Visiting Australia has been on my bucket list for a long time. I finally have a chance to accomplish this starting Monday October 29, 2018. Patty arranged all of the logistics for the trip, which has us flying from Tampa to Atlanta to Los Angeles to Sydney and finally to Perth. (See the itinerary for details). We spend a couple of days in Fremantle before boarding the ship. The cruise takes up 17 days in the middle of the journey from Fremantle to Sydney, and finally we get a few days in Sydney before retracing our flight path back to Tampa on November 23.
Monday - October 29
Today Patty and I met at the Tampa Airport around 12:20. This is an interesting time because it was the last time we would be outside an airport for the next 36 hours. TPA to ATL was on-time, and ATL to LAX was pretty close. We were delayed only about 15 minutes on the LAX to SYD segment.
Tuesday - October 30
Today didn't exist for us. We left LAX around 10:30 on Monday night and landed in SYD a little before 7:00 on Wednesday morning. We spent all of Tuesday in the air. The actual time in the air was about 14 hours 7 minutes, and we lost 18 hours crossing time zones and the Date Line.
Wednesday - October 31
Today started with landing from the overnight trip around 0650, getting through immigration and customs, and a bus ride from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. We departed Sydney over an hour late due to incoming equipment issues. About 4 hours after leaving Sydney, we were in Perth, looking for a UBER, for the ride to Fremantle. We got the ride, got to the hotel, checked in, had dinner, and finally quit for the night.
Thursday - November 1
After an early evening yesterday, we started today with showers and exercise, and then breakfast/lunch at Hungry Jack's. We then found our way to the Town Hall for the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour. At the third stop, we got off at the Museum of Western Australia. This was a pretty cool museum of Austrailian maritime history and sailing boats, included the 1983 America's Cup winner Australia II. The museum also had a special exhibit about Antartica, using VR glasses, showing a 360-degree view of a research station. We got out in time to catch another HOHO bus for the rest of the tour of the city, dropping us off near the restaurant district. One beer at Benny's allowed us to discuss our plans for the evening's dinner at Pizza Bella Roma. We're now done for the day.
Friday - November 2
Our day started with a walk from the hotel to the B Sheds office of Captian Cook Tours, to purchase tickets for the Swan River cruise to Perth. We had to wait only about a half hour for the next departure, rode up the river for an hour and a quarter, and found the Riverside restaurant for lunch. There is considerable construction of a new hotel and condo complex close to the river, but it seemed to be a pleasant place to live or work. Later we caught the cruise back to Fremantle to finish the cruise. Later we walked to the wine store for a few bottles to carry on the ship, and stumbled into a local grocery store for a couple of frozen dinners instead of yet another restaurant. We'll be cooking those shortly, then repacking for the transfer to the ship tomorrow. Maybe we'll watch a TV movie to finish up our last night on land for a couple of weeks.
Saturday - November 3
We have to check out by 10:00, but we can leave our bags at the hotel. So we did that, walked over to Hungry Jack's for breakfast, walked back to the hotel, called for an UBER car, and headed over to check in for the cruise. With our status on Princess, we didn't have to wait for a specific time to check in, and we were in our room early in the afternoon. Balcony time, exploring, food, the emergency drill, and unpacking filled the afternoon, then off to dinner and the first song and dance show.
Sunday - November 4
Today we stopped in Geraldton, which is a major port in Western Australia. There were some tours here, mostly on small boats to see the scenic coastline, but we didn't reserve one so we went into town and walked around for a while. There was nothing really remarkable about this port or the town.
Monday - November 5
Today is the first at-sea day, and also the Captain's Welcome Party in the evening. I enjoy sea days because one can do whatever one wishes, or nothing at all. Patty spent some time in the exercise room and we had lunch in a dining room instead of the buffet. There are often presentations by experts on various subjects, as well as presentations on upcoming ports. Balcony time and reading are also often things to do during the day. Tonight is the first formal night so we take extra time preparing for dinner.
Tuesday - November 6
We have a second sea day today. I went to a GoPro presentation in the morning, and we both attended a special wine tasting in the afternoon.
Wednesday - November 7
A visit to Broome was the highlight today. We, again, had no tour scheduled, so we took a bus into a local shopping area. A problem developed because the ship was tied up at the end of a long dock, with no ability to walk to shore. Busses were provided, but they were slow and filled up fast, so we waited almost two hours for our place on a bus. It was a nice 20 minute ride to the shopping place, but there wasn't anything that we wanted, so we got on the next return bus. That little trip used up almost the whole afternoon.
Thursday - November 8
After an at-sea type of day from morning until mid-afternoon, we cruised in and around the Kimberly Coast from late afternoon until dinner. The Kimberley consists of the ancient, steep-sided mountain ranges of northwestern Australia cut through with sandstone and limestone gorges and steep ridges from which the extreme monsoonal climate has removed much of the soil. Slow cruising through this area was very scenic and gave us a lot of balcony time. You can see some of what we saw in the movie.
Friday - November 9
Today was another sea day.
Saturday - November 10
We woke up today in Darwin, and got up earlier than normal for our shore excursion. After an hour bus ride away from the coast, we stopped at an attraction that featured jumping crocodiles. We were at an outpost along the Adelaide River, near Wak Wak (look it up). The tour operator was Spectacular Crocodiles and it was worth the trip. See what we saw in the movie. During the return to Darwin, we stopped at a local tavern for a cold one.
Sunday - November 11
Today was another sea day.
Monday - November 12
Today was another sea day.
Tuesday - November 13
This was the big one - Great Barrier Reef. Our tour boat was a short walk from the ship, and was operated by Reef Magic. We stayed about 5 hours at the reef and I was in the water twice. You'll have to watch the movie to see what it was like, but I did see a turtle. We got back just in time for dinner.
Wednesday - November 14
Another day at sea.
Thursday - November 15
Today we were at Alotou in Papua New Guinea. We were greeted by native drummers and dancers at the dock, who carried on for much of the morning. In the afternoon, we bussed a short distance to an excursion boat that took us around Milne Bay and talked about the battle between Japanese and Allied forces during World War II. Our guide was good at explaining what had happened and also talking about the local experience and other stuff. It rained a little, and we made it back in time for dinner.
Friday - November 16
Another day at sea.
Saturday - November 17
Another day at sea.
Sunday - November 18
Getting close to the end of the cruise. For today, we booked a 4-wheel drive excursion out of town and up to Mt. Tamborine. Our guide met us at the ship, and took us to the mountain. Along the way we saw the Gold Coast skyline, lots of nature, a waterfall, morning tea and scones, barbeque lunch, a lesson in boomarang throwing, and a relaxing drive back to the ship. Much more in the movie.
Monday - November 19
This was our final day at sea. We had the usual things to do - presentations, lunch, reading, shopping, and packing for disembarkation tomorrow. I finished off the third book of the cruise and returned it to the library.
Tuesday - November 20
Today we got up, had breakfast, and were off the ship before 10:00. Patty was successful getting an UBER to take us to the hotel, where she checked in, and we left our bags for later. Next we found the closest stop for the Hop-on-Hop-off bus. This first day, we rode the bus around to the Opera House for pictures, a bite to eat and a cold beer. Across the quay from the Opera House was our ship picking up a new group of passengers, and we got to see it leave, headed to New Zealand. Getting back on the bus, we rode back around to our starting point and walked to the hotel.
Wednesday - November 21
Today started with breakfast at the hotel and a walk to the HOHO stop. This time we rode around to the stop for the Acquarium, which we visited. It had a penguin exhibit and some live penguins walking around in a very cold room (see the movie). Later we found the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, and then got back on the bus for the ride to the Sydney Tower Eye, the tallest building in the city. Another walk to the HOHO stop for the alternate route to Bondi Beach, the ride around that route, and a return to our starting point finished the day.
Thursday - November 22
Today we used the last few hours of our HOHO ticket to get back to Darling Harbor, where we boarded a Captain Cook shuttle boat to the zoo. At the zoo, we saw koalas, kangaroos, wallabys, giraffes, and a lot of other animals and birds. The shuttle boat was a kind of HOHO on the water, so we stayed on for the ride out to Watsons Bay and Manly. I hadn't realized that Sydney is maybe 20 miles into the harbor from the ocean, and Watsons Bay and Manly are way out where the harbor meets the ocean. It was kind of cool to see the cliffs of the harbor entrance. We made it back to the hotel for happy hour.
Friday - November 23
The trip that took three days to get here, was about to take less than one day to get us home. The first leg, supposed to depart at 12:20 didn't take off until 14:27. We made up some time - scheduled to land at 07:15 (same day) actually landed at 08:38, and we had to get through customs and immigration. The good thing here is the next flight was delayed, so we made it. It was scheduled for 09:15, and actually got off at 10:57 (about 1:45 late). And, if you know ATL, we parked at E at around 17:25 and the next flight was from T scheduled for 17:37. Nope, didn't make it. So we got on the next flight to Tampa, which landed at 22:55. I finally got home around 00:30.
Patty and I took a lot of video during the trip, and it took some time to make a movie from that. UPDATE 15 January 2019 - The movie is done. I had over four and a half hours of video to start with, and I picked about an hour of the best for the movie. Click the image below to watch. This movie is hosted on Vimeo.com, so standard Vimeo controls are available. For example, there is a button with four outward facing arrows to the left of the vimeo logo on the bottom right of the screen. Click that to display the movie full screen. And be sure that your sound is turned on. By the way, if anyone gets all the way through this to the end, click here and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.