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MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby judgegeoff » 29 Jun 2020 07:58

AUSTRALASIA CRUISES 2010

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Our best friends Arne and Sue, together with Chris and myself had visited some parts of Australasia in 2008 aboard the “Sapphire Princess” on a Sydney to Los Angeles Pacific Ocean cruise. We had enjoyed that holiday so much that we were determined to return to the area at some time in the future.

Initially we booked two cruises – The “Rhapsody of the Seas” from Sydney to New Zealand and back and Sydney to Perth (anticlockwise around Australia), with a week’s holiday in between in Sydney. But then our Travel agent advised us that Royal Caribbean were able to offer us the cruise from Sydney to Tasmania and back in place of the week in Sydney. The offer was such good value that we had no hesitation in accepting it, it was a great bargain.

Our itinerary for the three cruises was as follows :-

29/1/2010 Fly overnight from London to Hong Kong
30/1/2010 – 2/2/2010 Hong Kong
2/2/2010 Flight from Hong Kong to Sydney
3/2/2010 Sydney
4/2/2010 Embark on “Rhapsody of the Seas”, overnight in the harbour
5/2/2010 Ship leaves Sydney
6 – 7/2/2010 At sea
8/2/2010 Bay of Islands, New Zealand
9/2/2010 Auckland, New Zealand
10/2/2010 Tauranga, New Zealand
11/2/2010 Napier, New Zealand
12/2/2010 Wellington, New Zealand
13/2/2010 Christchurch, New Zealand
14/2/2010 Dunedin, New Zealand
15/2/2010 Scenic cruising – Fiordland Sounds
16 – 17/2/2010 At sea
18/2/2010 Sydney – End of cruise 1, the start of cruise 2
19/2/2010 At sea
20/2/2010 Melbourne, Australia – overnight in the harbour
21/2/2010 Melbourne, Australia
22/2/2010 Burnie, Tasmania
23/2/2010 Hobart, Tasmania – overnight in the harbour
24/2/2010 Hobart, Tasmania
25/2/2010 At sea
26/2/2010 Sydney – End of cruise 2, the start of cruise 3
27/2/2010 At sea
28/2/2010 Brisbane (bunkering stop only due to tsunami warning)
1/3/2020 At sea
2/3/2010 Airlie Beach, Australia
3/3/2010 Cairns, Australia
4/3/2010 At sea
5/3/2010 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
6 – 7/3/2010 At sea
8/3/2010 Darwin, Australia
9 – 10/3/2010 At sea
11/3/2010 Broome, Australia
12/3/2010 At sea
13/3/2010 Exmouth, Australia
14/3/2010 At sea
15/3/2010 Disembark in Fremantle, stay in Perth
16/3/2010 Perth, Australia
17/3/2010 Fly from Perth to Singapore
18 – 19/3/2010 Singapore
20/3/2010 Fly from Singapore to London overnight
21/3/2010 Arrive back in the UK

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Day 1 - Friday 29th January 2010 - U.K.

We left our home and drove the 16 miles to the home of our best friends Arne and Sue in Ashford, Kent (Arne was a colleague of mine for many years). We parked our car in Arne’s drive and transferred our suitcases to the Avis hire car that Arne had hired. The drive to Heathrow Airport was uneventful and, having dropped off the car and taken the courtesy bus to the Terminal, we were soon booked in for our overnight Qantas flight to Hong Kong. The flight itself was smooth and comfortable.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Day 2 - Saturday 30th January 2010 - Hong Kong

We arrived in Hong Kong in the early morning and took a taxi to our hotel for the next 3 nights, the ‘Marriott Courtyard’.

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On arrival at the hotel we asked them if our rooms were ready but, with it being so early, they were not. However, they offered us an upgrade to their executive rooms that came with breakfast, a dedicated lounge with a free drinks and snacks ‘happy hour’ each evening and free use of the hotel’s internet computers plus other benefits. As these rooms were available immediately and were excellent value, we took up their offer and were delighted to be told that we were still in time to have breakfast!

Our rooms were very well equipped and had large picture windows, with electrically remote control operated curtains and blinds, giving us lovely views over Hong Kong bay. We had a huge, very comfortable king-sized bed and a very big flat-screen television on the wall opposite. We had dressing gowns, slippers and even shopping bags and umbrellas.

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Our large hotel bed.

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Our TV, wardrobe and desk (sorry it is very dark).

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We had a comfortable chair by the large windows……..

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……..giving good views over the sea.

The hotel operated its own complimentary mini shuttle bus into the city centre, so we took advantage of it in the early afternoon.

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A shuttle bus leaving the hotel.

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Aboard the shuttle bus.

We couldn’t get over how crowded this island was – just crossing the road was like a mass cavalry charge – although the people were very well behaved and there was no pushing or shoving.

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Charge!!!

We came across what was a very strange sight for us, a surgeon appeared to be operating on a lady on the pavement. It turned out to be a protest against the practice of people selling their body organs for money. The organs are then used in transplant operations for rich people.

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The surgeon and his patient.

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Everywhere was very, very busy.

In the early evening we took a taxi back to our hotel and enjoyed some very pleasant free wine in the hotel’s Executive Lounge, before having dinner in the hotel’s dining room. We went to bed early as we were very tired – I never sleep on a plane and Chris sleeps very little – so we were very happy to climb into the comfortable bed.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Continued tomorrow……………………..
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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Re: MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby rdw123 » 29 Jun 2020 09:34

Thanks Geoff. Off we go on another incredible journey. Looks like Hong Kong May not be on my to do list, too crowded on your own when you have not got a clue on where you are going. Enjoying travelling with you.
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MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby Gillzajoker » 29 Jun 2020 10:20

A couple of times I've had a 3 nt. pre-cruise stay in HK, and reckon that is just about enough time
there to see the main sights. What amazed me about the traffic was the number of Maseratis, Ferraris
and Lamborginis, etc. that abounded, when, because of congestion, the average traffic speed was
about 20mph :D
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MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby judgegeoff » 30 Jun 2020 08:17

Day 3 – Sunday 31st January 2010 - Hong Kong

After our complimentary hot buffet breakfast, we all decided to take the rack railway up to Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island. Outside our hotel there was a convenient tram stop, so we decided to give the trams a try. Hong Kong’s trams are mostly old and quite unique. They are very narrow but very tall, so they give the impression of being very top-heavy. Inside the trams, passengers sit on bench seats running the length of the interior, facing the aisle. Passengers get on the trams at the rear, but have to exit at the front, so have to pass down the length of the tram. This would not be a problem except that the trams are usually crowded with many people strap-hanging stood in the aisle. It is quite an experience trying to thread ones way along the tram from back to front! We kept a tight hold of our belongings (cameras, camcorder etc.) whilst doing so.

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A typical Hong Kong tram.

We managed to squirm ourselves off the tram at a stop near to the Victoria Peak Tramway and, fortunately, there was only a short queue for tickets. The funicular railway was opened in 1888 and takes passengers a steep climb up to the top of Victoria Peak which is 1,811 ft above sea level.

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Our transport arrives.

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The front/rear of the carriage.

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Going up with terrific views.

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Wow! It was a pity that it was a little misty that day.

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I want this house and garden!!!

We looked around the top of the Peak and had lunch in a ‘Bubba Gump' shrimp restaurant there.

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‘Peak Tower’ a leisure and shopping centre.

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Another shopping complex with accommodation for staff above.

After having a look around Victoria Peak we took the rack railway back down to street level. On another visit to Hong Kong, we took a double-decker bus ride up to the top of Victoria Peak and it was quite exciting (if a little scary at times) as the bus went very fast and there were a lot of sharp bends with steep drops if things went wrong! But we would recommend both these trips to anybody visiting Hong Kong.

We decided to visit Kowloon, so headed for the harbour and the ‘Star ferries’. Kowloon encompasses the northern part of Hong Kong, on the mainland across Victoria Harbour. Originally a separate city, it was acquired by Britain in 1860 and returned to China, with the rest of the colony, in 1997.

On the way to the harbour, we passed hundreds of women who we thought were sat peacefully demonstrating, talking in groups, some knitting and some even watching portable televisions. We later found out that they were nannies and housekeepers who were working away from their villages and towns and who came together on their day off (a Sunday) to meet up with their friends, rather than walking the streets.

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Star Ferries. They are very cheap but can get a little crowded at rush hour times.

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A Chinese junk we saw from the ferry.

We spent a few a couple of hours in Kowloon, looking at some of the shops.

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Kowloon – always very busy.

We left Kowloon and took another Star Ferry back to Hong Kong Island. By now it was dark, but the four of us decided to walk back to our hotel. It was quite an interesting walk as we passed many shops not normally seen by tourists, including food shops selling things that we had never seen before.

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One of the shops (apologies for the poor quality of the photo).

Back at the hotel, we enjoyed some complimentary ‘happy hour’ wine and then had a snack dinner in the hotel’s dining room, before retiring for the night.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Day 4 – Monday 1st February 2010 - Hong Kong

DISASTER! In the early morning Chris woke up and was very sick – it appeared that she had food poisoning (possibly from her snack dinner the previous evening, although we were not sure). We told Arne and Sue that we would not be able to go out with them, they had decided to go to Stanley Market by bus.

Chris continued to be sick throughout the morning and we were very concerned as we were supposed to be flying on to Australia the following day. In the afternoon Chris felt well enough to go out for a short walk along the street that the hotel was on. It was very interesting to see how different the Chinese shops were from those in our High Street.

Arne and Sue returned in the early evening, having had a really good day at Stanley Market. They had caught a double-decker bus there (at very little cost) and had managed to get seats at the very front of the top deck, affording them excellent views during their journey. They told us that they had also visited the Railway Station, where we could catch a train to the airport and that the Station had a check-in desk for Qantas Airlines. But would Chris be well enough to travel on?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Continued tomorrow ............................
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby Gillzajoker » 30 Jun 2020 09:44

Lovely photo reminders again, Geoff. I also enjoyed the trip up to Victoria Peak, and the Star
ferry - yes, very crowded! - and Stanley Market is very interesting. But, oh no, poor Chris!
At least it was a good sign that she managed a small outing later in the day. :D
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MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby judgegeoff » 01 Jul 2020 08:03

Day 5 – Tuesday 2nd February 2010 - Hong Kong to Australia

Chris was much better this morning, thank goodness, and thought that she would be well enough to carry on with our travels. After checking out of our hotel, we took a taxi to the railway station where we were able to book in for our Qantas flight later that day were issued with our boarding cards and were able to hand over our suitcases. This is an excellent facility and you can check-in up to 24 hours before your flight. One condition of this check-in is that you must have tickets for the Hong Kong to airport high-speed train (these are available to buy from a machine at the station)

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The airline check-in desks at Hong Kong railway station.

We then boarded the ultra-modern and immaculate train for the 20 minute journey to the airport.

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Onboard the Airport Express train.

Hong Kong Airport was huge and very new and we had a very enjoyable late breakfast there. After going through into the Departure Lounge Chris bought a small bottle of water to have during the flight but, just as we were about to board the plane, the bottle was taken off her by an airport worker, even though it had been purchased after the security checks (the first time we have experienced this!).

Our daylight flight to Sydney passed reasonably quickly and, fortunately, Chris felt fine throughout the journey. We arrived in Sydney in the early evening and took a taxi to the hotel that we had enjoyed in 2008, the ‘Marriott Circular Quays’. None of the four of us felt like a big meal and the waiter in the bar told us that they could serve us a pizza each followed by ice cream sundaes. The pizzas were really tasty and the sundaes were also excellent. We were very tired, so retired to our rooms after the meal. We were only going to be in the hotel for two nights this time.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Day 6 – Wednesday 3rd February 2010 - Sydney, Australia

We had decided to visit the Blue Mountains today, so had pre-ordered a hire car from ‘Avis’ who had an office in the entrance to our hotel. We had breakfast in the little diner attached to the hotel which we had used during our 2008 stay. We were delighted to find that it was still run by the same people and their food was as delicious as we remembered. After breakfast, we got into our hire car which had been parked outside the hotel and were soon on our way to the Blue Mountains.

As we neared the Blue Mountains the weather deteriorated, with heavy rain and mist. Unfortunately, as we climbed, we ran into low cloud and visibility was just a few yards! We could see nothing of the mountains or the spectacular views that we hoped for. We had a nice lunch at a pleasant restaurant but then, as it was clear that the awful weather was set for the day, we drove back to Sydney and dropped the car off at the entrance to the hotel. It had been rather a disaster of a day and I felt rather bad as it had been me that had suggested we visit the mountains. That night Chris and I had an excellent meal in a nearby Chinese restaurant.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Day 7 – Thursday 4th February 2010 – Sydney, embarkation

Our first cruise was to New Zealand and back to Sydney.

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Map of New Zealand.

We visited our usual diner for breakfast and then returned to the hotel to pack our suitcases. At noon we booked out of the hotel and walked the short distance to the Cruise Terminal, pulling our wheeled suitcases, where the lovely “Rhapsody of the Seas” was waiting for us.

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Our ship waiting for us.

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She was a lot smaller than the “Sapphire Princess” we had joined in Sydney in 2008.

After handing over our cases to the porters our check-in progressed quickly and we were amongst the first new passengers on the ship. We had an early lunch in the ‘Windjammer cafe’ buffet restaurant before it got too busy.

We had a look around some of the ships public rooms and then went to find our cabin, No. 3577, an amidships inside cabin on deck 3.

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The corridor outside our cabin.

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Our cabin door.

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Cabin 3577. The door on the right is the en-suite shower room.

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Curtains between the bed area and living area were very useful.

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Plenty of storage. The cabin was actually larger than it looks in these photos.

We went off the ship and had a walk around the interesting ferry port area (the Circular Quays). We were drawn to a display of pencil drawings by a very talented local artist, Glyn Smith, and purchased two prints from him which he signed and dated for us. On was a view of the iconic Opera House and the other was a view across the harbour of the famous bridge – great souvenirs. Back home we had them framed and they now live in our downstairs cloakroom.

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The drawings.

We returned to the ship and, as our suitcases arrived, started unpacking our suitcases. Our cabin had a lot of storage space which was much appreciated, as we were going to be on the ship for around 39 nights. After we had finished unpacking and had stored our suitcases under the bed, we had a walk around the ship to familiarise ourselves with her layout. She was very similar to the "Grandeur of the Seas" that we had already sailed on.

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Looking down in the atrium.

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The outdoor pool.

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The jogging track.

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Some musical artwork.

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Stairwell and lifts.

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The shopping arcade.

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One of the lounges.

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The solarium (Egyptian themed).

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The indoor swimming pool.

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The solarium had a bar and a grill.

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The two-tier theatre.

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Looking back from the stage area.

That evening we found that, together with Arne and Sue, we had been allocated a table for 4 in the Main Ding Room, despite us asking for a table for 8 to 10 persons. However, we decided to stay there for the time being, we could always change at a later date.

The ship was staying in Sydney harbour overnight and, after another day in Sydney, we would be setting sail for New Zealand. We were very excited!


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Continued tomorrow ……………….
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby Gillzajoker » 01 Jul 2020 08:14

A good system for getting to the airport, Geoff. Shame about the Blue Mountains, but we have no control
over the weather. (Although the Russians always ensure May Day is fine!). Love photos of Rhapsody. :D
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MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby grannyM » 01 Jul 2020 10:51

A great start for me this morning catching up from the beginning Geoff. :clap:

You mentioned good storage space on Rhapsody. I have to say we have always thought that all 3 RC ships we sailed on had the best amount of storage space. A particular favourite was our Adventure of the Seas cabin's walk in wardrobe. Absolutely superb. :thumbup:
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MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby judgegeoff » 02 Jul 2020 08:01

Day 8 – Friday 5th February 2010 - Sydney and sail away.

After breakfast in the ‘Windjammer Cafe, we decided to go to Darling harbour with Arne and Sue. We walked from the Cruise Terminal to Darling harbour and it was quite interesting as we passed some very old properties, many originally built by the military.

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The old Customs House at the harbour.

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A terrace of ex-military houses.

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More ex-military buildings.

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Sydney’s oldest hotel (with one of Sydney’s oldest tourists). We stopped here for a drink.

One interesting building was the Conservatorium of Music which resembled a fort or castle. Originally it had been the stables for Government house which were built in the early 1800s and is a notable example of Old Colonial Gothic architecture. It is a rare surviving example of the work of noted ex-convict architect Francis Greenaway.

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The Conservatorium of Music, Sydney.

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One of Sydney’s ‘Green’ taxis.

At Darling Harbour we had a walk around the boardwalk there, enjoying the sights and stopping for drinks in one of the cafes there. We then returned to the ‘Chinese Gardens’ that we had so enjoyed on our South Pacific cruise and found them to be as delightful, pristine and peaceful as before. We had Chinese tea and cake sat in the garden’s tearoom overlooking the beautiful lake – enchanting.

We returned to Darling harbour and caught a ferry back to the Circular Quays and then walked the short distance to our ship. People were still booking in at the Cruise Terminal at this time.

At 5:15 pm we had the mandatory emergency muster drill and we stayed on deck to watch the ship leave the Terminal and glide past the Circular Quays and the Opera House – a wonderful sight. We were on our way to New Zealand.

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The sail away from Sydney. You can see 2 parties of climbers on the bridge.

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A Caribbean band were playing by the pool.

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Passing the iconic Opera House. Is this the most recognisable building in the world?

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Bye-bye Sydney, see you again in 2 weeks time.

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Not a bad suburban pad! …………….

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……….. More affordable housing, but still great views.

After dinner in the main dining room, we went to one of the lounges to have a couple of drinks and listen to one of the resident groups. It was a little cool that evening so we didn’t go for a stroll out on the decks. We had to put our clocks and watches one hour forward before going to sleep.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Day 9 – Saturday 6th February 2010 - At sea

Unfortunately, our diary entry for this sea day is very minimal, so apologies, but we would have done the usual ‘day at sea’ activities. But they would not have included the ship’s climbing wall!

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The wall!

In the evening, after dinner, we went to the theatre to watch a show ‘Piano Man’, a song and dance tribute to Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Barry Manilow, presented by the ship’s singers and dancers. It was excellent.

Yet again we had to put our clocks forward an hour before going to sleep.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Day 10 – Sunday 7th February 2010 - At sea

Again, very little in the diary, sorry.

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Chris looking for dolphins, whales, turtles, stingrays, sea monsters or mermaids!

In the evening, before dinner, we went to see Australian singer Jenifer Green. After dinner we had a nightcap and then went for a stroll along the decks (which we love). Tomorrow we would be visiting New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, a new destination for us.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Continued tomorrow ……………..
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 3) - "Rhapsody of the Seas" - Australasia - 2010

Postby Gillzajoker » 02 Jul 2020 09:20

Loved all those photos of the architecture, Geoff - and nice to see the Opera House
from a different angle. :D
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