Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Papaku Birthday Cruise on Ms Westerdam July 2017

The Papaku Birthday Cruise on Ms Westerdam July 2017

Thursday 20 July 2017

Today I left home at 10.45am a civilised time as John my brother and David the nephew picked me up to go to the airport.

I was in 4D so had plenty of room just behind Business Class and the 3 and a half hour flight to Melbourne seemed to go very quickly.

Boy oh Boy Melbourne Airport was cold and the outside temp was 8C so this bloke from the tropics felt it as it was 26C in Cairns when I left.

I walked over to the International terminal and there again the check-in and security was a breeze so I made my way to the Qantas Business Lounge to relax for the 4 hours before boarding time for my flight to Dubai.

I had a light supper and a glass of red to help fill in the time and spent some time catching up on emails and Facebook.

The flight was delayed by about an hour so it was a struggle to keep awake so I just snacked out to keep awake.

Finally just before midnight we boarded the aircraft. What a bonus as I had 2 seats to myself in the bulkhead row upstairs in the A380.

Friday 21 July 2017

We were served dinner about 1 am and I enjoyed a red to help me sleep on the 13 and a half hour flight.

At various stages of the flight I managed to get periods of sleep in as I was watching movies. Having extra pillows and blankets made it a very relaxing and comfortable flight.

We arrived in Dubai about 90 minutes late so there was a bit of a rush to clear the immigration and security and travel by the train to reach the ‘B’ part of the terminal and when I arrived at Gate B20 the flight had just started boarding.

Again I had a bulkhead seat however the flight was full so no spare seat to spread out into. This flight was with Emirates and as usual the service was excellent.

 I even got in 2 movies and a bit of sleep on this 6 hour flight.

The arrival at Rome and the official processes went very promptly and in no time I was out in the baggage collection area and this is where the Italian baggage were up to their usual slack and inefficient work practices and I waited for 45 minutes at the baggage carousel for my  bags to arrive.

Then it was the 10 minute walk (under cover) in the 31C heat to the Hilton Airport Hotel.

In no time I was up in my room having a cuppa tea and then a most welcome shower, shave and change of clothes.

I went down to the ATM to get out some Euros and unfortunately it was out of money.

Alan came along as I was going back up to the room to tell him and Cathy about the empty ATM to save him the trip.

We arranged to meet up at 5.45pm for Happy Hour in the Executive Lounge.

It was so good to catch up with Alan and Cathy and have a few wines and a snack.

I retired for the night a little after 8 pm to catch up on some sleep and ward off the get lag. I had most comfortable night’s sleep.

Saturday 22 July 2017

I awoke just on 5 am had a cuppa and caught up on emails and Facebook.

I met up with Alan and Cathy for brekkie in the Executive Club and enjoyed a full hot brekkie. It is school holiday time here and there were lots of excited kids running around.

Then it was time to go up to the room and do the packing up and get downstairs to meet our minivan to take us out to the Port of Civitavecchia. The hotel ATM was still empty so we had the driver take us to a bank ATM in Civitavecchia before arriving at the dock.

The drive out took us just over an hour as the traffic was rather heavy with folks escaping the City heat to spend the weekend on the coast and the beaches. Vickie I’m so pleased I took your advice and upgraded to the van as we would never have got all our luggage into the boot (trunk) and we had heaps of room to spread out.

The check-in process went very efficiently and we were on the ship in no time at all. We were warmly greeted by Yelena and Gordon and other officers and it was then I realised I had left my hand luggage bag with my passport and other valuables down in the security scanning area in the terminal. Gordon kindly went down to get it for me and returned it to me while we were having late lunch in the dining room.

Then it was time to go to the cabin and start the unpacking before going to the VIP welcome back drinks that were held in the new Billboard bar and lounge. 

Wow what a great improvement and in my opinion it is better than the Billboard on the Koningsdam.

It was great to catch up with the bar staff and beaut to be there on Big Ronnie’s birthday. I got a great surprise when Niek walked in to say hello, as he had not told me he would on the ship and only last week led me to believe he would be on another ship in Europe.

After the Life boat drill I did my unpacking and then went up to the Lido Bar to catch up with Dianne and the bar staff up there.

I then was invited over to meet up with Mark’s Parents who are on the ship for part of my cruise. What a lovely couple and after a few minutes we felt like we had known each other for years.

Alan and Cathy met me in the Billboard just before we went to dinner at 8.15 pm. 

What a crowd waiting to get in as it seemed like everyone on open seating must have all turned up at 8 pm. Fortunately Mark had organised the Papaku table for 4 so we were promptly escorted to the temporary table (because of the first night crowds.) We had an enjoyable meal and as usual with great company the 90 minutes passed very quickly.

After dinner I said good night to Alan and Cathy and headed along the deck 2 shops and then when I got to the Pinnacle Grill I called in to have a cappuccino and had it at the Pinnacle Bar and caught up with Christian as he was closing up the bar as it was just after 10 pm.

Well this is where all good intentions of an early night went astray as Niek and the new Beverage Manager came along and bought me a red wine which turned into 3 or four so I ended getting up to bed about midnight.

Sunday 23 July 2017

I woke up feeling fit and well on what looks like it will be a very warm and fine day in Livorno Italy.

Breakfast was most enjoyable in the Pinnacle Grill and it was beaut to catch up with the staff.

Not long after brekkie I went up to the Lido to have a look over the City and already the temp was 32C. As I had been there on previous cruises I decided I would stay on board and have a rest day.

I had a catch up meeting with Mark in his office and Gordon made up a sign for my door so I could find my cabin with ease. The sign has the photo of this ship and reads Ms Papakudam.
I had my first Bloody Mary at the lido Bar before meeting Niek for lunch in the Lido.

After lunch I went to the cabin and had a 3 hour nanna nap before going to Happy Hour in the Billboard. Niek joined me for a while but I was amazed how quiet it was for the Happy Hour as for most of the time I was the only one at the bar.

I called in at the Seaview Bar to catch up with Bailon the Barman and the gang up there. Wow they were very busy up there with all the smokers and heaps of folk enjoying the sun.

I only had one drink up there as the smell of the smoke was most annoying so I retreated down to the Cabin to get ready for dinner.

After meeting up with Alan and Cathy we headed to the dining room however there would be a wait for our table so we decided to go to the Pinnacle and as usual had a most enjoyable meal and Yelena was a perfect hostess. 

We were the last table to leave and then headed to the Billboard for a night cap before going to bed.

Monday 24 July 2017

After a great night’s sleep I got ready for brekkie in the PG. I had a full hot brekkie and was joined by Niek. Mark popped in to say hello and then they had to go to a meeting with the Big Boss Orlando who is on the ship with his family for this cruise.

After brekkie I went up to my cabin to update this report and kept falling asleep so I hopped into bed and ended up having 4 and a half hours sleep and misses lunch.

As today we were in Monte Carlo and it was hot and with a hot dry  wind I only went to the dock side air conditioned shops for a look around.

I took some photos from the ship and met up with Niek for a chat in the shade on the top deck.

I caught up with the boys in the Seaview Bar and it was a pleasure as there were not many smokers about and the views were fantastic.

I called into the front office to get the following information on the cruise.
There are 45 nationalities making a total of 2180 passengers on board. The main nations are:-
          Yanks         833
          Aussies      334
          Canadians 250
          Dutch         212
          Poms          171
The other nations had numbers less than 100.
The Mariner status break up is as follows:-

                    Pres Club             1
                    5 Star                   15
                    4 Star                   39
                    3 Star                   242
                    2 Star                   270
                    1 Star                   639
          First time Cruises        898

I made it to the Billboard for Happy hour and again was the only person sitting at the bar for most of the time. Cathy and Alan just made it feeling hot and bothered and enjoyed a cool drink.
Tonight we sat at the Papaku Table at the window for the first time and had a most enjoyable watching the lights come on in Monte Carlo.
I decided to have an early night so went up to bed just before 10 pm.

Tuesday 25 July 2017 (The Papaku Birthday)

I went to the PG for brekkie and Yelena presented me with a birthday muffin on a decorated plate. I only had a light brekkie as I was going out to lunch with Alan and Cathy.

I finally got around to getting connected to the Internet on the ship so hopefully I will be able to catch up with emails etc.

We went ashore by tender to the French city of Saint Raphael and certainly was not disappointed with the coastal city and the perfect weather.

Firstly we visited the Cathedral of Notre-Dame built in the Romano-Byzantine style.

Then it was off for a walk along the beach front esplanade to find an outdoor restaurant where we had a fantastic meal, I had steak tarter and it was to die for.

We had noted from the tender there were some bush fires burning  up in the hills. Well in the middle of our meal two water tanker amphibious aircraft swooped down into the bay to load more water to be dropped on the fires. They repeated this a total of four times and what a show it was they put on.

After lunch we headed to the Casino for a look around and enjoy the air conditioned lounge for a drink.

We then strolled along the beach front to get the tender back to the ship.

We returned just in time for Happy hour in the Billboard and Niek joined us for a while.

After getting ready for the evening and dinner I returned to the Billboard to meet up with Alan, Cathy, Niek and Mark to go to the PG for dinner.

Well surprise Surprise!! In walked about 40 of the bar staff from all parts of the ship led by the Beverage Manager and officers and they sang Happy Birthday to me.  I was so touched by this surprise.

Dinner in the PG was excellent and we were joined by Jude the Cruise Director (in between shows). What fantastic company and Yelena and her PG crew went the extra mile to make it a most memorial night. The staff sang Happy Birthday in Indonesian when the cake was served.

But the surprises were not over yet. When I got up to my cabin the room was just about filled with balloons.

What a birthday. 

Wednesday 26 July 2017

I woke up feeling a little tired so it was a bit of a rush to get a shower and get down to the PG for Brekkie. I had a nice relaxing brekkie and read the Aussie paper.

The ship was already at the dock (Ajaccio Corsica) when I woke and it looked a beaut day with a little breeze and heaps of sunshine. In the hinterland there were some large bushfires burning and we were fortunate the smoke was not blowing our way.

I worked in my Lido office for a few hours in the morning and after I had my Masarap Papaku Chicken Burger for lunch I met up with Alan and Cathy to go ashore.

We walked around for a while and went past Napoleon’s House then to the Cathedral before going to the beachfront. There were heaps of old buildings and fort type places.

I even got a photo of a large statue of Napoleon with a huge seagull sitting on his head.

After a few hours we headed back to the ship to be on time for Happy Hour. 
As Alan wanted to go to the Pub Crawl we went to dinner early. Cathy and I went to the Pinnacle Bar for a night cap.

It was good to have an early night. The wind and the seas were a bit wild with heaps of motion in the ocean so I slept like a baby.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Yippee a sea day and the seas and wind had calmed down after last night.

I had a restful morning and then went to the Lido for a Hot Dog before going to the Wine Tasting which was excellent.

We had dinner at the Papaku table and had a most enjoyable meal the Chicken Schnitzel was done to perfection.

We adjourned to the Pinnacle Bar for a night cap.
I was in bed before mid-night.

Friday 28 July 2015

Today we arrived at Almeria Spain at 8 am and what a dry, hot and dusty place it looked as I had my Brekkie in the PG.

About 10 am I decided to go out but after walking for about 30 minutes I decided it was too hot and dry for me so I returned to the ship and enjoyed a cool drink and a snack for lunch from the Lido.
I went to Happy Hour after a well earnt nanna nap and as usual was the only one at the bar for most of the time. Of course the staff kept me entertained.

Cathy and Alan joined me for dinner and we were entertained by Dolphins swimming alongside the ship.

After dinner I had a Coffee at the Pinnacle bar and a few wines for a night cap before an early night as I was in bed by 11.30 pm.  

Saturday 29 July 2015

Today we arrived in Ceuta Spain, which is a Spanish state in North Africa. Wow what a day as the weather had cooled down a bit and it was an enjoyable and comfortable day to go out and explore.

We had arrived early even before I had gone down to brekkie in the PG.

I headed off to walk into the city just before 10 am and it was a pleasant stroll so I will let the photos do the talking. I visited the Cathedral and went thru the city to the beach.

Just after mid-day I returned to the ship and visited to the Sea View Bar for a pre-lunch drink. Then we had a feed of Tamarins with the boys, I also had a roast pork roll and some sushi which was most enjoyable for lunch.
Well after all this activity I had a nanna nap before going down to the Billboard for Happy Hour. 

Guess what there were a few folk sitting at the bar for a change, mainly Yanks trying to outdo each other loudly with their travel stories.

 Pre-dinner drinks were in the Pinnacle Bar before going to the dining room. I enjoyed the chilled strawberry brisk and the Beef Wellington.

I only had a coffee and a white wine for a night cap and was in bed before 10.45 pm

Tomorrow is a sea day.

 Sunday 30 July 2017

The second sea day on the cruise.

I had a relaxing brekkie in the PG before going up to the cabin to catch up on downloading photos and updating this newsletter.

Today we had the Mariners presentation and Lunch which was an enjoyable meal as I was seated with 2 of the young ladies from the front office. We chatted for well after the meal.

Happy hour was the usual fun time with Big Ronnie and Marlon in the Billboard.

Tonight was Gala Night (Galah night) as it was a formal dress night but these days seems to be very optional.

The meal was excellent and the Veal Chop was done to perfection.

As Cathy and Alan had an early start for their day tour in the morning they headed straight off to bed after dinner.

I call in to the Pinnacle Bar to have goodbye lemonade with Niek as he was leaving the ship in the morning.  

It was still an early night as I made it to bed just before midnight.

Monday 31 July 2017

The ship was already docked by the time I made it down to Brekkie  and it looked like it was going to be a very fine but warm day.

Niek joined me for his farewell brekkie and I must say I have enjoyed his company when he was off duty during his time on the Westerdam.

I had a Bloody Mary at the Lido Bar mid-morning and the temps had risen up to the mid 30 C’s.

I had a light lunch before going on the 1 pm tour of the highlights of Marseille. Thank God the coach was air conditioned as the outside temp was now in the 40 C’s.

I will let the photos do the talking from what was an excellent and very interesting tour.

OMG I needed a drink when I got back onboard and went straight to the bar without dropping my gear off in the cabin first. I don’t think the first G&T even wet the sides of my parched throat.
Today is Christian’s (the Barman) birthday so we had a great time celebrating for him as he worked.

Then it was up to the cabin for a well earnt shower and get ready for the evening

I caught up with Alan and Cathy in the Pinnacle Bar for a pre-dinner drink.

After a beaut meal we adjourned back to the Pinnacle bar for a night cap.
I called it a day and was in bed by 10.45pm.

Tuesday 1 August 2017

We arrived at the industrial port of Sete at 8 am just as I was starting my brekkie.

Mid-morning I decided I would catch the shuttle from the ship to the town. The shuttle service was excellent as there was no waiting or delay. The shuttle ride was only 5 minutes to take us out of the restricted port area.

I forgot my camera so I didn’t take any photos so I came back to the ship not long after and was back in time for lunch. I had a healthy salad and some sushi.

After all this excitement I went to the cabin for a 90 minute nanna nap.

Happy hour was quiet and I held court at the bar as I was actually the only person sitting at the bar,  but there were a few Aussies and Kiwis sitting at some of the tables.

Tonight at 7.30 we had the VIP Cocktails and were greeted By Mr Orlando Ashford (President of HAL) and the senior officers. 

It was a beaut party and a great chance to catch up with everyone.

We made it a bit late down to dinner and I had the Barramundi that was very good.

I had one night cap in the Pinnacle Bar before heading up to my cabin.
As it was Tuesday night I tuned into Joe’s show on the Irish Internet Radio, so I ended getting to bed well after midnight.

Wednesday 2 August 2017

We arrived in Barcelona as I was having Brekkie on another perfect day.

 I went over the terminal to buy a European simcard and have a look around the shops. So now I have 6 gigabits to use over the next 13 days for a princely sum of 15 euro. I will not bother with the ships internet over the next segment.

Then I started to do packing because tomorrow I have to move cabins.

After lunch I had a 90 minute nanna nap before happy hour. Another very quiet Happy hour so I held court with the staff and an Aussie couple.

 Then I adjourned down to the Pinnacle Bar and had a lively chat with Bill and Jean.

Dinner was the last supper for Alan and Cathy as they leave the ship tomorrow and head back to the States.

It was after midnight by the time I got to bed.

Thursday 3 August 2017

It was a bit of a slow start this morning as I think it had a bit to do with having farewell drinks with Alan last night.

I had to pack up everything before brekkie so the house boys could move it over to my new cabin when it came available. I think in the past I have mentioned how much I hate packing.

I had only a cold brekkie and then went up to the lido to fill in time until the new cabin was ready. Dianne made me up the usual morning Bloody Mary to kick start my day.

After the unpacking I had a hotdog and a taco for lunch and then had a long nanna nap. The ship was well out to sea when I woke up so I went up to the Sea View bar for a sail away drink.

Some of the crew felt sorry for me as I was the only one at the Papaku table for dinner. No doubt I will find some ‘new’ friends to join me in the next few days.

I had a night cap in the Pinnacle Bar after dinner with Mark and Yelena and then had an early night as I was in bed by 10.30 pm.

Friday 4 August 2017

Today is a sea day.
After a leisurely  light brekkie I obtained the following stats on the Nationalities and Mariner status for this segment of the cruise.
The Nationalities are :-
          Yanks                   614
          Aussies                448
          Dutch                   215
          Poms                    184
          Canadian             170
The other 36 nations had less than a hundred persons.
The Mariner status break down is:-
          Pres Club             1
          5 Star                   11
          4 Star                   36    
          3 Star                   210
The remaining 1885 were 1 or 2 Star.

We enjoyed an early Indonesian lunch today for the back to back cruisers. It was an excellent meal and the crew were all wearing Batiks to add to the atmosphere.

After lunch I went to Alvin’s wine tasting which was another entraining experience as it was educational but still heaps of fun.
The first Happy Hour of this cruise in the Billboard did no attract many at all. Apparently most folks were still up on the aft lido deck enjoying the brilliant sunshine and the pool.

I did dinner at the Papaku table alone (as I haven’t found any new friends that I want to sit with). So I was in and out of the dining room in just over an hour.

The night was finished off with a night cap or two with Mark and some other Officers.  

I was in bed by 10.30 pm.

Saturday 5 August 2017

We docked at Cadiz Spain as I was having brekkie. It was another perfect day and may I say a lot warmer than when I was here earlier in the year on Palm Sunday.
Cadiz is always a great Spanish city to visit with all the outdoors eating venues with an excellent selection of sea food.
This morning I spent most of the morning setting up my phone as a hot spot for the wifi for the computer. I originally put the European sim card in my old Galaxy 5, however I had problems tethering it to the PC and the Galaxy 8. After a lot of trial and error Roi the Barman suggested we move the sim card to the Galaxy 8 and bingo everything is working perfectly.

After lunch I went ashore for a look around so will let the photos do the talking.

I had a late nanna nap and missed the Billboard Happy hour so I called in on Christian in the Pinnacle Bar for a pre dinner drink and was joined by Laszlo the Beverage Manager.

Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was an excellent meal with the Company of Laszlo and a lovely young lady Yelena a Sommelier  from Carnival Cruises. The company was great and we had heaps of laughs as we told stories of our various cruises.

After dinner I had a night cap in the Billboard and was surprised to find so many Aussies there.

I called it an early night and was up in bed by 11 pm as the ship sailed out into the Atlantic Ocean for the short trip down to Gibraltar.

Sunday 6 August 2017

We docked at Gibraltar at 8 am in what turned out to be a foggy morning and a little bit cooler.

I had a light brekkie in the PG before going back to the cabin to catch up on the emails and the cruise update.

After lunch I went out to do some exploring of this historic port city and surrounds. It was good to see the monkeys again up on the ‘Rock’. 

I will let the photos do the talking.

I went to dinner with Yelena in the Pinnacle which was an enjoyable experience with fun filled conversation. Tonight was Yelena’s last night aboard as tomorrow she will fly to Alaska for her next contract on the Eurodam. As I may have mentioned before Yelena is a very efficient friendly and well respected manager of the PG.

I had one night cap in the Billboard and was up in bed by the 11pm departure of the ship into the very thick foggy sea. The fog horn was being sounded as I dozed off to sleep.

Monday 7 August 2017

I was in the PG having brekkie as we docked at Malaga Spain this morning. 

The fog was lifting very quickly as I had my Papaku coffee in the Crows nest after brekkie.

Today I went out on the shuttle into town to have a quick look around then back to the terminal to do some shopping.

The Seaview was the venue for my lunch where I held court with the crew and some of the passengers. It is not to bad out there at lunch time on a port day as there are not too many smokers polluting the air. 

OMG the heat of the day was really warming up now.

After my nap it was down to the Billboard for Happy Hour and as usual I was the only one there for the majority of the time. I adjourned to the Pinnacle bar for a pre-dinner drink and held court with some guests.

I had dinner at the Papaku table in the dining room and was welcomed back by the waiters after my 2 nights away at the PG. The Lamb Chops were done to perfection. 

After an excellent meal I called into the Pinnacle Bar to have a coffee with my night cap.

It was just before midnight by the time I got up to bed.

Tuesday 8 August 2017.

Today we had a late arrival at Alicante Spain at 10 am so I had a leisurely brekkie and then moved up to the Crows Nest to have a coffee and view the arrival in the port.

I waited for the crowds to leave the ship before I caught the shuttle bus into the town for a look around. Today was another warm and humid day with the temps in the mid 30’s.

After doing a little shopping I headed back to the ship for lunch in my Seaview office. There were hardly any smokers up on the deck and a slight cooling breeze which made it a very comfortable venue.

Happy Hour was a little busier than usual with a group of loud Aussies sitting at one of the tables.

I enjoyed dinner at the Papaku table in the dining room and the veal was done to perfection.

Jude the Cruise Director joined me for after dinner drink in the Pinnacle Bar. Then I had a coffee with Mark before heading off to have an early night.

I made it to bed just after 11 pm.

Wednesday 9 August 2017

I was having brekkie when we docked at Palma De Mallorca and it was another clear sunny day. We docked at a different location to what I had been to before.

At 10 am I met up with Ronnie, Marlon and Jose and got the shuttle into town. We were lucky that no one was getting on the shuttle to go back to the ship so the bus driver drove us into another part of town to where the Filipino restaurant was.

What a fun time we had there as more and more of the Filipino crew arrived to also have some lunch. Because of work commitments some had to eat and run back to the ship. I came back in a cab and got back to the ship about 1.30 pm with some of the guys that had to be back by 2 pm for work.

I held court in the Seaview bar for a while and it was so warm and humid but still comfortable as there were not too many smokers polluting the air. Because of my busy schedule I didn’t have time to have the usual nanna nap.

After a few pre-dinner drinks I went to the Papaku table in the dining room for dinner. One of my favourites for meals tonight as it was Wienerschnitzel. The Schnitzel is always done to perfection on HAL ships.

I had a night cap in the Pinnacle Bar before heading up to bed just before 11pm.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Wow how the weather can change as there is heaps of motion in the ocean which helped to make it a great night’s sleep.

It was very overcast and windy when I made it down to the PG for brekkie. I only had a light brekkie today as it is a sea day and I went to the Mariner’s lunch and reception.

The weather has turned in a bit nasty and many folk were staying in bed as they were very unstable on their legs trying to walk around. Because of the conditions the Capt. made an announcement to the change the itinerary for safety reasons to the next few ports.

I sat with a couple from Newcastle (NSW) and they were great company. The meal was excellent.

Straight after I had the Premium Wine Tasting conducted by Alvin the Cellar Master. He is a very knowable and entertaining bloke and his wine tastings are always a pleasure to go to. He even demonstrated how to open a Champagne bottle with a sword, a spoon and a glass as part of his act.

Well after all this excitement I adjourned up to my cabin for a nap for a few hours. I even missed Happy Hour.

Tonight I went to dinner at the Canaletto with Mark and we had a beaut meal full of laughs with excellent service. Then it was off to the Billboard for a night cap.

The seas had calmed down a lot by now but with still a bit of ‘Motion in the Ocean’ to give me an excellent nights sleep.

I was in bed by 11 pm.

Friday 11 August 2017

Today we arrived at Ajaccio Corsica and let me tell you it was much cooler than it was 2 weeks ago when we last called in here.

After brekkie I had problems with my Spanish sim card and couldn’t connect to the internet so that was most frustrating. Just about every one of the crew had a go at trying to get it to connect but no luck.

I went into the terminal and then the markets to try and buy a new one. Because of my mainly forgotten school boy French it all became too hard so I came back to the ship annoyed and without one.

I needed a G&T after all this and Roi the barman in the Oceanview couldn’t understand what had happened so he offered to have a look at it for me. As he has the same model phone and sim card he compared the settings and found I had lost my APN. Well from his phone he reset my APN (whatever that is) and I was back in action in about 5 minutes. What a relief.

I had a hot dog for lunch before going down for a nap.

Happy Hour was quiet and the only excitement was when 2 water bomber amphibious aircraft scooped down into the see not far from the ship to refill their tanks to go off firefighting.

Dinner OMG what a great meal as I had the pork belly and it was done to perfection with the skin crisp and crunchy.

I had an after dinner drink in the Pinnacle bar before going to the Filipino Crew show. As usual it was a great show filled with National pride. 

For the last nationalistic song “Ang Bayan Ko” (My Country), I was surprised to be invited up on stage to sing with the crew. They also invited the few Filipino guests to come up as well. I felt so honoured.
It was just after midnight by the time I got to bed.

Saturday 12 August 2017

After brekkie I headed up to Crows Nest to take in the sights of Toulon a Navy base city. The skies were so clear and a fantastic shade of blue.

About 10.30 am I left the ship and took a 45 minute tour on the tractor type train around the city highlights. 

The temps were in the low 20’s so a very comfortable kind of day. It was a very informative and interesting tour.

I had sandwiches for lunch back on board the ship and held court in the Seaview Bar.

With pre dinner drinks I shared some Pate I had bought in one of the French ports last week. It was most enjoyable.

As I was not very hungry I only had a chilled soup and desert.

Then it was back to the Pinnacle Bar for night cap and headed up to bed and enjoyed an early night as I was asleep before 11 pm.

Sunday 13 September 2015

I slept in until 6.30 am and the ship was just coming to anchor off Monte Carlo as I sat down for brekkie in the PG. Brekkie was up to the usual high standard. Many of the folk came in late so the service was excellent as for a while as I was the only person in there.

After brekkie I went up to the Crows Nest for my usual coffee and a chat with the girls. I also took some photos of the city and the tenders from Crows nest.

The rest of my morning was tied up with some packing, updating the newsletter and downloading photos. I was then going to go ashore on the tender however it had turned foggy and overcast so I decided to save money and have lunch on board.

I held court in my Seaview Office and enjoy the fresh air as it seemed most of the smokers had gone ashore. After lunch I had the customary nana nap and made it late to Happy Hour.

Tonight was the VIP cocktail party in the Crows Nest which was most enjoyable.

As a result I was a bit late to dinner at the Papaku table in the Dining room for the last time on the cruise. Tomorrow I’m doing dinner in the PG with some of the officers.

I had my usual coffee after dinner in the Pinnacle Bar before going to the Billboard for a night cap.

It was an early night for me as I was in bed by 11 pm.

Monday 14 August 2017

Today we arrived at Livorno Italy just before I went down to Brekkie and it was a fine coolish day with the temp in the low 20’s.

I caught up with the emails and Facebook on the phone with the European sim card.

 Maybe here I should mention the 15 euro purchase of this simcard that I can use in all the EU countries. Actually I could not use it on the sea day or the day in Monte Carlo because it would have been on roaming. 

As from the 1st July 2017 there are no roaming charges between the EU nations. This 15 euro is a bargain compared with the $US 150.00 for the ships internet charge for the 12 day segment.

Today we were in a commercial port so a shuttle was required to go out into the city and as I had been here before I decided to stay on board the ship have lunch and finish the packing.

I had a long nanna nap and just made to the end of the Happy Hour.

Tonight I had dinner with Mark, Laszlo and Clinton the Entertainment Manager in the PG. Which was a most enjoyable meal and excellent company.

After a few goodbyes I headed up to the cabin to get the luggage out in the hallway for collection.

I made it to bed by 11.30 pm.

Tuesday 15 August 2917

I was awake by 6am and got ready for the last brekkie in the PG. I only had the light brekkie of porridge and pastries with vegemite and jam.

I was ready to leave te ship after saying my goodbyes by 9.30 am as I was meeting up with Mark and going out to the airport with some of the crew at 10.30 am.

The traffic was not too busy back to the airport and we were there by 11.15am.  I got priority check-in and was through security and immigration formalities in an hour (very Quick for the Italians), I was in the BA lounge by 12.30 pm.

I tried green apple juice with vodka for my first refreshing drink. It was so good I had another before I had a light lunch. (this is no Qantas Club.) The catering is very basic however the lounge is very quiet and I’m relaxing away from the crowded public areas.

The flight to London was comfortable as I had a spare seat beside me. 

BA are getting very tight as they were even charging for water, tea or coffee on the flight.

I must be getting the hang of things with Terminal transfers at Heathrow. As I only took an hour from getting off the flight at term 5 to go over to Term 3 and through security and be in the BA Lounge. This lounge was much better than the one at Rome.

I had a light snack of soup and a roll and some fruit juice. The internet was very fast so I was able to catch up with emails and Facebook. I had 4 hours to fill in so I starting to feel very tired by the time I got on the flight.

At last I boarded the flight to find I had a very drunk Canadian self-made millionaire (well so he said) who was very hyperactive and was not happy about sitting in Econ class as he couldn’t get an upgrade.
I thought to myself why would a ‘Millionaire’ book an econ seat anyhow?

Well he ear bashed the crew and anyone that would listen so in the end as the flight was full they took him up to sit on the couch in the business class lounge which was not being used. A great move I thought as I didn’t have to sit beside him for most of the 6 hour flight and I guess if they had to restrain him it would be away from other passengers.

I now was able to sleep for the rest of the flight without interruptions. 

He came back for the landing in Dubai and fortunately he was so tired he slept and was very docile. He left the flight in Dubai thank goodness.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

I used the Emirates Business Lounge while in Dubai to get some brekkie, clean my teeth and freshen up. It was only a short stop over so I was soon back on the aircraft to find I had a new fellow beside me who didn’t drink and was a very nice guy going back to Oz hopefully in time to see his very sick mother before she passed.

The Captain came on the PA to give us some info on the A380 and also to fill in time as our flight, because of the very strong tail winds it would be about an hour and a half faster than the schedule flight time. 

Did you know the wing area of each wing is enough area to park 70 medium motor cars? (OMG just imagine flying with a 140 cars parked on the wings). 

Because of the Sydney Airport curfew there would be a $500,000.00 fine if we landed before 5 am so we were now scheduled to land at 05.05 hours.

With Mr ‘Loudmouth Canadian’ gone the atmosphere in this 28 seat upstairs compartment was much more relaxed. I thought I was the only one that was concerned but I learnt that some of the other guys and the flight crew had worked out a contingency plan to restrain him if necessary.

So this 12 hour flight was very comfortable and the new flight crew were relaxed and friendly and not like the stressed crew from the last segment because of the Canadian. (By the way I think this is the first time I have complained about a Canadian on all my travels not like loud mouth Yanks, Aussies and Dutch.)
I was pleased I got in about 6 hours sleep and spent some time with the flight crew drinking tea. Before landing I watched the movie “The Graduate” well it must have been 40 years since I saw this ‘shocking’ movie at that time. I enjoyed it and the Simon and Garfunkel music and songs and it was like seeing it for the first time.

Thursday 17 August 2017

The arrival and friendly official procedures went smoothly and efficiently at Sydney international Terminal and within  an hour of landing I had purchased my duty free supplies and had transferred to the Domestic Terminal 3 for my final flight to Cairns.

My first priority on check-in to the Qantas Business Lounge was to have a shower, shave and change into fresh clothes.

I enjoyed a light brekkie and then caught up on FB and emails before boarding the Cairns flight.
Seated in my favourite domestic flight seat 4A I settled in and then a foreign lady was seated in 4B and oh my goodness when she lifted her arms to do up her seat belt I was nearly knocked out by her BO. So I had my earphones on, shut my eyes and  fell asleep before we had taxied to the runway and then woke on the announcement we were about to arrive in Cairns. That meant I had had about 3 hours ‘dead’ sleep.

That great feeling of relief came over me after my 2nd bag finally came out on the carousel and I headed out of the terminal to be picked up by my good friend Steve who drove me home via the supermarket to get in some basic supplies.

All was well with the house and yard when I returned home after the 4 weeks away. It’s great to be home again after a fantastic cruise.