Friday, January 29, 2016

Dawn Princess - Friday 29 January, Debark Day

And our cruise is over. We docked at 7am and scheduled to debark at 8.40am. The Carnival Spirit followed us in and docked at Circular Quay, which is why we dock at White Bay.

Carnival Spirit

Heading to White Bay - Carnival Spirit heading for the OPT

Yet again we had an incredible time and both mum and I agree that the Dawn Princess provided us with the best service and food we have ever had on a cruise! Near faultless. A big thumbs up Princess, you impressed the hell out of us!

Debark was smooth and before we knew it (or wanted) we were walking to the ferry and back to reality. The ferry dropped us at Circular Quay where we then caught a train to Central Station, checked our bags in for the XPT to Wauchope and headed to Coles to get some lunch for the train trip. No more delicious Horizon or Pizzeria lunches for us - boohoo.

On the ferry over to Circular Quay
Circular Quay train station - Carnival Spirit in the background

Our train was running on schedule and before we knew it, well 7 hours later, we were at Wauchope station getting on the coach to Port Macquarie. Dad picked us up from the Bus Terminal in Port Mac and our trip was over. I still had a 6 hour drive home but wasn't leaving until Sunday.

All aboard the XPT to Wauchope

We planned on washing on Saturday and heading to Officeworks to get out photos printed - I love going through our photos and am impatient so need to get them printed asap! I got a bit carried away and printed out too many but that's just because I can never say no to deleting or not printing a photo!

I highly recommend Princess and hope to do another one (soon!).

Dawn Princess docked at White Bay

I use OzCruising mostly and also Cruise Sale Finder. For this cruise I booked through OzCruising. I booked the ferry through Captain Cook Cruises. $9pp each way. I booked our Sydney hotel through Wotif. I also prebooked our shore tours for Lifou and Isle of Pines through the Princess website in the Cruise Personaliser.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dawn Princess - Thursday 28 January, Sea Day 5 (Final Day)

Our last day on the Dawn Princess and (like all our cruises) we don't want it to end. World cruise is really calling me :-)

The weather has been near on perfect and the seas so calm, we could hardly tell we were moving most of the time. Being closer to the front of the ship and higher up than we have ever been (deck level 11) we thought we might have felt more movement. Nope. Calm all the way. The balcony is quite sheltered which meant we could use it most of the time, I think we only had a few times where it was a bit windy but other than that we either had the door open while relaxing on our beds or were sitting out on the balcony - tough life I know!

Once we had worked out where everything was on the ship we found deck 11 to be quite central and easy to get everywhere, although I suspect all cabins would be the same once you worked out where abouts you're situated on the ship and where everything else is.

Deck 11 was two decks below the Horizon Buffet and the stairs we used, closest ones to our cabin, went straight to the buffet. All other ships we've been on the buffet has been at the back of the ship unlike the Dawn Princess which has the buffet at the front - made it very convenient for us :-)

Our cruise was 13 nights and had 7 stops which, I think, has been the most stops of any cruise we've done before. Our cruises have been between 7 and 13 nights. I have to say, the longer the better but any cruise is a good cruise!

Seeing as this was our last day on the Dawn we decided to go to the Pizzeria for lunch (after mum had checked out the buffet first!). The pizza's are yum! I had the Dawn Special - which is seafood based and mum had the pepperoni.

The last night in the restaurant is the Baked Alaska Parade where all of the chefs and waiters parade around the dining room with baked alaska, the main dining room dude thanks everyone, we all sing a song (Waltz Sing Matilda) and then have Baked Alaska for dessert. A great way to end our wonderful cruise!
Baked Alaska - final dinner on the Dawn Princess
NB: for some unknown reason my photos from our last day and morning didn't download onto my computer - thankfully I was able to print them out though!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dawn Princess - Wednesday 27 January, Sea Day 4

We're starting our way back to Sydney now with 2 days at sea before docking back at White Bay. Time to reflect on our last week and all of the stops we had and time to enjoy and make the most of our balcony. (which we've done all throughout our cruise)

Enjoying our balcony!
 During the cruise some of the passengers formed the Pop Princess Choir, Deb was one of the singers, and today was their BIG day. 3pm in the Atrium. There were about 25 of them and sang about 6 songs from The Sound of Music. Wonderful! You could see some were very nervous and some who had obviously done this before (or something similar). I think Deb was very chuffed with herself and so she should be!

Deb is in the grey top, centre right.

It's formal night tonight and we also received an invitation to the Captain's Cocktail Party - what on earth am I going to wear???

Me and mum (selfie with her camera!)

The Captain's Cocktail party was held in the Vista Lounge. They awarded the top three cruisers with a bottle of champagne. The most days was over 750! We've got a lot more cruising to do to get to that number but I'm up for it! We had a glass of wine and some nibblies and then headed to dinner. One of the other couples at our dinner table, Deb and Dave, were also there. They were telling us that this cruise was the shortest one they've done so far. It's a 13 nighter. It's my longest, mum's done a 16 nighter on the Jewel from Singapore to Brisbane.

So many people really go all out with formal nights, so nice to see. I don't own any 'formal' gowns but still like to get a bit joozed up. Don't guys look extra handsome in suits and tuxes??

After dinner we went to the evening show in the Princess Lounge and sat with our dinner mates (minus Helen and Tony). It was a great show - English Invasion, although mum thinks Cliff Richards should have been included as did the others. I didn't mind. Half the time I didn't know who the original singers where but the Princess Entertainment Team did a wonderful job.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dawn Princess - Tuesday 26 January, Mare (Australia Day)

Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi - Australia Day on the Dawn Princess and Mare!

Riviera Deck 12

Mare - this is where we tender to
We've been to Mare a couple of times, there's isn't much here although they have done quite a bit of work to their roads and footpaths. There's a new boardwalk near the dock and a lot of new tarmac and paving. I think due to the amount of cruise ships that are starting to come here they are able to spend money on their roads etc which I hope is a good thing for them. There aren't any tours available here except for buses that take you to a beach. It's approx 20 minutes away and is meant to be lovely. We haven't been there as generally we're all beached out by the time we've gotten to Mare. The bus is $18.95pp although Kathy & Trent said they only paid $5 to a local. Just ensure they get you back as well!

Gendarmarie - Police Station

New road, footpath and boardwalk


Mum and I walked around for a bit, checked out the small markets, got our passport stamped ($2 which seems to be the normal price) and then headed back to the ship. The water looks absolutely gorgeous and there were a lot of people swimming just near to where the tenders dock plus down a bit further there are a few places you can walk down to the water. Just be a bit careful as it's not a beach so can be a bit rocky with lots of sharp coral. Pretty though.

Swimming spot near the tender wharf
 Back on board we did what we usually do and had afternoon tea on our balcony - I could get use to this!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Dawn Princess - Monday 25 January, Noumea

We docked at the container terminal this morning. Apparently the Dawn Princess is a bit too big to be able to dock at the cruise terminal in town. It was a clear, sunny morning and (again) great to be able to sit on our balcony, enjoying a cuppa and watch us sail in.

We've been to Noumea a few times now and, like every other time, didn't have any plans for the day. All of the Shore Tours seem a bit expensive for what they offer. We've done the hop on hop off bus which we though wasn't bad value. I think about $15pp? We're not planning on doing it again this time, just go for another walk around the town and check out the supermarket (like every other trip!).

But first, breakfast! I really love the Dawn's buffet! It is set out so well and the choice and quality is superb. Very tempting to go over board (pardon the pun) with food as it all looks so good. I want a Horizon Buffet in my house ;-)

Danish, choc chip pancake, muesli and pineapple - my kind of brekky!
As the Dawn docked at the container terminal we could walk off the ship but we had to catch a bus around to the cruise terminal in town. You aren't allowed to walk through the container terminal for safety reasons. The bus trip is only a few minutes although we did think we were going to end up in the harbour - the bus gets VERY close to the wharf edge!

So close to the edge!
We were all leaning to the left to stop the bus from going in the water - I'm sure it helped ;-) Once at the cruise terminal we got off the bus and then wandered around Noumea. We headed over to Chinatown and then through Coconut Square, in the centre of Noumea, and then to the Casino Supermarket. It must be shopping day because the supermarket was busy! Probably didn't help that a ship load of people had arrived in town! I only had about 300FPC which I had planned on spending on some nibblies (I think I've bought Noumea nibblies every time I've been here!) but I decided not to and ended up buying a ring at the markets in the cruise terminal. I also bought a wire rooster shaped egg cup for my sister. I thought it was very groovy and knew she wouldn't have one already!

The shuttle bus (note the old couple with their fold up bikes!)
 We caught the bus back to the ship, they were running continually throughout the day, and headed (guess??)

Delicious Chicken Burger from The Grill
After lunch we watched a ship come in and dock just in front of us. The skill of the captain and the tug boat driver was certainly on show. 

So close!
One day I would really like to see what else Noumea has to offer and not just the city. It would be nice to be able to go further out and see the outer suburbs, maybe we need to hire a car but I'm not sure who would drive. Driving on the other side of the road looks tricky, I'm sure I'd go round a roundabout the wrong way!

One of the couples we have dinner with went to Amadee Island, which is a whole day trip, and said they really enjoyed it. I was put off and definitely will not go to Amadee Island when they mentioned the sea snakes and how they just come up onto the beach - right next to you!! oh my, no thank you! It was very expensive (in my opinion anyway) for the day trip - $250pp, it did also include lunch but that is a lot of money! I'll stick to my $15 hop on hop off bus or walking.

Dinner was, as always, delicious! I had calamari steak, something I've never had before (or seen on a menu), and it was so tender and the sauce - yum! Dessert, mmmmmmmmmmm. Mum said hers was the best dessert she has ever had on a cruise and possibly anywhere - big call but it did look good. Chocolate crepes - I had chocolate ganache cake.

Chocolate Crepes

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dawn Princess - Sunday 24 January, Lifou

Beautiful Lifou

We booked a tour for Lifou but it wasn't an early one so no need to rush (like we ever rush on a cruise!). Our tour met on land unlike our one on Isle of Pines where we met in the Wheelhouse Bar. This just meant we needed to go and get our own tender tickets. The tender tickets were being handed out in the dining room on deck 5 (our dining room!) so once you were ready to head ashore you would go and get your tickets, wait in the dining room until a tender was ready and then head on down.

Waiting in the dining room for our tender numbers to be called

Of course we had breakfast first (as if we wouldn't!) and then put our swimmers on and grabbed our towels then headed for deck 5. The wait wasn't very long at all and the tender over was only about 5 minutes or so. We met Kathy & Trent on the tender, they had another tour booked which left before ours. We still had an hour or so before our tour left so we just checked out the markets, watched the dancers and went for a bit of a wander. It is HOT so we didn't do too much walking, ended up just finding somewhere in the shade and waited for our tour to be called. They were running a little late but nothing too major.

On the tender

The wharf at Lifou
It is HOT HOT HOT! Not too much has changed except they've tarred their roads and there are more cars, buses and vans. Hopefully having cruises ships visiting regularly is a good thing for the locals. (After our tour we learnt that it IS a good thing - it's giving the younger ones jobs where as before they would have to leave Lifou for work. Generally to Noumea)

Markets - facing towards to Dawn Princess
Calling our tour

Ready to go
We had four cars in our group with 4-5 people in each car and they were airconditioned, bonus! It was quite a speedy tour, we went flying passed the church you can see from the ship (not the one high up) and had thought about walking to it when we got back but changed our minds. We did stop to have a look at another church, quite a quick look, and then walked down to our next stop. We didn't realise we were at our final stop as our driver and car had left. The main lady told everyone to go to outside and to our cars and we said 'but ours is gone'. She finally realised our car had gone and then just told us to walk down the road and wait there. It wasn't very far but it had just started raining. When we got down there our car was there, we went to get in but was told 'no no, this is your next stop'. oh, ok.

We got to have a look at one of their parliament house huts and then to a demonstration of the locals cooking a bougna. Similar to hangi - cooking food wrapped in leaves in the ground.

Parliament House Hut
Preparing the Bougna
After we had eaten some of the Bougna (yum) and had a coconut we headed back to our cars and back to Lifou wharf. The tour was approx 1hr 30mins. The locals did a wonderful job and tried their very best to explain everything to us and answer our questions. They are still getting to grips with English but they try very hard and speak much better English than we do French!

The rain did get quite heavy while we were watching the locals prepare the bougna, we had a shelter and it eased off a bit by the time we walked back to the cars. One of the lady's complained about the walking and said she wouldn't have done the tour if she knew there was so much walking - there wasn't much walking at all. 100 metres all up, done slowly and all flat. There's always someone who has to complain.

Once back near the wharf we had a quick walk up the hill, well I did, so I could take a photo looking down and out towards the Dawn. We did this photo the last couple of times being at Lifou, it's nice to see the differences each time (and how old we're getting!).

New road since our last visit
We walked down towards the beach and it started raining. It was still quite warm but we decided not to go swimming. We just relaxed for a bit and enjoyed being here. Again, we are so very lucky!! Pinching myself!

Front beach at Lifou - the wharf is to the left
Back on board and we head for lunch. Empanadas - YUM!! These are gooooood.

Afternoon tea!
The church we zoomed by!
Cheers Lifou - thank you for another amazing day!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dawn Princess - Saturday 23 January, Isle of Pines

The ferry and a tender heading to Isle of Pines
We are doing a tour here as we really want to see what is beyond the beautiful beaches and see what the town looks like. Our tour meets in the Wheelhouse Bar where we get our tour number and wait to be called to our tender.

Heading to Isle of Pines
It's a pretty short trip on the tender, like all of our stops and once off we get our photo taken and walk towards our bus. It's a huge, full size coach with airconditioning - they do warn you when you're booking tours that the transport maybe older style with no aircon but we lucked out!

Not rustic in the slightest!
It was a good tour to do, quite fast but nice to see further a field and not just the beaches. Our first stop was just a photo op (not everyone got off the bus) of Brush Island - called that due to it looking like a brush!

Brush Island
Next stop - jesus monument
The views are always stunning! The water is so beautifully blue. Next stop was a church.

Then onto an old penal colony gaol.

Then back to the main beach at Isle of Pines. The tour was approx 1hr. A quick walk around the markets and then to the beach and a swim. The water was a bit cooler than Champagne Bay but once we were in it was lovely! We just bobbed around and enjoyed being in this beautiful part of the world. Lucky us!

Beautiful beach looking towards the Dawn
Sacred Rock
Just off the tender and heading back up on deck
A late lunch in the buffet, afternoon tea on our balcony and then a delicouso pizza at La Scala Pizzeria for dinner. We let our lovely waiters know we wouldn't be with them for dinner so they didn't wait around for us. We also ran into a couple of our dinner mates and let them know as well.

Another fantastic day - we love cruising and we are LOVING the Dawn Princess!