Sunrises at sea

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Sun coming up behind us as we cross the Great Australia Bight.

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Above sunrise as we approach Fremantle.

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Above a day out of Fremantle in the Indian Ocean heading for Bali.
As the sun came up it seemed to produce an outline image of Australia.

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Another sunrise as we approached Bali – as the sun came up it reminded me of a lighthouse as the sunbeams flashed across the water.
I only wish I was a better photographer because the sun scenes and the movement of the ocean is fascinating.

After dinner shows

The trip across the Great Australian Bight was uneventful even though this Bight has a reputation for bad weather. It was cool. but not cold and people till managed to swim in the ship’s pools.

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A quiet peaceful day followed by a very nice dinner and we were just in time for the evening show.

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The whole theater production has been very professional from the lighting, choreography, through to the trap doors & sliding parts of the floor to enhance a scene in a show.
We have watched three musical – all different – plus a show by a female comedian from Yorkshire, Jo Little (very funny), another show with a female flutist and the other evening a male comedian who did some very clever conjuring ticks.

Yesterday evening a Kiwi singer, Chris Powley, with with a great voice and the ability to sound like Elvis, Roy Orbison, Tom Jones etc as well as his own voice when he sang opera.

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Overll I couldn’t fault any of the productions, they have all been first class.

Easter and leaving Adelaide.

Easter Sunday in Adelaide –

It is a pity that the meaning of Easter has failed to break through the chocolate ceiling –

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A gentle breeze as we leave Adelaide to define the flags.

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National flag of Australia flown as a respectful courtesy, Princess Cruise company flag and the Red Duster of Great Britain, because the Diamond Princess is registered in London.

Melbourne

Welcome to an early morning arrival in Melbourne on Good Friday.

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Had a feel of the Enterprise from Star Treck.

Rain and drizzle on a very dull day.

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with The Sprit of Tasmania ferry boat along side the next wharf.

The beach started at the passenger ship wharf, but even this gave the place a feel of out of season visits.

After visiting a local Anglican church in the morning, it was back on board for lunch and a quiet drink in the Explorers Bar

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Food glorious food

On board we have a choice of a number of restaurants –

Any time dining, a time for dinner which we choose – the restaurants to which we could visit were Santa Fe, Pacific Moon or Savoy Dining.

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Santa Fe Restaurant

All had the same menu, but a different ambiance from light and airy to dark wood paneling. All had a very pleasant ‘feel’, and with friendly staff.
In addition, if you had a booked time for dinner, you could dine at the International Restaurant, which also opened for breakfast & lunch.

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Breakfast in the International Restaurant Easter Day morning.

For an additional fee you could dine at a specialty restaurant such as Sabatini (Italian), Sterling Steakhouse, Kai Sushi (Japanese).

Evening dress code for the above restaurants is long pants for men and shoes (sandals not allowed), jacket optional, except on a ‘formal’ night. Breakfast & lunch dress code for the International restaurant is informal – shorts, sandals etc, but they do not allow bare feet.

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For a casual meal you could visit the Horizon Court, which is a buffet style of dining – open most of the day, (breakfast, lunch & dinner) dress very casual.

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If you climb out of the pool and feel hungry –

you have the choice of pizza, BBQ beefburger, sausage (frankfurters if requested) or hotdogs & chips followed by soft ice cream.

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On the left is a pizza counter, next is another bar, followed by BBQ, hamburgers, sausages & chips (French fries). On the right just off the picture is one of the pools.

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Ice cream counter around the corner from the pizza bar.

The ship catered for all forms of dress during the day – you would be hard pushed to end the day hungry.

If you wished, you could take all your meals in your cabin (stateroom) or on your balcony.

All over the ship we have various bars serving coffee, ice cream, sodas and of course wine, beer & spirits. Couldn’t fault the choice of wine, cocktails or beers. They also have a good choice of mock-tails.

Overall we don’t think they have forgotten anything, and all we have to do is fill in the time between meals, which isn’t all that hard as we have slooowed down already.

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Drinks at the Crooners Bar.

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Mixed with a piano player

Relaxing is compulsory . . . :-o)

Voyage of discovery

We spent most of the day of our first day at sea between Sydney and Melbourne navigating around the ship to find out where everything fitted – restaurants, bars, shopping areas etc
We had a cloudy morning, which brightened in to a blue sea and blue sky day with very good visibility. We were able to see the Bass Strait oil rigs in the distance. Unfortunately it was not warm enough to sit out on the balcony – too windy.
During our exploring we found the ‘Wake bar’ in the stern of the ship, which was closed at the time – too early, but we were able to get in and take some photographs of our wake through ‘portholes’.

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When I was at sea we had a helmsman (as against auto steering) to steer our ship, and being a first trip cadet I had to do a number of hours steering to gain my helmsman’s certificate – this was required before I could take my 2nd Mates ticket. I was required to keep the wake arrow straight. I remember my first effort, and the Captain saying to me that the war was over and it was no longer required for me to zig zag as the German submarines had been defeated . . . I did gain my helmsman’s certificate after the required number of hours of doing it correctly.

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Spiral staircase leading down to Wake bar.

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Bar area under the portholes – they look like windows, but close up they only allow light in through the ‘porthole’ area.

The Atrium was different again – and always popular.
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Last year we sailed in the Island Princess with 1960 passengers, this year on Diamond Princess there are 2,900 passengers and the difference is noticeably in many of the public areas, even though the Diamond is bigger than the Island – about 22,000 tons. Although the restaurants have not been crowded, just enough people, but the self service Horizon Restaurant always seems to be well attended.

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The British Captain, on the small Atrium balcony, giving the passengers a warm welcome.

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Once the speech was over the staff finished off the Champaign fountain.

 

The sea was so blue it was unbelievable . .

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Island Princess

Although we joined the ship at 1.00 pm on Thursday we didn’t sail until lunchtime on Friday.
What a departure as we sailed along the Grand Canal past St Marks’ Square. The weather was perfect, the passengers on the ship were friendly; we all shared good spots for the taking of just one more photograph of Venice.

Approaching St Mark’s Square (top picture) and passing St Mark’s Square

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Our first port of call would be Istanbul in Turkey. My last visit to this city was in 1965, and it would be my wife’s first visit.

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As we watched the sunset during our pre-dinner drink the Captain spoke to the passengers and ship’s crew over the loud speaker.
The Greek coast guard had requested the Island Princess to divert, because a small vessel was in distress.
Because the law of the sea demands that all ships will go to the aide of those in distress that Captain didn’t have a choice.
We watched some of the crew make ready a fast tender, while donning life jackets and preparing the tender for launch.
As the evening light turned to darkness we waited, but couldn’t see anything as full night arrived so made our way to the dining room.
After dinner we checked again and little had changed re the crew and the fast tender, so we went to bed.
During the night (which we slept through) the ship had stopped in the Ionian Sea to pick up 117 Syrian refugees from a small sailing boat. I did hear later that the small boat sank shortly after the refugees were rescued due to the increase in the wind and the waves. Our new passengers were confined in the aft area and  were given food and hot drinks after their ordeal.They were kept under guard by the ship’s security.
We then sailed to Katakolon, which is a sea port near Olympia, where we were met by  military and coast guard vessels.

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The Island Princess lowered two tender boats (each able to carry 150 people) and waited for instructions from the port authorities. We remained at anchor in the bay for most of the morning.

The picture of the tender boats was taken from our balcony.

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Later I found out that the delay was due to the refugees refusing to leave the Island Princess and it was a mixture of persuasion and force that resulted in them all being sent ashore.

Our diversion to rescue the refugees meant that we would not be able to visit Istanbul because we had run out of time, and we had to maintain our schedule. While at anchor off the Greek coast we waited for information of our replacement destination. In the afternoon we were told that we would be visiting Santorini instead of Istanbul. This would allow us to return to our normal schedule of destinations. It was unfortunate that we would miss Istanbul, but the safety of those in distress had to take precedence over everything else. We can try again next year, the refugees, if their boat had sunk with them still on board, would not have had a next year.

The following morning we steamed slowly to an anchorage off Santorini, we had company.

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Local tender crafts came out to the Island Princess just after 9.00 am and disembarkation took place of those passengers who wished to go ashore. The whole operation was very efficient, yet friendly.

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Once ashore we bought tickets for the cable car to the top of the cliffs. We could have used the zig zag trail and walked up via 500 steps, but even though it was only 10.00 am it was already getting quite hot. The alternative to walking up the 500 steps was riding on the back of a donkey, which we didn’t fancy. We’d also been warned of the donkey ‘eggs’ (droppings)  making the wide steps slippery.

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View from our cable car

The cable car cost  Euro 5.00 each way and it didn’t take long before we were at the top and walking around the various shops. Some of the restaurants, with spectacular views, ripped off the tourists when charging for drinks. A small glass of local beer in a bar with a limited view was Eu 3.00, (AUD $4.30), but in the bar with the view it was Eu 7.50 (AUD $10.70). There were plenty of viewing spots where we able to take photos of the views, so our custom with the rip off merchants was limited.

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Shopping streets in Santorini

The sea around Santorini seemed destined to be filled with various types of sailing vessels. The chance to sail around the islands, under sail, is obviously very popular. I only wished that we were there longer so that I could have experienced one of the short sailing cruises.

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The colour of the sea was such that one never tired of looking and photographing – it was as blue as any picture post card in a travel agents window.

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