Port of Brisbane

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    • Day 63

      Brisbane, Australia

      February 20 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

      I am feeling refreshed after my day of R and R yesterday so I was awake by 5;00 AM.

      Today started a bit differently as both Bob and I had breakfast because we have a lengthy excursion in which we may want to skip lunch.

      Today's excursion is Lady Elliot Island. We are taking a charter plane to Lady Elliot Island for snorkeling.

      We boarded our bus and were off to the airport by 8:24 AM. There are only 11 of us on the excursion. The trip to the airport was 45 minutes.

      Upon arriving at the airport, we immediately split into two groups. Our group had 5 passengers. We boarded our charter plane for the 1.5 hour flight.

      The scenery from our plane was spectacular. We flew over the Australian coastline that included beautiful beaches, bays where whales come to give birth, rainforest, and amazing colors in the water.

      After a none too smooth landing on a grass runway, we had arrived at Lady Elliot Island. We knew that our time on the island would be short so we quickly made our way to get fitted with mask, fins, and snorkels. We then boarded a open air truck and were transported to the beach.

      We waded out to catch our boat that would transport us to the snorkeling area. The boat had a glass bottom that one could actually see through. We made a 15 minute cruise to view the reef through the glass bottom before arriving at our snorkeling location.

      Bob and I had brought our full face snorkeling mask. We were told that we could not use them and would have to use one of their masks and snorkels. They explained that people had died from using the full face masks. We thought that this was ridiculous but didn't have much choice so we were given their masks and snorkels.

      We quickly jumped in the water and were treated with a spectacular reef system. Bob and I have never seen a reef this healthy. It was truly breath-taking. Bob's snorkel malfunctioned twice so he had to have it replaced twice. This limited our time even more.

      We saw numerous fish, turtles, sharks, not to mention every type of coral one could imagine.

      I had borrowed Jenni's waterproof camera. Shortly after I jumped in the water, I looked down and the camera's battery compartment was open. I lifted it out of the water and immediately knew that I had just fried Jenni's camera. I feel so horrible! I will be looking to try to replace the camera in Cairns.

      Far too soon, we heard the boat signal for us to return. Bob and I were two of the last people back on the boat.

      We asked if we could skip lunch and snorkel from shore. They agreed. So we dumped our belongings on a lounge chair and headed for the water. One of the dive instructors accompanied us along with the assistant cruise director, Michael. We spent about 30 minutes snorkeling before we were told that we had to head back. Michael and I made it passed the channel where the dive boats come in before the dive instructor and Bob. As a result, they had to pause and wait for the time boat to pick up divers and exit the channel. During this time, the instructor and Bob saw a white tipped shark before joining Michael and myself.

      We then hurried back to the lodge. We were running a bit late so I just ran to the bathroom and made a quick change into dry clothing. Bob was able to get a quick shower. We stopped by the gift shop and purchased some T-shirts.

      We were then told it was time to leave. We walked across the runway and boarded the plane at 2:00 for our 1.5 hour flight. We landed at 3:30. We were to be back onboard ship at 4:00. Since we had at least a 45 minute bus ride, no way were we going to make it on time but since this was a Viking excursion and we had the assistant cruise director with us, I knew the ship would not depart without us. In fact, Michael had been texting the Captain to let him know our status.

      We had heavy traffic due to an accident so we didn't get back to the port until 4:30 and had to make our way through the longest cruise terminal imaginable.

      Once we made it to our stateroom, we were finally able to take a minute to reflect on our day as we felt like we were running at breakneck speed the entire day. Our reflections included the fact that it was a long day of travel for what amounted to be only about 2 hours on Lady Elliot Island. We also would not have missed this for the world! The reef was so amazing!

      Since I destroyed Jenni's camera, I do not have any underwater pictures that I took but one of the dive masters sent some photos to Michael's iPhone. I am now working on getting a copy of them and will post these pictures when I receive them.
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    • Day 60

      Day 60: It’s all about your hat!

      February 20 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 82 °F

      This post is two months in the making. On December 23, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale Donna and I made our way to the hotel ballroom to await our bus to take us to our new home (the Viking Neptune) for the next 139 days. We sat down at a table joining another couple already there.

      Proudly sporting an amazing Australian hat with a full beard to match, we met our first fellow travelers; Brian and Sue. They are from Walkerston, Australia which is a small suburb about 10K outside of Mackay.

      So, Brian is use to this - his hat becomes the ice breaker to startup a nice conversation with these folks. Many people offer to trade their hat for his or to pay cash out right on the spot. Brian taught me about the Akubra “Cattleman” which he was wearing. It is bush style hat made out of rabbit fur felt with a wide brim. The history of this hat goes back to 1874. There is a great Wikipedia page on Akubra hats for more details.

      Here I am not even on the ship yet - already knowing I wanted to by a real Hawaiian shirt in Hawaii and now I just added to the “Things to buy on the cruise list” a real Australian hat - an Akubra like Brian wears when we are in Australia,

      In a couple of the ports I did see some Australian hats - they looked okay - but they weren’t Akubra - When I looked in side and it said “Made in Indonesia” - “Naaaa that just isn’t right!”

      During our first day in Sydney we did the included excursion - had fish & chips and a beer at a nice little place - then walked George Street - We needed to go to two different Hat Shops. A bit of hike - we got our steps in that day. We found the “Holy Grail” a size 62 Akubra “Cattleman” hat …. Donna also got an Akubra in a different style. Thank you to our salesperson, Loui, who helped us get the right ones, the right size, and steamed it to shape adding some foam padding to might it fit just right.

      The next day while on the ferry to Manly, Donna and I were chatting with a couple of Australian locals - and without my prompting the gentleman says “I see you found the right hat, I’ve got one of those. Aukbra is the best hat to have. They last for ever.” I smiled broadly all of a sudden the hat was worth the price. When an Aussie you don’t know says “He likes your hat.” Life is good.

      A couple of days later (Brisbane, I think) Finally - the photo opportunity I was waiting for. Brian & Sue were coming on to the ship as Donna and I were leaving - they smile at me, Sue was laughing - they saw the Akubra right away - I handed Donna the iPhone - she took at pic of me and my new “mate” Brian with our Cattleman hats.

      This is why you do a World Cruise. This is why you travel. This is why you don’t be afraid to meet new people. It’s the people and stories we create on the journey that make the adventure memorable.

      I will go back home and tell my friends of this Aussie bloke Brian and his lovely wife Sue and my new hat. Surely embellishing the tale each and every time I tell it. Brian and Sue will go back to Walkerston and tell stories of this weird American guy they met who wants to become an Aussie.

      See ya later mate!
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    • Day 59

      Evening 59: Tom’s a good sport

      February 19 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 73 °F

      You know when you get “asked” to volunteer to go on stage with a magician - it’s not going to end well. Especially, if this magician are comedy entertainers Phill Cass & Philippe from Australia.

      Most of us have met fellow passenger Tom - I am pretty sure he is the tallest passenger on our cruise [I might be wrong] Tom is very tall, he stands over my 6’ 2” - He and his wife Tammy are wonderful people to talk with and to share our excitement together on the various things we have done on this tour. Say “Hi” to them … they are great.

      Tom, is a very good sport for getting up on stage with last night’s entertainment. The pictures attached to this post say it all.

      Thank you Tom for letting us laughter with you as you got picked on.
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    • Day 59

      Evening 59: More Magic with Phil Cass

      February 19 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 73 °F

      We watched wedding rings get tossed about the stage. Leslie cringed as her watch got smashed on the table, one gentleman saw his $100 disappear …. Tom’s $50 bill got cut into four pieces.

      We knew - at least hoped - in our heart that nothing was going to get broken. It’s magic, right? However, we all did cringe a bit when things just seem to go awry. Happy it wasn’t my $100 bill or Donna’s wedding rings.

      It all worked out in the end - nothing was broken, everyone got their money back - we all laughed until our sides busted out at the seams.
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    • Day 59

      Day 59: Academy of Mixology: Gin (1:2)

      February 19 in Australia ⋅ 🌧 75 °F

      In earlier posts we talked about the various tastings the Neptune offers. Today, Viking and the Neptune crew brought it up a couple of notches big time.

      Note: There are two posts (Parts 1 & 2) of this event because of capturing photos of everything going on.

      For life-long learners you can now attend classes at Viking’s “Academy of Mixology” in the Torshavn lounge. Watch the Viking Daily and pre-register to ensure your seat.

      When we walked in they had a beautiful arrangement of fruits and bottles on the bar (See Video). Today’s Mixology class was using gin as the base. First, they showed a video about Highclere Gin. Then taught us how to mix three different drinks; Gin & Tonic, Negroni, and White Lady.

      Donna and I are not Gin drinkers by any means. I may have had a G&T in the past a couple of times, but gin is not our “go-to” drink. However, in the spirit of learning and broadening our knowledge we attended this workshop.

      It was very well organized. First, they showed us how to make each drink. What glass to use - the amount of ice - the order or the pouring - and what every garnish was needed.

      Three tables were set up at the stage for two volunteers at each table. While they made their drinks, bartenders in the back were mixing the drinks to pass out to the rest of us to try. Three groups got to make drinks in front of us. Watch the video of Donna doing the “Hippy, Hippy, Shake.”

      Everyone who was there had a blast - The tastings we have been to have been very good and educational. Donna and I have learned a lot. This “Academy of Mixology” is a fun workshop format - where we enjoy hands-on experience mixing and tasting new drinks.

      Donna and I have already let Igor(s) & Beka know if they get too busy behind the bar we will be happy to step in and give them a hand. We are looking forward to the next Mixology session.

      A world cruise offers us many chances to get out of our comfort zones. Maybe it is jumping off the Sky Tower in Auckland, Climbing to the Top of the Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Taking a tram to anywhere, or learning how to mix a drink you have never had before.

      How cool is this?
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    • Day 60

      Day 60: Brisbane, Australia

      February 20 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 77 °F

      Our excursion today is at 1:00 PM and since it is a 45 minute shuttle ride into Brisbane city proper - and the excursion starts at the pier we decided to sleep in and have a late breakfast.

      For breakfast you have basically five options:
      - The Living Room (6-9 AM)
      - Mamsen’s (6:30 - 11:00 AM)
      - World Cafe (6:30 - 9:30 AM
      - The Restaurant (8:00 - 9:30 AM)
      - Room Service (24/7)

      What’s nice about the above options they provide a different setting/vibe and menu so you can choose what you want to do depending on how you feel or your schedule.

      Paul was up around 8:00 AM. - A quick shower & shave; he headed to “The Restaurant” for a herbs, mushroom, & cheese omelette, cappuccino, juice, and granola with yogurt & berries. A bit after 9:00 AM Paul knew Donna could be found having breakfast at Mamsen’s.

      Attached are a couple of pictures off of Deck 7 at the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal - it is a very peaceful remote location. As I type this I am watching an airplane make its way to land at the nearby airport.

      “Oh, Noooooooooo!” He screams as the ships alarm is sounded. See video - turn on your audio.

      We have an about three hours before our “Panoramic Brisbane” (included) excursion. Hopefully, I can get caught up on some of my missing blog posts. It will be a short day here in Brisbane, we have to be back to the ship at 4:00 PM.

      So far my biggest disappointment is when we are rushed and only have 1 day, or less, in a given port. Basically, we get a “Cliff Notes” version of the destination - it’s okay, just not perfect.

      The days we have an overnight I have found (for me) doing the included or one of the cool paid excursions early on day one, to then have the other half of the day to set out on your own, buy a couple of trinkets with no evening time limit to be back on board works great. Taking a trolley, bus, or ferry ride to nowhere particular and back has been great fun. Asking a local for a good place to eat - where do they like to go? Is the question we like to ask.

      The next day in the morning we can get out on our own again to explore the port some more or do a private excursion we have found out about the day before. Get back on the ship by 4 or 5 PM works out great and we have had a more complete experience.

      Bus excursion tips: #1 as you are boarding the bus ask the bus driver which side is the better view for pictures on this trip. #2 Don’t sit by a window with a post by the seat - go back one or two rows and the post won’t be in your way when you take photos as you drive by places. #3 Hold your phone/camera very close to the window glass to eliminate glass reflection. #4 If your are using a camera which you can control the shutter speed - Higher shutter speed (to freeze motion) and f8 - f11 (For better depth of field) and then Auto ISO or if you are setting your ISO you might need it higher than you would normally like. #5 Once you get on the bus, as get it moving, take a couple of practice shots and see if the settings are what you need - even if they are junk shots - just delete them.

      Well, that’s enough pontification for now. Hopefully there will be some nice shots of today’s adventure.
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    • Day 60

      Brisbane, Australia

      February 20 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 84 °F

      Another Koala Sanctuary. We can’t get enough!

    • Day 59

      Day 59: Academy of Mixology: Gin (2:2)

      February 19 in Australia ⋅ 🌧 73 °F

      Please read the post Mixology: Gin (1 of 2) for the details behind these pictures. These are more photos of he fun we had “In class” preparing for our final exam.

    • Day 43

      Brisbane, Australia

      February 20 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

      One day in Brisbane with a city tour and a visit to the Long Pine Koala Sanctuary.

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Port of Brisbane

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