Colorful hues started to appear on the horizon as the time for the sun to appear came closer while the higher overcast of distant clouds set the stage for a beautiful sunrise. Pleasant, pre-dawn cool weather would soon be replaced by intense heat and higher humidity as dawn became day allowing the sun to beat down with full force. Our cabin is on the port side but with the city being off our starboard side we were unable to see much of Cairns during our approach to the wharf from the north.
Cairns would be the first port since Auckland, 2 weeks ago, where there was a lot going on within easy walking distance from the ship. Not having to get tender tickets, deal with local shuttle buses, subways or taxis to get to where the action is makes the port more enjoyable.
Soon after we moored the gangway was in place and we were cleared to go ashore. Many people would be going on tours out to the Great Barrier Reef on boats or ferries to larger platforms where they would spend the day snorkeling, scuba diving or taking helicopter rides. Our plans were to stay close to the ship and explore Cairns on foot and if readily available, try para sailing from the beach.
After enjoying a leisurely morning in our cabin, we headed to shore about 11:30AM. Moored directly to our south was the Pacific Princess, also on a world cruise, and we would be sharing the cruise terminal. We didn’t notice any interaction between passengers at any point during the day. Once again we didn’t see any agricultural inspectors, with or without dogs, in the terminal and did not hear of anyone else having an interaction with them once we were back on the ship later. Nevertheless, Gene always provides the standard warning about prohibited items and the possibility of “on the spot fines”. Has anyone ever heard of anyone ever getting an “on the spot fine” during an Australian Agricultural Inspection?
Whenever you see a section of the terminal transformed into a crews lounge, you know free Wi-Fi is available. This was the case here in Cairns and many crew members along with an equal number of passengers were taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi close to the ship. Crew members from departments that operate while in port generally get a 2 hour break at some point during the day while staff from the casino, shops and admin personnel generally get more time off.
Hot, Hot, Hot. As long as you moved slow and stayed in the shade, the heat was tolerable, but whenever you ventured out in the full sun, the heat became oppressive and you began looking for your next spot of shade. Fortunately everything in Cairns we were interested in was quite close to the ship and we would end up only walking 2 miles.
Our first stop was the clothing store, Tommy Bahamas, where we wanted to replace a shirt we had bought in Sydney, but managed to leave behind either in a restaurant or ferry on our way back to the ship. The shirt was decorated with Australian landmarks and we have only seen it here in Australia so we were pleased to discover a Tommy Bahamas store very close to the cruise terminal. The shirt was in stock and we spent some more time picking up some white pants suitable for the upcoming “White Dinner” and After Party February 28th. A list of all of the special theme parties is on the blog under World Cruise Activities.
Every block seems to have a Visitors information Center, which is really an office selling tours to the numerous area attractions. We didn’t see one that was sponsored by the local government or the official visitors bureau, there was probably one somewhere, but we didn’t see it during our brief walkabout. After stopping in the nearest visitors center, we learned that para sailing was a little out of season because of the jelly fish situation, but after a few phone calls they found an available operator that used Jet skis to pull the para sails – but you may get a little wet. We had been hoping to find an operator that used larger boats like we observed in Waitangi, New Zealand, but apparently those style boats are not used here. When we also thought about being out in the sun for that long, we elected to take a pass and try para sailing later on – or for that matter back in the USA.
During our stop in Townsville, our tablemate Rick spent some time in one of the local casinos and reported that while similar to USA casinos, the rules and culture were a little different. Wanting to check this out first hand, we stopped into The Reef Hotel and Casino to observe. Knowing that a casino would likely have the air-conditioning going full blast helped us decide to spend a little time wandering thru the gaming areas. We were not disappointed by the air-conditioning – nice and cool – and the casino, while not as big as the large ones in Vegas was big enough and had all the games you would expect – however we didn’t see any craps tables. Roulette seemed much more popular than in the USA as there were many more roulette wheels present than you would expect to find in a similarly sized USA casino. Free drinks while gambling were limited to the non-alcoholic varieties and tipping dealers was not expected, consistent with the Australian service industry practices everywhere. Many of the regulars from the ship’s casino were present at the blackjack table but I decided to only observe and we were on our way after 15 minutes.
Back on the street, we picked up a few post cards, stamps and found a nice shady spot to jot a quick note before putting them in the mail. While relaxing in the shade a nearby Help Wanted sign caught my eye that was looking for a variety of skills, but the one that was most interesting was the job title “Banana Humper.” It turned out after my inquiry that the person looking for “Banana Humpers” would stop by once a day at 10:30 to take applications and I would have to stop back tomorrow if I wanted more information. I suspect that “Banana Humping” would involve carrying heavy bananas in hot conditions and may prove to be a position difficult to fill.
I always enjoy checking out local libraries and the Cairns library was only a few blocks away so we headed over to take a look. Another nice feature of libraries is that they are usually air conditioned and have free Wi-Fi. The Cairns Library had both and we enjoyed the cool air and fast internet for about ½ hour before we had to start walking back to the ship.
We headed to the ocean to walk back to the ship along the water. Along the way we walked by The Lagoon at the Esplanade, a large shallow pool, next to the ocean, that allowed a jelly fish free area to cool off and avoid the “stingers” present near the beaches this time of year.
I continue to speak to my sources about the 2018 world cruise schedule but they are all very tight lipped. Those who know aren’t talking and those who are talking, don’t really know. I couldn’t get anything out of this guy.
Continuing back to the ship we saw a sign displaying the Cairns Sister cities that was either being remodeled or under initial construction. Cairns has 7 sister cities: Riga, Latvia; Zhanjiang, China; Minami, Japan; Oyama, Japan; Lae, PNG; Sidney, Canada and Scottsdale, USA
While walking back to the ship along the waterside boardwalk, we noticed signs 50 meters apart, counting down the distance to the cruise terminal starting at the 500 meters to go point. Not quite sure what the purpose of these signs are, because at this point, the ships, if present, are easily visible.
The Pacific Princess left exactly at 5pm and glided by on its way out to sea. We will see her again in Darwin in a few days. A HAL tour to the Great Barrier reef was delayed returning which held up our departure for about 45 minutes. We learned later that one of the people on the tour didn’t sign back onto the ship from the scuba/snorkel platform and the tour operator spent 45 minutes looking for the person until they found her, blissfully unaware of the numerous announcements calling her name. Fully accountability of people returning from scuba and snorkel excursions is appropriately very precise as there have been unfortunate instances in the past of people being left behind with tragic consequences.
The Sail Away party had better attendance than Townsville’s yesterday, but the heat still kept most people inside and was lightly attended. We did spot Stein Kruse waving from the wharf as we finally moved away and headed out to sea.
Dinner tonight was lively as our table recounted the adventures of the day along with another wonderful meal. Grilled kangaroo was on the menu which I found to be a little too tough for my taste, but I was in the minority as everyone else thought it was fabulous.
Tonight’s entertainer was Dale Kristien who played Christine Daie in the Phantom of the Opera over 1700 times alongside the original Phantom – Michael Crawford. The Phantom of the Opera is one of our favorite musicals and we enjoyed her performance immensely. She sang 4 songs from the Phantom with the rest from other popular musicals. She was very good and received an enthusiastic standing ovation.This entry was posted in Uncategorized