by Matt Keedy
February 4, 2003
A small luxury cruise ship which holds only 128 passengers...but we only had 70 on our cruise, which made a nice convivial group. The staterooms are spacious -- ours had two twin beds, a sofa and coffee table by the picture window, TV that played evening movies, and bathroom with a tub/shower combo. The closet space was also quite generous. Since all staterooms are very similiar, the difference in price is more a reflection of which deck you are on - not necessarily the square footage or amenities in the cabin. The exception is suites with balconies.
Two of my TOP 10 Travel Experiences are from this trip (and I am pulling from travels on 6 continents and 60+ countries). The first was sailing at dusk out of Sydney Harbour. We enjoyed cocktails on the deck as we waved to tourists at the Opera House and then proceeded to cruise through a sailing race taking place in the harbour. The second experience the made this trip, was snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.
Cruising north from Sydney we stopped at Noosa two days later and then continued cruising along the reef making at least one stop a day. Most days were divided between time at sea and expedition stops, using the ship's zodiacs to land on deserted beaches or reefs. Sightseeing consisted of a combination of hikes, snorkeling, and bus trips to local attractions. On several occassions, local guide boats picked passengers up from the ship and took us to various snorkeling and picnic spots.
During the day, most passengers relaxed around the pool. Umbrella tables were popular for those who chose the soup and sandwich buffet served in the lounge. In the evening, during the cocktail hour before dinner, our expedition staff and cruise director talked about the next day and any "business" - then, being a single seating, everyone headed down to the dining room at the same time. After dinner, the Library Bar was a popular gathering spot.
Because of our small group, the hotel staff went out of their way to create special events - such as a full service dinner on deck under the stars, watching the Southern Cross. Absolutely spectacular!
This was a fantastic cruise - made even better by having such a small number of passengers. Some of our passengers had been on the cruise before which was in Tasmania and were offered a 2 for 1 fare to stay on board for this cruise. The following cruise was to Papau New Guinea and a similar offer was made to us. Although the majority of the passengers were older, they were quite an active bunch - snorkeling, hiking, etc.
The cruise included a 5 day pre-cruise in New Zealand. Go to for more info.
From journal Climbing Above Sydney