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Bali, Australia, cruise, covid, fires, red alert

Bali, Australia, cruise, covid, fires, red alert

Old Jun 18, 20, 1:38 pm
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Join Date: May 1998
Location: Escondido CA USA
Programs: AS, UA, HY, Hil, Merr
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Bali, Australia, cruise, covid, fires, red alert

BALI AND THEN A LONG CRUISE TO AND ½ AROUND AUSTRALIA



It has been a couple months since we returned from our most expensive cruise ever.

Weeks before we left, we feared our trip would not be possible because of turmoil in Hong Kong. We were further worried about my declining ability to securely walk, step and stand for long periods. As the date to leave came ever so close, we started to worry about some disease in China, as we were traveling with a stop in Hong Kong.

My delay in sharing this write-up was more a result of what happened once we got home. Has anyone else in the entire world worried about the virus from China? I think so.

I’ve had plenty of time, but the mental coping of the worry over the covid has taken over the value of bothering to do a write-up.

We are fortunate to be able to take some extensive/expensive trips, having no children, having had good solid jobs, lots of frequent flyer mileage and hotel points, and no other material expenses.

Our write-up normally has a mixed audience. Family, friends, the Flyertalk community and some people we meet along the way over time.

Our trip, as booked, took us from our home in So. Cal. to Bali, Indonesia where we spent a few days. Then we boarded the Regent Seven Seas (RSS) Navigator for a cruise to NW Australia (Exmouth) then south down the coast and around and East and around to Sydney. Our goal was to see the NW portion of Australia, the only material portion that we have not seen before in our many trips to Australia.

Planning for this trip involved lots of months of research. The flight portion [routing, clubs, logistics, and (this time) riots, handicap transport and virus] was done with the help of my friends at Flyertalk.com. Pricing out the booking seem extremely difficult for my travel agent from Pavlus Travel. It took her 5 tries to get it right. RSS has lots of “specials” that one must ask for to get. As this was the most expensive cruise we have taken, it paid to put in the effort.

As the time became a month or two out, we started to worry about the problems going on in Hong Kong, specifically the “rioting” at the airport. We were flying Cathay Pacific thru Hong Kong to get to Denpasar (Bali) Indonesia. We bought a travel insurance package, but when we received the policy, it did not cover transport on Cathay Pacific!? Should our agent have known?

A month closer, the virus issue IN China became an issue. We felt that we would likely be safe, as we were just transiting thru Hong Kong and the virus was not there yet. Still, it was time to make an effort to get our flight routing changed. We did not want to be involved in the complications of getting thru the airport or being stuck there under quarantine. Our flights were booked thru the travel agent, BUT by RSS (free included business class tickets). We paid extra to have some say in the original booking, but now we are told a change this late would be very costly for us. We objected, and said we would cancel if we could not get another routing. They took us up to a few days before leaving to confirm a flight on Virgin Australia thru Sydney. No extra charge (we have sailed with RSS before).

One of the other major planning issues was getting handicap assistance at the airports. I’ve not done this before. My muscle atrophy (mainly right leg) is relatively new, but is getting worse. Thanks to the encouragement of the moderator and some members on flyertalk forum on handicap travel, I booked aid at each stop/transport along the way on our flights (notify each airline, done by our travel agent and RSS). The process worked all but two times. This included transport to the airport club, and later continuing on to the gate. As suggested, I tipped $5 for each such transport. Everyone seemed fine with that at LAX, SYD, Vancouver and SAN. Two of the distances would have been wearing. The TSA and Immigration waits were much less that usual (the virus issue was starting to scare people from flying). With the handicap wheelchair, I was escorted to the front, along with my wife.

We booked our trip to SAN with Prime Time. This allowed us to book a day before and pick a mode of transport that could handle our two very large suitcases. Our drive was in a RAV 4, but it worked. He is a driver for Prime Time, and Uber, plus he gave me his card, if we wanted to book direct.

At SAN, once checked in, I was wheeled to Phil’s BBQ (note wife had to walk alongside). It is Monday, Feb. 3 at 4:30PM. We arrive really early so we can have dinner at the airport. It was about $25 for us to eat (sharing a soda). TSA was almost empty! Next, we went to the club (Virgin Australia). It is near the main corridor and food courts. Up the escalator. The club is also Delta. It is nearly empty at 5:30PM. Food includes soup, salad, and sandwiches. They also have cookies. The wine is free, not sure about any charge for mixed drinks. The room has lots of light, free wifi, and approaching 100 seats. The escalator is also access to the UA club.

Our gate, #35 is quite close. Our flight is 7PM. We walk to the gate from the club. The flight was quite bumpy. We are in first class, but there is NO service. We do get a blanket and water at the seat. This flight takes us to LAX, where we will change flights.

Our flight at LAX is out of Bradley International. There is a bus about 3/4-1 block from our gate. It is airside (where the planes are). There are 2 lines, one for T2 and the other for B. I did not take a wheelchair, as one was not there for me. We had to wait a long time for our bus. If I had been in a wheelchair we would have been taken to the front of the line. I told the coordinator that I would NOT be able to ride the bus standing up. Most of the people on the bus must do that. We were put on a bus, and given two seats. Note, for those who do not know us, we are 75. Once off the bus, an employee saw me limping, and offered a cart ride. We joined some others who waited in chairs until a cart arrived. Our cart driver then gave us a tour of the airport, stopping several times to get directions. He kept checking our boarding passes, even though we were going to the club. I finally spotted the elevator to the club and got him to stop and let us off. Here we were allowed to use the Emirates Airline club. We were on the cart almost 30 minutes! Actually, a nice tour for $5, and Leslie got to ride too!

The Emirates club is quite nice. They welcomed us VA business passengers. They also, without being asked (documents worked), arranged for a wheelchair to the gate at a time fitting for the flight (actually I asked for 20 minutes versus their 10 minutes…not a problem). The hallway leading to the seating area had a large supply of newspapers (including WSJ, LAT and USA Today). The bathroom areas and prayer area are also off this hallway. The food/drinks are when you first come into the seating area. An approximately 6’ diameter round table has desserts. Along the wall are 25 or so dishes to select from. Included are lamb chops. I have two lamb chops, they are quite dry. The liquor is serve-yourself. They had 6 wine bottles open, and Avian bottled water. There is lots of seating. Tables, sofa chairs, computers on desks. Part of the club opens up to the interior of the airport, well above floor level. The club seemed to have plenty of employees and kept up with the food and table clearing. We exited the club at the appointed time. Wheelchair and drive ready. Whizzed through the terminal to our gate, another $5.

Our Virgin Australia flight to SYD was a bit late boarding. We were again allowed preboarding (ADA and business class). The business cabin is 2 center seats and one at each wall (two aisles). We are in row 6. Water, OJ and Champagne are offered immediately. The FA’s come by and tutor you on the “suite” equipment. They offered us a kit and pajamas. They make your bed up for you when you request (cover, good pillow and blanket). We are given menus right off. Dinner (it is midnight now), snacks, breakfast, wine and an invitation to the snack area are provided. This snack area, has a bathroom, bar, seating and a table with snacks. It is also used for continental breakfast. I have not seen this before.

Leslie and I skipped dinner. We had some wine, nuts and I had an ice cream. Over the next hour or so, dinner was served and beds made. Wine was topped off. The entry forms for Australia were passed out for those staying, as opposed to us, just transiting. Service on the plane was very good. About 2 plus hours before landing continental breakfast is available in the bar area.

A wheelchair awaits our arrival. Our connection takes us through transit. We are the ONLY passengers on our plane transiting!

Our next flight is a code share with Delta, the agent in the Delta club will NOT let us in (business passengers with VA, do not qualify) fairly close to our gate (26A). Our wheelchair lady tells us there is a club we can go to on the other side of the terminal. We pass, and decide to wait at the gate. This is one where you bus out to the plane and then climb up the stairs. I pass on the help up the stairs (or later down). At 215# with backpack, I am not yet comfortable with the system in a wheelchair. If I am not rushed, and there are hand rails, I am fine. Fortunately, they place us in seats on the bus. 10 seats, about 60 capacity.

We are in business class on this flight to Bali. VA 33 on a 737-800. There are 8 business seats. The sole advantage of these seats is they are wider. We did not expect much of a plane to Bali, and rightly so. We eat the cabin food; it is iffy at best. I have chicken with spicy rice and leaves. I eat the chicken and leaves. Leslie had the cold shredded chicken (1/2 ounce) on noodles that were too spicy for even her. The Chardonnay was fine. Our seats were not together, but another passenger was willing to switch. It is a 6-hour flight from SYD to DSP. We arrive 10-15 minutes late, bored to tears.

We have to do stairs off the plane, and then a bus with limited seating (good thing we were in the front of the plane). There was no ADA service when we got to the terminal. We went thru immigration with ease, as there were few people. Our luggage came off first (priority tagged). There was free use of the luggage carts, so we grabbed one. Next it was off to be checked for illegal importation of goods and money.

We are on a tour in Bali, arranged through RSS. It is not clear where we are to meet. We pass through a long hallway filled with hawkers, selling objects, rides and tours. We are looking for the “meeting area”. We find such a place, so labelled, but no one with a RSS sign. We exit the building to an area filled with hundreds of people with signs for pick-up! After a bit of searching, we find a RSS contact. We are not on his list. His list is for those coming from Sydney, like us (turns out we are still on a list of those coming from HKG). We are shuffled to an area, when another man with a list finds our names, and asks us to wait for the rest on the list (the HKG flight in a bit later than the SYD flight). We wait for 45 minutes. Everyone is going to the same hotel, but it turns out that we are in separate groups. This was true for the time we are in Bali, until the day we depart for the ship..

Some notes I made to myself for Bali. Our phone, Samsung 7, with T-Mobile needs for me to dial #766# to start roaming (same for Australia). I have free data and text, but 25 cents a minute for phone, made or received. Once home, dial #763# to resume normal service. Expect the temperature in Bali to be 26-33, hot and muggy. Have a sun hat, insect repellant, casual clothes, US$ okay many places. The Indonesian funds are the Rupiah (IDR). Electricity is 220V. Our package includes free breakfast daily. Water is provided in the hotel and on the bus. Tour gratuities’ are extra.

We are eventually bused to the Intercontinental Bali Resort. Everyone is directed to a side area in the massive open-air lobby. Here we sit in comfort while we wait the next step. We are offered a cold complimentary beverage. The staff brings out the check-in materials to us. The portage is included, but the gentleman did such a good job, that we were happy to give him a “extra” for his effort.

The hotel is a massive, multi-building converted palace. Made from stone blocks and carvings. The grounds have several large ponds, as well as a few pools. The hotel abuts the ocean. Our room is 317. From our balcony we can see the ocean through the trees. We take a shower, unpack and order up a pizza ($15). The water is not potable in the hotel. Plenty of bottled water is always provided free of charge. The shower is okay, a bit low on the pressure. The bath towels are huge! The robes are tiny, about 1 ½ foot too short and not very wide.

We find that we have amassed way too much stuff on our travel to Bali. Two sets of pajamas, two beach towels, 4 sundry kits, and some brochures. Virgin Australia is really into the “bling”.

Controlling the TV turns out to be tricky. The temperature is also a lesson is learning. It is hot and humid, but it does cool off at night. The rooms have open walkways outside, so there is no temperature control provided by corridors. There are so many light switches, it is difficult to get all the lights turned off. Our room is grand, well beyond any anticipated accommodation. The bed is a king, comfortable and with 7 pillows. We are tired from the long travel and fade about 8PM local time. We try to ignore “our time” and convert as we go. Pills and eye drops must be planned to reschedule on the new time zones as we go. We have a mixed night’s sleep.

We are up at 5AM. We are sore from the plane travel, but ready for a new day. I rinsed my mouth with tap water and shaved. Oops, I was not planning on that. That’s what the bottle water is for, rinsing one mouth! The chemicals in the tap water are concentrated to kill off all the bad actors, but because of the chemicals it is not recommended for humans. Loads of sun screen. The weather is in the 90’s and very humid. We are planning long pants and tee’s and see how it goes.

We are one of the first to arrive for the inclusive (for us) buffet breakfast. They are open from 6:30AM to 10:30AM for breakfast. The breakfast room is among the largest dining areas we have ever been a part of. The food is in several sections, a bit by type of item and a bit by the country of the items. If the food were displayed as one line, it would be approaching a football field!

There are steps, and I am very careful to hold on to the hand rails where available. You are free to sit where you choose. There is both indoor and outdoor seating. The heat, bugs, and often wind and rain, kept us indoor for every breakfast. Coffee and juice are offered at the table, but can be a bit iffy on refills. Most people go to the coffee station. There are two egg stations, one at each end of the food wall/rooms. All the eggs are brown shelled. Cooked to order. The rolls, bread, sweets were in a large area dedicated to that type item. Lots of fruit was available. This was my first try at yellow watermelon. It was similar in consistency and taste to our reddish color watermelon. They have a children’s food area (small) that includes carved fruits on a stick and breads with faces. Used plates and glasses were whisked away rapidly. We were offered a “special”, more expensive, fruit at our table each day which we discovered was an upgrade to our package.

We walked the grounds a bit after breakfast to get the “lay of the land”. You walk past the lounging and pool areas to get down to the beach. The hotel operates an informal bar and grill with lots of beach seating. Leslie took a lot of pictures. Back to our room and getting ready for our afternoon tour and Indonesian dinner.

Our first tour starts with a drive through a shopping area (think semi covered swap meet or bazaar). Our first stop is a Batik Factory. The workers were outside in a small area practicing their skills: wax, dye, wash repeat program on cloth. We watched as 5 employees did this careful, tedious work. The manager explained the process, then escorted most of us into the store to view the finished products and have a chance to buy some. The store is large, has many different cloths, clothes and specialty items. Clean bathrooms were also available. Leslie stayed outside, taking some pictures. One of the worker ladies asked if she would like a drawing on her pant leg. Leslie went with it. Nice hand painted/dyed floral design (washed in cold water and is now permanent). $3 tip, was greatly accepted for her 4 minutes of work, perhaps making the jeans worth hundreds in the right market place in Europe, Asia or USA.

Our second stop is a house compound in Singapadu Village. Our guide, Soupy (not related to Sales), tells us that 85% of the population in Bali live in these “family” compounds. All the “buildings” are of an open sided construction. The entrance is off the main street. The compound is walled and contains many small buildings. Toward the front is the bathroom and kitchen. These are the facilities for the multiple related family units that live at this compound. Dining is on the ground. The kitchen is enclosed on three sides and on a raised platform about 4 foot off the ground. The next area is the multiple sleeping buildings. They have cloth sides for privacy, but open for air flow. A more formal bedding building is reserved for the leader. Toward the rear area is the temple. These are the three areas that make up all the compounds. These compounds stay in the family forever.

Our next stop is an art village called Kemenuh. Here we go to a wood carving “factory”. Again, the workers are all outside doing their carving. They operate a training school, as well as, production of products to sell. The woods are both domestic and imported. The carvers earn a daily wage. They are not paid by the quality or quantity of there work or sales. There is a building that houses the items for sale and also the bathroom. The building is up several tall stone steps and without rails. No way I was going to get in there. Prices were negotiable, but NOT shown on the product.

As a note, I brought a collapsible walking stick on this trip. I used it a lot in Bali. Lots of stone or unpaved surfaces and high steps. A walker or wheelchair would have not worked well on this tour package. A couple other people were having trouble doing the stairs, so I was not alone standing in the shade at various stops.

Our final stop, before dinner, was a nearly 1000 year old temple (Balinese are mostly Hindu). Each visitor was required to put on (over your clothes) a wrap-around “skirt” to enter the temple. The area the skirts were being put on was a 50’ square raised (4’) stone platform, up three high steps. The temple was across the street which required 6 more steps down from the platform at the street. I decided to pass on this experience, as I did not feel I could safely do the warm-up, let alone what challenges the temple itself would present. There were people to help you up and down the steps, but there are no railings. Again, the toi’s were in the temple. Leslie did all the stuff mentioned on this tour day and took pictures.

Our dinner stop is at Laka Leke Restaurant. They presented lots of dancing and entertainment both before dinner and during. I was concerned about eating, as I am not great on new foods. Dinner was three courses. A soup was served, I skipped it. Next was a huge woven platter/plate with perhaps 16 different items. Surely, even I could fine something to eat from this broad array. Indeed, I did find some items I liked. Unfortunately, along the way I found some that tasted really bad and some that were really spicy. The whole thing came with a large cone of white rice, which I finished off. There was a fruit for dessert. A beer or soda was included. Wine or seconds were extra. Reasonable. Back to the hotel.

It is Friday, Feb 7th. Up for breakfast. We are early (6 minutes), but they let us in anyway. No juice or coffee offered (if they let you in before they are ready, it is only fair you get your own juice and coffee). Same fantastic array of choices. Wonderful setting. Part of what would expect in a very expensive stay on a special trip. Oh, tomorrow is our 45th anniversary, so it is a special trip. The bacon, that was presented in three levels of doneness yesterday, was mostly undercooked today. It was alright for me, but Leslie shifted to the sausage. We were there for a while. An offer of more coffee was accepted, but did not come in the next 15 minutes, so we left.

Our tour today starts at 8:30AM. First, we take a scenic drive to Celuk Village. Here we visit a Silversmith. Again, the workers are outside. We get a 10-minute presentation before being invited into the store. The jewelry store was air conditioned, but fairly small. I passed. Leslie made a brief visit, but mostly concentrated on her photos. Several of the “men” hung out in from of the store in the shade, hoping they would be “safe” from this “free tour”.

Next, we go to Penglipuran Cultural Village. They actually collect a fee to walk along the sharply elevated pedestrian street, with compounds on each side. Many of the compounds are open to the public for the first portion, where items on sale are displayed. The street is so sharply elevated that it has steps occasionally, and “ramps” in others. We walk, on our own (to meet at the top…why not the other way?), stopping at one compound. The walk is more a trek. I find it difficult, even with my walking stick. Some of the steps into the compounds are as high as 14 inches. The walk is about 250 meters. The fee to enter was included in our tour package.

The Kehen Temple is our next stop. The temple is dedicated to Shiva. It is built on the slope of a mountain. It was built in the 11th century. I skipped this one. There is no chance someone with walking challenges is doing this. It starts with 38 steps up the stairs! About ½ our group met the challenge.

Next, we head to the mountains for our lunch. It is cloudy, so we cannot see the top of the Volcano. It is considered active, having erupted last year. Lunch came with great view, in this tiered seating dining place. We have a good buffet. The chicken was odds and ends of chipped whole chicken, bones and all. There was salad, soup, several types of rice. Each item was identified in 6 languages.

Our last stop, before returning to the hotel, was the Kertha Gosa Pavillon in Klungkung town. This ancient court of justice is like a stone table 30’ high (?). There is a roof over this otherwise open structure. The real treat is the painting under the roof with symbols of the afterlife. This again is a difficult visit for those with walking difficulties. I did manage the “climb”.

We get back to the hotel in the late afternoon. Time to shower and rest, then order a pizza for dinner. Sadly, we also have to pack for tomorrow. We check our e-mail and the news. Seems like Honk Kong is having potential virus problems, as well as China. The cruise line sent us an e-mail yesterday that anyone flying through or staying in China during the 30 days before the cruise would not be let on the ship!

Leslie has a 3rd night of lousy sleep. I am doing better each night, now up to 6+hours of sleep versus my normal 9.

It is Saturday, Feb 8th. Happy Anniversary! We check our e-mail before we go down to breakfast. Now, RSS is saying that they will deny anyone passage that even just transited through Hong Kong! That is almost our whole bus (we were kept with the HKG people, the other bus was the SYD people…which we were actually with on the plane). Hopefully the paperwork got caught up.

We had breakfast, then got our luggage, checked out, and went to see what bus we would be on. The tour company combined the two groups, leaving all but one couple that transited though Hong Kong at the hotel. Rumors/facts/speculation included refunds to those denied boarding, 2 nts. Stay at the 4 Seasons Hotel, and $5,000 future cruise credit. What happens about the cost of the time in Bali, your airfare, insurance costs, other costs?

We are now in a “consolidated group” of those that qualify to continue today to the ship after a part day of tour. Unfortunately, one very older couple is on this bus, that we believe will not be allowed on the ship. The other three couples have been left behind. No one from the ship (it was docked yesterday morning) has come to the hotel to coordinate this issue. It is our belief that RSS really failed their passengers by not sending an appropriate party to meet with these “no longer passengers” at the hotel.

We drive through Denpasar City, the current capital of Bali Provence. Our first stop is the Bajra Sandhi Monument. The structure is built in the shape of a Hindu bell. Built in 1987, this three-floor structure is a history of the Balinese struggles. I was unable to visit this site.

Our second stop was a 4-story shopping center. We have to park a block away. I am not interested in shopping, but most people get off and go to the mall. I seek out a toi. There is one in our parking lot. There is a charge to use it, but the parking attendant that showed me the way, paid the fee. Likely part of the parking charge? I offered him $1, but he said no. Several people came back with last minute shopping and gifts.

Our final stop, before going to the ship, is yet another Temple. I did not get the name, but Leslie thought is was more interesting that the one we saw before. I stayed on the bus, as did some others.

Once at the port, we are offloaded and directed to a line for our personal baggage (back packs, overnighters, shopping bags, etc.) to be checked. It was fast. Next, we go to a desk where they take our passports (receipt given), take our picture, provide us with a key/ID for the ship, have us sign a credit card slip, and then on to the next line. I was delayed, the immigration people had a problem scanning my passport. 3 agents had a pow-wow and decided to let me go on. My passport has my full middle name, but my passage only had my middle initial, perhaps that was the problem? Will never know.

Walking to the ship and up the ramp was a bit difficult for this old guy. Our guest cards are scanned in and then off to the elevator lines. We are told to go to deck 10 for lunch at La Veranda. It is about 1PM and the rooms will not be ready until 1:30PM. Lunch was buffet and fast. Wine and beer served (mixed drinks took a bit of time to get).

Our room is ready, after lunch. It takes about another 30 minutes to get our bags. It is time to review our tour tickets (left in our room), update the tour time on our personal “calendar/schedule”, and consider any changes we would like.

Our room stewardess, Alice, rings our doorbell. She gives us a 10-minute spiel and leaves. A faulty light in our walk-in closet is repaired, while we are at the mandatory lifeboat drill.

Once back in the cabin, we finish unpacking. The walk-in closet has plenty of hanging space, but is short on shoe space. Storage in the bathroom is very good. The room is not very large. This is a smaller ship. The refrigerator holds an ice bucket and 8 or so cans. There is no room to store wine in it. Given you drink up your bottle, or use your ice bucket, this is not a problem. Our room category is “F”, the lowest balcony category, but it is the same size of the next several categories.

Dinner tonight is at Prime 7, the RSS steak and seafood dining room. Reservations are required. The room is not very large, and the tables are fairly close together. We made our reservations months ago to ensure we would be able to dine there on our Anniversary. As an overview, the FOOD is great here!

Leslie orders the surf and turf, but without the turf (the lobster is 6 ounces, as is the steak…more that she can eat). The waiter brings her two lobstertails, not really getting her vibe. I could not help her, so some of the lobster went back. My dinner was 2#s of king crab legs in the shell (order them in the shell). The size is mostly large-extra-large. I have one 4” piece that was Jumbo. We both started with Jumbo shrimp cocktail. You get three huge shrimp. At each meal, a red and a white wine is suggested, but we opted for a Pinot Gris.

We asked for tiramisu for dessert, but we received a 8”x4” by 1 1/2” chocolate cake with a candle instead (we switched to a Cab, and asked for a scoop of vanilla to help get some of the cake down). With the cake, came 6 waiters singing, but they were interrupted mid-way, by a man seated next to us who upped the singing to opera! He was quite good. The opera singer is Ray, the cruise director, who just happened to be seated next to us with a couple, longtime friends of his. Ray is a man of many talents we discover during the cruise. A man of maturity, to blend with those passengers aboard.

As we left the dining room, I asked the maître d’ if we could if we could make another reservation for Monday night (this is Saturday). That worked for a 4 top, not a 2, but that was fine. The tables are close enough together that you really are not alone as a couple at a 2 top. We felt lucky, as our status with RSS only guarantees us one night at Prime 7 (more on that later). We were emboldened, as two tables were empty that night. Back at the room, Leslie is out by 8:45PM, and I was not far behind.

We both slept better here on the ship that we did in the hotel. We did not get up until after 6AM on Sunday morning. We placed an order for in-room breakfast. They have a list of items, you select those you want and a 30-minute time frame, and leave in on the door the night before. We have all our breakfasts this way. There is no extra charge for this service. A great variety is available at the buffet, and a nicer setting in the main dining room, Compass Rose. Our breakfast came at 7:15AM. Eggs over medium for Leslie and well for me. We ordered 3 OJ, 2 English muffins, 6 pieces of regular bacon and 2 pieces of Canadian bacon. This is more that we normally order, but first day we want to sample more of the items for future selection help. We got 2x the bacon, all of which were crisp, as ordered. The eggs were still plenty warm. The Canadian bacon was quite thick. The English muffins were thin, more like pizza crust. Butter and jams came with the order. All in all, good. Next time we will try the croissants.

Last night, we received even more paperwork and the activity sheet. This, when added to the volumes of paperwork left in the room when we arrived, and what we brought, left us well behind in our reading. Leslie went off to get the daily puzzles, while I sorted out the paperwork.

Today, we plan to attend a talk at 10:30AM. Alice, and her assistant Saga, show up to do our room. We camp out on the couch doing the reading, while they clean the room. After they leave, it is time for us to go to the showroom to hear Mary’s talk on Australia, especially the Western Part. She does an average good job. She seems to have a cold and it is annoying.

We skip lunch, settling for a shared diet coke. At 2PM, we attend Michael Scott’s presentation on Australia, concentrating on our first 2 ports. His emphasis is on the animal, fish and birds. We spoke afterwards. He was not aware of the nesting Albatross just out of Darwin. He did not believe us, but we saw them on their nests, while touring Darwin several years ago. It is a permanent nesting site on land.

Before dinner, we stop at one of the several bars and have a VO water tall. All the drinks are included with our cruise fare. That includes bottles in our room, drinks in our room, drinks at the bar, pool, and tables.

We have dinner in the Italian dining room tonight, Sette Mari. They open at 6:30PM, and we are there to start them off. Reservations are not required. We sit at table 3, as 2 top, at the window looking out at a few outdoor tables. Our waiter is from Bulgaria. Menus are provided and drinks are ordered. A number of antipasto items are brought to our table on various plates, without ordering. A basket of breads and a plate with vinegar and virgin olive oil is also brought. The tables really start filling up. We are given some time to snack and sip our wine before our waiter comes to take our order. First, he asks if we are going to the buffet to get soup and/or salad. Leslie asks for a small order of spaghetti. I ask for a small order of penne pasta and lamb chops.

The salad area is huge with dozens of items to collect from. I choose some shrimp and octopus (thin slices of tentacle…first time for me). I also bring back a plate of calamari for Leslie. The bolognaise sauce was so thick as to be dry. Prosecco and Chianti are offer as the featured wines (you can have whatever kind you want instead). The three lamb chops were small, plenty for me. The dish came with a bit of gravy and some potatoes. For dessert one returns to the buffet to make his or her own selection.

This was the first formal night (optional), but we dressed as usual, slacks and collared shirt for me, and slacks and nice blouse for Leslie. Some people did “suit-up” but it was a minority. We did not go to the show…we seldom do. Never did, on this cruise.

The shower is okay in size, but in no way lavish, as was the one in the hotel. One handle turns on the water and controls the flow. The second handle controls the temperature. As usual, one must figure this out while in some peril. The shower head is removable for hand held choice. The is no bench or ledge to sit on or put your foot up on. The water pressure is good. The shower towels are okay, but smaller that we have at home, and way smaller that those at the Intercontinental hotel. Unlike many of the reviews, we read about this ship, the water was clear. Plenty of drinking water is provided each day to our room.

This morning, our breakfast comes, but with lots more than we ordered. We asked for one order of eggs, 4 slices of bacon and one bowl of cereal (they give you a small box, bowl and choice of milk). We get the cereal and two orders of eggs and of bacon. They check the order, but the dishes are covered. We also received a container of coffee that we did not order. We called for tray pick-up (normal procedure), but they did not come. This is okay, as Alice or Saga will take care of the tray and dishes is catering doesn’t.

After breakfast, we head of for a 9:30AM appointment with the Western Australia immigration officers. They are on board, so it is convenient to run the passengers through the showroom, to get cleared for our first port. It only took 2-3 minutes per person. You pick-up your passport at the top of the stairs from the purser, and take it down to the officer. They look at you, look at your passport picture and give you back the passport and send you off. Your return it to the purser and out you go.

The passengers on this voyage, by my observation are mostly 65-90 years of age. About 20% have some mobility issues (including me). About 5% are at least 100#s beyond weight norms. There are 5 or so children under 10. The crew is very attentive to those needing a bit of assistance. They even have an “emergency event” for those believing that they would be in need of assistance if an evacuation was necessary. At this event, a specific person is designated for anyone asking for such assistance.

Today is taco day outside by the pool on deck 10, the Pool Grill. We each have 2 tacos. It is a buffet, so you add what you want. Frozen margaritas are offered, or any other beverage you choose. The seating has a nice view, but is not too comfortable, in my opinion.

Mary has another talk, this one on Freemantle and Perth. She does a fair job. She probably has not been there before, so she will be better if she gets off the ship on this trip. There is only so much you can tell from reading. Her cold/allergy is still a drag on her presentation.

For dinner tonight (Monday), we return to Prime 7. We are seated at a table of 6! Clark and Janet, Jeff and Linda, Leslie and I. The orders were on the light side. Starters included 2 salads, one shrimp coattail (me) and mostly “small plates”. Prime 7 serves up big meals, but also provides some dishes as small plates. John had the full rib-eye steak! We get a second anniversary singing (who decided that?) and a much more modest cake. I had the popcorn sundae (just like it says).

We went to bed early again, Leslie about 9:15PM and I about 9:40. Ray (cruise director) is doing his show tonight. As our cabin is right over the showroom, we hear it fine, from bed. We have an early tour tomorrow morning.

It is Tuesday, February 11th. We are on tour in Exmouth, Western Australia. The Port in Broome is no longer part of this cruise, so Exmouth is the first landing. Exmouth does not have a pier that can handle our ship, so we must anchor and tender in to port. Most of the tender ports, have us congregate in the showroom on some time basis, given what tour we are scheduled for. A second cut is for those who are on their own, and scheduling for that is based on status with RSS. A “ticket” is required to prioritize boarding the tender, until no prioritizing is necessary. In the showroom, those with RSS sponsored tours are given a sticker to coincide with the transportation that will be waiting on shore.

A bit about tours on RSS. Most all of the tours are included in your passage fee. Some are capacity limited, so getting a reservation often requires booking well before the cruise. Many of the tours are often available as late as the day before the tour. There are some more upper tier tours that RSS charges for. Those are also available for early or late booking. Some people book tours with onshore vendors themselves. Usually, there is also an opportunity to just “go into town” on your own. RSS allows passengers to book more that one tour at a port, however the time in port usually makes this quite difficult.

As I was saying, most tours start in the showroom. People come in and wait until their tour is called. Stickers are handed out to help people get to the right bus for their tour. When your tour is called you are then asked to exit the ship. This would be for the tender if anchored, or for the gangway if in port. When in port the “game” often played is “RUN” off the ship and to the bus to get a “good” seat. If tendering, the location on the tender is more difficult to game without being a real ..., there are often some. The goal is the same, to be first to the bus or other transport to get the best seats. Best seats are often toward the front, or at the back exit, if being used. First off gets the most time. It can be 10 minutes to get off if the bus contains multiple impacted walkers. It you do pictures from the bus, as Leslie does, you want to make sure you are to the “back” of your window, so you do not have to dodge the window post.

Exmouth is below Broome and above Geraldton on the Western side of Australia. This is our first time at this city. It is noted for having one of the largest fringe reefs in the world. They call it the Ningaloo. They have Cape Range National Park as a highlight. They also have the Harold E. Holt Naval Communications Station. The Learmonth RAAF Base and Airport also serves the local community for their airport. Exmouth has about 2800 population. We go to the Vlamingh Lighthouse, about 11 miles out of town. The views are great. There is a pit toilet. After a short stop, we drive through town, and spot an Emu (BIG bird) next to the entry to a store. While Leslie and I have seen and touch many of these birds on past trips, this is a BIG deal to many on the bus.

Our next stop on the tour is a turtle sanctuary zone. They have a large display to give you the details and a pathway to the beach were the eggs are laid. The first part of the walk is fairly easy, while the second is not recommended for those with walking difficulties (I pass). It is 11:30AM. Egg laying is a night time activity. There is nothing to see. It is too early for the hatchlings. Some saw an Osprey nest. Their nests are elevated for safety. Some people did not see the nests. That is the nature of a bus tour. We also see the massive structures used to communicate with submarines in the greater area.

There are other sites to see, but our tour is only 3 hours (RT). There is a mangrove sanctuary, the Aquarium, a Solar Observatory, a Pelican sanctuary, and the wildlife sanctuary (no public access). One can take a glass bottom boat or snorkel.

As a note, it is 72 degrees at 9AM. The high expected is 87. You need to bring your bug screen, as the flies are terrible here. Also, sunscreen is a must. Our bug spray seems useless against these flies. The ship provides water for the tours (many ships charge for this service). Tipping is rare in most of Australia, but when on these tours the service is so good, it is hard not to.
We tender back to the ship. First stop is the Pool Grill, outside for hamburgers and drinks. We meet a couple from Missouri, Prissy and Craig. We share a table. Many of the deck lunches, you order at a buffet area, and give your table number. They bring your food to you when it is ready. There are lots of employees, walking around taking drink orders. Besides the hamburgers, they also have hotdogs and prepared sandwiches today. Menu varies each day. Salad and fries are regulars.

After this late lunch, we check the laundry room to see if we can get some loads done. It is busy. There are a few laundry rooms on this ship. You can also pay to have your laundry done (very expensive ala carte pricing). The laundry machines are free, and soap is included (automated into the washer). The trick is getting into the que. There is no signup sheet.

We meet several couples during the cruise. The topic of main conversation, after “where you from”, is how the flights you were on worked out with all these issues of the virus. At least one couple arrived here in Exmouth on a tiny plane to catch up with the ship.

Tonight, we join Jeff and Linda for dinner. We eat in the Compass Rose for the first time. The menu is massive. The food choices include lamp chops, Maine lobster tail, king scallops, lots of steaks and so on. The room is very large and the service is usually good to excellent. Cocktail orders are taken early on. There are two suggested wines, and untold others. If you wonder, I usually do not give much detail on the other couples we meet, as I don’t have permission to do so. We do often make some friendships that last decades, sharing meals and stays.

It is Wednesday, Feb. 12. We slept much better last night. We do get up early to see if we can get into the laundry. It opens at 7AM. I take our two bags and put them in front of the laundry door at 6:35AM. Leslie takes my place at 6:45AM standing there awaiting the opening. There is no seating, so you have to stand in the hall. I go back to the room and await our breakfast. When it comes, I take Leslie a croissant and orange juice a bit after 7. She said the laundry was opened 7 minutes early, but she had to promise not to start the machines until 7. Two others came to use the machines, while I was there, but had to wait. There are 2 washers and 2 dryers. We used both, as we have been gone since the 3rd. It says the wash takes 42 minutes. It is free, including soap. There is a chair in the laundry room for one. There is also a ironing board, small folding table and two laundry baskets. Drying time is based on the size of the load and the clothing involved. Figure at least an hour.

The prices to have your clothes done for you are steep. Examples: trousers $8.95; polo shirt $4.95; T-shirt $3.95; under shorts $1.95; PJ’s $8.95; and socks $1.95. Naturally, one can also do a bit of washing in your room. There is a line you can extend over the tub for drying. Some people bring stuff into the laundry room and iron them, dry and wrinkle free. No hanging anything on the balcony, even when on anchored or at the pier.

We have lunch in the Compass Rose. It does not start until 11:30AM, so we go to the 10th floor for a mimosa. Today’s lunch menu is a new trial one for the ship. Leslie had Chinese BBQ ribs (comes with white rice) and I had Caesar salad with lemon shrimp (shrimp are very large and they are warm). We both had macadamia ice cream for dessert. I had an iced tea. It was very strong. The head waiter at Prime 7, also does breakfast and lunch in the Compass Rose. Another honcho came and talked to us. Turns out he was on the RSS Mariner when we took it on the Amazon a few years ago.

About 6PM we have a neighborhood event (this is a regular with RSS) in the hallway. Everyone, who wants to participate, grabs a glass and meets in the hallway. Alice, our room steward, fills everyone’s glass (big job) and we all introduce ourselves to each other. Shortly thereafter the Captain, Ray the activities director, and another officer comes along to welcome us and say hello. We did this on the Mariner too.

We have dinner in the Compass Rose again tonight. Leslie has rack of lamb and I have Maine lobster tail (about 7 ounces). Back in our cabin, we hear the noise from the showroom until 10PM. Think about this when you select a cabin. We did not realize it would be so loud.

Thursday, Feb. 13th. We are docked in Geraldton. We have a surprise breakfast in our room. We get just what we ordered! It is not a problem getting a bit more, or less, but it is fairly rare for us to get just what we put on the form. It comes between 6:30AM and 7AM. Our tour meets in the showroom at 8:20AM. We are one of three tours meeting at that time.

Our tour bus has 28 passengers. Our first stop in Geraldton is the HMAS Sydney II Memorial. The ship was sunk 19NOV41 with all 645-crew lost. The ship was not found until 16Mar08. We then go to the historic district, once the Victorian District hospital and the Old Gaol (1864-1985) in the historic district. The gaol is now a bunch of mini craftsman “rooms”. The hospital has two areas of display on the ground floor, while the upstairs are off limits. The construction was in 1887.

Next, we head to the Cathedral of St Francis Xavier. We only have 10 minutes to take pictures. Leslie manages to get in the Cathedral to take a few pictures, while most of our passengers just take some outside pictures.

We drive down to fisherman’s wharf. Thearea was quiet. China cancelled its’ purchases of cray fish, so the fishermen were idled. Next, we drove down to the Point Moore Lighthouse. Built in 1878, it is all steel and 34 meters high.

Our last stop, before returning to the ship is the Museum of Geraldton. In one handout it says:” Discover ancient land forms, Aboriginal history and culture…”. Another handout promotes the discovery of the Sydney II in 2500 meters of water. There is a movie of some of the recovery work. It is in 3-D. A third handout talks about the spice trade. It is a lot to see, and we are rushed to see much. They have an area of stuffed animals. It seems to be a place looking for an identity.

The city of Geraldton has seen better days. The prices of most metals are down. The railroad museum is gone which leaves a massive amount of downtown vacant. They are being impacted by the Chinese virus. Housing prices have dropped sharply. The fires are blazing. Population is descending. BUT, today is a glorious day. The temperatures are mild. There is a nice breeze. The people are glad to see us. There are two cruise ships in port.

We get back to the ship before 1PM, and head to La Veranda for lunch. I get 3 jumbo shrimp and the freshly made pasta of the day. Leslie gets sweet and sour pork. We both have Pinot Noir wine. The deck food today is hotdogs and salad. We are eating up scale, to match the pricing.

After lunch, we head back to our balcony. We open a bottle of wine, and sit outside to do our paperwork (she does her photos, and I work on this write-up…pretty much a daily routine). We are on the shady side, looking mostly at the water, along with multiple silos. We are out there for a couple hours. The weather is comfortable, and I doze off.

Tonight, we have dinner at Sette Mari. We meet-up, and dine,with Jeff and Linda. Leslie and I have the lamb chops. I have some penne pasta too. Lots of wine. We head back to our room for early to bed. They head off to the show.

Today, Feb. 14th, we are docking in Fremantle, gateway to Perth. We have been to both cities twice before. It has been several years. We will dock at 10AM. Our tour meets in the showroom. Breakfast in the room, as always.

Our tour is “Twin Cities, Perth Mint and River Cruise”. The tour is 6 hours. There is a mandatory seatbelt law in Western Australia. So, we buckle up. Our guide, Wanda, is “who cares about it”! Near zero compliance on our bus, except for us. There is no overhead space on the bus. The lanes are narrower here than in the USA, and therefore the buses are as well. This makes seating a bit tight. The steps are difficult on almost all of the tour buses for people with mobility issues. We have several people with canes, walking sticks and some questionable unassisted passengers. Often the driver will have a portable first step.

Our first stop is King’s Park in Perth. It is about a 45-minute drive. There are two war memorials, toi’s, a botanical park, souvenir shops, outdoor snack bar with a massive amount of outdoor seating. It takes several stairs to get to the shops, but there is a long pathway that winds up to that area. Leslie wanders off to take pictures, while I wander about to see how to get up to the toi. After the obvious, I get a soda and find a seat where I can spot Leslie when she comes back toward the bus. Eventually, I spot Leslie and share our soda. We then head back to the bus, along the pathway and across the parking lot.

Our next stop is the Perth Mint. The mint is no longer doing money for Australia. That work is done in the capital, Canberra. They do mint commemorative coins, some jewelry and hold tours and educational events. The tour starts with the history of some large chunks of gold that have been uncovered. They discuss the displayed million-dollar coin. Along the walk way, there are lots of displays. We then move to the melting and pouring room. Here the mint guide demonstrates the process. It’s Valentines day, so he pours the liquid into a heart shape mold. The tour is over in an hour. There is a gift shop and a scale that measures you in terms of gold value (heavier the more value!).

Next, we take a river cruise back to Fremantle where our bus has relocated. The cruise is sparsely orated. There are tois, seating with tables, inclusive coffee and tea and a full bar for purchase. The cruise is about 60 passengers (2 buses). It lasts a bit over an hour. It includes views of part of the city, some very costly housing, some kids jumping off a rock into the river, lots of boats and birds.

Finally, we reboard the bus for a tour of Fremantle by land. We go to the gaol, where the bus drive gets off and is replaced. We go to yet another war memorial. The bus drops off those passengers returning to the ship, and takes the others back to the city to explore on their own. They will then be responsible to find there way back to the ship on their own tonight.

We dine in Compass Rose tonight. Leslie has the lamb chops, while I have the Maine lobster tail with a side of scallops. For dessert we both have Tiramisu. It does not look familiar. It does not taste familiar. It is good. Leslie get a rose, as do all the woman tonight, Valentines Day. We are scheduled to leave at 7PM, but are still in port at 8:30PM. Seems there is an equipment problem. We lose our tug boat slot and don’t shove off until after 10PM.

We have been under RED alert since last night. Mainly that means, no buffet self-service, closed library and laundry. It also means lots of hand sanitizer, “mandatory” for the passengers in all eating venues. The hallways and elevators are all being constantly cleaned by staff. All touch points. This is not the Chinese virus, it is the more common, on ships, “mal de mar”. it also means several passengers are being confined to their cabins.

Reviews. We skip the show as usual. It is the loudest show so far. We could hear it all in our cabin. Note this is true for ALL the high 800# cabins at least. There is no disclosure and I did not read about it in the reviews. We have been on this ship for a week and have not seen any evidence of “dirty” water, mentioned several times in the reviews. The rooms are quiet one to another, but ship vibrations can be jolting when the side thrusters are engaged. Some general rattles and noises are really no worse than we have experienced on other cruises. The noise is aggravated by the constant pitching fore and aft as well as the side to side rocking. People worried about sea sickness might want to avoid the waters off Australia.

Our room breakfast is late today, but it is a sea day so it doesn’t much matter. Leslie heads off to get the puzzles, not offered. Alice is not vacuuming the rooms either. The a/c and heat are not operating. This is all part of the RED alert. Our water bottles are removed and replaces each day.

We have lunch out on deck. The tables are no longer being set. Only what you need or use is brought to the table. Packaged salt and pepper. Water and wine glasses are being added only as beverages are ordered. Linda and Jeff join us. This is buffet burger day, but you are not allowed to touch anything. Service is a bit choppy. They do not have mustard or catsup. They do have tomatoes, beef patties, mushrooms, fried onions among some other choices. An alternative to meat patties are also available.

Dinner service in the Compass Rose is not up to expectation. Fortunately, the food is. Everything is slow, as nothing is on the table. It is a challenge, but the mistakes cannot be blamed on the RED alert. We are having dinner with Linda and Jeff again. We seem to get along well.

Today is Sunday, Feb. 16th. We are anchoring in Esperance. This is a new port for us. We get up at 6AM. In room breakfast is planned 6:30-7AM. We get anchored about 7:40AM and put a tender (life boat/transport to shore) in the water. The tender is bobbing so bad that we decide not to go ashore. Minutes later there is an announcement that tendering cannot be safely done, so we will have another sea day. The ocean is quite rough, likely the worst so far on this voyage. Lost ports are always a disappointment, sometime a meaningful one for some who took the cruise with a certain port being very important in their life’s.

Ray, the cruise director, has to scurry to get a program together for a full day’s activities. That is tough job. The food people are also put on alert, as there will be a lot of lunches to be served that were no planned on.

We head down to 6 for coffee at the Coffee Connection and a chance to see the future cruise booking agent. You can book a cruise while on a cruise. Often some incentives are offered. We are on a wait list for a cruise in November, but have been told not to expect the list to clear, even though we have posted a deposit. In the morning there are no appoints, only first come first served. He has a passenger in with him, so we wait our turn. Once we get our turn, we ask about the Portugal to Cape Town November cruise. He tells us that it will not clear. Long wait list. No one will know until July, when final payments are due from those booked on the cruise. He suggests a cruise out of Cape Town, but that cruise abuts Christmas, and we cannot do that. Skipping forward a month or so, it turns out that the cruise is emptying, right and left, due to the China virus. Naturally, we do not want to get back on a ship then either. The idea of booking, paying in case we find it safe then is not appealing. First of all, it is March now. Will RSS be in business then? What would happen to our deposit? What would happen to our full payment due July? Is a credit not a refund safe? Of value?

The boat is rocking enough that Saga turns over the table on the balcony and nestles the chairs into it. The weather has dramatically cooled. Forecast is a high of 72. We have on long pants. Many are wearing jackets and sweaters this morning. We are not sure where we are heading. We are obviously ahead of schedule. We are not scheduled to be in Adelaide until Feb. 19th. The map on TV show us heading to our next port. Seas are expected to continue to be rock and roll. My right leg is really getting a work out, between the stairs in Bali and now all the rolling on the ship. My walking stick is questionable, as I need my hands free to hold on to the rail, or steady myself on a wall.

Lunch is spaghetti, bread, shrimp and wine. We then go outside and spot Linda and Jeff in a wind protected area on 10. They are eating chicken wings. We order some to split and have a couple margaritas. There is really nothing to do better that sharing some conversation. Library is closed, port is cancelled, walking is dangerous, can’t do laundry.

Tonight, we have dinner at Compass Rose. This time Leslie has the lobster and I have the lamb chops (with mushrooms and BBQ sauce). For starters, Leslie had snails and I had Caesar salad. Lots of wine. We both have NY cheesecake and a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. Big eating day, but lots of exercise trying to walk on ship. Writing this report on the couch is difficult. Even the night is a challenge trying to stay in bBreakfast came 15 minutes earlier that the 30-minute range! Fortunately, we were dressed…mostly. We lost an hour last night on the clock. We lose another 1.5 hours tonight. Leslie goes out to get the puzzle (it is back) and checks the laundry (it is still closed). I take a nap. Leslie goes to play Pictionary with Linda and Jeff. Her team comes in second and gets a couple points, which we give away. We watch a bit of TV and do our paperwork.

The Captain’s party is tonight before dinner. Basically, you get a drink and do some glad handing with the upper level crew. We pass, and met Linda and Jeff in the bar for a predinner drink. We eat in Compass Rose. The ocean occasionally is hitting the windows. Scares the ____ out of those sitting there. More lamb chops, etc. Walking the halls is really challenging. Just standing is tough for me. Our cabin is on the same side as the waves are coming from. No going out on the balcony!

It is the 18th, last sea day before we get to Adelaide. We lost an hour and a half last night. Getting enough sleep is challenging. You can hear breakfast coming down the hall. The crew are also being challenged to get around. There are some very serious waves out there. We stay in this morning.

I go out and get an ice cream cone for me, and some chips for Leslie. We have some diet coke from our provided stash in the refrigerator. We attend none of the activities this afternoon. Between the code RED and the 7-meter waves, we decide to stay in until dinner.

For dinner, I start with French onion soup. It has very little cheese. Leslie sticks with her snails. She has lamb chops and I try the short ribs (great). The wine is Carmenere.

Sleep is average to okay. We are now somewhat protected by Kangaroo Island. It is still not steady, but much better.

It is 6:45AM on Wednesday, Feb. 19th. We dock in Adelaide by 8AM. We go to the showroom @ 8:40AM and get our bus tickets. Our tour is “Adelaide Sights and Wine”. The drive to Adelaide takes a bit of time, but Leslie has her camera snapping.

Our first stop is a walk through several sites. The schedule is the War Memorial, Old South Australia Institute, State Library, Art Gallery and South Australia Museum. The walk starts though an alley way behind lots of buildings. While our group is assembling, I sneak off to the Loo. When I come outside, they are gone. I head in the direction they were going and find Leslie trying to keep me up with the group. We walk a few blocks. I have my walking stick, as I know this tour has some. The guide, is seems, is in no obligation to keep the group together, until we get to the museum, where we actually go in to see something! We saw only a small part of the Museum. I went into the Aboriginal portion, which was quite interesting. I also walked through the section with the stuffed animals. They have some animals that I had not seen before. The other places we were to see, apparently were just the outside of the building, so from the alley!

Our next stop was a visit to the Botanical Garden and a winery. The Botanical Garden was a drive through. The winery we were scheduled to attend, was a multi-wine tasting room. It was not available, so we ended up at Penfolds. The tour started with a long presentation standing in the sun! We then went through a marketing presentation inside. Back outside and to the tasting room. We tasted 6 wines. The total amount of wine was barely ½ glass in total. The prices of the wine were double and more of what I can buy the same wines here in the USA. A few people bought some wine. The cheapest was $A40. The average of what we tasted was $A100. As we leave, we drive back to the Gardens. The driver drives off the very narrow roadway over the roots of a Morton Bay Fig tree. We are quickly shooed off by an officer, as well we should.

This 5-hour tour needs to be at least 8 hours and perhaps 12 hours to see what was advertised. As is, ¾ of the list should be erased.

We get back just after 2PM. They are still serving lunch to accommodate those on tour without a meal (Heaven help us we should starve). We have some sauce less (its hot) chicken wings and margaritas. We served ourselves at lunch, so we expect code RED is over. We split up after lunch. Leslie heads for the laundry room and I go to bundle up our dirty clothes. We had to wait 15 minutes in the que. Sign stated to use only the hottest setting on laundry (code RED residual). We are done with 2 loads by 5:45PM. We hope that will do for the balance of the trip. Remember we bring two very large suitcases.

Dinner in the Compass Rose again. Lobster for me, pasta for Leslie. We have an especially leisure dinner. The ship is in Adelaide until 11PM, so many of the passengers are still on shore, some dining there.

We head off to our room to get ready for bed. Like most people, we have some issues. So, there are pills, teeth care, eye drops, etc. to accomplish before bed. We also are a bit behind in our paperwork and puzzles. We don’t get to sleep until about 10:30PM. Around 4AM I wake-up with leg cramps. I get up to get rid of them, and soon enough it is 6AM and time to rise to prepare for breakfast.

It is Thursday, Feb. 20th and we are at anchor at Kangaroo Island at 7AM. We are dressed and finished with our in-room breakfast. We are scheduled to do a 3 ½ hour tour. The tender ride is about 15 minutes to Penneshaw. Our bus takes us from the shore to see the South side of the island from a high viewing point. We then drive north toward Kingscote, stopping for a honey tasting. We continue on to Kingscote for a 1-hour visit. The town is only a few blocks long. We are on our own here. We walk down to the ocean (I am really using my walking stick) and then do the few streets uphill. We cross over to the other side of the street and make our way back down. One highlight for us was a banksia plant in front of the Natural Resources Department.

Back on the bus, we head home along the ocean. We pause by an ancient tree planted by a German community that since abandon the area. We passed by the horse racing course, where early activities are taking place for this weekend’s main event. I spot several kangaroos in a yard and tree group. I called out and the driver stops and backs up a couple hundred feet. We have seen several Kangaroos, even in the wild, but for many on the bus this was the first time. We have an unscheduled photo stop bonus. This tour, and our guide especially, was very good.

A quick end of the rest of the day. Lunch is outside. Chicken wings, without the hot sauce. Margaritas. Up against the wall to block the major wind. We have dinner with Linda and Jeff. Service is disappointing, as no one got their meal as ordered.

It’s Friday, Feb. 21st. We eat breakfast in our room, as the ship docks in Portland.

Our tour is another 5 hour one. Our bus first takes us to Basalt Vineyard. The vineyard is small, and has an interesting layout to keep away the “robber birds”. Wow, the owner really steps up for us. We are offered cheese, chips (fries) and 6 wines to taste. Even the Gewurztraminer is dry enough for me. In fact, I found all his wines good. The prices were reasonable as well. Alas, the wine on the ship is free, so buying does not make too much sense to me. He does sell some wine to others.

Next, we drive to Port Fairy. Here we have time to shop, have coffee and look around on our own.

Once back on the ship, we rest up and then head to Compass Rose for dinner. Just the two of us, so we again sit at table 4, our chosen 2 top.

It is Saturday, Feb. 22nd. We dock in Melbourne. We will be here for 2 full days. “Parked” across from us is the Carnival Spirit. It is in the process of unloading departing passengers and loading replacements. The ship is so large that it blocks our TV reception.

Our tour today is 4 ½ hours, “Countryside Victoria”. It does not start until 12:45PM. We manage to get our tickets a bit early and head on into the very large terminal. On our way to the escalator, we are stopped by one of the agents and offered a ride on the elevator. He saw me limping along, but did not mention that, just the offer of an elevator ride. Note, the escalators don’t appear to be working, but it turns out they are only activated when someone gets on. Our walk to the buses is about 4 blocks!
Much of the area we are to see today is a repeat for us. The drive to the Dandenong’s is beautiful as expected. Next, we bus to the Sherbrooke Forest. This tour includes lots of bus time. We get a seat in the front of the bus, as our group is mostly the “surefooted” types. My turn in the handicap seat. Leslie gets a chance to really get some pictures without so much blockage. Our final stop is Olinda Village. Here we have lots of time to walk around, shop, or have a snack. We also are lucky enough to see several varieties of local birds.

We get back, just in time to change and head down to Compass Rose for dinner. We do such a good job, that we are 5 minutes early. The maître d’, recognizes us and says he has an opening at Prime 7, if we wish to dine there tonight. Prime 7 has prime Black Angus beef. I order the small plate, a 6-ounce filet. It was very tender and totally consumable. Nicely flavored, as nice change from the seafood here. Perhaps a bit too much salt. Leslie orders the lamb chops. Note, we do eat plenty of lamb chops at home!

I am really quite worn out, so we turn in tomorrows tour tickets before retiring for the night.

Tonight, after sleeping for a few hours, I got up to go to the bathroom and ended up taking a spell. I felt like my leg just collapsed under me. Leslie thought I might have fell as the door opened. Fortunately, I am okay. She brought a chair over so I could climb my way back to my feet. I did not manage to get much sleep that night. I really had a huge bruise on by backside.

It’s Sunday, Feb. 23rd. No tours, as we returned our tickets last night. We take a break in our room. Our TV reception is again blocked by a ship, this time the Royal Caribbean International. It is really huge. Includes a water slide.

Called Mom today, matching her 6:15PM time. I find she is done with dinner and back in her room by then (she is 101). We talked about 15+minutes. At our status level we get 30 minutes of phone time. Leslie tried to call her brother, Paul, but they were not home. Leslie went up to the pool level and scored us some chicken wings for lunch. We have wine and soda in our room, and a comfortable area to eat. We also had dinner in the room. Maybe I am a bit sorer than I first believed.

It is Monday, Feb. 24. We anchor off Philip Island. We have breakfast in the room. The tour here is not that difficult, but the tendering is too much of a risk for me yet. Leslie takes the tour and I gladly stay behind. To avoid cabin fever, I go upstairs to sit and have a drink by the pool. The boat (me) is not that steady, so I take my walking stick. It is too early for the bar or food, so I sit and enjoy the quiet fresh air offered. Most of the passengers are at least taking the evening tour of the Fairy Penguins. There is a colony of about 200 of them, that come back from the ocean in the evening. Some of the passengers are taking one of the morning tours and the evening one. It is all included in the fare!

About 10:30AM, I am offered a drink. I ask for a VO/water tall. She brings me back a glass of water, it clearly has no VO. I send her back again. When she returns, she has it perfect. Over the next 1 ½ hours I nurse this one drink, transferring the water and ice from the “virgin” drink. My goal was just to get out of the room for a couple hours.

Some ADA stuff on board and off. The seating outside by the pool is easy enough to get in and out of for me. The chairs are of medium weight and have arms. There are about 75 lounge chairs by the pool. I would find them difficult to sit in, versus collapse and impossible to stand from. The chairs in the dining rooms are VERY heavy and quite difficult to move forward and back. Usually, the serving staff pulls out the chair for everyone. Leaving, if you need assistance you can ask. The hallways on ship have railings in many areas, especially the stateroom areas. It is also true that many areas do not have any built-in aid for assisting impaired walkers. The pool area is wide open, so you are mostly on your own. One can get assistance from crew, if you arrange it or get lucky.

I have only seen one person in a wheel chair. She tried to get on our bus, but the ADA person clearly saw that doing this would require lots of help, but none is available. Clearly, this person could not come on our tour. There are lots of disclaimers and explanations in the pre-cruise documents. There are some people with walkers. If they can get on the bus and off, without their walker, then the bus driver will accommodate them by storing the walker beneath the bus. Such storage is not always available. One, with concerns, should always check with the tour staff before signing up for a tour. There are numerous passengers with canes, walking sticks, collapsible chairs, etc. The steps to get on the buses are quite high in most cases, so caution in the word. Most of the buses have some grab bars, or at least a seat or door frame.

Getting on and off the ship. Basically, when docked, transfers are reasonable. There are “rivulets” on the gangway, used for boarding and getting off the ship. They help from sliding when the gangway is wet, but are a bit of a trip hazard otherwise. The railings are usually somewhat flimsy for support, for at least a portion of the walk. Most of the time the buses are a block or two away from the ship for tours. Same for shuttle buses into town. Usually, they bring you back much closer after a tour. Port rules vary from place to place and are not controlled by the ship.

When anchored, a tender is required to get ashore. The transfer, from the ship, to the tender can be dangerous for everyone, when the seas are rough. People with mobility issues need to monitor conditions when tours require tendering. I have been on other cruise ships, where they will attempt to transfer someone in a wheelchair, personally I do not recommend it. When we were anchored in Esperance, no one was allowed to tender to shore, as it was not safe. The Captain aborted the stop, in the very choppy seas.

Walking about the ship in heavy seas (about the first ½ of the cruise) is challenging. We are long time cruisers, but it is still a challenge. I did not switch to the walking stick, as both hands are needed to be free to maneuver around the ship. A wall here, rail there, chairback somewhere else, it is a peril.

I must admit, for the last several days I have been concerned about the loss of security in my leg on this trip. I hope it is only temporary, and not a rapid decline in my muscle. Fortunately, the seas have calmed the last several nights (Feb. 25th), and I have skipped a few ports, and walking seems to be coming back much safer. Heavy/rough seas are expected to return tonight. WE will be departing as soon as the last passengers return.

I had not used the restrooms on board, except the one in our room. When on 10 (Prime 7, the Pool Grill, and La Veranda, make sure you have scouted out the closest restroom. They are NOT necessarily near the dining rooms! On our ship, with all inclusive drinks, this is important. Fortunately, I had preplanned, so when the time came, I was ready.

The seating in the showroom can be iffy from an ADA appraisal. There are steps. It is often dark. Railings are sporadic. You cannot avoid the showrooms. Most talks occur there, as do all the shows. Many of the tours assemble and depart from here. It is also used for various special events, as the Captains party. When we chose to return a set of tour tickets, last minute, that became Leslie’s job.

Back to Feb. 24th. There will be more ADA issues discussed later. When Leslie gets back from Phillips Island, she provides me a brief of her experience. Her tour was “Phillips Island Highlights”. The tour lasted 5 hours. We have dinner in the room. Spaghetti and Chianti.

It is Tuesday, Feb. 25. We are in Burnie (Tasmania). We have breakfast in the room. As I am a bit marginal for the tour, we agree that she will get the tickets and we will meet. I agreed to meet on 6. She agreed to meet on 5. As we did not communicate, the meeting was delayed. After waiting 10 minutes beyond when I expected to see her, some friends of ours said she was in the showroom. I figure that there must be a problem, so I go there. From the top, I could see that very few people remained in the showroom and Leslie was not one of them. I follow some people leaving down to 5, the floor we depart from today (it changes often). Leslie is there. She tells me the bus number is 10 and gives me my ticket. She heads on to the bus, as we are now on time, not early. It will take me a bit longer to get to the bus. This bus, as do many, keeps a “step” that the driver places at the foot of the stairs into the bus. This makes that first step much more manageable. I wrote about this because these are things that happen to couples.

Our tour is “Devils and Roos”. We drive to Wings Wildlife Park. The one-hour drive is through farm land and grazing areas. This is a single stop tour. We have two hours. There is a feeding show of the Tasmanian Devils, which I pass on to conserve time. Sometimes you have to make choices. The facility is a collection of animals, often rescued from the wild/ injured on the road. Among the animals currently at the facility are deer, alpacas, marmosets, echidnas, devils, wombats, wallabies, goats, kangaroos, quolls, emus, opossums, water rats, koalas and various birds. That is a lot to see in two hours. Few did.
Across the dirt road and parking lot are the restrooms. The one I use is ADA compliant (very low toilet), and even has a shower. There are several grab bars. The reason for this facility, is the camping opportunities on this property. The room also has a table for diaper changing. Over this side of the road they also have reptiles and buffalo.

Wings has a gift shop, donation bin, and membership program. They have a snack bar (including hot food) and a fairly large outdoor covered seating area. I order some fries and a beer. Leslie comes looking for me shortly after and shares in our bounty. Too many fries. Seems to me it was $A9 for the two items.

I missed part of the drive back, as a nap seemed impossible to avoid. I bet lots of passengers did the same.

Dinner tonight is at Prime 7. The place is packed. We have been fortunate at getting reservations way beyond our allotment. Good vibes with the maître d’? Leslie and I split a 6-ounce filet. This is what we do at Outback Steakhouse at home.

We both get a good night’s sleep. The show is very loud, but we seem to be able to ignore it. The seas are very rough.

It is Wednesday, Feb. 26th. Today is a sea day. Our breakfast comes early again. We are having a bit of trouble deciding when to have it delivered. You must mark a ½ hour range, but then it seems that it may come 15 minutes early or late. An hour spread is too long. RSS needs to tighten that up. Fortunately, they do not come into your room until you open the door. I am not quite ready, so I duck into the bathroom while the food is put on our table. I stay in the bathroom until he leaves.

Today’s agenda includes picking up our passports and immigration forms, returning our tour tickets for Eden, spending our $250 on board credit, ask about the data on the bus to the airport (we prepaid with Regent). We hate to miss the port of Eden, but after further analysis it looks too difficult for me. As for the bus to the airport, no ticket is required. We will be directed to the appropriate bus. The staff has lists of people for each bus and will be out in force. As for the cruise credit, it is use it or lose it. You can spend it in the spa, shops, upgraded wine, upgraded tours, etc. At this time the shops are all that is left. Their prices are sky high, but it is use it or lose it.

After taking care of some of the paperwork, we decide to go to the pool and have a bite and a drink. The regular service is available until noon. After 12:00, the pool area food is a seafood extravaganza. We get there about 11:40AM and are the only passengers on the outside deck, not in transit. We sit at the table near the door, as it is covered and out of the wind. The weather has turned and we are wearing long pants and warm top. It is in the low 60’s, but many of those coming across the deck are wearing shorts…and freezing. It’s raining. The staff are frantically attempting to move the seafood buffet into La Veranda. They only have minutes to accomplish this feat. That dining area will not be able to handle but a portion of those planning to have the well published seafood buffet. Many will need to get a plate and take it to their room. The alternative is to eat regular in the Compass Rose. This is not a large ship. When the rain finally stops, there are still only 6 of us outside. We ordered two portions of chicken wings and a couple margaritas. The wings include a goodly portion of breast meat.

Eventually, people start coming out and ordering sandwiches. It is still too crowded in La Veranda and so out they come. A few had a table in the dining room, but ordered outside and had it delivered to their table in the dining room. Things were really crazy. For us all was good. Jeff and Linda showed up, so we invited them to join us. We agreed to meet them for dinner the next night.

It is time to do preliminary packing. We order some spaghetti in for dinner. Tomorrow night we must put our luggage out, and we have to decide what we will take home, and what we will leave. There is only so much one can put in two suitcases, that started out full. We have purchased some clothes with our on-board credit, and those must have room allocated. We each decide to dump a pair of well-worn shoes, and I, a pair of pants generously frayed at the bottom. We also try to sort out some of the paperwork we have acquired along the way, or have brought with us.

It is Thursday, Feb. 27th. We are docked in Eden. We turned back our tour tickets yesterday morning to free them up for others. There is also a shuttle bus to help people make the ½ mile or so walk into town (uphill). For some reason Leslie decided not to go early and get some photos of town. I have lots of write-up work to do and am spent, maybe she is as well. We can’t do much more packing until they come and clean our room. We hung out our sign to clean, but no one has showed up as of 11AM.

I reset our balcony so I can sit outside and work. There is a pillow set that has a “sleeve” that fits over the top of the back of the chair. The table is round and large enough to handle the drinks, glasses and perhaps a plate or two. The top rail is varnished wood. There are a few rusty spots on the fittings, that are a danger. Seems like just painting over and over doesn’t fix this problem. Under the railing are horizontal pipes every 8” to keep us and the furniture on the balcony. There is also a 5” lip at the bottom.

Verandas/balconies in port are a timing and logistics lottery. Comfort is always weather related. Views are associated with which side of the ship you’re on, and what blockage of views might exist. Oh, then there is the question of what there is to see. Another issue in port is the constant maintenance of the ship. At least once a cruise they come to paint, scrub, varnish or repair something on the balcony. There is also the outside window washing on the common areas. Lowering and raising the boats for tendering (when anchored) is another distraction. The worse is the blaring noises, sounding practice alarms for the crew. The use of the veranda is not as often as one might think.

At sea, the use of the veranda is also dependent on the weather and waive action. The door to the veranda is heavy, and often takes two hands to open. There is a bottom edge that may make it an issue for those with mobility issues.

We always pay-up for a veranda. Leslie and I both prefer them to a window or wall. The cost for this up grade is material. Almost all the sea days on this trip were too rough to sit out. We did tour at most all ports minimizing the time for the veranda. On one of the “no tours for us ports”, we were precluded from using our balcony so they could do painting and varnishing. A couple other days the sun was blasting on our side, so we only got an hour where the veranda was usable without toasting.

The fires in Australia have been burning for months. The loss of wildlife has been huge, as have the acres burned. Many remote homes have burned down. In our travels, on this trip, we have not seen any burned areas. Some tours have been altered to avoid these areas. The losses are voiced when you ask, but no one is bringing-up the issues. Everyone has been impacted. The fire fighting is largely a volunteer effort that most everyone gets involved in some way.

A bit of ADA in the cabin for mobility issues. They do offer a few cabins specifically for handicap designation. Generally, no other cabin, except the most expensive can handle a wheelchair or power scooter. Even a walker would be a problem in most cabins. The foot of the bed is too close to the wall to allow any of these items through. The use of a cane or walking stick is okay. The couch is really low.

The bathroom is really an ADA issue. The shower is small enough to allow “leaning on a wall”. It is also small enough to make it hard to impossible for larger passengers to get in. The showerhead can be handheld or set in place. The is no “shelf” to sit on or to even put a foot on. Drying off inside the shower is very challenging for anyone but the more petite. Once out of the shower, the bathroom itself is large enough to maneuver around for all. You can put a foot on the (unusually low?) toilet to assist in toweling off. Note, during the many days at sea it was virtually impossible for anyone to take a shower safely.

There is a bath tub in our suite too. It has a curtain. I did not try it, even for this report. The step to get in is really high. There is a pole on the wall to hold, if one chooses to take a shower in the tub. That shower head can also be handheld. If I could get in the tub (leg lifts), I cannot imagine how I would get down to sit, or get back up to exit.

The sink level is way low for me (I’m 5” 10+”). There are hooks on the back of the door for the robes. As usual, there is a retractable clothesline over the tub. The faucet is a single lever. There are low cabinets with shelving (storage) and a series of high shelves on each side of the sink for sundries (handy).

Leslie agreed to have dinner tonight with Linda and Jeff. We still have packing, but I need to relax about schedules! We agree to meet them outside the Compass Rose, after they leave the early show. The early birds start lining up for dinner at the Compass Rose and I get a bit nervous about the time. Leslie knows me, so she goes into the dining room and sees that we have a specific table for 4, where we know the waitstaff. Dinner is uneventful, until the announcement from the Australian Health Department. They are putting limits on who can come into Australia tomorrow when we dock. There will be a letter and a form in our rooms.

We finish dinner and head back to the room to address the new form. It is required to be completed by everyone and dropped off at the office ASAP. The letter asks about our travel history over the last 30 days. For all I know, we have all been aboard ship or in Australian ports for the last 19 days. Australian Immigration reviewed our passports already on ship. They are also interested in how we “feel”. So, this is all about the Chinese virus. We finish our form, and turn it in. At 10:40PM, we finish packing and put our luggage in the hallway. The crew has already taken the luggage out of the hallway for most passengers, but we have until 11PM, so we will be taken care of.

There is way too much stuff going through my head to get much sleep. We have a wake-up call at 5:30AM. I give up before 5, and get up. Leslie soon follows. We get ready for our OJ, bacon and croissants for breakfast. It does not come until a bit after 6AM. After eating, we head downstairs to be near the exit, with a seat. Very few others are there yet.

The ship is scheduled to be cleared @7:45AM. A staff of 7, from the Australian Health Department, comes aboard to review the questionnaires. Those that confessed to having been sick during the cruise or having been short of breath, were all interviewed by these PPE attired checkers. Amazingly, this process was done by 7:30AM, and we were cleared to depart the first #/color combination. That seemed to be about 200 people or more. Finding the luggage (we were in the second wave of off) was easy. We handed in our immigration form and headed for the buses.

Our bus to the airport, pink 2, has 2 people flying domestic. They got on the wrong bus. The bus driver refused the RSS’s employee request to off load the luggage. He told her they would come with us and he would drop them last. We were also missing two people. Two of the entertainers, have important phone calls, so we all waited until the bus driver told them he was leaving without them. That changed their attitude. Getting to the airport took over 45 minutes. Lots of Airlines and gates are represented at terminal 2. Unfortunately, the bus designated parking area is at area “J” and our airlines, AC is at area “A”. It is a long-crowded walk back to area A. (no ADA options).

AC is just opening. There are about 200 people in line in front of us. We luck out and find an employee and show her our tickets that are in business. She leads us (through the coach class line) to the business class counter, and has someone open up for us. I don’t know if it was our luggage, my walking stick, or our business class tickets. The counter was not open before us. We would not even have been able to make our way through the lines, if it had not been for this employee (supervisor?). Sometime it just pays to be lucky. Everyone is really nice. The counter agent notes my wheel chair assistance request and directs us to our waiting area. There is already 1 person waiting, and another joins us. 40 minutes later, we are still waiting for 3 wheelchairs. I am a bit disappointed in the wait. One of the people waiting is a severely height limited person (3 1/2’?). A second is a young lady, who fell on her first day of a cruise (not ours) and “broke” her ankle and messed up her shoulder. She could not walk, nor lift herself (WOW, what a lousy cruise she must have had). I was starting to feel guilty. Eventually, three attendants with wheelchairs show up, to escorted us to our appointed destinations. Each had to check-in at the desk, and get a form to transport us. We head to the NZ club, one flight up. They welcome us as AC flyers in business. We find a couple seats where we can be safe. Leg extended. Our gate is close by. OH, while we are there, who do we see, Linda and Jeff! Nice to have company. The club has nice bathrooms, full bar service and a fairly full breakfast buffet. It was way more pleasant than sitting at the gate.

Eventually, my “driver” takes me, with Leslie trailing along, to our gate. He also checks with the gate attendant to see that we will be taken care of when the flight is boarded! I let her know that I can board without assistance, when the time comes. We are seated within 7’ of the ticket machine. I am able to get rid of some of my Australian money with the wheelchair attendant. Oops, she is Canadian, but she is living here in Australia. The service is excellent. The attendant came to the club and got us, without anyone saying anything.

The plane is very similar to the one Virgin Australia used. Lunch is served shortly after takeoff. They serve blackened smoked ocean trout (Salmon?). It comes with mixed greens. For my MAIN, I choose the barramundi. Other mains included ravioli, spiced chicken, and beef cheeks. Dessert choices included cheese, fruit, cheesecake or ice cream. I managed to sleep for 3+ hours, watched a business program, and three movies “Knives Out”, “Fast and Furious” and “Angel Has Fallen”. Breakfast was not to my taste. The scrambled eggs were very off (powdered?). They offered yogurt (not me). The croissant and OJ were enough.

We land in SAN, and the lady attendant is waiting for us with a wheelchair at the gate. This is the shortest ride ever. We are quite close to the upper lobby, and ride down the elevator to the luggage. Another fiver. Our luggage comes rapidly. Out the door and across the street to the area where we are to be picked up. Our driver is not there, so we give him a call. Message only, so we wait. A bit later I go to call again, and we have a text message (really, a text, to me…well if you knew me better you would understand this!). Anyway, he is on his way. The wait time in total is about an hour! I have been told, that I could call Uber at the airport (rather that booking round trip), but sometime that is risky, if the AP is really busy.

We are home. I make a run to Costco for toi paper, as the TV announcer said this was a problem. Then I stop at Vons to get some milk and groceries. Over the next few weeks, all hell seems to break out. Shortages on hand sanitizer, paper products, eggs…then meat. The China virus is here and is serious. Don’t leave home. We are all at risk of dying from the virus. The economy is shuting down. The USA is going to become Zippo. The world is in no better shape. Mom is locked up at her residence (she is 101), and I cannot see her. Ships at sea cannot find a port that will take them. Wear a mask. Several of our military ships are “out of service, and at sea” with the crew having the virus. Then there was George. Millions of people out of work, schools and universities are closed. Many of these people are marching in the streets in the middle of a pandemic. They have been locked up too long! Arson, looting soon follow. Then comes the shooting, bricks, etc. Welcome home.

Be well, and be safe.

Last edited by ranles; Jun 18, 20 at 3:28 pm Reason: spacing, AL error
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Old Jun 18, 20, 8:31 pm
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Tremendous level of detail! Thanks for posting the report!
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Old Jun 18, 20, 10:20 pm
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Thank you.
Over the years, my level of helping others on FlyerTalk has shrunk in scope, but the help I get has grown. It is only fair that I give back when I can.
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Old Jun 21, 20, 5:28 am
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Thanks for report. We get Garuda business from Sydney to Bali. Way better than Virgin.
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Old Jun 22, 20, 11:28 pm
  #5  
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Thank you. Always nice to get feedback. At least I know it was read.

As for alternative airlines, your suggestion may well help others. For us, it was desperation, last minute, take what you can get.
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Old Aug 6, 20, 2:07 pm
  #6  
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My wife has finished the pictures. There are three groups, broken-down in order of the trip. As FT doesn't allow a link to Snapfish, where these are loaded, worked on, titled and saved, we are offering to send the link to anyone who wishes to PM me with your e-mail address. The photos are: #1 Bali, Exmouth and Geraldton; #2 Fremantle, Esperance, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and Portland; and #3 Melbourne, our ship; Phillips Island, Burnie and Eden.

I know the photos are important to getting the "picture" of the trip. Each group is on a Slideshow (5-6 seconds per slide) and takes somewhat less that 30 minutes to view. We will send one, two or all three, as requested. I hope this is a reasonable alternative. We have done this in the past, without specifically offering it. FT members have made a request.

Last edited by ranles; Aug 6, 20 at 2:09 pm Reason: spelling
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Old Aug 6, 20, 11:11 pm
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But now its too difficult to travel with these kind of boundations.
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Old Aug 6, 20, 11:49 pm
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We hope this write-up and pictures can give you a safe trip, if only, thru us
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Old Aug 7, 20, 12:25 am
  #9  
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Wheel chair service to/from airplanes is not difficult in Bali. You might have to wait awhile. They have a mobile vehicle that uses the catering door, that can take you up and down (like an elevator for 6-8 wheelchairs). I always reverify that a wheelchair will be waiting.

You did get lucky by not transiting HKG. Glad the cruise worked out fairly well. We like cruising, but 7 days is the longest so far. However, I don’t think we will be cruising for quite some time given the current circumstances.
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Old Aug 7, 20, 3:26 am
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I've sailed on the old Navigator. I like the Regent product but this ship lived up to its other name - the Vibrator. The shakes are only really detectable towards the stern and at certain speeds. At times on our cruise (Canada and Greenland) it was unbearable. The other thing I disliked about the ship was the lack of a proper forward-facing observation lounge and deck. I like to see where I am going, especially into ports or through scenic areas.

Impressive level of detail in your report ranles, thanks for all the hard work.
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Old Aug 27, 20, 6:40 pm
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Excellent trip report. Loved the level of detail and didn't really miss the pictures. I habe to admit though I kept wondering how the report is goong to end and whether COVID will play a role in your story (report). But glad to read that it did not play a significant role!
Stay safe and healthy.
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