We were in a port yesterday, a small island in Fiji great for water sports but that is it. We stayed on the ship. Those who went on shore went by tender and no one with any mobility issues was allowed to board the tender because the seas were quite rough.
We now have two sea days before two days in two places in New Caledonia. However, rumor has it that there are cyclones in the area and I would not be surprised if we skipped one or both of these ports. It is then three more sea days until we reach Cairn, Australia where we have been before. On our last trip to Cairn, we spent the day at the Great Barrier Reef. I would have bet a lot that we would do it again. Barbara even secured her own equipment because the face mask provided her before did not fit properly. Fate, however, has taken a hand and for various reasons, my bet is we will do something else.
One of the highlights of this cruise, at least for me, is two nights in Sydney, where we have been and loved, and two nights in Melbourne, where we have not been, but hear is terrific. I spent the majority of yesterday trying to organize Sydney and Melbourne. I will just touch upon part of the story.
As I have mentioned, we much prefer private tours because we have total control of the itinerary, it is substantially cheaper, and, if I need to stop to visit a restroom, I can do it easily. I never know exactly how all the damn pills I take will effect my needs to stop.
As I often do, I contacted Tours By Locals. The cost is generally at least 50% less than the ship’s excursions and we get to see at least twice as much.
When I contacted Tours By Locals, my requirements were a luxury air conditioned car and driver/guide for two full days spanning a total of about 16 hours or 8 hours per day.
The first quote I received sent me into shock. The guide said he was doing me a favor by charging $2500 U.S. Dollars, not Australian Dollars. That man should be in jail for price gouging. I have done this all over the world and rarely paid more than 50 euros per hour.
About an hour ago I made a deal with the second driver/guide for $1400. I did not bargain. That was a fair price and it covers four persons. Someone on the ship wants to go with us so each couple will pay $700 or $350 for a whole day. which is less than one three hour Seabourn tour.
I am actually amazed that the first guy had the cajones to ask the price he did. The lesson to be learned is that even with a legitimate company like Tours By Locals, one has to shop. Wow!
The second “wow” is I tried to get into a Chinese Restaurant reputedly the best in Melbourne. It is called Flower Drum. I tried for dinner on March 10 or lunch on March 10 or 11. Fully booked and nothing available either for lunch or dinner until March 23. Give me a f——-g break.
On waitlist but booked another great place called Bamboo House. None of this was easy. It literally took hours to get Melbourne set up and part of Sydney set up. No driver/guide is needed in Sydney at least the first day. Taking a cruise on river, visiting the Jewish Museum and no problem with dinner. Have food tour the second day but may cancel and go to wine country with same couple as Melbourne who already had their private driver.
Had lunch by pool. Went to hear music at 6 and then had snack in cabin. That was my day. Barbara did join me for music and cocktails. Otherwise, I think she painted the gym
See you tomorrow. At least that is my plan