This stage of the cruise is the last 6 days, with 4 days at sea and stops at Phy My (Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon) in Vietnam and Kaohsiung in Taiwan. The days at sea are pretty much the same routine that we developed earlier.
Our ukulele concert on the day before Singapore was a success on the basis of the crowd and the applause we received. Eric Ripper, our ukulele leader, invited anyone else who wanted to play the ukulele to join up after Singapore. The first day at sea after Singapore, we were flooded with enthusiastic new people who wanted to join up. All the borrowed soprano ukuleles were returned, and the new people were issued with ukuleles before the older hands could get their ukuleles back. Of course, Ian was pleased to hang onto his own tenor ukulele. In the end, I don’t think anyone missed out. We were given new music to learn, and Eric said that we would do a second concert on the day before we arrived at Hong Kong. However, this time we would only have half the number of sea days to prepare, which apparently worried a lot of people.
Numbers at ukulele classes, which again were only held on sea days, quickly dropped off, but Katie and Ian managed to hold onto a core of people, including John from Bowen. At the final concert, a smaller ukulele group played You Are my Sunshine again, as well as Hey Jude and Stand by Me. Again, we came across well. Much relieved, several of us enjoyed a celebratory drink afterwards.
Some of the ukulele group after the second concert. Eric is 4th from the right in the back.
John, Karen and Ian enjoying a celebratory drink
On the evening after our day trip to Ho Chi Minh City, we helped John and Joy from Bowen celebrate John’s 72nd birthday. The crew came out with a small chocolate cake with one candle, and surrounding diners joined in with a chorus of Happy Birthday. We got to know John and Joy a bit better at the dinner. John is a retired dragline operator at a coal mine. They have a caravan, and enjoy travelling around Australia. They also like Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and we had two bottles of Nobilo 2017 with dinner. We agreed to try and catch up as we travel around Australia during the rest of the year.
Our third and last formal night (on the second last sea day) saw Katie wear her Indian silk dress from Philomena. She looked stunning. The dining room had lobster tail on the menu for the special occasion, and we enjoyed a production show after dinner. Top night, although we did not see anyone we knew.
We returned to the ship relatively early after our shore excursion in Kaohsiung, in time for afternoon tea. We enjoyed afternoon tea several times last year on the Sun Princess cruise, so we wanted to attend at least once on this cruise. We had a table to ourselves, as usual for afternoon tea, and sampled the savoury and sweet delicacies over a pot of tea. Lovely!
We were invited to join Peter and Krystyna and David and Trish for dinner at the Crown Grill and Bar to celebrate Peter and Krystyna’s 39th wedding anniversary. This was on the evening after the day in Kaohsiung, and therefore after a big Taiwanese curry lunch and afternoon tea. It was a tough job, but we felt up to the gastronomic challenge. The steaks were great, and a rendition of Happy Anniversary (very similar to Happy Birthday) was sung by staff and surrounding diners.
One of the dessert items that we all went for was a dessert sampler—what a great idea after a big meal!
That night, it was a bit cooler outside, and Ian enjoyed sitting on our balcony with a Boddington Pub Ale while watching the cargo ships pass. We were in a very busy shipping channel.
On the last evening of the cruise we had dinner with John and Joy, although Joy was not feeling well. We finished off another bottle of Nobilo Sav Blanc. After dinner, John joined us for a show put on by some of the non-entertainment crew. John shouted Ian a Scotch, the only one on this cruise for Ian, and it went down very nicely. The crew show was well done, and included Eric Ripper on his guitar singing The Who’s Baba O’Reilly.
We had a final cocktail of the cruise, and retired after a huge day. We kept the balcony door open to hear the water against the ship as we sailed on to Hong Kong.
The ship entered Hong Kong Harbour very early, and we did not wake until we were almost at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. We crawled out of bed to get our first glimpse of the Hong Kong skyline, a bit tired after our last day on board. We had mixed emotions. We had thoroughly enjoyed our cruise, and we were sorry that it was over. However, Katie was eagerly looking forward to catching up with more of her family in Hong Kong. The next leg of our big trip had begun.