We left Sydney on a balmy evening, picking our way through the harbour and negotiating an anchored P and O Ship (the Arcadia). On deck, and in the warmth of the evening there was a busy party. But once again, as we awoke on our first of three sea days, the weather was cold, windy and grey and for two days we were pretty much confined to the ship’s interior. I went to hear an old colleague talk about the criminal justice system and the prison service in England and we saw a new show – IDA. This was three girls who sang a medley of light opera and songs from the shows. We thought they were very ordinary, a club turn, but our view was the minority one, and they got a great reception. We had a much better evening on the second of the sea days in the Chart Room listening for the fourth or fifth time to the excellent Jazz trio.
There was the excitement of a souvenir sale and I bought some Art Deco style QM2 whisky glasses, which were a good buy at about $14 (£10) each. And we were invited to yet another cocktail party, this time for everyone in the Britannia Restaurant. We avoided it, knowing by now that the Commodore Club would be near empty. We had Margaritas there at the best table in the Club looking over the bow. Later we were joined at dinner by our new table companions, Alistair and Dawn who are Kiwis but who now live permanently in Sydney. They will fit in well.
Five or six years ago we were on the Diamond Princess and approaching the Fjords when high seas denied us and our ship had to retreat North to kinder seas. This time, the combination of lighter seas and a better ship meant we had a memorable experience. We cruised in three of the Fjords – or Sounds as they are called here – and for about eight hours.
Unusually for us we ordered room breakfast and enjoyed that as we entered Milford Sound just after dawn:
The view through the balcony was brillaint:
After that there was Doubtful Sound (so named because on his second journey to New Zealand, James Cook doubted that if he took the Resolution into the Sound he’d find the winds to enable him to leave. Finally there was Dusky Sound. The whole experience was wonderful. Milford Sound had very little width and we crept along, being buzzed throughout by sightseeing aircraft. This early in the morning, there were very few boats in the Sound. We tracked a lone yachtsman who must have felt somewhat intimidated with the QM2 on his tail. It was beautiful with spectacular cascades of water plunging down the straight walls of the Fjord from snow-capped peaks above:
Doubtful and Dusky were very different, much wider and prettier, being scattered with islands, but without the magnificent bleakness of Milford. There was a thrill in creeping in and out of there.
Afterward we went again to the Show. This time a young Ukrainian Violinist gave an excellent performance with barnstorming renditions from Vivaldi and Bach (the sort of thing Darryl Way in Curved Air was doing in the seventies). Rather over rehearsed and badly written dialogue between the pieces – understandable when she was Ukrainian and with limited English – was somewhat wince making. But overall it was a great performance. Nowhere near as impressive as Yolanda Brown, but very good.