I’d never done a cruise in Australia and thought this would be a good way to have a holiday without leaving the country. I hadn’t left Victoria since Covid hit. Originally booked as a 12 night cruise which was changed to a 5 night and 7 night cruise a few weeks prior to departure for ‘operational’ reasons. Pre-booked excursions were refunded and had to be booked again and we had a day in Brisbane instead of Newcastle. Most people stayed on both legs of the cruise with about 40-50 doing just one. The ship wasn’t full, I’d estimate about two thirds from what I gleaned from what we were told. Information tended to be general rather than specific.
The night before the cruise I received a text advising me there were ‘elevated’ Covid cases amongst the crew and followed up by an e-mail in the morning advising of a refund or FCC if I didn’t want to sail. They had protocols in place, I’d had 4 shots, so I wasn’t overly concerned. The offer was made again after 5 days.
Medallion App often didn’t work and I had difficulty using it. I did manage to get myself into an arrival group while checking in. I arrived at that time to find many other passengers arriving, so everyone was just ushered into a long line and we took our turns to go through the various stages of embarkation. No priority boarding. There were helpers on hand to assist those in wheelchairs or who had mobility issues as it was a bit of a wait and nowhere to sit once in line. They checked Covid vaccination certificates and asked if you had done a negative RAT in the last 24 hours.
I loved my cabin. it was a real treat as I hadn't been in a balcony room before. As a solo cruiser the cost of a balcony is usually beyond my budget but on this cruise it wasn't much extra than the interior/oceanview room I would normally have. I liked the big flat screen TV on the wall and there was an Australian electric plug with 2 USB ports on the desk so my adapters weren't needed. Everything was functional. It was generally too chilly to spend much time on the balcony but nice to look out with full windows. One morning I woke up, opened the curtains and there was the Opera House just outside! Nice view for breakfast.
I did the ship excursion to Whitehaven Beach. Its one place in Australia I wanted to go. Its a bumpy, but enjoyable ride in a small boat. They stop at one point so you can go up to the Hill Inlet lookout. Its advertised as a short walk, it maybe short but there were a lot of steps without rails to hang onto. I could of just stayed on the beach but I went up anyway. The guide provided an arm to walk down a few sets of 10-12 steps near the beach. The others were mainly about 3 steps. We then proceeded to the south end of the beach for lunch and a big goanna as well as a few seagulls tried to eat mine! We returned in time for the last shuttle.
I've been to Brisbane a number of times before so took myself off to "The Soul Trembles" exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art. Fabulous. The shuttle bus cost $25 return and drops you off at Anzac Square opposite the railway station. Reasonable, as there is no public transport anywhere near the port and taxis are expensive.
I like Cairns. I wandered around the city area, shopping, doing postcards, browsed the art gallery. The ship docks a few minutes walk into the city.
I hadn't been to Eden since I was a teenager on family holidays. Its a scenic part of the coast. I took the ship excursion "Easy Eden" where we were taken to the lookout, driven around town and given the history. We stopped to feed the pelicans on the way to Boydtown and the historic Seahorse Inn. Here you could look around or get a coffee. A stop was made in town for those who wanted to look around and walk back to the ship (downhill). There were some craft stalls at the port as well. I wanted to go to the Whale Museum but we had arrived 2h late into Eden so I didn't have time after my excursion.
I did the ship excursion to the Wildlife Sanctuary where we were given morning tea and then free time to wander round the park and get close up with our native wildlife. You could get your pic taken with a koala, snake etc. if you wanted. We were given info about the area as we made our way to Daintree Village for lunch. Unfortunately, due to lack of staff there was only one cafe open so the usual staff running around, people getting their food late etc. ensued. After lunch we went on an hour cruise on the Daintree River and saw large 4m crocs down to year old ones perched along the river. A stop was made at an historic church in Mossman surrounded by lovely old trees, but by this time we were running late and it was closed. I had time for a quick look around the port area on return and then the last shuttle was leaving.
I've been to Sydney many times but not out to Cockatoo Island with its convict and shipbuilding relics. I bought an audio guide and around I went. They had an interesting display of old photos in Biloela House. Biloela is an aboriginal word for cockatoo, I didn't know that. I mentioned to the lady in the shop I'd like to do the Cahill Expressway walk. She told me to get onto it as there was talk of it closing. On arriving back at Circular Quay, I took the lift up to the walkway and then came back to the ship via The Rocks as it was getting dark. Great views of the harbour from the ship.
The ship went there so it could open its Duty Free shop. We didn't really get that close to it. It just looked like a sandbar with a building on it which was a meteorological station. Long way to go and not much to see.