On 3rd March 2014 my partner and I boarded the ship Radiance of the Seas for our first ocean-going trip. It left from Fremantle, Western Australia. Perth had been 37 degrees and much hotter than I’d expected as I trudged the streets looking for a book to read whilst on holiday. My Kindle, loaded with holiday reading was still sitting on my bedside table at home, accidentally forgotten. As it was I became acquainted with a new author as a result – Jo Nesbo – and had no regrets.
The description of our trip was a sixteen night circumnavigation Top End cruise. Our first port of call on 4th March was to have been Geraldton, on the west coast of Australia. But an announcement by the captain told of rough weather which was not conducive for stopping there.
So, on we went to Port Hedland on the 6th. We didn’t venture ashore that day but we were really looking forward to the next port-of-call – Benoa, Bali, Indonesia. I’d heard so much about Bali that it held a certain mystique for me.
Via tenders on the morning of 8th March we were taken from the Radiance of the Seas to the port of Benoa - another very hot day. There we boarded a bus which took us on a Balinese Arts and Crafts Shopping Tour. The one I remember most was the Batik craft centre. One of the artists drew a picture on my shorts with wax to give me a basic idea what they did. We bought a tee-shirt each from the shop there and continued on to see wood-carvers, silversmiths and goldsmiths.
I’ll always remember that day also for the tragic news about Flight MH370 which had gone missing and has never been found. We watched the news bulletins every day from then on, in our Deck 3 stateroom and hoped just like everyone else that soon the plane would be found. But this was not to happen.
Our next port-of-call was Darwin on the 11th March and there we went on a Glimpses of Darwin bus trip. Luckily the bus was nice and cool. There I saw an enormous snake draped along the branch of a tree in the botanical gardens. After the bus trip we looked around the town and then caught a taxi back to the ship. A kind taxi driver gave us a free trip as he couldn’t change our Australia $50 note, which was all we had.
On March 15 we arrived at Airlie Beach, Queensland which is near the beautiful Whitsunday Islands – a truly beautiful place. Once again we were taken by tender to the port and spent the day going to a market and generally exploring.
Brisbane, on the 17th, was catching up with relatives’ time and we had a very pleasant day.
Our last port was Sydney and it was from there we returned home, weary but happy to have seen so many beautiful things and met some nice people along the way – two of whom we have kept in touch with as they live not far from us.
(Watch for my next post for news about my upcoming soon-to-be self-published next book. This will be Book 2 of my Alien Murder Mystery series which began with Aliens in Godzone)