Another lazy sea day. Woke early due to time change – then just hung out and watched an interesting biography of Gavin McLeod while waiting for breakfast. He is, after all, the spokesperson for Princess Cruises. The last cruise we were on had endless reruns of The Love Boat episodes on one of the channels. Joined Dan for bridge lesson at 930, then read in the library until time for lunch. Just before our bridge game at 215 we watched the start of the silliness around the pool – the “Polliwog” ceremony for those who never crossed the equator by ship before – we had crossed it around noon. Pretty silly stuff involving costumes, “pomp and circumstance” music and whipped cream and various foods being flung around. Don’t remember it being so silly on other ship I was on. Anyway, on to bridge, and our worst day so far – we were last [out of three] Oh well – some really neat people to play with and great competition.
After bridge we checked the Laundromat and it looked like one machine would soon be available. There are only four washers, so it gets dicey at times to get your laundry done. [Assuming you don’t want to pay for laundry service and aren’t Elite or in a suite] Dan spent the next two hours doing two loads and reading and chatting in the laundromat. I went and had tea and scones and then ferried dry stuff to the room as it was available to be hung up. Very exciting day on the South China Sea. We went to dinner in the Bistro early – 600, which was nice. It wasn’t so crowded. During dinner the Captain came on the PA to tell us that there is a typhoon headed directly toward Ho Chi Minh City from the east. He had announced the possibility around noon, but now said it was dead on a path to Vietnam. Said he will decide in the morning but probably we will skip Vietnam, veer west and go right to Thailand. He told us to move heavy objects to the floor and be prepared for some possible rough seas. We are not particularly worried, though disappointed to skip a country we wanted to see. A few minutes later the Captain came through the Bistro and was chatting and explaining more to us. We told him we were glad he was watching out for our safety. So — the adventure continues.
A very relaxing day after the frantic day yesterday. Slept like a log. Dan said I didn’t budge when he came back to the cabin and went to bed. Had a leisurely breakfast, then up to the bridge lesson. After that we came back to the cabin and watched movies on our iPads. We had downloaded/rented some from iTunes before we left home and we had two we hadn’t seen and only had a few days left to watch them. So we each watched one in the morning and then switched and watched the other. We watched Hugo and Moneyball – both great films. So we just chugged along the Java Sea at about 17 knots northwest towards Vietnam.
Before I went up to join Dan for bridge lesson I watched a very interesting program on the Discovery Channel narrated by Martin Sheen about Vietnam. I didn’t know a lot about the history. I am looking forward to the tour to Hi Chi Minh City (Saigon). Anyway, after the first movie we had time to grab some lunch. Then to the bridge game. Not our best day – we were not in sync – came in second, weren’t even close. Oh well, we can’t win every day. [we have won 7 of 9 so far] Then, as I said, back to the cabin to watch the second movie. We watched a couple of small islands on the starboard side – we are not quite up to Borneo yet. Not sure we will be close enough to see it from the ship anyway.
At 700 we went up to the Bistro for dinner. It was pretty crowded. Dan talked to the Maitre ‘D in the dining room and hopefully out of Singapore we will go to the dining room once in a while. After dinner, Dan took his computer back upstairs to work on pictures. I was just getting ready to get in bed when there was an announcement for “Alpha Tango” team to go to the Deck 4 Galley. Then quickly after that they called for what I thought they said was “Search Team”. I thought someone overboard. But when Dan came back he said they said “Surgery Team” – apparently a cook fell in the galley and was seriously injured. Hope they were able to take care of him (her?). Another sea day tomorrow.
The Elephant Safari was fantastic! Right up there with the Bora Bora bell dive and the penguins in Antarctica as all time awesomeness. The day started out with a non-working toilet so we had to run up 2 flights to find one that worked. Minor annoyance. We had arrived in Bali! The tender ride to shore was quite a ways, but we got a good glimpse of the shore and boats in the harbor. Balinese musicians and dancing girls greeted us as we boarded our buses. One minor inconvenience all day was the fact that the Dawn Princess [a much larger ship] was also in port, so every place was crowded. The first surprise was how many motorbikes were everywhere. The first hour was very slow going through the pretty major traffic through the capital city, Denpesar. We even saw a McDonalds (they deliver!) and a KFC. Once we were out of the city we really saw the way the people live in a series of villages – we drove through lots of them – and the beautiful rice paddies. Our guide was a very personable and informative young Hindu who explained to us the large role religion plays in Bali life – there are shrines and temples and offerings and statues everywhere. Many of the statues are wrapped with a fabric sarong for respect. After about 1 ½ hour drive we stopped at Ubod – one of the 4 major handicraft villages – crowded market where you are expected to barter. We had an hour and we bought some batik cloth, some pillow covers, and Dan bought two shirts. After crazy crowds and confusion we were back on the bus and finally got to the Elephant Park around noon. First we had a fantastic buffet lunch overlooking the elephant bathing pool. Then we watched the elephant show and a couple of riders on large elephants trying to get a young elephant out of the pool – he wanted to stay in – just like a kid! It was funny. After standing in line about 45 minutes we finally got our turn – fantastic 35 minute ride on “Olla”, a female, through the rain forest – finishing up in the bathing pool. We of course bought the photos they took of us [and they took some with our cameras too]. Then we spent about 45 minutes getting more pictures of the elephants and wandering the fantastic grounds. It is a gorgeous and interesting place. Finally headed back to the ship, arriving at the port just before 500 – not as late as I thought we would be – but we were the very last tender and the ride back to the ship was pretty bumpy. We dumped our stuff, put on our suits and hit the pool. We watched the sail away and sunset sitting in the hot tub. Perfect end to a perfect day. Quick dinner and I am ready to crash! 3 sea days ahead.
Another lazy day at sea. The sea was calm all day – we could see the large Indonesian island of Sumba off the starboard most of the day as we continued on towards Bali. I haven’t mentioned the loop of rope hanging from the bridge wing that Dan asked the Captain (last night when they were doing the water drill) if they could hitch it up since it is in many of Dan’s pictures. The Captain said sorry, they couldn’t, as that is the Man Overboard Buoy Light rope and it needs to be there. Good to know it si right outside our balcony! While I was eating breakfast I watched the movie J Edgar on Dan’s computer – I finished watching it after our bridge lesson at 930. It was very good. DiCaprio did a wonderful job.
Bridge class was good and after lunch the bridge game was also good – we won again. There was a bit of a revolt. Martin (the Director) has not been having us using bidding boxes – he claimed they make the game take longer. We didn’t see how with just 3 tables, but we were OK with bidding out loud. Suddenly in the middle of the game today on table went over and got 4 bidding boxes as they said it was too noisy and they had to have them (a couple of them are hard of hearing). We also got them and so did the third table. We are OK either way anyway, but we will be using them from now on I guess.
After bridge we went down and had tea and scones and then went back to the cabin to read. We went to the Bistro about 700 and it was so crowded we had to wait about ten minutes for a table – no big deal. The Maitre’ D Up there knows us now and is very solicitous. We chatted with some folks from Redding, CA – the lady had a Kansas State T shirt on and we were talking about Kansas making the final four. After dinner we went down to see the pictures of us with the Captain – not bad. They are going to start a file for us and we can put any we think we might want in there and decide right before we disembark in Dover. Back in our cabin getting ready to watch Bridesmaids! Dan hadn’t seen it. We are in Bali tomorrow – to ride the elephants.
Another great day at sea. Had breakfast and watched an old movie and Dan went up to the buffet as usual. Met him at 930 for the bridge lesson. We are really enjoying these lessons – hope we can use some of it when we get home. After bridge lesson we went to the library to read for an hour or so. Then we went to the buffet for lunch and then up to our daily bridge game. The usual 3 tables of duplicate and we won by a pretty good margin. I think that makes 6 out of 7 games we’ve won – close to a whole master point! After bridge we came down to the cabin to watch from our balcony as they conducted drills for the crews with the water hoses on each side of the ship which would be used in the event of an attempted boarding by pirates or other ‘unwanted passengers’ (my words, not the Captain’s). He did explain on the loudspeaker that we wer entering Indonesian waters – and other areas ahead where we need to take precautions. We are not the least bit worried, but some folks seemed a bit freaked out. It was fun to watch the drill – and since our cabin is way forward – right behind the wing of the bridge, we were actually chatting with the Captain as he was standing there watching. He was already dressed in his tux pants and shirt (not the jacket and tie) in preparation for the Captain’s Circle reception at 515. We got dressed formally and went down about 530 – line was clear to the aft stairs. It took about 20 minutes – but it was worth it – we got our picture taken with the Captain – hope it turns out good. Party was crowded, so we just left and went up to the Bistro to eat. The Maitre ‘D was suitably impressed with Dan in his tux (and was wearing his own). During the dinner the Captain, wife, son (age 2) and nanny (hot blonde in slinky dress) came in to eat between his two parties (he had to do another one for the late dinner seating). They ate a ways back in the Bistro. Dan went back and asked if he could take their pictures – he graciously agreed. I really like this Captain. After dinner we went for a swim and hot tub. Gorgeous crescent moon – weather perfect. Great evening. Dan is going to watch J. Edgar and I’m rewatching Midnight in Paris, rental movies from iTunes we have to watch pretty soon. Two more to watch as well. Sea day tomorro
Wonderful day in Darwin, Northern Territory of Australia. Woke up and watched the ship get into position along the dock. Turns out we were not at the main pier, but at an alternate one, because the much larger Dawn Princess was in town also. Same thing happened at the Whitsundays. All day we sort of felt like the step-child of the Dawn. Our tour guide even showed up late because he had gone to the Dawn first. We did leave port ahead of her, and the ships tooted their big fog horns and we waved as we passed her – that was fun. Anyway, once we got underway it was good. First we drove around to the main harbor to get on the Charles Darwin for a two hour cruise around the harbor. The weather was spectacular – around 84 and a little breeze. They served morning tea on the harbor cruise – wouldn’t want us to starve in those two hours. Having just watched the movie Australia again, it was very interesting to cruise and see exactly where the Japanese bombing took place – lots of military history all around town. We saw a pod of dolphins jumping and playing just about 20 yards off the side of the boat. Later we also saw some of the ‘jellies’ (poisonous box jellyfish) that make it impossible to swim safely here for six months of the year without a special Lycra suit – that makes you look like a teletubby! We saw them from our balcony during our saliaway. Anyway, after the cruises we went to the Aviation History Museum – very interesting. They had a whole bunch of planes and stuff from WWII, including a B-52 from Vietnam and later. That is a huge airplane. I think Dan really enjoyed this part of our tour. We spent the last of our Aussie dollars there – a hat, two shirts, a book and a bunch of postcards. Next was a tour all over central Darwin and along the esplanade to see some fancy homes and then out to Charles Darwin National Park to see some old military bunkers and to look out over the city. Back to the ship about 230, had a quick lunch at the buffet – they were closing it up. We watched The Help from 600 to 815, then went back up to the buffet for a late supper. Dan took his computer and stayed to work on pictures and visit. I am watching a show on Discovery Channel – bed soon.
Another lazy day at sea. Woke early due to the time change. Dan went up to have breakfast and I waited for my room service and did a bit of housekeepoing. Took a shower and watched Must Love Dogs while doing a puzzle. Met Dan for bridge lesson at 930. This lesson was on percentages and Dan typed it into his computer as Martin was going over it on the flip chart. It was very interesting. A couple people asked if Martin had a handout of it. He didn’t, so Dan offered to email it to them. Then I was going to swim and Dan was going to walk around the track (can’t get his kangaroo wet yet). I put my suit on and went to the pool, but it was very hot and there were no chaises free in the shade. I decided to wait until later. I decided instead to throw in a load of laundry. Got the last free washer (there are only four). By the time laundry was done and folded it was time for lunch. Shared a table with some nice folks from Ontario, Canada. Bridge game was usual, 3 tables, and in spite of my feeling that we didn’t do well, we came in first again. After bridge we went down for scones and tea, then it was time to swim. It was much nicer on deck at 500 and much less crowded. The water felt great – it is a sea water pool. I haven’t gotten in the hot tub, but think it is fresh water. Dan did about 1 ½ miles on the track, then came to chat with a man I had been visiting with in the pool – another architect! This guy is an Israeli-American – he and his wife came to USA to go to school and ended up working in Connecticut for 37 years at a big firm that designs educational institutions. They are retired and now live in Scottsdale – very interesting folks. Dan talked to them for quite a while. I went down to get a shower. About 700 we decided to go to the Bistro for supper – they know us up there now – still haven’t gone back to the main dining room – we probably will. Think we will ask for a smaller table (10 is too big for my tastes) for the rest of the trip out of Singapore. Darwin tomorrow!
Another beautiful day at sea – overnight we went through the Torres Strait, the narrow passage at the far northern tip of Australia that is just 30 miles from Papua New Guinea, and filled with islands and reefs. We are now somewhere in the Arafura Sea, heading due west towards Darwin. We had our now familiar morning routine – my breakfast from room service and Dan upstairs in the buffet with his computer and chatting with folks. One of the couples that he chatted with this morning turned out to be “Friends of Bill W.” who also had not found anyone else on board to share with. They have meetings scheduled in the daily paper on board and they are supposed to be in the room where we play bridge, right after we wrap up our game. Anyway, the bottom line is they came up and met us there this afternoon and we had an AA meeting, just the four of us. They are an interesting pair from Sun City, AZ, about our age and they have been sober nearly 30 years – and are obviously still very active in the program. She is a property manager and he is a metaphysical minister. I guess Dan talked to him quite a while about what that meant exactly. Anyway, it was an interesting afternoon. Earlier we had our bridge lesson, then read in the library before going to one of the specialty restaurants to have an “English Pub Lunch” – prawns and chips and English trifle. We came in first in bridge – by half a match point! I got to bid and made two slams (in 15 hands). We had a little snack around 5 and then went out on deck by the pool in the shade and read for about an hour – it was nice – just comfy and breezy. Back in the cabin we watched a presentation for about an hour about the next port, Darwin. About 730 we decided just to go up to the Bistro again for dinner and not to the dining room. We are going to change to late seating – maybe tomorrow night. Back in our cabin and getting ready to watch late movie (1030) Margin Call with Kevin Spacey. We get back an hour of time again tonight, so hope I make it through the movie.
When I decided to keep a journal, Dan made the comment that there will probably be lots of days where I can just write sleep, eat, bridge, eat, read, eat, bridge, eat, and sleep. This in fact was one of those days. We are cruising 3 days from Cairns up to Darwin. Today was interesting as we hugged the coast – the reef comes very close to the mainland and we passed by many little islands. There is a Reef Pilot specialist on board who is guiding the ship and also making occasional commentary over the loud speakers about areas of interest.
Got up and had breakfast, met Dan up at the bridge lesson at 930. It is working out for me to have my cereal and coffee delivered by room service and Dan goes up to have his breakfast at the buffet and visit with folks and work on his compute. He is more social and that way he can have the eggs and bacon and smoked salmon that he prefers for breakfast. Anyway, after the bridge lesson, we went to the library for an hour or so where I worked on a jigsaw puzzle and Dan worked on his pictures. Around 1230 we went up and had some lunch. Bridge game was at 215, with the usual 3 tables of duplicate. He had 3 tables of social bridge also. We had a good day and again came in first – that’s 3 of 4 firsts for a whopping .45 masterpoints total so far. We are having fun – meeting some great people, good competition. After bridge we went down and had a snack and while there we filled out all the paperwork for us to land in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore! We also decided to try to change to late seating at dinner. We took paperwork and passports down to front desk – we are about to get into new territory for us! I’m excited. We ate in the bistro again around 700 and then came back to watch a movie. Will talk to Maitre’ D tomorrow about changing to late seating. Dan heading out, I’m heading to bed.
Fantastic day! Woke up and the sun was shining – sat on the balcony and watched the small boats in the harbor as we eased into Cairns. Had breakfast and at 900 went down to wait for our tour. Always hard to wait, but we finally got called and off we went to get on the bus. Couldn’t believe the weather – they have gotten over ten inches here in the last two days – Guide on the bus was very good as we headed up to the Kuranda Sky Rail (cable car). Glad we did the railroad last time we were here, since it was not operating due to flooding. Lines at the sky rail were not bad and the view of the rain forest and the bay were spectacular, as we remembered. We stopped and walked the nature trail at each of the two stops on the way up. The Barron Falls were truly spectacular after all the rain – not like the last time when we were here in the dry season. It took about an hour to get to the top, then we had time to get some post cards and look around. We got on the bus at noon and they just drove us about 3 blocks into Kuranda and gave us an hour to look around. We found a café, got some meat pies and wrote out some postcards to send to the grandkids. We wandered around and found the post office and mailed the cards. I got a tshirt with a crocodile on the front and Dan got a polo shirt with a kangaroo on it. We got back on the bus and had an hour drive down and around Carins, with informative background from the guide. At 200 the bus stopped on the Esplanade and some of us got off to explore a bit before getting back on the ship. After an hour or so I was really fading – really hot and humid. We got back and got cool and crashed. Dan suddenly said he was going back out. I knew what he was up to – sure enough he showed back up about 600 sporting a kangaroo tattoo on his chest – right over my name! meanwhile we also decided to change our tour in Darwin – the one we had picked we felt would be too much sun and heat. We didn’t go to the dining room – we didn’t sail away until 730, so we figured few people would be there anyway. On port days there is a dinner buffet, not the Bistro. Gotta love a venue where my dinner consists of 8 little lamb chops and espresso crème brulee. Just watched a silly movie – Crazy, Stupid Love. Now ready to read a book and bed. Dan gone out for little snack and maybe a few online minutes. Three sea days next.