Our ship departed Melbourne at 6pm to sail south across Port Phillip Bay and east along Bass Strait and the next morning headed north along the Australian mainland east coast for Sydney, New South Wales. We were at sea all day. As repeat mariners with the shipping line, we were invited (along with maybe 200 other guests) to a captain’s luncheon in the main dining room. The food and wines served were superb and it was a pleasant occasion. By sheer chance our table of 8 were all Australians so it gave us all the opportunity to meet and review the cruise. Clearly it had been “well received by the local critics”!
The following morning, we awoke to find that the ship had not moored in lovely Circular Quay (where the Opera House is on one side of the dock and the Harbour Bridge almost above) but that it had passed under the Bridge and docked in ugly White Bay in Balmain, an inner suburb. This was a huge disappointment for those who had assumed that we would have one of Sydney’s (and the world’s) iconic views! The explanation was that the Circular Quay docks are reserved for the larger ships that cannot pass under the Bridge.
We had a hurried breakfast in our “stateroom” of steak and eggs (steak was not otherwise available in the buffet). We disembarked soon after 8am. The disembarkation process is highly organised and they clear the ship so they can prepare it for the next lot of guests arriving from 1pm. The turnaround is clearly frenetic. A bus took us over the Anzac Bridge and into the city where we made our way to a hotel where we spent 3 pleasant days in Sydney catching up with friends met during our travels. On the Friday morning, we flew to Brisbane, just 1 day short of 3 very pleasant weeks away from home and back to early Autumn in southern Queensland.