Tasmania...Breathtaking beauty...We're still on the road...Most perfect travel day yet!

View from the veranda at the Pelican Point Sanctuary in St. Helens, Tasmania.
It was a perfect travel day.  We disembarked the ship with ease, found a porter to assist with our awaiting luggage, breezed through immigration, picked up our confiscated power strips and were on our way to the airport, all within 30 minutes.

As we'd expected, we arrived a little too early at the domestic airport, even having to wait for 30 minutes to check our bags. Jetstar has a requirement that bags can't be checked any sooner than two hours before departure. 

The bed and duvet in the suite were comfortable and warm.  The room had a kitchen, spacious bath and large entry room.
The 30 minutes breezed by as well as the waiting period for boarding.  In row 4 on the plane, we were comfortably situated in our seats in no time at all. The 90 minute flight was routine and seamless.

Seated area near the large flat screen TV.  Free Wi-Fi was included.
The small domestic airport in Hobart appeared to have only one baggage conveyer.  Within 15 minutes we were on our way down the road with the bags on a trolley and anxious to get on the road.
The exterior of the highly rated Mohr and Smith restaurant in St. Helens.
The goal was to make it to our new vacation home in Penguin, Tasmania by yesterday afternoon.  Once we began the four hour drive in the new well equipped rental car from the Hobart Airport which was the fastest rental car process we'd ever experienced, our plan changed.

The atmosphere was trendy and inviting.
With a full sized map book in hand, given to us by the friendly rep at the counter, we made the decision to forgo the shortest route across the island and take the scenic route along the ocean.  Doing so, doubled the time required to get to Penguin.

By 5 pm, stopping many time for exquisite photos, we decided to spend the night in St. Helens, an ocean/lake town.  We were hungry and tired from the long travel day, having disembarked the ship by 7:15 am, flown from Sydney to Hobart, hauled our bags to the rental car facility, and drove for four hours, we were ready to pack it in for the night.

After 33 nights of complimentary cocktails and wine in the Diamond Club on the ship, neither of us had any interest in drinking alcohol,  Most likely, we won't drink again until the next cruise in three months.
With another four hours of driving ahead of us, we used our Australian hotspot, got online in the car and booked one of three hotels available in the area.  We choose the Pelican Point Sanctuary, the highest rated (four stars) in the area at US $156, AU $209, a night (with tax) and couldn't have been more pleased.

Locally caught thick white fish atop a bed of asparagus and a sautéed zucchini patty.  It was delicious and worthy of a five star review in TripAdvisor. 
The quaint resort was surrounded by lake, mountain and ocean views with cattle in the backyard, ducks and geese on various ponds and frogs chirping through the night.  We couldn't have been more at home for the night.

Tom's meal consisted on Chicken Kiev atop a bed of garlic mashed potatoes, pea puree and roasted carrots.
The manager arranged a dinner reservation for us at 6:15 at the popular restaurant, Mohr and Smith, a two minute drive from the resort, where we had a perfectly prepared gourmet meal for US $53, AU $72.  We were so thrilled with the meal, we wrote a review on TripAdvisor as soon as we returned to the resort.  By 9:30, I was asleep, Tom shortly thereafter.

Tom ordered fries as a side while I had a crunchy salad of mixed greens and sprouts.
Its 6:45 am now as I prepare today's quick post. We're anxious to get back on the road to take more photos during one of the most beautiful drives we've ever taken in our four years of world travel.  Tasmania doesn't disappoint.

Cattle in the back yard of the resort.
By 8 am, we plan to be on the road to head to Binalong Bay and then, back on the scenic route along the coast to Penguin.  Once we're unpacked and situated in the house, we'll grocery shop with a plan to make our first meal in over three months. 

Last night's waning sun from the resort.
For the first time in months, we slept without air con, bundled under a fluffy duvet.  Although its almost summer in Tasmania (starts on December 21st) we have no doubt it will be cool over our three months on the island.

There was a pond outside our room with three ducks.
We'll be back tomorrow with many fabulous scenic photos and the ongoing story of our getting settled into yet another home in our world travels.  Stay tuned, dear readers, it will quite a show at this special location!

Photo from one year ago today, December 4, 2015:
Savusavu Bay and Nawi Island, in Fiji, a site from atop a hill in the village.  For more photos, please click here.


Final cruise expenses...Day to disembark....Off to Tasmania this morning...

Our friend Stan's photo of the sunset on our last night aboard the ship.  Great shot, Stan, thanks for sharing!
"Sighting on the Ship in Australia"

Miniature representation of schooner located in the Schooner Bar.
Today, as you read this post, we're at the Sydney airport awaiting our upcoming flight at 10:35 am to Tasmania, Australia.  Without question, we've enjoyed every moment of this lengthy cruise.

It took awhile but we got these figures together to share with our readers which now will include many wonderful people we've met aboard the ship.  We'd love to see what others may have spent during their cruise, if any of our new readers would like to share.  We can certainly keep it confidential if you'd prefer.

Photo in camera shop.

The cost for the 33 night Australian cruise was as follows:

Total Cost of Cruise  $9,105.74,  AU $12,269.65

Total Cruise Costs: US $11,249.58,  AU $15,161.36
Total Cruise Bill: $582.04, AU $784.28
Cost for Cruise for Balcony Cabin #9030

Cruise Charges                                  $7,291.00
Senior Rate                                                -       

Taxes                                                      960.04                                            
Pre-paid Gratuities                                    854.70*       
Total Cost (US)                                  $ 9,105.74

As for incidentals we spent when off the ship:
Clothing & Perth Visit:                                 340.00  
Sydney Pharmacy (toiletries)                       199.00
Grand Total for Incidentals:                $  539.00

Total Transportation/Hotel Costs:
Airfare Bali to Sydney:                                690.26
Hotel Sydney                                              272.54
Taxi Sydney Airport to Hotel                          60.00
Grand Total for Trans/Hotel              $ 1,022.80

Breakdown of Cruise Bill
Wi-Fi Voom for both legs                              747.66
Laundry (3 times)                                          74.97
Beverages not inc. Diamond Club                  174.10
Shuttle bus                                                    20.00
Shopping                                                     222.95
Luggage                                                        42.46
Cabin credits                                              - 700.00
Total cruise bill                                      $   582.04

Grand total for all expenses:         US $11,249.58  AU $15,161.36
Average cost per day:                    US $     358.53  AU $      459.44

* In the past 24 hours we handed out additional of cash gratuities of US $200 spread among several staff members including the dining room manager who facilitated my meals; our cabin steward; the bartender in the Diamond Lounge; Richardo our Diamond Club rep;  and our waiter in Cascades dining room. Although we'd paid the above mentioned US $854.70 in the cost of the cruise itself, we felt these extra gratuities were warranted.  This additional sum is not included in the above totals.

Painting in gallery.
This morning, thanks to our host Richardo in the Diamond Club, we were given early disembarking tickets (#2) which easily facilitated the necessity of making it to the airport at least one hour before our scheduled 10:30 am flight to Tasmania.  As it turned out we arrived a little too early and had to wait 30 minutes in order to check our bags.

The card room where bridge and other games are played.
Last night, we left our checked bags outside our cabin door where they were whisked away to the baggage collection area at the Port of Sydney once the ship docked early this morning. 

Once we disembark we collected our bags, grabbed a taxi and were our way to the airport, a 30 minute drive with little traffic since its Saturday here today.  The process of disembarking the ship was seamless with no stress or worry.

Painting of wood boat.
We've had a most extraordinary cruise, made many new friends including Lois and Tom and Cheryl and Stan and many more; spent time with old friends Michelle and Carlo in Perth; experienced some lovely ports of call; dined on excellent food; and during this entire period, we did exactly what we wanted to do each and every day.

We're anticipating this next leg of our journey with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure.  I can't wait to spot our first Tasmanian Devil.  Photos will follow, of course.  Tomorrow, we'll be back with photos of our new home and others we'll have taken on the almost four hour drive from Hobart to Penguin.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, December 3, 2015:
With Savusavu, Fiji located on a mountain, steep roads are required to access most properties.  For more photos, please click here

Day 33...Circumventing the Australian continent...Final day aboard ship...Final expenses tomorrow...

The narrow peninsula in Newcastle, Australia was a pretty scene from the balcony.
 "Sighting on the Ship in Australia"

Art from the gallery.  There have been numerous art auctions aboard the ship.  Luckily, we have no reason to participate especially, as Tom says, "We don't have any walls!"
With the recent changes in the ship's itinerary, many passengers have been disappointed.  As the captain explained in yesterday's talk in the Aurora Theatre, the changes were necessary to avoid a hurricane (referred to as a typhoon in this part of the world). 

He displayed the weather maps on the screen and after seeing these the disgruntled passengers accepted that the change in itinerary was not only necessary but prudent by the conscientious captain.

Early this morning as the ship pulled toward the port of Newcastle, Australia.
As our day wore on, we stayed at our table in the Latte tudes Café while many passengers who'd attended our seminars stopped by to say hello and chat, sharing many wonderful travel stories of their own.  It couldn't have been more fun.

The busy downtown of Newcastle.
There were numerous activities occurring in the Centrum below which we could easily watch from our café table including dance practice for tonight's passenger performance of Michael Jackson's Thriller (kudos to those brave souls) and later in the day, the popular "egg drop contest."

To compete in the egg drop, passengers found various supplies throughout the ship to create some sort of device they could use when they dropped their single egg onto the Centrum floor from the railing on an upper deck.  Seeing these homemade contraptions float from above to break the egg or not, was hilarious with lots of crowd participation.

Fort Scratchley Historical site.
After the daytime festivities ended we headed back to our cabin to get ready for the evening's entertainment, happy hour in the Diamond Lounge with our two couples and a dinner for Tom and I in the specialty restaurant, Chops, hosted for us by the ship as a show of appreciation for our seminars.

Christ Church Cathedral.
Of course, going forward, should we decide to pursue it, the cruise lines corporate office works out a contractual arrangement for speakers with considerably more compensation than two bottles of wine and a dinner in a pay-for specialty restaurant. 

Generally, lecturers are provided with a complimentary cabin for two for the entire cruise.  We'll see how that rolls out for us, if we find it to be a possibility for the future.  Only time will tell as we contemplate the potential options.

Esplanade along the shoreline.
We stayed with our friends in the Diamond Lounge until it was time for their dinner.  Shortly after they left, we chatted with a couple who'd attended our seminars and then headed to "Chops Steak House."  The meal proved to be a truly extraordinary with the biggest, most tender melt-in-your-mouth-perfectly-cooked filet mignon steaks we'd had in a number of years. 

Newcastle Ferry Wharf.
After dinner, we gathered with hundreds of passengers in the Centrum for the 10 pm party.  As it turned out, we "danced the night away."  Although I drank three glasses of wine over a period of eight hours with lots of water in between, today I'm sure feeling it.  Whew!

Was it the dancing?  Was it the lack of sleep which has been an issue during this entire cruise?  We were late getting to bed most nights, getting up way too early each morning for the past 33 days.  We didn't want to miss a thing.  But, now we both feel a little rest in Tasmania might be on the agenda.  We're exhausted from having too much fun!

Pleasant scene in Newcastle.
Today's a busy day.  I have two posts to prepare; today's, and tomorrow's final expenses post which usually requires additional time to put together.  We have to pack (we'd unpacked everything for this long cruise) leaving our bags outside our door tonight before 10 pm. 

Next we need to check in for our flight (Wi-Fi issues today preventing us doing so right now), pay for overweight luggage, map directions to the house in Penguin and get the access code from the owners which I requested by email this morning.

We'll spend tonight with our friends, the final happy hour and dinner in Cascades dining room.  We've all exchanged email addresses and surely will stay in touch.  Spending time with our little group has only added to the fine experience we've had on our first over 30 day cruise.

City view of Newcastle.
Would we consider this long of a cruise in the future?  We might.  However, after this lengthy cruise, we've lost interest in the possibility of 60 or 90 days (or more) world cruises.  We do look forward to our feet firmly implanted on the ground and once again, setting up housekeeping at the upcoming first location in Tasmania.

Actually, we're chomping at the bit to cook our first meal in over three months.  As in turned out, we only cooked for 42 days in Phuket, Thailand out of the past six months.  During that period, I was still suffering with the spinal injury.  Now, fully recovered and totally pain free, I'm looking forward to our day to day activities and being able to get out and about at our leisure for some sightseeing and exploring.

Its a whole new day, a new adventure and a new leg in our ongoing world travels which we'll continue to excitedly share with each of you each day.

Be well, dear friends.

Photo from one year ago today, December 2, 2015:
Private pier at  the Jacques Cousteau Resort in Fiji.  For more photos, please click here.

Day 32...Circumventing the Australian continent...Seminar Part 2 was a success!! Thoughtful email from attendees!

We were surprised by the number of attendees at our second presentation.
"Sighting on the Ship in Australia"

Zebra painting located in the art gallery.
Those of our readers who've followed along with us over these past years know how humbled and in awe we are of our lives.  We never fail to remind ourselves to be grateful for each and every day of this unusual life and...for life itself.

Awakening each morning to the joy of yet another day of life is a gift in itself.  Good health, being together, living within our means and the love of our family, friends and new people we meet along the way only adds to the exquisite pleasure of traveling the world.

The huge Colony Club was also packed for our second presentation.
We ask ourselves, is it luck?  The perception may be that we "landed on something."  As we look back over our lives, we realize that getting to this point wasn't a stroke of luck.  We gave up a lot and, over the long haul, we worked hard to make it possible.

Many find our lifestyle foolhardy and impractical.  Others revel in a sense of wonder over our "bravery."  We aren't foolhardy and we aren't brave.  Is it foolhardy to fulfill a dream one is capable of turning into a reality?  Is it brave to jump into the cool water of a pool on a hot day?  No bravery required here.

Tom was enjoying himself during our presentation.
Then, what is it, if not luck?  Many years ago I taught sales/motivational classes centered around the Dale Carnegie concept of the fact that there are five steps to making a sale;  Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction and Close. 

In essence, subconsciously we maneuvered our way through these five steps as we made the decision to travel the world as follows:

1.  Attention: That day in January, 2012 when I asked Tom what he wanted to do when he'd be retiring on October 31, 2012.  He got my ATTENTION but could we make it work?
2.  Interest:  Once we started investigating the possibilities both financial and logistically, we developed a strong INTEREST in pursuing it further.
3.  Desire:  Once we realized it was feasible a powerful sense of DESIRE kicked in and we began to embrace the concept.
4.  Conviction:  The more we researched, the more committed we became and during the first 30 days, a powerful feeling of CONVICTION to make it happen captured us both.
5.  Close:  Like the finale of an actual sales transaction, we truly CLOSED when we began to pay deposits on future bookings and planned for the sale and disposal of all of our worldly goods.

The ship is beautifully decorated for Christmas.
These thoughts came to mind from so many year ago, as my brain was spinning with the enthusiasm we both are feeling from the second of two seminars we conducted for passengers aboard Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas. 

The positive feedback we've received from attendees both in person throughout these past days and by email has truly been overwhelming and appreciated.  Who knew?  Not us.  We expected a handful of attendees when in fact there were in excess of 100 at each presentation.  Go figure. 

Even staff at the customer service desk is prepared for Christmas.
If we'd had more lead time to prepare and announce the two part series, surely we'd been able to garner more attendees. We can't stop smiling.  This happy and fulfilling experience will stay with us for a long time. 

Will there be more in the future?  In the next two days, we'll be talking to Kevin and Steve, activities director and cruise director respectively, to see if this can lead to something that appeals to us in the future. 

With bookings well into 2018, we'll have to see if it a possibility for us since its unlikely we'd want to change our itinerary going forward.  We'll see how and if it rolls out.

The ship is decorated for Christmas.
Last night, before bed we checked our email to find this message:
On Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 1:51 PM, Mary wrote:
Dear Jess & Tom,
     We have attended both of your presentations and have enjoyed them thoroughly.  Jess, you are a better speaker than MANY of the presenters we have had on many cruises.  Good amount of both information, humor, pictures, and you have no repetitive phrases or awkward pauses - brilliant!  I was a high school science teacher for over 20 years and have some familiarity with quality speaking.

     The other day we introduced ourselves to you in the Windjammer.  We are the 2 gals who have lived full time in an RV for 22 years, while also doing international land trips, and many cruises.  I’m sure we have been in more countries than you have, yet that doesn’t matter - we still learned a few things from you.  Thank you for that. 

     Since we often travel spontaneously, with hardly any plans, and no reservations, and hardly ever stay anywhere longer than 3 weeks, we found it very interesting to learn of your travel style.  You are right;  people have to discover what works for them, no matter what anybody else does.  But you gave some excellent tips which everyone should know, just to be safe.
Hoping to cruise with you again some time.
Warmest regards,  Mary & Elaine

We are so appreciative of this message from these lovely people. It means the world to us to hear from those we meet in our travels especially when they take a few minutes to say hello or share their story.  Thanks to Mary and Elaine for sharing your thoughts with us!

In the interim, we're down to our last few days aboard the ship, cherishing every single moment of this extraordinary adventure, made all the more exciting by the serendipity of our lectures and making so many new friends aboard the ship.

Luck?  Maybe a touch.  Happiness?  In abundance.

Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2015:
In Fiji, one year ago, we drove under canopy of trees in a nearby neighborhood.  For more details, please click here.

Day 31...Circumventing the Australian continent...Seminar #2 this morning at 10:15...Devices we use...Logistics of world travel...

The ship has been decorated for Christmas and looks beautiful.
"Sighting on the Ship in Australia"

Another piece of art from the ship's gallery.

Today, as we prepared the final details of our upcoming seminar, we thought it made sense to post the photos of the digital equipment we'll be discussing during the presentation.
RFID (Radio Frequency ID) wallets which can't be scanned with illegal devices in an attempt to steal identity.

RFID passport holder.
As a result, today's post will include little verbiage and more photos.  By doing so, it will be convenient and expedient for Tom to bring up the photos as we describe each item.
Universal adapters.  Without these, we've have serious electrical issues.
Tomorrow, we'll share details about the agenda covering the logistics of world travel with less emphasis on where we've been and what we've seen.  Also, we'll include the response from our audience as to these topics which some may find less interesting than details of our travels.
Portable hot spot devices for various countries.  In many countries we haven't needed to use these.  In others, they were our only means of Wi-Fi.  The two black devices top center may be used in many countries but often don't work as well as each country's own device.

However, its all a part of the experience for those who choose to experience traveling over the long haul.  Its not always as romantic and exciting as it may to be.
Flash drive, a must for the savvy traveler.

Our unlocked SIM card (mini or full size SIMs work) smart phones.
Our cruise is quickly winding down with only three days until we disembark the ship to make our way to the airport for our upcoming three month visit to Tasmania.
Collapsible camera tripod.

Portable canner.
We'll be back tomorrow with more.  Please check back then!

Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2015:
This is a popular snorkeling area in Savusavu, Fiji with considerable coral reefs.  For more photos, please click here.