times.  We had morning tea in a ‘typical’ Malay home and this was nice, not a truly normal house I would think, the yard was full of beautiful orchids and many fruit trees, the house itself was very big.  We spent about an hour there and then travelled on to see the Blue Mosque which is the biggest Mosque in the Southern Hemisphere with room for 25,000 men praying.  Unfortunately we arrived just before ‘Call to Prayer’ and could only see it from a distance.  I would have loved to see inside but not this time.

Blue Mosque 
Our next stop was the Sultan’s Palace, where we could only take pictures from the outside.  Once a year the palace is open to everyone.

We then travelled back into Kelang and spent a little time in Little India which was a street in the Indian section of town.  I bought a lovely tunic top which when tried on back on the ship was the right size around the hips but too tight around the shoulders.  I thought that I would have to call Yvonne to help me out of it as it was really tight and wouldn’t budge.  I also bought some bindi’s.  What is a bindi, you ask?  Well during a Trivia session a few days ago, the question was – Where on a women can you find a Bindi?  It is a decorative item that is worn on the forehead. Great day again.

Tuesday 29 May – 0800.  Malacca Straits. Arrived in Penang. Malaysia. Departed 4pm.

Penang was a nice mixture between old and new.  I didn’t really recognise it.  John and I and Christopher had been there almost 40 years ago with his sister Pat and her then husband Ron with their daughter Tina.  The only area I remembered was a flea market that we had visited.  The tour Yvonne and I went on first went to a ‘wet’ market, which was similar to all markets in Asia, a combination of fruit, vegetables and fish, this one was cleaner and did not smell.  We then went to a flea market (the one I had been to before), we then stopped at another group of shops and I bought a great shirt and also an exquisite batik shirt.

Our next stop was to visit a Museum and the tour guide gave us 20 minutes and we should be back on the bus by then.  Yvonne needed to go to the toilet and as all women know there is always a cue so we had to wait for ages.  By the time we finished there we looked around for a few minutes and then went out to the bus area to find our bus missing.  I wasn’t impressed as my backpack was still on the bus and my credit cards etc. were in it.  We ended up going back on another bus and fortunately I found my bag which had been collected by one of the passengers.  We were not impressed as they did not wait for us and it was disappointing that the other passengers did not say something.  We have made a complaint; it would be terrible if it had been on the longer 13 hour trips and we would have found our way home. 

I had taken 310 ringgits into Malaysia and only spent 80 ringgits.  I really liked Penang and our tour guide said that there were a lot of Aussie expats living there.  You can buy a 4 room apartment for $300,000 AUS.  We sailed out of the port at 4pm and headed out to sea again. Oh dear, another ‘sail-away’ party.

Tonight’s theme in the dining room was French.  I had escargot, French onion soup and glaze orange duck. Yum.

The ship increased its speed as the Captain was trying to outrun a storm.  It was fantastic, the wave size increased and the ship started to rock and roll.  Loved it.  It was great lying in bed being rocked to sleep. 

Wednesday 30 May 0700. Indian Ocean We have travelled 5172 Nm  from Sydney and we have to travel 1923 Nm  to our next Port of Mumbai.  Heading 306.5 Temperature on desk is 28.7 degrees.  Sea conditions – sight swell.  Speeding 20.3 knots. Tonight’s theme in the dining room was Italian. The Chef cooked pasta in the centre of the room and everyone had some.  The waiters dressed up in Italian costumes.  Good fun.

Thursday 31 May 0700. Indian Ocean. We have travelled 5598 Nm  from Sydney and we have to travel 2133 Nm  to our next Port of Mumbai.  Heading 272.3 Temperature on desk is 28.8 degrees.  Sea conditions –.  Speeding 17.7 knots.  Wind speed across the deck 48.6.

I was sitting in my bed this morning about 7am when the phone rang and a voice told me to evacuate my room and go down to my designated muster area which is 3 decks down.  I quickly grabbed a sarong and threw on some undies and took off down the back stairs, straight into strong winds and some light rain.  I went into the muster room and found only a few people there.  I went to find someone in authority and couldn’t find anyone, so I rang reception to be told that a fire alarm had been set off by mistake and that it was OK to return to our cabins. 

1000 hours found us all locked in our cabins as the ship practiced Piracy drill.  It seems that we are now entering pirate seas and the ship has to be prepared.  It seems that there are special screens that they erect to stop pirates from entering the ships side and as the ship is so high this also provides security.  There is a huge water gun at the rear of the ship which is also used to repel rebels.  The passengers have to stay in their cabins and the ones lucky enough to have balconies have to close them.  People like me who live in caves in the middle of the ship are OK.  The whole exercise only took a few minutes.

I am now a horse owner.  We have formed a syndicate of 12 and bought a wooden race horse for $140 to be run in the Princess Melbourne Cup.  We have to name it, carry it around for the next 2 days to protect it from sabotage.  I am the jockey and we have the chance to win $900.  Lot of fun as everyone seems to enjoy getting involved.

Friday 1 June 0700. Lakshadweep Sea.
We have travelled 6040 Nm  from Sydney and we have to travel 1053 Nm  to our next Port of Mumbai.  Heading 269.4 Temperature on desk is 27 degrees.  Speeding 19.9 knots.  Wind speed 22.7 knots across the deck.

Indian immigration had come aboard the ship in Penang and we had to line up this morning for about 1½ hours to have 3 bits of paper stamped.  There are a lot of unhappy people on board.  We were told that we would not be able to board the ship without an Indian visa and it seemed that 50 people had done so and initially they were told that they would have to leave the ship in Penang and meet it again in Dubai but in the end nothing happened to the passengers who refused to get the visa.  A lot of people paid out $110 with no intention of leaving the ship.

I must admit I was disappointed when I found out that we were not going to see the Taj Mahal as the ship is docking too far away.  Oh well, it gives me a reason to come back to India.

We had a tropical night tonight theme for dinner and we had a party on the top deck though the sea was a little rough still. We had a conga line dancing around the deck over 300 people.  The entertainment staff does a great job, the music was aimed at our age group.  Most of the waiters are from Thailand and as the evening drew to an end they started to dance and boy did they have rhythm!!

Saturday 2 June 0700 We have travelled 6523 Nm  from Sydney and we have to travel 533 Nm  to our next Port of Mumbai.  Heading 349.5 Temperature on desk is 28.7 degrees.  Speeding 19.9 knots.  Wind speed 20 knots across the deck.

The ship is just like being at a scout jamboree with rumours flying around with great speed and very little accuracy.  So far it seems that we have had 5 people die, a troop of trained Gurka’s to keep the pirates away to mention just a few.

Princess Melbourne Cup Race.  What a great activity.  The entertainment crew had decorated an area in the Vista Lounge for the owners  of the horses and we were plied with free champagne.  The owners came along dressed in hats, long dresses and the men in shirts and ties and we even had a Sheik.  The horses had been decorated and all had racing history which had to be read out.  Our horse was ridden by Dodgie Doidge.  Unfortunately we didn’t win but I know that we will be buying a horse on the next section where we will be running Royal Ascot.

Sunday 3 June 0700  Arabia Sea We have travelled 6978.9 Nm from Sydney and we have to travel 27 Nm to our next Port of Mumbai.  Heading 324.1 Temperature on desk is 29.1 degrees.  Speeding 19.9 knots.  Wind speed 21.7 knots across the deck.

We are running about 3 hours late so will be in Mumbai later than planned which is a problem as we have booked a private tour which was planned to leave at 9am.  The ship will be sailing 1 hour late.  It seems that we are heading into a really strong current which is slowing us down.  We eventually tied up to the dock at noon and started streaming off.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Look Out World - Here I Come

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.