We were on the road by 9:30 am; driving from Surfer’s Paradise up to Brisbane for our 2:15 pm flight to Sydney. We returned our last rental car, and checked in for our flight only to find it was delayed until 3. Whiling away time in airports is not my favourite thing, but, unfortunately in these times; it is a fact of life. The plane was further delayed another half hour so it was to 3:30 before we took off. We arrived in Sydney at 5 and got on the hotel shuttle for a ride to the Travelodge. It ended up being a two hour tour of Sydney as our hotel was the last one on the circuit.
We checked into the hotel at 7. Considering the only thing we had to do that day was take a one and half hour flight from Brissie to Sydney it had turned into a long day. We were also too late to go to the storage place and collect the luggage we had placed there on Feb. 23.
After we had the $25 per person buffet breakfast in the morning we walked over to the Dymocks Building on George Street and got our two large suitcases. We had arranged for a late check-out (12 noon) so we took our bags back to the hotel and did a bit of re-shuffling to reduce the number of pieces of luggage we would have to handle. By this time it was about 10:30 so we took a walk down to The Rocks and Circular Quay to see where we had to go to board our ship later that afternoon.
There were nice black and white murals on the tunnel walls. When we booked the first leg of the Holland America 2011 Grand World Voyage to take us from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Sydney, Australia (45 days) there was included in our fare $3500 for our return flights to Vancouver. However, the reason we took a cruise ship to Australia was to avoid the 16 hours stuck in an airplane.
After I had made a rough calculation of the time frame for our Sydney to Sydney travels in Australia John Googled the Sydney Harbour website to see what ships would be leaving about the time we were due back in the city and where they were going. He found a Royal Caribbean 17-day cruise from Sydney through the South Pacific to Honolulu, Hawai’i. That is okay, we thought, it is only 5-6 hours from Hawai’i to Vancouver. We have done that several times. But, thinks John, the ship will not be stopping in Honolulu. Where was it going from there? Another Google search of the ship’s itineray revealed that it’s next trip was a 13-day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands, to Seattle to Vancouver. The cost of those two back-to-back cruises for the two of us was $7200. Just over double the airfare for 30 days on a cruise ship instead of 16 hours in an airplane. It took us exactly 10 seconds to make that decision!
My dad always sailed Royal Caribbean for his holidays and we had been on a couple of trips with him. The ship that was taking us home from Sydney was the Rhapsody of the Seas; the same ship we were on when dad had taken all of his family on an Alaskan cruise in 2000. As a matter of fact the Rhapsody’s sailing schedule was due to the fact it was re-positioning from a winter schedule in the South Pacific to a summer schedule doing Alaskan cruises out of Seattle and/or Vancouver.
Back at the hotel we checked out at noon, loaded all our bags into a taxi that took us to the pier and we boarded the Rhapsody.
We had some lunch and re-familiarized ourselves with the ship’s layout before finding our cabin. The ship was over two hours late setting sail due to re-fueling, and, by then we had already had dinner and met our new table-mates; two nice Australian couples doing the 17-day Sydney to Hawai’i cruise. So, here we are again. On another cruise ship sailing for a month to get home. We have been to some the ports-of-call before, but there are stops at a few new islands to visit before the ship gets to Hawai’i.