We’re here!…Late posting due to WiFi issues out to sea…

The beaches of Australia are pristine and unspoiled, even during these warm summer months. (It’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere).

We would have been late posting even if the WiFi issues hadn’t occurred when everyone aboard the ship was indoors trying to get online at the same time.

With a busy morning of socializing over a late breakfast and not even having a moment available to see if we could get online, finally seven hours later than we usually begin posting, we had a connection.

Overall, this is unusual. During our past 11 cruises, we’ve managed a good signal while out to sea allowing us to post with a few photos. As it turns out we won’t be able to post more than five or six photos a day with the slow service we’re experiencing. 

Yesterday we’d decided to stay on the ship knowing we’ll be back in Melbourne on other upcoming cruises.

Otherwise, we’re having the time of our lives. Tom’s abscess continues to improve and although I’ve picked up a bit of a cough over the past three days, I’m feeling relatively good. I supposed after three days, I must be less contagious especially when I’m not sneezing at all or coughing in public and, not touching others while learning to use the “Howie Mandell handshake” of bumping elbows.

I’m able to entirely contain the cough by taking deep breaths when the urge arises and by washing my hands at least once an hour, hoping not to infect others. If it doesn’t get any worse, I’m good. I can’t seem to escape getting the cruise cough these days. Most likely it’s entirely due to our lack of exposure to germs on a day-to-day basis, except when we fly or cruise. 

The remnants of an old pier no longer used.

“They” (whoever they are) say a little exposure to germs is the best way to toughen the immune system. But, our quiet lives spent mostly just the two of us certainly keeps us free from much exposure to the germs of others. 

Tom’s already on antibiotics for his abscess so it’s unlikely he’ll get any type of bacterial infection from me or others.

Most illnesses on cruises and from flying on airplanes are viruses, not bacterial infections. Antibiotics don’t work for viruses unless it turns into a bacterial infection, for example, a strep throat, bronchitis, or a sinus infection.  Thank goodness, none of that so far.

Melbourne appears to be a lovely city, although considerably smaller than Sydney.

As for our good time, it’s unbelievable. With mostly Aussies, Kiwi’s (NZ) and Americans on this ship, we’re amazed by how many wonderful people we’ve met and interacted with up to this point of only three days since embarking. It’s astounding! 

In each venue we engage in pleasant and meaningful conversations ending in our having handed out dozens of business cards which will enable us to stay in touch after the cruise. 

How does this happen? Is it anything about us, we ask? Not necessarily. Although a genuine smile and a warm and sincere “hello” can go a long way in starting conversations. A cruise is no place for shyness, never an issue for either of us.

View of a major overpass in Melbourne.

This cruise appears to have about 20% of its passengers under age 40, about 3% children under 16 with the rest falling into the middle age and senior category.

We don’t necessarily spend time with only seniors. This morning we had a blast in the Café el Bacio with a group of six from Sydney, all in their 40’s with all of their children along who’d busied themselves with a variety of kid-friendly activities.  

Tonight, we’re having dinner with a fabulous Australian couple from the Gold Coast that is in our age range that we met a few nights ago at the Ensemble Bar. We clicked instantly and have gabbed with one another several times in between. Tonight, we’ll meet at the main dining room at 6:30 for dinner.

The ship holds 2850 passengers (crew of 1250) and we suspect it’s filled to capacity. Although a little larger than our preferred under 2000, it still feels cozy enough to have an opportunity to meet people, running into familiar faces on many other occasions.

After a great night’s sleep last night in the comfy bed, most likely we’ll be able to stay out a little later than last night. We’ve yet to attend the shows held nightly in the Solstice Theatre nor have we had time for a movie or down time in the cabin. We’re simply too busy for such events. 

A buoy marking the bay in Melbourne.

Having fun is having fun. Where and how we have it is irrelevant to us. It’s certainly no wonder why we love cruising, cruise cough or not. With our included beverage packages, Tom is drinking in moderation and we’re both continuing to enjoy the coffee bar as our primary socialization spot during the day. 

The specialty teas are a luxury for me and I can’t seem to drink enough. Tom continues to enjoy the Caramel Macchiato a few times a day which I doubt he’d have tried if it wasn’t included in the beverage package. 

Not that he’s a total tightwad but at US $6, AU $8.49 he’d probably have ordered a cocktail over a coffee drink. Without the beverage package, most likely, I’d have opted for the complimentary teas as opposed to the specialty teas rather than spending US $5.50, AU $7.79 for a small pot barely filling my mug.

Well, folks, that’s it for today. Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a special email we received from a reader we’d loved to share with his permission granted to do so. Our readers throughout the world are wafting along with us, nautical mile after nautical mile. 

We’re grateful for your friendship, support, and continuing attention! What a gift!

Photo from one year ago today, January 8, 2015:

The cloud obstructed moon over the Big Island, one year ago caught our attention for this “packman” type shot. For more details as we approached our last week on the island of Hawai’i’, please click here.

The freedom to choose…Tom trying new things…

At dinner last night, he really stretched himself trying and very much liking this liver pate, another first for him, saying it reminded him of Braunschweiger.

With five more upcoming Australian cruises in the next 15 months, we don’t feel compelled to get off the ship at every port of call on this cruise. The nice part about cruising is we can do whatever we want. There is no schedule we have to follow. Our dinner reservations can be “whenever” we’d like. 

With a variety of functions in which we can choose to participate, most can easily be attended with a last-minute decision. Most often there’s room for two more. 

We love this freedom to decide.  In part, this sense of liberation and lack of feeling of being encumbered, owning “stuff,” had been instrumental in our decision to travel the world.

Tom, for the first time ever, ordered a Caramel Macchiato and liked it very much, ordering another while we sat in the Café el Bacio again today preparing today’s post.

Now, aboard this ship, we’re totally entrenched in this feeling of choice and freedom, exactly how we feel when we’re settled into a vacation home for a few months or more. 

There is no feeling of entrapment, no schedules other than those we freely choose with no obligations than those in our little world except for the responsibility for our health and well-being, taking care of the houses we’re renting, fiscal responsibility, record keeping, and future planning.

As for the “responsibility” of taking photos and posting each day, it’s done without any sense of obligation or pressure. It almost feels as if I have a remote in hand each morning and I select “play” as the process flows through my fingers with ease and purpose. 

If someone would have ever told me I’d have to conceptually write an essay every day of the week, 365 days (or this leap year’s 366 days) including adding new photos daily, I’d had said, “Bite me! I’m not doing that!”

His next “outside the box” new drink, a Café Diablo with Courvoisier VS, Grand Marnier, Sambuca and hot coffee.

And yet, day after day, without stress, without boredom, without “writer’s block” it all comes easily to me.  Motivation is a powerful thing. Documenting this year’s long journey, having the ability to look back and see what we’ve done day after day, sharing it with family, friends and the people we don’t know throughout the world has been all the motivation we’ve needed.

Onboard the Celebrity Solstice now for the past 48 hours, we’ve already had more fun, met more people, engaged in more lively conversation as we’ve wandered about the ship thoroughly entertained together as a couple as companions, shipmates, and lovers. Without even trying, cruising is romantic in its own unique way. 

Last night, as we sat on bar stools at one of the popular bars, The Ensemble Lounge, with a jazz band playing in the background, we were not only reminded of times long past but, of past cruises when conversations on a bar stool are especially memorable. 

Tom was drinking his usual Courvoisier with Sprite Zero while I sipped on plain bubbly water in a tall glass with lots of ice, a lime, and a straw. I miss drinking alcohol but my health is better without it. Last night, my glass looked like a “cocktail” while I almost felt a pleasing buzz from the power of suggestion.High on life? 

A few years ago while on a cruise, he tried frog legs, enjoying them again as an appetizer at last night’s dinner.

From meeting new people while sharing our mutual stories, a unique connection aboard a ship is generated hour after hour. We spend little time in the cabin. At the moment we’re situated in comfy chairs in the Café al Bacio, our newly discovered coffee/tea bar.

On our last cruise on this same ship, we rarely lounged in this area while posting instead spending time outside in warm weather. We’d never tried the coffee or tea. Tom has since tried a few coffee drinks as shown in today’s photos in his attempt at “trying new things.” 

It was exciting to find they offer my favorite oolong tea which I can drink all day when every beverage and sweet treat (for Tom only) they offer in this area is included in the two drink packages included on this particular cruise via promotion through Celebrity: free gratuities (usually charged at US $13, AUD $18 per person per day), free classic drink package for two (Tom’s cocktails, specialty coffees, imported teas, and a wide array of bottled beverages which is usually US $59, AUD $83 per person per day), and a cabin credit of US $100, AUD $141 to be used however we’d like.

Once on the ship we immediately signed up for the unlimited Internet packages which don’t allow sharing unless one goes offline while the other is online.  his plan, at US $244, AUD $345 per person (if we didn’t want to share, which we don’t) resulted in our paying a total of US $488, AUD $690 to ensure we both could be online at the same time.

Tom’s dinner was less adventuresome, tournedos of beef with red wine reduction with potatoes, green beans, and carrots. He found the entire meal and beverages to be pleasing to his limited palate.

With Tom enjoying time online while I spend the better part of each morning preparing the post, sharing is not an option for us. Plus, while I prepare the post, he assists with exchange rates, searching for links, and researching pertinent information while I’m in the process of posting. Having to go offline after each of my many questions is not for us.

Most likely, our final cruise bill will only include the above WiFi fees and a few odds and ends for any purchases we may make. The almost dried-out Max Factor mascara I’d purchased in Sydney made me drool over the prospect of purchasing a three-pack of Lancôme Definicils, my old US favorite for US $72, AUD $102. Gee…I haven’t purchased something this pricey and extravagant in a long time. 

I’ve gone back to the ship’s cosmetic store a few times looking at this potential purchase hesitating to buy it when for the past three-plus years I’ve used what I could find at a local chemist or supermarket. 

My “girlie” mentality hasn’t entirely wafted away while living this life and I’m glad for it. Who said I had to give up everything? No one. The freedom to choose is gratifying. 

No, I don’t own a handbag. I have only two pairs of jeans and five total pairs of shoes. We make do with what we have. An occasional splurge now and then reminds us that we do have the freedom to choose and that most often, we choose that which is relatively frugal and practical.

Today, we decided to stay on board the ship. We’re currently docked in Melbourne (pronounced “mel-ban” here in AU) until 5:30 pm. We may walk off the ship or we may not since we’re certainly enjoying the quiet while other passengers are off the ship shopping, riding in full buses, and sightseeing. 

We’ll be back here on another cruise in November. Knowing this, it’s easy to choose to stay onboard, simply because we feel like it. There are two upcoming ports of call for which we’ve booked all-day small group tours.  That’s enough for us. We had no commitments for today. When we return to Melbourne we may plan a small group tour or take a taxi tour. However, today, we’ll take a number of photos of Melbourne to share here tomorrow. 

So please check back, if you choose to…

Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2015:

When daughter-in-law Camille and granddaughter Madighan stayed behind a few days before returning to the mainland, Madighan and I made the gingerbread house we’d been too busy to make before Christmas  For more photos, please click here.