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  1. I am not really a blogger so this will just be some ramblings and photos from our 3 day Explorer cruise leaving from Sydney. Day 1 We had to be up at 4am to catch a flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia which takes approximately 3 hours. Today we were flying Latam Airlines. The flight was on a Dreamliner and was very nice. I love the mood lighting in the cabin on these flights. Due to the time differences between Auckland and Sydney we arrived just after 9am. Customs processing was quick so we though the airport in 20 minutes. We caught the train from the airport directly down to Circular Quay where the ship was waiting for us. As this is only a 3 day cruise we only had carry on luggage and nothing to check in so it was straight through to the check-in area. For this cruise we are in an Owners Suite (1592) so we could use the suite check-in line but as we were early everyone at the terminal could check-in without having to wait. The ship was not ready to board yet we had to wait in a reception area on the first floor for about 20 minutes. When they did start boarding we were on screened through security and on the ship within about 10 minutes. There was no customs processing for this voyage as it is a domestic cruise. Once on board I changed out of my travel clothes straight into the swimwear I packed in our carry on. The Solarium was empty so I jumped into the pool and spent some time talking to the Life Guard so that he would get bored. I learnt he was from Indonesia and is on the ship until May. It is the only job he has to do on the ship so he was pretty happy. He said the main issue they have is not with people drowning as they are trained for that, but people falling over on the deck and hurting themselves. When his shift changed (they are on duty for 30 minutes before changing pools) I got out of the pool and had a quick soak in the hot spa. I let the sun dry me off and then we grabbed some food from the Windjammer at about 12pm. It wasn’t too busy but we took the food and ate it out by the pool. After lunch even though the cabins weren’t ready yet we went down to our cabin on deck 10 and left our bags outside our cabin door before heading up to Dizzies. They serve lunch up there for Suite guests so we just wanted to see what was on offer. The selection is small (similar to the food available on Cafe Promenade) so if you are after a quick light lunch it is fine. We didn’t have anything and went off to check out the Diamond Lounge. The Diamond Lounge on Explorer is much nicer than the Concierge Lounge in my opinion as it is light and airy and has a nice outside area. Diamond Lounge Inside Diamond Lounge Outside Concierge Lounge After checking out the lounges we headed back to our cabin to see what that was like. Normally we have a Grand Suite but this time paid a little extra to try an Owners Suite. The layout was different from a Grand Suite in that’s the Island that normally separates the “bar” and “living” area is not there and there is a table and 2 chairs in its place. The living area itself is spacious with a large couch and a couple of chairs. the bathroom has a free standing shower as well as a bath and a bidet. The Grand Suite normally only has a toilet and over the bath shower. The space itself seemed smaller than a Grand Suite but maybe that was because there was more in it. The sleeping area was also large and had a picture window that you could sit and look out of. Very nice. The balcony seemed a little smaller but still had a table and 2 chairs and it was fine for what we need. Because we are Diamond and in a Suite waiting for us in our cabin when we arrived was 1) fruit platter, 2) 4 biscuits 3) 4 bottles of water 4) 1 large bottle of Evian water and 5) 2 cans of coke. Here is the list of Suite services for this cruise. At 5pm it was time for the guest assembly drill. We went down at about 4:45pm to avoid some of the crowds. Our muster station was on deck 4 and there were already quite a few people there when we arrived. Unlike Ovation they did not scan our sea pass cards, rather they ticked us off on a piece of paper. Even at this time it was clear that some people had spent most of their time on the ship at the bar. After the drill as we made our way back to our cabin following some people you would think we were out at sea in a 4 metre swell. Once back at our room we changed into some casual clothes and headed off to the Concierge lounge. It was busy but still possible to get a seat. Most people in the lounge were suit guests but didn’t stay long. Prior to our cruise we purchased the ultimate dining package and I had emailed the concierge about booking Chops for night one. I needed to check with him what time dinner was booked for. We stayed for 1 drink and then went up to the diamond lounge. We were there just after 6pm and apparently it had been busy but a lot of people had left by then. It was easy to find a table outside and we grabbed a couple of Cokes. The Diamond Concierge came over to make sure we were “legit”. We asked her to book Giovanni’s for dinner for night 2. We stayed there for around 40 minutes and then got ready to go watch the sail away at 6:45pm before heading to Chops. The weather had turned a bit rainy by then but people were still having a good time. P It was now 7pm and time for dinner. As we weren’t sure what Chop’s policy was on diamond drinks we grabbed a glass of wine and coke from the Windjammer bar before making our way into Chops.i checked the waiter and he said we could use our diamond vouchers in Chops so that is good to know for the rest of the cruise. I ordered the shrimp cocktail for me entree and Anita had the tuna crab cake. Both were delicious as usual. For the main I had the half roast chicken and Anita had the filet mignon. Sorry they were so good that we ate them before I took photos. They looked great and tasted better. We had to wait a while to let the food settle before we were game enough to have desert. Anita decided not to have anything but I went with the red velvet cake and I didn’t regret it. As we had the ultimate dining package there was no bill to pay so we decided to have a quick wander around the promenade. Most of the shops were still open apart from Port Merchants which does not open on Australian domestic cruises. Anita was feeling pretty tired by this stage so she went back to the cabin. i elected to go to the casino and try my luck on the roulette table. I retrospect I should have just gone to bed and saved my money. I enjoyed it all the same. After that it was time to head off to the cabin for some sleep. It has been a long day but thoughly enjoyable one. i suspect tomorrow will be a late start. Stray Observations Boarding was very fast. Getting to the port early certainly helped with this. The majority of guests are Australian’s as you would expect and most would be under 45. The guests are mainly composed of birthday, anniversary, divorce party hens and bachelor type groups and also families with children. 3 days is perfect for this type of cruise. Explorer now has free style machines. It didn’t have those last time we were on her. Voom has been working well. I take a photo of the voom code and airdrop to all our devices. This means if we want to connect another device I can just look at the photo without having to carry the piece of paper with me. Right that is me signing off for day 1. Hopefully I will wake up before day 2 is over so I have something to post
  2. Been looking for fun Cruise to book for next year at the end of March, or first thing in April. Was wondering if anyone else has a March 31st or April 1st Sail Date for 2018 yet? We have been disappointed to find so many of the cruises have 3 days listed as "AT SEA." Would rather have an extra Port in there, than have more than two days at Sea. Any good suggestions? Have specific dates we have to sail out. 03/31/18 or 04/01/18. Thanks for any suggestions from all you savy cruisers out there!!!
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