A Travellerspoint blog

Day 17 - Disembarkation and going home

It's good to go home, isn't it?


View South Pacific on Christinesolo's travel map.

I wake up before 6, we haven't docked yet. I get my camera to see if I can get some nice early morning shots of the Opera House and bridge.

Returning to Sydney

Returning to Sydney

Nearly home

Nearly home

I shower and get ready still thinking I might go for breakfast. I finish putting everything into my bag and made sure I haven't left anything behind to the point where I feel obsessive compulsive checking and double checking. I have about 30 minutes of internet time left so I use it! It only took 20 minutes and I had used my last 30 minutes... Hmmm that doesn't add up now does it?

I have to vacate the room by 8, and I achieve that, now to find somewhere to wait. Melwyn is in one of the cabins down the hallway and calls out hello as I walk passed, then goodbye. I step back and thanked him for looking after me, the people from the cabin next to me were also in the hallway going back to their cabin. I walk around and find that most chairs are taken on deck 7, so even though I'm early I go in there and find a seat. They seem to be running a little behind schedule. Just before 8.30 they tell us that we can head over to the terminal. For the last time I show my cruise card to leave the ship and also show the purple square from my luggage tag and if am cleared to leave.

In the terminal there is a long line of passengers heading into the luggage collection area. We pass a table with all the confiscated items for collection. There are about a dozen wooden bows with arrows, and other bibs n bobs. They have large signs up with the colours indicating where luggage can be found. Mine is easy, I spot it immediately. There is a young woman right behind me and her suitcase was next to mine. She asks if I know where the bus is, and I said there are supposed to be signs outside telling us which one. She says she will follow me then she will be ok I said we might both end up on the wrong bus. We are in yet another queue, this one is for customs. The lady takes my arrival card and directs me to go left, the young woman behind me gets her arrival card back and is told to go right. I go through and follow the sign to the bus area. I stop along the way to fish out my bus ticket, and contemplate putting my second little bag into my suitcase but that can wait til we get to the airport.

I find the right bus and sit behind the young woman I spoke to in the terminal. She says she is from Adelaide and her flight is at midday. We get to the airport around 9.30, and we both stop to put a few things into our suitcases. The baggage drop self service bays aren't working properly so there are annoyed people, after several tries I get my bag to go through. I then find the Adelaide lady who is in line to check her bag, and ask her if she wants to go into the lounge to wait for her flight. She was happy to so I wait with her. The woman in front of her didn't know how to use the baggage drop so I offered to help her. Bag on but it seemed to have trouble reading her boarding pass and says she needs to see Customer Service. So she takes the bag off as the qantas staff member says she will come around when she can. We get the Adelaide lady through and head up to the Lounge.

We find a nice spot and settle in. I give her the rundown and we help ourselves to coffee, fruit juice, toasties, pancakes and fruit. We talk about some of the shore excursions she did, and what it was like to travel alone. Being a lot younger she said she found a few people to hang out with in the first couple of days. Like me she found the dinner set up to be not very helpful. Her flight is delayed by about half an hour, so she only leaves 40 minutes before me. She was appreciative of being in the lounge, and it felt good to extend the offer to her. It cost me nothing but meant something to her.

Eventually my flight was called and I was away. I got onto the plane and one of the flight attendants pointed at me an said I know you, where do I know you from? I realised straight away, I met her on my flight from Sydney to Brisbane when we came back from Bangkok in May. She said when she saw me she didn't get the feeling I was a past passenger, she thought it was more than that. I reminded her that I had burst into tears and she helped me. We chatted while people were still settling in, and then again after the flight. Lovely lady, she wrote her email address on a napkin and gave it to me so I can get in touch. She lives on Magnetic Island and said to let her know if I am ever up that way we could have coffee or something. I asked if she does the Sydney Brisbane run a lot since I hopefully will need to do this trip again hopefully by the end of the year. She said to let her know when I know my details. She will also keep an eye out for Rushmore. This was a nice finish to my holiday. Now I wonder how long it's going to take before I lose the motion feeling - like the ground is moving even though I know it isn't. Weird!

Posted by Christinesolo 08:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 16 - Last sea day

Heading home

Up early and actually made it to breakfast well before closing. I made sure I had time left on my internet plan so I could put the punters club bets on, however I log in to find my 23 minutes have gone. I cant prove I had the time nor could I prove that I had logged out properly although I know I did. I pay for a third plan for this cruise, this time 100 minutes. As quickly as I can I put some bets on and emailed the others. Later I find out I didn't punt very well.

There are a lot of activities on today. This morning there is a meet the chef session that includes a tour of the galley, might be interesting. There are a few different trivia sessions, mock horse racing, two jackpot trivia rounds, a meet the cast and backstage tour and the final of Pacific Popstars - the passenger talent show. Dave who is one of our dinner companions is a finalist. I attend the meet the cast and do the backstage tour. I should have bought the camera with me. The crew are quite interesting, most are from England and have only been together as a team for a few months. They seem to get along really well and apparently two of the 8 are a couple. They tell stories of wardrobe malfunctions and what they do when something goes wrong. The Pacific Cirque team is also on stage, there are two Aussies and a South African in the 6 person group. Very talented and circus trained. The backstage tour involved a walk through of the narrow dressing room area. It is amazing how these guys manage to change between scenes in such a small space, when you include dressers etc it would be organised chaos.

The theatre is then the venue for Pacific Popstar final. Sylvia and I both cheer for Dave's version of Michael Buble's Feeling Good but a young man who includes a bit of rap in his routine wins. The last act was particularly noteworthy, she had us all in stitches. She is a petite, solidly built Maori lady who showed us in her heat that she liked to ham it up a bit. She went all out, singing Save the last dance. She first tried one of the male judges, touching his face and playing with his hair. The look on his face was priceless, particularly when she pushed him back in the chair and threw a leg over to sit on his lap facing him. His face was so red and he was visibly uncomfortable not knowing what she might do next. He wasn't playing so she went to the other end of the table and tried a similar act on the other male judge. He drew his chair into the table as much as he could and wrapped his legs around the table leg so she couldn't sit on his lap. She did try though and we saw her leg try to fit between two of the judges as she tried to get through the other way. She gave up and moved back around to the front of the table. There was an instrumental section of the song so she did a dance segment that involved some version of ballet spins. She was wearing a knee length dress with a flowing skirt so when she spun nothing was left to the imagination. The judges reacted in an exaggerated manner. I laughed so much I had tears rolling down my face. Their comments on her performance were quite funny but you could tell they weren't sure what to say. Later Dave's said that backstage she told the others she was just going to go out on stage and have some fun. Mission accomplished!

The bingo people started coming in before the show finished and in normal talking voices started asking people if they could move up or if seats were taken. Scheduling could have been a lot better. I leave before bingo starts, that episode on the Sun Princess put me off bingo on ships.

Dinner was the usual table for six at six. I had 2 hours so I grabbed a hot chocolate and went to my cabin to watch a movie or something. I retread the instructions for disembarkation. I need to place the purple tag provided on my bag, after completing my details on it, then in the morning I need to be in the theatre at 8.20 ready to leave. I start packing around 5 which was a little late in retrospect given I also had to get ready for dinner. At 5.55 I was showered and dressed , my suitcase was packed I just needed to complete the details on the purple tag and leave it outside the door on my way to dinner. The problem was the tag had a section for my flight details. I didn't know my flight number and couldn't find it quickly. I will come back and fix it after dinner.

Dinner was interesting, it was obvious that Dave's was disappointed about the contest, not that he didn't win necessarily but they didn't do a first, second and third, there was just a winner. After dinner a suggestion was made that we go for a coffee in the Atrium. I fix up my suitcase, making sure I didn't miss something that I didn't need tonight. Then down the six floors to the Atrium. We have a coffee/tea/hot chocolate, a chat and listen to the music. At 9.30 we said our farewells and rushed up to the theatre for the last night show. They started this with a countdown of the stupid questions asked by passengers. They did this on the other two cruises so it must be a common theme. The last question was different though, the spa was offering mini facials and were asked how small did your face need to for the mini facial. After the show, they had a cast jam session in the Atrium with bands and other acts. I met Sylvia there and watched for a while it was very entertaining. I thought I should try to go to bed early-ish to make sure I was up and ready to vacate the cabin by 8.

Posted by Christinesolo 01:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 15 - Sea day heading home

Relaxing day

Another sea day, our second last for this trip. Tonight is Formal night and the Captains cocktail party for frequent cruisers. There are a few activities today that I'm interested in checking out. After lunch I head down to Connexions for a cocktail, a Raspberry Colada. There is supposed to be a session here at 2 about Losing weight and eating more. Really interesting talk, common sense really but she included straightforward information about how the wrong foods affect your digestion system. Unfortunately the talk was held in the same venue as the trivia at 3 and the talk did take one hour. Some passengers are so inconsiderate and started conversations while she was talking after sitting in the same area, or standing right beside it. This meant we couldn't hear the end of the talk. Unfortunately, there are many inconsiderate people on this cruise. One woman came up to me and pointed to the two empty seats next to me and asked me if I was using them, I said No but I am trying to listen to this lady giving the talk. She just asked someone sitting on the other side of me, like it made no difference. She indicated to her friend who was standing behind me, apparently that the seats were available. He then started talking in his outside voice as he plonked himself on the lounge next to me. I couldn't hear anything by that point so I moved to a seat in the front row, about 2 metres in front of where I was. Now this guy could have used some tips on decreasing his size, perhaps with a few lessons on common courtesy in between. I will ensure I give P&O some feedback on their scheduling and using bars for these kinds of things.

I was going to stay for trivia but decide against it based on the behaviour of these people and knowing my inability to not say anything. Back in my cabin a new friend was waiting for me.

A lil puppy

A lil puppy

Last days

Last days

A few hours in my cabin watching movies, drinking hot chocolate and then I was running late to get ready for dinner but I felt calm. The other couple turned up tonight. They had catching up to do with the others so I was able to sit back relax and try to follow the conversations. After dinner, we head to the theatre for a show. The production was good, I didn't understand the costumes but it was entertaining.

Another Sit Down Comedy Club night. Sylvia saved me a seat in front of group of very loud drunk young men and one girl. Apparently the girl hooked up with one of the guys during the cruise, he told everyone during the act. They talked nearly all the way through so I am not sure how the guy was able to contribute when we were asked if anyone had fallen in love during the cruise. OK I'm packing up my cranky pants and going back to the cabin.

Posted by Christinesolo 09:17 Archived in New Caledonia Comments (0)

Day 14 - Isle of Pines

Another day at the beach


View South Pacific on Christinesolo's travel map.

Again today we need to use the tenders to go ashore and I wait til the rush has finished before heading out. I have relaxing morning tea in the café then head down to deck 4 to be helped on to a tender. Now we have great beaches in Australia, but the scenery here is just beautiful. Maybe it is the lack of high rises but this feels more holiday like and relaxing.

Back towards the ship

Back towards the ship

From the time I got on the tender to stepping off on the island about 30 minutes had passed. It wasn't that far but there were delays, waiting for more people, waiting for another tender to load up and leave the jetty, then waiting for people to disembark. Most people head down or around to the beach area but I see a sign to "The Boutique" which everyone else walked passed. These signs lead me around a road behind the jetty passed a few parked cars with a horse feeding on the long grass which was next to a field with a helicopter in it. Opposite is a large building compound that looks like the local police or maybe armed forces

Horse feeding outside Gendarmes

Horse feeding outside Gendarmes


New Caledonia Air Force

New Caledonia Air Force

From there I checked out the Boutique. Nice clothes and jewellery, locally made clothes according to the lady working there, more expensive than Lifou and Port Vila. I bought some postcards but decided to hold off on other purchases til I had a look around.

The Boutique

The Boutique

Walking back around to where most people were headed from the tender I saw some lovely beaches.

Across the road

Across the road

Round the corner

Round the corner


The other way

The other way

The ship was leaving early today and the last tender leaves at 3. Never leave it til the last tender, cant afford to miss it! After spending some time walking around and sitting on the beach, I look at some of the stalls. The last one was the largest and closest to the beach near the jetty where the tenders dock. I didn't check the labels and yes I should have so I ended up with long pants that were made in Thailand. Many passengers are moving towards the jetty, given I don't have a watch I decide to head back to the ship.

Time for an afternoon hot chocolate and a lie down before dinner. After dinner I checked out the Chocolate Shop and the Essentials shop, I also do a quick check of my onboard account.

Posted by Christinesolo 06:51 Archived in New Caledonia Comments (0)

Day 13 - Lifou,New Caledonia

A day at the beach

semi-overcast
View South Pacific on Christinesolo's travel map.

Today the only way to get ashore is via tenders. Passengers who have done this trip before have said there is always an issue with tenders. The only put a few in the water, they take forever to transport people ashore given most people want to go early. Not me, I'm cool with going late morning. We have to collect tender tickets from one of the lounges on deck 7 then wait for them to make an announcement that we are right to go. I got to the lounge but the only thing happening there was a round of trivia. I wait for it to finish but another passenger who isn't as patient interrupts the game to ask. Apparently we no longer need tickets as the rush is over. The is a queue though that goes up two flights of stairs. If I wait another 30 minutes there should be no waiting. Turns out to be a good plan and I pretty much walk straight on to a tender, Sylvia it seems had a similar plan as she is on the same tender. She is meeting some others and will be going snorkelling.

Tenders

Tenders


Beach

Beach

It takes a while on the tender listening to Doris Day sing Que Sera while we wait til the tender at the dock has enough passengers on board to take back to the ship which seems to be taking a while. One of the passengers is becoming impatient and says a few things. I said to him that we at least have modern music to listen to and we have a bit of a laugh. We finally get to shore, and there is a short walk up to a kind of congregation area that has a large open shelter with a few market stalls, next to an area where the locals are putting on a bit of a ceremony. The prices here are higher than in Vanuatu and I can't see any postcards. On the other side I see the partner of the guy on the tender who was complaining, she says she lost him already. I pointed to the food and what looked like a bar, she said the bar was likely but he was supposed to be buying a hat. She asked me if I was travelling alone, and I said that it was easy on a cruise. I leave her to it and look around to see which direction would be best to go in. A man who had comeback from the church said the last bit was quite steep so I decided to go back to the beach.

Beautiful

Beautiful


Another almost shot

Another almost shot

Saw some old structures that don't seem to be used anymore. With the beach just a few metres away it seems like a shame. I climb down some rocks onto the beach, and then move along the beach away from the jetty. I have to time it right to get around some rocks before the waves come in. Didn't get too wet lol. Took some pictures then went back since I'm not sure if the tide is coming in or out. Then off with the shoes and paddle in the water. It is fairly cold so I'm pleased I'm not going in. Beautiful scenery, such clear blue water. Most passengers use the striped blue towels they give us on board, they go in for a swim, come out and try to work out which towel was theirs, bags shoes and other items is, I guess what they look for rather than the towel.

Old structure

Old structure


Rocky beach

Rocky beach


Proof

Proof


Looking back along the beach

Looking back along the beach

One scene you never want to see is the ship you are supposed to be on looking like it is moving away from you! Not really a concern since the tenders can still be seen, and so many passengers around.

Its not leaving

Its not leaving

I am safely back on board with hours to spare before departure having spent nothing ashore. In my room I have a new friend. One problem is when I picked him up his head fell off!

My new friend

My new friend

Bunny profile

Bunny profile

I have found that after the lunch buffet closes at 2.30 the grill still has French fries, baguettes and salad rolls The fries are great with a bit of tomato sauce, the salad roll isn't so great. Tomato, lettuce and sour cream not really my thing, most days there was meat of some sort on them. Not today though.

I had enough time for a nap before dinner where it was the four of us again.The dining room is definitely better than the buffet! Don't know about the Salt Grill, I don't see the point of paying extra for food that is already paid for in my fare. Talking of fares, it seems that others paid considerably less for their cabins than I did, they don't have balconies and are on levels 5&6 but you don't really need a balcony, I like having one though especially if I can keep the door open.

Sunsets at the end of a lovely day

Sunsets at the end of a lovely day

Tonight up on the open pool deck there is a circus performance. The Captain has slowed the ship and changed our course to reduce the wind. This helps with the safety of the performers, it is still windy and a little chilly for us watching. The performance consists of acrobatics, both on the ground/deck and aerial. Most of my photos are just blurs which is a shame. After the show a "Beach Party" starts, and continue til midnight. As my cabin is just under the pool deck, I received a note from the Captain to advise that there could be some noise coming from the party and they apologise for any inconvenience caused. Nice touch!

Pacific Cirque

Pacific Cirque


Circus at sea

Circus at sea

Posted by Christinesolo 05:42 Archived in New Caledonia Comments (0)

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