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Day 12 – Friday – Mumbai

The ship slowly made its way through thick fog as it approached Mumbai. Visibility must have been less than 500m, with boats everywhere – some moving and others moored. Around 9 we docked and headed off a while later on our ‘Mumbai on the move’ tour. We headed for the very busy Gate of India, built to greet King George V and Queen Mary. We then saw the Dabbawalas, the food delivery service made famous by the movie ‘Lunchbox’. These men collect food from the home of office workers, returning the lunchbox home at the end of the day. This service delivers about 6 million lunches a day. We then walked to a local train station, where we caught a local train – not as chatotic as it sounds. Getting off at Dhobi Ghat outdoor laundry where half a million pieces of clothing are washed and dried each day by 8000 – 10000 dhobis. Next, we stopped at Gandhi’s house/museum and finally back to the ship. During our travels we saw hundreds of women marching in a protest, all in traditional dress. Very colourful. The city is crazy busy and noisy and chaotic.

In the evening we skipped the restaurant dinner, instead opting for the early show and an Indian dinner at the buffet. Still no wifi, so still not updating the blog, or contacting anyone, except a quick text to Grandpa for his birthday. Happy 81st Grandpa.

Day 12 – Thursday – Goa, India

We arrived in Goa before we woke up, into a very tight harbour. It will be interesting to see how they get the ship out of here. The port is about an hour’s drive from the town. We did a half day tour into Goa’s Latin Quarter, Panjin with 16th century churches (Bom Jesus, St Francis, the big white one (Catherine?), which might be the basilica, and The Immaculate conception in town) and lovely Portuguese houses, most of which are now guest houses and B&B’s mostly serving the domestic Indian tourist market. The bus driver was a bit crazy, but we managed to get back to the boat in one piece.  Indian immigration is ridiculous. We spoke to one woman whose husband can’t leave the boat in India because his passport doesn’t have a page available to stamp. Getting on and off the boat is very strict – I guess they don’t want relatively rich westerners to seek asylum in India!

Back on board we skipped the usual music trivia and headed for the level 10 rear deck bar for a drink as we departed Goa. We also skipped the show (a classical pianist) in favour of waiting for the late-night show, a circ de sole style song, dance and acrobatic show.

Day 11 – Wednesday and Christmas Day – Sea Day

Present opening followed by breakfast in the restaurant for the first time. Very nice. We also had lunch in the resturant and then a ‘Round the World Wine Tasting.’

During our daily Kyle performance, we discovered that he is dating our favourite drinks waitress, Putri from Bali – so our two favourite crew are a couple. What’s the chances?

There was a daytime Christmas show, which made me pretty emotional when they sang Holy Night, mum’s favourite Christmas song. It hit me unexpectedly and hard.

Night show Lorraine Crosby who sung with meatloaf in the 80s. Very high energy, but mostly songs the kids weren’t familiar with.

Day 10 – Tuesday – Cochin, India

In port at Cochin, India. We did a half day walking tour taking in the old fort area with its Portuguese architecture and old Chinese fishing nets. Very affluent part of India with 97% literacy rate and most kids attending university. Soccer boys, churches getting ready for Christmas. 20% Christian.

We’ve been doing a music trivia each afternoon, sometimes doing OK (80s) and other times not so good (Motown). We’ve also discovered one of the on-board entertainers, Kyle, a solo singer/guitarist who is excellent. I’ve made it my daily ritual to see him for a pre-dinner show. He’s got to know us now so he comes over and has a chat.

Night show was Fairy tale show by the ships cast.

Day 9 – Monday – Columbo Sri Lanka

We got adventurous and decided to tackle Columla on our own. We walked into the old town, decided it was going to be too hard to find anything, so grabbed a pair of Tuk Tuks which gave us the full tour over the next 4 hours. The red mosque, old pettah district, a tower which was a temple (where we missed the no shoes sign so our tuk tuk driver bolted after us), lotus tower, hindu temple, independence square, prime ministers resident, dutch hospital (our one and only wifi spot), cobras and monkeys on the lake side, Drinks in the Asylum Hotel with its paid toilet (but we had no cash so the tuk tuk driver paid)

Back on board the night show was a magician, who was pretty weak. A kid in the audience yelled out “Do some real magic”.

Day 7 – Saturday – Sea Day

Overnight I decided to have a gastro episode, so I’m writing this in isolation in the cabin (and feeling fine). Damn it. Today is a day at sea sailing across Indian Ocean, from Thailand toward Sri Lanka. I’m in isolation, so it will be reading and movies for me. Meanwhile Carol and the kids are out and about… swimming, eating, trivia quizzes, drinking, eating and an Elton John Show.

Day 6 – Friday – Phuket

Up early for our Phang Nga Bay shore excursion. Carol and I were here 22 years ago on our honeymoon, and we have a painting of ‘James Bond Island’ hanging in our family room at home, this this was a great opportunity for the kids to see where the photo that the painting was based on was taken. In many ways the area hasn’t changed, but one big difference was the lunch stop at a floating Muslim village. Back then it was a ramshackle array of barely holding together buildings with a market out the back. 22 years of tourist dollars has transformed it into quite a modern looking town. We also stopped by the cave temple with its reclining Buddha and monkeys.

Back on the boat we had a pre-dinner drink at the Sunset Bar, dinner at our usual table and then up to see a Beatles show, which was amazing.

Day 5 – Thursday – At Sea

Theoretically, time to start relaxing. However, too much to do and too much to eat for that. After breakfast Lauren and Lachlan and I did a galley tour while Carol went to a presentation about shore excursions. The facts and figures on the galley tour were mind blowing. XXXXX.

The rest of the day flowed from one activity to another, with a brief moment to swim and start to read a book. The show tonight was ‘Showtime’, a musical, dancing tribute to show tunes – both live shows and  movies. A highlight of the day was winning a visual trivia quiz – ‘landmarks of the world’ where we scored a credible 24/25. Well done Hunters.

Tomorrow the ship is in Phuket, and we’re going to Phang Nga Bay to retrace some the locations from our honeymoon 22 years ago, so an early night is needed for an early start.

Day 4 – Wednesday – Boarding

Our last morning in Singapore before boarding the ship later today, so we headed on foot to see the Merlion. This area is pretty much Singapore’s answer to Circular Quay, with lots of tourists taking lots of photos – including us. We then had a coffee at the fanciest Starbucks ever, in the old boathouse on the river, before walking around to Clarke Quay and back to the hostel to collect our bags and heading to the boat by MRT.

A small negative on the MRT system… As we were about to leave Singapore we had run our cash down to nothing, expecting to be able to buy MRT tickets from the vending machines using credit card, after all, the machines had mastercard signs all over them. After trying several times we gave up and joined the queue to buy tickets from a real person in the ticket office. No, you can’t buy tickets for regular trips here, and the machines don’t take card. What? I can’t buy a ticket from the ticket office! The end of this long silly story is that we had to get cash from an ATM. Since we only needed $7.20, the $5 transaction fee was hard to swallow. Live and learn.

After arrival at the Cruise terminal we waited way too long to check in, but eventually boarded the ship around 3:30. Lauren’s highlight was a potato curry puff! (Lachlan liked it too.) We found our cabin and Carol got busy setting up our Christmas tree, complete with decorations and tinsel. We then had a brief look around to get our bearings and headed up to dinner. Very nice! The staff are so friendly and helpful.

After dinner we took in a show – an acrobatic and juggling show and headed to bed. Another big day.