Many, many years ago when I was a young girl there was a show on television (in black and white) called “The Flying Doctor.” Each episode was about some accident or illness in the Australian Outback that required the services of the flying doctor team. I loved that show and I loved the idea of a country so vast and sparsely populated that medical services were provided by airplane. I fell in love with the Red Center of Australia and it was the Number One place I always wanted to visit.
We were fortunate to stop in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth when we took the World Cruise in 2009, but all of those cities are on the coast and I still did not get to see the Outback. John and decided that we would take a nice long trip to Australia in 2011.
I love the take-off and the landing in an airplane but the rest of the trip is a dead bore, stuck in seat with nowhere to go. It takes 15-16 hours to fly non-stop from Vancouver, BC to Sydney, AU. Much too long for my liking.
We are on the mailing list for Holland America Cruise Line since we did the 2009 Grand World Voyage and received an email with the itinerary for the 2011 World Cruise. All of the HAL Grand World Voyages are divided into sections so people can do part one, or part three, or whichever of the four segments they like if they are not wanting to do the entire four-month cruise. The first leg of the 2011 Grand World went from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Sydney, AU in 45 days, via the east coast of South America, the South Pacific, New Zealand and Tasmania. This, we decided, would be a much nicer alternative to 16 hours in an airplane. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale on January 4, spent the night and boarded the MS Amsterdam the next day. The ship set sail about an hour late due to the volume of luggage that had to be loaded. (Many of the guests bring LOTS of luggage on a World Cruise.)
There was a day at sea before our first stop and we spent it as we usually do; walking laps of the deck (4 1/2 laps = 1 mile), reading and eating. We had the pleasure of seeing several staff members from the ’09 World Cruise and becoming re-acquainted with a few couples we had met on that trip as well.
We were to anchor off the coast of Georgetown, Grand Cayman at 8am but due to turbulent swells the captain chose to anchor on the opposite side of the island. He arranged large local tenders to ferry guests ashore and shuttles to take people into Georgetown.Our excursion took us to the Cayman Turtle Farm and then to a dolphin marine center where we were able to swim with the dolphins. We had a great day. How could you not have fun when you get pulled across a swimming pool on the back of a dolphin. So cool!
We even got to pet a sting ray. They are silky soft.The ship set sail at 5pm for our next port-of-call, Puerto Limón, Costa Rica. So began another exciting adventure; seeing new places, doing new things, enjoying new and formerly-met people.
I plan to write a blog about this journey over the next few weeks or months as time permits and inspiration hits. We are about to embark (next week) on a 5-6-week road trip to the American mid-west and as is my custom I will probably write a blog as we travel along. Therefore my Australia holiday blog will be intermittent but I felt like starting it; so I did.