High seas to Far North QLD! – (February ’19)

So my New years resolution was to get better at this blogging thing and stop slacking off, but evidently i haven’t been too good at it! It is only March however, so I still have plenty of time to perfect it, right?! Beginning now.

My latest cruise has come and gone, I’m struggling to believe i’ve only been back for 2 weeks! It feels like a looooot longer and i’m still a bit sad that i’m not on a cruise anymore! It’s safe to say that leading up to that cruise was a whirlwind of cyclonic activity. And i mean that quite literally. The effects of Cyclone Oma which was stirring up havoc around the south east coast of Queensland threw my travel plans into a bit of chaos beforehand, and to say I was super happy when i finally made it onto the ship was an understatement.

Being from Brisbane, I was flying to Sydney to embark on the Sun Princess. Then we were heading back up the QLD coast, stopping in at Brisbane, then going up to Airlie Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas, past Willis Island, and back down to Sydney. The plan originally was to fly down to Sydney early on the morning of the cruise and head straight to the cruise ship, however a week out from the cruise and Cyclone Oma’s wrath was being predicted to be in full force that same morning. I decided to take comfort in knowing that if my flight out of Brisbane got cancelled, i could just join the ship when it came to Brisbane and start my cruise then. The next few days I spent stressing and constantly watching the weather forecasts to see what she was doing. 2 days out from the cruise and after a lot of umming and ahhhing and stressing, I made the decision to change my flight to 24 hours earlier so I would miss the worst of the weather and stay overnight in Sydney. Cue me forming into my own kind of cyclone as it was 4pm and had to get everything organized for a 7am flight the next morning. I hadn’t even packed by that stage (I still had my clothes out on the line!) and needed to find some sort of cheap accommodation/transport for the next day. Miraculously I manged to get everything ready without forgetting anything!

The decision to make sure i got on the ship in Sydney and not Brisbane proved to be the right one, as the Port of Brisbane (where the cruise ships dock) actually closed due to the high swell and winds. Which meant we couldn’t stop in Brisbane on our way up to North QLD! It also meant the Sea Princess (which was already up in Cairns) couldn’t return to Brisbane when it was supposed to and those lucky passengers got an extra few days on their cruise. Not everyone was that lucky though as some cruises got cancelled altogether, or they diverted and went south down to Melbourne and Tassie instead of up north. As it was, we weren’t sure whether our cruise was going to go up north or go south. I wouldn’t have minded if we had gone to Tasmania….except for the fact that I had packed all summer clothes and would’ve frozen down south! Fortunately though, we got to keep our original itinerary, minus Brisbane. I was okay with that as it’s home, but thats not to say other passengers felt the same way!

After a busy night making sure I was packed and sorted, a 3am start, and a VERY bumpy flight to Sydney (is it possible for planes to fall out of the sky if it’s windy?! Because it sure felt like that was going to happen!) i finally made it to my hotel. I’ve said it before in my posts and i’ll say it again, I hate Sydney. It was raining and cold (every time i go there its wet and cold. This time was no different.) I wasn’t staying in the CBD this time as I had organized a transfer from the airport, so I caught a train to where I was staying. Last minute accommodation in Sydney is not cheap! So i paid a fair bit for not much. And a lot of noise. But i still managed to fall asleep for the whole afternoon. I went and found a McDonalds for lunch without getting stabbed (thats the kind of town it felt like!) and then dinner consisted of 2 minute noodles, a block of chocolate and some chips while I watched TV all night!

The next morning i managed to make it back to the airport, find my shuttle bus and get to the ship while only managing to almost get hit by one car. Pretty good I thought! No words can explain that feeling of boarding a ship again. Pure happiness. Finally reaching Elite status also means not having to wait to board, so within about 15 minutes from being dropped off at the terminal, I was on the ship. First place I headed to, the bar of course! Unfortunately Sydney didn’t turn the weather on for us, so the sail away party was cancelled. That’s one of my favourite parts of the cruise! You begin to wonder if you’ve been on too many cruises when the band on the ship is the same band that was on previous cruises you’ve been on! That was a nice surprise however. Speaking of which, when I went on my cruise to NZ last March, my friend and I met a lovely older couple who we stayed in touch with after we got off. Well this couple was back on this cruise too so it was such a great time reuniting with them! We had great times at Crooners Bar. I can now say Watermelon Martinis are my new favourite (expensive!) drink!

As soon as we sailed out of the heads and into the open water, it was rough! In fact, we had decent swell up until we got into the Barrier Reef up north! My cabin was at the back of the ship so it was safe to say i definitely felt the ship moving up and down back there. I found it fun, but there were a few poor souls on board who didn’t enjoy it as much! We were pretty much sailing behind Cyclone Oma, so while we weren’t getting the worst of the weather, we were definitely still feeling the effects of her moods! Once we reached QLD however, the weather finally cleared up (the sun came out, the sea didn’t really calm down) and we could start having some fun outside again. Aka, I could lie by the pool and sunbake, which is really what i had been hanging out for.

Airlie Beach was wet and actually kind of cold! I had plans to get lunch and lie by the lagoon and have a swim and sunbake, but realistically, what happened was I went and got a Big Mac and walked around the lagoon before deciding it was too cold and wet and I headed back to the ship. This cruise was a very chilled out and relaxed cruise for me. I had opted to relax and not do much and thats basically what I did. I did a lot of lying by the pool watching movies under the stars, or being social at all the bars. Or lying in my favourite window lounge while admiring the view and reading. Oh and laughing at the people walking by on the open deck who would do a double take when they saw me sitting there watching them! I was also in saving money mode for my Alaskan cruise, so I was being semi reasonable at the bar too (well I was trying!).

We hit Cairns the next day and surprise surprise, it was rainy again in the morning. It didn’t last long though, but holy hell was it humid! My hair instantly resembled a lions mane the minute i stepped off the ship! I hit up the shopping center because i had decided i needed something else to wear for formal night. Probably not the best idea since I had already been over my weight limit coming onto the cruise! But we all know common sense goes out the window when you’re on holidays! After some shopping i headed down do the lagoon and had a quick swim and relax before it started to rain again and I headed back to the ship to get changed for my regular evening bar hopping shenanigans!

It’s no secret that Port Douglas is my favourite port up north, and that is where we were the next  day. And we arrived to perfect weather too. Well, sky wise. Ocean wise…it was a different story! If you read my blog last time I went to Port Douglas, you’ll remember that The ride over on the tender from the ship resembled a buck n bull ride. Well this time was the same, if not more so! I was lucky enough to go over on a big catamaran instead of a little tender because they had stopped using the them before i got off the ship. That would probably explain the hour wait I had to get off the ship in the first place. But coming back to ship….weowww! They were using tenders again and i was lucky enough to get to go one of them. I say lucky, because it was probably one of the highlights of my trip! Up one wave, smack down the other side like a rollercoaster. Throw in some waves coming through the window and wetting everyone and it was a bit like a Disneyland ride! Then we started slowing down because it was getting too rough and then we were just rolling from side to side, up and down….and the next minute sick bags were being handed out to people. I did start to wonder at one point whether the tenders can tip over in big waves, but I had fun all the same! I spent my day on land looking around in the limited shops for another bag to travel home with, had some delicious lunch and wandered off the beaten track to find a paradise of palm trees with an amazing view of the ship. Port D will always be my favourite place up north I think!

Scenic cruising around Willis Island, I surprisingly enjoy. The captain anchors off the tiny Island and we get a bit of an educational talk from one of the rangers. This time we were lucky enough to see them release a weather balloon from the island, but the abundance of bird life that suddenly appears when you reach the island is so cool to see! So many albatross (mainly) that soar and hang around the ship, as well as lesser frigatebirds.

Once we left the Great Barrier Reef Marine park heading home, we started getting rough seas again. It made for a lot of fun, until the second last night I became victim to it and fell into my TV shelf and smacked my head. Bit of an egg and bruise but nothing major. It became a joke between staff and friends I had made, that I had spent a lot of time at the bars and had many cocktails, and the minute i’m sober, i sustain an injury. Go figure, those TV shelves are dangerous! (I’m joking with that comment. No, I do not hold the ship responsible, accidents happen and that is all that it was).

This was yet another amazing cruise, surprisingly nothing major happened on it, unless you count Cyclone Oma’s remnants. I’ve been on cruises and there have been people overboard, engines breaking down, search and rescue of an abandoned vessel, fires, cyclones, death….everyone tells me the only thing left to happen is for it to sink. But touch wood that one never happens! I met up with people i knew, met new people, made new friends and all up had yet another amazing time. But now it’s time to look forward to my next adventure, which is Canada and Alaska in only 87 days! And holy crap, has that come around fast. I cannot wait for it, but i need all the time I can get to save up and get ready for it. I’ve decided that I definitely want to meet huskies and go sledding! But that is all that i’ve thought about! If anyone has any suggestions then i’m all ears!

Oh, and I have a new travel buddy. His name is Stanley and he’s the Princess bear. He was very kindly sent to me by my dear friends Kath and Bob when we returned from our cruise, and i’ve decided he’s coming on all my cruise adventures with me from now on. I’ve also started a new instagram page that is purely for my travels and adventures. I’ve put the link up in my profile section, so check it out and keep an eye out on what we get up to in future!

C. x

 

 

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