Day 266-267 of 400: Sydney – NSW, Australia

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Today, our goal is to get our visas for India.  We will be moving around pretty quickly from country to country and are hoping the Embassy here can accommodate us and get it processed today.  The forms we had to fill out on the shared computer asked us things like what religion our dad has and whether or not we knew anyone from Pakistan…kind of strange.  Once we had our answers filled in, we waited in-line until our number was finally called and were told only emergency visas are approved for same day.  They said most likely it wouldn’t work but that they would submit it to see if it would go through for us.  So, we left our passports with them and walked down the street to a little cafe to grab breakfast, a coffee and free wi-fi.

The manager at the cafe was super nice, he saw we were busy trying to book our hotel and flights for Thailand and called his travel agent to assist.  After many hours working online, we walked back to the visa place only to find out, we were denied for same day visa.  After some discussion back and forth, they agreed to process the visa with copies of our passports while we are on our Fiji cruise, then the one day we have between getting back from the cruise and going to China…we will drop our passports off first thing in the morning for them to use.  They told us we had to pay the $125 each but that they couldn’t guarantee the visas would be approved.  We obviously were not comfortable with this whole concept…pay for something that has a 50/50 chance of getting done but, we didn’t really have a choice.  We need the India visa and already have our flights purchased to go there, so we hesitatingly handed over our credit card.

Once we got back to Veronica’s house, we all got ready and then drove over to Pat’s parents house.  They asked us to have dinner and wine with them and we of course said yes.  Their place was beautiful…large home sitting right on the water.  The wine cellar had give and I grinning from ear to ear…it was under the house in a small basement-like room and was completely stocked with wine…as in no more space anywhere for another bottle.  Pat’s dad is Italian and loves his wine.  Dinner was great with fresh seafood and of course a bottle of wine, followed by Pat’s moms homemade dessert.

It was so nice to share dinner with the family…they really took us in and showed us the way through Sydney…our home is open to them (as soon as we find a home wherever that will be).  After dinner, we went back to Veronica/Pat’s place and packed our bags for the cruise.  We borrowed all kinds of dresses and suits since we have none and the cruise is considered formal.

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Before arriving at the Sydney port to board our cruise to Fiji, we stopped at Target to grab dress shoes. Thankfully we had the dresses and suits but needed shoes to go with them.  Target may not be the best place for shoes but we will make the cheap “pleather” work!

After our shopping excursions, Veronica dropped us off at the port.  We walked up with all of our things and were surprised when a Princess Cruise rep approached us and said we would not be sailing today!  There was an issue with the engine and they were flying an engineer from France to fix it.  She said the earliest would be Thursday and today is Tuesday.  She also said they may have to cut one of the ports.  They said we could cancel the cruise for a full refund now or board the ship…stay on board for 2 days while docked here in Australia and then on Thursday after we know more about the engine…decide to stay on or cancel at that time.  Giff and I looked at each other and decided to opt for boarding the ship.  We handed in our luggage and went to the harbor to grab some lunch while we waited to board.

Once we got to the harbor, we realized the Melbourne Cup race was starting within the hour.  It was a famous horserace and would be on TV.  They had several people out collecting fun small bets on the horses…we placed our wages on a couple.  We found a restaurant with a table right in front of the TV, ordered food and tuned in to see if our horses would be the winners.  Unfortunately, we picked a couple really good horses but they placed 4th through 7th instead of 1st through third.

After lunch we got back over to the port where we got in line to board the cruise ship.  After customs and check in, we walked on the boat and saw that it was a bit more upscale than other ships we had been on.  The colors were a gold and cream and we started noticing right away the age of the other passengers…did we book a senior citizen cruise???

We found our room located right off one of the main floors.  It was similar in size to the NCL cruise ship we had been on before…we unpacked and then started to explore the ship.  The ship had a familiar layout…the top deck was large with lounge chairs and a giant big screen TV for watching movies under the stars.  There were 2 formal dining rooms…we were assigned to one and had to attend dinner at our assigned time of 7:45PM nightly if dining there.  There was a theater for entertainment and several lounges for chatting and drinking.  There was also a gym and spa…unfortunately we were disappointed with the spa.  It was very small and there was not an area for both men and women to lounge around.  We also noticed there were 3 additional restaurants in conjunction with the main dining room.  One was a pizzeria…pizzas and pastas, the other was a steakhouse but had an additional cover charge of $15 per person and the last was the buffet.  All food except the steakhouse was free (included in the cost of the cruise).  There was also a casino which could be dangerous…

We decided to sit down in the main dining room for an early dinner.  We each had an appetizer, salad and entrée and of course dessert.  The food was decent…not a super nice restaurant level of food but not fast food either.  After dinner, we wondered around the boat and then watched a movie in our room.

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