As usual, without looking outside, we never really notice the difference between the cruising (average so far, 18 knots) and being tied up at the wharf, as the ship is so stable. Three days ago, they had the “barf bags” out on the staircases, (a first in 140 days of cruising with Princess) but we have no idea why as there was very little movement.
We didn’t wake early, so it was no surprise to find that we were tied up at the wharf and there were noticeably fewer people in the buffet than usual. We took our time and strolled off the ship just before the crew emergency drill at 9:45am. Half way across the quay, we heard the seven blasts from the ship, so goodness knows what the locals think when they get that every time a ship is in dock. (Maybe they wouldn’t notice it if it was an Italian ship...) For those intending to cruise and call at Darwin, it is only a 15 to 20 minute walk up to town and there is a lift that takes you up from ground floor to the bridge across the road, so don’t bother about the $7 shuttle, because it isn’t worth it.
We bumped into Mal & Megan just before reaching the bus station and we caught the service bus to Casuarina. This time, the driver made us pay $2 return if within 3 hours (last year he didn’t) and we headed for the back of the bus. Now I don’t know how to put this delicately, but there is a section of the local community where the word deodorant has yet to enter the local vocabulary. Unfortunately, they also generally head for the rear of the bus and the air-conditioning is less than effective.
At Casuarina, I don’t think we bought anything at all other than a very tasty mango drink and a nicer coffee from Gloria Jean’s.
After two hours we headed back to the bus station – and bumped into Mal & Megan again! They had done some decidedly liquid shopping but we hopped off the bus back in Darwin to hit the supermarket. Having done the little bits, we shifted to the liquor store that appeared to be doing a roaring trade, as usual. Now as most regular cruisers know, the taking of alcohol on board is strictly limited and we are allowed one wine per person. We were OK with a bottle of red wine and a bottle of Port (which is of course a wine and not a spirit) and headed back to the ship, only to join the usual slow queue through the quay scanner. Unlike Diane & George two years ago, we were spared the sight of a bunch of cruisers decanting Drambuie into Lipton’s cold tea bottles, or loads of people disguising vodka and gin as water, though we did come across one brilliant ruse from a couple of kiwis who boarded the ship with a couple of shrink-sealed bottles of home-made wine. (Yeah, right...40+% proof wine?)
“See the man over there” we were told, as we obviously had two bottles.
“The man” was very busy debating the issues with a lady in front, who had dessert wine that he wasn’t going to allow. The queue was building up behind us as most needed to be checked. Tongue in cheek, Paula suggested she carry on with the backpack to leave me to “see the man”! Pity we didn’t. Conscious of the frustrated queue building up whilst still debating, he just asked to see the bottles we had so with backpack in one hand, I grasped the neck of both bottles, but somehow or other, they didn’t slide back into the pack and the VERY expensive bottle of (Paula’s) red wine shattered on the concrete! We just left it, bemoaning the loss of an $8 bottle. Thankfully the port survived. Just call me butter fingers (must be Lurpak though).
A quick snack then we relaxed until 7:45pm dinner. Once again, we used the system to our advantage and both Paula and I had the main dish of garlic prawns as an entree (see pic), followed by our proper mains.
Guess who then discovered he had locked himself out of his cabin and had to rouse the cabin steward to let him in?
The comedian tonight was a former writer of the award winning “Bill Cosby” show – Don Ware - and we had seen him before. Like many port days, the 10pm show is a bit late for the tired ones, so the lounge wasn’t too full. A good show all the same. If the Vista lounge was a little bit quiet, the Atrium was just about deserted, as was our corridor (see pic) and we were one of just two couples having a dance - and there were only about 4 spectators! As always, Alan and Alana performed with good grace and we had the chance to try and relearn moves we had half forgotten. At 11:30pm, we called it a day, still having failed to commit them to memory.
So now we have another 4 relaxing days at sea to look forward to before hitting Singapore yet again (how many times have we done Singapore in the last 15 months?).
The programme in the Princess Patter is as crowded as ever so we’ll just miss out on one or two items. We are certainly not bored.