The grand divas of the oceans grace Sydney Harbour almost every day. But I’ve never stepped aboard until now. Come with me on a quick tour of ms Oosterdam during her maiden visit to Sydney. And then we’ll have lunch. With a capacity of just over 1,916 passengers she’s medium-sized compared to the floating monoliths that carry upwards of 4,000.
Nice view, huh? She’s docked on Circular Quay right around the corner from our iconic harbour bridge. It’s a hyper bright day, the jolly little harbour ferries are steaming in and out of their berths, puttering past the Opera House. All is well.
Sydney’s central harbour precinct is a confusing mix of architecture. On one hand we have the billowing white sails of the Opera House, stately sandstone and brick buildings of the Georgian and Victorian eras. And then there’s this.
Nicknamed The Toasters, the post-Stalin monstrosities on the left have long been a sore point among Sydneysiders. The Cahill Expressway cutting across the view is also ugly, but unlikely to go underground any time soon. Turn away from the horror, and let’s explore.
Here’s the stats: 11 guest decks, 14 elevators, four restaurants, outdoor swimming pools, spa, sauna, gym, small number of shops, internet centre, basketball and volleyball courts, casino, bars, a small movie theatre etc. The internet speed is slow compared to land-based connections. The beauty spa is large and has an elaborate treatment range. All for a price. A 50-minute aroma stone massage: $149; a 75-minute full-body massage $185; a 75-minute Thai herbal poultice massage $195.
Do a brisk promenade of the deck around the ship four times and you’ve walked 1.6km. One of the verandah staterooms has a hot tub on the balcony. And that (below) is the bathroom.
Well, here we are, lunching off Bvlgari plates in the Pinnacle Grill. On the menu today: grilled scallops in ginger soy glaze; chilled berry soup; three choices of a main including olive oil poached Pacific Cod, oven baked rack of lamb with roasted pepper puree, veges and rosemary-garlic demi-glace, or harvest butternut squash risotto in a tagine vinaigrette. We’ll have the lamb.
The company, Holland America, advises it only serves sustainable seafood. There is no self-service for the first 48 hours to minimise the spread of any viral illness that may have been brought on board. There’s no worse publicity about a cruise ship (other than sinking) than hundreds of passengers with vomiting and diarrhoea.
Oh look, dessert! A chocolate tart: crisp sugar dough filled with creamy bitter-sweet chocolate ganache and a bright green toffee flame. I hope you enjoyed yourself. I sure did. More details: www.hollandamerica.com.au