Prologue -February 22, 2016
I was looking at Matt's winter break
schedule and found that we could squeeze in a cruise. I made a call to
Brenda Pierson at Travel Leaders and within 3 hours, she had us booked and
set. Thank you Brenda! We did not get our first choice of cabins, as most
were sold out, but did get our category on the 10th deck (1048), which
works just fine for me. So...we will be going from Singapore to Sydney on
a 21 night cruise with 3 extra days in Sydney after the cruise.
Prologue -April 13, 2016
Because of our status on Regent, we were
able to book our flights this early at no extra cost/fee. Brenda was able
to get us on the new United Dreamliner, which is the only non-stop from
San Francisco to Singapore. We are also booked on United from Sydney to
San Francisco non-stop for the trip home. It is nice to know that we don't
have to wait until October to see where Regent was going to send us for
flights (probably with stops) ...especially as it is the holiday season.
While on our cruise, we found that cabin
962 has become available and we had the Cruise Consultant onboard make the
change. That moves us from being directly under the La Veranda Restaurant.
December 19, 2016 - Departure
It was a full day of getting ready for
the trip and saying goodbye to the girls at 1:30. Eric from Vintage
Limousine showed up promptly at 5:30 and we
were off for San Francisco Airport. We arrived at the airport at 7:15
about 15 minutes ahead of schedule... No lines for the check-in at United,
and we lucked out with nobody in line in the TSA pre-check line. It was
the easiest check-in that the have ever had. We checked out the United
Lounge and decided to walk over to the American Express Lounge to see if
it was any better. AE had better food (chicken with potatoes, rice, a
choice of salads and brownies. The restaurant area was full so we sat at a
table in the lounge. Not the most comfortable seats, so after we ate, we
went back over to the United Lounge and sat in the more cushioned chairs
until our boarding time of 9:40.
The plane is full and you can tell that most of the "old folk" in Business
Class are going to be on the Regent Cruise. We pulled away from the
terminal at 10:35, but did not take off until 11:00. The pilot told us we
would arrive in Singapore on time. We were offered the normal pre-flight
drinks and then asked to order both our dinner and breakfast choices. I
opted for the 5 Spice Chicken and Matt had Short Ribs. We both watched a
movie while having dinner, then we both tried to sleep. Matt got about 6
hours, I got a few more. I had a hard time sleeping (even with earplugs)
as I hear every little thing. We have a "Mr. Cough-up-a-lung", a real
elderly gentleman seated very near us...and then there are the people who
open and close the upper bin drawers, and that clicking wakes me up too.
Because we cross the dateline, we do not have a December 20th, so we are
one day ahead, but 8 hours behind home time. So...midnight in Singapore is
8AM at home.
At 1 AM, then came around with cards to fill out for entry into Singapore.
There is always a question or two that you are not sure exactly how to
I watched another movie and Matt watched a total of 5.
The entire flight is close to 17 hours long...one of the longest direct
flights offered in the world.
(See next entry for landing and the rest of the day...which is the 21st.)
December 21, 2016 - Singapore - Day 1
The plane landed shortly after 7 AM and
we were able to get off the plane, through customs and baggage claim
quickly. We had to wait a bit for our Regent Contact to get us to the
Hotel. I had met Loanne, who is on our cruise, on the plane and she and
one other couple were in our same van.
We arrived at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel shortly after 8 AM and our room
was ready for us....NICE! It is a very clean and nice room. We waited for
our luggage to arrive, then went out to check out the hotel.
We came back for a bit, then went over to the nearby mall and ate lunch at
a Subways. The main language here is English, so very easy to get around
and to ask questions.
We went back to the room, took a quick power nap and then met up with the
Regent Consultants here at the hotel to make our arrangements for the
morning. We are on the 3rd bus leaving that leaves the hotel at 12:30, but
bags need to be packed and ready to go at 7:00.
Back to the room until it was time to go over to the Marina Sands Casino
for dinner, show (Cirque Adrenaline) and gambling...where we actually did
At the entrance to the casino, you must present your Passport. Locals are
charged a fee to get in, tourists are not. You also have to present your
Passport upon leaving.
Took a taxi back to the hotel just after 11:00 and called it a night.
It was very humid today, but we lucked out and did not have any rain. We
are in the middle of their monsoon season here.
December 22, 2016 - Singapore - Day 2
I awoke at 5:00 and got Matt up at 6:00. We got
ourselves ready and packed up for the 7:00 bag pickup, which did not
happen until around 8:30.
Anyway, we went down for the buffet breakfast at 7:00 and it was quite
impressive. It covered 2 different levels and had a great selection of
food, including specialty items from Asia and India. It was included in
our cruise price, but if you were staying here, it is a $35 buffet.
We went back up to the room and just lounged until 10:30 when we went down
to the ballroom to identify our luggage, which goes over to the ship
We decided not to wait around for the 12:30 bus, but let the Regent
Representatives know that we were going over to the Cruise Center on our
We left the hotel at 11:30 and arrived at the Cruise Center at 11:45.
Boarding started at 12:00 and after a short check-in system shutdown and
restart, we got our room key and got aboard.
We immediately went to La Veranda for lunch. The ship has been refurbished
since we were last on the Voyager this summer. So far, the new areas that
we see look great!
Just as we were finishing lunch, it began to downpour, which only lasted
about 20 minutes.
The room was ready at 2:30 as scheduled, but it took until 3:30 to get our
luggage. The reason for the lateness is that the ship is completely full
and there is a LOT of luggage to be delivered to the rooms. We met Samita,
our butler(ess) and Rohit, our steward. A quick unpacking until the 5:00
boat safety drill, then off to dinner at 6:30.
We were told that the guests who did the 3-day pre-cruise itinerary
to Cambodia will not make it back to the ship until 8:30 (which turned out
to be correct), so we will have a later departure than expected (we did
not depart until 9:00). The captain told us that the airport was closed
due to the strong downpour we had, so that is why they are late.
After our dinner, we made a quick trip around the ship to check out the
refurbishments, and as I said before, they did a nice job. The biggest
changes that we noticed were to the main dining room, with a entirely new
decor and layout, which works quite well...and the casino with a new
layout and a much better variety of machines. It was nice to see several
of the staff and crew that we have had on other cruises.
We went back to the room and just relaxed before calling it an evening. Oh
yes, we turn the clocks back tonight, so an extra hour of sleep is in our
We will be crossing the equator overnight.
December 23, 2016 - Sea Day
What is the saying..."Early to bed,
early to Rise?" We were up at 5:30 and it is 77 degrees with 85 percent
Our entire cruise is 5,532 nautical miles. We were at 187 when we got up.
We had breakfast in La Veranda, then went around the ship taking pictures
of the refurbishment and of some of the Christmas decorations.
We played a round of Rummikub while the room was being made up, then went
and checked out what was new in the store since we were last here in
June/July. The answer there is nothing. Same items.
I made my appointment with the Cruise Consultant for 3:00 to try to fix
some of the issues in our upcoming cruises.
Then it was up to the pool deck to watch the Equator Crossing Ceremony. It
was quite simple compared to past ceremonies. Instead of having a few crew
members getting "slopped" and dunked into the pool, followed by pollywogs
(passengers new to crossing the equator) kiss a fish, they just had
the pollywogs try "Splat the Rat" (hit a stuffed rat coming out of a pipe
with a table tennis paddle). Hit it and you are safe, miss and you have to
kiss the fish. All of the fun and laughter of seeing the crew getting
messy was gone.
Lunch today included Greek food by the pool and Asian food in La Veranda.
We both did a combination of both.
An afternoon visit to the casino did not pay off, so it was back to the
room to get ready for the Captains Reception. The only problem was...our
suits, tux and shirts were not back from the laundry. A call to the Butler
and Matt's suits arrived. Mine still were MIA. It was not until 5:45 that
they arrived, so that gave me 15 minutes to "tux up". I made it and we
were off. We got our traditional photo with the Captain, who has learned
that a photo is in his future.
After the reception, it was time for dinner in Compass Rose. Matt had
salmon and I had chicken. The dining room was very warm and both of us
were hot and did not eat much.
We dropped by the casino after dinner and played 3 card poker...still not
winning yet. Then it was off to the first production show "Dancin' Fool".
This new production team has 11 members and no orchestra. They did a nice
We were both tired, so after the show it was back to the room, as we know
we have a LONG tour tomorrow....9 hours long.
December 24, 2016 - Semarang,
Matt got up at 5:55, so that means I was
up at 5:55. We were planning on sleeping until 8, but that was not to be.
At 7AM, it was 78 degrees out with 89 percent humidity. The forecast is
for a high of 89 with a 25% chance of rain while we are on our tour of
Borobudur. Last night the Captain told us: "We were late in leaving
Singapore, but I have good news...we are going full speed and will arrive
in Semarang on time, but currently we are lost."
We had breakfast in La Veranda, then waited for our 10:15 meeting time in
the Theater before our tour began. Here is a description of the tour:
Departing by coach from Tanjung Emas
harbor, you will journey into the dramatic landscape of central Java en
route to the incredible UNESCO World Heritage site of Borobudur. Upon
arrival, you will be simply amazed at this incredible man-made marvel that
is nothing short of being spectacular. The world's largest Buddhist
monument, Borobudur was constructed between 778 and 856 and built with
over two million cubic feet of stone. This massive building project
exhausted five generations of central Java's population, yet within little
more than a century of its completion, was mysteriously abandoned. A
subsequent eruption of neighboring Mount Merapi completely covered the
site in ash and it wasn't rediscovered until 1814. The painstaking
excavation and restoration of Borobudur was accomplished at a cost of $25
million, but has given us today an unquestionably remarkable monument that
stands as a symbol to an ancient and glorious heritage.
Following your morning exploration of
the temple, you'll be treated to a buffet lunch of Indonesian specialties
and a delightful performance by local entertainers before proceeding on to
a silver and batik factory. Central Java is well known for its high
quality Batik fabric and silver ware and this tour stop will afford you
time to browse for some souvenirs to take home or take in a brief puppet
demonstration. Re-boarding your coach, it's a relaxing and scenic
drive back to the pier where your tour will conclude.
The ship got into port a few minutes early and our tour got started on
time. When we went to the theater to meet up for the tour, Matt ran into
Art and Sandy, who we were on a cruise with in 2014. They were assigned
the same bus as us, so we were able to catch up on things.
Our guide was Djamal and we were one of six busses on this tour. That
amounts to about 240 passengers. Our busses were lined up back-to-back and
we were off WITH A POLICE ESCORT the entire day. They were very good at
getting us through backed-up traffic and stop lights. It was quite the way
to travel. We passed jack fruit stands set up along side of the road and a
lot of kids with signs trying to get the busses to honk their horns (it is
a new YouTube trend over here).
We made a quick bathroom/snack break (with the normal trinket sellers
following you everywhere).
Then it was off to the Temple, but had lunch first on the temple property.
The temple was AMAZING and we walked up all 10 levels to the top. Djamal
pointed out several of the sculptures and carvings along the way.
The visit was a bit too short, but that is how things go when you really
want to see something.
Matt did find a nice trinket to buy at the temple. The sellers start at a
high price and by the time they follow you to the bus and you keep
refusing or offer them a low price, their price has dropped by half...so
you learn to show a bit of interest, but keep refusing.
After we were all loaded on the bus, we went straight back to the ship,
skipping the batik and silver shop. Not to worry, as most of our tours in
Indonesia end up in a batik or silver shop. We made it back to the ship
just before the 7:30 "all aboard" time.
A quick aside...while we were driving back to the ship, the gentleman in
the seat in front of me kept whistling Christmas songs ("God Rest Ye Merry
Gentlemen" being his favorite). Although I like Christmas songs, I like
napping on the bus much better. Just wish I could have.
When we got back to the room, we found a gift on the bed from Regent. It
was a nice box of note cards and envelopes.
We ordered dinner in the suite as we did not want to get dressed up to go
to dinner in the restaurants.
Matt stayed in the room to work on photos while I went down to gamble and
came out ahead!
We turn our clocks ahead one hour tonight.
December 25, 2016 - Sea Day
First of all, Merry Christmas!
We awoke at 8 and had breakfast in La Veranda. Because it is Sunday,
champagne and caviar are served. Matt made his champagne a mimosa, and I
just skipped that whole area.
We did some asking around about getting wooden items into Australia. We
have seen some very nice puppets that we would like to bring home, but the
customs details are a bit sketchy.
We played a few rounds of Rummikub, then tried to play Bingo, but there
were not enough passengers to play to make it worthwhile...so...we hung
around until 12:00 and lunchtime. They had a HUGE ham at the buffet that
they were carving. They were also offering a "Mediterranean Buffet" at the
After lunch, I went out to the pool to lay out. It was hot and still a bit
humid, so I only lasted about an hour. I came back to the room and Matt
decided to go spend a half hour in the gym.
We followed that with an hour and a half in the casino and came out ahead.
By that time, it was time to get ready for the 6:00 Christmas show
featuring the Cruise Director and his staff, the Production team and the
housekeeping team. Quite a nice performance.
We had to kill time before meeting up with Art and Sandy for dinner. They
had asked us at the end of yesterday's tour if we wanted to join them
tonight and they arranged 7:30 dinner in Chartreuse, the French
We followed that with a bit more time in the casino before calling it
quits as we have an early wake-up for tomorrow. We are doing 2 tours.
I want to mention how nice all the staff is today. There are "Merry
Christmas" greetings from everyone you run into.
December 26, 2016 - Benoa/Bali -Day 1
I woke up this morning not feeling the
greatest. Sore throat and achy muscles. Not sure if it is going from heat
to air-conditioning, or if I am getting a cold. Did not make for the best
We had breakfast in the room before going to our 7:45 meeting time in the
theater for today's excursion, "Discovering Bali":
This day spent discovering the fascinating
and vibrant culture of Bali begins with a picturesque drive to Tohpati
Village for a demonstration of Batik cloth processing. Along the way,
you'll stop and enjoy a Barong dance performance. This well-known and
theatrical Balinese dance tells a story of the fight of good vs. evil via
a colorful performance. Arriving at the village you'll have a unique
opportunity to observe skilled artisans at work as they use the different
methods of applying the colors and printing to the fabric.
Continuing on, you'll travel to a Traditional Balinese house compound. The
Balinese home is often viewed as a living organism. Much like a human
being, it has a head (the ancestral shrine), arms (the sleeping quarters
and living room) and legs and feet (the kitchen and rice granaries.) This
up-close look allows you a glimpse into conventional Balinese life.
Your next stop is at the Singapadu Temple or Pura Puseh. Built in the 17th
century and guarded by four statues of Wisnu that rest on carved
pedestals, the temple continues to be used by the local village community
for religious ceremonies.
Your final tour stop is at the Bird Park. This amazing attraction is where
you'll find the largest collection of Indonesian birds in the world, as
well as many varieties from Africa and South America. Covering nearly 5
acres of botanical landscape, the Park provides sanctuary to almost 1000
birds of 250 different species. Taking an innovative approach, the birds
are showcased not only in their natural habitats and large walk-in
aviaries, but also as free range throughout the Park. Adding to the Park's
appeal is a remarkable display of tropical plants and trees which also
serve to attract a significant butterfly population.
Following your time at the Bird Park, you'll re-board your coach for the
relaxing drive back to the pier in Benoa.
We visited the Batik factory/store. I have done Batik myself before when I
was in India in 1974, so I knew the process. Matt found an ebony sculpture
and a mask that he liked, so we bought those. The sculpture will look
great on our dining room table.
Dana, our guide, was very detailed in describing everything. Sometimes,
you just want to keep moving along and see things rather than stand and
listen to a lecture.
We then went to the temple for a visit and the show, which was very
interesting and Dana gave us a guide to what it was about, which sort of
The costuming was great.
Then it was off to the house compound, an actual home still being used by
the family. Finally, to the Bird Park for a 30 minute walk before heading
back to the pier.
The nice part of the tour was that there were only 20 in our group and we
only met up with other tours at the temple for the show.
Because I am not feeling great, we decided to pass on the 2nd tour of the
day which would have been going back to the Bird Park for dinner and
another dance show.
Upon returning to the ship, we had lunch and then Matt went out shopping
near the ship while I took a nap and tried to get better.
We hung out in the room until dinner, then back to the room. We also
skipped the Bali Dance performance in the theater in the evening.
Hopefully I will feel better for tomorrow's tour.
December 27, 2016 - Benoa/Bali -Day 2
Woke up at 6, feeling a bit better
today. We had an 8:00 tour, "Royal Temple & Tanah Lot":
This fascinating half day excursion
provides an excellent opportunity to discover Bali's intriguing world of
gods and temples, along with its traditional arts and crafts.
Traveling along a scenic route from the pier, you'll first make your way
to the magnificent Royal Temple, found in the town of Mengwi which was
once the center of a powerful kingdom. A spectacular landmark of historic
architecture built in the 17th century, Pura Taman Ayun served as the
family temple of the Mengwi dynasty, whose kingdom survived until the late
1800s. This wonderful temple complex includes a wide moat, exquisite
wooden shrines and beautifully carved gates, making it one of the area's
Leaving Mengwi behind, you'll continue on to Bali's most photographed
temple, Tanah Lot. Also referred to as the Sunset Temple, the impressive
black lava towers of this sacred 16th century temple are dramatically
situated on a rocky outcrop that extends 656 feet offshore. Surrounded by
pristine aqua waters and the white surf that crashes against the rocks,
it's easy to see why this location has become a favorite with
Re-joining your coach, it's a leisurely drive to your final stop, a
popular batik workshop. This lovely Balinese tradition has been passed
down for generations and at the workshop you will have an opportunity to
admire the distinctive artistry and technique that goes into producing the
famous batik cloth. There will be time afforded here to shop for a
souvenir to take home.
We, once again, had 20 people per bus,
but 8 busses on the tour. Because of the time needed to see the 3 sites
before the ship sailed, we once again had a police escort.
We did the events in a different order, with Tanah Lot first, then the
Royal Temple, then the batik factory (a different one from yesterday).
We only had a half hour at each stop with 30-45 minute drive between each
We got back to the port at 12:45. Yesterday, Matt purchased 2 batik shirts
for me at one of the port-side stands. One shirt fit fine, the other was a
bit small, so we had time to exchange it for a larger one.
We then came back aboard the ship for lunch and went back to the room to
work on photos while the ship left port (at 2:00).
6:00 brought the traditional "Regent Block Party", where you go out into
the hall, have wine and cheese and meet your neighbors.
We followed that with dinner, then the casino and finally the Production
Show "Lights, Camera, Music!" The production shows are nice. They use a
video screen for backgrounds and a pre-recorded soundtrack instead of the
live orchestra that used to accompany the shows. They now seem to be a bit
I am still coughing a lot. I think I have now become "Mr. Cough-Up-A-Lung"
(see Dec. 19 post), but I seem to be joined by many others onboard.
December 28, 2016 - Komodo, Indonesia
Awoke at 7:45 and decided to have
breakfast in the room. Bruce, the Cruise Consultant called with the final
answers (from the head office) to my questions about next year's cruise
and although not every issue went in my favor, enough did that I am happy.
Our excursion, "Komodo Dragons," met at 10:10 in the theater:
Tendering from the ship, you'll arrive at
the Komodo Jetty where your exploration of Komodo National Park commences.
The world-renowned great wildlife island of Komodo is the desolate domain
of a fierce and very rare species of reptile that bears the looks of a
prehistoric dinosaur and is appropriately called a Komodo Dragon. A clear
indication of Komodo National Park's biological importance is its ranking
with UNESCO as both a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve.
The Komodo Dragon is thought to be the remnant of a once widespread
ancient order of monitor lizards. Today, fewer than 300 of this protected
species remains and its continuing existence hangs in the balance. Often
measuring up to 11 feet in length and weighing in at over 300 pounds, this
ominous looking creature, with its sharp, saw-like teeth and menacing
eyes, leaves a lasting impression on all who have had the opportunity to
see it up close. Living on deer and wild pigs that inhabit the island, it
is surprisingly agile when covering short distances and a good swimmer.
Once you are ashore, you will be met by your local tour guide to begin
your walking expedition of the island. Traveling in small groups with your
guide and a park ranger, you'll make your way down footpaths that lead
through pockets of thorny vegetation and dry tropical grasslands, senses
heightened with anticipation that the dragons will make an appearance.
This first-hand look at Komodo will also serve to acquaint you with the
other notable species that inhabit the island, as well as the rich
surrounding marine environment. Informative commentary will be provided by
your expert guides as you navigate this utterly unique locale. Following
your guided tour, you'll return to the jetty for your tender transfer back
to the ship.
We were in the last group to go ashore
and we were divided into 3 groups of about 20, but the 3rd group only had
8, so Katja, the Destinations Manager came over to us and pulled us into
the small group. We then became the last of the 3 groups to start the mile
and a half loop. We had a ranger in front and one in back with a large
forked wooden pole and a guide in the middle. We saw a small dragon right
as we started and then several large ones at the man-made watering hole
about 3/4 of the way through. We also saw one deer. Our guide told us all
about the dragons. Most live 40-60 years. After laying their eggs, the
mothers sit with the nest and then leaves after 3 months. When the babies
are born, they must fend for themselves by climbing a tree and hanging out
for 3 years, so they are not eaten. By the way, the mother does come back
to the nest after the babies are born to see if it is "mealtime" for her.
They have no connection to their young. Once they are old enough to fend
for themselves, they hang around watering holes and wait for animals. Once
they bite their prey, they just let it go. It will die in 3-4 days and the
dragon's smell is SO good that they can track the prey down for miles. The
dragons only need to eat once or twice a month. By the way, we were told
NOT to wear anything red and to bring NO fruit or food to the island. Matt
and I were talking to the ranger in the front and he said that his wife
was manning one of the souvenir stands, so at the end of our tour, we went
to their stand a bought one of the small caved dragons. All the stands
there had the same 7 or 8 items for sale...carved dragons, jewelry,
t-shirts, etc. all brought over from the other islands to here.
We caught the last tender back to the ship, had lunch (BBQ day), then went
back to the room to work on the photos.
We took a break and went to the casino (should have stayed in the room)
and went back to finish editing photos until dinner time, which was in
Sette Mari, the Italian Restaurant. We were the first through the door and
service was extremely slow. In fact, they came to the table twice to
apologize that they were "flooded" by guests all at once and the kitchen
was overwhelmed. We know that they fill up very quickly every night, so we
are not sure what the real reason was. We usually eat quickly and are in
and out of restaurants in an hour...unless we are dining with others.
Tonight it took over an hour to get the 2nd course.
After dinner, it was back to the casino to try to win our money back, but
that did not seem to happen.
We decided to skip the show tonight which was our Cruise Director Ray
Solaire's puppet and singing show that we had seen before.
Clocks go ahead another hour tonight, and a half hour tomorrow night to
get us to Darwin, Australia time.
December 29, 2016 - Sea Day
Wake up time was 8:00. It was already 86
degrees out with 75 percent humidity. Today was a "face-to-face"
immigration day with the Australian authorities. Not quite sure what the
Pursers office was thinking when they passed out the customs forms. It
gave times for us to meet the officials. If you were up early, you could
go between 8 and 9, then it was by deck, ie: Deck 10...9:00 to 10:30, Deck
9...10:30 to 12:00, etc. Then it stated that "if your scheduled time
conflicts with onboard activities you wish to attend, you are free to
present yourself for inspection during one of the other time slots." Ummmm...ok.
Just say go anytime between 8 and 3.
So we walked down at 8:45 and there was no wait time. They checked our
forms, stamped our passports and that was it.
We then went to breakfast and I followed that with 2 hours of tanning time
by the pool while Matt went to the gym.
We met up for lunch in La Veranda, where, for dessert, I had the Mint
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. I noticed that there was something hard and
larger than normal in it. Turned out to be an almond, then another. I went
to the restaurant manager right away to let him know, just in case someone
had a nut allergy.
After lunch we went back to the room to watch a movie and check the
A bit later, I went down to the casino and did quite well.
When I came back, Matt said that his bed smelled funny. Yep it did.
Smelled like a mouse had died in the mattress. We called our Butler and
told her about it and that Matt wanted his whole bed changed out. She gave
it a whiff and said it would be done by the time we got back from dinner.
We also made notes for her to contact maintenance as our lights in the
bathroom keep burning out. 2 of them have gone out twice...and that the
light switch to the bathroom was slightly broken. Half the time when you
turn off the lights, the toggle switch clicks back to the on position by
itself. All the items were replaced/fixed as promised.
Tonight was the "Seven Seas Society Party". Since this is a 21 day cruise,
everyone aboard is at least a Silver Member, bypassing Bronze. We learned
that there are 422 Silver Members (21-74 nights aboard Regent Cruises),
168 Gold (75-199 nights) 45 Platinum (200-399 nights...where we are
now) and 8 Titanium (400 nights or more...where we will be next cruise).
The Production team performed to some "Mama Mia" songs, then Ray "I really
like myself" Solaire, the Cruise Director did a song, a ventriloquist
number, then another song. We weren't sure how long he was going to keep
going, so we got up and left. LoAnne was sitting next to us and we asked
her if she wanted to join us for dinner, which she did. We had a wonderful
After dinner, we did the normal casino routine before going back to the
Clocks ahead one half hour tonight.
December 30, 2016 - Darwin, Australia
We got up at 6:00 with breakfast in the
room. Outside it is 86 degrees with 85 per cent humidity. Our 8:15 tour
today is "Territory Wildlife Park". It is a 5 hour tour:
Your tour begins with a scenic drive to the
Territory Wildlife Park, one of the major attractions in the Darwin area.
The park is nestled in some 400 hectares of natural bush land and has over
4 miles of walking trails that pass through abundant woodlands, lush
wetlands and tropical forest. For the convenience of the Park's visitors,
carriages pulled by small trucks are available which navigate around the
Park, giving informative commentary along the way. As the Park is quite
extensive, this may be the most fitting way to travel from one stop to
While here, you'll have a chance to see a vast array of native wildlife,
such as kangaroos, wallabies, buffalo, tropical birds, dingoes, crocodiles
and Banteng cattle. As photo opportunities will abound, be sure to bring
your camera. Attractions at the Park also include the unique underwater
walk-through aquarium where you are immersed in the midst of gliding whip
rays and other colorful fish and marine life. Another fascinating exhibit
is the Nocturnal House which gives an extraordinary glimpse into the lives
of many species of nocturnal animals that are rarely seen in the wild.
There is also a special enclosure where a scheduled performance is held
that allows you to observe some of the Park's birds of prey in full
Although guides will greet your coach, provide maps and be available to
offer suggestions and assistance, your time here is unstructured and it is
at the individual's discretion which experiences they wish to partake in.
It is suggested that you first cover those exhibits you most want to see
in the time allotted.
At the conclusion of your visit, your coach will return you to the ship in
Right as we arrived at the park at 9:30, it began to rain. A park guide
came aboard and said since the carriages (think Disneyland trams) were
open on the side and the seats were wet, we would stay on the bus and they
would drive us around the circle of the park. We got to the first stop and
nobody wanted off the bus to go walking to see the nocturnal animals. Next
stop was the Monsoon Forest Walk. Still raining...nobody off the bus. Next
stop was the Aquarium. The guide said the bus would wait for everyone and
that the aquarium was indoors. Everyone off the bus. Not much of an
aquarium, but it was ok. When we got out, the rain had slowed, so Matt and
I decided we would walk the park. We went back to the Nocturnal Animal
area and took a few photos of baby wallabies and an alligator. Then we
trekked over to the Woodland Walk to see the wallabies up close. You walk
on clayish paths that, because of the rain, were just huge puddles and
water gullies. We went into the electric fence area and there they were,
eating out of trays of food left for them. They were not exactly happy to
see us and all but one backed off into the woods a bit. Then the
torrential rains started, and we were stuck with one other couple standing
under a tin overhang waiting for the rain to let up. It did, SLIGHTLY...so
we made a run for the main road. We found one of the cruise tour busses
that was going around picking up rain-soaked passengers and they let us on
and took us clear around to the front. All the other people on the 5
busses were already there. By this time it was only 11:00. They decided to
load up the busses and start driving back to the ship. They gave us a tour
of Darwin on our way, so we ended up back at the ship at 1:15. It was
still raining hard and the wind had picked up. They let us out of the
terminal towards the ship in groups of 4 as we had to walk/run outside in
the rain to a checkpoint and then up the ship's ramp to get indoors. Our
umbrellas were worthless from the terminal to the ship, so needless to
say, everyone was soaked. All of that said, just seeing the wallabies made
We went to the room, changed and then had lunch. When we got back to the
room, I took a quick hot shower and Matt took some of our items down to
the clothes dryer and he dried our shoes in the cabin with a hair dryer.
We just relaxed the rest of the afternoon and then had dinner in the main
dining room and a bit of fun in the casino.
There was no show in the theater tonight. A movie was shown (which we had
seen) instead. The performers did "Beatles Night" in one of the lounges,
but we have always passed on that too.
Tonight, we turn our clocks ahead another half hour.
December 31, 2016 - Sea Day
We decided to sleep in this morning,
with me up at 8 and Matt up at 9. We had breakfast in the room, then went
to play a few rounds of Rummikub.
We followed that with Bingo. They finally had enough players to make it
worthwhile. We still did not win anything. We followed that with lunch,
and as it was raining, spent most of the afternoon in our cabin, except
for some gambling time.
Tonight was formal night. Our dinner was in Prime 7, the steakhouse, and
we had a very nice meal there, per usual.
We went back to the casino and won back what we lost in the afternoon. I
went to check out Yakov Smirnoff, our guest entertainer for a few minutes.
He was not getting much laughter.
His show ended at 11:15 and everyone gathered in the Atrium for the
countdown to 2017. Crowded, but nice.
Just a nice New Years Eve.
January 1, 2017 - Sea Day
Another quiet sea day with us getting up
at 8:30 and having breakfast in La Veranda. I went out to the pool for an
hour and then we just hung out until the 11:30 Bingo games, where we once
again, did not win. It was then time for lunch and a bit of gambling for
me (while Matt watched a movie). I then went to talk with Bruce, the
Cruise Consultant and booked a cruise in mid-2018 that we will not be
taking. The reason you book one WAY out is that you get the benefits of
booking the cruise online and you can move to a cruise in the future (up
to mid-2019) that has not been published yet. It is a way to save on a
future cruise. During that time, Matt watched a second movie for the day.
We finished the day with a nice dinner in Compass Rose and time in the
casino. Matt watched another movie before bed.
January 2, 2017 - Port Moresby, Papua
Everyone up at 6 with breakfast in the
room before our 7:30 meeting time for the "Port Moresby Highlights" tour:
Papua New Guinea's lovely capital of Port
Moresby comes alive on this revealing city tour of its most alluring
attractions and historic sites.
From the pier, you'll drive directly to Paga Hill, where you'll be treated
to a phenomenal panoramic view of the city, serene Fairfax Harbor, Tatana
Island and the traditional stilt village of Hanuabada. Paga Hill is a
great starting point and offers an all-encompassing look out over at the
capital, which was named for Sir Fairfax Moresby, the father of British
explorer John Moresby, who sailed here in 1873. Soon after descending,
you'll find yourself at the bustling Koki Market where brief stop will be
made. Continuing on, you will pass the contemporary-designed National
Parliament House before arriving at the National Museum and Art Gallery.
The museum holds a vast collection of anthropological, archaeological and
natural science items collected throughout Papua New Guinea. You may learn
about traditional methods of hunting, early agricultural techniques, and
even see examples of native artwork culled from around the country.
Collections of a different sort await you at your next stop, the National
Capital Botanical Gardens, where a wonderland of flora and fauna are
found. You might meander through the orchid houses, walk down paths lined
with exotic palms and marvel at animals like the tree-climbing kangaroos
and showy Victoria Crowned Pigeons.
Finally, after this superb immersion in the local culture, you'll have the
chance to shop for primitive Papuan artwork at PNG Arts before returning
to the pier.
We loaded into non-air conditions vans
with 16 people and did this tour in a different order than described.
We had a guide who was limited in her english, but did the best she could.
We started at "Adventure Park/National Orchid Gardens". The park was not
open to the general public, so there were only 32 of us there. What was to
be a 30 minute stop turned into an hour and 15 minutes. The park had a
nice display of Bird and Animal Life as well as the Orchid Garden. We also
had a group of women performers. As we were getting ready to leave, 4
passengers from the other van that we were traveling with, decided that
they had had enough of the heat/humidity and wanted out of the tour. We
had to sit there for awhile while the guides tried to call for another van
or taxi for them. We finally talked our guide into continuing since it did
not affect our bus. She gave in and we were off to the Parliament House.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a guide who took us inside. We were
the only van allowed to do so. Matt snapped a shot inside (not really
allowed) of the beautiful chambers. We then went to the Museum nearby and
Matt once again got a few shots (again, not really allowed).
We ended our tour at the Koki Market which only had a few vendors as today
was a National Holiday. There were a lot of clothes vendors and only 2 or
3 who had actual handicrafts. Matt found a carved warrior that we both
liked and purchased that as our New Guinea item (see photo page).
We were back on the ship right at noon, so went to lunch and then I went
out to the pool deck to tan for 2 hours while Matt worked on the photos
that we had taken. He also watched 2 movies.
I have been listening to Carol Burnett's book "In Such Good Company" while
tanning and enjoying her stories. I did get a bit burned in the face. It
was about 90 degrees out today, but one of the tours (which included a
flight from the airport) was late in getting back, so we did not leave
until 7:30. The captain has the ship going at the full 19 knots to get to
our next port by noon tomorrow.
It was back to the room for me to work on the webpage before dinner in the
The ship was to leave port at 6:00
After dinner, we went to see the production show "Tuxedo", which to me was
very dull. Not up to production standards.
We hit the casino next and on one of the first hands, the lady next to us
hit a Royal Flush for $5,000. Fun to see.
January 3, 2017 -
Alotau, New Guinea
We woke up around 8, had breakfast in La
Veranda at 9 followed by a few games of Rummikub at the Coffee Corner. We
were watching the many islands including Rogeia and Sariba. These all look
very much like the islands in Fiji. You forget how close to that area we
are. We docked in Alotau right around 11:00 and went out on the 5th deck
to take photos of our "greeters".
We had a tour scheduled for today, but a few days ago, we decided to
cancel that tour and just go ashore on our own. As we got our statue
yesterday, there was no reason to get off the ship. Instead, we had lunch
and then Matt scheduled a haircut (at 1:00) and I went out to the pool
deck. No sooner did I get out there that it started to rain. Now we are
even more glad that we did not do the tour.
At 2:00, one of the crew came through our room and went out to paint the
balcony. Nice to see that they keep up the appearance of the ship, even a
few months after it's full dry dock.
Matt stayed in the spa and had a massage while I stayed in the room and
relaxed. We have noticed that many of the cabins on the ship have their
shoes in the hallway. From reports that we heard, the tours got very
muddy. Also, we found out that many of the van drivers went on strike and
so several of the tours had to be cancelled.
We attended the "Gold, Platinum and Titanium" event which turned out to be
a performance by our "greeters" this morning. Seems that the New Guinea
group that was to have performed got stranded on the other side of the
island when a bridge washed out from the rain. The group did 3 numbers.
Dinner followed in the Compass Rose and then casino time.
The ship was to sail at 9:00, but everyone was aboard at 6:30 and we
sailed away. The Captain mentioned that this is only the 2nd time that a
Regent ship has been to Alotau.
We skipped the violin player, who was the performer for the evening.
January 4, 2017 - At
I got up at 7:00 and had an 8:00 haircut in the
spa. Went back to the room, woke up Matt and we had breakfast in La Veranda.
I went out to the pool deck to tan for an hour and a half while Matt stayed in
11:00 brought the 2nd boat drill of the cruise. It has to be done a second time
if the cruise is over 14 days long.
12:00 was Bingo time and I won game #3 for $93. It was then lunch time. It was
Tex-Mex day at the pool grill. In addition to that, La Veranda had ribs and
turkey. Hard to make all those decisions, so I had a bit of each.
Matt spent the afternoon in the boutique while I spent more time by the pool and
then winning back some of the money lost at the casino.
We had a later dinner (7:30) with Art and Sandy in Chartreuse before both of us
returned to the casino. We skipped the show tonight....Cruise Director Ray's
second puppet show.
Another quiet sea day.
January 5, 2017 -
Cairns, Australia - Day 1
We were up at 6:15 with
breakfast in the room before our 8:20 tour. On our way off the ship to the
terminal, we had to pick up our passports and then go through Customs inside the
terminal. It went quickly and we were off on the "Butterfly Sanctuary and Aussie
Departing by coach from
the ship, you'll drive to Kuranda, a small township nestled in the majestic
rainforest that borders Cairns. Upon arrival, enjoy a brief orientation tour of
this charming village before visiting the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.
This aviary is home to over 1,500 magnificent tropical butterflies, all local to
the area, including the electric blue Ulysses butterfly. As the butterflies are
all rainforest species, the aviary is designed to re-create their natural
habitat, complete with a running stream. Here, you will have a chance to learn
about the many interesting behavioral patterns and the life cycle of these
winsome insects. This includes egg laying, courtship dances, and butterfly
battles over territory to name just a few.
Following your time at the Butterfly Sanctuary, you will re-board your coach and
proceed to the Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary, which forms part of this vast
100-acre park. Here, you can see koalas, wander amongst free-roaming kangaroos
and wallabies, and visit an exciting nocturnal display. The Wildlife Sanctuary
also gives visitors the chance to have a keepsake photo taken while holding an
adorable koala. This photo is optional and not included in your tour cost.
At the conclusion of your tour, your coach will travel back down the mountain,
affording you further scenic views of the Cairns region, the Coral Sea and Green
Island before you are returned to the ship.
On our way over the mountain to the sanctuary, it began to downpour, but it
stopped just as we got there.
The aviary did, indeed, have a lot of butterflies. Hard to get photos of them as
they fly more than land. We also got to see them caring for the eggs and
We then drove the 10 minutes to the Wildlife Sanctuary to see the animals there.
Although there were not a lot, they had a nice collection. The koalas were the
highlight, and we did take the opportunity to have our photo taken with one. We
wanted to make sure that we did that somewhere on the trip and it was guaranteed
It started to rain again while we were there and did not let up.
We got back to the pier shortly after noon and it was still raining. We had
lunch in La Veranda and as we were finishing, the rain stopped.
We then went back to the cabin to work on the photos. Matt took a nap while I
relaxed on our balcony. It began to rain again and continued through the
The production company did a pre-dinner show, "Broadway In Concert", where the 6
singers performed songs from Broadway shows.
A later dinner in Compass Rose finished our evening as we have an early wakeup
tomorrow for our tour.
January 6, 2017 -
Cairns, Australia - Day 2
It was an early 5:45 wake up with breakfast in
the room and our 7:15 tour: "Great Barrier Reef Adventure"
Experience a full day adventure visiting the
world's richest marine habitat - Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
It's a short walk to where your luxury fast catamaran awaits to transfer you
directly from Cairns to the spacious, stable Marine World activity platform.
After a scenic sail of approximately 90-minutes, you will arrive at one of the
most pristine, accessible and versatile Outer Great Barrier Reef sites
available, where you will have access to all of its amenities. Your complete
reef experience aboard the Marine World Pontoon will provide you with 4-hours at
a private patch of reef and boasts the smallest pontoon passenger numbers,
enhancing your overall enjoyment. During your time on the platform, you will
have the opportunity to enjoy several inclusive activities in a uniquely
relaxed, friendly and personalized atmosphere.
The Marine World platform has a spacious lower deck, with ample undercover
seating, large easy access snorkel decks, an Underwater Reef Viewing Observatory
and a children's safety swimming enclosure. The ultimate in comfort, Marine
World also features a spacious upper sundeck with sun lounges (including shaded
areas for summer), and access to fresh water showers and changing rooms. Reef
life is located just meters away from the platform, making Marine World suitable
for all age groups and swimming abilities from the novice snorkeler to the most
Complementing your day aboard, you will be treated to morning and afternoon tea,
as well as an extensive hot/cold buffet lunch. Other optional refreshments and a
licensed bar are available for an additional cost.
Following what will surely be an unforgettable day at one of the World's
greatest natural treasures, you will retrace your route back to Cairns and your
Well, not exactly as described. Our ship
company was Sunlover Reef Cruises and we did NOT go to Marine World Pontoon
(that is another company). We went out to Moore Reef.
The Sunlover pontoon did not have an upper deck and no lounges. They did have a
nice snorkeling area, a free "submarine" ride (a la Disneyland) and a free glass
bottom boat. We ate lunch right at 10:00 when they started serving, then went
out for a snorkel. By doing that, we avoided the snorkel crowd. After the
snorkel, we took the submarine ride, which did not show much and rocked back and
forth so much that my stomach did not feel well the rest of the day. Our boat
left the pontoon at 12:30 and we were back to our ship at 2:30. We worked on
photos and then Matt took a nap. I went out on the balcony and watched our 5:30
Matt decided that we should eat dinner in the room, so we ordered, but it took a
half hour longer than expected to arrive.
After dinner, I went down to the casino and Matt stayed in the room and watched
January 7, 2017 -
Up at 7:15 for a 9:00 tour, which was delayed
by 15 minutes. It was "Townsville
and Billabong Sanctuary", a 4 hour excursion:
A short 10 mile drive
south of Townsville brings you to the Billabong Sanctuary. Nestled in the hills
of the Mutatunga Range and set amongst rainforest, wetlands and eucalyptus
trees, the Billabong Sanctuary provides an ideal environment for wildlife and is
a popular spot for locals. While here, you will have a personalized guided tour
by one of the Sanctuary's qualified rangers who will offer you expert insight
into Australia's fascinating wildlife. You will also be afforded free time to
explore the different habitats at your own pace. As you stroll along the
pathways, you may see kookaburras, dingoes, Australian black swans, cassowary,
cockatoos, birds of prey and other native wildlife. There also exists the
opportunity to hand feed the free roaming kangaroos, take a photo with a cuddly
koala or unusual wombat, or watch the menacing crocodiles being fed. You may
also wish to stop at the on-site souvenir shop before leaving to purchase some
mementos of your visit.
At the conclusion of your visit to the Sanctuary, your coach will take you back
to Townsville. En route to the pier, you will be given a short tour of some of
the city's landmark sights, such as the Strand Beachfront Promenade, the museum,
casino and the historic buildings along Flinders Street as well as stopping at
the top of Castle Hill for a photo opportunity of the panoramic views offered
here of Townsville.
We did the tour in reverse as there were 4 busses doing this tour. The Sanctuary
was the highlight with chances to take photos with the wombats, koalas and
wallabies. It did sprinkle on and off while we were at the sanctuary, but the
umbrellas are all we needed. We did buy some "roo food" to give to the
kangaroos and wallabies. We were back to the ship at 1:30 with lunch in La
Veranda, then to the room to edit photos, etc before dinner.
Sail away was at 5:00, dinner at 6:30 in La Veranda and a bit of gambling
finished out the evening.
Not a lot to write about, but a fun day!
January 8, 2017 - Sea
We got up late
today...8:45 and had breakfast in the room. It was another quiet sea day.
We played a game of Rummikub while the room was made up and then played Bingo
After lunch, I went out on the pool deck (it was VERY windy out there and very
few people) while Matt watched a movie in the room.
Today not only had the winds, but the water was choppy. The Captain said that
with the headwind coming at us, we may be a bit late getting into Brisbane
Mid-afternoon, I went to the casino and won $900 on a slot machine. A few more
of those and we will be caught up. : )
We rested the rest of the afternoon and then joined Charles and Marybeth Clark
for dinner in Prime 7.
That was followed by the Production Show "Vegas...the Show"...not the best
show... and a bit of gambling.
January 9, 2017 -
Brisbane, Australia - Day 1
We were told that
instead of arriving at 10:00 in Brisbane, it would be closer to noon, and noon
it was. We were up around 8, had a light breakfast and I went to the pool deck
to sun for an hour. The lunch facilities opened at 11:00 and so, we had a light
lunch there. Our original 10:45 tour time was moved to 12:30, but did not get
going until 1:15. It was "Leisurely Brisbane", a 3 hour bus tour:
Travel by coach for a
delightful tour of Brisbane and its surrounding areas. You will no doubt notice
that beneath Brisbane's country-like charm, there is a big city's vitality. The
Capital of Queensland, Brisbane is also the state's historic and cultural
capital, seat of government and a major seaport. The city has also served as
host for World Expo 1988 and the Goodwill Games in 2001. Brisbane was destined
to become one of the bright stars of Australia's colonization and today, with a
population of more than one million, it is the third largest of Australia's
cities. Enjoying a semi-tropical climate, this lovely city is lushly landscaped
with jacarandas, flame trees, bougainvilleas and numerous other flowers and
Your tour will take you past the Parliament House, the Treasury Building, the
old Customs House, the Cultural Centre, the magnificent Botanical Gardens and
many other historical and landmark sites. You may notice that Brisbane has the
look of a city that has recently grown up. Much of the old areas of the city
have been bulldozed and replaced with glittering glass and concrete towers,
hotels and paved shopping malls. The meandering Brisbane River, the lush inner
city parks and the unusual blend of historic and modern architecture make this a
truly unforgettable city.
There was only one bus doing this tour, so it was not crowded, plus we only made
one stop at the top of Mt. Coot-Tha for a look out over the entire city.
Otherwise, was a quiet tour with a good look at what the city is about.
We were back on the ship a bit early (3:45) and after a few minutes of rest, it
was time to join Neil and Massi for dinner in the City. I met Neil and Massi
back on my 2nd cruise in 2007 and Matt and I were able to cruise with them again
in 2014. We ate at the Staghorn Beer Garden at the Breakfast Creek Hotel. They
had great steaks. So glad we were able to catch up with Neil and Massi.
We were back at the ship at 9:45, worked on today's photos and went to bed
early, as we have a long 8 hour tour tomorrow.
One note here...I am NOT happy with Regent tonight. Back when we booked this
cruise and did our restaurant reservations, we booked one of the specialty
restaurants for the 4th. Before we left for the cruise, Regent cancelled our
reservation for that night telling us there was going to be the "BBQ Deck Party"
and that the specialty restaurants would be closed that night and that they had
moved our reservation to another sea day. Fine....but the Deck Party did not
happen on the 4th. They did it tonight, which is an overnight port. Many people,
including ourselves had made other plans. The party was only announced last
night. I am not mad that they did the party and not mad that we missed it. I
would rather spend time with friends. I am mad that they did not do this on any
of the nights that we were at sea. That only excluded 3 nights. Bad planning on
January 10, 2017 -
Brisbane, Australia - Day 2
Up at 7:00 with
breakfast in the room followed by our 8:45 8 hour tour, "A Day at the Gold
When people think of
Queensland, they often refer to it as Australia's Sunshine State. Renowned for
its dazzling white sand beaches, surfing, swimming, shopping and relaxing
atmosphere, your tour will take you to perhaps what is the most famous stretch
of beaches in Queensland - the Gold Coast.
Boarding your coach at the pier, you will drive directly to the Gold Coast. Upon
arrival at Tiki Village Wharf you will board your boat and enjoy a relaxing
cruise in calm waters at Surfers Paradise and the Broadwater, viewing the
beautiful homes and lifestyles of the rich and famous. View some of the world's
most beautiful high-rise apartments and ever-changing Surfers Paradise skyline.
Following your water explorations, you will transfer to Q-Deck for the best
bird's eye view of the Gold Coast. Australia's only beachside observation deck,
Q-Deck takes you to the highest point above the Gold Coast and provides stunning
360 degree views from the surf to the hinterland and beyond. Rising 770 ft. into
the sky, the observation deck is located on level 77 of the iconic Q1
residential tower. Experience one of the world's fastest lift rides and see
spectacular 360 degree views of the Gold Coast through coin operated, high
After a morning of sightseeing at Surfers Paradise you will have some free time
which will give you ample opportunity to enjoy all the area has to offer on your
own, at your own pace. Sun lovers will no doubt want to take advantage of
sunning on one of the world-famous beaches before enjoying lunch at one of the
local cafés. There is also a wide variety of shops available where you may
purchase some souvenirs or casual wear. Perhaps you'll simply want to take
advantage of the unhurried pace of the day by finding a comfortable spot to
relax and do some people-watching. Today, the choice is entirely yours to make.
Before disembarking the coach, your escort will advise you of the time and
location to meet for the return trip to the ship.
On your way back to the ship, you will receive a brief tour of Brisbane.
We did this in a different order, starting with going to the top of Q-Deck and
seeing the overview of the Gold Coast. This is one of the nicer tower
experiences. Well maintained and the ride up was FAST (as advertised). 77
stories in 44 seconds. We then went to Surfer's Paradise with 2 1/2 hours of
free time. We had lunch at KFC and followed that with shopping and ice cream
before going on the Wyndham Cruise (which was only for our 2 busses). We got
there at 2:15 and the Captain was NOT going to let us even board until 2:45 and
start at 3:00, which would have gotten us back to the ship late. The tour guides
huddled with the Captain and all of a sudden, we were able to get aboard and
started sailing just after 2:30. Instead of an hour and a half tour as
advertised, we got a one hour tour, but that was fine.
We got back on the bus and aboard the ship at 5:00.
Dinner was in Compass Rose, followed by our usual gambling. Tonight we turn the
clocks ahead again one hour (for the last time).
January 11, 2017 -
Awake at 8, breakfast
in La Veranda, then tanning for me and shopping in the boutique for Matt. We
followed that with Bingo, where I won the last game, but had to share with
another passenger. Won just enough to cover the game cost. Lunch followed in La
Veranda, then it was time to start packing.
I went to the casino in the afternoon before we had to turn in our "Regent
Rewards Points" (for playing Bingo) for Regent logo merchandise. I ended up
getting 7 of the Regent nylon-ish short sleeve T-shirts. I used one on this
cruise (that I got last cruise) and it worked great in the humid weather.
We had dinner in Compass Rose , an hour in the casino (where Matt did quite
well), then back to the room to finish packing.
By then, it was time to get to bed before an early...and long...day tomorrow.
January 12, 2017 -
Sydney - Day 1
A LONG DAY! Up at 6:00 with
breakfast in La Veranda and out of the room at 8:00 and to the theatre to wait
for our color and number to be called to disembark the ship. That came at 8:45.
I breezed through customs, but Matt had to go to the Agriculture Inspection area
because of the wooden items that we bought. We took our suitcases outside and
they were loaded into a truck to be delivered to the hotel while we were
Onto our bus and our first day of touring was underway. We started with a Sydney
Harbor Cruise on a huge ship that held all 320 of the passengers that are doing
the 3 day post-cruise program. After passing the Sydney Opera House, a buffet
lunch was served. This was about a 3 hour cruise.
We then re-boarded our busses and traveled to the town of Manly where we had an
hour to shop and walk the beachfront. We found a McDonalds and had an ice cream
We then rode back towards Sydney with a tour of some of the small neighborhoods.
Arrival at the Four Seasons Hotel was at 4:15 and they got us to our rooms in
quick order....and our bags were already in our room.
Katja, the Destinations Manager from the ship had made arrangements with the
hotel to be sure we got a corner room with a view right out the window of the
Opera House and the Harbor. Quite nice!
Matt and I then took a quick walk of the neighborhood and found "Neptune's
Palace", a malaysian and chinese, ha'lal cuisine restaurant. We ate from the
chinese part of the menu and it was a nice change from the ship's offerings.
Back to the hotel to get clothes ready for tomorrow and to crash. Another long
January 13, 2017 -
Sydney - Day 2
Another Long Day! Up at 6:00 and down for
breakfast at 6:50. They had a long line of guests waiting for breakfast and the
hotel did not seem to have things under control. I think it is due to not enough
staff. They were not bussing tables, so tables were not ready. They only had 1-2
people checking guests in and one would carry the list so the other could not
check off people. People who arrived after 7:00 were not able to be seated and
have time for breakfast before their tour. They were not happy campers. At least
we were seated and had a couple of minutes to run back to the room before our
Our guide, ran at the mouth. I have never seen anyone talk so much in my
life...and not be understood by over half the people on the bus. Part of it was
his monotone, the other was his volume. Before the end of the tour, one of the
German guests finally asked him to be quiet for at least 10 minutes. It was a
Anyway, the tour: We got into our bus at 8:00 and headed to the Blue Mountains
to "Scenic World" where we boarded the "Scenic Railway", a minute ride
down a 52 degree hill (supposedly, the steepest in the world). Nice, but quick,
then a walk through a forest and over to "Scenic Skyway" back up the hill to
view "The Three Sisters", a group of 3 Mountain peaks.
We then boarded the bus and went to another outlook of the Three Sisters.
This was followed by lunch at the Fairmont Resort. We arrived at 12:00, but
lunch was not served until 1:00, so we just sat at the tables and waited. They
had a choice (I say choice because 2 were listed) of beef or fish. They just
served beef to one person, fish to next, beef to next, etc. This is not great as
I do not eat fish. They did not want to serve me beef and I told them that I had
put in a request that I did not eat fish. They finally brought me beef. Desert
was served the same way. A fruit curd to one, chocolate mousse to the next. That
was fine as Matt wanted the curd and I wanted the mousse.
We left the resort at 2:00 and drove to the town of Leura. We were scheduled to
stay 30 minutes, but the guide said an hour. A small mutiny later, it was back
to a half hour. Walk from one end of the town, down 2 blocks and to the bus.
Then it was back on the bus at 3:00 towards Sydney. This is when the guide just
kept on and on about the different birds on the Australian coins and their
habits, mating, etc. An hour into that was when he was asked to shut up. He said
very little the rest of the way and we were back at the hotel at 4:45.
Matt took a nap, as he is still not feeling well, before we went out to dinner
to McDonalds. Neither of us felt like eating much. Back to the Hotel to work on
photos and just rest.
January 14, 2017 -
Sydney - Day 3
We got up at 8 and went down for breakfast and
once again, there was the line. 15 minutes to get a seat.
After breakfast, we went out for a walk of the neighborhood and came across a
street market. Lots of souvenir items. Nothing really of interest.
Back to the Hotel where I went out to the pool to get some sun.
We then went to lunch at Hurricane Grill where we had ribs. Their half rack is
the size of a rack and a half back home.
Back to the Hotel where I rested and Matt re-packed all of the wood items into
A quick run to Subway for a dinner sandwich, which we ate in the room, then
watched TV until bedtime.
We heard booming outside and got to watch the fireworks from Darling Harbor
(where our first harbor cruise took off from), which we could see from our room.
Nice way to end the vacation!
January 15, 2017 -
Sydney/ Flight Home
I got up at 6:30, Matt at 7:00. We had to have
our bags packed and ready to go at 8:00. At 7:45, we went down to breakfast and
there was NO LINE! What a
nice surprise. Back up to the room to get our carry-on bags and go to the bus at
8:45. We arrived at the airport at 10:15 and had to walk our bags the length of
the airport (as there was only one place the bus could park).
Check-in with United was a breeze, as we are in Business Class and there was
nobody in that line.
We went through the Priority TSA checkpoint. They did question the bird
sculpture. It seems that someone tried to get real birds through in the past few
days and he wasn't going to let that happen. Matt explained it was a large
sculpture and he was let through.
Up to the Air New Zealand lounge (United does not have one at this airport, but
they are all part of the "Star Alliance".
We waited the hour and a half before boarding our flight at 11:40 (it is a 12:30
flight). I like boarding early. Lets me get all settled in and relaxed.
This was a 13 1/2 hour direct flight with lunch and then breakfast served. I got
a few hours sleep on the plane, Matt...not so much.
There was a bit of turbulence right after we took off, a few times during the
middle of the flight and again about an hour and a half away from San Francisco.
We landed at 7:00 and breezed through Customs. The Global Entry makes it VERY
fast. No forms to fill out, just go to a kiosk, scan your passport, click a few
buttons, have your photo and fingerprints taken by the kiosk and you are done.
Eric from Vintage Limousine was only a few minutes away and we were off for
home, arriving at 9:00.
Another great vacation! Now to try to settle back into the day-to-day home life.