Day Date / Port            

Fri May 21 Sydney, Australia departs 5:00pm

Left the B&B (www.bbsydneyharbour.com.au) with our 2 suitcase,  three hand luggages and my guitar, and headed for Dock 8, Darling  Harbour.

A very smooth checkin with about 20 desks processing the 2000 passengers.

We quickly found our cabin - C720 - a 4m x 8m cabin with twin  queen sized single beds and a nice external balcony with two  seats and a small table, where we can sit and drink our gin  tonics, which we didn't have because we couldn't fit anything  else into our suitcases, let alone smuggled bottles of grog. We will try  to restock in Darwin.

Had a good sailaway party on deck that evening, as we squeezed  under the Harbour bridge, with 2 metres to spare...

Met up with two different couples, one guy is a guitarist/song writer who  has brought his guitar on board, so we have threatened to get  together sometime and have a jam session...

Sat May 22             At Sea

Morning spent sorting out details of  possible day trips for the coming few weeks and getting to know  our way about the ship, changing our dining session time from  early (5:30pm) to late (8:00pm)... Had an acupucture session to  try and relieve the lower back pain I've been experiencing since the apartment clearout, but to little lasting effect. Reverted to lying on the floor in the cabin, doing physiotherapy exercises.

Sun May 23  
top          At Sea   

Investigated the internet facilities -  very expensive. For casual use, the costs are $0.75 a minute,  but you can buy a package of 1000 minutes for $250 ($0.25/min),  or 500 minutes for $175 ($0.35/min). Elected for the 500  minutes, which should give me around 5 minutes a day. Our first formal dining evening this evening.

Met our new dinner table  partners - a cordial group of retired farmers, shopkeepers and business people. A fun group.

Mon May 24             At Sea

Cruising off the Queensland coast around Gladstone. Activities: more of the same - Su studing Spanish, me lying around the cabin floor. Managed to get a mobile signal for part of the day and made a few calls whilst we could.

Went along to the Karaoke lounge this evening... enough said. Stayed on for the late night Nightclub/Disco - but surprise - not  "doof doof" music, but good old 60's and 70's  stuff. Good fun.

Tue May 25             At Sea

Passing around the top of Australia  today, weather getting pretty hot. Passing lots and lots of islands... Interesting lectures on Magellan, Columbus, discoveries of the Americas etc etc.

Dining in the Pizza  parlour this evening - getting a bit sick of three course dinners.

An expensive ship this - cheapest wines are $7.00 a glass, bottles of wine around $35 - $40 each. Must stock up in Darwin.

No cash on board - we use our swipe cards to buy drinks and the costs get sent to an on-board account. It soon mounts up!

Princess sent round a notice yesterday, of their intention to automatically debit everyone's on-board account with a $10 per  person per day gratuitity surcharge for distribution to the various service staff - waiters, cabin attendants, serving  staff. A lot of grumbling from the passengers, so they have  permitted us to 'opt out' of this charge and handle the gratuities ourselves. I was at the head of the queue to sign the form cancelling the charge. Princess can get stuffed!

Wed May 26  
top          At Sea  

We heard a rumour that, if there was enough interest, the ship might try to secure rights to broadcast tonight's State of Origin Rugby League match between NSW and Queensland.

We signed up, Princess got the rights and a good night was had watching Queensland (full of Melbourne Storm players), defeat NSW.

Thu May 27             Darwin

Hot, humid, expensive, but plenty of grog shops.

Went ashore and bought a day old Financial Review (today's paper doesn't arrive till 4.00pm)

Same bad news as last week - stockmarket down, Labor and the  Miners at odds over the great big new tax, the Coalition still bumbling around. But front page news - Malcolm Fraser has resigned from the Liberal Party. Ho hum - who cares? Guess I  don't really care about these things much anymore. Whatever  will be, will be.

Smuggled our booze back on the boat and settle back into routine.
 
Fri May 28             At Sea

Went to see the evening show in the big 500 seater lounge this evening. There is a big, theatrical type splashy show, every evening.

The musicians are good, but are playing along with pre-recorded backing tracks of guitars and vocalists. This makes the music sound all a bit too mechanical and stiff, although nobody really notices - they are all too busy looking at the dancers.

There is plenty of opportunity to listen to live/pre-recorded  music -
there are two major theatrettes for song and dance, a  wheelhouse bar with a band, and the three floor atrium at the centre of the ship where they have two areas with baby grand pianos.

The upper deck often has a band playing along as we sail off from ports.

So, musically we have:

 * an orchestra (three brass, piano, bass drums) augmented by  backing tracks,

 * a reasonably good 4 piece pop band,

 * a string quartet playing classics,

 * and two (count 'em, two!) duo's.

One of the duo's is imaginatively named "Alan and Alana" - he plays guitar along with backing tracks and she sings.

The other duo, is confusingly named "Allan and Ladonna" - he plays piano along with backing tracks and she sings.

No need to say any more about the duo's!

Overall, and disappointingly, the standard of entertainment is nowhere near as good as we have seen on other ships.

Sat May 29   
top         At Sea  

Met up with a fellow passenger who has brought his guitar along with him and we have had a good jam session. Kim is pretty good. We reckon we could steal the audiences from the duos if we put a mind to it. But sounds like a lot of hard work, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that...

Sun May 30             Padang (Bali), Indonesia

According to the tourist literature, Bali is "The Land of the gods" and "The closest thing to Heaven on Earth"

Went ashore at Benoa Bay at Bali, tendering on and off the ship in small boats because P&O is too cheap to pay port fees at the main Bali port. I am thinking that P&O doesn't stand for  "Pacific and Orient", but "Profiteers and Overchargers"

Getting out from the disembarcation jetty was a nightmare.

We were literally mobbed by street vendors thrusting toys, postcards, beads, bangles, etc, etc into our faces, shouting at us to buy their stuff.

Managed to escape and went in a guided taxi to Kuta beach. What  was probably a lovely place once, has been ruined by commercialism, end of year football trips, and just too many people. Did find a shoe big enough for Steve Hill. (pictures later)

Although we did not ask for this, the taxi driver took us along the several crowded laneways and obligingly told us that this was where the bombings took place in 2002. Just what we wanted to know!
 
On the return to the jetty, I had about $2 in Bali money left over - I put it into my pocket ready to give to our guide.

At he entrance to the jetty, the street vendor mobs were worse - they knew that once we escaped across the security line, they had lost all hope of a sale.

We were crushed by people; yelling, thrusting babies in our faces, waving junk at us.... I felt a hand sliding into my  shorts pocket.... one of these lovely, peaceful, gentle Balinese people, had picked my pocket.

Mon May 31             At Sea

Lectures - we have a couple of good lecturers on board. Andrew Stuart, a retired UK ambassador, gives history lectures on the places we are about to visit. His talks are really informative, colourfully anecdoted with a lot of dry, unstated British humour. The 500 seat theatre is packed out every time.

We also have Gloeta Massic, a young (30-ish) American biologist who is giving talks on all things Marine. She is also very good - funny, entertaining, with a brain the size of a small planet. We find out tonight that she also sings good Karaoke.

Ahh... Karaoke. We went to the Karaoke night, after the Captain's Formal Cocktail Party for returning Princess' Cruisers like us. 

Managed to overcome my natural instinct to avoid making a fool of myself in public performances and overdid it a bit on the karaoke floor. Too many Jo Cocker impersonations. Met a few of the Staff, including the foresaid biologist, who sings really well. Also met up with Julie James, the ship's Art Director, damn good jazz singer and friend of my old mate - drummer Steve Hill from Tassie. The best night we have had so far. And our wedding anniversary - 39 years.

Tue Jun  1  
top          At Sea   june   

The old back is hurting a bit today. Felt like I'd been doing the limbo or something strenuous last night.

Lunchtime the crew and selected passengers celebrated the crossing of the Equator in the usual manner.... us experienced "crusty shellbacks", did not attend, and left it to the "pollywogs".

Quiet day today. Girding our loins for a day in Singapore tomorrow.

Wed Jun  2             Singapore

Went on an organised tour - "the Battlefields of Singpore"

My father flew Australian POW's out of Changie prison camps after WW II ended, and I wanted to learn a bit more about the history and try to see some of what he must have experienced.

We went to the Changie War Museum which features a replica of the chapel that the Japanese allowed the prisoners to build. There were many photos and stories of the prison conditions, including a mockup of the prison cells, and many survivors' stories of the brutal treatment at the hands of the invaders. I have a better understanding of the hatred felt by my parent's generation towards the Japanese.

Also went into the "Battle Box" - the underground bunker in Singapore where the war against the advancing Japanese forces was planned (and lost).

Visited the Kranji War Memorial and the thousands of gravestones commemorating the three Services' dead. So young! A very moving day.

Thu Jun  3             Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang), Malaysia

Caught the shuttle bus into Kuala Lumpur from Port Klang, about 90 minute drive. Malaysia doesn't seem to have changed much in the outskirts, but the city itself has been transformed with new flyovers and freeways. Caught up with our friend Wendy, had lunch and spent a very pleasant afternoon with her.

Fri Jun  4             Langkawi, Malaysia

Lovely island this is.... caught the shuttle bus into town, spent a happy afternoon at a lovely beach bar, having a few drinks and soaking up the sun. Managed to leave my camera behind in the bar. Lucky it was just a cheapie. I'll buy another in Dubai duty free.

This evening, had another Karaoke night to celebrate one of our fellow passenger's birthday (Ralph, 71 yo) and I managed to control myself and not get up and sing!

Sat Jun  5             At Sea

We pass around the Nicobar Islands. The place to go when you want to give up smoking??

Seas getting rough as we head into the Bay of Bengal, and the tail end of the Monsoon season whips up the wind and the sea. A ship's speed of 20 knots and a wind speed of 35 knots gives a combined apparent wind speed of 55 knots. We avoid the open decks and move between the corridors, under cover.

My new (6 week old) Fisher and Paykel CPAP (Controlled Positive Air Pressure) machine gave up the ghost last night. Via a breathing mask, this machine provides a continuous, positive air pressure column of air to my throat and stops me snoring. It is the second time it has failed. Lucky I bought along the old one. Shame the hose pipe has different fittings. I must jury rig something for tomorrow night so I can use the old one.  

Sun Jun  6  
top          At Sea

No 1 Priority today - fix the CPAP machine. I wrap some elastoplast sticky plaster around the output spigot and manage to form a good air tight seal. Temporary solution to hand. I email the distributor and request a new machine to be delivered to the ship. This will test the system!!

Had another jam session tonight with Kim. We had an audience this time... they seemed to enjoy it.

My back is a lot better these days - lying on the floor waggling my legs in the air may not be the most gracious way of spending one's time, but it seems to be working.

Mon Jun  7             At Sea

Rounding Sri Lankar, heading north for Cochin. Quite a lot of rain and wind, as the Monsoon continues to effect the weather conditions.

The F&P people have requested the details of the Shipping agents and they will try to get a new CPAP machine to me in India. My level of confidence is not high.

Indian Visas. We did not have time in Melbourne to finalise our Indian Visas for entry to both Cochin tomorrow and Mombai on Thursday. Normally, a cruise ship does not need special visas to disembark at a port.

However, after the terrorist attacks on Mumbai last year, India has tightened up on its issuing of visas. Obviously, a cruise ship of elderly, overweight Australian tourists, armed with knobbly walking sticks and large handbags,  could be considered highly dangerous, and India is determined not to let any baddies slip past.

Even though we do not have visas, we still have to line up in front of the Indian Immigration authorities, show our passports and get our names ticked off their list. We will not get off the ship now until Muscat on June 13th.

We are reasonably happy to stay on the ship - I have been to India many times when I worked for Tioxide, and Su is not so keen to put herself through another phalanx of poverty stricken street vendors, so we are not anxious about missing India. I didn't want to visit their silly country anyway!  

Karaoke tonight. Can I again resist making a fool of myself?  Hmmmm.  
top

Tue Jun  8             Cochin, India

I did resist.
 
Old salts reckon you could smell India well out to sea - before you could see the land. You still can. As we approach Cochine, the smell of spices drifts across from the land.

Tropical, humid, lush - this is old familiar territory for me. When working for Tioxide, I spent time in and around Kerala State looking for a suitable sites to build a factory. No matter how hard I tried in the old days, no matter how many precautions I took - avoiding ice cubes, drinking only from sealed cans and bottles, eating in high quality resturants, every time I went to India, I ended up with food poisioning.

Wed Jun  9             At Sea

Hell's Bells! Woke up in the middle of the night with a bad case of Cochin Cramp! And I hadn't even gone ashore! Spent most of today close to a toilet, didn't eat anything and had an alcohol free day.

Thu Jun 10             Bombay (Mumbai), India

Feeling better today. Got a call from the Indian Fisher and Paykel people to tell me that their reps were at the foot of the gangplank with my replacement breathing machine. Ripper! So, how to get off the ship and onto the wharf without a visa??

Easy, just tell the security people that I had to pick up a package, and walked off. No swiping our ship's security card (normally we must swipe off when leaving the ship and then swipe back on when returning), just wandered down the gangplank and along the wharf till I found the F&P reps. No challenges from the many ferocious looking soldiers armed with AK47's, no ship security people asking me where my visa was, I just walked off.

A bit more difficult getting back on. I had come off the disembarking gangplank, and the whark security wanted me to go back up on the embarking gangplank. That's what passengers do - they leave the ship on one gangplank and return up the other.

I knew this would cause trouble; the security guard at the disembarking gangplank was waiting for me to return up his gangplank. He wouldn't like it if I didn't come back.

That caused some confusion when I barged up the wrong plank. Then I swiped back on, because that's standard procedure. That's going to mess up their system - I came on board the ship without ever going off it. HA HA HA. That'll teach them not to grant me a visa!!

Anyway, excellent service from F&P.

Fri Jun 11             At Sea

Formal night tonight and Karaoke. Also, a concert from the Ship's staff of Philipinas, Indians and Eastern Europeans.

Sat Jun 12             At Sea
 
Sun Jun 13             Muscat, Oman (Mina Qaboos)

Mon Jun 14             Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Will catch up with friends Adrian and Laura from Dubai today.

Tue Jun 15             At Sea
Wed Jun 16             At Sea
Thu Jun 17             At Sea
Fri Jun 18             At Sea
Sat Jun 19             At Sea
Sun Jun 20             Luxor (Safaga), Egypt
Mon Jun 21             At Sea
Tue Jun 22             Suez Canal, Egypt
Wed Jun 23             Cairo (Port Said), Egypt
Thu Jun 24             At Sea
Fri Jun 25             Ephesus / Kusadasi, Turkey
Sat Jun 26             Istanbul, Turkey

Will catch up with friends Ralph and Helen for Lunch today.

Sun Jun 27             Anzac Cove, Turkey
Mon Jun 28             Santorini, Greece
Tue Jun 29             Athens, Greece
Wed Jun 30             At Sea
Thu Jul  1  
top          Venice, Italy     july   
 
Will catch up with friend Su Boyle today.

Fri Jul  2             Venice, Italy         
Sat Jul  3             Dubrovnik, Croatia
Sun Jul  4             At Sea
Mon Jul  5             Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
Tue Jul  6             Florence / Pisa (Livorno), Italy

Will catch up with brother David and Coleen today.

Wed Jul  7             Cannes, France
Thu Jul  8             Barcelona, Spain
Fri Jul  9             At Sea
Sat Jul 10             Gibraltar, UK Territory
Sun Jul 11             At Sea
Mon Jul 12             At Sea
Tue Jul 13             Paris (Le Havre), France
Wed Jul 14             London (Southampton), England

Will catch up with friends Alan and WaiChing today.

Thu Jul 15             At Sea
Fri Jul 16             Dublin, Ireland
Sat Jul 17             At Sea
Sun Jul 18             At Sea
Mon Jul 19             At Sea
Tue Jul 20             At Sea
Wed Jul 21             At Sea
Thu Jul 22             At Sea
Fri Jul 23             Boston, MA

Will catch up with friends Ron and Jackie today?

Sat Jul 24             Newport, RI
Sun Jul 25             New York (Manhattan), NY
Mon Jul 26             At Sea
Tue Jul 27             At Sea
Wed Jul 28             At Sea
Thu Jul 29             Antigua
Fri Jul 30             Barbados
Sat Jul 31             At Sea
Sun Aug  1  
top          Curacao, Netherlands Antilles august  

Mon Aug  2             At Sea
Tue Aug  3             Panama Canal (Full Transit)
Wed Aug  4             At Sea
Thu Aug  5             At Sea
Fri Aug  6             At Sea
Sat Aug  7             Acapulco, Mexico
Sun Aug  8             Manzanillo, Mexico
Mon Aug  9             At Sea
Tue Aug 10             At Sea
Wed Aug 11             Los Angeles, CA
Thu Aug 12             At Sea
Fri Aug 13             At Sea
Sat Aug 14             At Sea
Sun Aug 15             At Sea
Mon Aug 16             Honolulu, Oahu, HI
Tue Aug 17             At Sea
Wed Aug 18             At Sea
Thu Aug 19             At Sea
Fri Aug 20             At Sea
Sat Aug 21             At Sea
Sun Aug 22             Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands
Mon Aug 23             Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands
Mon Aug 23             Moorea, Society Islands
Tue Aug 24             At Sea
Wed Aug 25             At Sea
Thu Aug 26             Pago Pago, American Samoa
Fri Aug 27             At Sea
Sat Aug 28             Cross International Dateline
Mon Aug 30             At Sea
Tue Aug 31             Auckland, New Zealand

Will catch up with friends in Auckland today?

Wed Sep  1  
top          At Sea  september   

Thu Sep  2             At Sea
Fri Sep  3             Sydney, Australia


Then, this is the current thinking:

September 2010: time in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne

October 2010: Kalgoorlie/Perth, then South Africa for Safari

November 2010 until June 2011 (?): To South America - Santiago? Lima? Buenos Aries? Rio?

Northern Hemisphere summer: Spain?, Italy? To be decided.
Day Date / Port            

Fri May 21 Sydney, Australia departs 5:00pm

Left the B&B (www.bbsydneyharbour.com.au) with our 2 suitcase,  three hand luggages and my guitar, and headed for Dock 8, Darling  Harbour.

A very smooth checkin with about 20 desks processing the 2000 passengers.

We quickly found our cabin - C720 - a 4m x 8m cabin with twin  queen sized single beds and a nice external balcony with two  seats and a small table, where we can sit and drink our gin  tonics, which we didn't have because we couldn't fit anything  else into our suitcases, let alone smuggled bottles of grog. We will try  to restock in Darwin.

Had a good sailaway party on deck that evening, as we squeezed  under the Harbour bridge, with 2 metres to spare...

Met up with two different couples, one guy is a guitarist/song writer who  has brought his guitar on board, so we have threatened to get  together sometime and have a jam session...

Sat May 22             At Sea

Morning spent sorting out details of  possible day trips for the coming few weeks and getting to know  our way about the ship, changing our dining session time from  early (5:30pm) to late (8:00pm)... Had an acupucture session to  try and relieve the lower back pain I've been experiencing since the apartment clearout, but to little lasting effect. Reverted to lying on the floor in the cabin, doing physiotherapy exercises.

Sun May 23  
top          At Sea   

Investigated the internet facilities -  very expensive. For casual use, the costs are $0.75 a minute,  but you can buy a package of 1000 minutes for $250 ($0.25/min),  or 500 minutes for $175 ($0.35/min). Elected for the 500  minutes, which should give me around 5 minutes a day. Our first formal dining evening this evening.

Met our new dinner table  partners - a cordial group of retired farmers, shopkeepers and business people. A fun group.

Mon May 24             At Sea

Cruising off the Queensland coast around Gladstone. Activities: more of the same - Su studing Spanish, me lying around the cabin floor. Managed to get a mobile signal for part of the day and made a few calls whilst we could.

Went along to the Karaoke lounge this evening... enough said. Stayed on for the late night Nightclub/Disco - but surprise - not  "doof doof" music, but good old 60's and 70's  stuff. Good fun.

Tue May 25             At Sea

Passing around the top of Australia  today, weather getting pretty hot. Passing lots and lots of islands... Interesting lectures on Magellan, Columbus, discoveries of the Americas etc etc.

Dining in the Pizza  parlour this evening - getting a bit sick of three course dinners.

An expensive ship this - cheapest wines are $7.00 a glass, bottles of wine around $35 - $40 each. Must stock up in Darwin.

No cash on board - we use our swipe cards to buy drinks and the costs get sent to an on-board account. It soon mounts up!

Princess sent round a notice yesterday, of their intention to automatically debit everyone's on-board account with a $10 per  person per day gratuitity surcharge for distribution to the various service staff - waiters, cabin attendants, serving  staff. A lot of grumbling from the passengers, so they have  permitted us to 'opt out' of this charge and handle the gratuities ourselves. I was at the head of the queue to sign the form cancelling the charge. Princess can get stuffed!

Wed May 26  
top          At Sea  

We heard a rumour that, if there was enough interest, the ship might try to secure rights to broadcast tonight's State of Origin Rugby League match between NSW and Queensland.

We signed up, Princess got the rights and a good night was had watching Queensland (full of Melbourne Storm players), defeat NSW.

Thu May 27             Darwin

Hot, humid, expensive, but plenty of grog shops.

Went ashore and bought a day old Financial Review (today's paper doesn't arrive till 4.00pm)

Same bad news as last week - stockmarket down, Labor and the  Miners at odds over the great big new tax, the Coalition still bumbling around. But front page news - Malcolm Fraser has resigned from the Liberal Party. Ho hum - who cares? Guess I  don't really care about these things much anymore. Whatever  will be, will be.

Smuggled our booze back on the boat and settle back into routine.
 
Fri May 28             At Sea

Went to see the evening show in the big 500 seater lounge this evening. There is a big, theatrical type splashy show, every evening.

The musicians are good, but are playing along with pre-recorded backing tracks of guitars and vocalists. This makes the music sound all a bit too mechanical and stiff, although nobody really notices - they are all too busy looking at the dancers.

There is plenty of opportunity to listen to live/pre-recorded  music -
there are two major theatrettes for song and dance, a  wheelhouse bar with a band, and the three floor atrium at the centre of the ship where they have two areas with baby grand pianos.

The upper deck often has a band playing along as we sail off from ports.

So, musically we have:

 * an orchestra (three brass, piano, bass drums) augmented by  backing tracks,

 * a reasonably good 4 piece pop band,

 * a string quartet playing classics,

 * and two (count 'em, two!) duo's.

One of the duo's is imaginatively named "Alan and Alana" - he plays guitar along with backing tracks and she sings.

The other duo, is confusingly named "Allan and Ladonna" - he plays piano along with backing tracks and she sings.

No need to say any more about the duo's!

Overall, and disappointingly, the standard of entertainment is nowhere near as good as we have seen on other ships.

Sat May 29   
top         At Sea  

Met up with a fellow passenger who has brought his guitar along with him and we have had a good jam session. Kim is pretty good. We reckon we could steal the audiences from the duos if we put a mind to it. But sounds like a lot of hard work, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that...

Sun May 30             Padang (Bali), Indonesia

According to the tourist literature, Bali is "The Land of the gods" and "The closest thing to Heaven on Earth"

Went ashore at Benoa Bay at Bali, tendering on and off the ship in small boats because P&O is too cheap to pay port fees at the main Bali port. I am thinking that P&O doesn't stand for  "Pacific and Orient", but "Profiteers and Overchargers"

Getting out from the disembarcation jetty was a nightmare.

We were literally mobbed by street vendors thrusting toys, postcards, beads, bangles, etc, etc into our faces, shouting at us to buy their stuff.

Managed to escape and went in a guided taxi to Kuta beach. What  was probably a lovely place once, has been ruined by commercialism, end of year football trips, and just too many people. Did find a shoe big enough for Steve Hill. (pictures later)

Although we did not ask for this, the taxi driver took us along the several crowded laneways and obligingly told us that this was where the bombings took place in 2002. Just what we wanted to know!
 
On the return to the jetty, I had about $2 in Bali money left over - I put it into my pocket ready to give to our guide.

At he entrance to the jetty, the street vendor mobs were worse - they knew that once we escaped across the security line, they had lost all hope of a sale.

We were crushed by people; yelling, thrusting babies in our faces, waving junk at us.... I felt a hand sliding into my  shorts pocket.... one of these lovely, peaceful, gentle Balinese people, had picked my pocket.

Mon May 31             At Sea

Lectures - we have a couple of good lecturers on board. Andrew Stuart, a retired UK ambassador, gives history lectures on the places we are about to visit. His talks are really informative, colourfully anecdoted with a lot of dry, unstated British humour. The 500 seat theatre is packed out every time.

We also have Gloeta Massic, a young (30-ish) American biologist who is giving talks on all things Marine. She is also very good - funny, entertaining, with a brain the size of a small planet. We find out tonight that she also sings good Karaoke.

Ahh... Karaoke. We went to the Karaoke night, after the Captain's Formal Cocktail Party for returning Princess' Cruisers like us. 

Managed to overcome my natural instinct to avoid making a fool of myself in public performances and overdid it a bit on the karaoke floor. Too many Jo Cocker impersonations. Met a few of the Staff, including the foresaid biologist, who sings really well. Also met up with Julie James, the ship's Art Director, damn good jazz singer and friend of my old mate - drummer Steve Hill from Tassie. The best night we have had so far. And our wedding anniversary - 39 years.

Tue Jun  1  
top          At Sea   june   

The old back is hurting a bit today. Felt like I'd been doing the limbo or something strenuous last night.

Lunchtime the crew and selected passengers celebrated the crossing of the Equator in the usual manner.... us experienced "crusty shellbacks", did not attend, and left it to the "pollywogs".

Quiet day today. Girding our loins for a day in Singapore tomorrow.

Wed Jun  2             Singapore

Went on an organised tour - "the Battlefields of Singpore"

My father flew Australian POW's out of Changie prison camps after WW II ended, and I wanted to learn a bit more about the history and try to see some of what he must have experienced.

We went to the Changie War Museum which features a replica of the chapel that the Japanese allowed the prisoners to build. There were many photos and stories of the prison conditions, including a mockup of the prison cells, and many survivors' stories of the brutal treatment at the hands of the invaders. I have a better understanding of the hatred felt by my parent's generation towards the Japanese.

Also went into the "Battle Box" - the underground bunker in Singapore where the war against the advancing Japanese forces was planned (and lost).

Visited the Kranji War Memorial and the thousands of gravestones commemorating the three Services' dead. So young! A very moving day.

Thu Jun  3             Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang), Malaysia

Caught the shuttle bus into Kuala Lumpur from Port Klang, about 90 minute drive. Malaysia doesn't seem to have changed much in the outskirts, but the city itself has been transformed with new flyovers and freeways. Caught up with our friend Wendy, had lunch and spent a very pleasant afternoon with her.

Fri Jun  4             Langkawi, Malaysia

Lovely island this is.... caught the shuttle bus into town, spent a happy afternoon at a lovely beach bar, having a few drinks and soaking up the sun. Managed to leave my camera behind in the bar. Lucky it was just a cheapie. I'll buy another in Dubai duty free.

This evening, had another Karaoke night to celebrate one of our fellow passenger's birthday (Ralph, 71 yo) and I managed to control myself and not get up and sing!

Sat Jun  5             At Sea

We pass around the Nicobar Islands. The place to go when you want to give up smoking??

Seas getting rough as we head into the Bay of Bengal, and the tail end of the Monsoon season whips up the wind and the sea. A ship's speed of 20 knots and a wind speed of 35 knots gives a combined apparent wind speed of 55 knots. We avoid the open decks and move between the corridors, under cover.

My new (6 week old) Fisher and Paykel CPAP (Controlled Positive Air Pressure) machine gave up the ghost last night. Via a breathing mask, this machine provides a continuous, positive air pressure column of air to my throat and stops me snoring. It is the second time it has failed. Lucky I bought along the old one. Shame the hose pipe has different fittings. I must jury rig something for tomorrow night so I can use the old one.  

Sun Jun  6  
top          At Sea

No 1 Priority today - fix the CPAP machine. I wrap some elastoplast sticky plaster around the output spigot and manage to form a good air tight seal. Temporary solution to hand. I email the distributor and request a new machine to be delivered to the ship. This will test the system!!

Had another jam session tonight with Kim. We had an audience this time... they seemed to enjoy it.

My back is a lot better these days - lying on the floor waggling my legs in the air may not be the most gracious way of spending one's time, but it seems to be working.

Mon Jun  7             At Sea

Rounding Sri Lankar, heading north for Cochin. Quite a lot of rain and wind, as the Monsoon continues to effect the weather conditions.

The F&P people have requested the details of the Shipping agents and they will try to get a new CPAP machine to me in India. My level of confidence is not high.

Indian Visas. We did not have time in Melbourne to finalise our Indian Visas for entry to both Cochin tomorrow and Mombai on Thursday. Normally, a cruise ship does not need special visas to disembark at a port.

However, after the terrorist attacks on Mumbai last year, India has tightened up on its issuing of visas. Obviously, a cruise ship of elderly, overweight Australian tourists, armed with knobbly walking sticks and large handbags,  could be considered highly dangerous, and India is determined not to let any baddies slip past.

Even though we do not have visas, we still have to line up in front of the Indian Immigration authorities, show our passports and get our names ticked off their list. We will not get off the ship now until Muscat on June 13th.

We are reasonably happy to stay on the ship - I have been to India many times when I worked for Tioxide, and Su is not so keen to put herself through another phalanx of poverty stricken street vendors, so we are not anxious about missing India. I didn't want to visit their silly country anyway!  

Karaoke tonight. Can I again resist making a fool of myself?  Hmmmm.  
top

Tue Jun  8             Cochin, India

I did resist.
 
Old salts reckon you could smell India well out to sea - before you could see the land. You still can. As we approach Cochine, the smell of spices drifts across from the land.

Tropical, humid, lush - this is old familiar territory for me. When working for Tioxide, I spent time in and around Kerala State looking for a suitable sites to build a factory. No matter how hard I tried in the old days, no matter how many precautions I took - avoiding ice cubes, drinking only from sealed cans and bottles, eating in high quality resturants, every time I went to India, I ended up with food poisioning.

Wed Jun  9             At Sea

Hell's Bells! Woke up in the middle of the night with a bad case of Cochin Cramp! And I hadn't even gone ashore! Spent most of today close to a toilet, didn't eat anything and had an alcohol free day.

Thu Jun 10             Bombay (Mumbai), India

Feeling better today. Got a call from the Indian Fisher and Paykel people to tell me that their reps were at the foot of the gangplank with my replacement breathing machine. Ripper! So, how to get off the ship and onto the wharf without a visa??

Easy, just tell the security people that I had to pick up a package, and walked off. No swiping our ship's security card (normally we must swipe off when leaving the ship and then swipe back on when returning), just wandered down the gangplank and along the wharf till I found the F&P reps. No challenges from the many ferocious looking soldiers armed with AK47's, no ship security people asking me where my visa was, I just walked off.

A bit more difficult getting back on. I had come off the disembarking gangplank, and the whark security wanted me to go back up on the embarking gangplank. That's what passengers do - they leave the ship on one gangplank and return up the other.

I knew this would cause trouble; the security guard at the disembarking gangplank was waiting for me to return up his gangplank. He wouldn't like it if I didn't come back.

That caused some confusion when I barged up the wrong plank. Then I swiped back on, because that's standard procedure. That's going to mess up their system - I came on board the ship without ever going off it. HA HA HA. That'll teach them not to grant me a visa!!

Anyway, excellent service from F&P.

Fri Jun 11             At Sea

Formal night tonight and Karaoke. Also, a concert from the Ship's staff of Philipinas, Indians and Eastern Europeans.

Sat Jun 12             At Sea
 
Sun Jun 13             Muscat, Oman (Mina Qaboos)

Mon Jun 14             Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Will catch up with friends Adrian and Laura from Dubai today.

Tue Jun 15             At Sea
Wed Jun 16             At Sea
Thu Jun 17             At Sea
Fri Jun 18             At Sea
Sat Jun 19             At Sea
Sun Jun 20             Luxor (Safaga), Egypt
Mon Jun 21             At Sea
Tue Jun 22             Suez Canal, Egypt
Wed Jun 23             Cairo (Port Said), Egypt
Thu Jun 24             At Sea
Fri Jun 25             Ephesus / Kusadasi, Turkey
Sat Jun 26             Istanbul, Turkey

Will catch up with friends Ralph and Helen for Lunch today.

Sun Jun 27             Anzac Cove, Turkey
Mon Jun 28             Santorini, Greece
Tue Jun 29             Athens, Greece
Wed Jun 30             At Sea
Thu Jul  1  
top          Venice, Italy     july   
 
Will catch up with friend Su Boyle today.

Fri Jul  2             Venice, Italy         
Sat Jul  3             Dubrovnik, Croatia
Sun Jul  4             At Sea
Mon Jul  5             Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
Tue Jul  6             Florence / Pisa (Livorno), Italy

Will catch up with brother David and Coleen today.

Wed Jul  7             Cannes, France
Thu Jul  8             Barcelona, Spain
Fri Jul  9             At Sea
Sat Jul 10             Gibraltar, UK Territory
Sun Jul 11             At Sea
Mon Jul 12             At Sea
Tue Jul 13             Paris (Le Havre), France
Wed Jul 14             London (Southampton), England

Will catch up with friends Alan and WaiChing today.

Thu Jul 15             At Sea
Fri Jul 16             Dublin, Ireland
Sat Jul 17             At Sea
Sun Jul 18             At Sea
Mon Jul 19             At Sea
Tue Jul 20             At Sea
Wed Jul 21             At Sea
Thu Jul 22             At Sea
Fri Jul 23             Boston, MA

Will catch up with friends Ron and Jackie today?

Sat Jul 24             Newport, RI
Sun Jul 25             New York (Manhattan), NY
Mon Jul 26             At Sea
Tue Jul 27             At Sea
Wed Jul 28             At Sea
Thu Jul 29             Antigua
Fri Jul 30             Barbados
Sat Jul 31             At Sea
Sun Aug  1  
top          Curacao, Netherlands Antilles august  

Mon Aug  2             At Sea
Tue Aug  3             Panama Canal (Full Transit)
Wed Aug  4             At Sea
Thu Aug  5             At Sea
Fri Aug  6             At Sea
Sat Aug  7             Acapulco, Mexico
Sun Aug  8             Manzanillo, Mexico
Mon Aug  9             At Sea
Tue Aug 10             At Sea
Wed Aug 11             Los Angeles, CA
Thu Aug 12             At Sea
Fri Aug 13             At Sea
Sat Aug 14             At Sea
Sun Aug 15             At Sea
Mon Aug 16             Honolulu, Oahu, HI
Tue Aug 17             At Sea
Wed Aug 18             At Sea
Thu Aug 19             At Sea
Fri Aug 20             At Sea
Sat Aug 21             At Sea
Sun Aug 22             Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands
Mon Aug 23             Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands
Mon Aug 23             Moorea, Society Islands
Tue Aug 24             At Sea
Wed Aug 25             At Sea
Thu Aug 26             Pago Pago, American Samoa
Fri Aug 27             At Sea
Sat Aug 28             Cross International Dateline
Mon Aug 30             At Sea
Tue Aug 31             Auckland, New Zealand

Will catch up with friends in Auckland today?

Wed Sep  1  
top          At Sea  september   

Thu Sep  2             At Sea
Fri Sep  3             Sydney, Australia


Then, this is the current thinking:

September 2010: time in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne

October 2010: Kalgoorlie/Perth, then South Africa for Safari

November 2010 until June 2011 (?): To South America - Santiago? Lima? Buenos Aries? Rio?

Northern Hemisphere summer: Spain?, Italy? To be decided.
Sat Jun 19                At Sea

One thing I forgot to mention was the extraordinary public outburst by our (Canadian) Captain after we sailed off from Mumbai. The Captain gives a daily summary from the Bridge, and on this occasion, he railed against the Indian Immigration authorities, whom he claimed, were a bunch of scroungers who demanded presents, parcels of food and free alcohol and tobacco, against the threat of slowing down immigration approvals and therefore threatening ship's schedules.

He was genuinely upset. "I've been down to the cabin and put my cowboy boots on, and the next one that threatens my Crew will feel the sharp end of my boot. And this is not the first time this has happened" he said.
 
So, last night a second rumour started: Did anyone notice that one of the Indian waiters was missing? No?

Well, I had heard from one of the crew, that the perpetrator of the sabotage against the motor (see first rumour), was a crew member of Indian nationality. He had felt grossly insulted by the Captain's remarks and had decided to revenge his nation's honour. The rumour also had it, that he had been apprehended and was thrown into the Ship's brig, adding that, as the brig was so little used, that it had taken them two hours to find the key (a quirky little detail suggesting authenticity).
 
We'll see how far this one goes.

Hallelujah!  Finally some decent music!

The ship's orchestra  put on a Dixieland jazz night. Turns out the trumpet player hails from New Orleans and is an excellent jazz trumpeter. The Orchestra musos all read from the dots, and I found it a little bit formal, after the freewheeling jazz we used to play in Dr Jazz, but hell, who's complaining? It was an excellent change.

The audience was wildly enthusiastic, emphasising the dearth of decent music on board, and the band has promised to repeat the evenings.

Sun Jun 20 
Luxor (Safaga), CANCELLED - At Sea  safaga

As a consequence of the motor troubles, they have changed the ship's itinerary.  The port stop at Safaga is cancelled, otherwise we might miss our Suez canal transit slot, and that would cost Princess $250,000.


How Cheap Is My Princess!?!
HCIMP

As I mentioned earlier, all food on cruise ships, is free.

There is generally a specialist steak house on cruise ships. Normally you have to book so that everybody gets a turn and nobody can monopolise it. On P&O Princess, they charge you $20 per head surcharge.

How Cheap Is that Princess!


Mon Jun 21              At Sea
 
Tue Jun 22   
        Suez Canal, Egypt suez

This will be my second transit through the Suez Canal.

Back in the good old days, the Australian government provided an RAAF aircrew, based at Abingdon RAF Air Base near Oxford, to ferry the Queen and other VIP's around the British Commonwealth.

In 1954, Dad was posted to England to join the "Queen's flight", as it was known. For this service (and other heroic stuff), he was later awarded the Air Force Cross. (see www.TLMcLeod.com - still under construction).

So, in May 1954, the whole family sailed from Sydney to Southampton on the P&O Orsova.

As we approached the Suez, I contracted some sort of virus, and was confined to my cabin. Consequently, I saw very little of the 10 hour transit of the canal, except that which I could see through a little port hole.  I remember lots of sand and a few camels.

So I was looking forward to seeing the Canal again.
 
Well, lots of sand and a few camels. But now also, lots of new buildings, towns, bridges, resorts in evidence. Pretty impressive!

port said
This afternoon, we sailed into Port Said and, after docking, we went ashore to explore and to try and find some tonic water.

We disembarked, fought off the traders, changed some money, found a supermarket,  bought some substitute lemon drink (no tonic) and after a walk through the markets, headed back to the ship later that evening, to get ready for tomorrow's three and a half hour trip into Cairo and the pyramids.

The difference between living standards in Egypt and the Oil states of Dubai and Muscat is striking. In the Oil states, people wear beautifully made, long flowing Arab robes, mostly in dazzling white cotton. Egyptions on the other hand, wear (mostly) cheap western garb. The women everywhere of course, just wear black.

Wed Jun 23   
        Cairo, Egypt cairo

Cairo. Set off on one of the 50 buses lines lined up on the wharf. It's  going to be a nightmare of tourists, queues, and traders. This ship is just  too big!

The bus convoy heads off for the three and a half hour trip into Cairo. We  are led by a police car filled with mustachioed armed men, who scowl a lot.

We have more armed cars interspersed at various places in the convoy. Spare  buses are brought along. An armed car brings up the rear.

Fortunately, the trip is uneventful.

I recall from when we were here in the 1980's, the Giza pyramids were some  way into the desert from Cairo. Now the city has grown and, within a few years, will probably completely encroach the pyramids.

We visit the stepped pyramid. It is packed with tourists, not just from our  cruise ship, but from the other 10 that are in the area.

Then the highlight of the tour - we get into four wheel drive Toyotas and a  three hour "bash" into the desert to the more remote and lesser known "red"  pyramid of Dahshur.

There is no infrastructure surrounding this pyramid, and consequently, it gets  little attention. Great - no traders, no tourists (apart from the 30 people  on this tour) and a wonderful grandeur that becomes evident as it rises out  of the desert sands.

Then, it's back to the four wheelers and off to the Giza pyramids.

My back starts to complain about the bumps and the tossing around in the  Toyota.

The Giza pyramids, as well as becoming eaten up by Cairo, are now completely swamped by tourism. A disaster. Thank  goodness we saw the pyramids when they were not so commercialised.

We begin the 3.5 hour drive back to the ship. A long day.
 
Thu Jun 24   
         At Sea

Spent the whole day on the floor of the cabin, doing back exercises. Bad news.

Fri Jun 25   
        Athens, Greece athens


We dock at the Port of Piraesus, near Athens. There are many cruise ships in the harbour. We decide not to do any tours - we have visited Athens before, and the idea of battling thousands of tourists is becoming less and less attractive. I struggle off the ship, walking gingerly, and we find a bank. We are successful in getting Euros out of the ATM. This is a relief - our friend Ian had his credit card swallowed up in a Kuala Lumpur ATM.

We also found an international phone calling kiosk with reasonable prices (Princess Cruises charges $5 per minute to use their satellite phone) and manage to give a few people a call.

A leisurely walk around the port, a nice Greek salad for lunch with a cool Greek beer, a vain attempt to find an internet cafe (Princess Cruises charges $0.35 a minute to use their internet connection).

A good day.... 

Sat Jun 26   
        Ephesus/Kusadasi, Turkey ephesus

Su goes off on tour to see the excavated remains of the ancient city Ephesus. The tour warns of many steps, so I forgo this one. Back is still too sore to try this. 

Sun Jun 27             Istanbul, Turkey
       istanbul

With the change of itinerary, we miss catching up with Ralph and Helen.
 
Instead, we decide to go ashore and see what happens. We walk across the bridge crossing the Golden Horn, find a Bosphorus Cruise for around $10 each, and go cruising. Talk with a nice Turkish family. Eat excellent vegetarian dishes at a restaurant under the Golden Horn Bridge, where we find this gem:

"The most pleasant dinners accompanied by surprise shows... we remain at your disposal with the most fresh and delicious sea foods which are prepared painstakingly, on the twinkle of historical places"

Twinkle? Twinkle? Little star? This one remains a mystery!

Then, we explore the one of the markets, a mosque and find an internet cafe!!  I download the latest audio version of the Economist. I can hear what is happening in the financial world again. Doesn't look good. Might have to cash out the Super.

Mon  Jun 28             Anzac Cove, Turkey  
anzac

On the way to Santorini, we pass through Anzac Cove. The ship stops and an Australian historian narrates the stories behind the battles that took place there. For balance, a Turkish historian tells the Turkish side. At 11.00am, a ceremony takes place with a valediction, the Last Post, and the dropping of a wreath. A moving ceremony.   

Tues Jun 29   
        Santorini, Greece santorini

A tender port this... a beautiful Greek Island that is absolutely ruined by tourists. There are five or six large cruise ships in the bay. It takes 90 minutes to queue for the cable car to get back onto the ship.

Wed  Jun 30   
        At Sea

The singer from tonight's broadway performance is ill and cannot perform, so instead of the show, the  orchestra  will do another night of jazz. Things are looking up.

Looking forward to catching up with Su Boyle in Venice tomorrow.        

How Cheap Is My Princess!?!

Just been advised to-day, that we are to be charged $15 each to ferry us from the ship to Venice. Everywhere I've ever been, the Cruise line is responsible for getting passengers from the ship to the Port.

To the list of thieves that constitutes modern day Venice... from shopkeeps, to gondolier operators... to pickpockets.... we can now add Princess Cruises.

How Cheap Is that Princess!
Day Date / Port            

Fri May 21 Sydney, Australia departs 5:00pm

Left the B&B (www.bbsydneyharbour.com.au) with our 2 suitcase,  three hand luggages and my guitar, and headed for Dock 8, Darling  Harbour.

A very smooth checkin with about 20 desks processing the 2000 passengers.

We quickly found our cabin - C720 - a 4m x 8m cabin with twin  queen sized single beds and a nice external balcony with two  seats and a small table, where we can sit and drink our gin  tonics, which we didn't have because we couldn't fit anything  else into our suitcases, let alone smuggled bottles of grog. We will try  to restock in Darwin.

Had a good sailaway party on deck that evening, as we squeezed  under the Harbour bridge, with 2 metres to spare...

Met up with two different couples, one guy is a guitarist/song writer who  has brought his guitar on board, so we have threatened to get  together sometime and have a jam session...

Sat May 22             At Sea

Morning spent sorting out details of  possible day trips for the coming few weeks and getting to know  our way about the ship, changing our dining session time from  early (5:30pm) to late (8:00pm)... Had an acupuncture session to  try and relieve the lower back pain I've been experiencing since the apartment clearout, but to little lasting effect. Reverted to lying on the floor in the cabin, doing physiotherapy exercises.

Sun May 23  
top          At Sea   

Investigated the internet facilities -  very expensive. For casual use, the costs are $0.75 a minute,  but you can buy a package of 1000 minutes for $250 ($0.25/min),  or 500 minutes for $175 ($0.35/min). Elected for the 500  minutes, which should give me around 5 minutes a day. Our first formal dining evening this evening.

Met our new dinner table  partners - a cordial group of retired farmers, shopkeepers and business people. A fun group.

Mon May 24             At Sea

Cruising off the Queensland coast around Gladstone. Activities: more of the same - Su studying Spanish, me lying around the cabin floor. Managed to get a mobile signal for part of the day and made a few calls whilst we could.

Went along to the Kara lounge this evening... enough said. Stayed on for the late night Nightclub/Disco - but surprise - not  "doof doof" music, but good old 60's and 70's  stuff. Good fun.

Tue May 25             At Sea

Passing around the top of Australia  today, weather getting pretty hot. Passing lots and lots of islands... Interesting lectures on Magellan, Columbus, discoveries of the Americas etc etc.

Dining in the Pizza  parlour this evening - getting a bit sick of three course dinners.

An expensive ship this - cheapest wines are $7.00 a glass, bottles of wine around $35 - $40 each. Must stock up in Darwin.

No cash on board - we use our swipe cards to buy drinks and the costs get sent to an on-board account. It soon mounts up!

Princess sent round a notice yesterday, of their intention to automatically debit everyone's on-board account with a $10 per  person per day gratuity surcharge for distribution to the various service staff - waiters, cabin attendants, serving  staff. A lot of grumbling from the passengers, so they have  permitted us to 'opt out' of this charge and handle the gratuities ourselves. I was at the head of the queue to sign the form cancelling the charge. Princess can get stuffed!

Wed May 26             At Sea  


We heard a rumour that, if there was enough interest, the ship might try to secure rights to broadcast tonight's State of Origin Rugby League match between NSW and Queensland.

We signed up, Princess got the rights and a good night was had watching Queensland (full of Melbourne Storm players), defeat NSW.

Thu May 27  
top          Darwin darwin

Hot, humid, expensive, but plenty of grog shops.

Went ashore and bought a day old Financial Review (today's paper doesn't arrive till 4.00pm)

Same bad news as last week - stockmarket down, Labor and the  Miners at odds over the great big new tax, the Coalition still bumbling around. But front page news - Malcolm Fraser has resigned from the Liberal Party. Ho hum - who cares? Guess I  don't really care about these things much anymore. Whatever  will be, will be.

Smuggled our booze back on the boat and settle back into routine.
 
Fri May 28  
top          At Sea - Music  music

Went to see the evening show in the big 500 seater lounge this evening. There is a big, theatrical type splashy show, every evening.

The musicians are good, but are playing along with pre-recorded backing tracks of guitars and vocalists. This makes the music sound all a bit too mechanical and stiff, although nobody really notices - they are all too busy looking at the dancers.

There is plenty of opportunity to listen to live/pre-recorded  music -
there are two major theatrettes for song and dance, a  wheelhouse bar with a band, and the three floor atrium at the centre of the ship where they have two areas with baby grand pianos.

The upper deck often has a band playing along as we sail off from ports.

So, musically we have:

 * an orchestra (three brass, piano, bass drums) augmented by  backing tracks,

 * a reasonably good 4 piece pop band,

 * a string quartet playing classics,

 * and two (count 'em, two!) duo's.

One of the duo's is imaginatively named "Alan and Alana" - he plays guitar along with backing tracks and she sings.

The other duo, is confusingly named "Allan and Ladonna" - he plays piano along with backing tracks and she sings.

No need to say any more about the duo's!

Overall, and disappointingly, the standard of entertainment is nowhere near as good as we have seen on other ships.

Sat May 29   
top         At Sea  

Met up with a fellow passenger who has brought his guitar along with him and we have had a good jam session. Kim is pretty good. We reckon we could steal the audiences from the duos if we put a mind to it. But sounds like a lot of hard work, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that...

Sun May 30  
top          Padang (Bali), Indonesia bali

According to the tourist literature, Bali is "The Land of the gods" and "The closest thing to Heaven on Earth"

Went ashore at Benoa Bay at Bali, tendering on and off the ship in small boats because P&O is too cheap to pay port fees at the main Bali port. I am thinking that P&O doesn't stand for  "Pacific and Orient", but "Profiteers and Overchargers"

Getting out from the disembarkation jetty was a nightmare.

We were literally mobbed by street vendors thrusting toys, postcards, beads, bangles, etc, etc into our faces, shouting at us to buy their stuff.

Managed to escape and went in a guided taxi to Kuta beach. What  was probably a lovely place once, has been ruined by commercialism, end of year football trips, and just too many people. Did find a shoe big enough for Steve Hill. (pictures later)

Although we did not ask for this, the taxi driver took us along the several crowded laneways and obligingly told us that this was where the bombings took place in 2002. Just what we wanted to know!
 
On the return to the jetty, I had about $2 in Bali money left over - I put it into my pocket ready to give to our guide.

At he entrance to the jetty, the street vendor mobs were worse - they knew that once we escaped across the security line, they had lost all hope of a sale.

We were crushed by people; yelling, thrusting babies in our faces, waving junk at us.... I felt a hand sliding into my  shorts pocket.... one of these lovely, peaceful, gentle Balinese people, had picked my pocket.


Bali was dreadful!! I can't imagine why people go to Kuta etc. It's been destroyed by tourists and cheap rubbish. Rod did have a good fish soup on the beach though... Su

Mon May 31   top          At Sea lectures

Lectures - we have a couple of good lecturers on board. Andrew Stuart, a retired UK ambassador, gives history lectures on the places we are about to visit. His talks are really informative, colourfully anecdoted with a lot of dry, unstated British humour. The 500 seat theatre is packed out every time.

We also have Gloeta Massic, a young (30-ish) American biologist who is giving talks on all things Marine. She is also very good - funny, entertaining, with a brain the size of a small planet. We find out tonight that she also sings good Karaoke.

Ahh... Karaoke. We went to the Karaoke night, after the Captain's Formal Cocktail Party for returning Princess' Cruisers like us. 

Managed to overcome my natural instinct to avoid making a fool of myself in public performances and overdid it a bit on the karaoke floor. Too many Jo Cocker impersonations. Met a few of the Staff, including the aforesaid biologist, who sings really well. Also met up with Julie James, the ship's Art Director, damn good jazz singer and friend of my old mate - drummer Steve Hill from Tassie. The best night we have had so far. And our wedding anniversary - 39 years.


Celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary on Monday with bubbles and a  late night watching friends at the Karaoke lounge. Got to meet some  of the guest lecturers and a singer who comes from Tasmania and knows  mutual friends and etc. a fun night. We've been enjoying talks by a  marine biologist with a great sense of humour (www.gloitamassey.com), and an ex-ambassador, Andrew Stuart, from England with a droll delivery and a tendency to say exactly what he thinks. Su

Tue Jun  1   top          At Sea   Junejune   

The old back is hurting a bit today. Felt like I'd been doing the limbo or something strenuous last night.

Lunchtime the crew and selected passengers celebrated the crossing of the Equator in the usual manner.... us experienced "crusty shellbacks", did not attend, and left it to the "pollywogs".

Quiet day today. Girding our loins for a day in Singapore tomorrow.

Wed Jun  2  
top          Singapore  singapore

Went on an organised tour - "the Battlefields of Singpore"

My father flew Australian POW's out of Changie prison camps after WW II ended, and I wanted to learn a bit more about the history and try to see some of what he must have experienced.

We went to the Changie War Museum which features a replica of the chapel that the Japanese allowed the prisoners to build. There were many photos and stories of the prison conditions, including a mockup of the prison cells, and many survivors' stories of the brutal treatment at the hands of the invaders. I have a better understanding of the hatred felt by my parent's generation towards the Japanese.

Also went into the "Battle Box" - the underground bunker in Singapore where the war against the advancing Japanese forces was planned (and lost).

Visited the Kranji War Memorial and the thousands of gravestones commemorating the three Services' dead. So young! A very moving day.


We are back on board after a long hot day in and around the battlefields and cemeteries of Singapore. I didn't realise how  little I knew of this history. We had an excellent guide, an  historian, who has lived here for twenty something years and who also lectures at various military colleges etc. I've got a lot of reading  to do on this.

I'm glad to be away from such brutality!

Today we ate at a local stall which was a nice change. Tomorrow we meet Wendy Hew in K.L.for a catch up. Su


Thu Jun  3   top          Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang), Malaysia kualalumpur

Caught the shuttle bus into Kuala Lumpur from Port Klang, about 90 minute drive. Malaysia doesn't seem to have changed much in the outskirts, but the city itself has been transformed with new flyovers and freeways. Caught up with our friend Wendy, had lunch and spent a very pleasant afternoon with her.

It was fantastic to catch up with Wendy Hew in Kuala Lumpur. We started off with a short tour and views from tall places, a trip on the monorail and  then Wendy met us half way through and we went off with her for lunch and a nostalgic trip through the chinatown markets - and then a beer because it was so hot everyone was complaining, especially the locals. It was sad to leave her. Su

Fri Jun  4   top          Langkawi, Malaysia langkawi

Lovely island this is.... caught the shuttle bus into town, spent a happy afternoon at a lovely beach bar, having a few drinks and soaking up the sun. Managed to leave my camera behind in the bar. Lucky it was just a cheapie. I'll buy another in Dubai duty free.

This evening, had another Karaoke night to celebrate one of our fellow passenger's birthday (Ralph, 71 yo) and I managed to control myself and not get up and sing!

Sat Jun  5             At Sea

We pass around the Nicobar Islands. The place to go when you want to give up smoking??

Seas getting rough as we head into the Bay of Bengal, and the tail end of the Monsoon season whips up the wind and the sea. A ship's speed of 20 knots and a wind speed of 35 knots gives a combined apparent wind speed of 55 knots. We avoid the open decks and move between the corridors, under cover.

My new (6 week old) Fisher and Paykel CPAP (Controlled Positive Air Pressure) machine gave up the ghost last night. Via a breathing mask, this machine provides a continuous, positive air pressure column of air to my throat and stops me snoring. It is the second time it has failed. Lucky I bought along the old one. Shame the hose pipe has different fittings. I must jury rig something for tomorrow night so I can use the old one.  

Sun Jun  6  
top          At Sea

No 1 Priority today - fix the CPAP machine. I wrap some elastoplast sticky plaster around the output spigot and manage to form a good air tight seal. Temporary solution to hand. I email the distributor and request a new machine to be delivered to the ship. This will test the system!!

Had another jam session tonight with Kim. We had an audience this time... they seemed to enjoy it.

My back is a lot better these days - lying on the floor waggling my legs in the air may not be the most gracious way of spending one's time, but it seems to be working.

Mon Jun  7             At Sea

Rounding Sri Lankar, heading north for Cochin. Quite a lot of rain and wind, as the Monsoon continues to effect the weather conditions.

The F&P people have requested the details of the Shipping agents and they will try to get a new CPAP machine to me in India. My level of confidence is not high.

Indian Visas. We did not have time in Melbourne to finalise our Indian Visas for entry to both Cochin tomorrow and Mombai on Thursday. Normally, a cruise ship does not need special visas to disembark at a port.

However, after the terrorist attacks on Mumbai last year, India has tightened up on its issuing of visas. Obviously, a cruise ship of elderly, overweight Australian tourists, armed with knobbly walking sticks and large handbags,  could be considered highly dangerous, and India is determined not to let any baddies slip past.

Even though we do not have visas, we still have to line up in front of the Indian Immigration authorities, show our passports and get our names ticked off their list. We will not get off the ship now until Muscat on June 13th.

We are reasonably happy to stay on the ship - I have been to India many times when I worked for Tioxide, and Su is not so keen to put herself through another phalanx of poverty stricken street vendors, so we are not anxious about missing India. I didn't want to visit their silly country anyway!  

Karaoke tonight. Can I again resist making a fool of myself?  Hmmmm.  
top

Tue Jun  8   top          Cochin, India cochin

I did manage to resist.
 
Old salts reckon you could smell India well out to sea - before you could see the land. You still can. As we approach Cochine, the smell of spices drifts across from the land.

Tropical, humid, lush - this is old familiar territory for me. When working for Tioxide, I spent time in and around Kerala State looking for a suitable sites to build a factory. No matter how hard I tried in the old days, no matter how many precautions I took - avoiding ice cubes, drinking only from sealed cans and bottles, eating in high quality resturants, every time I went to India, I ended up with food poisioning. HA HA, won't get me this time!!

Wed Jun  9             At Sea

Hell's Bells! Woke up in the middle of the night with a bad case of Cochin Cramp! And I hadn't even gone ashore! Spent most of today close to a toilet, didn't eat anything and had an alcohol free day.

Thu Jun 10  
top          Bombay (Mumbai), India mumbai

Feeling better today. Got a call from the Indian Fisher and Paykel people to tell me that their reps were at the foot of the gangplank with my replacement breathing machine. Ripper! So, how to get off the ship and onto the wharf without a visa??

Easy, just tell the security people that I had to pick up a package, and walked off. No swiping our ship's security card (normally we must swipe off when leaving the ship and then swipe back on when returning), just wandered down the gangplank and along the wharf till I found the F&P reps. No challenges from the many ferocious looking soldiers armed with AK47's, no ship security people asking me where my visa was, I just walked off.

A bit more difficult getting back on. I had come off the disembarking gangplank, and the whark security wanted me to go back up on the embarking gangplank. That's what passengers do - they leave the ship on one gangplank and return up the other.

I knew this would cause trouble; the security guard at the disembarking gangplank was waiting for me to return up his gangplank. He wouldn't like it if I didn't come back.

That caused some confusion when I barged up the wrong plank. Then I swiped back on, because that's standard procedure. That's going to mess up their system - I came on board the ship without ever going off it. HA HA HA. That'll teach them not to grant me a visa!!

Anyway, excellent service from F&P.

Fri Jun 11             At Sea

Formal night tonight and later, Karaoke.

Also, a concert from the Ship's staff of Philipinas, Indians and Eastern Europeans.


Sat Jun 12             At Sea
 
Sun Jun 13  
top          Muscat, Oman (Mina Qaboos) muscat

We take a tour of the Grand Mosque; designed, fabricated  and built by foreigners about 5 years ago. The Omanies just had to pay for it. It is a monument to oil money.

As you can imagine, the opulence of the men's prayer room is  breathtaking - marble floors, crystal chandeliers, beautiful, intricately  woven carpets, lofty ceilings, laced stonework.

The women's prayer  room, is a small, drab room with little to speak of. Su, as do all  the other women, has to cover her head, arms and legs to go in.  Clothing police check that there is no offending flesh.

fter the mosque, a trip to the local market or "souk". It's hot, damn hot - 42 Centigrade. The usual stuff, fabrics, tourist shitling, most of it made in India. We take a risk, and try a local pastry - vegetable, spicy, lovely.

Then a trip to see the Sultan's palace. More opulence. But interesting.

We would like to spend more time in Oman - the south is supposed to be very different...
 

Mon Jun 14  
top          Dubai, United Arab Emirates dubai

Incredible place. Have to see this to believe it.  80,000 tower buildings our guide tels us. (More like 800, surely?  "Don't call me Shirley!")

Fabulous Dubai!! What a place. It could be a sci-fi set. We had a great tour through districts which had been desert five years ago and now had extraordinary buildings (in number and design). Then other areas where four years ago there was only the Arabian sea! More beautiful towers. The most fascinating being the Burj Khalifa. We weren't disappointed. It was so much better than could possibly be imagined. The walk to the lifts was a history of the construction in massive curved glass walls.

The ride to the viewing platform was 124 floors in one minute with video screens showing the view from outside (like being in a space shuttle). Couldn't feel any movement just in the ears. The souks (markets) and pools and gardens surrounding the tower are all low rise and amazing to look down on from on high.

Next was being collected from here by Adrian and driven out to the edge of the desert to their lovely villa where Emirates housetheir  pilots and other staff. Laura organized a magnificent Lebanese feast while Adrian whipped up fabulous cocktails. We sat outside and  reminisced and caught up on the goss until we had to get a taxi back to the ship. Brilliant hosts and of course deep and meaningful discussion fueled by the tireless belt-master. We are definitely going to return here and also Oman.

The history of these places is fascinating. Now we have five days at sea then we go back to Luxor and Valley of the Kings. Heard some jazz tonight on deck. There were about six of us because it was still about 40? degrees. People were exhausted from the heat and wouldn't come outside. Okay, enough for now love, to all and thanks again to  Laura, Adrian, Alex and Seb (two terrific young men) for a wonderful  day.


Tue Jun 15     top              At Sea    washing

We fight our way into the laundry and take up defensive positions. The laundry has 2 washing machines and 2 dryers for 200 passengers on our deck - Deck 9. There have been a considerable number of quarrels and disputes over washing. People put their washing in, leave the laundry and forget to come back in time  to remove it. Irate people, waiting for the machine, have taken washing out of the tub and dumped the newly washed laundry into bags  or on the floor, sparking off  fights and arguements. The Captain has decreed that it is permissable  to remove washing after it is completed and if the owner does not come and reclaim it.    pirates

We are rounding Oman now and are about to enter the "pirate zone", where Somalie pirates have have considerable success in capturing  ships and
extracting ransoms from the ship's owners.

We are taken through "pirate evasive action" drills. We go back to our cabins, lock the balcony doors, pull closed the drapes so pirates cannot see in, stand in our cabins by the open cabin door to receive instructions, all the time holding on firmly in case the ship takes evasive action.

Water cannon are set up on the Promenade deck, and large red banners are draped on either side of the ship "Restricted Zone - keep 50  metres away" Hope these Somalies speak English!
 
Afternoon, and we are in the cabin recovering from lunch.  
breakdown

Suddenly, the ship lurches over to starboard and I can feel everything listing alarmingly. Glasses on the desk start to shudder and clink. Are we going to roll over and have our very own, real live, "Poisedon Adventure"? I dash to the balcony to check. I can see from the wake that we have made a very sharp turn to port.

Maybe it's Pirates? Maybe we're taking evasive action? No announcements. But we are slowing down. Slowly the ship stops and we are dead in the water. Still no announcements. After about two hours  comes an announcement that the ship has an electrical fault with the starboard motor distribution system. After about three hours, we get underway again. But only 11 knots - not our normal cruising speed of 18 knots. Hmmm.

That night at dinner, I start a rumour that undercover pirates came aboard at Dubai and have sabotaged the ship to allow their fellow pirates ashore to overtake a crippled ship.

I can see one of our dinner table companions is taking me seriously. I wonder how long it will be 'till the rumour comes back?

Wed Jun 16    
top              At Sea

Ship's speed is still reduced to about 11 knots...  bland announcements about "Technical problems are being sorted out.  There is no danger to passengers or crew. Enjoy your wonderful Princess Cruise"

Thu Jun 17   
top     At Sea 

About 1.00am this morning we are woken by a terrible shuddering of engines... then slowly, the ship stops, sloshing around at sea, with only the thrusters to keep the bow into the wind and waves... something badly wrong with this ship!! Hope they've got a good mechanical engineer on board. We restart about two hours later at the slow speed of 10 knots.

We go back to sleep, wondering.

Fri Jun 18  
top          At Sea

The Safaga Port stop is now definitely cancelled, says Captain Speaking.

At lunch, our dinner companion asks me if the story I told about the Pirates coming aboard in Dubai was true? I have to confess.


Sorry Chrissy I forgot to add birthday greetings to the last bulletin. Happy Birthday now!! Also remembered Jez's but couldn't get online for a while, Happy Birthday for the 28th May Jez!!

Since we left Dubai it's been fun and games re the ship's engines. Big problems the other afternoon as we did a sharp left hand turn when the starboard engine stopped suddenly. We drifted around for an hour or more then chugged along at about 2 knots for a very long time. It was very rough and I actually got seasick. We are travelling at reduced speed now. The next night we were woken up by incredible vibrations (our cabin is aft so we waddle a bit as well) ship stopped again more drifting, more stern thrusters to keep us vaguely pointing in the right directon.

The result of all this lost time is that we will miss the port of Safaga in Egypt and the Valley of the Kings and the temples of Luxor and Karnak. This is not so bad for Rod and I because we've been there before but of course we're not telling people that. Hopefully we can get to Port Said for repairs which means we can do our desert tour of the red pyramid and the oldest stepped one which are out in the desertat Sakhara. We are going in a 4wd.

The biggest problem is our allotted time for transiting the Suez Canal. Can't afford to miss that. Maybe we'll limp all the way to Southampton.

Did I mention pirates?? The morning of the first big wobble we had a security drill in case we were attacked by pirates. Since then there's been heightened security on board because of our mechanical problems means we have less manoeuvering capability. Big banners hanging all round the decks warning shipping that there is an exclusion zone in effect and don't come close or we'll beat you up with our zimmer frames and walking sticks!!

Plenty of warships in the vicinity for all eventualities! I'm certain Rod would love a stoush with pirates!! Bad time and place to have engine failures though. We're heading to the Red Sea and I promise to apprise you all of any change of colour when it happens.

I think that's all for now .. love suz xx




Sat Jun 19    top         At Sea

Sun Jun 20             Luxor (Safaga), Egypt
Mon Jun 21             At Sea
Tue Jun 22             Suez Canal, Egypt
Wed Jun 23             Cairo (Port Said), Egypt
Thu Jun 24             At Sea
Fri Jun 25             Ephesus / Kusadasi, Turkey
Sat Jun 26  
top          Istanbul, Turkey

Will catch up with friends Ralph and Helen for Lunch today.

Sun Jun 27             Anzac Cove, Turkey
Mon Jun 28             Santorini, Greece
Tue Jun 29             Athens, Greece
Wed Jun 30             At Sea
Thu Jul  1  
top          Venice, Italy     july   
 
Will catch up with friend Su Boyle today.

Fri Jul  2  
top          Venice, Italy         
Sat Jul  3             Dubrovnik, Croatia
Sun Jul  4             At Sea
Mon Jul  5             Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
Tue Jul  6  
top          Florence / Pisa (Livorno), Italy

Will catch up with brother David and Coleen today.

Wed Jul  7             Cannes, France
Thu Jul  8             Barcelona, Spain
Fri Jul  9             At Sea
Sat Jul 10             Gibraltar, UK Territory
Sun Jul 11             At Sea
Mon Jul 12             At Sea
Tue Jul 13             Paris (Le Havre), France
Wed Jul 14             London (Southampton), England

Will catch up with friends Alan and WaiChing today.

Thu Jul 15             At Sea
Fri Jul 16             Dublin, Ireland
Sat Jul 17             At Sea
Sun Jul 18             At Sea
Mon Jul 19             At Sea
Tue Jul 20             At Sea
Wed Jul 21             At Sea
Thu Jul 22             At Sea
Fri Jul 23             Boston, MA

Will catch up with friends Ron and Jackie today?

Sat Jul 24             Newport, RI
Sun Jul 25             New York (Manhattan), NY
Mon Jul 26             At Sea
Tue Jul 27             At Sea
Wed Jul 28             At Sea
Thu Jul 29             Antigua
Fri Jul 30             Barbados
Sat Jul 31             At Sea
Sun Aug  1  
top          Curacao, Netherlands Antilles august  

Mon Aug  2             At Sea
Tue Aug  3             Panama Canal (Full Transit)
Wed Aug  4             At Sea
Thu Aug  5             At Sea
Fri Aug  6             At Sea
Sat Aug  7             Acapulco, Mexico
Sun Aug  8             Manzanillo, Mexico
Mon Aug  9             At Sea
Tue Aug 10             At Sea
Wed Aug 11             Los Angeles, CA
Thu Aug 12             At Sea
Fri Aug 13             At Sea
Sat Aug 14             At Sea
Sun Aug 15             At Sea
Mon Aug 16             Honolulu, Oahu, HI
Tue Aug 17             At Sea
Wed Aug 18             At Sea
Thu Aug 19             At Sea
Fri Aug 20             At Sea
Sat Aug 21             At Sea
Sun Aug 22             Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands
Mon Aug 23             Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands
Mon Aug 23             Moorea, Society Islands
Tue Aug 24             At Sea
Wed Aug 25             At Sea
Thu Aug 26             Pago Pago, American Samoa
Fri Aug 27             At Sea
Sat Aug 28             Cross International Dateline
Mon Aug 30             At Sea
Tue Aug 31             Auckland, New Zealand

Will catch up with friends in Auckland today?

Wed Sep  1  
top          At Sea  september   

Thu Sep  2             At Sea
Fri Sep  3             Sydney, Australia


Then, this is the current thinking:

September 2010: time in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne

October 2010: Kalgoorlie/Perth, then South Africa for Safari

November 2010 until June 2011 (?): To South America - Santiago? Lima? Buenos Aries? Rio?

Northern Hemisphere summer: Spain?, Italy? To be decided.
Last Update: Wednesday June 30th 2010
Day Date / Port
Contact me at my usual email address, or use my rubbish email: dunvegan3000@yahoo.com.au
Darwin  music  lectures  Bali  Singapore  Kuala Lumpur  Langkawi
Cochin  Mumbai  Muscat  Dubai  Washing Day Pirates  Breakdown  HCIMP 
Venice Dubrovnic HCIMP Rome Livorno Cannes Barcelona Gibraltar Paris Southampton
Su's notes on the trip, all in blue italic font.
Dublin Titanic Boston Newport New York Antigua Barbados Breakdown Curacao
Panama Acapulco Manzanillo Los Angeles Honolulu Papeete Moorea Pago Pago Auckland Sydney
The ship is the P&O Dawn Princess. You can see her details here.