I never set out to be a Cruise Ship Spotter, it kind of just happened. One day a week my work would take me to the Rocks area of Sydney and seemingly every week a new massive cruise ship would be moored at the International Passenger Terminal. To say that they utterly dominate Sydney Cove is somehow somewhat inadequate.
There's always a sense of excitement with hordes of happy people with huge trolley suitcases milling around in anticipation of sailing the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean in five star luxury. Well, at the very least, a basic four bunk inside cabin with no windows.
The sheer size of these vessels is quite overwhelming. Impressive by any measure, I started recording their presence at Circular Quay. The amazing statistics of these luxury floating resorts that appear and disappear overnight is equally impressive.
Cunard modestly describe the Queen Mary 2 as "the most magnificent ocean liner ever built". It is the biggest ship ever to berth at the Overseas Passenger Terminal and at 345 metres, it's 30 metres longer than the Celebrity Solstice.
Owner: Cunard Line Cost: US $900 million Occupancy: 2620
Only slightly shorter than the grand Queen Mary 2, the Celebrity Solstice has a few more decks and crams in a few extra beds. It boasts a top deck manicured lawn for those land lubbers who miss walking barefoot on grass.
A notch down in class from the Solstice is the Celebrity Millennium, although Celebrity Cruises claim the ship has been "Solsticized" with features such as the Celebrity Lounge, an ice-topped Martini Bar, the Café al Bacio & Gelateria and a Cellar Masters Wine Bar.
The newest addition to the P&O Cruises fleet, the kid friendly Pacific Pearl's top deck features a giant LED Big Screen and an outdoor circus arena where jaw-dropping acrobatics are performed. At celebrity chef Luke Mangan's restaurant Salt Grill, you can try the delicate crab omelette or a liquorice parfait with lime syrup.
Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas is full-on pampering with 8 pools, 8 bars, stateroom amenities such as flat-screen televisions, new bathrooms and an outdoor cinema screen. Can't keep still? Try the state-of -the-art fitness centre, with classes ranging from aerobics to kick-boxing and yoga.
The Carnival Spirit seems to be a family friendly affair. If the water park, mini-golf, two-deck fitness centre, jogging track and sports court is not enough activity, there are the pools and spas and games rooms. It has an incredible 16 bars. Could that be too many?
Owner: Carnival Cruises
Cost: US $375 million
Inaugural Date: 29 April 2001
Beam: 32.31 mts
Cruise Speed: 22 knots
There are not many cruise ships that can match the Voyager of the Seas' 10 pools and 14 bars and lounges. When you're through swimming, you can conquer the rock-climbing wall or try out the ice-skating rink and mini-golf course.
Owner: Royal Caribbean International
Cost: US$650 million
Tonnage: 137, 276
Inaugural Date: 21 November 1999
Length: 311 mts
Beam: 47.4 mts
Cruise Speed: 23.7 knots
The 'seabourn sojourn' is the highest level of cruising with an unmatched level of service, we were lucky to honeymoon onboard in the Amazon and Caribbean, the level of personal service surpassed even the scenery.