At anchor, today’s included shore excursion was a half-day at a posh resort in Paradise — in a Coral Sea archipelago off the coast of Queensland, discovered in 1770 by, of course, the amazing Captain Cook. The original inhabitants were the seafaring Ngaro, who remained here until 1870.
If you have a spare million — or ten or twenty — this is the place. A private island with no cars, just little shuttle busses and buggies, and a 6-star resort ($1,250 per night with a three-night minimum) voted the Best in the World by Conde Nast Traveler readers. If it was good enough for George Harrison, it’s good enough for you!
When George died in 2001, his house — above —was sold to an obviously very wealthy businessman who paid 8 million, then put another 10 million into it. The money from the sale was left to the Hamilton development community.
Hamilton Island (population around 1200) is one of the 74 Whitsunday Islands ‘at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.’ Bob Oakley (probably no relation to Annie) bought the entire island in 2003 from the original developer, who’d gone bankrupt. He paid $150 million and poured another $600-700 million into it to restore and rebuild. Frankly, it’s not all the greatest architecture but, like I said, if it was good enough for George… and Oprah, and Taylor, and Johnny and Leo, etc.
I was afraid to ask how much a ‘typical’ house like this one would cost…
A cyclone [that’s ‘hurricane,’ to us] traveling slowly hit the island last March and did extensive damage, so there’s a lot of construction and repair work still going on. Cyclone insurance is mandatory here. According to our driver, this is a very expensive house that was damaged:
The Sun viewed from the lookout point. We came ashore in tenders.
Once at the resort, we frolicked in the sun and waves. These are my friends Louise on the left, my sometime bridge partner, and Joan and Bobbie, whom I met arriving at the airport in Miami on December 13.
I bought a pair of earrings — my third pair this trip. At this rate, one pair every three weeks, I’ll come back with seven new pairs. It’s okay: they’re all different.
I finally set foot in the Pacific.
Yesterday’s Valentine’s Day event was a concert in the atrium starring Viking’s own entertainers — who are as good as and often better than the guest entertainers who come on board. The warm-up act was the Viking Ladies Cha-Cha Group. Every sea-day afternoon, Matthew holds a dance class in the classy bar at the bow. For the past month, they’ve been working on a cha-cha routine, which they performed yesterday. And did a damn good job. [It conflicts with bridge, so I dropped out.] When she introduced them, our cruise director said: ‘Can you imagine this happening on that cruise line I used to work for?’ [Holland America]
The Viking Sun Choir has begun work on its next presentation.... songs by Peter Allen. Who? All I could remember is, he was married to Liza Minelli. Here’s a bit of music trivia: Allen was marginally involved in writing the theme song to the movie Arthur . [Wiki] “The song was written in collaboration between [Christopher] Cross, pop music composer Burt Bacharach, and Bacharach’s frequent writing partner Carole Bayer Sager. A fourth writing credit went to Minnelli’s ex-husband and Australian songwriter Peter Allen, also a frequent collaborator with Bayer Sager: the line ‘When you get caught between the moon and New York City’ from the chorus was taken from an unreleased song Allen and Bayer Sager had previously written together. Allen came up with the line while his plane was in a holding pattern during a night arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport.”
The music we’re doing is mediocre at best. Sorry, Choir. But I‘ll be a trouper and stick with it, because the next piece of resistance on the schedule is... nope, won’t tell you. We’ll all like the next one — and I can play a couple of the songs on the uke — if they’ll only ask me! #