Thursday, 31 October 2013 – Day 7 of cruise

Thursday, 31 October 2013 – Day 7 of cruise

Today is a day at sea. Woke up with a shocking headache so was a very late, slow start to the morning. Thankfully later in the day was feeling a lot better.  Got an invitation to the Captain’s Cocktail Party so wanted to feel well enough to go.

Went into The Dome to meet Captain Perra and have a quick photo with him and then in to partake some delicious nibblies and I had a nice cocktail. IMG_1360aAfter he had greeted all his guests, he came in and gave a little talk and was interesting to hear that a couple on board were on their 72nd cruise. BUT, I was talking to one of the passengers who told me that on one of her cruises (this one was her 21st) there was a gentleman who was on his 96th!  Wow.   The pianist played until it was time to then go into dinner in the Waterfront Restaurant. Another terrific meal – Chicken and mushroom pie for entree, juicy steak and vegies, bombe alaske for dessert and some cheese. Yummo.

There was a beautiful display outside the restaurant as  it was Halloween Evening.IMG_1377 We saw lots of cleverly made costumes as we wandered around the ship.  After dinner, went onto Deck 5 to watch the restaurant staff build a Champagne Waterfall. Was quite impressive. Later, it was dismantled and the champagne given out to guests.

Not me as I am not partial to champagne!  IMG_1383a waterfall towerAfter listening to some quite good karaoke, it was time for bed. Another creation by our steward. IMG_1375

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 – Day 6 of cruise

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 – Day 6 of cruise .

After breakfast, we boarded  the 10.25 am tender (the lifeboat from the ship)IMG_1183 to go onto the shore of Isle of Pines known as the “Jewel of the Pacific”. Formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, the island is now surrounded by a colourful reef, teeming with life. On land, the diverse flora and fauna make it one of the most unique habitats on earth. Isle of  Pines is located just 50 kilometres south-east of Grand Terre, New Caledonia’s main islandIMG_1176. Captain James Cook was the first European to discover Isle of Pines in 1774 on his second voyage to New Zealand. He gave the island its name after seeing the tall native pines (araucaria conifer trees) for which it is famous. Cook never set foot on the island, but noted it was inhabited because he saw smoke. In the 1840s Protestant and Catholic missionaries arrived, along with merchants seeking sandalwood. In 1872 the island became a penal colony for 3000 French convicts from the Paris Commune. Today, nearly 140 years later, the island is less populated than previously and remains extremely protected by the tribal system. The French  took possession of the island in 1853 at which time the native Kunies opted for the Catholic religion. The language on the Isle of Pines is French and Kanak dialects. The currency is the French Pacific Franc. We took the “Island Discovery” tour on a bus.  IMG_1239We headed inland past the hospital and residential areas, banyan trees with their twisted branches finding sunlight. With their flat-topped canopies, they are very unusually shaped trees . We past the ruins of a penal colony in the village of Ouro in the west of the island, the water tower of Ouro which was built by prisoners in 1874/75 and renovated in 2005 is still used today. We past a small church and the cemetery Cimetière des Déportés near Ouro a pyramid shaped memorial and the graves of 240 deportees who died here between 1872 and 1880. Yam plantations and pine forests were seen on our way to Queen Hortense’s Grotto.



We took a short walk through a beautiful rainforest track with vines, ferns and vibrant flowers, over a little stream to the cave, the island’s most famous cave.  It is located east of the airport, near Vao. Apparently in 1855 the Queen had to hide out in the cave for a year in fear of her life. The amazing hanging stalactites, stalagmites and fern-covered limestone rock face makes you feel as though you are visiting a prehistoric location fit for a dinosaur documentary. The locals use Queens Cave for prayer and have a Virgin Mary statue in the cliff wall. A beautiful spot. Back through the rainforest again and on to the bus.  The island’s most famous cave has numerous stalactites and , and a little stream. The cave was said to be the hiding place of Queen Hortense before her abdication in 1883. It’s located east of the airport, near Vao.

Our next stop was Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Church, a large beautiful convict-built Catholic church located in a prime position in Vao village, the only one to be found on the island, along with monastery and convent which houses the brothers and sisters for the local school.  The wooden church was built in 1860 with a carved ceiling made of all the different types of wood found in the island and has the most beautiful acoustics.  The lay out of this church is in the shape of a crucifix.  The gardens and grounds area is fenced with wooden stakes around the Presbytery. It is primitive yet effective, matching the surroundings.

Outside the Catholic church on Isle of Pines

Outside the Catholic church on Isle of Pines

We continued on through the main village to St Josephs Bay, a huge bay on the east cost of the island, about 2kms from Kutu. It is a tribal fishing village displaying tribal boats with modern fishing nets. Huts are scattered along the coast line here and inland as well. The native Kunies live here and keep tribal customs alive with their wood carved canoes, and fishing traditions.  It was amusing to see a phone box here.

St Joseph's Bay - Isle of Pines

St Joseph’s Bay – Isle of Pines

We then headed to a beautiful enclosed bay on the southern tip of the Isle of Pines, to Maurice Bay . The Statue of Saint Maurice celebrates the first Catholic service  held on the island. Totems poles of wild animals and birds have been carved from local trees placed to protect the Statue of St Maurice from evil spirits. Young lads were carrying coconuts in bags on their backs to take home.

Me and boyfriend at St Maurice's Bay !!

Me and boyfriend at St Maurice’s Bay !!

Then it was back on the bus once more and back to Oro Bay where there is Baie de Kuto and Baie de Kanumera , two superb beaches of incredibly fine white sand, crystal water and a natural swimming pool carved out of the coral limestone. Wonderful for swimming and snorkelling. The locals had their handicrafts, clothing, sandalwood products and souvenir stores set up all along the shore. We were given a drink and I purchased a tasty coconut fritter.

It was then time for a wonderful dip at Kanumera Bay near a large rock (Le Rocher).

The Rock is sacred for the local Kanak people and one is not allowed to climb up on to the rock. After awhile at Kanumera Bay, I wandered along the beautiful palm tree lined avenues over to Kuto Bay where I watched some local little girls amusing themselves with some coconuts.

Three little local girls amusing themselves with coconuts on beach

Three little local girls amusing themselves with coconuts on beach

I had another dip

Another dip in Baie de Kuto on Isle of Pines - was beautiful in

Another dip in Baie de Kuto on Isle of Pines – was beautiful in

here before it was time to go back onto the 2.55 pm tender to the ship as we were ready to sail. I thoroughly enjoyed the Isle of Pines – truly paradise. Once back on the ship, had a late hamburger lunch and then went for a quick free massage. Tonight we went to the early sitting for dinner with Elly, Annette, Cheryl and Janet in the Waterfront Restaurant. I had an entree of salmon, followed by a superbly cooked steak and then my favourite dessert – broulee.

Dinner with friends - Cheryl, Janet, Elly, Wendy and Annette in the Waterfront Restaurant

Dinner with friends – Cheryl, Janet, Elly, Wendy and Annette in the Waterfront Restaurant

I watched some of the Cirque performance, wandered, chatted and then it was off to bed after a truly wonderful relaxing day in amazing surroundings. Could have had more time on the Isle of Pines – thoroughly enjoyed.



Friday, 1 November and Saturday, 2 November 2013 – Day 8 and last day of cruise

Friday, 1 November and Saturday, 2 November 2013 – Day 8 and last day of cruise

After breakfast today (Friday) we went into the Marquee Deck to watch a culinary demonstration. Was interesting.

After the demonstration we were allowed to visit the Galley to see where all our delicious meals are prepared.

There was a beautiful display of different sculptures made from fruits and vegetables. Is a real art.

Today, Wendy and I had lunch with Elly, Janet and Sarah in our usual Waterfront Restaurant and then went and looked at all the photos that were taken wherever one went on the ship or on shore. Only purchased a couple that I could not take myself.  At 4.30 we went into the Marquee for bingo but we did not win the progressive total of about $5,900, but was nice to see that it went to a young family. I had to pack my case to have it outside the cabin and then it was time for dinner once more. Tonight my menu was smoked salmon, eye fillet and vegies, pavlova and cheese. Another great meal.

After dinner, went and listened to some music in the various venues before it was time for bed.

Saturday  –  We sailed all night and I went up on deck just as we were coming through the Heads in Sydney.  It was a beautiful, calm sail into Circular Quay and I never get tired of seeing the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and the skyline of Sydney.

This was our last breakfast/meal in the  Waterfront as at 8.50 I said goodbye to Wendy as she was disembarking a little later. I caught the shuttle bus to the airport and filled in my time on the internet – my first chance since leaving on the cruise – before it was time to board my flight QF1475. We took off at 1.35 and the sky was quite smoky from the recent bushfires. I was saying some prayers here as it was quite turbulent for awhile but thankfully settled down before we reached Canberra. Arrived at Canberra at 2.20 and Peter was there to meet me and drive me home once more.

Well, that is it for this year’s travelling. This cruise was just what I needed – nice and relaxing although ate too much!!!!  Have to thank God, the captains on the cruises and the many pilots on my flights that got me home from all my wonderful trips.  Have to think where my next trip will be but have to save up a bit now – but time to have a rest at home and back to reality!.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 – Day 5 of cruise

Tuesday, 29 october 2013 – Day 5 of cruise

Woke up and we had docked out at sea from Mare Island. We boarded the tender to go over to Mare. Mare island (or Nengone, as it is locally known) is rooted in history and its locals share a profound and almost mystical link with their natural environment. Divided into eight districts, Mare has a truly untouched beauty. Jagged basalt rocks are evidence of the island’s first volcanic activity, dark forest stretch to the cliff’s edges and its central plane is scattered with grottos and natural pools. We wandered up to the village and then on to the shuttle bus to Yedjele Beach.








My travelling companion, Wendy and I at Yejele Beach, Mare Island

My travelling companion, Wendy and I at Yedjele Beach, Mare Island


Very relaxed mood at Yedjele Beach on Mare Island - New Caledonia

Very relaxed mood at Yedjele Beach on Mare Island – New Caledonia


The sand was lovely and white in between a lot of volcanic rock that you had to negotiate to get into the pristine water.  Went in for a beautiful dip and then reluctantly had to leave to board the bus and then onto the tender to return to the ship for a late hamburger. Chatted to Elly, Annette and Janet for awhile and then went into the spa onboard ship. The spa was great – once more reluctant to get out. Then it was dinner in the Waterfront Restaurant for another amazing meal.  After dinner, watched the Acrobatic Show “Glow” – an amazing outdoor aerial spectacular starring Pacific Cirque.

Listened to some music and then went to cabin. Another “creation” by our steward !  IMG_1175

Was Another super day !

Monday, 28 October 2013 – Day 4 of cruise

Monday, 28 October 2013 – Day 4 of cruise

When I got up at 7.00am we were in the port of Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia.  Noumea is situated on Grande Terre, New Caledonia’s main island. It became the country’s administration centre in 1854 and, like Sydney, a penal settlement. In the late 1800’s Noumea had a strong frontier quality with adventurers, miners, government officials, traders, seafarers and convicts all calling the place home. Gradually, other ethnic groups added to the mix – Chinese, Vietnamese, American servicemen during World War II and settlers from a variety of Pacific Islands. Many came to seek their fortunes, particularly in the nickel and gold mines. Nickel is the main economic provider.   French and Kanak dialects are the languages spoken in Noumea along with English. The currency is the French Pacific Franc. Even though New Caledonia is a French territory, Captain James Cook named it in 1774.  New Caledonia’s Barrier Reef is the world’s longest and second largest, behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.


After breakfast we got off the ship.


We wandered around the local markets and then boarded the Yellow train – “Bumble Bee”. We travelled through the city centre and up to FOL Lookout point and Notre Dame Du, Pacifique (lovely grounds).

 IMG_0977We were about to head off when we had a flat tyre. Once that was changed we continued on to Faubourg Blanchot where old residential buildings and colonial houses can be viewed.




At Ouen Toro Lookout point we had a stop and were served delicious danish pastries and cool drinks.





Our journey back was past Anse Vata beach and Lemon Bay beach and past by new residential areas and marinas before we returned to the city.




We had some free time to wander around the city and the markets before boarding again on the ship at 3.30. From our cabin porthole we watched the local dancers before we set sail about 5.00.

Enjoyed watching a fashion parade before it was off to the Waterfront Restaurant – Mushroom soup, Salmon and Rhubarb pie – delicious.  Once more, I had a wander, chatted and listened to some of the music before heading off to the cabin to find chocolates and a “creation” by our steward on our beds.


Friday-Sunday – 25th – 27 October 2013 – Day 1, 2 and 3 of Cruise to New Caled

Friday, 25 October 2013 – Day 1 of Cruise to New Caledonia

I wanted to be out of Canberra on the 25th as not a good date for me and was 2 years since my car accident – so, for my present to myself for my birthday set off on this cruise – To New Caledonia !.



Peter came at 7.45 – an hour early. Drove me to the airport – booked my “light” case in and waited for Wendy, who I was travelling with.  Wendy arrived at 9.15 and booked her luggage in. We left at 9.55 on Flight QF704 for Sydney.  Wandered around looking for the shuttle bus. Finally got on the shuttle bus to and left at 12.20 – on our way to the ship. Was a lovely day of 22 degrees. We arrived at White Bay Terminal and filled out the necessary forms and had lunch and then finally at 2.30pm we boarded the P&O liner, Pacific Pearl. We found Cabin 6168.  At 3.30pm we attended the mandatory passenger safety drill before allowing to set sail. We sailed at 4.00pm and was a lovely sail past Barangaroo construction area, under the beautiful Sydney Harbour Bridge, past the Opera House and out of the Heads and we were on our way to New Caledonia.

After unpacking, we caught up with my friend Elly, her sister Janet, daughter Annette and their friend, Cheryl. After chatting for awhile, it was time for dinner in the Plantation Restaurant – a huge smorgasbord restaurant on the 12th deck.  Listened to some music by a band – Alter Ego –  and then went to my cabin for an early night but that was a dead loss as still awake at 5 am when I eventually went to sleep.  Wendy went to some of the other entertainment on board.

Saturday, 26 October 2013 – Day 2 of cruise

This is a day at sea. Up to the Plantation Restaurant for our breakfast. At 11.30 we went into bingo. Then it was time for lunch. Did a fair bit of wandering around until it was another bingo session. At 7.45 we went into the Waterfront Restaurant for a nice silver service meal. At 9.30 we went into the Marquee on Decks 7 & 8 to watch a show “Runaway to Circus”. This was a brilliant presentation. Listened to some music for awhile before going to the cabin.

Out on the deck

Out on the deck

Sunday, 27 October 2013 – Day 3 of cruise

Another sea day so had to amuse ourselves for the day. Breakfast today in the Waterfront Restaurant – very nice. After breakfast listened a photography demonstration before we went to bingo. No win. Wandered around and watched the waves!!!  Lunch in the Plantation Restaurant and then filled in the afternoon before another bingo session.  Listened to some of the entertainers and saw part of the Cirque show and then it was dinner time again in the Waterfront Restaurant. Snails were on the menu tonight so had them for entree, followed by a juicy steak and broulee.  Karaoke was on but didn’t stay too long as some of the “singers” were a little bit off key. Had an early night tonight as head pounding quite a bit.