Date: 17th December 2022
Why? You may well ask…
A few years ago I went on a cruise, it was not something I had ever thought about doing or was particularly interested in doing but this was a family affair, a celebration of my daughter, her husband and friend’s 30th birthdays. In the event it turned out to be better than I expected but perhaps not good enough for me to want to go again.
A combination of circumstance this year made it look like I would spend Christmas alone, which, after the great debacle of 1971 when, for job related reasons, I spent Christmas Day alone eating a chicken the size of a sparrow and listening to John Lennon’s “So this is Christmas”, was not an event I cared to repeat.
A couple of months ago I started looking for Christmas holiday packages but was quite surprised to discover that they barely exist. I came across a P&O 10 day cruise that left before Christmas and returned after Boxing Day but when I tried to book there were no vacancies so I thought that was that. However a week or so later I received an email from P&O telling me of special cruise offers and to cut a long story short I paid for a balcony cabin with an obstructed view on this Christmas cruise.
I was only advised about a week before sailing of my cabin number together with a note to say that I had been “upgraded”. So here I was on yet another cruise set to sail with only a few weeks notice on Pacific Adventure. I was off to the south Pacific – visiting New Caledonia and Vanuatu on a very large ship indeed!
No rush, don’t need to catch the train until after 9.30 so I watered my pot plants in the hope that they will survive until my return.
The train was late arriving at Central but still that is no worry the bus to White Bay didn’t leave until 1pm, there was over an hour to kill so sat down on one of the seats in the Grand Concourse and prepared to wait. Had only been there for five minutes when some fellas in Hi Vis and P&O shirts wandered by asking for people waiting for the shuttle bus. They said there were people waiting at stand 1 just outside the station so I wandered out. In fact there was one couple! But here was as good a place as any to wait.
The bus arrived after about 20 minutes and they loaded my case while I sat on the bus. At least it was comfortable because this turned out to be a long wait of nearly an hour and it was not until after 1.15pm that the bus finally left for the White Bay Terminal.
It got much worse…
On arrival at wharf terminal I dropped my bag at the baggage drop off point and joined the long queue outside the terminal building, this queue was slow but worse was to come.
When I finally arrived inside the building I was asked if I had completed the Verifly app. I had not, in fact I deleted it off my phone because it wouldn’t recognise my vaccination certificate so was useless. Because of this I was directed to a separate queue, this queue moved at a glacial pace and it took over an hour to get to the front, several times I thought of just going home because I was fed up with all this standing which was killing my back and walking was getting painful.
When I did eventually get to the front of the queue I was directed to a lovely lady (no complaints about any of the staff I encountered) who took pity on me, after examining my proof of Covid vaccination and RAT cassette she wrote a big P on my boarding pass. From this moment on I experienced no hold ups at all, every queue was bypassed and within half an hour I was on the ship. (A big Thank You to her)
They really need to do something about this initial queuing it was awful. No seats, no social distancing, just dreadful.
Once on board it was a matter of finding my cabin and waiting for my bag to arrive – finding a lift was the next challenge, I think the reception was on Deck 7 so I had to get to deck 11, the lifts were in great demand but eventually I did get to my deck and found my cabin. My pass key was waiting in the letter holder outside the door together with my meal times and the ship’s news paper.
I certainly had an unobstructed view of the ANZAC Bridge and the old White Bay Power Station from my balcony.
The cabin was nice enough, the shower was tiny but quite useable so I watched the safety video when I was interrupted by a knock on the door it was my room steward telling me that I had to report to my Muster Station as soon as possible and that food was available at the rear of the ship.
The cabin had a double Australian power point as well as a couple of, what I presumed were US power sockets, so I wouldn’t need the double adapter I had packed just in case.
My bag didn’t arrive, eventually I found a note in the mail holder telling me it had been deemed suspicious and I needed to collect it from the library on deck 7 . After attending my Muster Station (waste of time that was) I went to pick up my bag, the girl asked if I had any alcohol or liquids in it (I hadn’t) and asked if I would open it which I did. She then said all was well and I was allowed to take it back to my cabin. Again a bit of a waste of time but so it goes.
By the time I got my bag back to my cabin the ship was moving and before I knew it we were travelling under the harbour bridge.
As you can see it was a grey, miserable day and while it didn’t actually rain it always looked like it would.
According to the timetable they provided my evening meal was in the Dragon Lady Restaurant. My meals are scheduled at a different restaurant each evening with different cuisine. Dragon Lady is Chinese, Angelo’s Italian and Waterfront is apparently modern Australian. I can change the venues but I will try each first. According to my schedule on Christmas Day I will eat at Angelo’s.
Dragon Lady was a bugger to find, it is on deck 6 at the rear of the boat BUT you cannot reach it directly because the theatre is in the way so you have to go to deck 7 to get past the theatre then down to the restaurant. I had to ask several times to be able to find it.
It was a three course meal and pleasant enough, no complaints there, I had trouble hearing the girl waitress because she was wearing a mask and I am getting deafer but she was very attentive and the courses arrived regularly without any delay.
After the meal I had a look around the bars etc but I was pretty tired after today’s proceedings so I went to bed about 9.30pm.