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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Pre cruise excitement

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So, I’m currently writing this from my hammock on a beautiful tropical island in the Caribbean, while drinking a fresh coconut.

Except by tropical island I mean my backyard. And replace the coconut with a lemon squash. 17,000km away from the actual Caribbean. But I AM writing this from my hammock, while dreaming of being where my heart really seems to lie!

What caused me to be lost in this daydream? Well, I just booked my next cruise! Unfortunately, not until February 2019 though. 18 weeks, 16 hours and 20 minutes to go. Not that I’m counting down or anything, right? I’ll be heading back to Far North Queensland. It will be summer this time which means it will be super hot, so i’m excited for hot weather! A lot of people ask why I would go back somewhere that i’ve already been, and the many answers are pretty simple: Because I loved it there and want to explore more, because it was a cruise that worked out best when booking it, and at the end of the day, I’d be happy going anywhere as long as I was on a ship.

If you enjoy cruising, you will know the excitement that follows booking a cruise. The excitement of knowing that soon you’ll be back on your floating home, not having to cook, clean and getting little chocolates every night. Not to mention all the cocktails and beautiful locations. But then, there’s always the dreaded impatience. It’s SO damn far away; how am I going to wait so long?! I hate the wait. I’m the most impatient person in the world when it comes to vacations…or anything really. But in the end, the wait always works in my favour because i’m also very unorganised. The kind of unorganised where i’m still booking flights 3 weeks before the cruise, pre-cruise accommodation 2 days before and packing the night before! I’m trying to get better at not waiting until the last minute, so I figure the more cruises I go on, the more practice i get, right?

Which leads me to this topic: packing! Who hates it? Who loves it?? Me? I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love the idea of it and I always want to start packing some ridiculous amount of time before the cruise. It gets me so excited. But then I drag my suitcase out, and think about only choosing certain clothing items, a certain amount of shoes and how hard that decision is, that I end up packing and unpacking multiple times up until the night before. It pretty much ends up being a lucky dip suitcase. On that note, how many pairs of heels for one cruise is too many? If I had it my way, I would be taking more than one suitcase with probably everything except the kitchen sink. I like to have options – what happens if i eat too much on formal night and i dont fit into my formal dress?? (because lets face it, there’s no such thing as dieting when you’ve got the buffet and dining room at your finger tips!)

Packing to come home is a whole different story. As I mentioned above, me being a serial last minute packer, in true form I will leave it until 5pm on the night that you have to put your suitcases out for collection. Then ‘packing’ will generally involve me literally throwing all my clothes, shoes, etc into my suitcase in no sort of order and having to sit on my case to zip it up. Packing up to leave is a sad reality that your cruise is coming to an end and definitely my most hated part of a cruise!

And then you have UNPACKING when you get home. If you’ve read this far then you can probably guess how it turns out for me without me having to go into detail! If you thought that I unpack as terribly as I pack, then you would be right. It happens gradually over time as I need things. If I just left my suitcase packed, then I wouldn’t have the trouble of packing for the next holiday, right??

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If the above doesn’t describe me when it comes to packing, then I dont know what does!

If anyone has any handy packing tips or must-do’s, feel free to share them!

C.

Favourites

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Local dancing. Port Vila, Vanuatu

One of the questions i get asked the most, and probably the hardest one to answer, is ‘where’s the best place that you’ve been to?’
There’s no one answer for that; i end up listing every place i’ve been to! There are some places that I loved more than others, but i’ve enjoyed every single beach, island, town, all for different reasons, and there’s no one ‘best’ place.

It’s no secret that I absolutely love the warm, tropical islands – i’m a coconut, turquoise blue water, palm tree loving girl through and through. So naturally one would assume the islands would be the best place. But which one? All of them. The islands in Papua New Guinea are so different to the ones in Vanuatu. New Zealand is cold, so one would think I wouldn’t like it there. Nope, I loved it. I just won’t be moving there anytime soon!

Where have I been? Granted, I’ve only been to a few various locations in different countries close to home: Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. I haven’t been all over the world (yet!) but i’m working on it! Caribbean and Tahiti, hold tight, i’m coming for you one day.

So to answer the question, the best place i’ve been to is:

  • Rabaul, Alotau (PNG): The people here were so nice! The volcano’s in Rabaul left me in awe (i’ve never seen one before) and i’m still kicking myself I didn’t do the walk up one! And i was definitely in my element with the hot, humid and muggy climate.
  • Doini Island, Kitava Island, Kiriwina Island (PNG): The tropical islands of PNG. It’s a given that i’ll love anywhere that has palm trees and blue water so naturally I was happy to wander around the few market stalls that the locals had set up for us, then sit under a tree and enjoy the peace and quiet. Te only down side is that they didn’t have coconuts here. They did however have native tribe dancing and traditional canoes that they were happy to take us for rides on and fill our heads with some history!
  • Honiara (Solomon Islands): A built up town that is VERY hot and humid! It was the kind of town that you learned as you were walking back to the ship by yourself, that you probably shouldn’t be by yourself. Especially when I reached the ship to find it guarded by armed guards. Oops. It was intimidating and an eye opener to the fact that we sometimes take for granted/forget how ‘safe’ Australia is compared to other places. There’s a lot of history to the country and I would like to go back to explore more outside of the city center one day.
  • Lifou (New Caledonia): This place has THE BEST snorkeling i’ve done! It’s a cute little island where pretty much everything is in walking distance from the ship. Coconuts, market stalls and music. There are a few little places you can visit if you hire a car or catch the shuttle bus, like caves and grottos. You can take a walk up to an old church which has amazing views overlooking the ship anchored off shore and both sides of the island (it’s a hefty walk uphill though!). Snorkeling at Jinek Bay on the opposite side of the island is worth the $15 to do it. They charge for it so that there’s only a limited number of people swimming at one time to protect the marine life, and thank god they do. You don’t want to see something as beautiful as Jinek bays natural aquarium ruined!
  • Port Vila (Vanuatu): A lot of people who have been here think of Port Vila as dirty and boring. I see it as an incredibly friendly city who are just trying to get tourism back after being hit hard by Cyclone Pam in 2015. The crowds of taxi drivers wanting business as you walk off the cruise ship can be intimidating for first timers, but they’re harmless. They’re so many beautiful places if you venture out of the city itself. The blue lagoon, waterfalls, horse riding, turtle bay…i could go on and on. And you cant forget the duty free there – The Big Yellow shop in the city itself…don’t leave without visiting it!
  • Champagne Bay,Mystery Island (Vanuatu): The tropical islands of Vanuatu, and probably would be my first pick to go back to if I had to choose. Mystery Island lives up to its name. I’ve actually been there 3 times, but up until that third visit last year, I’d never been off the ship due to weather and it being cancelled. Apparently it’s a common occurrence so if you can get off there, you’re lucky! But it’s stunning. A small island with an ‘airport’ (airstrip and a rundown house saying ‘mystery island airport) in the middle. White sand, palm trees, some good snorkelling and various water sports. Champagne Bay has the bluest water i’ve ever seen, regardless of whether it’s sunny or overcast. There’s some coral reefs not far off shore that you can snorkel, canoes for hire, the usual market stalls from the locals and of course, my fresh coconuts. They also have locals cooking fresh local food like lobster and crab which i’m yet to true, but is apparently delicious!
  • Fiordlands (New Zealand): Probably the most stunning scenery i’ve ever seen! Absolutely freezing, but you’ll never picture a cruise ship as tiny until you sail through here. The mountain peaks towering closely on both sides of the ship, with waterfalls cascading down them and snow lining the tops, it’s spectacular.
  • Dunedin, Akaroa, Bay of Isles (New Zealand): Each little town was so different in their own way, but all so similar. Dunedin and Akaroa on the south island are a lot colder and wetter. Old but pretty towns with a lot of history behind them and beautiful landscapes. Bay of Isles (Paihia) on the north island is a lot more modern (and sunnier and warmer!) and a bit more of a tourist town that has a lot to do with fishing. Plenty of opportunities to go out on boats and fish and do water sports, and is a very tropical little town for NZ!
  • Auckland (New Zealand): I dont like big cities, but I really found a soft spot for Auckland. It’s not quite as big as other capital cities in Australia, and not as busy. It’s right on the waters edge so you can stroll down off the main streets and it’s not long before you feel like you’re not in a city anymore. The people are super friendly, there’s so much good food, and many places to buy authentic NZ souvenirs.

So there you have it. That’s my answer to ‘the best place i’ve been’! I’ve probably also forgotten a few places too.
My ‘favourite’ place would be one that I would go back to over and over again, regardless of how many times i’ve already been, and would probably have to be Champagne Bay/Mystery Island/Vanuatu. As much as I love exploring new places, I’ll always be a tropical climate kind of girl!
C.

Far north Queensland adventures (Sept ’18)

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Airlie Beach

Home sweet home! No, i’m not talking about returning home. I’m talking about finally getting to board Sea Princess again after 6 months. I’ve been on this ship 3 times now and turned out i knew quite a few staff from previous cruises, so it really did feel like going home, in a weird way.

I got on the ship no dramas and found my way to my cabin on deck 6 eventually. 30 minutes later, i had already managed to lock myself out of my cabin (by leaving my key card in my room, like one of those hotel room key cards). My room steward hadn’t even had time to come around and introduce himself yet, so our first meeting was him finding me standing sheepishly outside my room. I don’t think he knew what he was in for! Lucky for him, i was to be changing rooms in 4 days time. Lucky for me too, as i discovered soon after just how annoying my ‘neighbours’ were going to be! They started playing Christmas carols and singing along very loudly. Then would have their tv volume up to what sounded like the highest possible. I’m confident the people up on deck 12 could hear them! An hour later after muster drill I would come back to my cabin to a lovely note on my door saying: ‘close your door quieter, we’re trying to sleep’. If you didn’t know….you can can close your door as quietly as possible but it will still make a loud clicking noise. But what to do.. (besides putting a note back on their door saying ‘listen to your Christmas carols quieter, it’s only September and I’m trying to sleep’!)

The 4 day cruise from Auckland to Sydney was actually the end part of a 106 day world cruise. So 98% of the passengers on-board had gotten on the ship in Sydney 102 days ago and been all around the world and were just about home. Maybe that’s why my neighbours were grumpy. But it also meant that 99% of the population onboard were also aged 70+. I was definitely in the minority! But besides the fact that the dance floor was pretty much non existent and everyone was in bed by 10pm, it wasn’t all bad. I met some lovely old couples who had some awesome stories to talk about while we sat at the bar and listened to music, and the bars were not busy at all so I was never short of a seat! The sea’s weren’t as rough as I was hoping for so I was a little disappointed about that! My thermostat in my cabin was also broken, so for the entire 4 days (the coldest 4 days at that!) it probably would have been warmer sleeping up on deck by the pool. Apparently i’m not very good at complaining enough to get things fixed!

We reached Sydney 4 days later and because of customs had to disembark. I was also changing cabins that day (thank god, i was sick of feeling like it was Christmas time in America with my cold room and Christmas carols still being played through my wall!). I wanted to have a look around Sydney (and buy some more clothes since i now knew that my already heavy suitcase was still under weight for my flight home!), but was cold and rainy. Why does it always rain when i go there?! So i got off and made my way to, where else, but McDonalds for another sausage mcmuffin. Then I wandered around, getting myself lost and eventually winding up at creperie. I LOVE crepes, especially classic lemon and sugar ones and it’s incredibly hard, if not impossible, to find them back home. So I treated myself to 2 giant lemon and sugar crepes and a large salted caramel thickshake before heading back to the ship. I’d decided it was too cold and wet to stay out. I also don’t really like Sydney that much anyway. Way too busy and bustling for me – Sydney is the furthest thing from warm and tropical!

By the time 4pm and the sail away party came around, the sun had finally made an appearance, and although still cold, the party band (from the Caribbean and plays a great variety of dance music, reggae and classics) did their thing and i finally got a taste of the dance floor. I’m not usually confident enough to get up and dance by myself unless I’ve had a lot of drinks, but once they started playing ‘hot,hot,hot’ and everyone started doing the ships dance routine, i couldn’t help but get up and join in. Which then led to the nutbush, macarena, cha cha slide and just a general good time. The age group had decreased significantly and there were a few more younger people and families to keep me company!
2 days later, we arrived in Brisbane where we finally got some warm weather and sun. Brisbane is home, and we had docked at a terminal which is away from absolutely everything, so i stayed onboard and took advantage of the fact that i could get a lounger next to the pool and had the bar to myself. That’s the only problem with nice weather and a younger crowd; it can be almost impossible to get a deck chair by the pool and bar unless you stake it out at 9am!
I caught up and had lunch and a drink with a friend who i’d met on my cruise back in March, which was nice, and I spent a lot of time over the next few days at sea relaxing by the pool and taking line dancing classes!

We reached Willis Island a couple of days later, which turned into a full on busy day! The ship doesn’t dock here, it’s what known as scenic cruising and we just cruise by slowly. Willis Island is a TINY island in the middle of the ocean about 500km off the coast of Cairns. All it has a BOM weathering station on it, and 4 people live on the island to monitor it. When Cyclone Yasi hit in 2011 it went right over the island and destroyed it. It’s since been
​rebuiltal, and the bird life surrounding the island was amazing. I hadn’t seen a single bird since leaving Brisbane, and suddenly we were surrounded by albatross, shearwaters and terns.
That day, it was Oktoberfest on the ship, so naturally, i was keen for this! It was quite a warm day and after a bit of ice carving in which it took me the entire 20 minutes to realize that the carving was not actually a headless koala but a cockatoo, we did some german knee-slapping dancing and a few other routines, which did in fact include the good ol’ chicken dance! I then found my self a part of a steiner (a giant beer glass) holding competition. 4 girls had to hold the 1L glass full of water arms length out, at shoulder height for as long as we could. The last one standing won free beer. Well I would like to say i won this…but realistically i actually came 3rd. It was a lot harder than it looked in my defense! We then spent the rest of the afternoon dancing to Exxile (the Caribbean band) by the pool with our drinks and getting sun-burnt.
That night was rock n roll 60’s night and was a night of more dancing, and again i found my self a part of a hula hooping competition. I also didn’t win this and missed out on a free bottle of champagne. I seriously would have practiced my hula hooping skill and strengthening my arm if i knew i’d be doing all this! Safe to say i slept well that night!!!

We hit Port Douglas the next day and i fell in love with this little town! Very tropical, palm trees everywhere and the bluest ocean i’ve ever seen! I had lunch at a lovely little seafood cafe overlooking the beach and palms, and then wandered down the main street looking at the shops, before heading back to the ship. The ride over to the shore from the ship on the tender however was the equivalent to being on a bucking bull! I dont get seasick and i love rough seas, but even i was a bit concerned sitting on top on a tender boat with no back rest as we rolled through the waves on a 40 minute trip over. Still, it didnt stop me from trying to take a selfie with the ship in the background and almost losing my phone into the ocean as we rolled over another wave. They canceled the tender service and started using the big catamarans from the shore to bring people back. Even that was a fun ride back with the waves! That afternoon back on the ship really made me feel like i was holidays. You know how in summer when you’ve had a long day at the beach, you’ve gotten some sun and you finally get home and out of your wet, sandy swimwear. You have a cool shower and then relax in the warm afternoon with a cold beer? That’s the afternoon i had. Out on deck with a cold beer watching the boats bring the rest of the passengers back and I was in heaven.

The next day was Cairns. I have to be honest, it wasn’t my most favourite place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, but just so built up and city like compared to the other places. We docked at the terminal this time so it was an easy walk off into the town. I made my way to the shopping center to have a look at the shops first, then wandered down to the lagoon for a swim. That’s the only downside to far north Queensland, is that you can’t swim at the beaches due the risk of crocodiles, and in the warmer months, stingers (jellyfish). A lot of places have man made lagoons, or man made beaches instead. I liked this part of Cairns, it was the most tropical part of the town. I actually ended up having a free fortune reading by a strange homeless looking guy. He approached me, and while i was decided whether i should run, he told me about my future and what i should expect. Strangely enough, everything he told me was what i had been thinking about right before he turned up! Now, i don’t know if i believe in fortune readings and psychics, but he was scarily accurate! Well, besides the fact that he thinks my husband will be someone who works on a ship!
By time i headed back to the ship, storm clouds were building and by 4pm, it was actually freezing!

Last stop before home: Airlie Beach. I loved it as much as i did Port Douglas, if not more! It’s a very touristy kind of town; one main street with a lot of souvenir shops, backpacker hostels, pubs and bars and more populated than PD, but not as much as Cairns. Palm trees everywhere, blue water, a man made lagoon…it was paradise. I walked the 1km along the coastal boardwalk to get to town from the ship, taking in all the sights of the ocean and marina and i didn’t realize how hot it was. I attempted stand up paddle boarding for the first time in my life…and i spent more time in the water than i did on the board that i may have well as just gone swimming – but it was good fun! I continued on and went for a swim and lie by the lagoon, and had lunch at one of many pubs on the esplanade. This was the one place that i was actually sad about leaving, so I enjoyed it by drinking the bottle of $5 moscato that’d bought in town and watching the best sunset we’d had to date!

We had two days at sea traveling back to Sydney, and i pretty much spent them basking in the sun and making the most of it as it was going to be getting colder as we headed south again, and eating as much as i could stomach of the buffet food! We had a bit of whale action as they swam up right next to the ship and frolicked around. It was an amazing sight to see. There was country and western night where I got to put my line dancing classes to the test. We also had a balloon drop party on formal night which is always fun! There’s something about dressing up and dancing the night away and then having a whole of balloons drop down on you! Unfortunately I didn’t win the free cruise they were giving away in a single balloon…i didn’t have much winning luck this cruise!

I always hate the last night of a cruise. You’ve made so many friends and get into a routine. For example, i had become friends with the bartenders at a bar and they knew i loved the wasabi crackers that were in the rice cracker mix. So every afternoon at 4pm i’d head there for a drink and they would have just wasabi crackers sitting there waiting for me that they had picked out. I’d sit there for a bit a chat and then head off, get changed, have dinner etc. Then i’d head back later in the evening and an older couple who I had gotten to know and had taken me under their wing like a granddaughter, would be there and we’d have drinks and a good laugh with the bartenders while the band played. It’ always sad on the last night saying goodbye to everyone. You see the same people every day for 2 weeks or so, that you do get to know them (and you either love them or hate them!) and you become like a community. Some people/staff you do end up crossing paths with again on other cruises, and that’s always exciting.
This cruise ended up being amazing, i fell in love with some amazing places in my own backyard that I didn’t know existed and met some awesome people (as usual!) and there will definitely be more stories in the near future!
In the mean time, until my next one, i’ll try and recap the last few cruises I’ve done on here too, so stay tuned!
​C.