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Port Arthur Asylum

 

Hello again cruise and travel fans! This is the second of three cruise blogs, this one also live from Diamond Princess, back in the Bass Strait and heading to Melbourne. Since leaving Hobart yesterday afternoon, in contrast to our ride to Tasmania, the ocean is lake calm today and very balmy, so everyone is enjoying a lovely sea day before they get to explore ashore once more.

We spent a day and a half in Hobart, a lovely small city of which I have been more fond with each visit. My first day, however, I opted to tick something off my personal bucket list with a long excursion to Port Arthur, the former penal colony and prison. It was not quite what I expected! It took around an hour and 40 minutes to get there, not that it's particularly far but the roads are mostly single carriage each way, and PA is actually located on a narrow peninsula - it was chosen as it was hard to get away from, so good for keeping prisoners in check. The historic site is large and in fact quite beautiful even though it has a torrid history. The first part of our tour was on foot with a guide who delved into the history of the place, and explained by people were sent there. He also busted many myths, for example, from their records they know only one person was ever transported there from the UK for having stolen a loaf of bread. Although the prison block was closed, as it was in the middle of essential repairs due to subsidence, many other buildings were open to be explored including a more or less fully intact junior doctor's residence. The creepiest place was undoubtedly the lunatic asylum, where the stories of some of the inmates were told on cell doors. Surrounding these scattered buildings are lovely gardens with beautiful flowers, and there is a pretty waterfront. The other part of our tour included a short harbour cruise past one of the prison island cemeteries, and lunch with free time for exploring further on your own afterwards.

Yesterday, due to only having a half day in port, our media group headed out to visit MONA, which has become Tasmania's top attraction. To get there you can take a luxury catamaran from the Hobart Waterfront, and it's a lovely 20-minute cruise up the Derwent River; we were booked into the Posh Pit at the front of the vessel, a kind of first class with freshly brewed coffees, sparkling wine, canapes and our own viewing deck. On arrival you climb up a steep flight of stairs to the entrance - MONA is built into a cliff face with commanding views of the river and suburbs. The lower gallery was closed due to it being prepared for a new exhibition launching this weekend, but the regular gallery was open, and it certainly has an eclectic and unusual collection of art, including a swollen Ferrari, some Egyptian sculptures, pop art, photography and an entire of, well, moulds of the most intimate female bits.

Back at the ship by 12.30pm we were ready for what was a glorious sail alway. Hobart is a pretty city at nestled inside a pretty harbour, and with some glorious sunshine we headed back out into the ocean to head north along the east coast of Tassie, and back into the Bass Strait. Tomorrow our portion of the cruise ends, however, for the rest of the lucky folk on board they have a 28-day circumnavigation to complete with more exciting ports of call to come in WA, across the Top End and through the Great Barrier Reef. Happy cruising!

 

Diamond Princess At Circular Quay

 

Hello cruise and travel fans! Welcome to the first of three cruise blogs, this one live from Diamond Princess navigating her way through the Bass Strait to Hobart. And before anyone asks, yes, it has been a pretty rough passage. Actually the weather only eased somewhat late into the afternoon today; prior to that, we had 50 knot westerly winds and swells up to five metres. However, given the size of Diamond Princess, she handled it like a pro, and from I could see on my first full day aboard, most people weren't especially affected by the movement. Thank God for stabilisers, though….what an amazing maritime invention! For those who don't know, they're "wings" of sorts, which can be extended from the hull of a ship outwards on demand to help diffuse rolling when the ship is on the move through rough seas.

So far, I've been on board just one day, my primary reason for being here to check out all the renovations Diamond Princess has undergone several months back during a stint in dry dock in Asia. We departed from Sydney yesterday evening - Sunday - with a magnificent sail out in very balmy weather through Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay. Fortunately those wild winds had eased. Our group enjoyed a lovely dinner in the Savoy Dining Room, one of several main dining venues on board which allows for "Anytime Dining" so guests can have dinner whenever they choose within the opening hours, and eat either as a couple, or with newfound friends. After a great night's sleep, thanks to the soft movement of the ship as we headed south along the east coast, today was a sea day, and on the schedule was an exploration of the new facilities, and a really yummy lunch at the new Japanese dining venue, Kai Sushi.

For those who don't know, Diamond Princess now divides her time between Japan and Australia; at the moment she's cruising Down Under for the southern hemisphere summer. The renovations she underwent were largely aimed at attracting Japanese cruisers, and besides the new a la carte sushi restaurant, what's also been added is an amazing new Japanese style bath house. This has to be seen to be believed; a true onsen experience at sea, with separate men's and women's areas, showers, steam rooms and four baths in each, two indoor and two alfresco, with a huge communal bath outside on the back deck overlooking the wake. I'll be experiencing all of that, plus the Lotus Spa, on Thursday.

Before then we have a formal night tonight, the Captain's Welcome Party and a dinner at the Princess signature Italian restaurant, Sabbatini's. So it's time to break out a posh frock and some bling, and crack open that bottle of French Champagne which was nestling in my room on arrival yesterday, but I had no time to pop. Bon voyage for now, and happy cruising!

 

I was thinking about brows again recently, as you do, and about my next trip, which is a short jaunt on a big cruise ship from Sydney to Melbourne via Hobart. 

 

Hello travelling beauties! I have just returned from a hectic trip to the UK and Ireland, and am still suffering from jet lag, but had to pen this blog today to share two new favourite beauty products from my travels.....

 

Hello travelling beauties! I have just returned from a hectic trip to the UK and Ireland, and am still suffering from jet lag, but had to pen this blog today to share two new favourite beauty products from my travels.....

 

My serene train ride from London in Virgin's First Class was not meant to be.....

 

Although I lived in the UK for many, many years, I never went to Manchester. There's no particular reason, I just didn't.....

 

It has been a whirlwind four days since my last blog, during which time I have wallowed in luxury in a former stately home, been frustrated by Ryanair, been stalked by Mormons going to the post office in Bray, survived gale force winds and driving rain, and witnessed the charm and kindness of my fellow Irish folk.....

 

It's a muggy afternoon in London as I write this second blog. I'm on day three of my UK trip; I have moved from the Tower Hill area.......

 

I am sitting in Cathay Pacific's The Cabin lounge near gate 23 and thinking what a busy morning it's been so far, and it's only just past 8 am!

 
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