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Cruise!!!

I don’t know why – maybe it was from watching the love boat or something, but I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise.  I didn’t care where to, because I just wanted to be on a cruise ship.  When we traveled on the boats from Tassie to Melbourne as kids it was fun – just being on the ship.

Well I finally got an opportunity to go on a cruise!!!!!

<insert music “(I’ve had) The Time of my Life”>

No offense to other life altering experience, like… you know… getting married and having a child.  But I have to say, this is right up there with those!

Just to Tasmania, so nothing fancy, but the ship didn’t have to leave port as far as I was concerned! so going to Tassie was fine.  (In fact not crossing any rough oceans or going anywhere likely to have monsoons and such is actually a positive).  I went with a group of 24 Red Hatters  (I’m a Pink Hatter, because I’m under 50).  We sailed on the Golden Princess.

I made a video montage from the photos and videos I took 🙂   And I took a bazillion photos!

It was quite up and down for a while.  After it was decided I could go (I cried for 2 days, I was so excited lol), I had trouble getting in touch with the travel agent we had to book through. It took nearly a week of leaving messages and calling back before I finally go through to her.  Since I was traveling on my own, I needed to get partnered up with another Hatter who also was traveling alone or I wouldn’t be able to go (couldn’t afford a whole room to myself).   So I’d picked out the room I wanted by looking at the deck plans.  I do get a bit claustrophobic, and I know from the crossings we’ve done on the Able Tasman/Spirit of Tasmania that without a window you have no idea if it’s day or night – so I wanted a window, but I also didn’t want to pay too much, so I wanted an “obstructed window” – where there is a window but it’s partially blocked. I’d picked a stateroom that was between 2 lifeboats so hopefully less obstructed.  She said she’d get back to me once she’d found someone to share with me.

She did, and that was all good – but then that lady wanted to bring her sister, so my booking got cancelled and they got that room.  So I had to wait to see if there was someone else to share with 😦   They did find someone, but then she got ill just before our deposits were due, so we weren’t sure if she was still going to be able to come.  But thankfully she was and that all worked out.

Phew…. talk about an emotional rollercoaster!

Then finally, cruise day arrived!  I’d started packing months in advance lol.  I was so excited to see the first glimpse of the ship!

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My cabin marked with the arrow!

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I was very nervous, traveling alone with a group of people I’d never met (I’d been to a picnic with one lady but that was all I knew).  Luckily at the terminal some mentioned that my “friends” were upstairs, so I went off looking for them and found a LOVELY group of ladies who had come over from New Zealand for the cruise.

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When we got on board my room wasn’t ready yet, so popped my head in to take a photo and then left to wander around and have a look at everything

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OMGHERD!

I admit though, I’d watched several videos from the Golden Princess and read reviews and blogs and things, so I’d seen most of the ship before I got on board  (because while I do kinda like surprises, I also feel more comfortable when I know exactly what’s going on and what to expect). But it still impressed me seeing it in real life.  So HUGE, so opulent!!!

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Main atrium area and the lift area

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Library and Internet Cafe

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Indoor Pool (there are 4 pools)

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Outdoor main pool – view from one side then the other (pic on the right I’m standing up on the second level).

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Pool near the lotus spa area and the pool at the back of the ship.

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Perfect day for it!  (although I did get sunburned, despite putting sunscreen on)

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I met up with some fellow pirates 😀

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The Sanctuary was a special spot you had to pay extra to go into.  View of the walkway past the Explorers lounge

Everywhere I went the staff were all smiling and saying hello.  It felt really special.

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Back to check out my room.  My roommate (who I still hadn’t met yet) had been there and reserved a bed, which was good as I’d have picked the one against the wall anyway – even though normally I don’t take the side of the bed by the door since that’s the side that would get axe murdered first 😉

I’d heard a lot of reports about cruise staterooms being tiny, but it was actually bigger than I was expecting, and it didn’t feel small really.  I think having the window and natural light helped though.  And on that note…..  while I had been EXTREMELY disappointed that the other lady got the room I’d specifically picked out and we were just given another random room.  As luck would have it, the lifeboat outside our window was a short one, so it didn’t completely block the view!  And was lowered when we were in port so we had no obstruction then!  WOOT!

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About as much hanging space as I have at home!  I’d been prepared and one of the things I decided to do was to roll up a lot of my clothing and put them into a hanging shoe organiser – then I folded that in half and packed it in my suitcase, so I just had to hang that up when I got there, and half my unpacking was done 😉

My Roomie came home and we met 🙂 As it turns out, I had seen her before at the Pirate Party in Albury. So we were slightly familiar with each other.  She turned out to be lovely so that was great.  When people had asked me if I was worried about sharing a room with someone I’d never met, I told them I wouldn’t normally share with a stranger, but I figure a fellow Hatter would be safe and I’ve never met a Hatter I didn’t like – but if worst came to worst I’d only have to sleep in the same room and even then I could sleep on a deckchair if I had to 😛

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Every day they have their own little newspaper thing that tells you all the activities you can do.

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Time for a mocktail, or two by the pools

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The corridors that the staterooms are off are sooooooo long, you literally cannot see the end (or maybe it’s just my eyesight :P).  With my injured ankle, I found there was a LOT of walking around just to get wherever you needed to go.  It’s basically like walking around a large (long and thin) shopping centre.

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After the obligatory safety briefing, it was time for the departure party!

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The caesar salad entree on the first night was a bit crappy I must say, but everything else I had for meals was lovely.  Slightly small portions, but since there’s free food available 24 hours a day at the cafes and whatnot, that’s not a problem because you can go get a snack later to fill any holes 😀  Queen Di and I had an ongoing joke where I was enabling her to have desserts, because all the walking we had to do I said burned off the callories ;D

We had been booked together for the traditional dining, so we had dinner at the same time and place each night.  Unfortunately it wasn’t organised well and while there were 25 of us Hatters booked, it seems less than half of them were booked for dinner together.  So the first night was only a few of us.  We tried to get things moved around to make space for more of us, but there was also no way to communicate with the other Hatters, and some didn’t like that our dinnertime was set at 5:30.  So the most we managed was 2 tables together.

Our waiter, Lambert, was HILARIOUS!  He was so charming, remembered our names (I’m amazed, the second night he knew my name!) He got into the spirit and donned a hat (if we promised not to tell his wife!).  He even joked around with one of the ladies pretending to spoon feed her some pie and blowing on it to make sure it wasn’t too hot (which I know sounds unsanitary and rude – but we were all in stitches!).  I don’t normally do tips (since I’m stingy :P), but I invited the ladies who wanted to give a tip to him, and collected it all and slipped it to him on our last night.  The other waiter we had was nice enough, but Lambert went beyond what was expected.  He was great!

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I think he’s dressed up here (above) for Italian night?  Can’t remember.

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The “Scenic cruising” around the Wineglass bay area was breathtaking!  I was incredibly lucky to be invited to one of the NZ Hatters balcony room to view it.  I’d been swimming when they announced we were coming up on Winelgass bay, so I quickly hurried back to my room to grab my camera, and bumped into the Hatters on my way who invited me to join them in their room.  I’d have been able to see from the side of the ship up top, but this was sheltered and not crowded, and we had a lovely chat as well!

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At first I’d been disappointed that I’d missed out on a lot of the scenery in my frantic dash back to my room, but the ship did a big turn around inside the bay so we got to see it all.  It was beautiful.  There were even dolphins playing around the ship!  (no photos of those, as I was taking video)

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I got sunburned again!  on top of my sunburn from the day before.  Sigh.

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Every night there were movies on the big screen.  They set out the deckchairs and you could grab a warm fleece blanket, they brought around popcorn, warm cookies and cold milk!  So awesome!

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Our first actual stop was Port Arthur.  In the morning it was a bit drizzly, but the weather got fine as the morning went on.  This first photo (above) is the view from the covered deck where I was having my breakfast.   And the tender boats we had to take to get to shore.

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I’d been to Port Arthur lots of times before.  We used to live in Tasmania and my dad used to sell his leatherwork to the shop there (the one that was joined to the cafe that the shooting happened in).  So as kids we’d get to wander around the site (for free) while my parents did their business stuff.  As well as us going for family outings there with relatives and such.  So while everyone else did tours of Port Arthur, I’d arranged with the family I have in Tassie to meet up somewhere down the road for a picnic!  We drove past a beach were we could see the ship too!

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We also went to the Remarkable caves.  When we were kids you could go into them, but now they have walkways to (theoretically) discourage people going in.  Likely because when the tide comes in you could get stuck, so I guess it’s to protect the stupid people.

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People had stacked rocks up – which was cool.

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A Bumblebee!  It seriously took me forever to try and snap a photo of one!  (that’s the black speck on the car mirror :P)

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We stopped off at a small beach that had a good view of the ship.  The jetty had a sign saying something like no unauthorised access.  Looking at the supports – I’m not sure anyone would want to go on there! 🙂

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Purple shell.  I thought it best not to take it back, not sure if you’re allowed to.

Stealing these next photos from my Cousin 🙂  because while I was taking photos of dilapidated jetties and purple shells, she was taking pictures of the important things, like people!  🙂

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Back to the ship then we sailed into Hobart.

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We managed to luck it that Regatta day was the day we were in Hobart!  So there were fireworks and interesting boats out on the water.  Although that also meant a lot of the shops were shut.  But that didn’t bothers us as we’d arranged to meet up with a group of Hobart Red Hatters for lunch.

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It was great to spend time with the Hatters.  On a ship of something like 3,000 people, having a red hat on makes it easier to spot your group 😀

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Formal night

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We managed to get 18 of the 25 Hatters together.  Because there was no plan for meeting anywhere or way to make contact, we had to rely on those people we did see passing on info to anyone they saw when making plans for things.


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This was the magnificent hat I bought for the Island themed night (which we didn’t end up having).  I had so many people smiling at me when I wore it around the ship.  yes I’m sure it was a “OMG what a silly hat” type of smile, but hey, it made them smile!

My Roomie and I explores Cowes together on our last full day… when we finally got there.  This was the first time they had docket at Phillip Island and they had been told the jetty was suitable, but as it turned out the jetty was too high and too far away (because of tyres to protect the boats) for people to be able to get out of the tender boats.  So in the end they had to tie small gangplanks to the jetty and do it that way.

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Balloon drop ceremony – I think there were vouchers and things in some of them.  People were going crazy to try and get them once they fell

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Theatre

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Skywalkers nightclub (as a Star Wars fan, I found this amusing)

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😦  Cruise is over

 

 

 

 

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