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twangster

Live - Standing Ovation from the Land Down Under - New Zealand, 11 Nights Feb. 2, 2020

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12 minutes ago, Oceansaway17 said:

Last year I got brave and took a train from heathrow into London central instead of a cab.  I was so proud of myself.

 

Years ago (1985), I took a train from Gatwick, to Victoria Station, to Dover.  Then a hovercraft to Ostend, Belgium.  This was all on the fly, since I was supposed to fly into Brussels but the flight was cancelled so I had to fly into Gatwick.

 

And ... I managed all this without a cell phone, google maps, etc.  😄

Edited by Another_Critic

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20 minutes ago, Oceansaway17 said:

 

oh thanks I will make not when I search on line to reserve.

I have stopped doing hotel package through the cruise line.

 

Let me know what train to take to the Quay from airport.  Last year I got brave and took a train from heathrow into London central instead of a cab.  I was so proud of myself.  Another place to do this is Vancouver.

Just take the train at the airport,it will take you to circular quay.7 stops about 20 minutes. It does a loop.Four seasons is about 100 meters from the station.

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I always enjoy your reviews. Thank you for sharing your adventure down under!

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54 minutes ago, Another_Critic said:

 

Years ago (1985), I took a train from Gatwick, to Victoria Station, to Dover.  Then a hovercraft to Ostend, Belgium.  This was all on the fly, since I was supposed to fly into Brussels but the flight was cancelled so I had to fly into Gatwick.

 

And ... I managed all this without a cell phone, google maps, etc.  😄

 

 

those were the days.  I don't use my cell phone on vacation if out of the country.  

 

If I ever get back to St Petersburg, I want to take a hovercraft out to Peterhofs rather than doing the bus.

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42 minutes ago, Chiliburn said:

Just take the train at the airport,it will take you to circular quay.7 stops about 20 minutes. It does a loop.Four seasons is about 100 meters from the station.

 

sounds like it might be easy.  Barcelona, not so much.  I will do taxi rather than figure out their trains.

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It's very easy, there's only 2 platforms so you just have to get the one that heads towards the city and you'll be fine. Four Seasons can be a little pricey but it's very close to both the train station and the cruise terminal.

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We stayed at Tank Steam hotel. Centrally located. Easy to walk everywhere. Rolled our suitcases to the ship. It was only a couple of blocks to the waterfront area.

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1 hour ago, Oceansaway17 said:

 

sounds like it might be easy.  Barcelona, not so much.  I will do taxi rather than figure out their trains.

Any more than 3 people it’s the same as taxi.

But our trains are pleasant. About $AU18 -$US14

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As noted by @twangster, the Rydges was previously known as the Holiday Inn. The name only changed about two weeks ago. I found this out because we are booked in to the same hotel for the night before our cruise. From talking to them, basically the only thing that's changed at this stage is the name. All bookings remain unchanged, and pretty much all the staff have stayed on.

 

We selected this hotel as it's the closest one to the Overseas Passenger Terminal... about 100m to walk, so we can just wheel our bags there 😀

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I am on Voyager and we went past Ovation yesterday afternoon on her way to Sydney. Voyager left late because there was apparently a gastro bug going around and they had to do a thorough clean first. Didn't board until 12. A lot of us thought it was due to the coronavirus and they have been cleaning even more than normal.

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16 hours ago, twangster said:

 

 

ov_day-2-33.jpg

 

Great views of the Sydney Opera House from here.

 

Thanks for taking us along on your latest adventure. Hope it's OK that I quoted one picture so I could share, for others, that if you don't to do the Bridge Climb you can go to the top of Pylon Lookout......the cement towers shown in the picture above. 

 

Pylon Lookout

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Love your reviews twangster.  Always very informative.  We board Ovation in 79 days so I’m taking  notes.  Cheers. 

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Day -1

 

Early start but with my body split between time zones it wasn't a problem.  This morning would be the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb.  

 

I chose a 4:35am reservation in hopes of clear weather and a nice sunrise.  I also wanted to avoid the heat of the day so getting this done early checked that box as well.

 

It takes about an hour to go through orientation, suiting up and a test climb on a small rig within the event facility.  They supply everything and everything gets clipped onto the jump suit they supply so nothing can fall off and land on the cars driving below. 

 

No cameras allowed.  No anything allowed really.  Just eyewear if you need them including sunglasses and they use special straps to secure them in place.

 

Emerging onto the bridge lower structure around 5:15am I could see a faint hint of building red sky.  By the time we reached the upper arch of the bridge to begin the climb up the steepest part the sunrise was in full effect. 

 

In this picture you can see a ship coming around a point in the distance.  Based on the folks across the aisle from me on the plane I guessed that was the HAL ship they were embarking today.

 

ov_day-1climb-1.jpg

 

We climbed and stopped for individual pictures that I'm not including here.  With each passing moment the sunrise was getting better and better.

 

ov_day-1climb-2.jpg

 

ov_day-1climb-3.jpg

 

By the time we reached the summit and did another round of photos including a group photo the Noordam was getting ready to dock.  At this point we were right under the flags at the top of the bridge.

 

ov_day-1climb-4.jpg

 

It was a pretty incredible experience and the perfect weather day.  The sunrise was pretty spectacular and we took a lot of breaks to take it all in.  

 

We crossed over to the west side of the bridge at the summit and began our descent, down more ladders and across the lower span back to our starting point.  

 

We were provided headsets and our guide would occasionally provide commentary about the area and the bridge itself.

 

We were also given tickets for the Pylon climb that we could later or on another day by ourselves.  It's a little pricey but I am very glad I did it and will forever remember seeing the bridge up close everytime I see Sydney NYE fireworks year after year.

Edited by twangster

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Those photos are beautiful - are they given as part of the climb or do you pay extra for them?

 

Glad it was a nice morning - was that 1st Feb? I thought I saw on the news this morning (2 Feb) that the bushfire smoke was back over the harbour? 

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7 minutes ago, M-H-B said:

Those photos are beautiful - are they given as part of the climb or do you pay extra for them?

 

Glad it was a nice morning - was that 1st Feb? I thought I saw on the news this morning (2 Feb) that the bushfire smoke was back over the harbour? 

 

There is a group photo included but the other pictures the guide takes are extra.  The package was $59 AUD.  That netted me 16 pictures in all.  

 

Yes, this was Feb 1st.  The next day (Feb 2) will be coming up soon in this thread.  Spoiler alert - bushfire smoke was hanging around the city on the next day so I got very lucky.

Edited by twangster

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My climb excursion ended around 8am.  I had a tour of the Sydney Opera House reserved at 10am.  That left two hours to fill so I stopped by Pancakes on the Rocks for breakfast.  It's a 24 hour eatery that specializes in pancakes but has other food.  It's 3 minute walk from my hotel. 

 

I didn't have my camera with me since I couldn't take it on the bridge climb but I stopped here again so pictures will be coming up soon.

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If you like a quiet drink call into the Ship Inn , it's in Circular Quay and also has good food . Cheers, Buzz , enjoying your view of my home city.

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I assume you are onboard now, since it is Sunday morning here in the states.  Just curious if Royal had any additional screening, due to concerns about the coronavirus?  I see they have some for future sailings, but not sure if they did anything at boarding for this cruise.

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4 hours ago, h20skibum said:

I assume you are onboard now, since it is Sunday morning here in the states.  Just curious if Royal had any additional screening, due to concerns about the coronavirus?  I see they have some for future sailings, but not sure if they did anything at boarding for this cruise.

 

There were additional questions related to China during the otherwise routine health questions always asked during check in.  

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1 hour ago, Biker19 said:

@twangster so, since it's already Monday there, who won the Superbowl?

 

I am trying to keep my thread in chronological order.  I'll get to that soon enough...😉

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I am doing a similar itinerary 1/21, so I am so happy to have your review! Does Ovation use the WOW bands? Did you get the unlimited dining plan, and if so what is a price I should try to book at? I don’t have any options available to purchase yet.

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19 minutes ago, iceh20 said:

I am doing a similar itinerary 1/21, so I am so happy to have your review! Does Ovation use the WOW bands? Did you get the unlimited dining plan, and if so what is a price I should try to book at? I don’t have any options available to purchase yet.

 

Ovation does use Wow bands.  Go to guest services upon arrival, they had a selection behind their desk or bring one from a previous cruise.  

 

I don't tend to do the UDP on Quantum class.  I've done Wonderland and while it's fun and different it's not something I need to experience over and over.  I don't eat sushi and there are no hot rocks on these ships so there are two restaurants I wouldn't use with the UDP.  That leave Jamies and Chops and 11 nights of the same menus over and over again doesn't warrant the price for my tastes given that I'm okay with MDR food on all ships.  Plus the Windjammer for dinner works well for my needs.

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After stopping at my hotel to retrieve my good camera from the safe I walked over to the Sydney Opera House for my 10am tour.

 

ov_day-1-opera-33.jpg

 

With such an iconic landmark within walking distance I had to check it out even though I am not an opera person.  

 

I booked the tour on their website and chose an earlier time thinking it might not be as hot at 10am.   It was pretty hot at 10am.

 

Next to the water and down one level are some bars and restaurants available to the public.

 

ov_day-1-opera-1.jpg

 

After picking up my ticket at the welcome center we met our guide who gave out wireless headphones so we could listen to his commentary.  

 

ov_day-1-opera-2.jpg

 

Everything about the Opera House is striking in its form.  These long concrete beams are massive and supported internally by a cable system that wraps around underground and back up to form a loop.  The use of lighting creates an artistic effect that is more than just concrete holding stuff up.

 

ov_day-1-opera-3.jpg

 

The Opera House contains a number of venues that can be utilized depending on the nature of the performance and size of the audience.  We were led into one of the theaters where photography is not permitted so no pictures.  There a video was played that explained the history and construction of Opera House.  Our guide answered some questions and we moved on.

 

There is a story involving the architect Jørn Utzon from Denmark.  That's best explored on your own but they had a room dedicated to his memory.  

 

ov_day-1-opera-4.jpg

 

Despite the hard concrete surfaces this room is acoustically tuned to minimize reverb and is ideal for small live performances where sound quality is important.

 

ov_day-1-opera-5.jpg

 

The views aren't bad either.

 

ov_day-1-opera-6.jpg

 

ov_day-1-opera-7.jpg

 

While this looks like a painting it is a woolen wall hanging that is very heavy and one of the primary features that deadens the reverb so it's highly functional as well as decorative.  

 

ov_day-1-opera-8.jpg

 

Edited by twangster

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