Wednesday, February 25, 2009


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2009 – 46/99 – CAIRNS

This is an early morning. We board the catamaran for the Reef at 7:40AM in the pouring rain…looks like it is going to be a ”lovely day”. Actually, it can’t get much worse as Dick has discovered that our dive cards were in the computer bag with some other travel documents, so will not be able to dive here or in Egypt as planned.

We don’t normally do anything arranged by the ship as we find it is not a good value. I had booked a private helicopter trip with Reef Magic about nine months ago for a morning trip out to Marine World and then we were going to do something else in the afternoon. About three months ago, they notified us that the ship had taken over the pontoon so they cancelled our trip. It was so close to the departure, I couldn’t find anything online that looked as good, so we just went with the ships tour.

Ok, so here we are with 161 of our closest friends on the way to Marine World in the rain. The water is rough, the boat is full and people are getting sick. It always seems that this kind of tour brings out the “nuttiness” in people. The crew spends the trip out trying to arrange the activities and get everyone properly briefed. Since we can’t dive, Dick is in a blue funk again. It is still raining so the water doesn’t look too inviting either. It was a long ninety minute ride!

At the pontoon, the sky begins to lift so everyone heads to the water or the semi-sub for a look. Carolyn decides to do a helicopter ride, but that activity is now full, so she heads for the water to snorkel. The sun isn’t really out, but it is bright . Other than some pretty, electric- blue coral and a couple of new fish, you could be in Grand Cayman or BVI. But, what the heck, you are on the GBR and you have the picture and the T-shirt to prove it. Actually, she does have fun playing with Wally a BIG blue fish. He was a male Maori Wrass.Carolyn bagers Dick into getting in the water for a while.After swimming, we have a buffet that was just OK, and then Carolyn does the sub ride and sees the giant clams and some other larger fish. The biggest surprise is the condition of the coral….It looks like Roatan did after the huge hurricane in the late mid-1990’s. Yes, there are a few fresh breaks that, maybe, are caused by human activities, but there is way too much broken coral to be explained that way.

Now, the problem with this type of deal sets in. It is 12:30PM and we are ready to go back as are about half of the other people, but we don’t leave till 2:00PM. Fortunately the ride back is smooth.

Back at the ship, we get our VAT back and then walk ashore. Everyone is carrying back bottles of Australian wine, but we brought our share on board in Sydney so we just spend the last bit of Australian coin on a souvenir or two. As we reboarded the ship there were hosteses at the pier serving slices of local fruit, mango, rasbutan (?), a red spikey walnut shaped fruit, and small bananas. They were all so good! It was a nice gesture on Cairns part.

The ship sails at 6:00PM with the sun setting over the rainforest covered mountains behind Cairns. It is pleasant sitting on our aft deck with a drink in hand watching the sail away! We are pooped…mainly from the early morning and heat and humidity. This is where the suite proves to be great. Carolyn calls room service for our dinner. About 30 minutes later we have a nice dinner of Caesar salad with Carolyn’s special dressing, shrimp cocktail and fettuccine alfredo with grilled chicken for Carolyn along with seafood bouillabaisse and prime rib for Dick. We finish off with a chocolate brownie and the floating islands (meringue dumplings in a vanilla and caramel sauce). It is good to be sailing!

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