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2013 ANZAC DAY CRUISE 19TH April to the 28th of April 2013.

With an expanded number of RAN, Army and this year Airforce association members, the Pacific Jewel hosted a week of fantastic concerts and a memorable Anzac Day as the ship approached the Isle of Pines.
2013 saw us back in Sydney for another adventure on the high seas on the P&O Pacific Jewel. The anticipation for this cruise is felt by all that sailed last year as the band is larger, the trip longer and touch wood, the weather better, and as always Ralph & Cheryle's organisation skills will make the trip a resounding success.
Members gathered in Sydney on Thursday the 18th of April at the St Patrick's College for a rehearsal in their very well equipped Music Department. After short introductions to new members we commenced a busy day of familiarizing ourselves with the new charts for this cruise. The band structure was excellent as was the sound and the rehearsal went off without any major hitches. After completing the concert band folio we ran through a Big Band set  and a Trombone Sextet to test the possibility of using these combinations onboard. On completion we made our way to the Parkroyal Hotel to meet the wives and partners. That evening we enjoyed drinks and nibbles and the night was enjoyed by everyone.

As with last year, the majority of the band stayed at the Parkroyal, Darling harbour before making our way to the new passenger terminal at White Bay on the Friday. The gathering the night before though was an excellent way of meeting all the new members and their partners and re-aquainting ourselves with last years crew.

Friday morning had the Band making their way to the ship for a 4pm departure on the Pacific Jewel. The weather as the day progressed though became overcast and windy and by the time the ship was ready to depart we had a fair old tail breeze. After our emergency drill the Ship set sail and passed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and our familiar haunt, Garden Island heading for the Heads for another year.

Leaving Sydney
Once through the heads the ship rolled with the swell and we were on our way for another trip to the Pacific Islands. Our first three days were at sea before we arrived at Port Vila at 8.00am for a daily visit. The weather over the three days was perfect and we had flat seas and sunny days. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the Atrium lounge where the ships show band (3 piece) played some excellent swing and Jazz standards. TC Hunt, Ivan Cocking, Mike Butcher and John Kathner joined them over the 3 days with little guest spots and added another level of sound to a very polished band. Arriving at Port Vila on day 4 we were treated to a hot and humid day and many enjoyed the comfort of the ship instead of going ashore. We set sail for Lifou at about 6pm and started to prepare for our first gig that night.

Lifou Dixie
Our first commitment was a Dixie concert in the Atrium starting at 8.45pm after leaving Port Vila. The players were, Ralph Daines on Clarinet/Vocals. Mike Butcher on Tenor Sax, TC Hunt on Trumpet, Ivan Cocking on Trombone, Ron Arnott on Tuba, Kevin Finlay on Bass Guitar, Errol Hatch on Drums and Joe (The ships Music Director) on Keyboards. The Atrium was packed and we were well underway and about two thirds through our set when all of a sudden the announcer (Deputy Cruise Director) came up with "Ladies and Gentlemen lets hear it for the RAN Veterans Band" and went on to announce the show that was going to happen in the Marque Theatre at 9.30pm. Everbody was shocked that we had finished (So were we), but we did get the opportunity for and encore.

Concert Night
Arriving at Lifou gave us a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery it has to offer from the top deck. As we came into the bay, a beautiful breeze and the crystal clear waters welcomed us as the passengers disembarked to enjoy the day. The day passed quickly and the ship sailed a 5.30pm. This was one of our big nights for the band, our anticipated evening concert in the Marque theatre. The theatre was filled with a enthusiastic audience and the concert was a mix of Concert band with a Big Band set in the middle. Our esteemed Conductor, Robert Bedwell entertained the crowd as we changed to a Big Band format and back again and then took us through the remaining program with ease (a credit to Rob's skills). The concert was well received and the audience encouraged an encore which they duly got. The band got a warm reception through the evening from those that enjoyed the concert and were looking forward to the Dawn Service the next day.

Dawn Service
The Dawn service took place on the Pool Deck and passengers could look down on the proceedings from the open deck above. As we were coming into the Isle of Pines, the ship was hardly moving and the air was still and warm. The service commenced at 6.00am and was attended by the John Foster, the Captain of the ship and senior members of the ships company. The Proceedings were conducted by the Cruise Director, Paul Hancox. The Bidding was read by Father John Houston and the Address by LCDR Bill Farrell AM. Lt Colonel Colin Fischer MBE read the quotation from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the Ode for the Fallen was read by Captain John Foster. Prayers and Psalms were delivered by Reverend Anthony Lang. A wreath was thrown into the sea off the Isle of Pines by Cruise Director, Paul Hancox followed by the Last Post and Reveille, played by Doug Drysdale and Brian Ellis.
The National Anthems of New Zealand and Australia were sung with gusto by our very own choir, Kerry Ellis, Ralph Daines, Graeme Johnson and Bill Farrell. The service ended with Waltzing Matilda and the gathering enjoyed Anzac Biscuits, Tea and Coffee after the service. A little antidote to the service. We were enjoying a coffee in the cafe and one of the Filipino waiters asked us what the ceremony was all about. Once we explained the history of ANZAC day she was quite moved that we celebrate that important day in our history.

Isle of Pines
The Isle of Pines was a sheer delight, with beautiful beaches and a great Hotel at the end of the beach to enjoy a Beer or French wine and maybe a BBQ'd Lobster, what else could you ask for on Anzac Day. As with most shore days it went fast and we were soon on the seas making our way back to Sydney. The Pacific Jewel moved up the coast of Noumea and passed through a small straight before hitting the high seas.

Last Day1
On the 27th we enjoyed our last group lunch in the Waterfront restaurant and the conversation was definitely on what's happening next year. That evening some of the members had the opportunity to play with the ships bands in a jam session called "Live at Charlies" All the ships musicians and entertainers put on a big jam session for the passengers and we were represented by a five piece combination made up of, Pat Steer on Trombone, Graeme Johnson on Trumpet, Christina Cirnigliaro on Alto Sax, Garrick Van der Schoot an Tenor Sax and Arnis Tillers an Bari Sax. Along with a great rhythm section they belted out the song "9 to 5" as their feature number and it was a hit with the masses. The Jam went into the night and was a great success.

Arriving into Sydney to a bright Sunday morning, we all disembarked and made our way home with fond memories and the thoughts of where to next. The following members and guests helped make the trip a complete success and includes wifes and partners, children and friends.
Ron & Judy Arnott, Robert & Kate Bedwell, Don Buntine, Arnis Tillers, Trevor "TC" Hunt, Ed & Norma Burgess, Mike Butcher & April Gallagher, Christina Cirnigliaro, John & Rhonda Close, Ivan & Judy Cocking, Doug & Lyn Drysdale, Brian & Kerry Ellis, Bill & Maxine Farrell, Kevin & Pam Finlay, Col & Eva Fischer, James & Pamela Fitzpatrick, Brian & Kristin Fleming, David & Cherie Hardstaff, Errol & Sharon Hatch, Graeme & Diane Johnson, John & Barbara Kathner, Ned & Christine Kellas, John & Jan McKenzie, Peter & Meralyn McMahon, Bill & Robyn Middleton, Dave & Kath Parnell, Rob Soutar, Garrick VAN der Schoot, Pat & Ali Steer, Ted & Marjorie Widdicombe, Mathew & Nicole Widdicombe, Jodie, Lachlan & Benjamin Wiidicombe, John & Marg Widdicombe and our most important couple, Ralph & Cheryle who's total commitment to this venture have again made it a trip to remember. Thanks from all of us.

For more photos of the trip go to "The Band Library" and down to "Past Association Events",  then to 2011 to 2015, "Anzac Cruise 2013".

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