Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pacific Jewel - Tuesday 6 September, debark day

And we are back. We left from the OPT but have arrived back at White Bay which means we'll have to catch the ferry over to Circular Quay before catching the train to Central, for mum and dad, and the airport for me. Easier from the OPT but not too much of a hassle from White Bay. I could have booked the P&O transfer to the airport for $16pp, next time I think I might as it works out cheaper than the ferry ($9) and then the airport train (around $16). There's also a transfer to Central, $15pp. Note: if you are intending on using the trains in Sydney I recommend getting an Opal card, which is what is now used for all transport in Sydney, online before you head off on holidays. It makes things so much easier and I have noticed that the queues for getting a card or topping up have been quite long, especially at the main stations, like Circular Quay and Central.

Our debark time was 8.20am and we had to be out of our room by 8am so not too early a start thankfully. I didn't get up for the sail into Sydney Harbour as, lucky for me, I have done it a few times now and it was still quite dark and nippy.

After breakfast and collecting our things from the cabin we made our way to the Orient to wait for our number to be called to leave the ship. They were running a little behind schedule but not by much and once our number was called (green 2) we were off the ship in no time and collecting our suitcase. Straight through customs as we had nothing to declare and over to the ferry terminal which is about a 10 minute flat walk. Hopefully they'll change the path to the ferry when they see it is quite popular as it is a bit of a round about way of getting there, having to cross the road twice. The ferries run every 20 minutes or so, so there isn't any real need to rush unless you've booked an early connection somewhere. Although then you would have probably got off the ship earlier. The ferry service is run by Captain Cook Cruises. You can book online or pay when you get to the wharf, note that they only accept cards, no cash.

With our cruise over and no-one dying of manflu we said our goodbyes at the station as mum and dad were getting off at Central and I was staying on until the airport. It was a good trip but possibly could have been better with an extra person or two and no illnesses. Having said that I still love cruising and would never say no to another one!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Pacific Jewel - Saturday 3, Sunday 4 & Monday 5 September, Sea days 4, 5 & 6

Heading home, boo.
The next three days were spent at sea heading back to Sydney and reality. We had a bit of extra excitement on Saturday afternoon when a helicopter was called to airlift a sick passenger off the ship. Very exciting although I guess not for the poor passenger. We did hear it was a couple of children with pneumonia but rumours fly aplenty on a cruise ship. We were updated later in the cruise that they were doing well. The back of the ship plus the majority of the lido deck had to be cleared of people. Dad stayed up on deck 12 (lido) where you were still allowed and watch the proceedings from there. He said the patient got a big cheer when they were wheeled along deck 14 towards where the helicopter would collect them from.

Our cosy but comfy cabin

Mum and I went and saw a show, Music Murder Mystery, in the Marquee Theatre and then went back to the cabin and watched the helicopter and spotter plane circle the ship, many many times. Such a huge undertaking! We were off Cairns when this happened and had to veer off course and carefully make our way through the reef to get close enough for the helicopter to be able to reach us and get back to the mainland without running out of fuel.

After all the excitement we went back up stairs and joined dad on the lido for drinks. Mum and I went to the 5.45pm show before dinner in the Pantry. Dad wasn't very keen on any of the entertainment, hard to please. Mum and I loved every show we saw and all the bands and singers. I think they've possibly been the best we've had on a cruise.

The rest of the cruise was spent reading, eating, drinking and relaxing - the usual. Father's Day was on Sunday so I shouted dad a real coffee from Charlies Bar in the Atrium, deck 5 while we did the last Morning Trivia. Losers. We hung out in the Oasis in the afternoon for the relaxing guitar tunes of one of the entertainers. Again, dad wasn't a fan but I thought he was really good and just what you need to sail home to.

Happy Father's Day


On our final day of our cruise mum and I pretty much hung out in the one and only pod all day. It's on deck 11 a the back of the ship, just under the Pantry so a perfect place to be! We were cruising quite close to land and could see Mount Warning so I texted Suz :-)

Selfie in the one and only pod!
Seeing as our cruise was almost over we had to pack our suitcases to leave them outside our cabin before we went to dinner. This isn't one of my favourite parts of cruising it just means it's almost over. After we'd finished packing mum wasn't feeling too flash so she took to her bed and didn't arise until the morning when we were back in Sydney. Thankfully she felt much better after a good nights sleep.

I dragged dad to the 5.45pm show (which I loved but he didn't) and then we watched one of the bands in Connexions for a bit before heading to the Pantry for our last Jewel dinner.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Pacific Jewel - Friday 2 September, Conflict Island PNG

These islands are privately owned by an Aussie - Ian Gowie Smith (I think) He bought them many years ago, sight unseen, in the hope of being able to preserve them and ensure the waters around are kept as pristine as possible. It seems to be working. The island we visited was what I think of as a 'tropical island'. It was stunning. So idillic. (sp)

Another tender port. It didn't take us too long to get onto a tender but unfortunately, for mum especially, we bobbed about in the water for over 20 minutes before being able to dock. As the journey from the ship to the dock wasn't far it meant that we had to wait while the tenders in front of us unloaded all of their passengers before we could do the same. Even though the ship doesn't move a little bitty tender feels the waves. After awhile mum must have been looking a bit green as one of the passengers went and got her a hard hat (that the workers wear) to throw up in, ha ha. Thankfully she didn't need it but she was a bit wobbly when we finally did get off so no time for a photo - it would have been a cracker though!

After mum had a sit down on none moving land and a drink of cold water we headed for the beach. The island reminded me of Mystery Island just bigger. It's probably as long as Mystery but quite a bit wider. It takes about 1 1/2 - 2hrs to walk around, Mystery was about 45 mins.

We found a gorgeous spot to sit and takes some photos (unfortunately my sd card failed from 1/9 so I haven't got any photos, so disappointed but it just means I'll have to go back!). Mum and I went for a swim. The water was a bit colder than what I had thought it would be but still lovely. We bobbed about for 40 minutes or so. After that we walked over to the other side of the island where all the activities and crowds were. You could hire canoes and stand up paddle boards or do a glass bottom boat tour - I would love do have done this but it was a bit expensive. We were told we maybe able to book one on the island as long as all the tours were done first. Going by the lineup to book tours etc I don't think we would have had much chance. I think if I came back here I might budget in for the glass bottom boat. From all reports the sea life was amazing. Again we didn't have snorkel gear so we would definitely bring it next time!

The water colour was incredible!
Mum and I decided to walk around the island, dad declined, and headed off towards the airport. It was a pretty easy walk as the path way was quite compacted and easy to walk on. There were a couple of places with water available and so many photo worthy views.

Apparently you can higher the whole island for $50,000 a week for up to 20 people. The dude doing the talk thought this was great value. Cheaper to visit it by cruise ship.

We met up with dad who was heading back to the ship, mum and I went back to our first swim spot and bobbed around in the water again.

We were relaxing on the beach enjoying the serenity when mum looks at the time and says we better head back as it was almost 3pm and last tender was 4pm. I was surprised how fast the time had gone and a bit disappointed to have to leave. Just as we're getting onto the tender mum realises the time on her camera was an hour fast so it was actually on 2pm, no need to rush back. Too late then, we were on the tender. oh well.

We walked along the beautiful beach back to the tender
I loved this island just for the cleanest of it and the relaxation factor and would happily visit it again.

Time for our last sailaway before we make our way back to Sydney.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Pacific Jewel - Thursday 1 September, Kiriwina Island

First day of spring! Kiriwina Island is a true PNG island. The locals have lived like they do for ever. To us it is very rustic with the bare minimum I guess but it sure looks like a relaxed and healthy way to live. The majority of their food is either grown by them or caught with very few things delivered from the larger mainland.

Welcome to Kiriwina Island

Locals selling their wares

The locals were all out to meet and greet us and had been working hard at making things for us to buy. A lot of carved items from rings and necklaces to bowls and spears. Unfortunately I forgot to bring any money with me, I get so use to using my cruise card I forget about 'real' money. If I ever went back or new people that were heading there I would definitely say to exchange money for PNG money - so much easier for the locals. It is so hard for them to change Australian dollars into their money and coins are just like a rock really, worthless. SO if you go please take PNG money. I think it's Kina??

School concert
The local school, not sure if that is the only school on the island, put on a beautiful concert for us. They looked so proud showing us their talents.

Something we were told in one of the talks we went to was to NOT give the kids (or adults) lollies. They do not have access to dentists so cannot cope with so much sugar. If you do want to bring things for them school books, pencils etc would be much more appreciated.

Mum and I found a nice shady spot to sit in
Dad didn't hang around long and caught the tender back to the ship. Mum and I found a spot in the shade, the sun was hot, and made for the water. The water was quite shallow as the tide was out but it was lovely. There were heaps of kiddies with their handmade boats floating about ready to take is for a sail. The reef wasn't too far out but, so I heard, was quite tricky to get to as the water was so shallow you had to walk of the rocks and coral to get out there. Apparently it was gorgeous once you were out there though. We didn't have any snorkelling gear with us but, again, if we ever came back we would make sure we brought some with us. The water was so clean and clear - beautiful.

Beautiful water
After a few hours of lazing and swimming and watching other passengers try beetle nut. The locals and all across PNG chew on this daily - it's a bit of a 'drug' and has a calming, happy inducing quality about it. It also makes your teeth a lovely shade of orange. By the comments I heard it isn't the nicest tasting thing ever.

We made our way back to the Jewel on the tender and whiled away the rest of the day on a deck chair. This is the life.

On the tender heading back to the Jewel

All aboard

Next and final stop Conflict Islands.