March 6-7, 2017 – Sydney, Australia and Tasman Sea
March 6 - Well, we didn’t manage to get anything done this morning. We slept in. We had a leisurely, huge breakfast at the hotel. I ordered scrambled eggs and bacon. I was expecting 2 or 3 slices of bacon but there must have been 8-10 slices. The homemade wheat toast was great as well.
After breakfast, we went back to the room, got our hand carried luggage and went down and checked out. We caught the Oceania bus to the port and were there by noon. Four (4) hours later we were finally aboard ship. This is not Oceania’s usual way of doing things. Normally it takes about 15 minutes from shore to stateroom. Evidently, the Australian Border Force was being sticky about the boarding process. Connie is diabetic and was beginning to have problems. Fortunately, Patsy had a granola bar which tided Connie over. To say that Oceania did not shine today is an understatement. Of course, they couldn’t do anything about the Australian Border Force, but they could have expedited Connie’s boarding.
When we finally got on board, our luggage was here, but we hadn’t had anything to eat since about 9:30 so we head out to get some food. We ate with Connie and Jerry. We came back to the room and got partially unpacked before it was time for the life boat drill. During that session, they announced that instead of sailing at 6, it would be closer to 7. So, we came back and finished unpacking. After unpacking we went to the solo traveler’s group. There were 5 other solo women there. As this group was wrapping it, we began to sail. I headed for the top deck and took pictures. It was sunset, and I wasn’t sure how the pictures would turn out, but I did get some good ones.
When we left harbor, we hit rough seas. The ship was rolling quite a bit even with all the stabilizers that they have on board. It made walking interesting. We looked like drunken sailors walking down the corridors.
We went up to the Terrace Café tonight for supper since it was so late. The Grand Dining Room requires a lot of time to eat as it is a dining experience. We were tired and wanted something quickly. The Terrace Café is a buffet so it was simple to get something quickly. I had grilled lobster tail, grilled shrimp and escargot. I had gone back for seconds when the adventure of the day happened. They were fixing my grilled shrimp when a whole tray of glasses went sliding and broke as the ship was hit by a harder than usual wave. That was only the beginning. The next wave which hit the ship broadside must have been a rogue wave. It sent everything not nailed down flying. The food, plates, china, hot plates, glasses, wine bottles, etc. all went flying first to starboard side and then back to port side. The 3d wave almost as strong as the 2d wave hit and sent everything crashing again. Fortunately, although I was standing, I was able to hang on to the buffet counter and so did not fall or get hurt. One of the ship’s crew came and put his arms around me to try to keep me from falling, but it was all over by then, and besides I was doing a perfectly fine job of keeping myself on my feet. Patsy was sitting at our table and said that a lady sitting at a table nearby fell out of her chair. According to folks who were in the Grand Dining Room, several people were knocked out of their chairs and one man suffered a gash on his head. That seems to have been the worst injury. To say that it was an exciting evening is a bit of an understatement.
We came back to the room and went to bed. We were rocked to sleep by the wave action.
March 7 – Crossing the Tasman Sea
The waves continued to be high this morning. The briefing by the Captain this morning said that the waves were running 12’ to 14’. There is a low pressure system about 300 miles to the east of us and moving east which is causing the rough seas. Hopefully, the seas will begin to calm down this afternoon or evening.
We had breakfast with a couple from California this morning. In talking with them, we discovered that they were 54th on the list for a veranda cabin, and they got it. We were 13th on the list and did not get it. They booked the veranda room in the summer while Patsy booked our room in December of 2015. It seems that they told Oceania that they would not book unless they got a veranda. This is their 1st voyage on an Oceania ship. We have found out that it is up to the sales force as to who gets up-graded. There evidently is no reward for being a loyal customer. Jack and Bev booked this cruise over 2 years ago and wanted a penthouse or a veranda. They were ahead of us on the veranda list and somewhere around 6th or 7th for a penthouse. They did not get either one. To say that Patsy and I are NOT happy campers is putting it mildly. Although, I (Patsy) don’t mind oceanview.
In addition, Patsy and I both belong to the Oceania Club and get individual points for our cruises. However, we cannot both get the rewards when we share a room. So, she gets her rewards since she booked the room, but I don’t get any. To say that I am not a happy camper is, again, putting it mildly. Because of these 2 things, I have taken my last Oceania cruise. I still feel it is the best cruise line out there, but they don’t play fair with solo travelers and obviously don’t care about their loyal customers. I (Patsy) will be splitting the rewards i.e. “onboard credits”. I, Joyce, refuse to accept that. They are her rewards. Not mine.
The new ship, Sirena, is interesting. It has the same layout as the Nautica and Regatta, but I don’t think it is in the same class at all. The art work and general décor leaves a lot to be desired. The cabins seem to be smaller. The service on board is certainly not up to snuff compared to the other ships. This is its 1st full season, and the crew seem to be struggling to make everything work according to the Oceania standard. They haven’t quite made it.
We’ve met some great people, and the 2 lectures we’ve attended have been good. This evening, we attended the Captain’s Reception where the ship’s officers were introduced and more importantly there were free drinks. We sat with Charley and Karen from Huntington Beach, California. We had such a lively discussion that we wound up eating dinner with them in the Grand Dining Room. They have been to the Galapagos and really enjoyed it. They have also been to Antarctica, and I enjoyed talking to them about that. While Charley doesn’t want to return to the Galapagos, she would like to go back. I’m going to share with her some info I’ve found on a cruise which goes to all the Galapagos Islands and takes about 3 weeks.
The place settings in the Grand Dining Room were reduced. There were enough plates to go around, but the glassware which normally consists of water, red wine and white wine glasses was reduced to only red wine and water glasses. If you ordered white wine, they brought the glass to you instead of the bottle to the table to pour into glasses already on the table, or you might your white wine in a red wine glass. Evidently the red wine and water glasses didn’t take as direct a hit as the white wine glasses. In the Red Ginger specialty restaurant, they lost a large number of wine bottles and as well as most of the china and glasses. They had to shampoo the carpet last night because it was soaked with both red and white wine. The ship has lost thousands of dollars of food, wine, glassware and china. Fortunately, there are no reports of any serious injuries. The only injury I’ve heard about is one man who had a gash on his head. All in all, it wasn’t too bad. It certainly could have been much worse.
We went to the show tonight to hear Chris Powley. He recently won the Best Male Vocalist Award and the New Zealand Scroll of Honour for his dedication and contribution to the entertainment industry. He sang songs from Tom Jones, Elvis and Neil Diamond among others. His closing song was How Great Thou Art, and it is the best I’ve heard that song done since George Beverly Shea who introduced it.
After the show, it was straight to bed. The sea is still very choppy, and we were once again rocked to sleep.