The inaugural cruise ship visit to Wollongong (Port Kembla) was the Radiance of the Seas in October 2016, and I wrote about that in this post.
Last Monday 29th January we were ecstatic to welcome the vessel back for its third time and our first cruise ship for 2018. Here it is as seen from our balcony at 6.30am, heading towards the harbour entrance.
We had to be up that early because once again Bill and I were allocated to the shuttle buses that bring the visitors from the port into the city centre, a short ride, just long enough for us to orient them.
A sea of “yellow shirts” greeted the guests as they alighted from the bus. Ambassadors dressed in this distinctive livery were scattered all around the city, around 150 volunteers in all, and it proved a great success. As one visitor said, “any time we felt unsure of something, we simply looked for the nearest yellow shirt“.
Team Leaders got to wear a red shirt, which is the only reason I was prepared to take on the responsibility ( 🙂 ) of co-ordinating a host on each of the shuttle buses, and keeping track of the numbers.
As I mentioned at the end of my Australia Day post the Radiance of the Seas carries 2501 passengers and 859 crew. Around 2000 of those came into Wollongong, in addition to the several hundreds who opted for shore excursions.
Where I went wrong was anticipating that the demographic would be mostly Australians and New Zealanders. No such thing! Americans, Canadians, Germans, Argentinians and many other nationalities – as well as Kiwi cousins – made this a great day.
Here is what one posted on to the Facebook page after his visit.
“My wife and I arrived in Wollongong this morning on the Radiance of the Seas. We are from Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada. We were very impressed with the hospitality we received from your Ambassadors, they were very helpful and friendly. It was one of the best stops on our cruise and your city is beautiful, keep up the good work.”
The Arts Precinct, which was the central hub for the shuttle buses, was alive with activity including a maker’s market set up specially for the event. I sampled a Lemon Myrtle & Cream Cheese tart from the Koori Kulcha stand and it was delicious.
Rotary fed us volunteers with a traditional sausage sizzle, and it was amusing later that afternoon to have one of the American visitors ask me what the delicacy was called, and what was it made of. Well, basically, it is a barbecued sausage with a slice of (cheap white) bread wrapped around it, and barbecued onions are optional. I explained that it is traditionally associated with Bunnings, a very popular hardware store that allows charities to set up a sausage sizzle barbecue tent at the entrance. You buy one for less than the price of a coffee – and people love it. Ladies . . . if you ever lose track of your man, here’s the tip. Go to Bunnings and see if he is hanging out with the hardware tools and the sausage sizzle.
If you want a better idea of it from an outsider’s perspective, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to listen watch this comedy sketch. (some “f” bombs). It sums it up perfectly.
So the guy went off and bought one, and I was sorry I forgot to tell him that you help yourself to which sauce you want: tomato, barbecue or mustard. But he enjoyed it. His wife took a tentative bite. Oh c’monnnn – it’s a sausage. So when they get home, I wonder if they will be telling all their friends about this culinary delight?
We stayed in the precinct until 4pm, which was the deadline for passengers to catch the shuttle back to the ship, and then made our way to the golf club for the sail-away drink and canapes, where we sat on the balcony and watched the Radiance of the Seas steam away, twelve hours after she arrived.