Albany to Cocos & Keeling Islands – Part 2

We have a few days at sea until we reach the Cocos Islands and really all we’ve been doing is relaxing around the ship.  Leanne and Gary have been going to the daily talks in the theatre which cover various aspects of WW I and WW II.  I thought I’d take this lull in activity to talk a little about the service aboard the MSC Orchestra.

Food on the cruise has been pretty good so far.  We’ve been dining in a mixture of the restaurant and the buffet.  While we originally swore that we wouldn’t use the buffet at all, it is remarkably fresh and everything turns over quickly so nothing is left there for very long.

Restaurant dinners are the norm and since the first night our dinner guest has chosen not to dine with us which leaves Leanne, Gary, Kath and myself with a table of our own, which suits us quite well.  Our dinner waiter is Astu, and he is from Indonesia.  He only boarded the ship recently when it sailed down to Australia via Bali.  He has a wife and child and works 9 months of the year on cruise boats, with 3 months back at home. 
He is a well seasoned waiter and is able to have a joke with us on various levels.  When in Albany we purchased a Gallipoli 100 pin and we gave to him last night as a little “thank you” from us for being such a great waiter. Before dinner was over he was wearing it proudly.
The buffet is becoming the choice for breakfast and lunch as this is much easier and quicker than eating in the restaurant. The other advantage is you can sit wherever you like.  With the restaurant breakfast or lunch, you are often seated with other people, which on the surface isn’t a bad thing and we’ve had some pleasant discussions with all types of people in this setting, however often you are seated with people who don’t want to talk at all and it’s all a little awkward.
Bars are plentiful on the ship and we find ourselves at them quite often throughout the course of the day. There are a variety of cocktails, wines, beers, spirits and aperitifs.  The wine bar was our choice for pre dinner drinks there for a while however as more people have discovered this it’s becoming a 30 minute exercise to get a couple of drinks so we’ve started looking elsewhere for this ritual.

Not all bars have the same offering with some stocking a wide array of cocktails with limited wine and others with wine an no cocktails.  Also one of the bars doubles as a gelato bar and we seem to find ourselves there more often than other options for some reason!
The ship has an onboard spa and Kath & I booked a spa package before the journey began which entitles us to 3 treatments.  We used the first one of these on Tuesday and it was indeed very relaxing.  Along with the spa package we receive entrance into the relaxation area which is equipped with lounge beds, spa pools, a steam room (very European) and sauna’s.
This is a nice place to relax as not many people have access to this area.  It’s also right up the front of the ship so you get wonderful views out to sea.  Also in the spa area is the door to access the Gym.  Leanne and Gary have been making use of the gym from time to time and I started using it yesterday for the first time, getting in some time on the treadmill.  We are also getting our exercise by always using the stairs, and taking morning and evening walks around deck 7, which is the only outer deck suitable for walking apart from deck 14 which is right up the top.
Cabin service has been relatively good so far with only a few things lacking.  Sometimes things don’t get replaced like water or bathroom ammenities, but things are mostly ok.  Our room attendant, Jean, is possibly a little new to the game but he’s doing an ok job.  We’ve been tipping him here and there when he’s done a great job.
We’re in an inside cabin with no external light which makes it impossible to know when the sun comes up.  We could tune the TV in the room to the channel of the external camera feed, however the static noise from the TV permeates far too many lumens into the room so that option is off the table.  The result is that, if we have to get up, we set an alarm, if not we just see how it goes.  More often than not when you think it’s 4:30am it’s generally closer to 7:30am.
We’re constantly having to change our watches/clocks as due to us heading west we are pushing through various time zones.  This isn’t too bad though as the changes are gradual, we don’t appear to be suffering any “ship lag”, or should that be “propellor lag”?
Enough about the service.  Yesterday we arrived at the first piece of land we’ve seen since leaving WA.  This is the Cocos and Keeling Islands.  It is said that ours is the first ever commercial cruise ship of its kind to be travelling past the islands on such a close course.

Scenes from the Costa Concordia came rushng to mind however ‘our’ Italian captain stayed well clear of the coral atoll, as we sailed past the Southern Islands.  There are 2 inhabited islands in this group of 27 islands.  1 inhabited by westerners, the other by a native tribe of malayanes I believe.

We had it in our minds that there would hordes of local lining the beaches to wave to us as we went past however there wasn’t any and all that I could see was a fanning bost.

The waters in the atoll area are quite amazing, and while we couldn’t get too close (thankfully) we had a descent view from the ship as we passed by.  The photos of the sounthern islands are on the camera so a bit hard to get into this blog which I’m writing from the iPad.

We continued onto the North Island which isn’t inhabited unfortunately.  The ship actually stopped here for about an hour and everyone was able to take photos.  There was a different fishing boat near the island but apart from them and the birds, there was no other activity.

We had a late one last night.  Kath ran into Daryl Braithwaite out on deck while having a cigarette and he seems to be quite chatty, which is nice.  She mentioned to him how we’d seen him a year ago at a day on the green, a concert which he remembers quite fondly it seems.

We spot these celebrity guests around the ship quite often and people don’t seem to be hassling them too much.  People keep talking to Gary (which he just loves!!) and we’re beginning to think they could be mistaking him for Dary Braithwaite, as they do look very similar.  One day we’ll get the two of them together and see how close the resemblance is.  Here is a picture of me with Daryl, oh, hang on, that might be Gary ;P

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *