The Coral Isles – day zero

December 30, 2009

The thought of fighting Sydney traffic to drive to the wharf was one which I preferred not to entertain.
And living relatively close to the Parramatta River as we do, I suggested to Cath that we should have someone drop us (and our luggage) at one of the ferry wharves on the river, so that we could catch the RiverCat.
What this would do was give us a pleasant hour long ride down the river sans congestion, and drop us at King Street Wharf, about 100 metres from the International Passenger Terminal.
So, that was what we did.
A very stress-free way of getting to the ship.
The ship?
The Sun Princess.
She’s been in operation since 1995, and is the oldest ship in the Princess fleet.
For all that, she seems to me (who has never sailed on a passenger ship before and wouldn’t know what to expect anyway) to be in relatively good condition. Although, we have since learned that she goes into dry dock in Brisbane in 2010 for an overhaul.
For those who haven’t cruised before, let me tell you, the shipping check-in process, while still lengthy, is nowhere near as painful as airline check-in. It took us about one hour from the time we joined our first queue, to the time we set foot on the deck of the ship. But once you ARE on board, you are free to roam and do you thing.
Naturally, we dumped our hand luggage in our cabin and went off (like the other 1900-odd passengers) to explore the vessel.
As I sit down to write this blog entry, with 10 days of cruising behind me, I have come to the realization that this isn’t a ship at all. It’s a ‘floating trough’!
No joke.
If you’re not eating, you’re drinking. I dread jumping on the scales when I get home. It’ll probably tell me “One at a time, please.”
Anyway, as you may have guessed, there is no shortage of drinking and eating establishments on this ship. And almost all of it is included in your fare.
There is a 24 hour buffet (included).
There is an a la carte steakhouse (not included).
There are 2 a la carte dining rooms (included).
There is a pizza restaurant where they make ’em fresh (included)!
There is an ice cream bar up on the pool deck (included).
There is the Terrace Grill also up on the pool deck where you can get hamburgers, pies & chips and the like (included).
Plus room service (included)!
So, what’s that? 8 places to eat, and only one of them is not included in your fare!
And then there are the watering holes!
Ye gods. I’m not even going to TRY to name them all. I swear you could projectile vomit from one to the next, they are that frequent around the ship!
Not that we drank to excess, but they certainly give you plenty of opportunities to do so should that be your thing.
Anyway, we pushed off from the dock at around the scheduled 16:30 departure time.
The tug boats spun us around, and had us sailing under the harbour bridge by 16:37 (according to the metadata of my photos).
Then, it was a very windy passage up the harbour and out through the heads. What intrigued me was how rapidly the wind subsided once we had cleared the heads (for the unfamiliar, the ‘heads’ are North Head and South Head… each being about 100 metres high. They form the entrance to Sydney Harbour).
And that was pretty much it for day zero.
We sailed off in a north-easterly direction, headed for New Caledonia, 2 full days sail away, as we watched the Australian mainland disappear into the glare of the sunset.

Take me to: day one ->

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