The last days aboard the Pacific Dawn

I’ve been MIA for over a week now, but now I’m back baby!

 The Birthday

I had celebrated my 20th birthday on the cruise,  and it had certainly not been one to forget.

The hands-down best way to spend a birthday


The drinking had started early, by the time the Gatsby party had kicked off I was dancing in the stairwell entangling strangers with faux fur.

At lunch I was given an entire circular chocolate cake, whom we shared with people on our deck. Since we had no utensils, we resorted to using a credit card to cut the pieces

….

Mistakes were made that day.

I don’t recall taking this photo but it must have occurred sometime during the night. Oh well, he looked like a Hemsworth Bro

By 2am, after my legs had given out and my eyelids drooped – I made my way back to the shared  cabin, the ship’s rocking had sent me off to a doze the moment my head hit the pillow.

Homebound

Before the sun even rose this morning- I was up and moving, hurriedly stuffing the last of my damp bikini tops into my already overfilled backpack.

Silence, only broken with the zipping of bags filled the small cabin. Unkempt hair and unwashed faces left us feeling rather like how we looked;

Tired.

The cessation of rocking held with it the promise of being back at port. Since we had no window, the time and location was impossible to tell.

The top deck looking mighty empty in the early morning


Gathering whatever clothes I had left from my cupboard space, we made our way to our last breakfast aboard the Pacific Dawn.

As we walked from level 5, and my card beeped with the scanner for the last time; I looked back – all the drama and hilarity that had unfolded on that ship slipped away.

How empty and different it would feel now, if I was to ever board again; the ship would seem somewhat incomplete without the same theater group whom dominated the dance floor everynight,

the tanners on deck 10 with the complexion of leather.

Heck, even my awesome steward Anoop who always smiled, left me elephants made of towels, and fistpumped me as we left the cabin every afternoon.

As we rode home; Thomas, Marcel’s Dad- and our designated driver home; retraced our minds back to the ship that we had just left.

squad on point

 

How we spoke of the shenanigans we got up to and the food we ate, the people we met and the nights we didn’t remember.

Dad I found two new boyfriends!

Marcel exclaimed, bringing his father’s attention to the back of his iPhone 6 case – complete with two new smiling Polaroids.

Good Jub!

Replied Thomas, in his strong Filipino accent. His thumbs up-with the hint of a smile on his face.

The drive home felt shorter than it had been when we left to go aboard. Each of us excitedly chirped up when a broad question about he holiday was asked, all too eager to share stories.

We laughed as some boys we met on the cruise sent us Facebook messages, and we uploaded photo after photo of us (majority of me) looking awkward (as is the tradition of birthday photo montages on facebook).

When I got home, I unpacked, ate and hit up my gym. And started on what I’m doing right now: writing about it!

The cabin life

Travelling in a group of close friends was the best idea we had. We knew that we’d get on eachother’s nerves and so we tried best to accommodate for that.

 

Left to right: Marcel, Ash, Me, Mish at Lifou

Me and Marcel having the liveliest personas often shouted and competed for attention, causing a ruckus with a simple stare.
Ashleigh was the responsible one, making sure all of us got up in time or took our seasick tablets before bed, though she’d never say no to a good party. Mish was the calm, quiet friend who always was there for a good chat, or even a singing buddy if you were up for it.

The cabin was surprisingly spacious for four people, each of us had an allotted cabinet space. We shared the bathroom, although I would usually pop out to my parent’s suite for a better shower.

The things I loved the most

Don’t judge me, but one of my favorites had to be the bread.

 

this was literally the best

 

I don’t know what it is about the bread on board – but it was something else. If I could just eat those rolls for lunch and dinner i’d be a happy person.

The food overall was really good, there was nothing I didn’t like!

This fish was exquisite!


Pancakes to pan seared bacon for brekky, garlic snails, godly nachos at midnight and generous scoops of icecream at the New Zealand Natural located straight outside the Buffet – you’re really spoilt for choice!

some of the fancier diahes

The drinks were beautiful, and from the $480 bill I received you could probably guess where most of my money went.

It was a great trip, with parties every night and endless tables of food. So many lovely people I met aboard, and so many I didn’t have the chance to meet.
And Oh how the laughter and rage filled our cabin every night, the groans at 6am alarms and who had used the toilet last.

So finally, after the goodbyes were said, Facebook friends and status’ updated; we found that we had learnt more about eachother in 7 days than we had in 7 years. The night before, we had harnessed our inner Freddie Mercury and belted out some Queen renditions. Now even that seemed as if it was an eternity ago.

And, as we drove closer to home; the holiday high (like sleep in our eyes) – lingered.

So to boil it down to a single question;

would I go again?

Without a Dawning Doubt!

===Anna Freeman===

=== Student Dietitian===

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High seas for me!

I’m excited to share some news with you all! 

I’ve just received the conformation email for my seven day cruise next month, I’m officially going to be sailing the high tides on the P&O Pacific Dawn in February! 

I’ll be on this ship!!!!! credit google. 

It was a spontaneous buy.

It all started with a late night text and laughs over caramel pecan icecream.

Ash: Meet me at Baskin Robins in 15 x

cred: dogonews

My best friend excitedly dropped me the deets as icecream was dribbling down the sides of the chocolate waffle cone, melting (like I was) in the humid summer air;

Anna, how do you feel about going on this cruise next month? It’s just before Uni starts!

And of course, in true Anna fashion; I replied:

OH MY (EXPLETIVE) GOSH – YES. 

YES YES YES YES

YES.

credit tumblr

It was the last minute sales, we nabbed our cabin – more like bunker of four,  with two other mates that very night.

The following day they sold out.

The last cruise I went on was in the winter of 2006 (with the same company) – I’m a little more than out of shape cruisewise.

But the cool smell of the sea, dancing, smiles and mocktails in hand  will never fade from my memory (even though I was barely 8 years old the last time I went).

THIS TIME THOUGH, I’LL ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO DRINK

MHAHAHAHHA

to be honest though, this will probably be me.

I distinctly remember one of the Islands we ventured to, it was a beautiful place. The twang of ukulele’s filled the air. Shade from the palm trees gave much needed respite from the sun kissed sand, and the snorkeling  (though I don’t remember much of it).

Sea cucumbers dominated the seafloor, I remember being scared of them and refusing to go back into the reef.

Instead I decided to make a deep pit in the sand, in which I would hoard countless hermit crabs.

credit: mettarefuge

Those poor hermit crabs….

For 2 and a half hours there was this huge, strange, monster pushing them back into this pit when they tried to escape. Their attempts at climbing the sandy cliffs – an act of desperation – proving worthless.

Looking back, they probably felt like this. 

I don’t know what came over the strange mind of the 8 year old me, but I loved having this hermit crab zoo more than the cruise itself.

When it came to leaving I had left some half eaten biscuit crumbs in the pit, tears streaming down my face – Goodbye friends!

Yeah, I was really social back then.

I’ll have to tell you about the time I found a trove of coconuts by a beach and absolutely lost it.

But that’s for another time.

====== Anna Freeman, Student Dietecian ======

Ps: So if you have any cruise tips at all, please let me know! I’ve forgotten the in’s and outs of the cruising life!

A very FelINE Roman Holiday

So I’m sitting back in my broken swiggly chair.

The sky outside; clear blue, it’s currently a comfortably uncomfortable 28 degrees celsius (90F for our american cousins), expected to reach 34 by mid morning. The leaves of an unknown tree murmur outside in the non existent wind. My window blinds have been replaced by a towel; the Australian national flag as it’s print….. It’s good to be home.

Just 24 hours ago I had walked back through my wooden, stained glass front door; reeking of unwashed hair and sweat, with sleep remaining solidly in my eyes . We dragged our suitcases through the door and dumped them there. Our dog; Skip, went crazy, licking our legs, swirling around in circles and reeking of well, dog. I had a quick COLD shower and was under the blankets in a doze sooner than you could say Vegemite.

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a tourist classic, shame about the renos

38 hours ago I was just departing Dubai airport, most of the people gave me a suspicious look regarding my casual t-shirt and shorts attire. I heard it was uncommon to have your arms uncovered, even in the airport. I shrugged, It was hot, and I was in no mood to negotiate. Especially when I was confusing my brain enough with the fact that I should be sleeping, not walking around looking for the next gate at that time.

45 hours…. I was stuffing my face with (my last) classically huge pizza- the type you can only get in Rome; a simple and pleasing Margherita, fresh out of the oven. There was no triple bacon, megameat, cheese crust, hambuger stuffed, meatlover pizza in Rome (that I could find anyway), sorry to disappoint

A week ago… Was I checking out the Collessem? the Spanish steps at Spagna, the great St. peters Basilica or the Trevi fountain-nestled away in the backstreets of Rome?

No.

I was looking in the Ghetto of Rome; half lost, half exhilarated – but determined not to drag out the city map and risk looking like just ‘another ‘ tourist.

What were we searching for exactly?

Cats.

We had traveled across to the other side the world, taken three conjoining flights in the space of 48 hours, walked down unfamiliar streets and fallen victim to the dreaded lag of jet. All to find our feline friends, that had no notion of becoming our friends to begin with.

My mum came up with the idea; she had seen street cats dash through the autumn leaves at dusk behind our cozy rental apartment. It had been a mission ever since to find them.

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An uncanny Roman doppelganger to my own cat; Fuku.

“Seek and ye shall find”, it had been my Dad’s definitive saying for over a decade.

And find them we did.

We stumbled across them, almost by accident.

Ruins, as many did in Rome; just appeared out of NOWHERE! you’d seriously be walking down a normal street and then BAM, Colosseum. Completely and utterly dominating your view, you’d think you were standing in a postcard. Colossal (as the name implies) and oftentimes chipped to nothingness in places- most structures were just remnant slabs of marble, shells of their former splendor.

Absolutely breathtaking nonethless…

Anyway, back to the ghetto cats.

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one of many wild cats in rome! friendly enough right?

The ruins I’m talking about were nestled in the city centre, a tad tricky to find by foot, to be honest we just kept walking around until we found them.

Eventually we stumbled upon the theater of Pompey, located at  Palazzo della Cancelleria. Formally a large wooden (later decorated with marble), multipurpose theater in which formal meetings took place in the late republican era. The theater’s claim to fame is tied to Julius Caesar; the authoritarian and epic dictator (also the namesake of the decadently creamy salad), and the place of his assassination in 44BC. Nowadays an olive tree has been planted to mark the place whereupon he met his untimely end.

You wont find this in the Wikipedia site, but the Theatre of Pompey; whilst a marvelous site to look at, today serves a more particular and rather, residential purpose.

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famous for the assassination place of Caesar, continued fame by being overrun by cats. History logic

Whilst the ruins are blocked off to the public, on the west side there’s a small stairwell with a sign, the face of a cat imprinted on it’s front. The stairs lead down to a small shack-like shelter, and the strong smell of musk mixed in with heated air hit’s you in the face as you walk inside. A second afterwards the smell of cat becomes almost overpowering. The site is now home to over 200 individual cats. A handful of volunteers scuttle around, mewling after the cats like felines themselves.  Whilst a small lady with jet black hair tied in a ponytail, welcomes us with the trace of some European accent I can’t quite place. 12301711_10206396816853269_5564800490900088136_n

Welcome to Roma del Gato, we are a  non-forprofit charity shelter with over 150 cats, running for over 10 years...”

For 30 lovely, smelly minutes I was living the life of a cat lady.

Cats in their tens, twenties and thirties crowded in every nook and cranny of this small hut like shelter, the mewling, purring and meowing was like nothing you could ever imagine. All cats miraculously managed to ignore each other, even though they were basically top and tail next to each other. And all completely clean, well fed and content (well, as content as a cat could be I suppose).

It was incredible, my mum for one was in love the instant we set foot in the door. She bought an 18Euro top and was reluctant to leave. And as if the cats knew she was helping them out, one large tortoiseshell actually CLIMBED on her and stayed in her arms, a paw over her shoulder! as if to give her a hug and say ‘thanks’! I’ve never seen a cat do that before, and the other cat-loving  visitors eyed on with apparent jealousy.

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Well, my mum is more than keen to go back to Rome now.

Well, as we did throw our coins in the Trevi… It looks like this won’t be the last time I visit the Eternal city.

A red vespa! the iconic Roman vehicle, also note the awkwardness of my stance.
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Some incredible, (albeit frightening) architecture
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Rome (I noticed), has this unusual obsession with Pistachios. One of the richest desserts I have ever laid my lips upon, a cannelloni; not in the traditional sense though, this one is filled with cream and pistachios!
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A powerful statue, to me it looks like he’s thinking about that Pistachio cannelloni above.

Arrivederci,

~until next time!