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Posts by: "wansbrough2012"

Early evening we ended up going to the Diamond Lounge which is an exclusive area for members of the Royal Caribbean loyalty scheme that have attained a certain level. The drinks were plentiful and company excellent so we ended up not going to the show as we had originally planned.
We stayed until just after 8:00 giving ourselves enough time to get changed for dinner before heading down to deck 4 to eat.
I have heard complaints about the food on Royal Caribbean but there was nothing wrong with last night’s fare. It’s by no means high end cuisine but considering it’s mass produced then it was very acceptable indeed.
Our departure was delayed until 10:00 last night and we were back in the cabin as we left Southampton.
The short crossing to France was a little wobbly last night and neither of us slept that well.
This morning we arrived at Le Havre at just before 8:30 but didn’t actually dock until gone 9:00. For some reason the decision has been made not to adopt the local time and for the duration of this cruise we will remain on UK (ships) time.

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So at 10:00 we made our way to the Windjammer which is where we considered would be the best place for Nicole to find something to eat. It was the right decision and she managed to eat really well. It was a really busy venue this morning and we thought that maybe there were not many going to get off today.

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The weather forecast for today wasn’t very clever and when we got back to the cabin it was pouring down so a quick check of the rainfall radar showed it would clear so we set off for a stroll round Le Havre. We have been here a few times and all we ever intended to do today was just walk which is precisely what we did. Shuttle service provided by the local authorities cost €4 and was valid all day. We spent about 2½ hours wandering around before catching the bus back and just in time for a spot of lunch.

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Despite the weather first thing the afternoon turned out really nice and even the wind dropped. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring parts of the ship we hadn’t already been to and then retired to the cabin for a couple of hours down time. It’s a formal night tonight so it will be interesting to see who wears what……

From about Wednesday on the Met Office began issuing weather warnings for today with strong winds and large waves being predicted along the south coast as Storm Brian arrives the UK. As a result, we set off from home not really sure what was going to happen. Our aim was to leave home around 10:00 and arrive at around mid-day which in the end turned out okay. The winds weren’t as strong as we anticipated and we arrived at 12:15. The only hold up being the queue of traffic wanting to get into IKEA. We had a swift check in courtesy of our Diamond status and the whole process from car to ship took about 40 minutes. Cabins were made available at 1:00 so we did a lap of the Windjammer before going off to investigate our lodgings for the next 3 nights.
We are pleased with our cabin, it has plenty of storage with plenty of space and has a good sized balcony.

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With stomachs rumbling we went back to the Windjammer for a bite to eat, Nicole was disappointed to see there were no food labels displaying allergens but there was a separate gluten free area. As is usual on the first day it was extremely busy and tables were not easy to find.
With batteries charged we set off to explore the ship and find our table in the dining room. We have a table for two in the Macbeth Dining Room which isn’t in too bad a position. Our table number is 111 and we were surprised to see there are four tables all labelled 111.

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Muster was at 3:45 and held outside on the prom deck. That was a surprise to say the least and it was after that we learned that due to the weather the itinerary had been altered. We are still going to both port’s but just doing them in reverse order.

Not had it confirmed yet but we also believe are departure time has been put back to allow the weather to improve.

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I’m signing off now for today to go and seek some liquid refreshments.

Had we not received 50% of our fare back in the form of two credit certificates from our Harmony of the Seas cruise in May 2016 then we would not be taking this cruise. With little time off from work left for the year and with the credit certificates use-by deadline fast approaching we picked this little 3 night taster cruise so that they didn’t go to waste.
However I do wonder what awaits us given that this sailing takes place during school half term and I have some concerns that potentially the ship could well be overrun with kids, and not to mention the prospect of numerous travel agents all out on a jolly because they seem to use these short cruises to try the product out. We have therefore decided to go on the premise that its nothing ventured nothing gained in a bid to appease our concerns and after all a cruise is a cruise!

Please don’t get me wrong because as we are still very much looking forward to getting onboard a ship and specifically one that will be completely unfamiliar to us as its a class of ship we have not sailed before.
This 3 night taster cruise starts and finishes in Southampton and visits the ports of Le Harve and Zeebrugge and at both places we aim to get out and do plenty of walking.

DATE LOCATION ARRIVAL DEPARTURE
Saturday, October 21, 2017 Southampton, England 04:30 PM
Sunday, October 22, 2017 Zeebrugge, Belgium 07:00 AM 05:00 PM
Monday, October 23, 2017 Le Harve, France 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 Southampton, England 05:30 AM

Our cabin selection was dead easy, because we had left it so late making the decision to go all the balconies had sold out, however all was not lost because I received a e-mail notification from the Cruisefish website informing us D3’s were back on sale, (Cruisefish is a cruise monitoring system that for a small fee will keep a check on prices for you, it sends e-mail alerts when prices drop, go up or even when category’s become available or sell out).  We quickly contacted one of our agents who responded by securing the one and only cabin which had just become available again. As luck would have it, the position is pretty much in the location we would liked anyway so we are more than happy with the result and because of the credits we bagged it for half price.

Fingers crossed Storm Brian doesn’t hamper our plans too much…………..

We had a great nights sleep and didn’t wake up until gone 7:30 this morning. When we pulled the curtains it was daylight outside we were able to see the surrounding area better and our room had a facing view of one of the runways so were able to watch the planes take off and land while laid in bed. We opened our room door to this view first thing.

Our package included breakfast which was in the form of a buffet and there was quite a varied selection available including many local dishes.
Having eaten as much as we could we made our way down to the pool where we found ourselves a couple of sunbeds and spent the best part of the day just basking in the sun. This hotel really has the most amazing pool, it’s been just perfect to relax by in preparation for the last leg of our journey. The only break I took from this blissful existence was when I briefly wandered outside to get a photo of the hotel exterior, it’s so unusual that I thought it warranted a special trip to take it.

Normal check out time at the hotel was 2:00 and as our flight departs at 11:30 we enquired about keeping the room a little longer, unfortunately this wasn’t an option so we made the decision to extend our booking for an extra night so we could have the room up until​ the last minute. This allowed us to go back and shower at our leasure and it also meant we could stay out by the pool until the sun had gone from view.

Because we are departing from terminal 3 it’s only a brief walk to the departures​ hall so it will help​ cut down the waiting time actually in the airport itself. It just made so much sense for us to do it.

So with the last few moments of free hotel WiFi I will just sign off by saying until the next time……..

Our flight from Sydney to Singapore went without any problems, the flight itself on a Singapore Airlines A380 took just 7 hours and 25 minutes and we touched down at 8:35 pm local time.It got a little bit bumpy in places but nothing too dramatic.
We had elected not to do the 4 hour wait in the airport for the next and longer leg of the trip and instead booked a room at the Crowne Plaza at Changi Airport. Because we got in so late and with a 3 hour time difference we opted for a hotel at the airport to maximise the rest.
We were due to land at terminal 3 but a last minute change saw us go to terminal 2 which took us 6 minutes longer to get to the hotel. As it was dark on arrival we weren’t able to get a view of the outside of the hotel but the room itself is very spacious and has a large glass wall around the bathroom, not to worry though as we discovered a roller blind on the bathroom side to mask the activities you really don’t want to share with others.
We had a brief stroll round in the dark, found the bar had a quick drink and used the free WiFi to check in for the next flight. It was then back to the room and after a quick shower we hit the sack for the night. I can’t wait to see this hotel in the daylight, the photos I have seen on the internet look very interesting.

 

After listening to the sea pass reader bonging all passengers off from the previous two cruises it was now our turn for the final bong.

Before that though we managed breakfast in the MDR which is a bit of a ritual for us on the last morning.

By 8:30 we were off the ship and outside the terminal getting picked up by the driver for our morning tour around Manley and surrounding area before being dropped off at the airport for our flight to Singapore.

We had a fantastic last morning and got even more photos of Sydney from yet another perspective.

We are now at the airport and just waiting to board the plane. It’s a real luxury to have a decent speed internet connection.

The clocks went forward an hour last night as if to signify the start of our major time adjustment upheaval. It’s been a long time coming but our last full day was eventually upon us.

Can you spot the Koala in the tree?

We started the morning off with breakfast in the Tuscan Grille where we said our goodbyes to the team who have looked after us over the three cruises. They didn’t rotate the staff so we were able to build up quite a rapport with crew there in the morning. I took my last glass of medication before heading to guest services to exchange the luggage tags we had been given. We had been given 9:00 but needed it to be an hour earlier so we could meet our tour guide for the last trip before heading for the airport.

With that sorted we managed 3 laps of the top deck before rain stopped play. So it was back to the cabin to do the inevitable. Nicole is very efficient and organised and had it all worked out in no time at all.

We skipped lunch today because we both seemed​ to be feeling the effects of the last thirty plus days eating today. I dread to think how we would feel on an even longer cruise.

We eventually went to the Oceanview Café at 4:00 for the tea time selection but other than what I’ve mentioned above we have done very little today. Had the weather been better we would have sat out but that wasn’t to be today.

We are now ready to disembark and begin our journey home.

 

This morning we arrived at Brisbane which is our last port of call before we arrive back in Sydney in two days time. It was a bit of a strange one in as much that the journey into Brisbane itself was a 50 minute drive on the shuttle which came with a $22 per person fee despite us docking in the middle of a commercial port area.

We pretty much got on the first bus just after 8:30 and were dropped at Anzac Square which is a central location in the city. Armed with a simple map we set off on foot to explore and see what we could find of interest.
After crossing the river on Victoria Bridge we passed through an area known as South Bank which was regenerated for Expo 88 and it really was a lovely place to visit. Slap bang in the middle is the Brisbane Eye which had just opened for the day and there were no queues so we promptly acquired a couple of tickets and went for a spin or to be precise 5 spins stopping at the top for a while on the first one. I think we had the whole thing to ourselves as I couldn’t see anyone else in any of the other pods.

We continued on crossing back over the river and then round the botanical gardens which was equally as good. We spotted lots of different birds and there were also many Eastern Water Dragons wandering around. We even came across a snake but I have no idea what it was or if it was dangerous. Thank goodness for the zoom lens!

As it was lunch time we headed back to South Bank and found a nice little pub where I enjoyed a nice local brew with burger and chips. I don’t make it sound like we did much but my Fitbit tells me that we walked over 12 miles today. We saw plenty and really enjoyed this last stop. Brisbane is a beautiful city and certainly somewhere I would love to visit again.

Time is of the essence so I hope you enjoy the selection of photos from today.

Time really does seem to be flying now, we have just three nights to go before we have to disembark from what has been our home for the last 5 weeks or so. We both are feeling a little subdued today but have been smiling while reflecting back on what has been an amazing adventure.

We actually enjoyed a bit of a lie in this morning and didn’t go to breakfast until 9:30,  for us this is much later than we have been used to recently.

With the weather very overcast we made our way up to the open decks and managed to do five full laps before finding a sheltered spot to do some reading and blog writing, not that there is much to report today.

The last couple of days we have really enjoyed watching the Booby’s fly along side the ship and then swooping to catch the flying fish. They have such precision and timing with very little effort needed. It really is an amazing thing to witness and just a shame I haven’t managed to get a photo of it as it all happens so fast.
We sat out until about 1:45 when we decided to chance our luck with the buffet and were rewarded with a table out in the open at the back. It’s nice for Nicole because she can get a much better selection of things to eat there.

The weather remained cloudy and we did get a couple of really light showers just to break things up a little. According to the information on the TV the air temperature was 28° C which did make the wind lovely and warm.

With the wind picking up we made our way back to the cabin to sit out on our balcony until 4:00 when we attended a From the Podium talk on Sharks and Rays by Dr. Dave.

It’s been a very relaxing and uneventful day and one which has given us plenty of time to reflect and appreciate what we have done over the three back to back cruises.

Tonight is the third Evening Chic of this cruise and our ninth overall and lobster is on the menu tonight so I know what I’m having.

We are now on our way back to Sydney and into the last week of our cruise and all of a sudden time seems to have gone really quickly, we now have just 4 nights left onboard which is really quite scary.

After being onboard for all of those nights I still find myself waking up at around 5:30, even though I have been in different time zones​ for over a month my body clock is still behaving like I am back in the UK. Nicole on the other hand finds it difficult to wake up in the morning so I tend to do a bit of reading on my tablet until she comes to.

Today was a sea day with a bit of a difference, the daily described it as a technical stop. What happened was at 11:00 we arrived at a small island off the coast of Australia called Willis Island. The reef pilot who was still onboard then came over the ships public address to explain the procedure and reason for it.

As this cruise is all Australian home ports it isn’t technically an international cruise and therefore not allowed to sell any duty free items. To get round this the ship has to drop anchor very briefly off the coast of Willis Island so that it can be recorded in the ships logs and thus qualifying it as a international stop.

The whole process took around 45 minutes and during this time we were given a talk over the PA by one of the three meteorologists that live on the island for 6 months at a time. The weather station on the island is used to monitor and record weather conditions which hopefully will provide early warning against cyclones​ in the region.

As you can see from the photos it’s an amazing setting and very picturesque. As nice as it looks I don’t think I could spend 6 months there with just two others ​for company.

So at about 11:15 the ship dropped anchor and performed a 360° turn before giving 3 long blasts of the horn before continuing on our way. The upper decks were very busy with many coming up to witness this unusual event. Nobody got off the ship so no immigration to deal with so it is as described, just a technical stop.

The rest of the afternoon we spent cruising at sea heading towards our next stop which is Brisbane. The weather today has been glorious and we have spent the best part of it up on the Solstice Deck just relaxing in the sun.
Considering we have spent just short of four hours tendering back and forth over the last four days the chance to just sit back and take it easy was most welcome.

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