Cruising on the PS Murray Princess

We were able to check in to the Riverside Caravan Park when we arrived in Mannum as our site was free so we quickly got set up and packed our bags for our cruise. We can leave the motorhome on our powered site while we are on the cruise as long as we stay one night before or after. We’ve booked to stay for two nights after the cruise as I think we’ll need a down day to give the motorhome a good clean, do washing, get some groceries and generally relax before setting off meandering again. The park charges $15 per night for the nights we are on the cruise and then $35 per night for the other two nights. It means we can leave our fridge on power so we don’t have to worry about anything thawing out. The Murray Princess provides secure parking for cars but their carpark is too small for our motorhome.

It was a bit of a walk from the caravan park to the wharf carrying our small carryon bags but we made it slowly and arrived there early. Boarding was to commence at 2.30pm so we had half an hour to spare. We settled in on seats under the Rotunda in the Mary Ann Reserve. This is a lovely park along the riverbank in Mannum. Lots of people were in the park taking advantage of the lovely sunny day, strolling, having picnics and watching the huge Murray Princess as she was moored up. We sat next to another couple who had luggage so we assumed they were fellow passengers. After chatting we discovered they are from Wagga. Small world!

A red carpet was rolled out on the wharf right on time and boarding was announced. We were the second ones on board and once on board we were directed into the Paddlewheel Lounge at the aft end of the ship. Here we had to check in with the Cruise Director Lisa. Richard asked if there had been any cancellations an could we get an upgrade. We had only booked the trip a few weeks ago and got the last available cabin which was on the lowest deck with only a porthole and twin beds. This cruise is usually booked out months in advance so we were lucky to get that cabin. Guess what??? There had been a cancellation so we could upgrade to a higher deck in an outside cabin with windows but still with twin beds. We were happy to upgrade so we are now in Cabin 21 on the Randell Deck.

We quickly settled in and unpacked in our small and cosy cabin before setting off to explore the ship. There was a compulsory safety briefing in the Sturt Dining Room for all passengers and it was the usual information about where to meet in an emergency and where the life vests are stored. The First Officer was amusing when he said that he’s not sure if we would ever need the life vests as if the ship was to sink the top floors would still be above the water and we could just wait there until we were rescued.

The ship got under way and departed from Mannum wharf right on time at 4.30pm. We quickly went out into the middle of the river and did a 180 degree turn so we were facing upriver. As we approached the double car ferries at Mannum the Captain sounded the huge air horns to let them know we were coming, although we are a bit hard to miss being some four stories high.

We went up on the Sun Deck at the top of the ship to watch our departure and stayed up there for while watching the river banks go by.

Dinner was held at 6.30pm in the Sturt Dining Room so we changed for dinner and went up there to find our allocated table. Our name badges show our table allocation for dinner. At breakfast and lunch you are free to sit wherever you like but at dinner you are allocated to a table. We are on Table 4 with 7 other couples. We enjoyed the 3 course meal and conversation flowed freely.

After dinner half our table stayed on to participate in an Anzac Trivia quiz. Some of the questions were quite tricky and we only got 15/19 correct. Not too shabby but not enough to win.

Rich and I retired for the night at 10ish and went to sleep lulled by the gentle rocking of the ship. By this time we were moored up to the bank after cruising for about 5 hours upriver.


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