Saturday, February 28, 2009



Something unique to Brisbane are these catamarans that are part of their bus system. You can use a bus transfer to move from bus to catamaran. They have smaller feeder boats they call "kitty cats"



Aussies love their beer. Clyde tried the "XXXX Heavy" -- "not bad" he says.


Clyde found quite a few errors and omissions in this description of Wombats.



27 Feb 2009 Brisbane – A modern city with a laid back attitude. Quite a bit further north than Sydney and therefore warmer and is the entryway to Australia’s Sunshine Coast. We took a tour to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Mary got to hold a Koala in the “Koala Cuddling Area”. There were lots of other native animals there and we fed a few wallabies (who were apparently well fed since they showed little interest) and got up close to an emu (heard that peculiar base drum sound they make). They had dozens of Koalas in a variety of settings – little ones in their “kindergarten” and some older ones in their “retirement home” and some up in a natural setting. Our visit to the Koala center was cut short because our ship was late arriving in Brisbane (unusually strong current). We had arrived at the sanctuary by bus, but left by riverboat that moved slowly down the Brisbane River toward the city. There were lots of expensive homes along the river and the guide said that there were plenty of crocodiles in it. We also passed an area where there were dozens of fruit bats hanging from the trees (not Mary’s favorite part of the visit).

We were dropped off in the city center. Had a nice lunch and then Mary and our friend Delores did a bit of shopping while Brian had a coffee, read the local newspapers and people watched.

We have 2 days at sea before we arrive at Cairns for our visit to the Great Barrier Reef. There have been lots of interesting lectures aboard on the days at sea. For instance, there are three about the Great Barrier Reef on the sea days before we get to Cairns. One of the lecturers is John Maxtone-Graham. He is a very distinguished Englishman who appears to be in his late 70’s. He has written several books on ocean liner travel and is a terrific speaker. He has given lectures on liner travel, the Titanic disaster, the various Princes of Wales --- and all of them have been excellent. Mary’s father was an ocean liner buff and an English history buff. In fact we know he had at least one of Maxtone-Graham’s books. We often remark on how much he would have enjoyed meeting and talking with him.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


The great part of cruising is the wonderful people you meet and we were very lucky in our tablemates. The sad part is eventually saying goodbye. Some at our table were not going all the way to Rome so departed the ship in Sydney. Jane, Judith and Rodney we will miss you. We hope you will stay in touch and follow Clyde's further adventures on his blog. Bon Voyage!


25 Feb 2009 – In Sydney Australia. We docked directly opposite the famous Sydney Opera House in downtown. This is a city of 4 million and the harbor is full of hustle and bustle – ferries and sightseeing boats coming and going continuously. The city actually has two main harbor areas – Circle Quay where we docked and Darling Harbor. Both areas are full of restaurants, museums, shops and other attractions with a constant stream of pedestrians.

We took a hop-on hop-off boat tour of the harbor – there are lots of stops other than the two we mentioned – beaches at Shark Island and others, their amusement park Luna Pier, the Sydney Zoo, and the fort in the middle of the harbor built in the 1800s to protect against the Russians.

We got a good look at the Harbour Bridge. This is also a famous local landmark akin to what the Golden Gate is to San Francisco. Paul Hogan the actor used to earn a living painting it and tourists (for about $200) can walk across the bridge on the top of the structure.

Clyde, as always, made some new friends. Ina the pretty waitress in the Japanese restaurant in Darling Harbour where we had lunch; Indrek Ott a crewman on the harbor tour boat; and some aboriginal street musicians. See pics.

Mary had the itch to visit a local antique mall and did that while Brian pottered around in Darling Harbour visiting the Maritime Museum and nearby parks.

We had dinner at a sidewalk restaurant near the Opera House and had fun watching the constant and diverse parade of people going by. We pulled out of Sydney at 1000 PM and are now headed to Brisbane and should arrive tomorrow.



Could not resist a photo op from our ship.


Clyde's friend Indrek Ott was a crewman on the boat that took us on a harbor tour of Sydney. He advised us that it was good luck to throw the boquet that Mary had bought overboard.


Clyde hung out with these street musicians for awhile remembering his roots in the bush and his fondness for digereedo music.


Our apologies to the beautiful Ina, our waitress in a Japanese restaurant in
Darling Harbour in Sydney. I should have used the flash so you could see her better.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Ever wanted to pet a koala?


Here is how Tasmanian Devil's share a dinner of kangaroo leg. Lots of sound effects too.


He thinks country wombats are nice but not very stylish.



Clyde and friend Honey Bear narrowly escaped the jaws of a Tasmanian Devil


23 Feb 2009 WOMBAT REUNION – We were in Tasmania yesterday and took a tour to a wildlife sanctuary. They take in wild animals that have been found injured/abandoned. They place was very well run and had a broad assortment of critters. Clyde met and interacted with two wombats -- one baby and one adult and also a koala bear and some wallabies. Mary got to pet a baby wombat and a koala bear and got to hold a baby wallaby in her arms. We witnessed the feeding of a group of Tasmanian Devils – lots of snarling and tug of war over a wallaby leg that was thrown into the pen. We also got to get into an enclosure with several wallabies and feed them, pet them, etc. On the way there and back we drove through the countryside which was mostly devoted to farms. Surprisingly they had some fields devoted to opium poppies (for medicinal use) and some growing pyrethrum daisies (for insecticides) as well as more conventional fields of potatoes, grain, etc. It was an overcast day but still it was a quite pretty there. Rolling hills with river valleys – the hills were golden brown (think California in the summer) and the soil was a chocolate brown. The towns in the countryside reminded us of the US 20+ years ago.

Our ship docked at Burnie – a mainly industrial town on the north coast of Tasmania. The people were very friendly and we enjoyed shopping and wandering around. The town provided shuttle bus service from the dock to the heart of town. On the way, our driver jokingly pointed out the “American Embassy” – it had golden arches. Surprisingly Burnie had a Target store and was dotted with small discount stores similar to Big Lots – one was named Chicken Feed. Apparently Bernie, in the past, had two industrial plants that were big polluters (paper pulp and titanium paint additives) – think dead fish in the ocean and beaches not fit for swimming. The plants are now closed and the locals seemed very environmentally conscious. Beaches are pretty now. Our ship docked next to a huge pile of wood chips awaiting shipment to Japan. The Japanese convert the chips into paper pulp and some of it comes back to Burnie to be used by the local paper factory.

On our tour we passed through a town on the coast named “Penguin”. It was named for the large colony of small penguins that roost on the beach there. The town is dotted with penguin statues and many of the local businesses were named penguin something and had signs to match. Sadly we did not see a single live penguin – apparently they are out to sea feeding during the day.

Today we are at sea on our way to Sydney Australia. BTW Tasmania is a state of Australia and is a large island off the southeast coast about 500 miles away from the mainland.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


18 Feb 2008 – Departing Auckland New Zealand 9:30 PM. Went on a wine tour today. Brian found a fellow over the internet and he was great – He’s been doing this for 8 years and has published a popular NZ wine guide. Clyde, Mary and Brian were the only guests on the tour today. Phil picked us up at the ship, took us to three wineries, a great lunch and to see some of the sights. He also provided cheese and his own homemade tomato relish along the way. Since NZ has a fairly cool climate, they are better known for their whites than their reds. We had lots of great Marlboro Sauvignon Blanc but Clyde did not care for the reds very much – found them harsh and tannic. They did have some Reislings that were very fruity tasting and drier than any we had ever tasted – we liked them. We were able to bring a few bottles aboard for future consumption. Things are very reasonable here with $1 US == $2 NZ. Our wine tour was $75 US all inclusive.

Countryside was very pretty rolling hills. Reminded us of a cross between Oregon (lots of fruit stands and some drizzle) with California (green hills and brown hills) plus something exotic thrown in that is hard to pin down. We also got a look at a kiwi fruit orchard. It consisted of vines trained on tall trellises so that it creates a shady canopy about 5 feet above the ground and the kiwi fruits hang down – not in clusters like grapes, but quite thickly. The harbor area is a happening place – lots of trendy restaurants and bars. The people are very friendly and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Auckland is a modern interesting city – reminded us a bit of Toronto. They have a large tower in the center of the city that is a major landmark – something like the Tokyo Tower or the Seattle Space Needle, but with an interesting twist – they have a setup where you can be hooked to a static line and jump off a platform 197 meters up the tower on a static line and plunge to the ground. Brian got a bit of footage of people doing so. We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant that Phil had recommended. It was full of Chinese patrons (a good sign) and quite good. They also had several tanks full of the biggest lobsters we have ever seen. (see pic)

We will be cruising along the east coast of NZs North Island until about noon tomorrow and then we will turn southwest toward Tasmania.


17 Feb 2009 – Lost at sea. We went to bed on 15 Feb and woke up the next day on 17 Feb. We had crossed the international dateline in the night, thus never experienced 16 Feb this year. Too bad it was not a birthday ;-)


Phil did a great job for us including giving us his tomato relish recipe. Here he and Clyde are enjoying the view of the Murawai black sand beach.


Here are a few pics from the wineries we visited. clyde made friends wherever he went.


Clyde very impressed with these giant specimens at a Chinese restaurant in Auckland.


It was formal night and we all went to the Steakhouse on board to celebrate.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Clyde very much enjoyed going to the beach here. Water was warm and the scenery exotic. He also enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Le Meredien Hotel just down the beach though he was shocked at the prices. All in all he likes the beaches at St John USVI better.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


CRUISING OFF PITCAIN ISLAND – Everyone has seen some version of the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” or read the books. This island is where Fletcher Christian and the mutineers took the Bounty, beached it and burned it. They settled down here with some Tahitian women and their descendants live here to this day. The population is only 46 people and it is owned by Britain. They speak English and a patois of Tahitian and 18th century English. It is very remote. They get resupplied every 3 months by ship from New Zealand.

We stopped briefly to pick up some islanders who came aboard to offer some of their handicrafts for sale give us a bit or narration while we sailed around the island. It is a small mountainous island and very green. It is known as a particularly difficult island to land a ship on. We saw a few small beaches and some of the cliffs were pocked with large sea-level caves. They get cruise ships here with some regularity Dec thru March each year, but not much else throughout the year. There is no airstrip. They do have satellite communications with the rest of the world. The also have a pretty good website – check out the part of the website that has their stamps – unusually interesting in that they tell the history of the island – even some events that would not make the front page of a small town newspaper.

Clyde thought that while clearly a laid-back lifestyle, living on Pitcairn Island was not for him.


We anchored briefly to allow islanders aboard. Saga Rose also in port. No real harbor here. Notoriously difficult place to land.


Luckily we rent clockwise around the island and we could see it well from our starboard side balcony.


They had Pitcairn Island made goods for sale while we cruised in a circle around the island.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Pretty laid back here. This was take from our balcony. Look closely and you can see legs sticking out the side where the occupant is lying down.


Some of the statues had reddish hat-like things on their heads. Theory is that these were meant to look like hairdos. This picture will give you a feeling for their size.


5 Feb 2009 – We were on Easter Island (Rapa Nui) yesterday. Clyde enjoyed seeing the Moa statues and made a new friend or two as always. He also got his passport stamped. We took a tour to several sites on the island where we could get a close look at the statues.

The island is of volcanic origin and quite hilly and green. It had been almost completely deforested in the past and now has some trees, but is mostly open spaces and grassland. Cattle and horses roam freely everywhere with few fences to control them. The sea here is an amazing blue color that looks like Lapis that has been electrified to glow. It may be the most remote island in the world. It is 2000 miles west of Chile and 2000 east of Tahiti. The water here is warm and the people are of Polynesian descent, but speak Spanish since the island belongs to Chile. The people are friendly, but not much English is spoken.

The origin of their famous statues (Moai) is something of a mystery. The leading theory is that Polynesian people migrated here about 1000 AD and created the Moai to venerate ancestors, give status to their villages and provide a source of power or good luck to the people. The Moas were all quarried from compressed volcanic ash on a single mountainside and many of the larger ones are still in the quarry. About 900 Moai are known --- about 400 distributed around the island and the rest still in the quarry. The biggest weigh many tons and stand 36 ft high. The ones distributed around the island average about 14 ft tall. Most along the coast were erected on platforms facing a village. They were mostly complete when transported from the quarry, but had their eye sockets carved on site where they were erected. White coral eyes were inserted -- this “activated” them and gave them the power to help the village. Some of those that were inland were thought to be used to measure the arrival of the equinox for spring planting. Most of the Moas had already been toppled from their platforms before the first arrival of Europeans in the 1700s. Many have been re-erected by archeologists.

Thor Heyerdal did a lot of archeological work here, but is not popular since his theory is that South Americans came here and built the Moai and were later killed by the Polynesians. They do acknowledge, however, that he was the one who brought Easter Island to the attention of the world and started the first archeology work here and was the first to re-erect a Moa.

Our tour was in non-air-conditioned vans at high speed down red dusty roads sometimes slowing to avoid a cow or horse on the road. We thought we had gotten a quick tan, but it washed off when we got back to the ship.


These were in the interior. Likely used to identify equinox for planting. These were the first to be restored by archeologists.


We don't know how he does it!



Clyde checks out the assorment.


Has coral eyes to give it the power. Royal Princess beyond to the left -- Saga Rose to the right

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


New Clyde Friends

Clyde Meets Monster

Clyde met monster at Peruvian folkloric show in Cusco. Monster danced all over the room with Clyde.

Macchu Picchu

Clyde With Our Tour Guide Odelia

Odelia really helped us to understand Incan history and culture as well as present-day Peru.