We’re off !

Our driver arrived five minute early, I do love efficiency, and at 3.00 am we had the fastest drive ever to the airport, which was just over twenty minutes instead of the normal 45 minutes.
Check-in went smoothly and our bags checked through to Rome. We were given vouchers for a hotel near Dubai airport, Le Meridian.
We had been told that Sydney airport didn’t open until 4.00 am, but it actually opens at 3.00 am, but emigration & security didn’t open until 4.00 am so we had to hang around for about fifteen minutes.



I’ve never seen Sydney airport so quiet.

Once in the emigration line we inserted our passports to a scanner and stood while our photograph was taken, and I suppose compared to the passport. The whole process took about thirty seconds, and we had existed Australia.
Next stop was security – due to my pacemaker I couldn’t pass through the normal X-ray machine, but was asked to stand in a see-through box with my arms up and I was checked out. I was told that this security system did not allow any forms of ‘waves’ to pass through the body so was safe for pacemakers.

A five minute walk had us at the entrance to Emirates Business Class Lounge – a beautiful spotless waiting area with a large choice of food and drink. I had some very nice coffee, fruit and juice, which was all that I wanted, and of course a glass of Moet Champaign. After all, one doesn’t want to waste the opportunity of a glass of Moet even at 4.00 am!


The call to board was made around 40 minutes before take-off, not a problem as the aircraft was not full, and we had to use the lift to go down to the boarding level.
Maureen had a window seat and my seat was behind. The layout is such that the business class seats are not behind each other, but staggered. My seat was behind Maureen’s stowage areas, which was also where my TV screen was located and my footrest area. This allows each seat to be converted in to a flatbed if the passenger wishes to sleep. Before we had taken off the cabin crew were offering mattresses for those who wished to sleep once we had reached cruising altitude.


The area to the left of my screen was the rear of Maureen’s seat, which was next to her window.

The above picture was taken from my seat, showing that I was not next to the window. The unit to the right of the picture is the rear of Maureen’s seat.
Once at cruising altitude the crew came around to take our breakfast orders.



 I chose the granola with vanilla yoghurt & pomegranate seeds.

As I write this on my laptop (universal power sockets located at each seat) we have been flying for 4.5 hours and we are still over Australia.


The sun is chasing us as we fly north west over Australia.

Breakfast went well, after which we all settled down to watch films, read or sleep.

I couldn’t help but watch The Magnificent Seven, just one more time.

Maureen & I had our window blinds ‘open’ to watch the passing scenery as we flew over Australia. I found it strange that all through the fourteen-hour flight many passengers, a little further back from where we were sitting, never opened their window blinds throughout the flight, and just sat in the dark.

DSC08395rQuite often Maureen prefers to watch the pasting view rather than watch TV.

The toilets were in the rear of the upper business class section, so when visiting the facilities and walking through the darkened area, I found it slightly depressing that so many were sitting in the dark when it was full daylight.


The one happy area after the darkened section was the bar. It was never crowded, with just six to ten people sitting or standing around chatting. I had a lengthy conversation with the Chinese barman (he took this photograph), who had worked for Emirates for over three years. He was interesting and in my opinion an asset to the airline.

DSC08407rLater back at our seats it was lunchtime.




I forgot to photograph the first course and decided to have cheese instead of something sweet.


After floating in the air for just over fourteen hours we approached Dubai.

Although I enjoyed the overall experience of flying business class in an AB 380, I think I prefer business class in a B787, which is much smaller, and for me, a more personal experience. Flying in a B787 allows the cabin staff to be attentive to each individual passenger that one can be addressed by name, without interrogating a iPad before speaking.
On our flight, there were seventy-six business class seats in our section, so is it any wonder we hardly saw a cabin crew member other than rushing back and forth with trays of food.
The B 787 has twenty-two business class seats and even with far less staff they managed to build a small personal relationship with each passenger. If you would like something in between the AB 380 and the smaller B787 try the B777/ER business class with forty-two seats. Having experienced both the B787 and the B777/ER I enjoyed both, and the largest toilet I’d ever seen, after flying with over fifty different airlines, the B777 wins hands down.

On arrival in Dubai I could not fault Emirates Airlines for the efficiency of their operation. We had been given fast track cards that saw us through immigration very quickly.

Our main suitcases had been tagged all the way to Rome, so we didn’t have to worry about baggage on arrival. Once through the normal procedure we were shown where to go for our chauffeured car to the Le Meridian Hotel for our overnight stay. The driver was waiting, and we were quickly on our way to the hotel. At the hotel, where we were guided through a dedicated Emirates check-in area.
As one staff member checked us in another offered us vouchers for lunch, dinner and breakfast. We didn’t require lunch having eaten during our flight.
We followed a porter to our room in a special section of the hotel for transit Emirates passengers.


DSC08416rThe two above pictures show our room.

Our onward flight was scheduled to depart the following day at 9.10 am.

DSC08418rInside the Dubliner – Guinness :-o)

Later we had a look around the hotel and a complete area was set aside for assorted styles of restaurants from an Irish pub (called the Dubliner), to Thai, Middle Eastern and other types of food. Clutching our dinner voucher, we wondered through each area and were shown special menus that listed various dishes for transit passengers.
The only thing that we paid for was my beer, Guinness of course, in the Dubliner, chilled, thick and tasty and Italian beer in the outside restaurant that we picked for our evening meal. Soft drinks for Maureen were included in the voucher. The burning heat of the day had passed by the time we sat down and the warm breeze added to the enjoyment as evening turned in to night. With such a wide choice of food it was funny that we both chose a New Zealand steak and salad.

DSC08419rFor breakfast, before being taken to the departure area for the next leg of our journey, we had a large choice of food.

Flying North for the Winter – part two


Once the decision had been made to join the Majestic Princess in Rome, and to sail back to Singapore, the next thought was how to get to Rome and home from Singapore.

I checked various airlines that we have used in the past, and considered the cost via each one, but as one gets older one wants that little bit of ease and comfort.

The cost to fly in to Asia, and then over night, and fly daylight to Rome was higher than I expected, so I looked at flying direct from Sydney to the Middle East and then on to Europe.

Taking in to account the passenger comments on Skytrax I fancied Emirates Airline, AB 380, even though we haven’t flown with this airline before. The price was ‘right’ for a multi-stop ticket, and we would be able to break the journey.

From Sydney to Dubai, to connect with the Dubai to Rome flight, is a fourteen hours and fifteen minutes flight from Sydney. We had the choice of two take off times, 6.00 am or 9.10 pm. We do enjoy day time flying, which allows us to enjoy the whole experience rather than sleeping through much of the transit over Australia.


We picked the 6.00 am flight, which would require us to leave home at 3.00 am  . . .

The advantage of flying business class with Emirates is that they offered us a chauffeured car that would pick us up at 3.00 am and have us checking in around 4.00 am, this sounded fine with us.


Once we have checked-in we will be escorted to the Emirates business class lounge at Sydney airport. Although they code share on many flights with Qantas they do have their own Business / First class lounge, which is in addition to Qantas’ own lounges.



EKsyd15-1024x768Champaign breakfast and scrabbled eggs?


AB 380 business class seats on Emirates Airlines – plenty of stowage space and leg room, and it folds flat to make a bed if this is required.


If we get tired of sitting (14 hours . . )
we can visit the bar at the rear of the business class section.

Menu for breakfast & lunch  on our outbound flight from Sydney to Dubai.


Inflight dining.

2500 TV and radio channels to help pass the time. I have hopes of trying to write, but being a film buff I’ll check the films first  . . . .then maybe update the novel.

On arrival in Dubai we will be picked up and taken to a hotel (I believe it is Le Meridien) for an overnight stay. Our connection is 9.10 am the following day to Rome. A much shorter flight at 6 hours 15 minutes.


The cost of the hotel and transport is included in the airline ticket.


I might get the chance of a swim.

On arrival in Rome we will be met by another chauffeured car to take us to our hotel in Civitavecchia, which is the port for Rome. The drive is about 45 minutes.

We are looking forward to the whole experience.

The homeward leg starts in Singapore, after a two night stop over.

Emirates Airlines do not fly Singapore to Sydney, but they do have a code share arrangement with Qantas, so we will fly overnight from Singapore to Sydney with an Emirates flight number on the QF 82, which is an AB 300-300.


Qantas do not fly day time flights from Singapore to Sydney, so we didn’t have any choice but to accept the night flight.

Qantas don’t offer a chauffeured car for their business class passengers flying to / from Asia, which will mean that we will make our own way to Singapore airport, and from Sydney airport to home. This will not be a problem, but the difference in service was noticeable. Emirates Airline fly Singapore to Melbourne with their own aircraft, and if we lived in Melbourne, Emirates would have offered the chauffeured car, even though we are ‘short-haul’ from Asia.

The Emirates business class lounge in Singapore has recently be refurbished (it took six months) and reopened in April of this year. I assume that we can use this lounge with an Emirates ticket flying on a Qantas aircraft – we’ll see.


256550_nuw-4ow4XLnFzDlS-FfwhcNZ7qONOIPq2kKQt8xN3hY   Emirates lounge – two pics above.


singapore-lounge-4 (1)

Qantas Singapore lounge – two pics above – we’ll be spoilt for choice.


Qantas business class seats on the Singapore to Sydney sector.


Business class seating area on Qantas AB 300/300

All of the above photographs have been downloaded from the net from both Emirates and Qantas web sites.

I will be commenting on how close reality the advertised services are, and how each airline matches, exceeds or fails, to reach my expectations.






Flying north for winter


Majestic Princess
Reg. London, 144,216 gt, 3,560 passengers maximum. (will it feel crowded?)

There comes a time when winter is all too much as one grows older . . . and older. A few months ago I started to check where to go or what to do, for part of our Sydney winter. Being a wimp, I consider late May is the start of the colder period, so any time after mid May would be fine, after all summer is December, January & February and Autumn is March, April and May, but late May is winter!

I wanted something ‘different’ without too much work i.e changing hotels, bus trips,  or too many plane changes, so once again it came down to cruising.

Maureen & I like cruising, and having sailed in –


Island Princess – Reg. London, 92,000 gt, 2200 passengers (never felt crowded)


Diamond Princess – Reg. London, 115,875 gt, 2670 passengers (never felt crowded)


Dawn Princess – Reg. Bermuda, 77,441 gt, 1998 passengers (never felt crowded)

azamara quest

Azamara Quest – Reg. Valetta, Malta, 30,277 gt, 686 passengers (never felt crowded)


Pacific Jewel – Reg. London, 69,845 gt, 2014 passengers (did feel crowded at times)

so could I find something different?

I clicked on various global travel & cruise sites and in the end I went back to Princess Cruises’ web site and found a positioning cruise from Rome (the port is Civitavecchia, about 80 to 90 kms from the city of Rome) to Shanghai in China.

Majestic Princess is the latest vessel of Princess Cruises and is the newest of the ‘Royal’ class of vessels, the others being Regal & Royal Princess.

A new vessel, positioning cruise, sailing through the Suez Canal (which Maureen has not yet experienced), and then sailing down the Red Sea and in to the Persian Gulf, followed by India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and finally, for us, Singapore where we leave the ship to fly home.

The ship carries on to China, via various Asian ports, to be based in Shanghai so as to focus on the Chinese market. She carries two names one in English and the other in Chinese script 盛世公主号, which means Grand World or Grand Spirit.

The price was right for the twenty-eight day cruise, and she would do about six weeks cruising around the Mediterranean as ‘shake-down’ cruises, before the positioning cruise.
All being well, by the time we join the Majestic Princess the ‘crinkles’ of a new ship, and a ‘new’ crew would have been worked through, so that the little problems after leaving dry dock (there are nearly always problems) had been fixed. The comments / complaints from the first group of passengers would point to any major problems.

royal-class-deluxe-balcony-1600I paid a little extra for a larger balcony, because we spend our quiet afternoons at sea reading, or in my case trying to write. I do enjoy watching the sun come up, or set, over the sea, and the balcony is a big plus for us.

the-seawalk-1-1600It is the first cruise ship to have a glass walk over the ocean, so I’ll be interested in this experience.

piazza-1-1600The Atrium, as well as a meeting place is also used as a village square (Piazza) for acts, music & dancing etc.

princess-theater-1-1600No idea how many people the theater seats.

The above four pictures are from various Princess Cruises’ online brochures.

I have since found out that they do not have a Crooners Bar, which was a favourite of ours on all of the other Princess vessels. Crooners was just right for a 5.00 pm quiet drink with a piano player doing requests.

DSC04087rCrooners Bar Requests ??

DSC03896Crooners Bar Island Princess

The Majestic Princess doesn’t have a Wheelhouse Bar or Explorers Bar – each bar on other Princess ships has a different ambiance, but I have been told that they do have karaoke bars, so I’ll have to find a quiet spot elsewhere :-o)
With such a large Atrium I doubt that it will be a problem – Crooners under another name?

Apparently all signage on the ship is in two language English & Chinese and all announcements are made in both languages.

The ship sails from Barcelona to Shanghai for the fifty six night cruise, departing Barcelona 14th May 2017. We join her in Rome (17th May) and leave in Singapore, so hopefully I’ll have plenty of pictures to post when blogging.