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by Patrick C. Taylor

P&O Princess Cruise Line REGAL PRINCESS; 70,000 gross tons; 247 m. in length; 1,590 passenger capacity; 12 passenger decks; British Registered.

Additional Pictures of the Regal Princess.

Leaving Toronto for Vancouver on Wednesday 7, March on the 0705 Air Canada flight I had a long layover, (nine hours) before connecting with the Air Canada flight to Honolulu with a two hour layover before connecting with Canadian Airlines flight which, after crossing the international date line, got me into Sydney at 0800 on Friday March 9.

The Sunday March 11, 1830 departure from Sydney was delayed due to late arriving passengers from Los Angeles. With PRINCESS finally leaving her berth at the old Shaw Saville King Street Wharf in Darling Harbour and getting underway for Cid Harbour, Whitsunday Island just after 2300 giving  passengers a pleasant view of the Sydney skyline in it's evening attire. Before sailing we had learned that the visit to Padang Bay, Bali, Indonesia was to be cancelled due to a travel advisory from the American State Department.  This decision did not sit well with those of us who were not US citizens (UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealanders) and whose governments had not issued travel advisories for Indonesia. It was also learned that P&O had cancelled the call at Bali before some of us had booked our cruise. I for one would have opted for a Valparaiso, Chile to Miami cruise if I'd have known about the Bali cancellation.

The voyage to Cid Harbour was uneventful and pleasant even with the rain showers that accompanied us. We arrived at our anchorage off Whitsunday island at 0700 on a beautiful sunny morning. We chose to forego a trip to the Great Barrier Reef having snorkelled on our visit here. A tender service was provided to the resort on Hamilton Island of which we took full advantage. Our stay ashore was very pleasant, visiting the local zoo to view crocodiles, both salt and freshwater types, Emu, Wallabies, Kangaroo and the ever popular Koala. Hamilton Island is very hilly and boasts a very nice little town and a five star resort and a great view of the surrounding area from One Tree Hill, none of which are worth a trip in it's self, but as a base for exploring the barrier Reef it is ideal.

PRINCESS hauled her anchor on time at 1700 for our overnight sail to Cairns, Queensland coming alongside on schedule at 0800. We had planned to take a tour to a Aboriginal settlement and cultural centre in the nearby Great Dividing Mountain range. Alas, the heavens opened and dampened our enthusiasm which turned out to be rather fortunate for this gave us the opportunity to meet a couple of local gold prospectors. Married to each other, this couple had some very amusing and not so amusing tales to tell, but that is another story. Our scheduled 1700 departure from Cairns was delayed until 2300 due to a lack of water under the ships bottom. The ship sailed from Cairns under the harbour pilot control and soon ran aground on the bar. 

A tug assisted her off the grounding but we had to wait on the State and Federal Australian marine inspectors to allow the ship to continue her voyage. Clearance to sail wasn't given until the following afternoon. We proceeded on the inside channel under the Reef pilots control. The water colour in this area of the Coral Sea was reminiscent of that of the Mersey. The route to Darwin took us through the Torres Strait within sight of Cape York on our port side, then across the Gulf of Carpenteria rounding the Cobourg Peninsula and through Van Dieman Gulf into Darwin Harbour, on time at 0700, despite the mishap and delay at Cairns.

Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory has changed much over the years. It has gone from being a small steamy ramshackle tropical town to being a large steamy well planned tropical town. It boasts a fine pedestrian downtown fountained shopping area, a couple of museums and a cathedral about the size of St. Peter's church on Seel Street in Liverpool. The dock has been extended and a cargo warehouse has been converted into a cruise passenger terminal. Something Liverpool sorely needs. We departed Darwin at 1800 through the Beagle Gulf into the Timor Sea and west before passing between the Indonesian Islands of Bali and Gunung  into the Java Sea. This being the closest we would come to Bali which was visible on our port side. That night the ship was forced to reduce speed because of a "man overboard" reported by two passengers. Fortunately, after every one on the ship was accounted for, it was a found to be a false alarm. The next night the ship was steaming at full speed (22.5 knots) and the crew were armed with automatic weapons and on a "Pirate" alert due to a tanker being boarded the night
before.  Continuing, our voyage took us passed Singapore and up the extremely busy Malacca Strait. Reminiscent of Liverpool in the fifties, the Strait off Singapore is a shipping equivalent of rush hour traffic on a motorway. Ships of every size sailing under every flag are anchored awaiting a berth in Singapore or transiting the strait in either direction.

Present day Kelang (Port Swetenam) the port for Kuala Lumpur is a far cry from the days when a few RFA the NAVASA or the OXFORDSHIRE visited to land or board squadies fighting the insurgency. It is now a regular cruise port and boasts a brand new cruise passenger terminal with duty free shops and an entertainment complex. The port is now being extended north to accommodate ever more and bigger box ships.  Maersk, OOCL, P&O Nedlloyd and Hapag Lloyd all had more than one ship in port. REGAL PRINCESS left port at 1800 on schedule to arrive in Singapore early the next morning. We debarked the ship before 1000 and took a cab to Changi Airport. 

No longer the prison hell for British and ANZAC prisoners of the Japanese, Changi is now, probably the finest airport in the world. We boarded our, ex Liverpool company the, Swire Groups Cathay Pacific flight for Hong Kong to spend a few days before heading home to Canada.

Regal Princess  in Cid Harbour.

The 'Red Duster' is prominent atop the monkey island.

Pool deck

Australian Navy Ship

Australian Navy Incat

Local vehicle passenger ferry at Whitsunday

The famous Hong Kong Star Ferry heading for Kowloon. Star Ferries are built in Hull

Tender at Cid Harbour


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