We are docked at the international cruise terminal, the "Pacific Princess" is in front of us. She too is on a world cruise, having left Florida a few days before we did. I had considered taking her, but felt the Amsterdam better suited me. Not surprisingly there are passengers on the Amsterdam that have friends on the Pacific Princess, world cruisers are a relatively small community and many of them do it every year. They got together at a nearby shopping area to share stories. I am told the Pacific Princess has less than 300 passengers, even though her capacity is about 800. If this is true, maybe prices will be more attractive next year.
My tour today is the "Kuranda Experience". Essentially a 21 mile narrow gauge train ride to the village of Kuranda. The railroad was originally built in the late 1800's to serve gold miners in the area. Now it is strictly a tourist train, utilizing two 1970 era, 1000 hp clyde-emd 8 diesel-electric engines to pull about 20 coaches up the 2% grade. The undercarriages of the coaches are from the 1910's, but have been totally rebuilt and refinished recently.
The track is in excellent condition. Over the 21 miles, there are 15 tunnels and 55 bridges, some wooden, others steel.
Unfortunately visibility from the coaches is rather limited by small low windows, safety bars about 4 or 5 inches apart, and heavy vegetation blocking many scenic views. Kuranda has a very busy tourist shopping area and other sightseeing possibilities including an extensive butterfly farm. There are many cafes from which to have lunch, and much needed cold beverages.
The return trip is by modern aerial cable car, completed in 1995. Going over the tree canopy in 6 passenger gondolas with large windows, and also making several scenic stops during the 4.7 mile journey, was definitely the best part of the excursion. We view the extensive forest, several waterfalls, and can see over the city of Cairns out over the great barrier reef miles away.
By the time I get back to the ship I am drenched from head to toe with perspiration. A nice cold shower and I go to the Crow's Nest for about 6 large glasses of ice water before dinner.
Tonight's entertainer is Dale Kristien, actress and singer who starred in Phantom of the Opera in New York for a number of years. She sang several songs from Phantom plus other numbers. Her voice reminded me of Martha Carres. A few of you will know that name.
The crew, staff, and cruise director are happy today, all the corporate executives have left the ship.
Tomorrow is a day at sea, I plan to sleep late.