Singapore, Friday 14 March 2014

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Albert Street Mall. A Parisian influence?
Do I have a fisheye lens to get this super wide angle?
No I don't.  This is a series of shots taken with a 28mm
and stitched with AutoStitch, that marvellous free software.  Love it.

Good sleep.  There’s a huge apartment block next door so the daylight is fairly weak through my windows.  Oh, my aching feet and legs and back.  I’m paying for yesterday’s walking, so I’m taking it easy now trying to let the aches improve.

Lunch in Sim Lim Square at 2pm. Kimchee fried rice.  I’ve never had kim chee – now I have an idea of what it’s like.  Think chilli hot spicy cabbage.  It’s not bad.

I walked around the ground floor of Sim Lim, but I wasn’t tempted.  I have everything I want and there are no bargains here any more, just instant stock if you are interested in something. Back to the hotel very slowly and painfully.  My left foot is very sore. I’ve just discovered a big blister on my big toe. Damn.  I had a good swim in the pool at 5.30pm and was reminded how good the water feels.  This pool is only 1.2m deep all the way, and that’s ideal for water walking.  I did quite a few laps.  Back to the room, too sore to go out for dinner.  I’d order room service, but they don’t seem to have that.

Arcadia Cruise, Final Day, Thursday 13 March 2014

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Singapore at 6.24 am

I was up at 5.15am, showered and out by 0600, only to find that we’d already arrived.  It was still dark but we were turning 180deg. and backing very, very slowly into the wharf.  It took nearly an hour, with the dawn light slowly increasing.

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The Singapore Marina Bay cruise terminal. It leaves Fremantle looking like the 1960s shed that it is.

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At 6.45 am

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The Pan Pacific Hotel at 6.47 am

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At 6.53 am

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At 7.08 am

There was a lot of haze, and of course, as they announced, it’s from Indonesian forest fires. This is a bad situation. It goes on year after year, caused by clear felling and burning of dense native forests for profit, both for the timber they cut and to plant palm oil plantations.  It’s changing the entire ecology of the region.  I noticed today how dry all the lawns and plants are looking in Singapore and apparently they haven’t had much rain for two months.  I can see it.  This is highly unusual.  This is climate change in the flesh.

Breakfast at 0830, then final packing.  I couldn’t put my suitcase out at 6pm last night as they wanted us to because I needed my CPAP stuff overnight and my diabetic stuff in the morning.  I told them this at the desk and they sucked their teeth and looked disapproving.  Bloody hell, surely it should be obvious that we can’t always do what they ask.  This morning I put the case out in the passage and it was gone when I came back, so someone took it ashore for me.

Then there was a long boring wait until 10am when my cabin group was called to disembark. It was a long walk along the airconditioned catwalk and into the terminal, and there was my case, with a trolley next to it. Good stuff.  After a short walk through X-ray inspections, then through the “Nothing to Declare” channel, I was out.  There was another long walk to the taxi rank, then I had a Mercedes taxi to the Parc Sovereign Hotel in Albert St, Little India, arriving about 11am.  Room 915 is on the ninth floor, but my only view is of the tower block of flats next door.

The room is tiny but perfectly formed.  It’s small, but not claustrophobic.  It has a Queen sized bed, but no fridge!  And Wi-Fi, but I have to pay —  S$10 for two hours, I think. (No, update, the $10 is for a full 24 hours, so that’s good.)

I headed out about 1.30pm after an hour’s good sleep.  I asked at the desk about getting daily ice for my insulin and the guy couldn’t seem to understand what I was asking.  Another guy did understand, suggesting I try the 7-Eleven shop next door.  I have enough ice in the Esky from the ship, so that can wait.

I took a tourist map from the desk and asked the young guy for directions.  He was bamboozled!  He couldn’t even find the this hotel on the map. As for directions, he had no clue.  An older guy had to step in and circle this hotel and the nearest MRT.  Amazing.  The young guy is way behind.

Off to Little India MRT, buying a stored value card for $30. Lots of walking!  Ooowww.  I took the MRT to City Hall via Dhoby Gaut.  I had a very nice lunch of “cereal fried rice” and iced lemon tea.  It turned out quite expensive when GST and 10% service was added – the bill was nearly $20.  Ouch.

Then I walked to Coleman St and saw lots of delicious camera gear,  but it’s more expensive than home prices!  I’m very tempted by the Fuji X-T1, but the body only price is S$1950.  The Australian on-line price is $1250!  Anyway, I’m not really serious.  I have enough cameras.  You never thought you’d hear me say that, did you?

The windows are full of delectable second hand gear, but it’s not the same as 10 or 20 years ago – It’s stuff I used to covet, but I can’t use it any more.  It’s all film gear and different lens mounts from a different era so all the fun has gone.  I used to spend hours gazing at all the second hand bargains but there’s no point any more. Pity, a big pity.

Then to the Funan Centre for a power plug adapter and 16GB SD card, a bit cheaper than Perth.

Then across to the Adelphi building where I found the KEF headphones I was looking for – “Yes sir, we have them in stock, would you like a demonstration?” In Perth, it would have been,  No mate, but we can get them for you.

I said to the guy, “Every time I come to Singapore, I seem to buy another pair of headphones.”  It’s true. But these are special.  They should be, at A$325.  I’m happy.  The sound, especially the bass, is incredible.  I had been using a tiny, tinny pair of Koss  HP1s, but I tossed them in the bin, they are so bad. (But I retrieved them later – waste not … )

Then a I made a loooong walk and MRT rides back to the hotel.  Bloody hell, my feet are aching, especially the left foot.  I’m hobbling and later had to use my stick.  I had a lot of trouble finding the hotel – I took a wrong turn out of the Little India MRT and got lost. Even with my TomTom GPS, I was disoriented.  Which is surprising, given I’m in the Orient.   It seemed everywhere I turned was the wrong way.  Eventually I made it, hobbling, almost dead.  It wasn’t a hot day, or even especially humid, but I was bushed.

When I got back to the room, I found they had installed a fridge for me!  I am very pleased.  At last, someone has listened to me and acted on my problem.  I had been grumping to myself about this, but they’ve regained their brownie points with me.

Then, after sorting myself out in the room,  I walked up to the Albert Street night market.  I was ambling along looking at the restaurants when I heard someone insistently asking me if I was from some cruise ship (insert name here – can’t remember).  I said no, but they seemed to want to talk and it transpired that they were on a cruise and thought they recognised me from their ship.

Anyway, I joined them for dinner, so that was nice.  John and Carol from near Dover in the UK.  He used to be an Operations Technician at one of the Dungeness nuclear power stations. Retired now, of course.

My meal was bloody awful.  My spring roll was good, but the salt and pepper squid was just squid rings deep fried to death in a sweet batter on a few limp lettuce leaves.  Awful, chewy, boring.  To me, salt and pepper squid is big chunks of diamond scored squid, dusted with salt, pepper and flour, then very quickly shallow fried so as to remain tender, no more than 30 seconds or so.  Served on a bed of crispy rice vermicelli. Even I can do that.  This was terrible stuff.

Two big Tigers dulled the disappointment somewhat.  The bill came to S$30.07, and I handed him a $50 note.  I would have given him the 7c, but he took off too quickly. I thought he’d bring me a $20 note as change, but no, I got $19.95.  What a weird …

Dead tired at 1030pm, but the music on these new headphones is great.

Arcadia Cruise, Wednesday 12 March 2014

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Another boat, but heading north.

Must have been a boring day because I can’t recall anything specific, but for two things.

They rigged these at port and starboard stern quarters –

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I’ve heard about these. They are high intensity sound generators, designed to ward off pirates by projecting an intense beam of low frequency sound at any boats alongside.  They are designed to be non-lethal but very unpleasant.  Why not?  There were also high pressure water hoses rigged at several places along each side.

Then this:

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© PJ Croft 2014

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© PJ Croft 2014

Nice, huh?

Arcadia Cruise, Tuesday 11 March 2014

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Another good sleep.  I awoke at 0530 and dozed until 0630.  Two laps of Promenade deck, equalling about 1Km.

I saw a crewman carrying a small rubber mallet.  I wondered if he was detailed to testing passengers’ reflexes in case any were dead.

Grey day, not much to see. A few boats and a big tanker heading south in the morning.  Slept 0930 to 1100. Had a very nice drink at 1pm – ginger beer and lime juice.  Must remember this.

I ate too much lunch at 2pm – cold meat and salad.  Why is fruit juice unavailable after 1145am?  Rigid rules on this ship.

My Olympus battery ran down, so I charged it using the Hahnel Unipal universal charger. This is a good device. It worked fine.  Coffee in the Piano Bar.  I wondered if they’d try to exclude me after 5pm?  Should I try?  I didn’t.

I gave Reception the copies I’d made of my old 1977 Arcadia ship’s cruise log and menu and they seemed pleased.  They asked me to write an accompanying note, then they put it all in an envelope to give to the captain and cruise director.  Did I hear anything from them? Nope.

5:15pm  drinkies. Glorious sunset – and I got it all on “film”.

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After dinner I made a 5 min  slideshow.

Arcadia Cruise Monday 10 March 2014 – Bali

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Sunrise over Lembongan  Copyright P. J. Croft 2014

This was a good day!  It was our arrival at Bali today, so I was up early.  I awoke at 3.30am and didn’t want to go back to sleep and risk over-sleeping, so I stayed up.  I was on deck at 4.30am.

I was rewarded by a spectacular sunrise over Nusa Lembongan.  A huge globe showed through light cloud.  I just kept shooting.  How great it is to never fear running out of film.

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© PJ Croft 2014

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Gunung Agung, Bali, probably 30Km distant.  © PJ Croft 2014

Gunung Agung (above) was also very visible, but not as spectacular as I’d hoped.  I must have been very lucky in the 1980s to have had such clear air as to get detail in the mountain slopes.

About 8am there was an announcement about going ashore so I went to the Piano Bar as suggested, only to join a queue!  The Poms queue for everything.  I stood at the bar for over half an hour, to be finally issued a flimsy green ticket with number 30 on it.

I asked about our passports. “Don’t worry sir, they are under lock and key.”  We didn’t get them for our shore trip, so I walked onto land with no passport and no immigration process.  It felt odd.

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Arcadia in Benoa Harbour, 5Km out.   © PJ Croft 2014

The ship parked 5Km off shore and we had to take a tender boat in.

Laid on to greet us was a Gamelan orchestra and two dancers.  I love this, so I shot a full minute of the orchestra in high def video.  I wanted more, and some shots of the dancers, but at that moment it all ended so I didn’t get any more. Pity.

I changed a $50 note for Rp505,000, then negotiated a taxi, but I think I was fooled.  I paid Rp250,000 for a one way trip to Yudhie’s restaurant, but these taxis were inside the terminus compound. Outside were dozens more. I’m sure if I’d walked through the gates I could have negotiated a much lower price, but I wasn’t aware they were there. Too bad.

We got to Yudhie’s place fine with the help of my Google Map. I had printed out a Google Earth image of the location with all the roads, because Yudhie’s restaurant is a bit hard to find. There’s no street number, but I think it’s 99, Jalan Tukad Balian.

I arrived unannounced and Wiwin was there behind the desk.  Wow, what a moment.  She was surprised and was very happy to see me.  It was a very warm moment. Unforgettable.

I had some Bali coffee and she phoned Yudhie to come.  I tried to get Made Latra as a driver for the day, but he was engaged, so one of the others, Komang came instead.  Then Yudhie arrived and immediately went into his salesman mode.  “I will show you my project.”  So we went to a building site where he says he is going to cater for local poor children, as well as offering paid hotel rooms at low cost.  It seems genuine. It’s not far from his restaurant.

Then he said,  “Now you see my villas at Taman Sari.”  So Komang drove me across to Sanur by a convoluted route. These were two completed adjoining villas waiting to be sold.

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This villa is for sale. Get in quick.

Yudhie lays it on very thick!  Tell my friends. About US$450,000.  Discount available, and a commission for me if I find him a buyer. He’s a hard seller. Good luck to him.

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Lunch at Yudhie's warung.
That's not Wiwin in the middle - 
I never did catch that girl's name.
Nor did I manage to get a picture of Wiwin!
She's still cute as a button, though.

Then we went back to his Warung for lunch.  I hadn’t eaten any breakfast, so the Nasi Goreng went down very nicely, with two Bintangs.  I had to pay, of course – Rp70,000 = $7 approx. I can’t complain.

Then I made another farewell to Wiwin and I emphasised that if she wants to come to Perth, just tell me when she wants to come. She seems keen and excited about it, but maybe it’s just politeness.

Then Komang drove me to Nusa Dua, Bukit Jimbaran, and Padawan beach over some very rough dirt roads.

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There was a group of three rather spectacular girls at the beach doing some kind of photo shoot, so I got in for my chop.

I got very sleepy, so we went back to Benoa – Terminus Penumpang.  I took the launch back to the ship at 3.30pm, then crashed on the bed at 4pm and awoke at 6pm.  It was a tiring but good day.

Two pints of Stella at the Lido bar – and it was hot!  The bar, not the beer.  The roof is a sliding affair like that over stadiums and for some reason it was half closed. It was like a sauna.

Boring, boring people!  Almost cretinous. Ugh.

Dinner – whitebait with carrots, sausages(!), grilled salmon, potatoes – ridiculous. The salmon was tough! Followed by cheese and bikkies.  This food is awful.

Arcadia Cruise Sunday 9 March 2014

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Venus before dawn.

Not much to say about today – arose late, breakfasted about 10.30am.  And so on.  Can’t remember anything else. What I do know is that the book I’m reading, Painting the Darkness by Robert Goddard, is terrific.  I’m engrossed.  He’s a great writer.

Arcadia Cruise Saturday 8 March 2014

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Arcadia deck 3, looking down to deck 1

I awoke late – 8.30am.  With no windows, there is no sense of time in my cabin.  However, it was a good sleep with lots of dreams.  I had my usual cold shower, as cold as it gets, which was not very.

Late breakfast at 10am.  Omelette, bacon, mushrooms, toast, OJ, coffee.  Not bad but it’s not fresh!  It’s all reheated, sloppy boring food.  The coffee was awful – just dark flavoured water.

I read at the restaurant table and listened to iPod music for a long time – quite pleasant.  Then to the cabin to find my “trunks”, the out to the pool.

This was my first swim and it was very nice. The water was cool, but the pool was crowded with geriatric people, like myself … Goodness, there are some fat, ugly people. I’m not, of course. I got a bit sunburnt on my head.  I tried the Jacuzzi but it was HOT and didn’t swirl and bubble.  No thanks.

Afternoon nap, then a small lunch at 3pm – small prawn rolls, cottage cheese rolls, fruit salad, water. Have to be careful.

Then I adjourned to the pool bar at 5pm.  Brian and Maureen were there again – I can hold a reasonable conversation with them, albeit at a low level.  They’re from Sydney and retired, although Brian still works at his business 6.5 days a week.  His business?  “We cut trees down.”  A tree lopper!  He’s cruising all year!

He said he and his wife have done around 200 cruises.  They do eight to twelve cruises each year, on all the big cruise liners, including the Queen Mary II. They’ve been all through the Carribean on the US cruises. Kerrumbs!  There must be good money in tree lopping.  Money seems to be no object to them.

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This is like a five star hotel.

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There was some interest during the day, but this drew
the usual derogatory comments from my bar side acquaintances - 
"Bet it's full of illegals. We never had any trouble until
that damn woman [Julia Gillard] came along."
I have to bite my tongue and look away!
It's obvious there are no other people
on this boat except the crew.

At 7pm I had my first ever martini.  A dry one, just gin and dry vermouth with olives.  Not bad, but I won’t bother again.  GBP4.95 = $9.20. Not on this ship I won’t.  (Don’t forget, I was operating on a $200 credit from the travel agency for their foul up. I don’t usually spend this much.)

I was still hungry so had a salad dinner at 8pm, with a big glass (250ml) of the NZ SSB.  Brian and Maureen invited me to join them and two British guys, brothers called Roy and Derek.  Crumbs, kerrrumbs, these guys are barely sentient.  They live in Tasmania and Melbourne. Boring, boring.  It was hard to know what to say, they were so slow.

About 31C and quite smooth. Passed the 18th parallel today.  No photos – nothing but ocean to see.

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This is Deck 9, the Lido Deck. See the sliding roof.

Arcadia Cruise day 2, Friday 7 March 2014:

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I had a good night’s sleep last night.  The slow rocking motion didn’t bother me and probably helped. All I could wish for is a fan for more air movement.  But that’s me.

After waking late I did two laps of the Promenade Deck.  They signpost it as three laps being 1 mile, so each lap must be about 500m.  I did another lap in the afternoon, so that’s more than I’m doing at home. Wow, exercise is the big thing with all our passengers.  We are all of the same age group, 60 and upwards. All those geriatrics are striding out along the deck, almost as a race. Everyone passes me. My stride is quite short and I simply can’t walk any faster.  I was stopping frequently and one Perth guy seemed to take a shine to me, touching me repeatedly on the shoulder.  He was an old guy, nothing sinister in it, but gee, he was a tactile kind of bloke.  I met his wife after a while and she said she brought five four litre casks of wine on board! He doesn’t drink, so it’s all for her. Wow, she’s a drinker.

I had a big breakfast at 0930, took the air for a while, then crashed from 1045am until 1pm. It was a good sleep.

Then I found the library, hoping to do some internet.  Hah!  Double hah!  They charge 50p per minute.  That’s GBP30 per hour or A$55.55.  They must be joking, but they’re not.  Granted, it’s a satellite connection, but there’s no way I’d pay that, so no internet for me.  Perhaps it’s for the best.  I wrote this diary each day in the cabin, so this is why it’s slamming in in a massive post now – 4,900 words and about 30 pictures.  Why do I do it? Well, someone might be interested, I think the pictures are pretty good and it’s my web diary too.  I make a book out of this blog, updated every few months. Someone in the 30th century might read it!

I had lunch at 3pm – you can eat at any time, it’s only a buffet.  All I wanted was some fruit salad, but they provided mini seafood rolls and prawn sandwiches which I found too hard to resist.

Lazing on the Lido deck afterwards I was falling asleep and jerking awake as the ship rolled, but I realised this deck has a bar beside the pool, so from 6pm I had a few beers.  And a double G&T.  A pint of Stella is GPB3.70 which is AUD6.85.  That’s a little cheaper than I pay at home, so it’s not too bad.  The double G&T was GPB6.50, A$12.00!

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The stern wake.  I found this very relaxing. 
I shot a couple of minutes of hi-def video which I'll make into a loop.

Earlier in the day I read the daily ship’s activities sheet and it said the ship was to berth at Padang Bai, not Benoa.  Oh no!  Padang Bai is out on the SE coast about 30Km from Sanur.  I don’t want to be out there and have to catch long distance transport to where I want to be.  However, I got talking to a Sydney couple at the bar who told me the info sheet is old and we do berth at Benoa after all.  I’ll check tomorrow.

I had dinner in the Belvedere Buffet and it was not good.  I chose the Indian food side.  When the tandoori chicken looks and cuts like a Staedtler white pencil rubber, and the taste of the tandoori fish is indistinguishable from the chicken, both being tough and rubbery,things are not good.   To disguise the taste, I had a 250ml galss of NZ Sauvignon Blanc costing GBP6.50 = AUD12.03. That is a bit much.

The reason I’m choosing these expensive drinks is that the travel agency told me they’d given me $200 on-board credit to make up for the booking shambles.  I checked again at Reception and this time they did recognise my credit, so I could afford to spend up, as it was free money.

The cabin steward finally got me some ice to keep my insulin cold.  Brian and Maureen  (these Aussie names!) said their fridge works fine –it’s very cold and almost freezes. They’re on the same deck, so I must have a faulty fridge.  There’s my luck again.

Boy, this is a geriatric cruise. I knew it would be, but I’ve been keeping an eye out for single widows or divorcees looking for a bit of company.  I haven’t seen anyone!  Ugly old women attached to equally ugly old men.  And all boring as batshit.

Not many pictures today – there’s nothing to shoot.

Ahoy there

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The Queen Mary II departs Fremantle 6 March 2014

I’m back on air, after a week with no internet.  It felt a bit frustrating at times to be so out of touch.  Boy, we’ve certainly come to rely on it.  It’s part of daily life now, for me anyway.

So here goes with eight days of posts in the form of my diary of the trip.

_________________________________________

Thursday 6 March 2014  Departure from Fremantle on the P&O Arcadia

What a day! At this moment, 9.15pm, I am upset and angry on board Arcadia.  Uh oh, Pete’s upset again, what a surprise. It’s my normal state, isn’t it?  Maybe I shouldn’t have been upset when I found that P&O had cancelled my ticket without telling me.  Or finding that the fridge in my cabin doesn’t work (I need it to keep my insulin cold) and getting a dismissive attitude from Reception. “It’s not a fridge sir, it’s just a chiller.” (They never followed up – no-one ever came to look at it. Other passengers told me theirs is really cold.)  Things on the ship aren’t available or can’t be done or don’t agree with what I’ve been told.  So far.

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Start with the good things.

The cabin is very nice.  Even though it’s an inside cabin with no porthole, I don’t feel claustrophobic.  It’s like a 4 or 5 star hotel room and quite large. There’s a queen sized bed with nice linen, the decor is very tastefully done, I’ve got an L shaped couch, an armchair and another chair, a small table and a fresh chrysanthemum on it.  And a 24” LCD TV.

The bathroom is en-suite and plenty big enough.  Good shower.  Lots of cupboard and wardrobe space. A safe in the wardrobe.  Mood lighting. A desk to write at.  All in all, very nice.

On the aft pool deck the entertainment guys were going in overdrive, playing loud music and getting everyone to move with it. He was trying to get the Queen Mary passengers to respond, but to no avail.  What a reserved lot they were.  They must have heard his calls to wave, but very few did.

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The Queen Mary II passengers.  What a stuffy lot!

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The feeling on our ship was great.  Even though I didn’t join in all the dances, I thought it was fun.  I was feeling quite “pumped”. 🙂

The departure of both ships, the Arcadia and the Queen Mary from Fremantle, was delayed an hour because, I was told, someone hadn’t turned up. The Queen Mary II was in front of us and I’m not sure who was lacking a passenger, them or us, but I got to see the QM II ease away from the wharf and motor out into the sunset. It was quite spectacular.

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The Queen Mary II

They don’t need tug assistance because they’ve got side thrusters, so they just very slowly start moving away after they’ve cast off.  Notice how I know all these nautical terms?  Aft, cabin, cast off, deck.  I’m an old salt from Rockingham days.

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The sun sets on the British Empire.  Bloody Poms everywhere.

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Shortly after 7pm we too pushed away, turned 180deg. and then headed out through the sea walls to the ocean.  A nice cool breeze and calm sea meant it was super smooth.

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At 7.15pm all the lights of Perth, Fremantle and Rockingham stretched for tens of kilometres in both directions.  Perth is no small city!  By any world standards, we’re big and this is the way to see it. Lights as far as the eye can see.

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That’s the good bit.  Now for the P&O hassles.

When I arrived at the terminal at 1030am, P&O did not have my name on the passenger list!  When I checked my suitcase in downstairs they didn’t have a cabin number to assign it too.  “Just go over there please sir, and wait.”

So after a five minute wait I was ushered upstairs for more waiting, an hour and a half before check in started at 1220pm.  I got through the chaotic queues (the aisles are too narrow!) only to find that they really didn’t have a booking for me.  “Hmmm, please wait over there, sir, while I look into this”, and he took my ticket and passport away.  As of now, I still don’t have my passport – they keep it! Not happy about that.

I had paid by BPay last week, directly to the travel agency. It seems that Holiday Planet didn’t pay P&O, so P&O cancelled my ticket two days ago, without telling me.  Yet I had a confirmed e-ticket and a booking number and a cruise passenger number.

All this took about 90 mins to sort out, so I twiddled my thumbs some more.  “A diabetic never willingly goes without food.”  I was hungry, but at the small bar in the passenger terminal the only thing I could get was chips or a blueberry muffin.  So I settled for the $4 muffin and $3.50 (!) for a bottle of water.

Finally at about 2.30pm they came and got me and I went through check in.  The travel agent lady said she’d given me $200 credit on the ship as compensation.  That’s something I suppose, but when I asked about it at Reception, they didn’t know anything about it.  We’ll see.

Next job, take my insulin pens and put them in the fridge.  But the fridge is barely cool, let alone cold.

I ask at reception for the fridge to be turned on or adjusted. “Oh no, sir, they are only meant for chilling.”  So there’s no fridge in the cabin after all.

“Well, I need to keep my insulin refrigerated. What can I do?”  Um, phone call in Urdu or something (they’re all Indians) and I’m told to go to the Medical Centre between 3-6pm and they’ll store it for me.

So I arrive at 3.30pm and it’s closed. Dial 999 in emergency.  Oh well, I’ll leave it until later.

My suitcase had arrived at my cabin by now so that was good.  I settled down for a nap but was woken by a faint announcement over the PA of a lifeboat drill at 4.30pm, so that was that.

After we reach the open sea, I tried the desk again about keeping my insulin cool.  They don’t seem to understand what I want or why.  But, I say, there must be hundreds of diabetics on this ship.  Given that nearly all the passengers look 60 or over, with several in wheelchairs and walking frames and some who look as if they could drop dead at any moment,  and people much bigger and fatter than me, I cannot be the only diabetic with this problem!

We don’t get many requests like this, he says.  What?!  But even if they only get a few requests, they should be aware of the need and make provision for it!

The Reception guy phoned the medical centre. It’s closed (of course) but the nurse answered and said she would store it for me, but I must bring it down in a plastic bag. She’d open the door for me.

Can I have a plastic bag please?  Umm, ummm, they don’t have any.  A steward finds one in his rubbish pile. So much for hygiene.  I take my insulin down to deck A and find the Medical Centre closed and locked.  I knock loudly, two or three times.  No response.  So my insulin is still in my room in my esky, and cool, but not cold.  I’ll try again tomorrow.  “Can I just ask one of the barmen to put it in their fridge?”  No sir, hygiene rules prohibit food items being in the bar fridges!

By this time it’s nearly 8pm and I’m famished. But all three of the restaurants I try won’t admit me because I’m not wearing long trousers and shoes and socks!

This is a tropical cruise!  I didn’t bring any trousers (and besides, I don’t own any and I can’t get socks and shoes on anyway, due to my swollen feet.)

So it appears that there’s only one restaurant open to me, the buffet. Oh well, that seems OK.

Aaarrrgh, this was some of the worst food I’ve ever been served.  By any standards, this was gluggy, sticky stodge.  It’s yer standard chicken or beef curries, overcooked spring rolls and samosas, awful hard, doughy pork buns, stale bread rolls …  It filled me up, but I did not enjoy it.  Some others I talked to loved it, but I don’t think their standard was very high.

It’s 9pm by now and I’m not satisfied, but it’s too late for a drink even if I could find a bar that will serve me.  And they charge for drinks!  Beer is GBP3.50 ($6.48) for a 330ml bottle of Carlsberg.  That’s higher than I pay for draught beer at the pub near me at home.  A 250ml glass of wine is GBP6.50 ($12.03!)

As you can tell, things started out badly, seemed to come good for a short time, then rapidly went bad again.  I was very crapped off.

Oh, yes – there’s only one power socket available to me and it’s not near the bed. That means my CPAP machine has to sit on a chair with its power cord pulled as far as I can pull it, and relying on the air hose reaching me.  It seems to work, but when I ask the steward for a power extension lead, he can’t provide one. He’ll  get back to me. I’ll bet he doesn’t. (7pm next day – one has appeared in my room.  It takes time … I give him credit, he did what I requested.)

Again, this is a cruise for oldies.  With around 2,500 passengers, there must be hundreds of CPAP users.  Why aren’t we thought of and catered for?

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End of day 1