December 5 – At Sea En Route To Sydney

December 5 – 1:00pm Sighting
23°47′30″ S 153°13′27″ E

Today was our 2nd full day at sea as we are on a multi-day passage to Sydney. No more stops along the way. We will have another full day at sea tomorrow & then we will arrive at the dock in Sydney around 6:00am local time on Saturday.

I’m trying to avoid thinking about that & have been discreetly scouting out places for Catherine & I to stow away so we can stay on board. The ship’s next cruise, starting on Sunday evening is a 10-day trip to New Zealand!

We had multiple activities lined up for today. First on the agenda (after breakfast, of course) was to watch a cooking demonstration put on by the ship’s Head Chef & Maitre’d. This is a popular “event” on most Princess Cruises. They work together to prepare a full meal on stage & their efforts include much fun joking around.

Today’s menu included a cold seafood salad as a starter, followed by seafood pasta as the main course & then finished off with a Black Forest Cake “competition” between the Maitre’d & the Head Pastry Chef who is in charge of all breads & desserts on board.

The Maitre’d’s cake ended up having an entire bottle of Kirsch in it. Needless to say it was pretty soggy & it was garnished with a big straw to consume the liquid portion of the dessert.

There are 600 crew involved with preparing 25,000 meals a day (3,500 guests and 1,500 crew). The numbers are staggering – for example every day 1,700 lbs of fish are prepared, 6,000 pastries made, 800 lbs of butter used and just to balance it out 8,000 lbs of fruit is served! And when it’s all done, 140,000 dishes are washed!

After the cooking demonstration a talk & slideshow presentation about piloting ships through the Great Barrier Reef was given by the Pilot who was on board our ship for this portion of our passage.

He had lots of interesting facts & stories about his work & the ecology of the reef. The talk will continue tomorrow morning.

Early in the afternoon there was some unexpected excitement aboard the ship. One of the passengers had seriously injured themselves last night & had to be taken to hospital on shore by a medivac helicopter.

The Captain of our ship had several of the upper decks evacuated & then he slowed down to a crawl. A helicopter ambulance circled the ship a few times & then came right overtop our cabin, hovered above the top deck & the injured person was hoisted aboard in a stretcher.

A small medical evacuation jet was also circling the ship while the helicopter crew were completing their task. Hope the injured person recovers ok. Made us think of how important it is to have good medical insurance coverage when traveling abroad.

Something similar happened a few years ago when we were on a cruise in the Caribbean with Catherine’s mom & dad. We were headed back to Florida & going past Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. An American military helicopter came out to the ship around midnight & lifted a person off who had suffered a heart attack. Same procedure, several upper decks of the ship were evacuated while the rescue process was being completed.

Back to today – After all the excitement died down, we got ready for the last formal night and the “Captain’s Circle” reception in one of the lounges at 5:00 pm. It was an impressive event with the captain and crew in dress whites. Cocktails and canapes were served. Captain Sagani hails from Italy and had over 20 years training and experience before becoming a full fledged captain.

Having done a few Princess Cruises before we are in the “Platinum” level which gives us a few perks. The more days cruising, the more benefits. The couple on this ship with the most days sailing are from Seattle with 1,949 days. That is a lot of buffets!

We enjoyed the sunset from the open area on deck 7.

Catherine soaking up a warm sunset memory. We won’t see any of those for a few more months.

We had a great dinner yet again but were sad to hear that our waiter Leonel was out of commission with a back injury. We were looked after by the lovely assistant waiter Hazel from the Philippines and another gal from Serbia. Hopefully Leonel will be back on his feet soon.

We have some forms to fill out for disembarkation & luggage tags with bags out by dinner time tomorrow for loading on the bus to the airport early Saturday morning. Thinking ahead to long pants, sweaters and socks on the airplane(s). It doesn’t feel like we have been away for 5 weeks! These last few days have gone quickly!