Travelling Australia - Journal 2015b
|15-16 April 2015
Port Melbourne to Devonport
We had booked on the overnight sailing of the Spirit of Tasmania from Port Melbourne to Devonport and had arrived at Port Melbourne well before boarding time. We had to use up several hours before we were allowed on to Station Pier at Port Melbourne. The boarding process, when it began, was fairly complex. The organisation was smooth in operation but was characterised by confusing information, especially about timing.
The ship was due to sail at 7:30 p.m. with boarding due to begin two and a half hours earlier (i.e. at 5:00 p.m.). In practice processing began at 4:30 when vehicles to board were allowed into the quarantine and safety checking area where compliance with Tasmania's rigid rules was checked. Most questions were routine (such as any firearms?) but some were "different" (any fishing gear or wet-suits??); the layer of red mud on our mud-flaps was deemed by quarantine to be unacceptable and we were issued with a notice requiring us to report to the quarantine people in Devonport to was the mud off; a distinctive sticker was put on the windscreen.
After completing the quarantine processing, vehicles lined up in two rows along Station Pier at the book-in stand which opened five minutes after 5:00 o'clock. Despite several statements, including one in the booking acknowledgement form e-mailed to us, there was no need for a drivers licence at check-in. We were issued with three boarding passes, one for each of us and one for the vehicle. Then we joined another group of queued vehicles along Station Pier running the length of the ship. Despite the claims that boarding would begin at 5 it was not until 6:00 (one and a half hours before sailing) that the first vehicle drove on board through the bow ramp. Once on board the process was well-polished and hundreds of vehicles were directed into parking places leaving just enough space for people to move between them.
Hundreds of people moved from their vehicles on the garage decks up lifts and stairwells to the accommodation decks looking for their cabins along corridors which all looked identical. Fortunately there were ships staff carefully positioned to direct people to their cabins and the corridors quickly cleared of lost-looking people carrying bags.
15/16 April 2015 - page 2
Our cabin was an internal (no porthole) four berth one with us as the only two occupants. It had two pairs of single bunks and a small toilet/shower. It could be occupied by four people but they would have to be friends, or quickly become friends. Lighting was good and so was the ventilation; there was a (cooler/warmer) temperature control which was effective over half an hour or so.
Our cabin was on Deck 8, the public areas were on Deck 7 fairly close to us. There was a souvenir shops, a tourist information centre (well-stocked), a buffet eatery (The Captain's Table), a sit-down restaurant (The Leatherwood), an enquiry counter, and lots of tables and chairs. We had an excellent meal at the self-serve buffet eatery. While we were eating the ship sailed from Princes Pier but it was well and truly dark outside and we couldn't see much.
Later I went around the ship. There were many tables and chairs on upper decks well aft with (closed) bars and food serveries nearby; for daytime sailings this area would be heavily patronised but on a windy night in April there were few passengers here. On a previous trip we had done on this ship we chose a daytime sailing and were able to follow progress down Port Phillip Bay, through the Heads and across Bass Strait. But this trip was all in the dark.
We went to bed soon after eating; lying in bed we could feel slight motion of the ship but nothing to worry about. We were woken at 5:30 by a speaker broadcast advising when the ship would arrive in Devonport and the time when passengers would be called to go to vehicles on different garage decks. Showering, dressing and packing didn't take long and we were soon having a cup of coffee as the light outside increased and we could see we were already alongside in Devonport.
When we were called, getting to our car was not difficult, although there was limited lift/stair access. Fairly soon cars near us were being directed to reverse a little then turn and go forward up the ramp onto 3 Deck which was the level of the bow ramp. Then we did the same and within a few minutes were off the Spirit of Tasmania in a long line of cars heading away from the wharf. Our quarantine sticker on the windscreen meant we were soon waved aside for further processing. Based on information in Melbourne I expected to have to wash the mud flaps myself and some vehicles ahead of us were doing their own work but a Quarantine worker arrived and took over the high-pressure hose. She had to ask where the mud on our vehicle was and expressed some surprise that washing was needed for such a small amount. She took a few minutes to complete the task and we were on our way into Devonport at 7 o'clock in the morning.
Click on photograph below to open large image
|Garage Deck||Cabin Corridor|
|Cabin Bunks||Single bunk|
15 April 2015 - page 3