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.

 

Sailing just sailing . . . .

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Our daughter and son in law arranged for a limo to take us to the cruise terminal. A lovely gesture and very acceptable for the hour’s run to the city.

The run in was a dream, with a driver who knew where he was going, as well as being aware of all the road problems with regard to reconstruction of the CBD transport system.

Lodging our bags a few feet away from where we left the limo was easy, after which we were directed to the check-in area on the first floor.

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As you see there were plenty of counters for us to pick from for check-in, after which we were directed to a waiting area.

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The crowds soon thinned out as various groups were called, until our group was called. Through emigration procedures and finally security and finally we were told to board.

Home

Home for the next nineteen days.

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Our cabin is a similar size to the cabin that we had last year on Island Princess, but with slight alterations. The actual cabin is smaller, but the area for us to hang our clothes and stack our suitcases was larger. Due to the fact that were on deck 11 the balcony was smaller. I looked over the side on to the lower cabin’s balconies (staterooms to give the cabins their correct name), and noticed that they were larger. On the higher decks, to maintain stability I suppose, the width of the deck is narrower, which is why our balcony is smaller than those decks below. If we do another cruise I will book no higher than deck ten to maximise the balcony space.

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Behind the white wall is the stowage area and the bathroom. The door that can be seen is our main cabin door.

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View from our balcony

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Four o’clock and the ship’s siren gives three blasts, which is a signal that the engines are going astern, mooring lines are cast off and we are under-weigh. People begin to gather and find a good spot to experience leaving port.

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Pinch Gut

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North Head of Sydney Harbour entrance.

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South Head of the harbour entrance.

We are now truly ‘at sea’.
One thing left to do is to drop the pilot – in to the pilot boat of course.

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Sea Fever

I was fortunate to attend HMS Conway, which was a training ship (see picture below) to supply officers for the merchant and Royal Navy – most us went in to the merchant service.

The college began in 1859, and I attended ‘Conway’ between 1960 and 1962. During my time we lived in barracks because the old ship had run aground and broken her back in 1953 while being towed through the Swillies, which is a very dangerous stretch of water  between the North Wales coast and the Isle on Anglesey. She was on her way to dry dock in Birkenhead, but never made it.  . . .

Conway-01After leaving Conway in 1962, I went to sea, and my first ship was a tanker, the Ellenga, with a gross tonnage of 24,246 gt. At that time she was quite a large vessel.

Ellenga

Tomorrow we sail from Sydney harbour aboard the Diamond Princess, which is just under 116,000 dwt and nearly five times the size of my first ship.

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The above was taken last September, (2015), and the small yellow / green ship is a Sydney harbour ferry. The black vessel is a tanker bunkering the Diamond Princess moored alongside the Sydney Cruise Terminal, where she will be tomorrow when we join her.

For many of us who went to sea as young men (I was eighteen on my first trip) never lose the love of the ocean. One old Conway, John Masefield, captured the feeling of the sea when he wrote Sea Fever.

Sea Fever

By John Masefield.  HMS Conway 1891-94.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

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South China Sea in 1967 at the start of a typhoon.
Cargo ship ‘Pundua’, built 1945, 7,295 gt
I think I prefer
Diamond Princess, built 2004, 116,000 gt
Tomorrow, thanks to our daughter & son-in-law, a hire limo will transport us for the expected hour’s run to the cruise terminal. Our check-in is 11.30 am, so all being well we will have lunch on board.

Kenanga Boutique Hotel, in Ubud, Bali. A hotel that impressed.

We were a small group of three ‘mature’ couples on our first visit to Bali.
After a lot of research we decided that Ubud would be our first stop rather than the beach side resorts, and that Kenanga Boutique Hotel would be our Ubud accommodation – a good choice.

Bali 2014 166rOur drivers were waiting for us just outside the arrival hall. We had booked the Kenanga Boutique hotel’s transport on the basis that it would be efficient and on time – it was. We expected a single large vehicle to accommodate all of our bags as well as ourselves; instead we had two five-seater vehicles with plenty of room for our luggage. We split three and three, so we had a comfortable ride to the hotel, which took 65 minutes. Unfortunately the trip was in the dark so we didn’t see much of the countryside.

Checking-in was fast, during which time we were offered fruit drinks and cold towels.

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This photo was taken next day, which is why it is daylight.

Our first floor bedroom was large, as was the bathroom, which had a rainwater shower head with plenty of pressure. The abundance of space allowed my wife and I to fully unpack and sort ourselves out.

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We had a large balcony over looking rice fields. The balcony was large enough to accommodate all six of our group for an evening chat and a glass of wine.

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In addition the lock on our room door (top picture) we also had a lock on the outer door of our balcony (lower picture).

Breakfast was al la carte with various choices of Asian or Western meals. The staff members were very friendly and happy to answer our questions.

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At the end of the meal the Manager of the hotel introduced himself and asked us how our rooms were for comfort, and if we slept well. It was a pleasure to complement him on his hotel, because few managers bother to ask guests for their opinion.

Later in the day a French couple arrived who turned out to be the husband and wife owners of the hotel. The following morning Patricia (one of the owners) asked us for our opinion of the hotel, and whether we had any suggestions to add to the already high service. We were happy to chat with her about her hotel, and the relaxing ambience that her and her husband had created.

The appeal of the hotel, with only fifteen bedrooms, was pure relaxation. The hotel owned rice fields behind the hotel and we would wake in the morning to the distant sound of ‘bird scarers’, as these ‘scarers’ chased very small birds from the rice fields. The rice was close to being harvested. The people who scared the birds had plastic bags tied to sticks and as they flicked the stick the bag would give off the sound of a crack, which was enough to scare the birds, but not the peacefulness of the day.

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View from our balcony.

The farmers who grew the rice had an arrangement with the hotel that they would work the hotel’s fields and split the profit with the hotel owners – it seemed to work well for both parties.

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The horizon pool was always welcome after a day of site seeing.

The evening meal was cooked to order; nothing was held ‘just in case’. The food was a mix of French and Bali influences.

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The hotel’s Terracotta restaurant; about to start serving the evening meal.

We did eat out one evening, at a French / Balinese restaurant recommended by the hotel, but we all considered that the hotel food was better.

Bali 2014 256r Part of the walk from our rooms to the restaurant for breakfast.

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 A delightful hotel in which we slooowed down . . .after all isn’t that what a holiday is all about?