After a fairly rough crossing of the Tasman Sea we got up early for the sail-in to Sydney on the morning of February 10. As we stood outside the harbor shortly before sunrise we could already tell that the morning would be gray & overcast.
This was a shame because the sail-in to Sydney is one of the best in the world. Fortunately, the last time we were here it was a beautiful morning for the sail-in with the sunrise giving a special glow to the buildings. This one wasn’t like that, so you should go see it here:
As we started to sail in, the sun tried to rise but made very little progress in lighting the area.
We passed Fort Denison, a tiny island that served as a punishment site during convict times and was fortified as a defensive installation during World War I. Behind it as we passed was the iconic Opera House.
We sailed under the Harbor Bridge, one of Sydney’s iconic sights, built in the 1930’s.
Inside the bridge we proceeded to our docking location at White Bay. The best docking space is at Circular Quay, right next to the Opera House. The Amsterdam was last allowed to dock there in 2015. Now the rule is that ships that can fit under the bridge must go to White Harbor while larger ships, like the Norwegian Jewel in the Opera House picture above, get to dock at Circular Quay just outside the bridge. White Bay is much less convenient, requiring a long shuttle bus ride to downtown. This time, because they are building a light rail downtown, our shuttle bus only went as far as Darling Harbor, a substantial walk from downtown.
Well, unfortunately you are not going to see much more of Sydney unless you look at the 2016 links above. Rick got sick the day before we arrived in Sydney so he spent almost the entire two days here in bed. That really put a damper on things. But we had tickets to see Carmen at the Opera House the night we were in Sydney – opening night, no less. So we had to go to that, sick or not. In fact, Rick had purchased the tickets for five people & he had to be there to show his identification in order to pick up the tickets. So if Rick didn’t go no one could go & the tickets were quite expensive. So we went. And it was great. You can’t take pictures during the opera, but pictures were allowed inside while the curtains were closed.
At the opera we were seated near some people from the Viking Sun, which is also on a world cruise. The ship had been docked right next to us for most of the day, then left. We assumed its visit to Sydney was over, so were surprised its passengers were at the opera. One of them told us that the Sun had moved to Circular Quay just for the night in order to ferry its passengers to the opera and would be docked next to us again in the morning. Well, that is a pretty expensive thing to do, thousands of dollars. We heard later that, since this was Viking’s first world cruise, the real motivation for the move was to get publicity photos of the ship docked next to the Opera House. Be that as it may, this made HAL look pretty bad in comparison. Worse, a private company called Captain Cook usually runs a ferry from White Bay to Circular Quay for about $5 each way, but it wasn’t available to us this visit, when it would have been particularly useful because of the street construction limiting the shuttle bus. It turned out that Viking had rented the entire operation exclusively to ferry its passengers to and from Circular Quay. One of HAL’s officers was heard to comment that this was a good idea but not within HAL’s budget. It seemed to us that HAL might have used its tender boats to ferry passengers to Circular Quay, but it didn’t do that either.
Our friends Robert, Bill & Peggy went on an excursion the first day in Sydney to climb to the top of the Harbor Bridge. It’s expensive & very elaborate, with special clothes and everything tethered to ensure nothing can fall off. You can’t take a camera up with you, but the folks that run the tour are happy to sell you some pictures. We saw people at the top of the bridge on our last visit, but we didn’t go up there.
On the second day in Sydney Rick was still bedridden, so Mary set out with Bill, Robert & Peggy to visit The Rocks, the area around Circular Quay where the first convict settlement was located. They took the shuttle to Darling Harbor then walked the rest of the way, very doable on a nice day like this. They spent time in a weekend market, explored the area & had lunch at a restaurant before returning to the ship.
We set sail from Sydney, hoping that Rick would be fully recovered & ready for a full day in Tasmania.