A Travellerspoint blog

Shore Day in Singapore

Thursday, 14 January 2016

View 2016 Indian Ocean on greynomadm's travel map.

he cloud cover this morning was not conducive to any form of special sunrise. I did my laps in the dark and snapped some of the bright light as we entered the port of Singapore. We've spent some significant time in Singapore just short of two years ago so we didn't need to do the 'tourist' things and decided to go ashore independently. The disembarkation process was relatively simple, passport check, customs scan and then up to level two for Visitor Information. Seems strange that incoming travellers have to go up then come down for transport. Stood in a long queue to exchange AU$100 to SING$93.

Walked out through the bus and taxi ranks following the signs to SMRT (Singapore Metro). We'd been told it was a mere 100 meters away - they were a little flexible with the truth !! It was at least 500 meters and most likely more. At the station there were two ticket vending machines and fortunately a local lass at each of them to guide us through the 'automated' process. Bit like self serve check-out at the supermarket for novices.

Sorted out our tickets and managed to get off at the correct station but got lost trying to find our way out. We were looking for the Jeweller who sold us the diamond and ruby rings in April 2014. Jenny wanted a pendant necklace to go with the ring and earrings. No trouble at all, choice of three and if they were not to madam's taste there were plenty more to try. With a battery of tantalising discounts the price had dropped to a reasonable price. It deserved a gold chain, that added a few hundred to the price. Finally agreed on a price and the credit card survived a massive body-blow and Jenny was ready to call it quits. But wait, there's more !! While we enjoyed some cold refreshment the manager appeared with a bracelet that madam just had to have. The price was off the scale but it looked very nice. Promised to come back in two years and pick it up then.
We had taken the original jewelry so that they could match it, they also cleaned them and placed them in a new presentation box. The ring, two earrings, and the pendant necklace. It all looked very nice and then they dropped the bracelet in place. Pleading a lack of credit card capacity fell on deaf ears. A time payment plan was offered as well as another reduction in the price. Finally I capitulated and pulled out the backup card, payed another chunk of money and escaped before they offered even more irresistible deals.

Back to the station and off to Little India to look for som tailored shirts for Tony. Finally found the market stall where the shirts were on sale for only SING$15 each. Jenny selected four that were an appropriate colour and he dropped the price to $10 each. Bargain !! Off to the station and after a change of train line we were back at the Cruise Terminal after the long walk back.

Decided to try and claim the GST Refund but the office wasn't open so elected to return to the ship. Check passport and cruise card, pass through the security scan, check the cruise card and then passport at Immigration, check the cruise card at the start of the gangplank and have it scanned aboard the ship. Staggered to the cabin and stripped off our sweat soaked gear.

Tony collected the jewelry, the receipts, his passport and cruise card and returned to try for the refund. Back through the arrival process - see above and then the departure process to past the security check. Found the customs people and explained my mission. No problem, receipts, passport and the items but missing some vital document I should have been given by the merchant. No way I could go back all the way to Orchard Rd even with over $300 at stake.

The lady official offered an alternative, I could ring the merchant, ask them to print the appropriate form and quote me the reference number and that would be picked up by the electronic system. Sounds simple, I don't have a phone, use my mobile she offers and even entered the phone number for me. The person on the other end asked to confirm with the customs official that our cruise qualified for the GST Refund. That was done and the critical reference number provided. All done, but wait, we need your credit card. Check above, the credit card was back in the cabin.
So back through the whole routine AGAIN. The Security guy who patted me down was almost on first name terms. Anyway, we finally have a SING$388 credit back on the credit card. Finally made it to the Horizon Court for a well earned meal. Down to the cabin to start this blog and a visit to the Theatre for a local Cultural Show. A composite dance troop showing Malay, Chinese and Indian facets of what comprises modern Singapore.

Finish off this blog and decided to take a night shot of the city, strike up a conversation and it is now 22:30 and I really must get some sleep. By the way, the FitBit has recorded 24,043 steps for the day !!

Some of the costumes at the Little India Market made for a colourful image if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 06:33 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

Day Five @ Sea

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Some spectacular cloud formations contributed to make this morning's sunrise a success. Today we cross from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere and we'll encounter King Neptune and his court. We've crossed the Equator on a number of ships and the "Ceremony" is a long-standing maritime tradition to mark the event. Those who have not crossed the Equator on a ship are referred to as "Pollywogs" and during the Ceremony they are proclaimed to be "Shellbacks". Another job for the staff, to print and deliver almost 2,000 certificates, one each regardless of previous crossings.

King Neptune came aboard and presided over the ceremony. After all the Pollywogs had been initiated the captain and Cruise Director were taken for a dip in the pool. Almost all of the 2,000 passengers crowded the vantage points and were encouraged to join the chorus of 'Guilty !!' as a number of individuals were accused of various crimes.

A simple lunch from the International Cafe after which we made our way to the Theatre for a talk by Lyn Hurry. Today's topic being the extermination of Tasmania's indigenous people and the circumstances of their demise. Quite an emotional story and caused her to pause for a while at one stage of the talk. Certainly not an uplifting story.

We stayed in our seats to Today's Movie. I hadn't heard of it but Jenny had some knowledge of it. "Unbroken" is based on the real life of an American Olympic runner who during WW2 survives an aircraft crash in the ocean to be picked up by a Japanese submarine. As a POW in Japan he is singled out for 'special' treatment by a sadistic camp commandant and against all odds survives to see the end of the War. He suffered from this ill treatment for many years and in later life returned to Japan to carry out charitable works. He died in 2014 aged 97. Another brutal tale with a thread of great heroism to make it a worth watching movie.

Dinner was excellent as usual and sadly we say farewell to the Junior Waiter, Joseph, he leaves the ship in Singapore. He has a bright personality and is very quick to see what needs to be done. We will miss his happy smiling face.

After dinner we went up to Deck 12 for Movies Under the Stars - again. We've rarely previously watched a movie on the giant scree and this is already the second one for this cruise. With all the colour and sound of a Bollywood feature "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" continues on from the original with the same cast. Full of love, intrigue and unlikely story line, it is the colour and costumes that carries this off.

This morning's sunrise created an impressive image if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:47 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day Four @ Sea

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

This morning presented with some scattered clouds, a light fog on the ocean surface and a continuation of the calm seas. Sunrise was later again, forecast for 06:48 and was pretty much a no-show. The fog made any attempt to use the auto-focus a futile exercise.

Breakfast has become routine for both of us as we try to avoid the fried and calorie-rich offerings. It continues to amaze us that some people can pile large quantities of food onto a plate, consume it all and go back for more. Perhaps it is their only meal for the day.

The Destination Expert was in the Theatre at 09:30 where she provided an overview on the features of Phuket, Thailand. We have a shore excursion booked and will have little opportunity or desire to visit the beaches which are the major attraction. Shortly after her talk we were once again entertained by Lyn Hurry with a talk on the effect for the Gold Rush on early Australia.

Following a brief lunch we headed for the Theatre again for the Movie of the Day. The film, "Southpaw", was rated 'R' and lived up to that rating. The language was in keeping with the pro boxing scene and the visuals were graphic and brutal. The story-line followed a predictable riches to rags and the loss of everything including many fair-weather friends. From the dungeon of despair there is a gradual recovery culminating in one final victory. The lead actor, Jake Gyllenhaal gave a very believable performance as a boxer.

This afternoon we passed through the Sunda Strait where we transitioned from the Indian Ocean to the Java Sea. We passed close to where the warship HMAS Perth was sunk in February 1942. An announcement from the bridge by the Captain briefly recalled the event and paid tribute to the sacrifices of those sailors lost.

On completion of another lovely dinner we observed some delicate colours ti our stern. By the time I got back to the cabin and up on deck again it had faded significantly. I snapped off some shots and was well pleased with the results.

Off to the Theatre again to be enthralled again by the magic flute of Kaitlyn Carr. The 45 minute show was packed with foot-stomping and hand-clapping Celtic Airs.

Despite what appears to have been a day of sitting on my backside, the FitBit recorded 10,711 steps for today, not bad for a sea day.

This evening's twilight created a delicate image if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:13 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day Three @ Sea

Monday, 11 January 2016

This morning the sea was again remarkably calm but there were storm clouds overhead. Forecast high temperature is 30 °C and the humidity is increasing. Sunrise is later again today and is due at 06:30. The ship continues to clip along at about 19 knots and it is difficult to detect any sense of motion. Quite remarkable.

The sunrise was blocked by clouds and it took some lime for it to break through. By this time it was almost 07:00 and time for breakfast. Returned to what has become our favourite spot in the International Cafe to read our Kindles and observe other people trying to find seating. By about 10:00 it had become crowded and rather noisy so we decided to find an early lunch in the Horizon Court.

Spent some time waiting to see the Future Cruises Manager. I questioned him about the PNG cruise for April 2017. I was convinced that it was available from Sydney but he had booked us a round trip from Brisbane. He agreed to change it to RT Sydney and was under the impression I'd asked for Brisbane. Anyway, the booking has been changes so that we now sail from Sydney and back there. Much better.

Today's talk by Lyn Hurry is titled "Mathew Flinders". She covered much of what I knew about him and a whole lot more. The most surprising fact being that he was a prisoner of the French on Mauritius for nine years. We stayed in the Theatre for the Movie of the Day. The title is "Spy" and starred Melissa McCarthy. A totally crazy senseless comedy of bizarre characters in unlikely situations and a dialogue comprising almost totally of basic clichés and innuendos. Absolutely a Must See movie, haven't laughed like this in years.

After a lovely meal in the dining room we joined a large crowd in the Vista Lounge to be entertained by Rikki Jay. He's one of those fast talking energetic comedians who tells a lot of short jokes at a rapid speed whilst rushing from one side of the stage to the other. He couldn't be classed as a 'stand-up' comedian - he didn't stand still long enough. Some of his material was quite funny but the majority were old and worn.

This morning's sunrise was short of spectacular if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:33 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Day Two @ Sea

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Our position this morning is off the coast of Western Australian approximately due West of Carnarvon. The sea is calm, the breeze is light and the temperature is mild. There's a solid overcast which blotted out the sunrise but apart from that it looks like a pleasant day ahead.

Spent the morning in the International Cafe and occasionally dozed off as I read the Kindle. Finally capitulated and returned to the cabin. In no time at all it was 12:45 and time to attend another talk by Lyn Hurry. Today her subject was "Noteworthy Convicts", she revealed some famous names that are connected to some of Sydney's landmarks.

Again we stayed in the Theatre for the Movie of the Day. It appears there will be a mix of classics and recent releases. Today's was that famous film "Casablanca". The sound-track was a bit rough and the air-conditioning was set way too cold. We stayed through the whole show as I'd never seen the movie and was somewhat surprised to hear so many often quoted lines that came from that film.

It looks like 'Happy Hour' is a regular feature and a welcome one for many. Returned to the cabin to thaw out and decide what to do for the evening. It is the first Formal Night but neither of us are enthused about getting dressed up. We might give it a miss and eat in the Horizon Court.

Stayed up on Deck 12 for "Movies Under the Stars" and watched a movie that was strangely familiar. I suspect we've seen it on another cruise. It was worth a second look anyway. Far From the Madding Crowd stars Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts.

Not much in the way of photographic opportunities but managed to snap a shot of one of the photographers in front of one of the backdrops. You can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:46 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

First Sea Day of Many

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Woke up to greet the sun but there was nothing but clouds on the horizon. Managed some laps before joining Jenny for breakfast. Looks like our Anniversary is going to be celebrated tonight. We have the sign on the door. Off to the theatre for a port lecture on Singapore. There still isn't an Internet Service.

Sat through most of the Destination Presentation for Singapore, Not all that impressed by this presenter but will check her out again. Visited the Future Cruises office and purchased a total of four "Future Cruise Deposits" and while there we booked a cruise for April 2017. We will sail on the Sun Princess again but this time a round trip out of Brisbane for twenty days to visit a number of destinations in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The 'spare' deposits can be used if we happen to see an opportunity during the year.

On our way to picked up a pie each for a quick lunch Jenny spied a sale table on Deck 6. I think Jenny has finally found a watch that she's happy with. They were advertised as being 10% off, on top of that there is a 10% Elite discount and as the price is in AU$ the final price of $233 appears reasonable.

Back to the Theatre for an enrichment lecture by Lyn Hurry. She will present a lecture each 'Sea Day' for the duration of the cruise. Today's topic was the 'Reluctant Pioneers' a look back to the First Fleet and the settlement of Australia. We stayed in the theatre for the Afternoon Movie which I'm sure I've seen before. Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman starred in "A Little Chaos". For the last hour of the movie much of the dialogue was drowned out by the revellers in the Wheelhouse Bar partaking of the $1 drinks during Happy Hour. The cheap booze was obviously popular with the predominately Australian crowd.

Great meal in the dining room, pork belly for Jen and lamb shank for me both absolutely tender and delicious. Topped off the meal with a trio of waiters singing "Happy Anniversary" as we held hands across the table. Jenny was suitably embarrassed.

Off to the Theatre for an enjoyable session with Kaitlyn Carr. A most attractive young woman with a great voice, an energetic personality who played a variety of flutes and what looked like a deconstructed fiddle. Good looks, great talent, she certainly entertained me.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:37 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Canberra to Fremantle

Friday, 8 January 2016

Today's travel started at 07:00 when Natalie picked us up to transport us to the Canberra Airport. The next element was a flight from Canberra to Melbourne departed at 09:00 and landed about an hour later. A lengthy walk from one wing to another of the domestic terminal. About 40 minutes later we boarded the four hour flight to Perth. Along the way we turned the clock back three hours.

Reception by the Princess Representative was quite straight forward and once this batch of passengers was accounted for we boarded the bus to Fremantle. Our main luggage was handed over to the porter and we didn't need to handle it again. The temperature was an oppressive 37 °C and the bus wasn't much cooler. The trip lasted just over 30 minutes and our arrival at the Cruise Terminal coincided with a short sharp thunderstorm which helped cool the atmosphere but boosted the humidity.

The registration process was somewhat more complex than normal with the requirement to record out India Visa and the need to complete a Singapore entry document. After clearing Immigration our passports were collected to enable on-board processing. Found our cabin Plaza 229 and were surprised to see that our main luggage was already in the cabin !! Past experiences had the luggage arrive up to five hours later.
Quick trip to the Horizon Court for a late afternoon snack and back to the cabin to unpack the luggage. The Muster Drill was scheduled for 16:15 but was postponed for 30 minutes due to the late boarding of a number of passengers. We decided to check out our allocated table and wait-staff in the dining room. We were pleasantly surprised to find we were on a table for two, our preferred size. The waiters were pleasant and very prompt and for the first time we were asked if we wished to be served quickly or at leisure. What a great idea, as we dislike sitting at the table for what seems like an age between courses. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Finally got our gear unpacked but were unable to connect to the Internet, will need to sort that out tomorrow,

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 19:46 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Packed and Ready

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Just on 24 hours until we board the aircraft for our flight to Perth and the start of the cruise. Our bags are packed with clothing suitable for the climate we're expecting, part of it tropical and a bit of Southern Hemisphere late Summer. Shouldn't need any really heavy cold weather gear.

There's an event today that is worthy of mention, it is fifty years since we were married. Not that this anniversary is more significant than all the previous anniversaries but the popular culture makes a big deal of it. We will be playing it very low key, lunch in a local suburban restaurant for the two of us.

We've both reflected on some of the events and experiences that we've encountered along the way. Early days in Papua New Guinea, the years in Penrith and our first daughter. The move to Melbourne and the arrival of number two daughter. Then the move to Canberra and the purchase of our first home. My resignation from the Army and later the move to Gundaroo. The final years of employment, the long overseas trip to the USA and retrenchment. The sale of the Gundaroo property and the move to Moruya and the start of our serious travel addiction. Starting with some years of travel around Australia in the caravan, our adventure in China and our first significant cruise on the Volendam. This was followed by a 96 day around the world adventure by plane, ship, train and coach. Serious addiction to cruising resulting in the sale of the caravan and frequent lengthy cruises. Recently the sale of the Moruya home and settling into the Retirement Village.

Doesn't sound all that much but we feel we've given this life a fair old nudge in the past fifty years. As for the future, more cruises while we're able and perhaps some extended road trips in Australia.

For now, some final checks of our luggage and paperwork and have that final sleep here in Coral Park before we take off.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 15:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Less Than Two Weeks

Saturday, 26 December 2015

With Christmas behind us, just, there's time to think about getting ourselves squared away for the start of this adventure. Not that there is a lot to do, all arrangements from Canberra Airport and return have been handed to Princess, it will be interesting to see how good that turns out to be.

The last few weeks have been busier than expected, nothing to do with the cruise but the remainder of life events also need taking care of. Jenny went off to visit her sisters in Melbourne and I attended Christmas Functions here and in local restaurants. A number of these were with other members of the Retirement Village Community. They are almost all a good many years older than I but some of them have retained their wit and sense of humour.

Despite a promise to Jenny before she went South that I wouldn't get involved, I've managed to have acquired the role of Secretary for the Retirement Village Residents' Committee. It is not an onerous task but does require the ability to write and distribute letters, notes and other correspondence. Looked like a role tailored for me.

On a more somber note I was informed that a fellow Vietnam Veteran was being admitted to the Aged Care Facility. There were about 50,000 men and some women who served there and the chances of me knowing this person were low to say the least. Huge surprise, I know the guy and knew him back in 1966 when we served together in Port Moresby. There was something else about this bloke that I felt was significant and I confirmed it by searching the DVA's Nominal Roll. To my surprise, we were on the same aircraft that flew us from Sydney to Saigon on 15 October 1970. I've dropped in to visit him and each time we find something else we have in common. Names of people and places drift into the conversation and spark additional memories and an hour passes in minutes.

We've had some extremely hot weather here and little rain to hydrate the dying plants and lawns. We do what we can with a garden hose but what the garden needs is a steady soaking over a number of days.

I'll send out an invitation to my regular contacts so that those who are interested can visit this blog.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 15:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Planned Itenerary

Thursday, 22 October 2015

I've reduced the 46 day cruise to just the port days. As you will note there are only 13 ports excluding Fremantle so there are a lot of days at sea. That can be good or not so good depending on the activities. Big job for the Cruise Director.

For a significant change of my usual method, for this trip I've booked everything through Princess. All the way from the flight from Canberra at the start to the return from Perth at the end. For good measure, I've included Perth to Fremantle airport transfers at the start and end of the cruise.

I'm posting this today to mark a significant step in the process, we've completed our India Visa Applications. It has been a somewhat tortuous process over a number of days but has culminated in an appointment tomorrow with Consular Staff at 09:30.

Getting suitable images for the Passport Photos proved to be an issue too. Have a look at my photo album by following this link to my project main album.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Condensed Itinerary

Starting 8 Jan 2016
Fly to Fremantle & Board
Phuket, Thailand
Chennai, India
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Male, Maldive Islands
Seychelles Islands
Maputa, Mozambique
Richards Bay, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Durban, South Africa
Reunion Island
Finishing 23 Feb 2016

Posted by greynomadm 14:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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