Tag: Norwegian Cruise Lines

580. Sunday 3rd December 2017. The Broadwater, Commandos, Travel plans, Driver Training and Eternity…

Thursday 28th November

Had one of our happy walks along the beach of The Broadwater from Labrador to Lands End. As usual there is always something to see amongst the hundreds of water craft plying or anchored there.

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We would not like to be aboard this basic houseboat in a strong wind.
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This yacht aground on the beach is a classic example of the old saying. When the depth of water is less than the depth of the keel.

Something which really caught my eye was  boat built /owned/ used by Commando Knights a family of tight knit pseudo  idealists. I have written about the Commando Knights in previous posts on this blog. For example post 467 in December 2014 and again in 548 in April 2017. In both cases the small, almost fully enclosed floating fortress was supplemented by a larger floating fortress. Today, what we saw beached on Wave Break Island was a huge dormitory sized floating fortress. Have a look at this fortress which still appears to be in a state of building. It seems to be built a catamaran platform of some type. Apart from that the structure seems to make no sense at all.

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The Commabdo Knights have been busy these last few months. I have no idea what all the extra timbver is for but it must serve a purpose…at least in somebody’s mind.

Then again, the Commando Knights may know something the rest of us do not. Have a look at this You Tube video, professionally produced by the Tanton Family. These people are serious.


Brett Tanton who is the proclaimed General of a family of eight, seems to have some military training and is perhaps a member of the Queensland Police based on the Gold Coast.


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This houseboat is owned and cobbled together by a single woman who loves (Oh really?) and keeps them onboard. They have nowhere to go except under the netting.
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Zoom in and look closely and you can see at least one large turkey and a large duck or goose or swan.

Saturday 2nd December

Donnis and I have been researching travel plans for May 2018 after the Commonwealth Games are completed. The original plan was a cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines ship Norwegian Jewel for 20 days. The cruise would have commenced in Yokohama Japan, another 5 Japanese ports, then on to Petropavovsk, Kamchatka, Russia. From there it was a cruise across the Bering Sea to Anchorage, (Seward actually) Alaska, a further 6 Alaskan ports and finally finish in Seattle USA. We would spend a few days in Seattle then train to Vancouver, fly to Calgary for a few days then fly to the east coast and spend 10 days in Prince Edward Island exploring PEI and Newfoundland before driving across Canada to Calgary, Vancouver and fly home. Wow! We would have been busy for 6 weeks and the budget was being stretched tissue thin but if we do not enjoy ourselves now we may not have another opportunity. Having decided, we asked for a final quote and cabin assignment. The email reply was encouraging until we found the US /Australia exchange rate has declined in the last few weeks. Worse than that was the original prices quoted was a teaser. US taxes of almost US$1,000 were added to the quote. Add to that the $13 per person per day compulsory tipping, shore excursion costs, air fare to Japan and overnights while waiting to board the ship and the possibility of $500 or more to obtain a Russian Visa, the tissue paper split. It simply pushed the budget beyond our limits. It was a difficult decision to cancel the trip especially as this was a maiden voyage for this ship on this route and a first time port of call to Petropavovsk.

We are now looking a different plan but like all plans it requires some research which takes time.

Hmmm! A train journey from Seattle across the USA to Albany spread over three days sounds interesting.

Sunday 3rd December

The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games are drawing closer. Today I attended, along with 2,370 other excited people, the first Role Specific Training course for drivers.031217 training031217 training2

Back in 2015 volunteers for the 2018 Commonwealth Games were called for. Along with another 55,000 or so other hopefuls, I applied. Gradually those numbers were whittled down to manageable thousands. Some 15,000 people wanted to be drivers. I attended the first selection interview process, which at the time had 4,500 people interviewed. All agreed to a Police and background check. All the approved volunteers, 5,000 of us, for all the various tasks, attended one of three sessions at the Gold Coast Convention Centre. I attended the second session on Sunday 12th November and now all the drivers will begin to attend role or location specific training between now and April when the games begin. Mostly the drivers look to be an able bodied group although I was surprised to see a number of people who were clearly grossly overweight, walked with difficulty or with a cane or in one case, in a wheelchair. I can only wonder how these people will cope driving dignitaries around the Gold Coast and Brisbane for up to 12 hours.

The event was very well produced, fast paced, interesting, lots of loud music. Enthusiasm bubbled and boiled out of the crowd. 031217 training1

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The local Indigenous community Youth Choir

Once again I am disappointed I did not bring my good camera. Once we start training and driving I should have plenty of spaces to carry all my things I need. Including the camera. Unfortunately either the mobile phone camera is not sufficient megapixels or I cannot hold the phone steady enough for decent photos.

Now let’s see 2,300 people leave the stadium in an orderly fashion. The coffee booth was closed. The tea and coffee and biscuits tables were cleared away. I waited behind, believing it was easier to read my Kindle and let the crowds sort themselves out. Below the stadium over 1,000 cars were all trying to squeeze out of one entrance only to be slowed by traffic lights which had not been co-ordinated to allow for peak traffic. Only 6 cars at a time were getting through the lights. This was the first sign of chaos I have seen in the organisational skills of the GOLDOC. (Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Organisation Committee). Somebody forgot traffic control and forgot to organise the traffic lights as if it was another big sports day. Eventually a second exit from the underground parking was opened but that traffic still had to merge with the cars coming out of the first exit! It took one and a half hours for me to get out of the car park. Good thing I stayed in my car, engine off and read my Kindle.

Now comes co-incidence and nostalgia time.

Earlier in the week I heard a radio interview on ABC’s Conversations with Richard Fidler. The interview was with Roy Williams, Co-author of a book about the Eternity Man, Arthur Stace. (1885 – 1967) Arthur wrote one word, ETERNITY, in a bold copperplate handwriting style on footpaths around inner suburbs of Sydney.

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This is the Eternity written inaluminium at the Wall of Water at Sydney Town Hall.

Mostly the word was written with chalk, sometimes in crayon. As a child and as a teenager, I recall seeing ETERNITY written on the footpath. My recollection is it was always written in yellow chalk or crayon. Until 1962 the identity of ETERNITY man was unknown.

Coincidence No1.

Later in the day I was listening to some music by Australian Singer Songwriter, Russell Morris. A song from his album, Sharkmouth, a song I had not yet heard, suddenly caught my attention. I heard the words and it was about Mr Eternity. Sung in Russell Morris distinctive style it instantly grabbed my attention. This is a brilliant piece of local Sydney history put to music with attention getting lyrics. Russel Morris you have done it again. I am hooked.

Co-incidence No2.

This evening, we were driving home from Brisbane. What were we doing in Brisbane? That is another story. Anyway we were tuned to the ABC when The Spirit of Things presented by Dr Rachael Kohn began. The story opened with a song by Jim Low and within the first two lines I knew it was about Mr Eternity. A different song to Russel Morris but just as deeply moving and full of history. Rachael Kohn also interviewed Roy Williams.

Co-incidence No3.

In the interview they drove around parts of Sydney where Arthur Stace lived, worked, worshipped and wrote ETERNITY. They stopped at a house in Redfern where Arthur and his wife Pearl lived for about 12 years, The house is tiny in a tiny lane called Arthur Lane just off Moorehead St.

My Aunt Gwen lives in Moorehead St just a few houses away!!!

Co-incidence No4.

I also recall seeing a dedication to ETERNITY during the New Years Fireworks when 1999 became 2000. Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit by fireworks which spelled ETERNITY. Later in the year during the Sydney Olympic Games opening ceremony a mock- up of Sydney Harbour Bridge with one word, ETERNITY, emblazoned on it was paraded around the arena.

So, for over twenty five years, from 1930 to 1956, Sydney-siders woke each day to a city that had already been visited by a phantom of the night. A phantom, that was to become the most famous graffiti artist in Australia’s history. For there on the footpaths, on the train station platforms and on the many walkways that linked the city’s buildings was that one word Eternity, etched so beatifically with yellow crayon in the fine copperplate lettering style. 

Where it came from, how it got there, what it meant and who was behind this phenomenon was a mystery to all. The mystery turned to fascination and eventually obsession. For decades leading newspapers and letters to the editor debated who or what was behind the mysterious appearance of the word Eternity each morning. It was an enigma, a one-word sermon that had Sydney columnists speculating often about the author. But in spite of the intense interest, the author remained a phantom for those 25 years.

Today, there are only three public places left in Sydney where you can still see Arthur’s Stace’s Eternity.

(1) You can still see a faded version inside the largest bell at the  Old Sydney Post Office on Martin Place. Written in about 1963, the ‘i’ has almost vanished, but the word ‘Eternity’ can still be seen.

(2) It was memorialized by Architect Ridley Smith in the re-design of Sydney Square beside the Sydney Town Hall. When it was unveiled at the foot of the Wall of Water feature on the 13 July 1977, The Sydney Morning Herald published: “In letters almost 21cm (8in) high is the famous copperplate message Eternity. The one word sermon gleams in wrought aluminium. There’s no undue prominence. No garish presentation. Merely the simple Eternity on pebbles as Arthur Stace would have wanted it.” Interestingly Ridley Smith was the son of missionary parents serving with the China Inland Mission. His father named his son Ridley because of his great respect for evangelist John Ridley, the very preacher whose words turned Arthur Stace into Mr. Eternity

(3) At the foot of his grave in the Botany Cemetery is his trademark etching in marble of his own special version of Eternity.

This ‘birdlike little man with wispy white hair’, Stace has become known as ‘the Eternity Man’, and is enshrined as one of the characters of Sydney. Others have taken Arthur’s Eternity and given it new life.


533. Sunday 12th February 2017. Aboard the P & O Lines Ship PACIFIC ARIA…

Friday 10th February

Ever since I was a small boy, when an event was to happen I would internalise my emotions and excitement. So on Christmas Eve or the eve of a planned holiday I would only be able to sleep in fits and starts. Finally as the sun begins its weary climb above the horizon I would be wide awake and ready for whatever the day had in store for me. Last night was no exception. I was awake at 3am. Eventually the day got under way, Donnis woke, we breakfasted and finished packing.

The adventure was about to begin.

Graham and Wencke were on time and within minutes we were on the M1 cruising toward Brisbane. We had an easy run through traffic until about three Klms from the Cruise Terminal, then traffic was bumper to bumper and crawling at a snail pace. Even so, we arrived a good half hour earlier than our processing time. Finally we went through all paperwork and security checks and passport controls and we were on board the P&O Ship, Pacific Aria.

This is the adult pool on the aft of deck 10. Noboby under the age of 18 was allowed here. That rule was policed by the adults. The ship is berthed on the Brisbane River. The city of Brisbane is in the back ground
Looking at Brisbane as we arrived aboard ARIA.
More of Brisbane River.

Lunch was a bit chaotic in The Pantry on deck 11. Not surprising really as 1,000 or so people wanted lunch at the same time.

Early morning at The Pantry before the hungry hordes descend for meals. Within thirty minutes it was packed with people wanting breakfast.

Our first happy surprise was our cabin. We expected a tiny internal cabin as we had when cruising with Norwegian Cruise Lines in 2015. This room was twice the size and even included a lounge and a comfy King Size bed.

The ship has 1,268 passengers and a crew of 700. Not a bad ratio!

As the ship moved down the Brisbane River and passed under the Gateway Bridge, I realised why the State Government and indeed the Gold Coast City Council both want to build a new cruise terminal. Our ship is large but is not the largest cruise ship operating, not by a long shot. Even at low tide there was not much clearance under the bridge.

On deck 12 navigating the Brisbane River heading towards the Gateway Bridge.
Getting closer to the Gateway Bridge. Hmmm! I have now reconsidered the distance from the top of the mast to the underside of the bridge. We were cruising at low tide. It is a small ship. I can imagine how a ship twice the size would have trouble getting underneath the bridge.

It seems many ships cannot pass under the bridge which incidentally from a drivers point of view is very high and steep. The Gold Coast wants to get in on the action of more cruise ships wanting more ports of call.

A small tributary, Bulimba Creek, running into the Brisbane River seems to be a graveyard for sunken boats.

As the ship cruised along the coast we saw the Glasshouse Mountains of the Sunshine Coast from a new perspective with cloud cover and sunshine poking through the gaps in the clouds.

Looking at the Glasshouse Mountains – Mount Tibrogargan – on the Sunshine Coast. The sunset was a bit hazy due to salt in the air.

The Ship Pilot left via motor launch at Caloundra and we were on our way under the control of the ships captain.

Tangalooma Wrecks on Moreton Island is a site where 17 vessels were deliberately sunk to form a safe mooring harbour and to establish exceptional dive sites.

Dinner was in the Waterfront Restaurant and a great meal at that. Donnis and I shared a bottle of wine which set me up for another night of restless sleep

Most of our breakfast and dinner were in the Waterfront Restaurant. We always tried to get this table…144 or 142. We had a great view of the world and the serving staff were very good and we had them trained with our needs. For example Donnis always wanted fresh cream for her coffee and Wencke wanted a single breadroll at breakfast. Graham was very particular. He wanted food.

Saturday 11th February

Well, as with yesterday’s bad sleep today was much the same. I slept fitfully. Perhaps it was the bottle of wine Donnis and I absorbed at dinner.

I was up at 5am watching the sunrise.

Amongst all the activities on board I did a Flying Fox flight from the ships funnel to an anchor point amidships.

I have climbed the funnel and am getting a final safety briefing for the ZIP line. Or Flying Fox as we call it in Australia.

After donning a heavy cumbersome harness and climbing a ladder to a platform on the funnel and connecting to the steel cable I was ready to launch into space.

Almost ready.

Let go of the cable once you are airborne they said. My mind said Ok but one arm said “No way” and hung on for dear life.

and away I go. Note I am still hanging on with both hands.
woohoo I finally let go with one hand.
It’s all over. Arrived safely. Pride intact. The little girl behind me was already a seasoned rider. This was only the second day and already she had clocked up 6 rides…on this voyage. She has been on so many cruises with her parents she knows the staff by name.

Whew! That was over too quickly. “Can I do that again?”

Deck 12 looking aft. On the left is a rectractable roof covering the swimming pool on deck 11. It is closed during rain or bad weather but otherwise kept open to provide a sunny place to lounge and swim and play table tennis. It aslo allows in a breeze…much needed especially in the table tennis corner.

There is a hive of activity during the day with many events for the adventurous and not so adventurous alike. We tried a game which was a cross between Bocce and Bowls, Shuffleboard, Table Tennis, a talk on our various destinations and ran out of time to do Line Dancing. Tomorrow is another adventure day at sea and we will see what that brings.

Donnis at The Pantry with the open deck 11 in the background. We tended to sit on deck 11 at night and had our tea/coffee and cheese platter.

Tonight we dined at The Dragon Lady Asian Restaurant. (a mix of Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesian) That was a great experience. We all tried something different stepping outside our usual culinary experience.

After dinner we went to a floor show in the auditorium

Deck 6 at night. Normally you can walk all the way around this deck. It is lit all night. It is also the deck allocated for some smoking areas, also Shuffleboard and Deck Quoits. It is also where emergency drill is held and where the tenders/lifeboats are stored. It is where we are assigned a lifeboat and have to bring a life jacket from our cabin for evacuation drill. You can see the underside of a lifeboat and a station number to assemble.

and afterwards I was asleep within minutes of arriving back in our cabin.

Sunday 12th February

Another morning waking and on deck at 5am. At least I could again watch a sunrise

Meanwhile from deck 11 the sunrise was pinking the horizon.

on the Starboard side of the ship and the moon on the Port side.

On the Port side at 5.30am the moon was still setting in the west.

The day unrolled with reasonably slow swells and brilliant sunshine.

The adult pool.

Apart from the usual meal times we managed to squeeze in games of Shuffleboard,

Wencke won at Shuffleboard.
I was knocked out first round.
Graham was also eliminated.

Bocce Bowls, Boule, Ballroom dancing lessons and Graham and I wore each other out playing aggressive table tennis.

In the afternoon the wind and swell changed direction and we could see we were running into some heavy weather ahead. We noticed the ship was no longer moving ahead and was wallowing in the swells. The Captain informed us a sensor on one of the engines was warning of a fault. Eventually the fault was found, fixed and the sensor replaced to be on the safe side.

The bad weather increased, now instead of a following swell we were taking a swell almost broadside increasing the ships rolling motion. In order to avoid the worst of it the ship altered course which means we will be a few hours late arriving at our first port, Alatou PNG, in the morning.

The rolling and heaving of the ship took its toll on many of the passengers. Donnis was barely able to eat more than a few mouthfuls while I struggled with cramming in three courses at Angelo’s Ristorante.

We could not even take a walk on any of the outside decks. The doors had been roped off as the decks were too windy, wet and being too dangerous to have passengers wandering about on a rolling ship. A pity really as Donnis and I would have both loved to have the wind in our faces to clear our senses.

A school of some sort of fish attracted sea birds in the middle of the ocean and no land to be seen anywhere.

After watching the floor show of a magician we watched a movie on TV and were rocked to sleep.

Meal times are a great experience. The Pantry is a cafeteria style dining area which is open from 6.30am to 9.00pm daily. This is a place to avoid…sometimes…as dessert and pastries are available all day as is coffee and tea. It is too tempting. We have a choice of three restaurants.

The large Waterfront Restaurant which serves traditional style breakfast lunch and dinner. There are also Angelos Ristorante which serves traditional Italian fare while the Dragon Lady serves Asian fare. These dining places are included as part of the ticket place. There are other dining rooms which are not complimentary.

It will be interesting to see what the weather brings when we dock tomorrow.

I expect to publish daily for another week as we visit various ports of call.