Arriving in Sydney for the beginning of our cruise was an exciting moment after so much planning. We decided to fly up the day beforehand so on the day we were due to depart we had time to go out on Sydney Harbour on a ferry to take pictures of our ship which had arrived earlier that morning. We walked up to Circular Quay from our hotel and there she was waiting for us. Both of us took a lot of pictures as we passed by on the short trip to Milson’s Point.
Boarding was from 11am onwards and resisting my usual impulse to be there half an hour before that our plan was to go onboard after lunch which would, we hoped, avoid having to stand in the hot sun in a queue waiting our turn. As it happened when we arrived at around 2:30 pm there was no queue to speak of and the process was very smooth and well organised.
After dropping our bags we were directed through the various stages of embarkation, showing our passports and filling out forms. Then finally we were on board and being welcomed to the ship and forced to pose for the first of many photos by the ships photographer. My sister usually dislikes having her picture taken so we spent a lot of time trying to avoid these “Huggy, Huggy” moments for the rest of the trip
As we had boarded later in the day our cabin was ready. We had chosen an Oceanview cabin in the forward part of the ship. I was slightly dismayed to see we had been given a king size bed instead of two singles but a word to someone in Guest Relations solved the problem and we had our twin beds within a couple of hours of asking. I wish it had been that easy at the hotel we stayed in while we were in Sydney but that’s another story. It was a roomy cabin with a porthole overlooking an open area. There was plenty of cupboards and drawers for our stuff, a sofa, vanity unit/desk with power points so we could charge up our gadgets and a good-sized bathroom.
Of course we wanted to start exploring right away so we didn’t stay in our cabin for long. We washed, changed our clothes and headed out to have a look at the Promenade which acts at the ships main thoroughfare. From there we went down to the Schooner Bar for a celebration drink.
Before we sailed there was a compulsory ships muster where all passengers were asked to assemble at their assigned stations. Unlike the drills we remembered from when we were young we did not have to put our life jackets on which is good because some people never read the instructions and 4,000 plus people wandering around with inflated life jackets on would have caused complete chaos. Instead we were given a demonstration much the same as the ones given on aircraft. Muster is also the way that the crew can check that everyone is on board as your name is checked off a clip board as you enter your area. We expected to be mustered on deck but our station turned out to be in the Star Lounge on Deck 4. I guess on a mega ship it would not be very practical to have everyone outside, they simply would not fit.
Once everyone was accounted for the ship could prepare to sail. We had a bite to eat in the Windjammer Marketplace, the buffet restaurant, and made sure we were outside for departure time. The Windjammer is up on Deck 11 and has great views. I’ll talk more about it in the next post when you get to tour the ship with us.
I won’t write a lot about how it felt to sail through Sydney Harbour and out of The Heads. The pictures will tell the story. We were excited to pass “Celebrity Solstice” on our way, one of several other cruise ships we encountered which I’ll show you in another post.
After that we went to the Palace Theatre to watch “Casablanca”. Later in the evening we watched the “Sail Away Parade” held on the Promenade which was very loud and colourful and had some supper at the cafe. We went to bed knowing we had two whole days at sea before we would reach New Zealand.