So we went on the Rhapsody of the Seas and here was the schedule
Day 1 Board
Day 2 Newcastle, Australia
Day 3 At Sea
Day 4 At Sea
Day 5 Cairns
Day 6 Cairns
Day 7 At Sea
Day 8 Airlie Beach
Day 9 At Sea
Day 10 Brisbane
Day 11 At Sea
Day 12 Sydney
Prior to getting on the ship we booked excursions for each port but ended up cancelling all but one. The cruise was done for two different reasons...first to have some relax time between all the running around we were doing and also because it was over Easter and supposedly everything closed between Friday and Monday.
In Newcastle and Brisbane, we actually had to be shuttled because they were "working ports" meaning that where like freight deliveries came in and what not....they weren't glamorous or like some of the ports in the Caribbean where they have shops right at the dock. Basically, we cancelled our excursions so my mom could rest or because we had already done it. The only excursion I did was to go to the Great Barrier Reef..more on that later.
Newcastle is a small quiet town and the area a little further out was known for it's wineries...well we don't do that because don't drink...so we stayed on the ship and relaxed.
In Cairns we woke up late but still got a ferry to Green Island....we were only there for like 2 hours...mom had a lot of trouble trying to snorkel so she just sat on a bench and let me go snorkel...what seemed like an eternity in the water turned out to be 15 minutes...I guess because I was worried about getting back to the boat in time for it to take us back. While waiting for the Catamaran, it started pouring and we got soaked. Once back on the boat they had the air conditioning blasting. By the next morning my mom was sick as a dog....fever, shivers, nausea and vomiting. We went to the medical facility and she said she was feeling a little better so we went back to the room and I put her to bed. I went out around Cairns to explore...I got a phone call to come back and by the time I got there, there was someone with a wheelchair coming to get her....we went to the medical facility again and she was running like a 102 fever. They ended up giving her an IV of antibiotics, anti-nausea medicine and something else to keep her hydrated. By the next day we had to go back to the doctor..he put her on oral antibiotics and wrote her a note to excuse her from the Barrier Reef excursion so she could get a refund. She is doing better now.
In Brisbane, we were supposed to do Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary with the ship, but we had already done it and I remember it being extremely hilly...so my mom's friend Jan came down from Toowomba and took us to the Gold Coast....It's known for it's beaches and surfing...it reminded me a lot of Miami with the beaches and the high rises. I really wish that we would have taken a few days to go there and spend some time....but with everything we did, I guess it gives us something to possibly look into doing if we come back.
In Airlie Beach my mom stayed on the ship and I went to the Barrier Reef. This was the one port where we anchored out in the Ocean. I had to get up real early...like 7am for the excursion....What was cool was that the catamaran that took us, pulled up right next to the boat and off we went. It was an all day excursion to Knuckle Reef. Unfortunately...I inadvertently deleted all my pictures from my camera that I took. I sorta felt like it was a rip off because it was an all day excursion...but was 2 hours there and back and it only gave us 3 hours at the Reef.
The reef was beautiful....they had a pontoon anchored there and they had things roped off of where we could go snorkeling. I was going to pay a little extra and do beginner scuba...I figured since I'm at the Great Barrier Reef why not....but they wouldn't let me because I have asthma...oh well. So we got there...put on the wet suit, the mask and the fins and in I went. They actually had partially submerged platforms so you could just plop in from a sitting position. I went snorkeling for about an hour....and went through the whole area we could snorkel...the only issue was we could only snorkel around the peripheral of the reef, not over it...I did incidentally and they told me to go back...although what I was looking at was beautiful...I saw all different kinds of coral and marine life. From what I was told this reef was more for the coral.
I snorkeled for about an hour and then got out and had lunch....I was really tired after doing it...I didn't realize how strenuous it was, it really wears you out.
I made several new friends who all are Aussies. I actually enjoyed the fact that I was the foreigner on the ship....I had several people tell me I sounded Canadian...I don't know how but apparently I do....Everyone I was hanging out with that I am much younger than I am, which is a good thing. The earliest I went to bed any night was the night before we got to Airlie Beach..I was in bed by 12am...I think.....2nd earliest was the last night of the cruise at 130...other than that I was going to bed at 230. There were 4 different people that I became close with....Jo and Darren, who are married with a young boy and Laura and Emily who are cousins.
I got to play the Quest, the adult scavenger hunt, the thing I love playing on RCL. I told my friends about it and they came to play with us...I actually got there 30 minutes early to get a seat....what I found out is that Australians love to sit and wait....when I have cruised before I would go to music trivia 5 minutes before hand and people would just be getting there...this time...there were no seats so we would have to get there early. Oh...played disco trivia and won...got all 15 songs...go me...I ended up with some kind of magnet thingy....anyway....getting back to the Quest.....I asked the cruise staff if many Aussies knew what was going on and they said no.....I then asked them which way there were going to play it.....apparently the way I like to play it they don't do anymore where they have a gazillion teams....they just had sections...so Laura and I were our team captains.....when they asked how many people had played before I think there was maybe 3 of us who had. Long story short, I FINALLY won the Quest...I was so happy....I got a gold medal and a baseball cap...but that's fine...I just wanted to win it once.....
As quickly as the cruise started, it ended...when we were packing to get off the ship, I was just in shock...I felt like we had just gotten on the ship. That night it was really quiet in the night club and my friends were a bit disappointed, but I told them...most people don't go out on the last night because they have to get their luggage out and be off the ship early and that's exactly what happened...my mother and I were walking off the ship at 730 in the morning.
After getting the taxi, we realized it was a miserable day out....we are staying at the Sydney Harbour Marriott...unfortunately we don't have a view of the Harbor, but it's a really nice room...I'm really grateful that they let us check in early in the morning. We actually slept for a little bit and had an afternoon tour that took us throughout Sydney, Kings Cross, Bondi Beach and then through Paddington and Darlinghurst. I got to see Oxford Street...basically gay mecca of Australia...it was pretty cool...I'm planning on going there tomorrow night to just explore.
Today we went to Taronga Zoo and did a Wild Australia Experience and got to see all kinds of animals, Koalas, wombats, Tazzies. We took the ferry back which was nice, short but nice...we got to see yet another perspective of the Opera House.
So after being on the cruise for almost 2 weeks we had to do laundry again...we have done it a total of 3 times since we have been here...this time was the most expensive, but I actually took it to a wash and fold place. I have to tell you Aussies are so nice...I was walking to the place and I got a little lost so asked this guy who was delivering bread if he knew were it was...he said no, but he offered me a ride to it....OMG....that would totally not happen in the states. He was so nice...I couldn't believe it. After I got to the cleaners I walked back to the hotel.
When we got back from the tour at Taronga, our clothes were in bags folded in our room.....So I had to repack all the suitcases...I don't think we will have to do it again before we leave.
Tomorrow I'm doing the Sydney Bridge Climb and I'm praying for good weather.
It's a crappy night out tonight in Sydney, it's drizzling and icky...I can't believe I have already been in Australia for a month....and I'm leaving in 8 days...insane. I'm ready to come home...I miss my pookie and the dog and my bed....but I don't want to come back to reality, work, and my commute.
I'm just grateful that I can have this experience....that my partner is ok with it and that my work is allowing me to do this...I'm also grateful that my mom was able to do this and fulfill her lifelong dream of being up close and personal with a koala. She is still trying to figure out how to smuggle one out of the country but that's not a happening thing. I'm really glad that she is able to have this experience...it's really taken a toll on her as I can see that her mobility issues are starting to get worse. :(
After we leave Sydney we head to Hamilton Island for 4 days up in Queensland for R&R...it's a beach resort...we have no schedule there....we know we went to take a helicopter ride over the reef....and possibly get a fair back to Airlie Beach to walk around since we didn't get to go on the cruise...and hopefully we can get a reef tour in so my mom can experience the natural beauty it would be a shame for her not too...she wants to actually get in the water, but I don't know if that's going to happen, she may have to settle on a semi-submersible or a glass bottom boat.
Anyway I have written waaaay to much...plus it's time for dinner.