A diverse and unexpected day out and about…Problems with men’s shirts…Many new photos coming!

It was easy to find the shopping center in Cairns with only a few turns required off the main highway into town.

Yesterday morning, after uploading the post and in an impromptu manner I suggested to Tom that we head to Cairns, the closest big city for a visit to the largest shopping mall within hundreds of miles/kilometers.

We’ve giggled when we’ve seen signs mentioning Australia’s biggest “stocktake” sales, an expression that is definitely Aussie.

We each needed a few items, none of which we’d ever be able to find in the next many months after leaving Australia. We’d never be able to find our shortlist in Fiji and receiving packages is the island is outrageous after estimates we received from our mailing service.

Tom needed a new white dress shirt for formal nights on the many upcoming cruises. Often there are as many as three formal nights on a 14-day cruise. On longer cruises, there may be as many as five formal nights.

In the US, a similar store is called “Bed, Bath and Beyond.”

We’ve learned that we both can get by dressing “business casual,” him in a long-sleeved white dress shirt (no tie or jacket) with black pants with his more dressy Cole Haan shoes and me, in a long skirt with any of my tops belted or with a scarf and a bit of costume jewelry. 

Tom asked me not to take any photos of him wearing this same shirt from the previous day. But, I do laundry every day and he wore this shirt again while trying to wear out a few shirts before tackling the less used stack of tee shirts tucked away in his luggage. He eyeballed the old fashioned candy in this store, not buying a thing.

Once we’re seated at a shared table with eight to twelve other cruise passengers and have an opportunity to explain our limited luggage, then rest assured we aren’t totally uncouth as they dine with us many wearing their evening gowns and tuxedos. 

After all these cruises (11 so far) we don’t feel uncomfortable in our more casual attire. However, having a few items to enhance our attire is crucial to feeling acceptably dressed. For Tom, a proper fitting white shirt is essential.

We noticed a number of these tax preparer kiosks in the shopping malls. The Australian tax year-end June 30th and returns are filed by October 31st. If a taxpayer uses a registered tax preparer they may apply for an extension which it appears most of these people have done.

The problem with that is the fact that now that his weight is down within 10 pounds of his lowest, once aboard the ship he’s unable to resist the carbs and sugary foods and he usually starts gaining weight on the very first day, no matter how much we walk the decks. Within a few days his white dress shirt begins to fit tighter and tighter each day until finally, it doesn’t fit at all.

The mall is as huge as any we’d visited in the US (except for the Mall of America in Minnesota) including a multiplex movie theatre, food court, and undercover parking ramp, referred to as a “car park” in Australia, not a parking lot.

Oh sure, he could curtail his eating. But, if my way of eating wasn’t necessary for my survival, I’d have no will power on a cruise ship. Maintaining one’s weight isn’t enough of a motivator to avoid those tempting desserts, appetizers, poolside burgers, and fries and ice cream cones in unlimited amounts. 

In my old life, before eating this way, I’d never been on a cruise ship to experience the temptations of unlimited appealing foods. Although I’ve always been relatively slim, I was always “watching” my weight, occasionally falling prey to sweet temptations. 

Peering over a railing to view a huge book sale.

Now, it’s no temptation at all when it comes to my health. It isn’t even about self-control.  It’s about quality of life. We wouldn’t be traveling the world if I started eating one of my past favorites, doughnuts, as shown in one of today’s photos. Doughnuts, pastries, cookies, cakes, pies…in my old life I loved it all frequently baking and struggling to resist excess amounts.

For a Tuesday midday, the mall was very busy as shown here.

Back to the white shirt. The one Tom had been wearing on the past few cruises no longer works. If he lost the last 10 pounds, it would fit perfectly. It will never work one more time on a cruise. 

The problem in finding him a long-sleeved dress shirt is a problem many men have today which may include smaller neck size, shoulder width, and sleeve length and yet possessing a bit of fluff around the middle. 

Before we know it we’ll be in Thailand to experience authentic Thai food firsthand.

I’m not complaining about the fluff. My only concern is in regard to how that fluff may affect health in the long run. The same goes for women. Had I not been on this strict way of eating, I’d certainly have fallen into that same belly fat condition. It’s an age related dilemma that few are exempt from after 60 years of age.

Tom is always shocked by the prices at McDonald’s but it’s been a long time since he made a purchase. Prices have changed over these past years since we’ve been gone from the US.

Yesterday around noon, when we entered the lavish shopping mall in Cairns,  Cairns Central, finding a new shirt for Tom was highest on our priority list. We’d seen online that Myer, a department store where we’d most likely find a wide selection of dress shirts.

After perusing many racks and noticing that most of the white dress shirts were marked “slim fit” we were ready to walk out until finally, a lovely saleswoman was available to assist us. In Australia, sizing is different than we were used to and honestly, we weren’t sure what size would actually work with his shorter sleeve length and smaller shoulder measurements.

Considering that a double-sized burger is AUD $9.70, the US price of $7.21 doesn’t seem that high to me.  Is that higher than in the US?

The trusty saleswoman shipped out a tape measure, quickly checked his measurements arriving at a size that would work for him all the way around. I was skeptical but kept my mouth shut as he tried on a shirt in the Aussie size of 43/86. Go figure. We’d never have figured this out on our own.

Hungry Jack in Australia is actually the same as Burger King in the US.

In a matter of minutes, we were walking out the door with a perfectly well-fitted shirt with room for “cruise food,” in a carefree fabric that was considered wrinkle-free and yet has a quality designer feel. 

At a meager USD $37.08, AUD $49.95, for the fine shirt, we were couldn’t have been more pleased. He’d easily have been willing to pay twice as much for such a great fit. I suggested he purchase two identical shirts at this price but, weight restrictions always prevail in any of our purchase decisions.

These prices appear considerably less than McDonald’s.

At that point, we were off to look for a few items on my shortlist. How shall I diplomatically say “undergarments,” simply put, panties. (What a weird word to put in writing!) I only share this tidbit of information as part of our travel experience.

This donut shop reminded us of Dunkin’ Donuts in the US.

Us girls (and guys) always have a preference for a particular fabric and style. The last time I purchased panties (ouch) was when Okee Dokee and I headed to Komatipoort in South Africa to a women’s shop in February 2014. Click here to see that post. 

I purchased eight pairs in South Africa in varying fabrics, none of which will survive one more washing. The bra I purchased at that time, later ended in a donation pile when it itched while wearing. Tom suggested commando.  I declined. No women my age goes commando unless they’ve “forgotten” to include these when dressing. I’m not there yet!

My mouth watered checking out these donuts. Tom had little interest in them since he doesn’t like the frosted or sugar-coated types. I’d have eaten any of these in my old life.

As we perused the shops in the vast mall we stumbled upon a shop, Body Cairns, that caught my eye. My eyes flitted over the wide array of workout wear and also, a table of panties not unlike one would find in Victoria’s Secret store in the US.  I purchased five pairs and, two Capri length workout/leggings that are perfect for everyday wear as well as trips to the fitness center. 

Here’s Tom’s new long-sleeved white dress shirt for which he paid USD $37.08, AUD $49.95.

After paying USD $59.31, AUD $79.90 for all seven items I was pleasantly surprised by the quality, selection, and prices, although a little confused by the sizing. A friendly young woman assisted me encouraging me to try on the leggings which I did, happy with the fit.

Purchases completed, we decided to wander through the remainder of the mall, checking out the stores and the food court. Although I encouraged Tom to have lunch, there was nothing he felt like ordering after his big breakfast at home. In any case, it was fun to see the shops and fast-food restaurants popular in Australia.

Here are my seven-item priced at AUD $79.90, USD $59.31.

After leaving the mall, we drove around Cairns on a self-directed sightseeing tour for the remainder of the afternoon enjoying every moment even on the cloudy day. We’ll share more photos over the next few days including a totally unexpected and somewhat peculiar find in tomorrow’s post.

Thanks to so many of our reader friends who wrote to us via comments and email to wish us well with the good health reports. Your interest in our well being means the world to us!

                                               Photo from one year ago today,  July 22, 2014:

One year ago, we posted photos of the morphology of the banana tree with progressives photos of a bloom. Please click here to see these photos.

Oh, oh…Shipboard illness…We’ve been snagged…

In the past several days we’ve cruised past Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea, Somalia, and today Oman.  “Another safe, uneventful night,” says Captain Fleming over the loud speaker this morning.

Within the next 40 hours, we’ll cruise by Pakistan and Iran. Oh.

Washing our hands no less than 20 times a day has not protected us from catching the virus running rampant on this ship.

Tom succumbed nine days ago, starting with a tickle in his throat, progressing to a sore throat, runny nose and cough.  It was worse than a cold, more like a flu. In a matter of days, he went through an entire $18.95 bottle of Daytime Nyquil, purchased in the gift shop.

With the excursion to Petra scheduled this past Tuesday, he was determined to make the trip, no matter how poorly he felt I’m amazed how well he did on the tortuous three hour hike and four hour bus ride considering how he was feeling.

When Wednesday arrived, the day after Petra, I made a lofty assumption that I had dodged a bullet. With five days passing since Tom’s onset of symptoms, I was yet to have any indications that I’d caught the illness in our tight quarters or while exposed to hundreds of other sick passengers on the bus or in the dining areas.

Alas, late Wednesday afternoon, a tickle started in my throat, later that night to turn into a raging sore throat. As had transpired with Tom, it seemed to get better the second day, only to return with a vengeance on the third.

Now, four days after the tickle began, I’m a mess; achy, tired, raging sore throat, worse at night, with a disgusting useless cough. I’m refusing to see the doctor (I wouldn’t have in our old life). Tom has served me all my food in the restaurant to ensure I don’t touch anything, as I did for him when he was sick.

In the past, I would have done as most of us do, see it through, pampering ourselves as much as we can, hoping it will turn the corner to returned good health.

With no fever or apparent bacterial infection, what would the doctor do? Prescribe antibiotics, which only reduce one’s immune system with the potential for intestinal distress? Plus, as we all know, antibiotics don’t work for viruses, only bacterial infections.

Other possible doctor treatment? Over the counter medications that really don’t do anything other than to reduce the severity of the symptoms for a few hours. As lousy as I feel, I don’t want to sit in the germ-filled medical clinic where we’ve heard that one must take a number resulting in waiting for hours to see the ship’s doctor.

Norovirus has been rampant on this ship. Many passengers we’ve met have gone for treatment, including one of whom had to have IV fluids for several hours. So far, we haven’t been subjected to the ravages of that particular illness on any of our seven past cruises beginning January 3, 2013. With one more cruise scheduled for June 4th, hopefully, we’ll continue to be safe from this dreadful intestinal illness.

Tomorrow, we’ll pack again, to leave our bags outside our cabin door by 10:00 pm, to be picked up and held until departure on Tuesday morning. As always, we’ll carry our two laptop bags and the cloth bag with our prescriptions, utilizing one of our two wheeling carts for ease of movement.

Today’s a day of rest, staying in our cabin, reading, writing and using up the remaining minutes of the packages we’d purchased for the ship’s WiFi. 

Tonight is the final of three dress up nights aboard this ship, Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. Having donated the balance of our dress-up clothes to the charity in Barcelona, we’ll be dressing “casual, dressy,” Tom in dress slacks and shirt with me in a long casual dress. It will have to do. 

On this ship, 75% of the passengers dining in the main dining rooms have dressed up for these occasions. At this point, we feel fine dressing casual. Our ease of travel is much more important to us than us showing off wearing in fancy clothing.

As we wind down this cruise, we look forward to our time in Dubai, hoping to add yet another rich experience to our repertoire of worldwide adventures.

Getting into the groove…Photos!

See the baseball bat on the outdoor movie screen from a scene in The Natural that we watched while we were sunning and funning at the pool aboard the Carnival Liberty?

Our negative experience behind us, we’re finally wafting into the cruise mode. Overall, yesterday was a good day. 

Should Tom tackle this slide while I take a photo?

Breakfast was a disappointment. As a port day, every passenger on the ship, around 4000, was trying to eat in the buffet at the same time. Lines for “real eggs” were long and tables were at a premium. After roaming for a while, we decided to skip breakfast and have lunch instead.

Tom walked with me to the reasonably well-equipped health club waiting patiently while I did my usual HIIT workout. There were two other passengers working out. Not unusual.  In Belize, I had seen a total of five or six tourists working out in the health club in the two-plus months we were there. 
The dorsal fin is indicative of a Carnival ship.

Lunch was a disappointment as well.  Literally every hot food item was swathed in flour laden sauces, not befitting my GF diet. Frustrated, I had a plate of lettuce and a few fatty slices of leg of lamb.  Its only food, I thought. Dinner would be more suitable with hostess Julia, assigned to see to my nightly special orders.

Around noon we wandered out to the pool for our usual one hour of sunning and funning to discover the movie, The Natural, playing on the giant outdoor movie screen. 

Parking ourselves in two tightly arranged chaise lounges, we were excited to watch the already in progress movie, giggling over the peculiarity of watching a movie in the sun by the pool. Oddly, neither of us had ever seen this movie. In the bright sun, the screen was surprisingly clear. At one point, I meandered to the pool to cool off still able to watch Robert Redford’s then handsome face. 

Another of the three outdoor pools.

After the movie, we decided to tour the ship to get our bearings. Racking up over 5000 steps on my pedometer,
we roamed several of the eleven levels while looking for an ideal shaded outdoor spot with comfortable seating for reading and writing. 

Unable to find such a spot as we had on our two prior cruises, we’re now situated in the upper level of the dining area. With today’s clouds, heat and humidity, we’re content to have found a quiet spot indoors.

We’ve yet to go to the live show but we have another full week ahead of us.

There’s no question that we’re spoiled after our great experiences on the two Celebrity ships, the Century and the Equinox, both exquisite and well-laid-out. The Carnival Liberty is an entirely different experience;  less elegant, a confusing layout, more party orientated, noisier, and geared toward a much younger crowd although I’d estimate 25% of the passengers are over 60.  With spring break over in most countries, there are few children aboard.

The friendly staff aboard the Carnival Liberty is equal to the quality we observed on our first cruise through the Panama Canal on January 3, 2013, on the Celebrity Century. 
Hopefully, our new camera will take better photos when others take shots of us.

At dinner each night aboard the Liberty, servers memorize the first name of each guest at the table and uses them freely, creating a comfortable sense of familiarity.  We find this special touch unique and refreshing, as did our tablemates.

Again, we dined with our new friends Mary and Don while a new delightful couple joined us, Georgie and Rob.  Again, the staff danced the Gangnam around the dining hall twice during dinner service, including our waiter
Christian, dressed in a festive costume, quite the dancer to boot. We all clapped and cheered.  

Hoping to attend the comedy show after dinner, we were unable to find a seat in the overcrowded bar. Again, disappointed, we found our way to the main bar for a nightcap. I drank a pint-sized metal bottle of Michelob Ultra, a 4.2% beer. I was sloshed!  Guess I need to drink more often.

Noisy, noisy cabin! Sounds were emanating from the ceiling and the walls all night long. The loud thumping and thumping of the nightclub below us, once again roared from 11:00 pm to 3:30 am, resulting in little sleep for either of us.

This morning at 5:30, a peculiar clicking sound awakened us as we struggled to get more sleep. I’d love to move to a different cabin but with all of our “stuff,” it’s just too much work. So this is the way it will be until April
20th, when we move to another ship, the Norwegian Epic, for our ocean crossing to Barcelona. In the realm of things, a few bad nights sleep is no big deal, right?

Soon, we’ll return to our cabin to review the two bags we’re shipping tomorrow to my sister Julie in Los Angeles, lightening our load by 100 plus pounds. Tonight at 6:00 pm, we’ll place the tagged bags outside our cabin to be picked up in the for processing in the morning through customs in Miami.

Once we’re through customs, we’ll grab a cab making our way to the bank for cash, the CVSdrugstore for toiletries, and the UPS store to pick up our awaiting Xcom Global MiFi and other supplies we ordered at Amazon.com. 

Should we encounter a grocery store along the way, we’ll stop for more Crystal Lite iced tea. We hope to get back on the ship within a few hours, providing that customs goes smoothly. The bags only contain shoes and
clothing.  We don’t anticipate any issues.
I took this photo during dinner with our new tablemates, Georgie and Rob.

Although our worldwide travels give one the impression of a carefree life, I now believe that such a life doesn’t exist. Relaxation and ease are intermittent, as we all have responsibilities in daily life, whoever we may be, wherever we may land. There’s truly is “no free lunch” even when meals are included in the cost of fares on a cruise. 

In life, in one way or another, we “pay” for everything. It’s the manner in which we pay, the amount we pay, not only in money but in time, energy, and spirit that determined the value we gain in our experiences.

So far, we’re way ahead of the game and hope to remain so going forward.