Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pacific Jewel - Wednesday 31 August, Alotau PNG

Our first Papua New Guinea port - Alotau. Mum and dad had visited this port last year on the Pacific Jewel cruise from Singapore so knew what to expect. I hadn't a clue, always love a new port!

Ellie our towel animal enjoying the view


It was very similar to Santo in that the dock was older style and there were many rain filled pot holes about. As this is a port where the ship docks we could easily walk off the ship when we were ready to go, after brekky of course. We didn't have any tours booked so just planned to wander around a bit, take a few piccies, visit the local supermarket if we found one. Always interesting to see other countries supermarket, for me anyway.

I enjoyed walking into town and looking at the local markets and a smaller market set up for us tourists. There is also a War Memorial which was nice to look at and to read the plaques.

We spent a couple of hours off the ship and then made our way back on board. The weather was warm and overcast with rain threatening the whole day. Luckily it didn't appear but the mountains sure looked liked they were getting a hammering.

Inside the Alotau port area

We walked along the water into the main part of Alotau
Alotau isn't a very big place, basically one main road with a couple of streets off that where the main shops, banks etc were. Lots of boats in the harbour. I think they were stocking one of the larger boats to go out to the smaller islands or PNG, like Kiriwina which we were visiting next.

Just a couple of pot holes - the local markets.
 We had a look at the markets but they mainly sold house holdy type things and a lot of cigarette lighters!

Grocery stores and banks
Main street
Dad's old boss
When mum and dad lived in PNG dad worked for Toyota, memories.....

Dad almost got speared by these boys
Heading back to the Jewel
Lunch was on our minds (of course!) so we made our way back to the Jewel. After a relaxing afternoon we went up to the Lido for sailaway.

Next port Kiriwina Island, PNG!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Pacific Jewel - Monday 29 and Tuesday 30, Sea Days 2 & 3

The next two days were spent at sea heading towards our first PNG port of Alotau. Basically we slept, ate, drank, read, walked (or lifted - mind ze door), checked out a few talks and shows and basically enjoyed being on a cruise on the Pacific Jewel.

We went to a couple of talks about Papua New Guinea which were really quite interesting. He covered what was available through P&O (of course) but also had a lot of extra information about the ports we were visiting and what he thought would be the best places to visit. He had done quite a few cruises and was the resident PNG cruising expert. He had also been a pilot at one stage in his life - they certainly earn their money.

The weather was getting warmer and the seas were calm - the ship was hardly moving except full steam ahead. We saw a pod of whales and a few ships. Manflu was (very) slowly easing.

I enjoyed a coffee from the cafe on Deck 5 (approx $4) on Deck 7, I liked hanging out here as it is generally quiet and sheltered.

A decent coffee on the Jewel is found at the Cafe on Deck 5
Deck 7 - Promenade

I really liked the decor of the Pantry, very contemporary with a great use of old photos and advertising.

Artwork in the Pantry
 The Dome was a nice place to sit, especially when the weather was a bit blowy outside although at times it could be a bit chilly. Something we found was a common theme throughout the ship. I don't know why they have to have it so cold??
The Dome - deck 14
Lunch was for one in the Pantry as the olds had eaten earlier. I almost had it to myself, a bonus of eating late :-) and as some people seem to think, they didn't run out of food!
Seating for The Pantry
 I grabbed a deckchair on Deck 14, the deck just above the Lido, and listened to the band for awhile. They were an English band and were good, getting into the Aussie music and adding their own spin. I think dad was resting in the cabin and mum was relaxing and reading in the Dome.

Deck chair chilling
Predinner drinks on the Lido and enjoying some sunshine. Tomorrow was our first PNG port, Alotau!

The Lido - perfect place for a drink!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pacific Jewel - Sunday 28 August, Brisbane

Our first port, Brisvegas baby! Someone was still dying from manflu so only the two of us venture off the Jewel.

Brisbane Cruise Terminal

The olds headed upstairs for breakfast while I leisurely got ready for the day. 

I LOVE the danishes!
It was a lovely sunny day, still a bit cool but much nicer than the last couple of days. Mum and I walked off the ship around 11am and just walked along the river, heading towards the city. We had no plans so just enjoyed the sun. The Eat Street Markets were on, just next door to the terminal but we decided not to go there. There's plenty of food on the ship so we didn't really need to buy any.

Heading back to the ship we popped into the local IGA to get some more throat lozenges and then back on board we went. I'm pretty sure it must be lunch time!

The Jewel, Rivercat and the Gateway Bridge

Walkway along the river
We relaxed on deck chairs up on deck 14 for most of the afternoon. Sailaway was 4pm and we were right on time.

Bye Brissy
Footy for sailaway plus people doing one of the P&O Edge activities
We made it under the bridge

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pacific Jewel - Saturday 27 August, Sea Day 1

Bircher Muesli for brekky
Part of the Pantry, near the Grill

I started my day with a bircher muesli and orange juice trying to help ward off the oncoming cold, after popping a few pills too. Today is a sea day heading for Brisbane, which is our first stop, tomorrow. No plans for today as is usually the case on a cruise. Depending on what's on in the Pacific Daily a deck chair and a cardy sounds good. It's still a bit chilly but hopefully the further north we go the warmer it will get.

In the atrium was Morning Wake Up Trivia with Sandy the cruise director and Sarah the deputy cruise director. We gave it a go but made it even more difficult for ourselves when we realised we had to drop each answer over the edge down to deck 5 (we were on deck 6). Twice my answer landed on the ledge! Not surprisingly we didn't win. I'll blame the ledge for that!

Deck 6 looking down to the Atrium deck 5 - can you see my answers stuck on the ledge??

Another bowl of soup, this time for lunch, delicious tomato soup with a bread roll of course!

More of the Pantry
The afternoon was spent reading and watching the world go by and breathing in the sea air. We had pre dinner drinks at the Orient and ended up taking part in a Sports Trivia which, would you believe, we WON! Bottle openers for us :-)

The Orient and part of our winning Trivia team
Dinner was at the Pantry. Mexican tonight - so good!

The main area of the Pantry
Yet another early night for us with one of us having 'man flu' and thought he was dying. Brisbane tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pacific Jewel - Friday 26 August, 2016

ALL ABOARD! The day of our PNG cruise has arrived. Cold but no rain. Embarkation is for around 12.30pm so our morning is nice and relaxed. Our check out time was 11am so we thought we'd venture outside with the first stop being Coles at the World Square for some cold and flu tablets and throat lozenges! Gah, not a great way to start our holiday. I grabbed some fruit and dad had ordered egg and bacon rolls at a cafe just down from Coles for them. We enjoyed our brekky and then dad headed off to find the immigration department to get his re-entry visa sorted. On his way back to the hotel dad passed the grand opening of Krispy Kremes where they were giving out FREE donuts which dad didn't get!!

Brekky time

We checked out of the Travelodge and then made our way to Museum Station to get the train over to Circular Quay. Easy walk except the station doesn't have any lifts or escalators so it was a bit of a struggle with our suitcases, helping us work up an appetite for our first lunch on board the Jewel!

Pacific Jewel docked at the OPT waiting for us

Funny story - when you leave the station you scan your opal card and the gates open to let you walk through. Mum must have been a bit slow walking through, she made it but her suitcase didn't! The gates closed with her on one side and her bag on the other. So funny. I was too slow for a photo!! Luckily a nice man rescued her suitcase for her and lifted it up over the gate. ha ha

Thankfully the Jewel was docked at the OPT :-) so we headed over there and dropped our suitcases off and grabbed the forms we needed to fill out before boarding. The usual immigration departure form and the health form - were we sick? no not us.

Waiting for our number to be called in the OPT

After filling out our forms we headed into the OPT and followed the staff instructions. We had about a 10-15 minute wait, they hadn't started boarding yet, before they started calling our numbers. These we received when we walked into the terminal. We had number 3. They start with VIP and suites and then go in numerical order. Once our number was called we head to immigration, and thankfully dad's visa was all in order, and then onto the check in desks. This didn't take long at all, maybe 5-10 minutes and we were at the desk getting out photo taken and our cruise card. Our cruise has almost started!

After this part we headed to the scanners which took a bit longer. They have two going and generally the only reason there are hold ups is when people don't listen to the instructions. Once through we made our way to the gangplank and arrived on deck 7 just one up from where our cabin was. 6143 here we come!

Almost on board

Our bags were waiting at the end of the corridor so we grabbed them and made our way for our cabin. We were starboard forward outside. Our cabin steward Joannes or Jo for short introduced himself and then we unpacked our suitcases, had a quick freshen up and headed for the...........................Pantry. This is what was formerly known as the buffet. I hadn't seen this before but mum and dad had been on the Jewel after it had it's refit last June so they knew what to expect.

Cabin 6143 - Triple

Love the Pantry. Gorgeous design and the set up seems to work really well. The hardest part is deciding what to have. There a numerous station, similar to a food court but much nicer looking, Indian, Chinese, Fish n Chips, Roast, Sandwiches, Soups and Salads, Mexican and the Dessert stand.

Chicken Snizzy Roll

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pud

After lunch we had a wander around the ship, tried to get our bearings so we didn't get too lost every day. We worked out that if we used the stairs closest to our cabin we came out at the Lido or Dome and if we walked either down deck 6 or 7 and headed up those stairs (or lift) we popped up in the Pantry. These were good if the weather was a bit iffy.

We found a table and ordered our drinks ready for sailaway. Bye Sydney we'll see you in 10 days!

We had a relatively quiet evening so after we'd sailed out of the heads and headed north we had our dinner in the Pantry, a warming bowl of cauliflower soup and a yummy (as always) bread roll and crashed out in our cabin. 

Party animals we are not!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Heading to Sydney - Thursday 25 August

We decided to stay overnight in Sydney before our cruise. This saved mum and dad from doing the dreaded overnight train, leaves Wauchope at about midnight, and also eliminated any stress if my flight was delayed. As it was we all arrived in Sydney on Thursday 25/8 around the same time, I was a bit later as my flight was about half an hour late. I caught the train to Central from the airport and met up with mum and dad to walk down to our hotel. We stayed at the Travelodge in Wentworth St which was about a 15-20 minute walk from Central but is also close to Museum Station (about 5 mins) which we used the following day.

Sydney was COLD. We had checked the weather before leaving so had appropriate clothing, thankfully, and were lucky that it didn't rain. Walking with a suitcase is hard enough without adding rain into the mix!

After getting to the hotel, check in was easy, we freshened up a bit and then headed to Chinatown. This was about a 10 minute easy walk. We stopped at a pub for a drink before heading to the food court, which we've visited each time we've been to Sydney. The food's yummy and cheap! We also got some of the 'famous' cream puffs that my niece and I discovered on our April trip to Sydney. Still as yummy as I remembered enough though mum wasn't that fussed. Hard to please I think!

We walked back to our hotel, very cold but a fairly easy, flat walk. It was nice to know that we would have a pretty relaxed morning as we didn't have to get to Circular Quay early. Bag drop starts at around 8am and our check in was scheduled for around 12.30pm. No alarm clock needed!

Our room had a double bed and a double sofa bed. I had thought we would have three single beds but it was fine for us. The sofa bed was pretty comfortable. I'm staying here again with the kids in September so I'm hoping this time we will get 3 beds. No views from the room but it's not surprising in Sydney when there are so many highrises. The room was big enough for the three of us and it was for only overnight.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

10 days to go!

Not long now and we'll be heading off on the beautiful Pacific Jewel, cannot wait! My dad found out some of his friends and their family will be on the same cruise, the more the merrier.

We're getting to Sydney the day before and staying overnight at the Travelodge Sydney. I'm flying down and mum and (maybe) dad are catching the day XPT. I say maybe dad as he's having a few issues with his passport but I'm sure they'll get sorted out in time. Fingers crossed anyway! We all arrive in Sydney, bar any delays of course, mid afternoon and will probably meet up at Central Station and then all walk to our hotel. Apparently it's not too far from the station but we'll see if wheeling a suitcase makes it seems miles away. As long as there aren't any hills we should be find. We have walked to Circular Quay from there so if we can do that we can do anything!

The hotel I booked was the cheapest for a triple, I was hoping for something a bit closer to Circular Quay but if it's near to the station it shouldn't be a problem. Again, fingers crossed.

We arrive back at White Bay which is a bit annoying it would have been better to go back to the OPT but I think the Pacific Pearl will be there. We'll catch the ferry over to Circular Quay and then the train to Central and the airport for me. I've got Opal cards for us just to make it easier if/when we need to catch the suburban trains. I booked the parents XPT trips online and did it return to Circular Quay so they shouldn't need their Opal card but it's there just in case. I haven't booked our White Bay ferry yet but may just leave it and pay for it on the day. We noticed a few people doing this in January (when we did the Dawn Princess cruise) and there didn't seem to be any problems. From memory it was $9 per person. Nicer than catching a taxi and much cheaper than using the P&O bus transfer. (edit: the P&O transfers from White Bay to Central are $15pp and to the Airport $16pp, which I am sure is cheaper than the last time)

Anyway, the countdown is on and the lists are being made. Hopefully our trips down to Sydney will be event free and we'll be on board the Jewel enjoying are first of many meals around 1pm on Friday 26 August! Wish us luck and bon voyage :-)

Flights are with TigerAir
Train is by XPT
Hotel is the Sydney Travelodge booked through Wotif