The drive to our first stop is over an hour. Traffic and construction slows the bus quite a bit, but we finally arrive at Featherdale Wildlife Park. Part sanctuary for endangered species and part zoo. Very well done, we spend an hour wandering among the kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, reptiles, Tasmanian devils, wombats, and many species of Australian birds.
Our next stop is supposed to be for lunch, but instead our nearly new Mercedes bus is randomly pulled over for an inspection by local authorities, two RMS inspectors go over the bus with a fine tooth comb first checking paperwork, weighing the bus, testing lights, signals, tires etc. they continue by checking luggage compartments, and walking thru the passenger aisle several times. I'm not sure what they were looking for beyond checking that everyone was wearing a seat belt. Of course I buckled mine as they entered the bus.
The driver shared with us, after the 20 to 25 minute inspection was complete, that this was the first time he has ever been stopped in his 15 year career as a commercial bus driver.
We continue on to The Mountain Heritage Hotel. An elegant restored early 1900's hotel in the blue mountains with a gorgeous view. The lunch was as one would expect in any fine resort. Perfectly prepared and presented. HAL could not have done better.
After lunch we continued to the Waradah Aboriginal Center in Katoomba where we were treated to a short presentation of dance and cultural history. After a brief walk we could view the blue mountains and the valley from an observation area. The guide likes to describe the area as being like the grand canyon, but with trees. Personally I think a comparison with the grand canyon is too much of an exaggeration, a comparison with the smokey mountains would be more appropriate.
Due to the delays and the traffic, we arrived at the ship about five minutes after boarding time. As I entered the ship, they were conducting a safety drill. Not hearing the announcements, I ask and learn the drill is just for the new passengers that boarded in Sydney.
Tonight there is a large sail away party with beer, wine, soft drinks and various finger foods. I decide it will be my dinner.
As we sail out of the harbor, the "Explorer of The Seas" is berthed in the International Terminal. We pass the bridge and the opera house and I get a few last pictures. About 5 minutes later the ship comes to a halt and the captain announces that a medical emergency requires the evacuation of a passenger. It will be a 20 or 30 minute wait for a police boat to arrive for transport.
A few minutes later there is another medical emergency just inside the Lido from the party. A lady has collapsed to the floor. There are about 25 small sailboats off our stern, tacking back and forth across the harbor. The sun sets, and we sit. We remain in the harbor for about 2 hours dealing with the two emergencies before continuing on.
No alarm, tomorrow is a sea day and I will sleep late. Tonight we set our clocks back one hour. When it is 1 AM on Friday on the ship, it is 10 AM on Thursday in Florida.
I think I mentioned this before. I am finding that the Internet works best about 3 or 4 AM ships time, the one downside to this schedule is that after I am up for the 5 or 10 minutes sending the post and getting any email, I find I am too awake, and toss and turn for an hour or more before falling asleep again.