Freemantle to Colombo, Sri Lanka
Our final sea day on this seven day segment of the World Cruise between Fremantle and Colombo. Heading down to breakfast I had a good laugh, as another chap was heading down repeating, “Are we there yet”. This caused flash backs to our long drives to Oregon and California, when the kids were little and the frequent whines of are we there yet from the back seats. Having crossed the equator yesterday we are now well within the northern hemisphere and are experiencing uncharacteristic winds for this region.
Temperature: High 31C/87F, Low 26C/79F
Wind/Weather: W’ly winds of 12 to 15 kts, quickly building to W’ly 30 to 35 kts. Low, increasing to moderate swell. Broken overcast to overcast and rain = crummy weather.
Clox: Z+5.5 (back 30 mins last night)
Distance to Noon: 412 miles
Sea Princess maintained a North Westerly course across the Indian Ocean towards the port of Colombo.
Based on the above schedule, we plan to attend the following:
- 10:00 Pirate Drill
- 11:00 Enrichment Lecture
- 12:00 Pub Lunch
- 14:00 Cruise long trivia
- 15:30 Crossing the Line Ceremony
- 16:15 PM Trivia
- 19:15 Captain’s Cocktail Party
- 19:45 Dinner
- 21:45 Variety Showtime
In deference to my blisters, which are healing nicely, but rather slowly, I elected to take a break from my walk and Zumba, which will give me 2 days to be totally better before resuming the exercise routine post Colombo. Therefore, Judi slept until just after 08:00, so we had a late breakfast. Sharing a table with 2 other couples, initially it was tough getting some conversation going. I used most of the meet and mingle tools from my P&O days, but with some perseverance, finally we had success. We even sat and chatted, after eating, as we enjoyed cups of tea & coffee.
Approaching potential pirate waters, ships rig additional protective measures and conduct a piracy drill for the crew and pax. Yesterday we received a letter from Captain Kent outlining the procedures to be followed by passengers, which include returning to your cabin, close the balcony door and blinds, then sit in the alleyway outside the cabin. Sitting is critical, as in the event of evasive manoeuvres, these ships will heel over significantly. A Piracy Drill commenced at 10:00, so we headed out to the alleyway, meeting all our immediate neighbours. However, our area was not representative of the rest of the deck, as I estimate only about 1/3rd of the cabins had pax in the alleyway. Others either remained in their cabins or stayed in the lounges. Jolly bad show, with too many having a complete disregard for their own safety. History dictates that how you perform in a drill is generally how you perform in a real situation.
At 11:00 I headed down to the Princess Theatre for another excellent lecture from Commodore Trotter, titled, “Sydney v’s Emden – The Last Gentlemen of War”. The Sydney v’s Emden was easy to understand, but the reference to gentlemen seemed way out of context, but it was well explained and illustrated during the lecture.
The sea battle between Sydney & Emden took place in the vicinity of the Cocos Islands, which we passed a few days ago. Commodore Trotter provided the history of the islands, which were first habited by a British merchant navy captain, his family and a number of others. They were later claimed by the Royal Navy as part of the Empire and a number of years later, Queen Victoria assigned them to the family of the original captain, in perpetuity. Prior to World War 1, Britain added a wireless station, which was a component of the worldwide communications throughout the Empire.
During the war, the German East India Fleet attempted to beat a retreat out of the Pacific, when the Admiral ordered the Captain of Light Cruiser Emden to operate as a single raider, creating a diversion for the bulk of the fleet. The Emden captain was very successful and the Royal Navy assigned many assets to track and sink her. Prior to steaming for the Aden/India shipping route, the Emden wanted to create a diversion by destroying the wireless station on the Cocos Islands. Prior to landfall, they erected a dummy funnel to resemble the British & Australian ships, but the rouse failed. The residents of Cocos identified the German ship, transmitting a distress call, which was received by Australian warships that were only about 50 miles away. The Sydney was dispatched to investigate, and she was faster and outgunned the Emden. Although Sydney took a few early hits, her Captain quickly manoeuvred outside the range of Emden’s guns and with deadly accuracy quickly disabled the Emden, which beached on the island.
The German captain was renowned as a gentleman, as with the many ships sunk, he had not caused the death of any merchant seamen. This conduct continued with the landing party sent ashore to destroy the radio station. The locals provided information to the Germans on how to destroy the radio tower without damaging the tennis courts. They also pointed out the 3 cables, but in fact they showed the Germans the same cable 3 times. Although the station was completely destroyed, with spare equipment that was buried, the station was operational in about 48 hours. We also saw a photograph of locals and Germans sitting on a roof watching the sea battle raging just off-shore. The commanding officer of the German shore party commandeered the local sailing ship, which with an amazing feat of seamanship he managed to return to Germany after about one year.
After an excellent and most enjoyable lecture, it was time for some pub lunch. No bangers and mash today, so I opted for the cottage pie, washed down by a can of Guinness.
Cottage Pie and Mushy Peas
Golly Gosh its Guinness
Pub Lunch Version of Bread & Butter Pudding
Having crossed the equator many time and normally in brilliant sunshine, today’s crummy weather was definitely a surprise. So, about 15 minutes before the crossing the line ceremony, it was no surprise when the Cruise Director announced the cancellation due to inclement weather. We completed the trivia, then had a quiet couple of hours in the cabin before the Cocktail Party. Expecting the usual cocktail party where you are shown to a seat and provided a drink and a canape, then it’s over, were we ever surprised. What an absolutely fabulous evening. We arrived just as the door opened and were the first to enter, meeting Captain Kent and his Senior Officers.
First stop was the Iced Vodka Station, with a bottle of Stoli Vodka frozen in a bucket of solid ice. Judi tried one, but not me. I found a friendly bar steward and asked if they had Guinness, oh yes he responded and requested we take a seat. Safe to say, for the next 2 hours, as soon as the glass was empty, another can magically appeared. For canapes, they had:
- Huge cheese station, with at least almost a dozen different types of cheese
- Dessert station, with a huge selection of chocolate treats, including white chocolate dipped strawberries
- Caviar station, where they made small fresh Blinz (pancake), which when served you loaded with caviar and various additives
- They also served individual canapes – spicy mince served on celery, sweet & sour fish ball and crab/avocado salad
The attendee list was also very small, with only about 30 passengers attending. Although the invitation stated 19:15 to 19:45, it continued in full force until about 21:00, with drinks flowing freely. You could order anything from the bar and they also circulated with trays full of the chocolate martinis. Judi loved them and managed to polish off a few. I did try a sip, which fortunately was rather small, as I found them sickly. During the evening we chatted extensively with the Casino Manager, who is from South Africa and we found him very pleasant and an all round fine chap. Also chatted with Sarah from the cruise staff and were deep in conversation when one of her co-workers came to advise she was late for trivia. For the last few minutes we chatted with an elderly couple from Sydney, who are also going all the way round.
Departing the party about 21:00, we missed dinner, so headed to the buffet, where we both enjoyed roast leg of lamb. After a quick dinner we attended the late show, which had 2 great entertainers.
Apologies for lack of photographs from the cocktail party, as from experience, they aren’t worth taking the camera. We are very happy and appreciative of the efforts extended by Captain Kent, his senior officers and the crew serving both canapes and drinks.
As another day closes, we bid you farewell, till tomorrow and hope for fair skies and following seas.