As seen from the Botanical Garden, April 20, 11
Overall, we don’t recommend the Coral Princess cruise. The water in the Great Barrier Reef was very choppy, and the boat pitched and rocked like no other. We downed lots of anti-seasick meds, but Charlie was overcome with nausea on the first day and the last day. It was really a bummer to end the trip on this note. Erin and I felt midly sick a couple times, but we were able to ride it out by lying on the open deck or sleeping. One of the difficulties was that the only lounge in which to hang out is on the top deck, and that is where the boat rocks most severely (picture Kate’s chair nearly tipping over with her in it, and the glasswear going “crash!”). Outside it was so windy, your hair would be blown to bits, and your hat would be history. So, we were advised to avoid the top deck, which leaves you in your cabin, and I learned a long time ago to avoid a small, enclosed space when seasickness is threatening.
One of the best aspects of the Coral Princess cruise was the hard working and very caring staff. Just 13 crew members including the captain, the Scottish chef and several young waitresses and sailors. Those two boys Daniel and Travis were fearless the way they operated the small rescue craft; they also served as lifeguards when we were in the water. Jeannette guided the divers and was very encouraging, and Brad led the less confident snorklers, myself included. Brad also helped me keep my balance on the way up and down the steep hike on Lizard Island. Erin teased me that Brad was my new best friend, he not only helped with the snorkeling and hiking, but he also identified every coral, fish and plant we observed. (They say the English wanted to name everything they found in Australia, and I guess I must be English, because I wanted to know what everything was called.) The captain also had an open door policy in the Bridge, and welcomed us to come and observe and ask questions most any time.
We learned that the only point of the cruise was to observe the reefs underwater through snorkeling and scuba diving. If you didn’t partake in these activities, there was nothing to do. There was no Internet or TV, no pool, spa or exercise facility, and you couldn’t read while the boat was underway. The boat did not offer the luxury of a Silversea or Seabourn cruise, during which you can enjoy yourself during a day at sea. Those larger cruise ships also do not induce seasickness. There were five older ladies who had lots of trouble moving around the vessel and using the stairs when we were sailing. There was actually a danger in being tossed overboard if you used the outside stairs when we were underway. To say the least, we will be more cautious booking a cruise in the future! We spoke to a few other passengers who were also disappointed in the Coral Princess (TN couple and the Swiss). Time to report back to Betty Maclean Travel. Fair to say that Charlie is angry about the expense/misery ratio.
Brad led the brave and the fit up the steep and rocky path on Lizard Island to the summit, called Cook’s Look. We set out at 6am before sunrise, so we could beat the heat. Good plan, as we all got sweaty and winded even as the sun was rising. I commented to Lori, “When the Aussies say this hike it for the “fit,” double it. We were all amazed by how difficult it was. At a beautiful lookout half way up, we looked out to the nearby islands and saw a rainbow arching from a white cloud to the blue-blue water. We persevered to the top, where the early explorer James Cook (circa 1770) had climbed to look for a break in the fringe reef and a good way out for his ship the Endeavor, which had been damaged on the reef. We signed a guest book at the summit (protected from the rain by a plastic and a wooden box). Rumor has it that Prince William and Kate will be coming to Lizard Island for their honeymoon. Perhaps they will be signing the book next week! It was still treacherous on the descent, many steep steps down on the rocks and many steep rock faces to take baby steps sideways. Charlie slipped and fell on a sandy patch but luckily was not hurt, just bruised. We made it back to the beach, where we could snorkel. Erin did. Charlie and I enjoyed some coffee and muffins and went around Watson’s Bay with Brad on the glass bottom boat. The beach around Watson’s Bay is deserted and very beautiful.