Unwinding - for the highly strung workaholic

Thursday, January 9, 2008

6 Months in a Leaky Boat
Spirit of a sailor,
Circumnavigates the globe,
The lust of a pioneer,
Will acknowledge no frontier.

With apologises to Split Enz (it's a band from the 80's mum)


Okay, I admit it - 10 days in the lap of luxury on the Sun Princess is not exactly poineering. It's just different from any other style of travelling I have ever done - and  I needed to try it for myself. People say you'll either love it or hate it - I spose it depends who you go with and whether you are prone to motion sickness, which luckily I am not.

I ditched the BOSS for this trip and instead took My Best Buddy along.
I have known MBB since we were 4 years old and we have survived the ups and downs, school life, pimples, boyfriends, teenage years, children and husbands... every girl needs a BB!!

We grew up in Wollongong - about an hour south of Sydney - and MBB is now a teacher in one of the local schools. We were due to depart at 4pm so MBB caught the train up from the Gong and we met at Circular Quay. The BOSS and I had jumped on the bus into the city and when we caught sight of the amazingly huge beautiful white ship moored at the pier, it took our breath away. 
The BOSS turned green with envy but then the realisation that she would be spending 10 days alone with the MoTH (Man of the Hour) abated her jealousy.
We lugged our bags down to the passenger terminal, only to discover that this was not our ship at all. This was the Sapphire Princess - the Sun Princess was leaving from Darling Harbour. Lesson One - it pays to read the embarkation instructions.
We hurriedly grabbed a taxi which deposited us on the other side of The Rocks and joined the queue for passport checks. It was here that I finally had to sever the umbillical cord - I handed over my mobile phone to the BOSS and said farewell to both my babies.
Once through customs, we were ambushed by the ships photographer - the ultra glamour shot of us lugging our bags up a gangway... needless to say I did not part with $20 to purchase said shot, just so you could laugh at the results.

Our cabin was cosy and comfortable and our room porter, Jerhard had already delivered our bags. We barely had time to kick off our shoes before we were called to practice the emergency drill with lifejackets in hand.
200 people proceeded in a calm manner up two flights of stairs into the nightclub area and I'm certain that if there were a real emergency we would be re-enacting scenes from Titanic and walking over each other to get to the life boats. One consolation - if the ship did go down, we wouldn't freeze to death in the south pacific but we would probably be shark bait. 
After 1/2 an hour of not listening to the safety drill, we went back to the room and changed. The Sail Away party was in full swing on Lido Deck, so we grabbed 2 Mango Mungo's and proceeded to the very (back) stern of the ship and acquired a couple of sun lounges. Three cocktails later, we started to move and exited Sydney Harbour under the bridge  and past the quay with the ship that was not our ship. 

Once we cleared the heads and were headed out into the open ocean we went exploring a little to get our bearings. There is a central staircase from Lido deck 14 (top) to deck 5 (bowels) where our cabin is. We have vowed to take the stairs instead of the lift to get some exercise and combat the overload of good food. Correction: we have vowed to take the stairs DOWN.  
On the Lido Deck is the Horizon Court - all you can eat buffet - 24 hours a day. They serve hot and cold food and it's a good source of snacks like cheese and crackers - but the coffee is disgusting. We retired to our stateroom to unpack and get "dressed" for dinner. The first night was "smart casual" so for the first time in years I donned a skirt for the occasion.
There are two formal dining rooms; the Marquis and the Regency and there are two sittings for dinner: 6pm and 8:15pm. We were allocated second sitting (to avoid all the children) and we met our fellow table mates who we will be eating with for the next 10 days. There were four couples; two from Perth, one from Melbourne and one from Tasmania. They were all very pleasant and the only disappointment is that we weren't allocated the table with fabulously wealthy single men.
The food was magnificent, the wait staff were excellent and the service quick and efficient. It was a pleasure to watch it all run with such clockwork precision.
Dinner was a fabulous 2 hour event with excellent company and great conversations - by 10pm we were stuffed to the gills and ready for a walk. We wandered up to the Lido deck
and watched the kids in the over full pool slosh around in the waves. Then we went down to Promenade Deck 7 to look for the theatre and try and catch the live show. As the name suggests the PD has a walkway which goes all the way around and the sign states that 3 circuits = 1 mile (1.6km). We resisted doing the full 3 circuits but instead wandered slowly down to the theatre in the stern which turned out to be the cinema. We continued round and passed the nightclub with 3 people on the dance floor; the photo gallery where our embarkation photo was on display to the world; the library where we picked up our daily sukoku and a backgammon set, arriving at the bow just in time to reach the theatre when the show was just ending.

Although we really hadn't done much during the day we were tucked up in bed before midnight exhausted - gently rocked to sleep.

01 Not our ship
Not our ship
02 Still not our ship
Still not our ship
03 Walking the gangplank
Walking the gangplank
04 Our cell
Our cell
05 Lifejacket drill
Lifejacket drill
06 The first cocktail
The first cocktail
07 The "adults only" pool
The "adults only" pool
08 Under the bridge
Under the bridge
09 Leaving behind the ship that wasn't ours
Leaving behind the ship that wasn't ours
10 The bridge from a different angle
The bridge from a different angle
11 South Head
South Head
12 North Head
North Head
13 The food
The food
14 The drink
The drink
15 The top deck
The top deck
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