Thursday, December 9, 2010

A/NZ - Getting On The Ship - Day 2

Updated 1/21/2012 - I took some heat for referring to the Volendam as a boat instead of a ship. I will try to correct my mistaken terminology so as to not distress future visitors to the blog. I am a Midwest guy who grew up watching the "Love Boat" on TV and just didn't know any better. Some reference was also made to inaccurate information in the postings. I did my best to get it right but there may be some. As you view the posts, let me know via the comments if there are any corrections necessary. I know there are typos....I am prone to those and the spell checker doesn't help when the wrong word is spelled correctly.

This is a view of downtown Sydney from our hotel room. We stayed at the Swissotel for one night. It was a nice hotel on a par with a Grand Hyatt. It is the hotel that Holland America uses for those who purchase a pre-cruise package. As I mentioned before, Australia isn't cheap and the hotel wasn't either. We had a very European style breakfast buffet with a tab of $50 for the two of us. That is a record high for breakfast for us.

While we were in the room, we Skyped with our friend, Edel. I held the Net Book up to the window so see could see the city....pretty neat.

The building with the green dome is the Queen Elizabeth Building, a former government building that has been turned into a shopping mall. It is one of the highlights of Sydney.

This is the oldest house in Sydney and dates back to the founding of the city. It is part of The Rocks.

Sigrid loved the open air markets spread throughout the area.

The Asian influence is strong in Australia.

It was cloudy and rainy when we arrived yesterday, but we had a little sun from time-to-time this day.

We got on the ship with little hassle although the lines were long. It is a good feeling to know that the ship can't sail without you after such a long journey full of potential pitfalls.

Part of The Rocks. Old military buildings.

Wolfie's is in one of the buildings. We ate under the white tent yesterday.

The Overseas Passenger Terminal where all the cruise ships dock and where immigration/customs officials check all passengers.

The Lido Dining Room on board the Volendam. It offers cafeteria style service. We ate most of our meals here because the food is excellent with lots of variety. There are six different places to eat on the ship including room service (24/7) at no additional cost.

This is the indoor pool area with the rolling roof retracted.

Some shots of downtown Sydney from the harbor.

A drug sniffing dog was used to checkout the incoming cargo of food and supplies for the ship.

The m/s Volendam is a medium sized ship with 63,000 tons of displacement. It can accommodate 1,440 passengers with a crew of 620. It has 10 decks, 12 elevators, and is 785 feet in length. It is powered by a diesel electric propulsion system. The ship was built in 2000. Probably more than you wanted to know.

If you have never been on a cruise ship to see a typical cabin, I will take care of that for you. It is tight but you really don't spend that much time in your cabin if you don't want to. This cabin is one step above entry level in that it has windows. On our Alaska cruise we had an inside stateroom and missed the ability to look out at the ocean or to even know if it was night or day.

It is a one person bath, but that wasn't a problem at all. The only challenge is showering during rough seas.

They aren't big windows but they were enough. The bed was really good as any hotel we have ever stayed at.

We stayed in this cabin for the first two weeks. We were at the far aft part of the ship so every movement of the ship was multiplied. I got seasick on the first day at sea which surprised me. We were in 20 foot seas in Alaska and I had no problem while Sigrid got sick. This time I got sick in five foot seas and Sigrid didn't. Confusing. I took a few pills and was unconscious for the rest of the day. I was better on the second day and ultimately got my sea legs and had no further problems even though we had a few more rough days.

We had other problems with our location. We were close to where maintenance was being done on lower decks and we heard lots of banging during the day. We also had problems with paint fumes on three consecutive days. They continually paint the ship to keep up with the sea salt induced corrosion. I guess they were working too close to us.

We complained and asked to be moved to another cabin. After a couple of suggestion by the ship staff, we decided to up grade to a veranda room since we didn't like the other offerings. We were able to do this for the second two weeks and loved it. Holland America gave us a very good price for the upgrade.....about 25% of regular cost because it was going to be empty if we didn't take it. More later on the new room.

There is even a water park on the ship for kids but there weren't any kids on the cruise.

We were welcomed aboard by a band playing 60's and 70's music by the indoor pool.

The indoor pool is the location for many special events. Here they are serving ethnic food from Indonesia. Each event has a theme from another country. Notice the overhead doors are closed due to rain showers.

The Terrance Grill is also located by the pool. You can get cheeseburgers, hot dogs, or make your own Mexican just about any time you want. You can sit along the sides of the pool and have a view out to port or the ocean as you eat.

One of the challenges that some people take in Sydney, is to climb the structure of the Harbour Bridge. You can see a few people making their way up the walkway in this photo. I am sure the view is great but I was not tempted to climb.

These folks made it to the top.

As we were leaving the harbor, I had to take one more photo of the Opera House from another angle.

We are off now for two days at sea to get to New Caledonia.

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