Bougainvilleas might be tough, thorny plants but, when planted together, they create a stunning display. They are native to South America and flourish in warm climates. Tiny white flowers are surrounded by the clusters of brightly coloured leaf bracts for which the plants are best known. I found these beautiful bougainvilleas draped over a wall in Airlie Beach.
Day Two was a sea day, perfect for those seeking rest and relaxation. The ship continued north into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park; with calm waters between the mainland and the reef it was smooth sailing.
Following breakfast at the Waterfront Restaurant, we went for an early morning stroll along Deck 7.
We played Team Trivia in the Dome, Jeopardy in the Marquee Theatre and Name That Tune at the Promenade Bar. Despite our competitive natures and best efforts, we weren’t winners but we did have fun.
After a buffet lunch at the Plantation Restaurant we walked again, this time around Deck 14 where the sun lounges and expansive ocean views beckoned.
June marks the start of whale watching season along the southern Queensland coast, as Humpback Whales arrive after their annual migration from Antarctica. We scanned the ocean and eventually our persistence was rewarded. We saw whales in the distance, breaching and splashing as if they knew we were watching.
Our sea day ended as it had begun in the Waterfront Restaurant, where we enjoyed a delicious three course meal with entertainment provided by our handsome waiter Antonio. His repertoire of magic tricks would intrigue us all week long.
We spent much of our week on board Pacific Dawn looking down; at the delicious food we were served for each meal, at the rushing water as we sailed northwards, at the activities program when we planned each day’s fun.
But there was plenty to see overhead too.
We marvelled as the ship sailed under the double spans of the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges on the Brisbane River.
We were excited to finally be on board, after a year of planning and anticipation.
We were intrigued by the structures on board and wondered what purpose they all served.
We’d never been on a cruise before, so our first glimpse of our floating holiday home was an exciting moment. Pacific Dawn was docked at the Portside Wharf Cruise Terminal at Hamilton, just a few kilometres from the mouth of the Brisbane River.
The embarkation procedure was very efficient and soon we were on board. After a delicious lunch in the Waterfront Restaurant we had time to explore and discover the most important locations – the restaurants and bars, coffee shop and ice cream stand.
From Deck 14 we had a beautiful view of the city of Brisbane and the Brisbane River.
The ship set sail, slowly making her way downriver under the twin spans of the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges.
The reflected lights of the Port of Brisbane on Fisherman Island merged with the glow of the setting sun as we sailed from the mouth of the river into Moreton Bay.
As darkness fell, the decks of the ship lit up for our first night on board.
Last week we went sailing – on the beautiful P&O cruise ship Pacific Dawn.
Our seven night cruise began in the river city of Brisbane. We sailed north between the Great Barrier Reef and the Queensland coast to Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas, before heading 450 km east to Willis Island, a tiny speck of land in the Coral Sea. Our return journey took us into open waters outside the reef on our way back to Brisbane.
Our week was one of opposites – relaxation and activity, calm waters and rolling waves, a big ship and little boats.