Category Archives: 2019 Down Under

December 1 – Airlie Beach

December 1 – Glass Bottom Boat
20°18′6″ S 148°47′49″ E

Today was the first stop on the cruise where passengers had the opportunity to take a 6-hour excursion trip out to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. We considered doing that but the price tag was $350.00 per person & the majority of the time on the excursion is spent on the tour boat getting out to the reef & back again, so we decided to take a much more modest excursion ($40.00 pp) to a “local” reef just a few miles from Airlie Beach. I’m sure we can find another opportunity to spend the $620.00 we “saved” by not taking the big reef excursion.

Airlie Beach has no Pier facilities for cruise ships so everyone has to take a tender to shore. Getting about 2,000 people off a ship like this using tenders is quite a time consuming operation. The cruise ship launched several of its lifeboats & they were supplemented by 3 or 4 local tour boats. One of the local boats was a power trimaran that from a distance looked like something out of a James Bond movie.

Once we were on shore we took a short bus ride to another nearby Shute Harbour which was spectacular.

Most of the area was wiped put by a cyclone in 2017, with winds in excess of 250 kms an hour – boats tossed on the shore and sunk in the harbour, trees stripped of their leaves and wave action broke off huge chunks of solid coral from the reefs causing much damage.

We boarded a small glass bottomed boat that carried only about 15 people & headed towards a nearby uninhabited island that has a small reef facing the mainland.

It was a fun trip with an entertaining young fellow from the UK as our captain & tour guide & we saw lots of coral & numerous small fish. But the fish were pretty shy.

Look like a salad bar?

Cool brain coral!

Our tour guide explained that most of the coral is brown in colour and you have to have the right light and camera to capture some of the blues and reds. It was really interesting to see the coral moving and waving to its own rhythm. We had hoped to see some turtles as the tour guide had seen three that morning and seventeen on another trip but they were likely resting as it was almost noon.

At the conclusion of the hour-long reef tour we opted not to go into the town’s commercial area as it was very hot & humid. Instead we headed back to the ship to cruise the buffet on the Lido Deck. After all, it had been about 4 hours since we last ate!

On our way back to the ship we passed by a Nauticat motorsailer moored in the bay.

She looked very similar to Ananda. I imagine it would be fantastic sailing in these waters! (Big Sigh Here!) …. guess I’ll just have to find some comfort at the buffet!

Tomorrow we head to Cairns where we will see Yorkeys Knob 🙀


November 30 – At Sea – Brisbane to Airlie Beach

November 30 – Noon Sighting At Sea
23°29′34″ S 152°37′42″ E

We left Brisbane last night and sailed all day and night today on our way to Airlie Beach for arrival on December 1st. Our passage is taking us (relatively) near some very famous & exotic places in this part of the world.

Photo below & in the map inset above: the sun on the sea as we head towards Airlie Beach – no land in sight in any direction.

It was a pretty laid back day, with lots beautiful warm sunshine on calm water. During breakfast some people spotted dolphins swimming alongside the starboard side of the ship. We got a glimpse of them but we were not able to get any photos as we were too high up & inside at the time.

We have found a quiet place to eat outside on the back deck of the ship on deck 16, where it is shaded and there is just enough breeze to feel comfortable. Most people prefer to eat inside in the air conditioning & close to the buffet lines but we are soaking up this nice weather knowing that we will be back to freezing cold reality in a week.

There are dozens of things to do at sea! We get The Princess Patter daily newsletter delivered to our cabin each night. It provides times and locations of all the ship’s activities and events – bingo, trivia quiz shows, talent shows, card tournaments, arts and crafts, AA meetings, movies, live entertainment – plus offers from The Lotus Spa to have teeth whitened, fillers and Botox treatments guaranteed to make us look 10 years younger! You will hardly recognize us when we get home!

Cath opted for a Zumba class and I went to a presentation on the next three ports of call. We also found some quiet places to read and took in a Sting concert!

Unfortunately, he wasn’t on board but was up on the big outdoor screen on the Lido deck.

After dinner, the fountain on the Lido deck was synchronized to music playing on the deck’s massive entertainment sound system! Who needs Las Vegas?!?

Airlie Beach beckons …

November 29 – Docked in Brisbane

Docked in Brisbane
27°22′57″ S 153°9′42″ E

We arrived in Brisbane around 7:00am & tied up at the industrial docks as there is no pier closer to downtown Brisbane that can handle a ship this size.

Photo below: mini panorama of the grain terminal where our ship was docked.

Cath & I decided to forgo the bus trip into the city & spend the day on board instead. It was a pretty quiet day.

Photo below: Downtown Brisbane off in the distance

With a lot of passengers off the ship for the day we enjoyed some of the comfortable lounging spots around the ship. Shortly before lunch I went to a GoPro 7 camera information seminar while Catherine went for a swim. Maybe Santa will read this blog entry….. 😉

We took in an afternoon high tea at 3:00pm in one of the ship’s main dining rooms. That was a fun way to spoil our appetite for dinner! But we managed to squeeze in a nice drink on our balcony & watch some other boats go by.

Not sure where this cruise ship was headed but it passed by very close to us.

A few hours later it was time for our ship to say goodbye to Brisbane. Maybe we will get to see the city another time.

After dinner we were pretty tired from doing next to nothing all day so we took a brief stroll around the upper deck & then turned in early for bed.

Another day at sea tomorrow. We need to be well rested so we can take in some of the relaxing activities on board.


November 28 – At Sea En Route To Brisbane

(Almost) Noon Sighting
30°49′11″ S 153°18′19″ E

Oooops, I forgot my sextant at home so I had to resort to my backup technologies – good old iPhone compass, GPS & Google Maps.

It’s just as well as I really have no clue about how to properly use a sextant.

The ship was at sea all day today so we had lots of time to explore some more.

There were some fun graphics painted on the exterior walls on the upper deck & many people were posing with them.

Tonight was a formal dinner evening so there was lots going on. We got dressed up for a “night on the town” ….

Our first stop was to see Scott Williams, an Australian comedian. He promotes himself as “the laugh doctor” & he was very funny.

He used a lot of graphics (like the one below) to point out that there can be humour just about anywhere & in any profession.

Maybe I could get a graphic like this for Santosha’s flybridge. I have a feeling that Catherine would exercise a veto on that idea.

Next on the agenda was to go to the ship’s main gathering area where the Cruise Director introduced the Captain & all of the executive members of the crew.

This was followed by the champagne waterfall. The area was packed with people so we took a pass on getting a glass of bubbly & headed for the dining room – time to eat – again!

I wonder if one of these towers has ever fell over. What a mess that would be! 🙀

After dinner we went to the main theater to see the special show “Encore” put on by the cruise ship troupe featuring musical theatre songs, opera arias, dance plus an amazing violinist. It was really good – probably the best one we have seen on any cruise we’ve taken.

After such a busy day we were ready for bed. The ship docks in Brisbane early in the morning.

Tonight we pass through a time zone so we will set our clocks back 1 hour. That means we will have to wait an extra hour before the breakfast buffet opens. I hope I can last that long.


November 27 – All Aboard & Cast Off, eh

Sydney Cruise Terminal
33°51′28″ S 151°12′37″ E

We were up early this morning to pack our bags & check out of the hotel (Novotel Darling Square).

The past 5 days have just flown by. We saw a lot of Sydney but we also just scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. I’d love to come back & spend a month exploring more of it!

A shuttle bus took us to the cruise terminal which is located in between the Harbour Bridge & the Opera House. We arrived at the very beginning of check-in time & were able to get on board right away. It was the fastest boarding we’ve ever had.

Photo below copied from the internet: The Majestic Princess – our home for the next 10 days while we cruise from Sydney along Australia’s east coast up to the northern edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

We thought the ship was mostly empty until we arrived at the main dining area – it was packed & it looks like it will stay that way until we disembark back in Sydney 10 days from now 🙀. Better sharpen my elbows.

We joined the buffet line & picked up a light lunch. Thankfully the ship’s dining areas are very efficient at handling large crowds.

After lunch we explored the rest of the ship & found some of the quiet & out of the way spots where there are far less people around you.

The trick is to get to them early in the day & stay parked. As soon as you get up someone else is there to take your place.

Our luggage was delivered to our cabin early in the afternoon so we unpacked everything & then had a short rest while enjoying the fantastic view from the port side of the ship. We could get very used to this!

We spent more time getting oriented to the ship and wandered around like deer in the headlights. Fortunately the staff are used to this behavior and are very helpful in directing lost souls. They are from all over the world – Eastern Europe, Australasia and the cruise director is from Vancouver.

We cast off at 6:45pm & the ship’s horn played a few notes from the musical theme for “The Love Boat” TV show. It was pretty loud, but fun to hear. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to record it. Hopefully the Captain will play it again when we leave our next port (Brisbane). I’ll have a chat with him about that tomorrow.

The ship’s departure from Sydney was very exciting, with spectacular views all around just as the sun was starting to set.

We stayed on the top deck for as long as we could before having to go to the dining room for our appointed dinner hour at 7:45.

Can’t miss a meal on this voyage – you never know when there will be another chance to eat!

After dinner we went to the Princess Theater to see a performance by Australian solo singer Thomas Armstrong-Robley. He’s an aspiring younger version of Michael Buble & he gave a great show based on songs by Frank Sinatra & Frankie Valli. Photo below copied from the internet.

Time for bed! We will spend the entire day at sea tomorrow. That will give us lots of time to get to know our way around the ship & to meet our 3,560 fellow passengers.

The breakfast buffet opens at 5:30am!