Written: Thursday, 13th October
After a decadent lie-in until 6.30, we hit the Gym for our daily punishment around 7am. Then it was off to the Blu Restaurant for brekky. I might be tempting fate, but with last night’s steak meal and this morning’s offering, that’s two in a row where the food has been good.
It’s the city of Cairns today, specifically, Yorkey’s Knob (stop tittering at the back Tompkins!).
We decided to ‘do our own thing’ rather than join one of the wallet-busting Excursions – but first, we had to get off the Ship! As I’ve commented before, the Solstice loves creating queues and keeping its passengers hanging around. Having got our disembarkation tickets – group 12, we took a seat in the public area and waited for our number to be called. It took ages! – and the waiting wasn’t helped by three groups on pre-arranged tours once again being given priority over the rest of us. It must have been an hour before we started to rub shoulder with our fellow travellers.
This is our first experience on this Ship of going ashore by Tender – and once on-board, it all went pretty smoothly, although we did hear our pilot commenting on the shallowness of the water as we approached Yorkey’s ‘Extremity’. It was obviously an important observation as we then heard the Bridge contacting all Tenders to warn them about the speed at which they approached the landing-point.
Once we hit the shore, it was a short walk to the Coach that would take us on the 20 minutes ride into the centre of Cairns. On arrival, our first priority was then to find somewhere that offered free wifi. Luckily one of the local greeters pointed us in the direction of McDonald’s – or as they call them out here, “Macca’s”.
WiFi Heaven that is ‘Macca’s’
Macca’s didn’t disappoint – A McFlurry and 30 minutes of free wifi was initially the perfect combo, and I began to catch-up on Facebook, emails (79!) and an attempt to post around five days of Blogs. In the end, I managed to get on top of all my emails, update Facebook and get TWO Blogs posted before the 30 minutes expired. Ann caught up with her Kindled Daily Telegraphs too a well as her emails.
With the technology out of the way, we could now concentrate on the area itself. We didn’t know much about Cairns before we got here – and we were pleasantly surprised. It may not be architecturally a pretty as say, Brisbane, but it was certainly buzzing , helped by being on the coast, hundreds of shops, and a communal swimming area. And it felt truly tropical! Phew!
Perfect Public Pool!
In spite of it being quite a cloudy day, the other thing we noticed immediately, was the temperature – it was positively tropical, and temperature-wise, reminded us of Singapore.
Cairns – what a Scorcher!
For our regular dose of retail therapy, we noticed that the city had a humungous air-conditioned Mall. It might have been a bit of a walk, but it was worth it, to get out of the heat!
Cairns Central Mall
..and if we thought the city itself was busy, you should have seen the Mall – even busier!
We stopped for a quick bite and a bit more free wifi (courtesy again of Macca’s) before taking the walk back to the pickup point, and the Coach back to Yorky’s Manly Thing.
For our return journey, there was a massive catamaran waiting, and we were soon back on board checking out the Café’s offering for it many returning travellers.
On reflection, with the curfew on the Ship being 4.30pm, it’s all been a bit of a rush today (not helped by the sluggish disembarkation this morning), and I’m sure we’ve only scratched the surface of Cairns and what it has to offer. Initial impressions suggested it’s like a more-upmarket Blackpool, but with added heat - and that mostly suited us! It would be good to return again in the future to learn more about this city.
We ate in the Blu Restaurant tonight and enjoyed another fine meal – this place is steadily improving!
What a Talented Trio!
To finish off the evening, Ann had spotted that there was a glass-blowing demonstration on Deck 12. To me, that sounded just marginally more interesting than watching paint dry. It seemed such a strange event to have on a cruise liner, quite apart from all the kit that was needed. However, once we got there, I was totally impressed. Three youngish girls entertained us with their skills – and when they introduced the Ship’s DJ into the mix, we knew it was going to be something unusual. It certainly was! As the girls boogied away to an extended Motown Mix, in just under an hour-and-a-half they created parts of a ‘Barrier Reef inspired’ piece that they’ll finish tomorrow in front of their audience.
It’s two days at sea after we sail tonight, before we arrive at a predicted very hot (32°+) Darwin on Sunday.