A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Jan. 9 - LEICESTER, MA

sunny 18 °F

Getting ready!

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Here she is! Serenity and the rainbow! Thanks for joining us. This is our "test" posting, and we will continue once we arrive in California!

We have enjoyed splendid Christmas and New Year celebrations with family and friends and we are starting to pack away most of our Christmas lights and decorations (it's either do it now or in June!). The recent "bomb" of a snowstorm which left a winter wonderland amidst the freezing cold is behind us and a few balmy days are coming. Weird.

It's suitcase planning and packing time in the Voosen Haus.

See you soon!

Posted by Swenigale 14:44 Archived in USA

Jan. 23 - AT SEA FROM SAN PEDRO, CA

sunny 77 °F

Departing on our 112-day adventure

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Our pre-cruise adventures included walkabouts in Long Beach, California and in Los Angeles. And now, the Crystal stage is set, the players are in place, and we are settled into our home for the next 112 days!

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A photo of the ship's bow camera display freezes the day in time for us.

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The World Cruise is entitled, "World Wonders and Eternal Cities". From Honolulu to Sydney, to Manila, to Singapore, to Mumbai, Dubai and Rome: an amazing adventure awaits.

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Old friends and new gathered to cheer for the start of the journey.

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Bon Voyage, fellow travelers! God speed!

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Posted by Swenigale 15:35 Archived in USA

Jan. 24-28 – SAILING THE DEEP BLUE SEA

semi-overcast 62 °F

Crossing the Pacific to Hawaii is going very smoothly. Days at sea on Crystal Serenity are pretty special.

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Days can be totally relaxing (yes, Hästa is making the voyage with us).

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Or, you can indulge in outdoor exercise (ours is walking the wraparound deck).

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Guests can spend the days ANY way they please!

What we did (besides walk and eat) on Friday (which was Australia Day):

We enjoyed:

10am – Lecture, “Welcome to Planet Ocean” by John Malay, a specialist in Geophysical Sciences and space programs

11am – Lecture, “Tales from Tinsel Town: My Fifty Years in Hollywood” by Celebrity lecturer Bruce McGill.

1:30pm – Lecture, “The Broadway Golden Age: 1950 to 1960” by Theme lecturer Steven Friedman.

3pm – Australia Day get-together (Ed played guitar and we sang “I Still Call Australia Home” and “Waltzing Matilda”).

4:30pm – Ed led the first of many rehearsals to come of the Crystal Chorus.

5:30pm – Magic Castle at Sea, small group (20 guests) close-up magic by Scottish magician, R. Paul Wilson.

10:30pm – We enjoyed “Crystal on Broadway” performed by Emily Skinner, Broadway performer

Yes, it was a typical day at sea on Crystal Serenity. ?

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Posted by Swenigale 16:45 Archived in USA

Jan. 29 - LAHAINA, MAUI, HI

sunny 80 °F

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We arrived in Maui after sailing for five days with mostly calm seas and cloudy, cool weather. So, today's warm and sunny weather was a treat!

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It was good to be on land again. After walking to various local stores and adding to our "supplies" for the coming months, we reserved spaces on a sunset whale watch.

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We were anchored in the Bay of Lahaina. The water is relatively shallow and calm and is the perfect protected spot for North Atlantic Humpback Whales to mate and calve. They migrate here from Alaska and the Arctic each year from December to May. So, we were literally motoring around among a thousand or more whales and babies! Wow! So exciting! There was lots of action as the outnumbered females were romanced!

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Posted by Swenigale 23:15 Archived in USA

Jan. 30 - HONOLULU, OAHU, HI

sunny 80 °F
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The Aloha Tower, a symbol of welcome to seafarers for 92 years

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Punchbowl Cemetery, seen from the top of the Serenity, outlined by the early sunshine

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Diamond Head is the classic symbol of Oahu.

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We're really here!

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A walk along the beach, a dip in the ocean at Waikiki, island breezes -wow.

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A rower practices on Ala Moana Canal as we start back toward our ship. The much-anticipated Lunar Eclipse would start tonight after our 11pm departure from Honolulu.

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We set our alarm and went up to the top outer deck by 3am so we could witness this very special event.

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Our own photos paled in comparison to this one, captured by a guest that night. Spectacular!

After these two days in Hawaii, USA, we will be at sea for five more days, on our way south to Pago Pago, American Samoa. Yay, more days at sea!

Posted by Swenigale 17:25 Archived in USA

Feb. 5 - PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA

sunny 89 °F

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"Talofa" (Hello) from American Samoa! Colorful buses circle this small island for the price of $1.00.

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We are spending a day in the only inhabited US territory south of the Equator.

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The climate is tropical rainforest and the beautiful natural harbor at Pago Pago is the best protected deep-water harbor in the Pacific.

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The shear cliffs of this volcanic island are clothed in green. I don't know if laundry ever dries!

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Gongs like this are used by the various tribal leaders to signal times during the day like curfew.

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I assume there is something louder than a gong for a Tsunami warning!

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Samoans are Christian and very observant.

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Mostly, the rains held off and we had hours of hot and humid but beautiful walking along the harbor.

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We took a local bus in the opposite direction so we could climb a cliff on the World War 2 heritage trail

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The trail led up, up, up to the top of one side of the harbor entrance.

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A fallen blossom from the Barringtonia asiatica (fish or sea poison) tree

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Excellent placement to protect the harbor.

Posted by Swenigale 18:45 Archived in Samoa - American

Feb. 9 - SUVA, FIJI

sunny 87 °F
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We have crossed the International Date Line, so figuring out the day and time back home takes some thought! Unsettled weather caused our Captain to cancel the first scheduled port in Fiji, in the Yasawa Islands (which was scheduled to replace our stop in Apia, Samoa).

So, today we are docked as planned in Suva, Fiji’s capital city.

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Hmm. Which ship would you rather be on?

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We walked along the bay in the tropical heat. This island is the largest of the 800 islands in the Republic of Fiji.

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There have been centuries of settlement here by people from all over the world.

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The friendly Fijians always greeted us with their word for hello – “bula”.

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The Parliament and government buildings

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Our destination was Thurston Gardens, which is built on the site of the original town of Suva. We didn’t eat in the Ginger Kitchen, just wanted to pose Hästa.

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The Botanical Garden

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The Fiji Museum (which is right in the Garden) has an extensive collection of artifacts and historical information.

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The last ocean-going canoe, built in 1913

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As we walked back toward the ship these guys were organizing a Rugby game in the field in front of the Parliament building.

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Someone we met on the street told us the weather had been very hot recently and the rains had poured during the night. But, the rainy morning cleared, and the guests and crew of Crystal Serenity enjoyed beautiful weather today.

Posted by Swenigale 13:55 Archived in Fiji

Feb. 11 - MYSTERY ISLAND, VANUATU

sunny 80 °F
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We anchored safely away from the reefs surrounding tiny Mystery Island, an uninhabited strip of paradise.

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We are at the Southern end of the Vanuatu Archipelago (80 islands stretched out over 800 miles).

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Snorkeling was fun, there were soft breezes, shady trees and crystal-clear waters. A perfect day to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.

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Hästa did not get a burn – it’s his natural color. But we would, if we stayed too long!

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My favorite floating pose

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Time to return to the mother ship and prepare for the Transfiguration Sunday service.

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The Crystal atrium was all decorated for an evening Mardi Gras party.

Posted by Swenigale 16:45 Archived in Vanuatu

Feb. 12 – NOUMÉA, NEW CALEDONIA

sunny 81 °F
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Nouméa, “the Paris of the South Pacific” and a place to practice my high school French! New Caledonia is a French Territory and is a mixture of Melanesian, Polynesian and European cultures.

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Two years ago we had enjoyed some time snorkeling in New Caledonia’s lagoon, which is created by the world’s 2nd longest reef (over 1,000 miles long). Today, we stayed on shore and discovered the Asian Quarter, already preparing to celebrate the lunar New Year.

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Seems we are drawn up here each time we visit. High over the harbor stands Saint Joseph Cathedral, built by convict labor in 1890.

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The altar was carved in 1860 for a mission church. I’m glad they decided to have it beautifully illuminated.

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One of the prettiest statues of Joan of Arc I have seen.

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We walked down from the hilltop, heading for a small boat basin and enjoyed a walk shaded by giant fig trees.

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Floral arrangement by G-O-D ?

Just a note for anyone who has seen news of tropical Cyclone Gita – our captain has changed course and we are now traveling the 1,000 miles straight to Sydney, Australia. We are in no danger, but please pray for the people of Norfolk Island, which is in the path of the storm.

Tomorrow we begin Lent with an Ash Wednesday morning service.

Posted by Swenigale 19:05 Archived in New Caledonia

Feb. 16 - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DAY 1

sunny 79 °F
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PART 1

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We sailed into beautiful Sydney Harbor on a clear, sunny Friday morning.

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For this first day (of three) in Sydney we were docked right in the center of busy Circular Quay, tucked right up near the harbor bridge.

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Across the sparkling water the Opera House gleamed in the sunlight. Do you see the dog? It is there for the Chinese Lunar New Year - this year is the year of the dog.

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Chinese figures that light up at night are all around the harbor for the seventeen days of the celebration.

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We spent our first afternoon a 12-minute ferry ride across the bay at Taronga Zoo, home for over 350 animal species.

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Most of them are real.

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Like this Chameleon..

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..and these White-Lipped Tree Frogs.

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Not all the animals are from around these parts (hee hee)

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Who doesn't love to watch Spider Monkeys?

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Need we be wary of the Cassowary?

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Maybe!

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A beautiful Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

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Meerkats always have a sentinel -

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While the rest of the family looks for food

Posted by Swenigale 13:45 Archived in Australia

FEB. 16 - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - PART 2

sunny 79 °F
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MORE ZOO

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Still watching. When do I get to eat?!!

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Best way to "do" Taronga Zoo? First take the Sky Rail from the wharf to the top of the hill, then work your way down along shady path ways through all the exhibits and habitat enclosures. Oh - do you see the elephants?

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The baby Asian Elephant is just eight months old. His name is Jai Dee, which means "Good Heart".

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Learning to eat solids but still prefers mother's milk

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Nap time for the Pygmy Hippo...

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And for the Binturong also known as the "Bear Cat".

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Playful otters

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A Civet - not your house pet!!

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Several Royal Spoonbills where doing their thing in one of the enclosures.

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The Australian Pelican - impressive!

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Later, back on the Serenity (still our first day in Sydney) we waited up top for the promised Chinese New Year fireworks.

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Not a bad setting, eh?

Posted by Swenigale 23:05 Archived in Australia

Feb. 17 - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DAY 2

sunny 80 °F
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"The Great Barrier Reef and Beyond", the 2nd segment of the World Cruise, began today.

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It was our 2nd full day in Sydney. Overnight, Captain Vorland moved our ship from Circular Quay to our anchorage at Athol Buoy in the harbor. Ferry transport to shore and back operated continuously.

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We used a Hop On Hope Off Ferry service for the day so we could explore a few more of the many bays surrounding Sydney. Watson's Bay is the site of the oldest fishing village - from 1788!

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A short walk and climb brought us to the beginning of a climb to the heights of the sandstone cliffs facing the Tasman Sea.

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Look back to the Sydney skyline.

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The Captain Cook Ferry Service was quick and on time, mostly.

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Manly Beach was a fun stop -

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It was lunch time. Time for fish and chips..

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..and our very own beer tap!

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The waves weren't huge, but certainly big enough!

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We saw more celebrating of the Chinese New Year as we walked through The Rocks section of Sydney, on our way to catch the ferry back to our ship.

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There she is - Serenity's way out there!

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A night-time ferry ride was a perfect ending to our last evening in Sydney.

Posted by Swenigale 21:45 Archived in Australia

Feb. 18 - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DAY 3

sunny 80 °F

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Yes, we are indeed walking to a Tomato (pronounced Toe-mah-toe ?) Festival! The big event is held in Sydney’s waterfront Royal Botanic Garden. It is rumored to host the longest tomato lunch. What?

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Mostly, though, we wanted to take advantage of this beautiful setting to call home to our loved ones.

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We paid our respects to Captain Phillip, the first Governor of New South Wales.

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We first saw these flowers of the Pohutukawa tree in New Zealand some years ago!

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Here is the Calyx – the largest indoor living wall in the Southern Hemisphere. The emphasis is on education about the wonders of pollination.

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There’s a lovely wildflower section.

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Guess how many tomahtos are in the Tomahto Mandala (I don’t know).

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We taste-tested many varieties.

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So – this must be the long tomahto lunch – guess they mean the length of the table!

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A leisurely stroll around the perimeter of the garden back toward the ship’s ferry

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Last looks at Sydney’s famous icons

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I have no explanation.

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While we have been in Sydney our sister ship, the Symphony, has also been in port. After our Sunday worship service we went to the front of the ship to watch as we followed her out of the harbor and on to our separate ways. The Symphony was headed to New Zealand and we are heading north toward the Great Barrier Reef.

Posted by Swenigale 14:35 Archived in Australia

Feb. 21 - HAMILTON ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

semi-overcast 81 °F
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We traveled for two days at sea during which time we had entered the area of the Great Barrier Reef. This resort island of Hamilton, one of the few inhabited islands here, is just 90 minutes from the outer Great Barrier Reef.

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The ship's tenders operated continuously, giving guests the opportunity to enjoy the island or to catch a boat out to the Reef. We decided to stay on land for our visit.

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This is the resort side of the island, looking toward beautiful Catseye Beach.

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Signs are posted in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese as well as English. Plenty of tourism from those Asian countries.

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One Tree Hill is a great viewpoint looking over the neighboring islands and blue, blue water.

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Yellow-Crested Cockatoos didn't mind our picture-taking.

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"I beg your pardon?"

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"Say, do you see those tourists?"

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"Think they have any fish and chips?"

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"Aw, I just want to snuggle."

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"Hmm. Wonder what's in this Crystal bag?"

Posted by Swenigale 18:15 Archived in Australia

Feb. 22 - CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - DAY 1

semi-overcast 82 °F
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We are in Far North Queensland, Australia. Is that enough to make you look at a map? We have been sailing in the Coral Sea and we arrived at noon today.

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We were here in 2011, when we had a great adventure snorkeling way out on the Reef. This afternoon we stayed on land to see what's new.

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Passed up the jet boat..

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In favor of the brand-new Cairns Aquarium. The exhibits include animals from ten different ecosystems and 71 habitats across Tropical North Queensland.

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This is a Sawfish.

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Photos of the many tanks full of colorful fish and coral did not do them justice.

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Unicorn fish

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Eastern Water Dragon

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Remember the White-Lipped Tree Frog?

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Emerald Monitor

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Remember to look for the eyes!

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Where's Nemo?

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Okay. Sorry - had to include this. Indicates a blending of cultures.

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Walking back to the ship the trees were alive with Fruit Bats (also known as Flying Foxes).

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All wrapped up for nap time

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Our evening entertainment on the ship: in a local show five men of the Rain Forest Tjapukai Tribe demonstrated aboriginal dance to the sound of the Didjeridu.

Posted by Swenigale 22:45 Archived in Australia

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