The Australian coast lies about 20 miles off our port side as we sail north towards our next port. We need to stay at least 12 miles away so they can run the casino and open the shops. Not sure about Australian ports, but when we are in USA ports the ship will charge state sales tax for drink purchases.
The weather remains near perfect, with nice puffy clouds against the light blue sky contrasting with the deeper blue sea. I walked a couple of miles on deck 3 this morning while listening to my book. Tender 9’s hull has been repaired, but the screws are still missing. Not sure when they will be reinstalled.
The Lido deck around the main pool is closed all day as they set up for the “Party of the Century”. Everyone from ship that we talk to promises that this will be over the top. Orlando is new to HAL and with his boss from Carnival Corp also on board I am sure he will want to impress. All good for us.
I noticed some buff young men peering down into the LIDO from deck 9 and I scurried over to see who they were and discovered they were the Australian Life Guards! I asked if they were really life guards or actors hired to play life guards. They assured me they were really life guards. Their names are Anthony, Giora and Sam. Anthony is a local celebrity and he stars on an Australian TV Reality show called “Bondi Rescue”. I learned that there is a difference between Life Guards – a paid position – and Life Savers – which are volunteers. Anthony is a Life Guard while the others are Life Savers.
Learn more about Bondi Rescue Here
Good Morning Amsterdam hosted Melvyn Foster a new lecturer who will be starting tomorrow. He has been on HAL ships before so I am sure many folks will know him. Mel, who is 70 years old, mentioned his female traveling companion – (not sure of her name) and when he approached her in the audience one of the HAL singers appeared in the doorway and broke out in song! He then asked her to come forward where he got down on one knee and proposed. She said, ‘Yes, of course”.
I was wondering how the new folks who arrived in Sydney would be integrated into the rest of passengers. The staff has been taking extra time to explain things that we have all come to know – which is nice for the new people. For example, during Barbara’s Port Talk she repeated her general travel tips for all the new passengers.
One of the popular classes is Watercolors with sessions at 9 AM and 1PM. They have a regular following and are usually quite full. I stopped by today to see if they would be able to accommodate new people joining this cruise. One of the instructors told me that they had 5 or 6 open spots and since everyone proceeds at their own pace, new people would be able to start now and still enjoy the class.
The other new lecturer is Andrew Johnson who spoke today about Saint Valentine and how he became Saint and how he became associated with love. He was good and had a nice delivery. The Queens lounge is consistently ¾ full for the guest lecturers.
I stopped by the Culinary arts Center for the demo on cooking the Halibut – Pinnacle Grill Style!
Our cruise critic roll call group was scheduled to have it’s second Meet and Greet today. However, about a week ago, the event manager called and asked if we would reschedule because they needed the Crows Nest to host a Mariners event. They offered to send out invitations if I gave them a copy of my roster. They printed and delivered invitations to all the cabins. Nice!
I decided to show up at the crows nest anyway in case someone didn’t get the word and there was one couple who misread the invitation and stopped by today.
While waiting for the scheduled start time, I was able to peek inside the Crows Nest and see the special lunch set up for the Mariners. Very nice with an inviting menu.
Today’s main event was the Australian Beach Party, scheduled from 5:30 to 9:00 PM. They spent all day setting up and did an amazing job with decorations, covering the pool deck with bags and bags of real ‘clean’ sand and bringing in more tables and chairs along with extra food stations. The pool was filled with giant beach balls and there were signs everywhere giving the distances to various ports of call.
The party was in full swing when we arrived at 6:30. The party band, Hipnosis, was very good and there were many people dancing everywhere. Between the pool and the pool bar, the Australian Life Guards were posing for pictures. In addition to the Australian Life Guards, all the HAL singers and dancers were in attendance wearing swimsuits and were busy dancing and playing tug of war with the Life Guards and each other. The mood around the Lido was festive and high energy and you couldn’t help but smile and almost break into a dance just walking around.
The food offered by the pool were giant unpeeled prawns, served cold, rock lobsters, again cold, but these were split and easier to eat and finally oysters. The seafood was OK but not among the best cold seafood you will find and many people chose to grab hot food and peeled shrimp in the LIDO and bring it out to the pool. The drinks were all complimentary and they had nice drink stations set up, or you could order from the wandering wait staff or go to the sea view bar yourself. You could order anything and were not restricted to simpler mixed drinks.
The waiters and entertainment staff were all wearing life guard uniforms. Even Hotel Director Henk was seen in a life guard outfit. The Captain came down for a bit and was seen dancing with some guests in his uniform. The party continued at full force until 9pm when the band wrapped up. The DJ continued for another 15 minutes and then they announced the party would continue in the Crows nest.
The Australian party was a lot of fun, but the food didn’t quite live up to its billing. It was still pretty good and the pre-party hype probably pushed expectations too high. Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful time and the place was packed until closing time.
Earlier in the day the Captain announced the Mooloolaba port was cancelled due to sea conditions, saying they would be looking at other options. More to come in the morning about our revised schedule.
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