We’ve been lucky enough to visit Brisbane a few years ago and although we had a pleasant time we didn’t feel the need to visit again so, instead, took an excursion: The Gold Coast on Your Own. We were dropped at Surfers Paradise for four hours. We knew that it would be tacky, and it was, a cross between Falaraki in Rhodes, Benidorm and Blackpool. It was full of shops selling holiday related tat, albeit at astonishing prices (Aus$5 for a pair of flip flops) and inexpensive cafes. Hungry Jack (Burger King), MacDonald’s and KFC were prominent. But there was a beauty about the high-rise hotels, which stretch for miles along the coast, and there’s a stunning beach fronted by magnificent Pacific rollers.
We had a perfectly nice day and in the knowledge there were changing facilities and showers we took our swimming stuff along. But, although the sun broke through intermittently, it was dull and when it rained – which it did a lot – it was rather cool and I regretted wearing only shorts and a tee shirt. We made the best of it and were glad we visited, but in truth we spent rather more time in the shops than they deserved and lingered a long time over a cheap and cheerful Mexican meal overlooking the beach. We bought a present for a friend and – crucially – re-stocked with limes for our balcony gin and tonics.
We were back at the ship before five and sat on the balcony where, because of Brisbane being behind Sydney in time (rather than ahead as geography would suggest) it was dark at around 6.30. But it was satisfying – when the rain and mist allowed – watching the planes landing at the international airport just in front of us.
Short term cruisers
While in Surfers Paradise, I bought the Australian Sunday Mail, which was great value for $3. It was interesting to see the large number of Cruise adverts, including a couple from Cunard. Australia is clearly seen as a growing market as evidenced by the large numbers of Australians who’ve joined us during the last few weeks, including a quite large contingent that boarded on Friday at Sydney and disembarked only three days later in Brisbane. There have been a few other, very similar short duration packages.
You can easily spot those onboard joining for just a few days. Not surprisingly, they throw themselves into everything. The casino is much busier and there’s much more evidence of drinking during the day and the theatre is packed with an audience much more determined than usual to have a good time. It’s really rather nice. The only exception was a party who joined for a few days last week on a week long cruise, and were either part of an Eagles tribute band (which we were right to avoid seeing apparently) or – sadly – one of their groupies. In the Pavilion Pool one afternoon they were generally a bit loud and two women, louder and brasher than their friends, were pretty intoxicated and bullied waiters to serve them cocktails in the pool. Since it was clear that if they spilled them, the pool would have to close (and one of the outside pools was already closed for sanitising) I was Mr Miserable and asked the headwaiter to intervene, which he did, to much muttering directed at me from the women.
12th March At sea en-route to Airlee Beach
The rapid putting back of the clocks by three hours in just a few days has meant I’ve been wide-awake rather early. This morning I was up just before six. I wandered down to Kings Court – always peaceful at this time of day with just a handful of diners – and got a cup of tea to take to the Connexions Room where I get the best WI Fi reception. I did my morning download of emails, What’s App messages and football results, before returning to deck seven and doing half a dozen laps of the promenade deck. My ambition has been to walk two hundred miles around that deck before we reach Southampton. I’ve completed about 300 laps to date, about 105 miles, but we have fewer sea days ahead of us and more port days and I’ll struggle to hit my target.
I made what is now a daily visit to the gym after lapping the deck, all in the hope of keeping my weight gain down. I’ve put on about five pounds since leaving and I don’t want that excess to grow anymore. But of course it’s difficult when there’s so much food and drink to tempt you…
I was on the sun deck at the back of the ship just after eight, but it was too hot for me – although not Jan – within half an hour and we retreated to the shade, taking steamer chairs on the Promenade deck.
There’s something very restful sitting there with this endless view:
We stayed there most of the day save for my attending an excellent lecture on Captain Cook and his almost sinking the Endeavour on the Barrier Reef during his first Australian journey. Later, it was another formal evening, this time for The Black and White Ball which, for someone with just one traditional black dinner jacket, makes dressing straightforward…