We booked this cruise on our last trip on the Dawn Princess in March. We had decided that another cruise on the Dawn and the fact that this cruise would include a viewing the Total Eclipse "sealed the deal".
We travelled down from Port Stephens by train and had no problem hiring a taxi to take us to Barangaroo's wharf 5, fare was $16. The terminal is a temporary tent which was very stuffy even with the outside temperature only 22c. This is a pathetic introduction for our overseas visitors to Australia's main port. This is through no fault of the Cruise liners, Sydney Ports have to provide a better service.
We were advised to arrive for a 1230 embarkation, however when our number was called at 1330, there was a undignified rush to the departure gate with people trampling over one another and even the people in wheelchairs were in danger of being injured. Not a pretty sight.
We proceeded directly to our cabin on Baja deck, cabin B325. We had previously stayed in a inside cabin so new what to expect. I had pre ordered the coffee card and a Bon-Voyage gift, neither were in the cabin, so straight to the Customer Service desk to sort that out and also our On Board Credit that was not listed on our folio. The coffee card and gift were in the cabin by 1900hrs. The OBC took until the following morning.
The Melbourne cup running was being shown on the screen on the main deck, so we proceeded to find a good location to view the departure from Sydney Harbour soon after at 1600hrs. Passing under the bridge was a sight to see with people partaking in the bridge climb and pedestrians all waving farewell. Sydney Harbour is indeed a magnificent harbour.
We were allocated a table for four in the Florentine dining room and we enjoyed and looked forward to meeting up every evening with our fellow cruisers. Our stewards provided excellent service and were very attentive to our needs. The options provided every night ensured that we always had a dish we enjoyed. We mainly had our breakfast and midday meal in the Venetian dining room and again the service was excellent and the dining choices did not disappoint.
After the first day, the pool water temperature was warm enough for a daily dip and a few gentle laps. There were usually deck chairs available for a lie down and a bit of a read. In the afternoon on sea days, Bridge card games were conducted and were eagerly attended. Free lessons were provide for new players in the morning by an excellent tutor.
Most evenings we attended the shows in the Princess Theatre and thoroughly enjoyed the excellent productions. The dancers and singers were fantastic. On the last night the crew performed a great show featuring them mainly singing but also a dance sequence by three male crew members.
In the lead up to the Eclipse, excellent presentations were made explain what to expect and a how to safely view this rare solar phenomenon. When the morning arrived, we were on deck before dawn so as to view the beginning of the eclipse through to totality about 1 hour later. As we were out at sea and with the Capitan able to find a suitable spot to view the eclipse without any problem from clouds. When totality occurred, we were provided with a sight which was beyond our expectations. I now know why some of the people on the cruise had viewed 10+ eclipses.
After the eclipse it was time to return to Sydney. We proceeded down the Queensland and NSW coasts for the next 3 days with fine weather and smooth seas. To soon the cruise was over and we were again at Barangaroo. Disembarkation was infinity better that embarkation. We assembled in a waiting area until our number was called, then proceed through customs and immigration and straight into a taxi and onto Central station. Time to plan our next trip.
Ports visited were Brisbane, Airlie Beach, and Port Douglas. Townsville was listed but we were unable to land as the seas were to big to use the tenders.
At Airlie beach our excursion with Princess cruises was cancelled due to no boats being available. We therefore went ashore by tender and walked around the town which had a small market to check out the local crafts. The beach front provided a great place to have our lunch and take in the view.
We had booked the Princess tour to Kuranda whilst in Port Douglas. We again reached the port by tender then straight onto a coach for a 45 minute drive down the Captain Cook Highway along the coast towards Cairns. We lined up with many cruises as there were 2 ships in port for the ride up the skyrail cable car over the rain forest to Kuranda. We decide not to alight at the halfway as the line to continue the skyrail was very long. After lunch and a walk around the markets it was then onto the coach for the short trip to the railway station for the journey down the the mountain range. This trip was a highlight with both the skytain and the railway trip both providing magnificent views of the rainforest, waterfalls and steep mountain side.