Far North, Torres Strait and Ribbon Reef Region, Australia

In Darwin, we picked up a senior Reef Pilot who specializes in getting ships through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which contains more than 3000 individual reefs and over 1000 islands in its 3000 km length.  As the pilot told us in a lecture, his job is to make sure there is water on both sides of the ship and underneath.  He had quite a few photos of ships raised high above the reef when her pilot failed in his task.  The pilot will be with us to Brisbane.  Last night we anchored overnight at Sherrard Island Reef which appeared to be no more than two sand bars and a rock.  It is not safe to transit the reef at night.  Today we passed many small islands, a few of them volcanic, and a few places where the reef was visible in the distance. (photos) Unfortunately it was raining most of the day or we would have been able to see more of the colours of the reef.We will exit the reef at dinnertime and can continue overnight to Cairns.  I was asked to tell a bit about what one does on sea days.  Lectures by the pilot and experts in history, geography, marine biology and the onboard travel guide help to fill the day. In addition, there is a well equipped gym and if you like tai chi, yoga, pilates, spin, dancing, bridge, watercolours, crafts, flower arranging, bingo, trivia, gambling or need lessons on how to use your computer or camera, there is a class or activity for you.  They have guest celebrity chefs who give classes in a specially equipped kitchen and there is a Master “Mixologist” who can teach you how to mix any drink you like.  There is a good library for those who simply want to sit on the deck and read while the scenery goes by. There are at least three house bands and a pianist who play different kinds of music in the bars and we have guest entertainers each evening. At night they show fairly recent movies.  They have a rabbi, minister and priest on board and they conduct regular religious services.   As they say, something for everyone.

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