Dayna's Blog

Holidays, walks and who knows what


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Open Day on ‘THE NEW’ Spirit of Tasmania

“The idea was to create something like a top-notch hotel feel,” quotes The Mercury of Richard Nilsson, the Swedish designer behind the new look of the twin Spirit of Tasmania ferries which travel between Port Melbourne (Victoria) and Devonport (Tasmania).

I won’t bore you with how many return trips we’ve taken aboard one or other of the ferries (strangely, it’s been more often number II), but since the refurbishments were completed in August we have been keen to see for ourselves what has changed. (If you haven’t been before, or if it’s been a while, check out my photos of before the refurbishments here.)

Having received permission to come aboard (you had to apply in the week or two before the Open Day) we decided to catch a tram (well, two trams) across town to Port Melbourne. The route 109 tram stops about 100m from Station Pier. Given we live pretty close to a tram stop, and the high likelihood of experiencing lots of bother trying to find a park had we taken the car, tramming it was definitely the way to go.

Cool! Stilt walkers, balloons, and mini SoT's! Getting excited now!

Cool! Stilt walkers, balloons, and mini SoT’s! Getting excited now!

There weren’t queues, but enough people were wandering in the right direction so it was unlikely anyone was going to get lost – even if there hadn’t been plenty of red-shirted, boat-hatted people greeting people and making sure we didn’t get lost.

Up in the check-in lounge there were a dozen or so Tasmanian tourist stands, to whet the appetite of prospective travellers.

There were about a dozen information stalls to help you plan your next holiday

There were about a dozen information stalls to help you plan your next holiday

A bit of Tassie for everyone in the Check-in Lounge

A bit of Tassie for everyone in the Check-in Lounge

Passing by all the photos in the hall I started to feel the usual excitement I get when we board the big red boat. Pity we weren’t sailing off to Tassie today!

Lots of fabulous photos - many places we've been, some still to discover

Lots of fabulous photos – many places we’ve been, some still to discover

I guess 'The Revamped' would have been a bit long...

I guess ‘The Revamped’ would have been a bit long…

Ooooh! How exciting! Everything is about to be revealed!

Boarding!

Boarding!

Hmmm, this bit feels like Crown Casino… (I haven’t boarded this way before so I don’t know if this has changed or not.)

Oooh, I almost feel like I'm in Crown Casino!

Oooh, I almost feel like I’m in Crown Casino!

First change – no tourism shop. Now there’s a Tourism Hub. There is a desk to the left where (hopefully) a staff member will be there to answer any questions passengers have.

Walking up the port (left) side of the ship there is now a BYO Library (officially named the Reading Room) where there used to be The Leatherwood Restaurant. Clearly this area is for quiet activities – if you want to make noise, there is plenty of space on upper decks.

Leatherwood Restaurant has become a BYO library

Leatherwood Restaurant has become a BYO library

The light shade in the 'library' was very nice - scrolls of huon pine - Deck 7

The light shade in the ‘library’ was very nice – scrolls of huon pine – Deck 7

Next to the library is the new reception area. I wouldn’t have chosen red, and continuing red along the corridor seemed a little over the top, but hey – that’s just my opinion, and it’s just a small area of Deck 7.

Not sure if it feels more like a school corridor or fire department, but it is very red around this small section of Deck 7 now

Not sure if it feels more like a school corridor or fire department, but it is very red around this small section of Deck 7 now

Turning the corner was the next surprise – the new shop! The Pantry will almost certainly meet your (or the kids’) sugar/salt/caffeine requirements, but the most notable difference is the lack of souveniers now. (I hope you stocked up on your last trip as we did!)

The Pantry replaces Tasmania Onboard (shop)

Tasmania Onboard has become The Pantry

The Pantry has also kicked out the pokies! And I can’t say I’m sorry to see them go. It was the only inclusion I really disliked about the previous layout of the ships.

Ahead was more lounge area, with a touch of blue, and lovely Tasmanian scenery instead of TV screens.

The old reception area is now also lounge, as is where the shop (Tasmania Onboard) used to be.

Reception used to be straight ahead, and the shop to the right

Reception used to be straight ahead, and the shop to the right

I’m not certain if anything has changed in the cinemas, but this is how they are now. Red on the left, and blue on the right. (I don’t think you have to read too much into that.)

Onto the cabins.

Not much has changed. ‘Soft furnishings’ simply means the blinds, possibly the upholstery on the chairs, and I’m fairly sure the carpet in the rooms has been replaced. The bunks and bathrooms appear to be the same as usual. The Deluxe suites feel noticeably smaller, but they’re still a lot roomier than any of the other cabins. (Note: the 4 bed porthole cabin photo was from Deck 8)

A brief spell outdoors (still on Deck 7)…

…past the place we used to hang out, read a paper and have a drink whilst waiting until it was time for dinner – the lavender of Bridestowe has been replaced by the Aurora Australis…

…before finally getting a look at the new dining area. Goodbye Captains Table. Hello TMK (The Market Kitchen)! No more table service and white table cloths, I’m afraid. Now we’re all taking a tray and loading our own plates, I think. The menu looks familiar, but I wonder how long it’ll last. As for the condiments rack? Hmmm, classy.

Well, that’s Deck 7 covered. Sleeping, eating, and a bit of lounging.

Unless you’re sleeping on Deck 8, there won’t be much there to see for you – unless you’re here on an open day! So, check it out!

The Recliners have all been replaced. I had a brief sit in one. It felt pretty good, but I’m not in a hurry to give up booking a cabin in favour of the ‘cheap seats’ – especially as I like having a shower at least once every 24 hours. But if you’re not so fussy, and if you’re not taking a whole pile of luggage with you (or planning to bring a lot of souvenirs back), then these might be the best option for you.

The Recliners on Deck 8 have all been replaced so they should be better than ever

The Recliners on Deck 8 have all been replaced so they should be better than ever

Native Tasmanian woods are much admired. It was nice to see them used onboard

Native Tasmanian woods are much admired. It was nice to see them used onboard

Moving up to Deck 9 now – brace yourselves!

Rear of Deck 9 is where things started to get realy funky

Rear of Deck 9 is where things started to get realy funky

Well, they said it would be different. It’s all to encourage more day sailing passengers.

Deck 9 always felt more weather tight than Deck 10, so having lounge areas here wasn’t too surprising. But would there be more of the same upstairs?

Well, no. It was More.

I’m sure they’ve thought about things sliding around in heavy seas. Of course they have. Because not every sail is a pleasant day like this one was.

Now how do you get everyone up on Deck 10 to come down again? Send up the band!

They were very good, and I’ll wager that most of the people upstairs followed them to see where they went, not knowing that we were being surreptitiously being escorted out.

Playing and walking down the stairs was quite a trick. I’m not sure where the trio exited, but we had to walk down to Deck G3; this is usually a cargo/freight deck. Cars are usually parked on Decks 5 & 6, sometimes Deck 4 if it’s really busy.

And that was it! We disembarked at ground level and were treated to a fantastic sight of the Spirit of Tasmania – you may recognise it from their ads. I find it fascinating the way the sides at the front also come away from the ship.

Disembarked

Disembarked

So, overall impression?

Bass Strait is not the Mediterranean; the weather ranges from windy to blowing a gale, so the ‘bringing the outdoors in’  idea with the use of the fake grass and garden furniture struck a chord that didn’t resonate true with my memories of previous crossings.

I didn’t test the furniture to see if it was bolted to the floor, but there is a lot on Deck 9 & 10 that looked like it wasn’t secured. If bad weather is forecasted, there may be a lot for the staff to put away for passenger’s safety. It’ll be interesting to see how long this lasts.

Ditto with the bars on those levels. I was advised that the Bars on Decks 9 & 10 would be open for day sailings (as you’d expect) and winter sailings (for at least a few hours. Something to watch with interest. I certainly hope that Deck 10 is a little more air-tight now, as it used to get a bit chilly up there during winter.

We are both very sorry that The Leatherwood restaurant has been scrapped. Having only one sitting a night did not improve profitability, but the demand was certainly there to do two sittings – even in winter. Now, instead of racing to get a restaurant reservation, I wonder if we’ll be hurrying to get a small table for dinner – despite the expanded dining area.

It’ll be interesting to compare our next voyage to our previous experiences.

You can check out the official time lapse videos and information about the refurbishments on the Spirit of Tasmania website.

🙂

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Melbourne Brompton Club – Ride to St Kilda Pier – 31 May, 2015

The forecast had been for showers today, so I was pretty relieved when I woke up and didn’t hear the unmistakable sound of rain drumming on the roof. I’m not sure that everyone in our group was quite so lucky, but despite the weather (this IS Melbourne after all – if we only planed activities around ‘good’ weather forecasts nothing would happen for 8-9 months a year!) we had a pretty good turn out.

So good, in fact, we doubled the number of Bromptoneers we’d had on our inaugural ride! Not bad, hey?

First group photo on Webb Bridge, Docklands

First group photo on Webb Bridge, Docklands

We managed to turn a few heads of passers-by as we met on Webb Bridge (a popular pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the Yarra River at Docklands). Is it wrong to say that most Brompton owners like taking snaps of their Brommies? Well, as soon as I saw what Cory was carrying, I knew I didn’t have to worry about being the unofficial photographer for this ride. Besides, I’ve seen some of his photos previously; he’s got an eye for it. (There’s a link to his photos at the end of the post.)

After numerous of photos were taken and all riders were present and correct, we set off to Port Melbourne. It’s only about 4km to Station Pier and once we’d picked up the bike path around the back of the Melbourne Exhibition Centre the path follows a tram (aka ‘light rail’ to most of you non-Melburnians) track all the way to Station Pier. Early on the bike path twice crosses tram tracks, and there are a couple of road crossing, but otherwise it’s a pretty cruisey ride.

At Station Pier we turned left and rode the short distance along to Princes Pier. A known fishing and photography spot (some people even combine the two) it was a joy to spread out and cycle along the smooth, wide concrete jetty. I’d never been on this pier before – I’d only seen it from inside the Mini as we’re queuing the board the Spirit of Tasmania docked at Station Pier to the east. Time for more photos, surely?

Not dallying too long, as a couple of our riders had limited time, we back-tracked slightly to ride by Station Pier to continue down to St Kilda Pier for a hot drink (and possibly a treat) at the Pavilion.

Bromptons at Port Melbourne, with the Spirit of Tasmania in the background

Bromptons at Port Melbourne, with the Spirit of Tasmania in the background

A quick stop for photos just on the other side of Station Pier, with the Spirit of Tasmania in the background, then Cory and Greg had to depart (Greg would meet us at St Kilda Pier later).

Bromptons at Port Melbourne, with the Spirit of Tasmania in the background

Bromptons at Port Melbourne, with the Spirit of Tasmania in the background

Setting off, there was even a hint of sun and blue skies as we rode along the flat cycle path along the foreshore, making the beach and Port Phillip Bay look very enticing, indeed! Plenty of folk were out enjoying the day – other cyclists, walkers, many people with dogs, some people swimming  or playing sports on the sand.

People playing sport on the beach at Port Melbourne

People playing sport on the beach at Port Melbourne

It’s usually a bit windy down by the bay, but we hadn’t really appreciated just how windy it was until we turned to ride out along the pier! It’s a good thing my helmet’s strapped on! I wonder what it’s like when there’s a strong wind warning for the bay? Golly!

Fortunately there weren’t too many people around at the Pavilion, and we didn’t create a nuisance of ourselves as we lined up to take more photos. We even managed to grab a couple of tables and sat down to enjoy a hot beverage and chat while we waited for Greg to rejoin us.

Brompton line-up at St Kilda Pavilion

Brompton line-up at St Kilda Pavilion

Looking back to the city from St Kilda Pavilion

Looking back to the city from St Kilda Pavilion

All good things come to an end, and soon enough it was time to ride back to the city. Unfortunately Greg and Siewmee said goodbye as we left St Kilda Pier, so we were down to five Bromptoneers. Heading back up the beach was all into the wind – I’m sure I’m a bit windburnt on my face from that 4km stretch. Shedding a layer (down to two) I was not disappointed to head inland and follow the more sheltered bike path by the (Route 109) tram line.

It had clouded over again by the time we'd finished our drinks at St Kilda Pavilion

It had clouded over again by the time we’d finished our drinks at St Kilda Pavilion

The heavens opened and we were rained on as we neared the end of the line – but only gently and briefly, and just enough to prompt a couple of slightly adulterated lines of ‘singing in the rain’ from Elsie and I. Well… she started it!

Back at the Exhibition Centre it was our turn to peel off from the group. Stephen and I were turning right and heading home through the city – the others (Stanley, Elsie and Bethy) were heading left to go home. So then there were three.

It was another great day, and a real pleasure to have more members along on the ride. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a Brompton owner (yet, anyway) to join us – you just need to be interested and not mind that we love our Bromptons!

To see some REALLY good photos from this ride, have a look at Cory’s photos for the Melbourne Brompton Club on Flickr. Stanley has also posted his photos on the club’s Facebook page.

The best way to keep up to date for future rides and activities is via the group’s FaceBook page, but we also have Twitter and Strava accounts.

: )