A Travellerspoint blog

The Final Leg

Back on Land..........Where to From Here??


Thursday April 28th & Friday 29th – Lima & wrap up
Our final evening, we headed off to the ship’s Italian specialty restaurant, Toscana. Our first visit to Toscana was a bit disappointing as several folks found their meals not up to the amazingly high standards of the other specialty restaurants on board Marina. However, last night’s meal was better and the four who attended had a great meal. We have been thoroughly spoiled on this trip and have become far too picky. One of my theories is that all of us from the Greater Toronto area are spoiled when it comes to Italian cuisine as there are so many excellent Italian restaurants across the entire GTA.

Once back at our staterooms we bundled all of our things into our suitcases and placed our luggage out in the corridor prior to turning in for the night. Typical of all the cruise ships we have taken, the crew gathered all the luggage from the corridors, stored it overnight and placed it on the dock early in the morning. You can imagine the chaos if 1200 passengers were left to their own devices.

Message made of chocolates left for Roy & Sue by the stateroom steward, Nicoletta - the best ever. These are the little chocolate treats that they left on our pillow every evening - although we were usually given one each

We were all up and at it nice and early for final packing and one last lovely breakfast at the buffet with its great selection of food especially the amazing selection of fresh fruit. The disembarkation was well organized and orderly as everyone was assigned a specific time to meet in the main theatre and then be directed to the gangway on Decks 4 and 5.

Our group of eight would be splitting in half this morning as Michael & Mercedes plus Sherry & Kent are continuing their travels in South America for an additional week. They will be exploring Lima for several days before flying further south for a few more days. They will be visiting the high altitude ancient city of Cusco and surrounding areas including a trip to the amazing Inca mountain village of Machu Picchu. Roy & Sue, David & Hazel have all been to Cusco and Machu Picchu during previous trips so we will be heading home after a half day tour of the Lima area.

Lima and the Surrounding Area
The population of Peru is slightly less than that of Canada at about 32 million. Amazingly, just about a third of the entire country’s population lives in the greater metropolitan area of the city of Lima with a population of just over 10 million.

Costa Verde Drive in Lima (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

The settlement of the area around Lima has a long history with the original inhabitants going back to well before Christ with the rise and fall of a number of civilizations. Because of the constant building by successive generations there is very little evidence left of preceding civilizations in the more densely populated areas. However, outside the Greater Lima area archaeologists have discovered a treasure trove of ancient ruins. Since much of the area is a desert the drifting sands have covered up and preserved the remains at a number of sites. Originally discovered around 1890 many of the sites have been neglected and plundered by a number of parties. Only in recent decades have efforts been made to protect and preserve some of the more notable sites. Teams of archaeologists from major universities and the Peruvian Ministry of Culture are now hard at work exploring and preserving a number of major sites. Our tour on Thursday explored one of those digs, Pachacamac. Pachacamac is about 40 km southeast of Lima in the Valley of the Lurin River. The site was first settled around A.D. 200 and was named after the "Earth Maker" creator god Pacha Kamaq. The Pachacamac site is massive and covers about 600 hectacres of land. The site flourished for about 1,300 years until the Spanish conquistadors invaded in 1535. It was only with the invasion of the Spanish that the Lima area became more than just another coastal village. The Spanish decided to make Lima an important centre of local government administration and trade.

Model of Pachacamac Site -note the huge size

Display at Pachacamac

Display at Pachacamac

One of many amazing walls at Pachacamac. Behind this wall was a major compound where young women of the nobility were brought up and schooled

Partially exposed site of the girls school at the Pachacamac restoration project

Our Guide for the day explaining the Pachacamac site

After our tour of the Pachacamac site wrapped up we headed back into Lima to do a little sight- seeing before being dropped off at the Marriott Hotel back in Lima. The Marriott was the gathering point for most of us off the ship. From there Oceania had arranged to have us all transported to the airport at various times to collect our respective flights. Since our particular flight did not depart Lima airport till 12:30 am Friday morning we were one of the last groups to be escorted to the airport in a large bus.

Lima University (photo courtesy Google Images)

Pedestrian Walkway in Miraflores

Our Group & Guide in Miraflores distract of Lima

Old Electric Streetcar in Miraflores District

Coastal area of Lima

The Love Park in Miraflores District

Roy & Sue demonstrating how it is done in Love Park in Lima - note the statue in background

Our gathering point Marriott Hotel in the Miraflores District of Lima

As they say the rest is history, our flight from Lima to Houston was just over 6 long hours. We were late leaving Lima and our connection in Houston was very tight, however, since over 50 people booked on the Houston to Toronto flight leg were also on the flight from Lima United Airlines held the aircraft for 40 minutes as we all scrambled from Terminal E to Terminal C and boarded the little Embraer aircraft. The Embraer is a pretty basic aircraft with non-reclining seats and no entertainment system. By then it was more than 26 hours since any of us had been to bed so we all just slumped in our seats and headed for Toronto. Despite the lack of reclining seats many of us grabbed a bit of shut eye on the three-hour flight to Toronto.

The Wrap Up
By late afternoon we were glad to be back home in Brampton and unpacking our bags. We have been gone 18 days and covered a lot of territory, nearly 5000 nautical miles on the ship alone. We loved travelling with Oceania, their food and service are second to none. However, we found the ten sea days in a row a bit tedious and some of us found the constant movement of the ship tiresome over that long a period. The original itinerary did not have this many sea days but our inability to land on Easter Island due to high seas resulted in an extra long sea voyage without being on shore. The Easter Island stop was a highlight of the trip for many of us and a major disappointment when we could not land. Despite the disappointment none of our fellow passengers appeared to be anxious to follow the example of the port authorities in Easter Island who boarded our ship by jumping from their heaving open boat onto a rope ladder draped over the side of our ship.

The South Pacific is a fascinating part of the world but not one of the better cruise ship destinations as the shore trips are very few and far between. By the time we got home both Hazel and I had nasty colds and a persistent cough so that takes away from the fun also. However, if one enjoys far away exotic locations there is a lot to say for visiting French Polynesia and beyond.

What is next for us, well believe it or not we don’t have any major trips planned in the immediate future, Hazel is slipping up as she usually has another major trip in the planning stages at least a year or so in advance. A land trip to Africa is rapidly moving up the bucket list as is an extended Alaska cruise, however, nothing is booked yet.

In early June we have our big annual motorcycle meet in Lake George, NY that we plan to attend (see pictures below), then in August we’ll be joining a group of motorcycle friends for a week-long trip to Maggie Valley, North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Parkway. This area of North Carolina and Tennessee is one of our all time favourite motorcycle touring destinations.

In September we’ll be making our annual road trip to North Carolina's Outer Banks to meet up with a group of friends who we rent a big beach house with each year. Perhaps we’ll even work in a trip to Halifax over the summer. Generally, we try and stay pretty close to home over the summer and take advantage of living on our beautiful little lake in Brampton but it is hard to turn down the call of the open road with our Goldwing motorcycle and the new Corvette sitting in our garage.

Hazel on a little lake ferry crossing the Vermont New York state border near the annual Americade Motorcycle Rally held in Lake George, NY - where we plan to be in June

David & Hazel at Crown Point, NY on the Vermont border while attending the annual Americade Motorcycle Meet in Lake George - where we'll be in June. Lake Champlain is in the background

Davd on his Goldwing Riding US Rt. 129 at Deals Gap AKA "The Dragon" near Maggie Valley, NC - where we'll be in August

Outer Banks, NC - Where we'll be in September (photo courtesy Google Images

Thanks to everyone who read our blog and thanks for your comments. Until the next time, all the best to everyone.

David & Hazel
May 1, 2016

Posted by DavidandHazel 09:08 Archived in Peru Comments (2)

Ocean Ocean Everywhere

2000 km from the nearest land as we sail eastward

semi-overcast 22 °C

Monday – Thursday April 24 - 28th – At Sea & Lima Peru
We are back at sea after a frustrating day of watching and waiting for the seas to subside so that we could get off the ship at Easter Island one of the key destinations in this voyage across the South Pacific. However, it was not to be and now we are pressing on in a north easterly direction towards our ultimate destination of Lima, Peru.

Sea days are a popular topic of discussion among seasoned cruisers and the opinions are as varied as the passengers on board. There are the usual voices at either end of the spectrum – I hate them or I love them – but most of us as usual fall somewhere in between. I have noticed that those who seem to have a need to be continually entertained tend to avoid cruises with lots of sea days. Those of us who are more inclined to entertain ourselves seem a bit less inclined to avoid cruises that contain more sea days.

A typical week long Caribbean cruise may have three or four sea days spread across the week as the ship transits the more distant passages. Transatlantic crossings will generally have five sea days in a row. Mediterranean cruises tend to have fewer sea days due to the close proximity of the ports.

Due to our aborted 2-day stop in Easter Island this trip will have the longest run of sea days we have ever had in our few years of cruising. We will end out with ten straight days at sea without a landing.

Wake of our ship sailing ever eastward

Our gang of eight are all fairly seasoned cruisers and all appear to be quite self-sufficient at keeping themselves entertained. Michael & Mercedes are continuing their Bridge classes; Sherry & Kent the same. David and Hazel are catching up on their reading, editing their hundreds of pictures as well as building the blog. Roy is out around the ship making friends as well as reading and Sue is reading and taking another cooking class. Of course we are all attending a number of the various enrichment lectures in the main theater with each of our group having their own particular favourites.

Meals are also a very social time and it is not unusual to spend two hours at dinner chatting. We have had a number of evenings where we all sit together as a group of eight although a group that large is frequently a challenge to seat together so we often eat as two groups of four. We have tried most of the specialty restaurants two or three times and we are unanimous that they all are great with each of us having their own favourites. The main Grand Dining Room is a lovely elegant room with a great menu too. For breakfast and lunch we all seem to prefer the Terrace Grill which is a buffet style and has a marvelous selection. Although it is a buffet Oceania Cruise Lines still has staff serving all food. I suspect it is an effort to stop the spread of the various ailments that can spread throughout a cruise ship at lightning speed. They also have hand sanitizer dispensers at every turn.

By Tuesday the day after day of grey showery weather, the strong winds and the choppy rolling seas is wearing thin on pretty well everyone and we are all looking forward to seeing the port of Lima, Peru on Wednesday. We were not scheduled to arrive until Thursday but with our two -day visit to Easter Island cancelled and with a medical “urgency” on board the Captain has elected to arrive in Lima a day early rather than slowing down and spending an extra day at sea. Everyone appears just as happy to be heading for land. Had the weather been better people might have felt differently.

Wednesday morning arrived with a grey overcast sky and a light mist. Just as we settled into our eggs Benedict a dark shadow loomed off our bow and very quickly a large point of land towered up alongside our ship. Because of the fog and haze we were fairly close to shore before we all realized it. The seas had calmed considerably over night and we slowly slipped into the harbour at Lima, Peru.

Uninhabited Island looming in the mist just off the coast of Lima, Peru

Lima is a large commercial harbour with lots of boat traffic and gantry cranes moving cargo on and off ships large and small. Once settled alongside our pier the pace on board ship picked up considerably. As soon as the ship was secured and Peruvian port authorities had cleared our ship’s papers we begin disgorging passengers off the ship from the stairway on Deck 5 and onto the waiting tour busses that were waiting at dock side.

Tug boat assisting our ship to her berth

Lima’s busy commercial harbour

More of Lima’s busy commercial harbour

More of Lima’s busy commercial harbour

As usual the ship had organized many tours to a variety of local destinations. In addition, due to us arriving a day early the ship has arranged to have free shuttle busses at the pier to transport any of us to Miraflores a more central area of Lima that has many points of interest. Most of our group elected to take the shuttle and explore the Miraflores area more. None of us went on the organized tours as we have already booked tours for tomorrow. For those who elected to stay on the ship there were a small number of local craftsmen who had set up shop on the pier.

Tour buses lined up waiting for us to board for tours around Lima

Local craftsmen selling their goods

Local craftsmen selling their goods

On this entire 18 day voyage we have only tied up at dockside in one other small port so our stop in Lima is an opportunity for the ship to refuel and add supplies. The supplies were all stored in five giant shipping containers the size of a typical large transport trailer. Shortly after landing the fork lifts are busy running in and out of the containers with skids of supplies. The skids were loaded into a large loading door in the side of our ship and are then picked up by the fork lifts inside the ship and taken to the appropriate storage area in the ship's holds.

Shipping containers filled with supplies for our ship’s next voyage

After ten straight days on a rolling sea most of us were glad to set foot on terra firma even if it was only for half an hour to check out the local craft vendors booths on the dock. However many folks were caught by surprise as the rocking did not stop once they stepped ashore. Anyone who has been at sea for a few days often notices the rocking motion often continues for a day or more after going ashore.

Tomorrow we are off the ship to explore Lima.

Posted by DavidandHazel 14:49 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Next on our Journey - Easter Island

Most Isolated Inhabited Island on Earth

sunny 25 °C

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday April 20 - 23th – At Sea & Easter Island
We are back at sea after a fascinating visit with the Pitcairn Islanders. Time to test out more of the wonderful restaurants and get back to our other on board activities. Now more people were relaxing on the pool deck getting in some sun as the temperatures moderated from the low 30s of Polynesia to the mid-20s as we move ever further south away from the equator.

All of our group (as well as much of the rest of the ship) are very interested in the series of enrichment lectures that are held several times a day in the main theater which probably seats 400-500 people. The lectures are common on all of the cruise lines and are typically given by retired university professors who get some form of compensation from the ships for doing these lectures – free trips perhaps? I suspect that the lecturers who draw the large crowds and good reviews are hired over and over as the lectures are very popular on board activities. The lectures normally have some connection to the area of the world we are travelling in at the time although some are fairly remotely connected but all are quite fascinating. They are the standard fare of PowerPoint slides often with some video highlights thrown in. Today’s lecture was on the history of Easter Island which we’ll be visiting on Friday and Saturday. I’ll cover more on Easter Island later once we arrive.

Sailing on the wide open Pacific

Enjoying Red Ginger Restaurant

Seated in the main theater ready for the evening show

Stage of the main theater

Happy hour in the Horizon Lounge

Lobster being served in red Ginger – Lobster is frequently on the menu, both cold water (my preferred) and warm water (Florida or Caribbean)

Sea Bass cooked to perfection as usual

Several of our group have also enrolled in the hands on cooking lessons given by the senior hotel staff. There is a lovely fully equipped teaching kitchen on Deck 14.

Hazel completing a task in cooking class

Sherry taking a break from the rigors of cooking class

Michael, always having fun – this time in cooking class

We are now crossing one of the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean and is double the size of the next largest, the Atlantic. The Pacific covers one third of the earth’s entire surface and you could easily fit the entire land mass of the world into the Pacific and have space left over. The massive currents of the Pacific Ocean are major weather determinants in our world. Knowing that we are out here close to 2000 km from any land or human settlement is something you can not experience in many parts of the world today.

Nothing but ocean for over 2000 km in every direction

Easter Island, Saturday April 22
It was still quite dark outside as our ship approached Easter Island at around 8:00 am. For some reason Easter Island is on the same time zone as Chili which it is part of. However, mainland Chile is more than 3500 km to the east of Easter Island so that means that sunrise here is not until 8:40 am at this time of year. Seems a bit strange sleeping in till 8:30 pulling the drapes only to see that it is still quite dark out.

Easter Island as the sun rises at 8:30 am.

Panorama of Easter Island from a distance

Evidence of the volcanic origins of Easter Island

My knowledge of Easter Island prior to this trip was primarily focused on the 887 famous Moai stone statues that stand guard over the island. In almost any story of Easter Island you are bound to see a picture of what look like giant heads. Also during my youth, I was fascinated by all things nautical and read Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 book Kon-Tiki. The Kon-Tiki was an expedition in a huge balsa raft meant to demonstrate that the original settlers of Easter Island could have drifted there from South America on similar ancient rafts. It was a great story of the hardship and adventure during the 4000 km months long “drift.”

Easter Island is the world’s most isolated inhabited island. Despite being a tiny spec in the vast South Pacific Ocean it was discovered and settled by early navigators around the first century AD. Probably due to the isolation and lack of written historical records the island has fascinated scholars over the past seventy-five years or so. Of particular interest has been the origination of those early settlers from 120 AD and what went on between that time and the mid-1700s when westerners first set foot on the island.

The two main theories that existed up until fairly recently were, firstly that the original settlers drifted on large rafts from the coast of South America. As mentioned the KonTiki voyage was proof that this could have been the source. Secondly, it was speculated that it was early Polynesians who came from the west. The Polynesians were known to be highly advanced navigators and explorers of this part of the world. Only recently with the advanced genetic testing methods have scientists determined that the genetic markers found in the bones of the original settlers indicate that the early settlers were of Polynesian descent.

The next closest human settlement to Easter Island is our port of two days ago, Pitcairn Island with its population of 46 people and 2075 km to the west. This is not a crowded part of the world.

Map showing position of Easter Island – clearly not to scale but gives you the idea of the distances and isolation

Rugged coastline of Easter Island

Easter Island was given its name by its first European visitor, a Dutch explorer, who first arrived on Easter Sunday, 1722. The island is formed by the remains of three ancient volcanoes and is only 18 km long and 8 km wide at its widest point. During the thousand-year period from first settlement in 120 AD until 1200 AD the island flourished and grew to an estimated population of 10,000 people with a distinct language and culture. It is believed that the moai statues were mostly constructed during the period 1200 AD to 1500 AD.

Row of moai statues along the coast facing inland toward their subjects. This shot was taken from a distance of 3-5 km giving you an idea of the size of these statues

Zoomed in shot of same pictures

Note the head piece on the moai second from the left

Shot taken from the land side showing the moai facing the land

Scholars suspect that the moai statues were created to honour ancestors, chiefs and other important people. Most settlements were located on the coast and most moai statues were erected on the coastline watching over their descendants before them with their backs towards the spirit world in the sea. The construction of the statues is quite amazing in its own rite. Even more amazing is the fact that these giant statues weighing as much as 80 tons were moved as far as 10-12 km from the quarry location to coastal villages. This is especially amazing given their lack of any form of advanced tools. They had not even discovered the wheel.

Although factual information is sketchy it appears that many of the statues were deliberately toppled in and around the 1600s. It is not clear if the population lost faith in their power or if it may have happened during a period of fierce internal fighting that appears to have occurred in the 1600s. It is now believed that during this period there was a massive deterioration of the environment leading to social upheaval. The root cause of the environmental problems is believed be the complete denuding of the islands woodlands. With the disappearance of trees birds and animals used for food also disappeared as did boat building materials used for fishing boats. The deforestation is believed to have been caused by two factors, firstly the inhabitants used huge numbers of trees in the transporting of the giant statues across the island but perhaps even more serious was the fact that new trees were not growing as rats that came ashore off the original Polynesian settler’s boats fed on the seeds of the palm trees. By the mid 1600’s a once prosperous island had deteriorated to a subsistence existence which was torn by internal strife in what appeared to be a struggle for resources.

Picture illustrating the barren grassland of much of Easter Island

Almost all of the moai were carved from volcanic rock found on a single site on the side of the extinct volcano, Rano Raraku. A single maoi probably took a team of 5 or 6 men more than a year to complete. Their sizes vary widely and some are as high as 33 feet and can weigh up to 80 tons. It appears that the builders got more ambitious as time went on and the later statues were larger. There are several still in stages of carving that are around 60 feet long. Generally, the statues are believed to have been carved in a horizontal position while still attached to ground. One of the final steps would have been to break them away from the base rock and then transport them to their final resting spot.

Moai statues near the current village square

Westerners (the Dutch) first discovered the Island and its unique people in 1722. By then the islanders appeared to have recovered somewhat from the internal war fare of a hundred years prior. The Dutch noted in their journals that there was an orderly and stable population. There is no other record of any further western visits for over 50 years until 1774 when Captain James Cook visited Easter Island on his epic voyage.
The island continued on pretty well undisturbed by outsiders for nearly another hundred years however records do indicate that the population did continue to gradually decline. In 1862 a Peruvian ship visited the island and brought with it syphilis and smallpox. The impact was catastrophic and by 1877 only 110 people remained on the island. From that time until the 1950s a small community continued to exist in the main village of Hanga Roa. However, control of the rest of the island was turned over to a vast agri-business who turned the island into a giant sheep farm until the late 1950s when it was turned back over to the Chilean government who turned it into a highly protected territory. Today the island’s population has grown back to around 4000 people. The main industry is tourism and there also remains some sheep farming. Much of the island is protected and is part of Chili’s park system. Although much of the island is still open grasslands stands of trees can be seen in many locations and the town of Hanga Roa is filled with leafy palms swaying in the constant sea breeze.

Todays Village Square

Rugged coast line next to the village

Trips ashore have to be cancelled
Although we woke up to sunny skies and warm temperatures the 20 knot (35 km/h) wind that had been with us for the past two days was still here. Since we were out in the middle of the ocean there was nothing to break up the large ocean swells created by the winds. So here we were anchored off Easter Island with the ship rocking to such a degree that we couldn’t board our tender boats to take us ashore. The ship made several attempts to get the tender operation underway however success has eluded them – so near yet so far. We sat on our balcony watching the locals moving around the square by the town dock and saw several moai in a park at the town’s waterfront.

Town docking area, note the breaking waves across the entire mouth of the little harbour where we were supposed to land our tender boats

They were able to drop our tender boats into the water but the platforms that fold out from the side of the ship where we transition from our ship into the tender boats were rolling so much they were submerged at times as the ship would roll back and forth from side to side in the large ocean swells. This was a big disappointment for everyone as this is one of the highlights of our trip. Hundreds of us had shore trips booked to the various points of interest around the Island. This was also a blow to the local economy as the 1000 or so folks who get off the ship all tend to spend a bit of money with the local businesses. After several failed attempts to stabilize things the decision was made to kill some time and circumnavigate the island for four hours giving us all a great view of the coast line while we waited for the winds to settle a bit. Although the rugged coast line prevented us from getting too close to shore we could see the beautiful landscape and the little settlements on the island. In several spots we could see some of the moai statues lined up in a row.

Alas it was not to be, in fact the winds picked up and the swells increased. Soon after our circumnavigation was completed just after noon the decision was finally made by the captain that we would abandon our attempt to land on Easter Island. The weather forecast for the next day was for even stiffer winds along with a shift in direction making the ocean swells even larger. So a two day stay at Easter Island was converted into a sail past.

To add a little excitement to the day we watched from our Deck 10 balcony as some local fruit was very deftly lifted from tiny local open boats onto our ship. A few brave Easter Island port officials scrambled off a small open boat up the little open stairway dropped down at the starboard bow of our ship - not an undertaking for the faint of heart. It was fascinating to watch as our crew maneuvered our ship constantly moving back and forth in order to minimize the risk to the people and goods moving from the two open boats onto our ship.

Despite heaving ocean swells local port authority folks came out in an open boat and boarded our ship in order to perform their official duties

Local vendors bringing produce to our ship in their little open boats

Loading their produce cartons into large canvass like bags to be craned up onto our ship

Loading more cargo into the large white bags

With 1200 disappointed passengers our lovely ship Marina had to abandon our hope of landing on Easter Island. So late in the afternoon we weigh anchor and head off again ever eastward with the setting sun over our stern

Posted by DavidandHazel 07:29 Archived in Chile Comments (2)

Pitcairn Island

Continuing our Journey Across The South Pacific

sunny 25 °C

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday April 17-19th – At Sea & Pitcairn Island
One of the aspects of this cruise that we were a little apprehensive about was the number of sea days in the itinerary. Sea days are those days when you are at sea all day without stopping anywhere. Because of the vast distances we are covering on this cruise and the fact that a typical cruise ship only travels at 17 to 20 knots (roughly 30-40 km/h) means that we have a number of days and nights when we are just steaming in the open ocean. These are the days when we get to read, go to the on board lectures or even watch a movie in the theatre or one of the big screen TVs or in our cabin on the large screen TV. These days are often a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of visiting ports but they don’t make for very interesting reading on a travel blog. We will publish a few pictures from around the ship but otherwise suffice to say that we have yet to be bored on a sea day.

Polo Restaurant One of the Amazing Specialty restaurants on board

Lounge of Deck 6 - One of the lovely seating areas around the ship

The Martini Bar

Our wonderful cabin stewardess Nikoleta and her Assistant Komang

Hazel relaxing on our balcony reading a book on her phone

Roy and Sue enjoying a gin & tonic at the Horizons Lounge during the daily Happy Hour just before dinner

Poor quality picture of the big screen TV out on the pool deck during the evening

Towel animals on our bed from our cabin crew Nicoleta & Komang wishing David get well after his visit to the ship's clinic for his nasty cough- health clinic is very well equipped mini hospital

Get well note on our bed from our cabin crew Nicoleta & Komang wishing David get well.

Pitcairn Island, Tuesday April 19th.
Although one of the smaller islands in the South Pacific Pitcairn Island is one of the more famous due to its starring role in one of the better known ship mutinies in history, The Mutiny On The Bounty which has been immortalized in several books and three films. David had a particular interest in the second of the three movies, the one starring Marlon Brando, as a full replica of the ship HMS Bounty was built in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in the late 60’s while he was still living in Halifax.

The HMS Bounty was a small British Navy ship sent to Tahiti to collect cuttings of a plant called breadfruit. The idea was to transplant the cuttings to the British West Indies where they would be cultivated as a cheap source of food for the slaves that worked the fields in the West Indies. The conditions on the Bounty were less than ideal and Captain Bligh was said to be a very tough ship’s master. After spending an idyllic five months on Tahiti gathering breadfruit plants the crew were in no mood for Bligh’s harsh discipline and three weeks into the return trip a small group of the crew led by the ship’s second in command, Fletcher Christian, led a mutiny. Bligh and as many loyal crew as they could fit in a twenty-three-foot open boat were set adrift.

After the mutiny the mutineers sailed HMS Bounty back to Tahiti where they got resupplied. With fresh supplies plus a dozen or so Tahitians some of them left Tahiti to set up new settlement on some other island where the British Navy would be less likely to find them in the event Captain Bligh made it back and set out to capture his mutineers. The island the mutineers and their fellow travelers chose to settle on was Pitcairn Island several hundred miles from Tahiti. Best of all, Pitcairn’s location was not marked correctly on the British Admiralty’s charts due to an earlier plotting error. Therefore, when the British navy set out to capture the mutineers they completely overlooked Pitcairn as it was not on their charts. The Navy did however capture several of the mutineers who chose to remain on Tahiti rather than go with the other mutineers to the new settlement on Pitcairn.
Pitcairn Islands, officially Pitcairn are a group of 4 ( Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno) volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. They are the last British overseas Territory in the Pacific. Only Pitcairn, the second largest, is inhabited.

Once settled on Pitcairn Island the nine mutineers plus seventeen Tahitians set fire to the HMS Bounty and she eventually sank although remnants of her wreck can still be seen in the shallow waters of Bounty Bay. Although the settlers survived by farming and fishing, the initial period of settlement was marked by serious tensions among them. Alcoholism, murder, disease and other ills took the lives of most mutineers and Tahitian men. John Adams and Ned Young turned to the scriptures, using the ship's Bible as their guide for a new and peaceful society. Young eventually died of an asthmatic infection. The Polynesians also converted to Christianity. They later converted from their original form of Christianity to Seventh-day Adventism, following a successful Adventist mission in the 1890s. After the rediscovery of Pitcairn, John Adams was granted amnesty for his part in the mutiny.

Today the island is inhabited mostly by descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only about 45 inhabitants, originating from four main families, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world.

Pitcairn Island

Rugged coast of Pitcairn Island

Rugged Coast of Pitcairn Island

Due to its very rugged coast line (see pictures) and the extremely limited docking facilities we could not land on Pitcairn nor could we even land our tender boats. However, the cruise line and the islanders have very smartly come up with a solution. The islanders come out to our ship. Most of the island residents plus a large load of locally made craft items are piled into an open boat about 36 feet long and come out to our ship – see pictures. They set up shop in the largest lounge on the ship with more than a dozen lovely craft displays. Most of the craft items are locally made wood carvings ranging from small fish to large bowls. There is also a high grade of honey made locally that is one of the purest in the world as there are no herbicides or pesticides permitted on the island and air borne pollutants are minimal. With the exception of four or five people the entire population of the island came aboard the ship including the five children. We can therefore say with some authority that the local people are truly lovely as we met most of the islanders at the craft sale. Their British heritage is also obvious with their strong accents.

Pitcairn Islanders approaching our ship in their open boat

Pitcairn Islanders approaching our ship in their open boat

Craft sale of Pitcairn Islanders in the ship's Horizons Lounge - note woman in the center of the picture is a sixth generation direct descendant of Fletcher Christian

Pitcairn Island viewed from the top deck of our ship - telephoto lens makes it look much closer than it actually is

Hazel on Deck 15 - Pitcairn Island in the background

The small docking area on the shore of Pitcairn Island

Coast of Pitcairn Island

Coast of Pitcairn Island

Coast of Pitcairn Island

Coast of Pitcairn Island

After several of hours of craft sales plus two lectures in the ship’s main theatre from local Pitcairn officials the islanders joined us for lunch the in the ship’s large buffet area – the only restaurant meal they’ll have in a long time. Once lunch was over the ship took a trip around the small island (2 miles long by 1 mile wide) with a live commentary over the public address system from the island’s mayor.

The entire population lives in the one small but spread out village near the one small port facility. Once the ship completed the circle around the island the islanders’ open boat once again pulled alongside our monster ship. First we hoisted aboard a number of cases of bananas that the ship had purchased from the island and then the islanders scrambled down a small stairway at the side of our ship and boarded their open boat. This whole process was made a bit challenging as the seas were fairly active with 4-6 foot swells running. Although our ship maneuvered in such a way to minimize the impact on the small open boat, it was still quite an exciting exercise to watch and occurred on our side of the ship so we had a good view of the entire process from our balcony – see pictures.

Boxes of bananas for our ship on deck of Pitcairn Islander's open boat

Note the tiny size of the Islander's open boat when compared to our ship

Hazel watches from our balcony on Deck 10 as the islanders scramble back on their open boat in the rolling seas

Everyone waving as 42 of the islands 46 residents head back to their island after visiting or ship for a few hours

Off they go, back to their life of isolation until the next cruise ship comes by in a month or two

The topic of the Pitcairn lifestyle dominated most of the onboard conversations for the next few hours. Think of it: under 50 people living in a very isolated island way out in the world’s largest ocean. Thanks to a massive subsidy from the UK government they do have some basic municipal infrastructure in place. There is a diesel powered electric generating station that operates 6:00 am till 10:30 pm. There is a telephone system, some limited satellite internet (very expensive), one TV channel, some small roads, subsidized shipping costs and a supply vessel from New Zealand which calls at the island once every three months. A new more substantial docking facility is currently being built. Access on and off the island is only via the once every three-month supply boat. On island transportation is primarily limited to quad bicycles or motorbikes although ATVs are now starting to appear. There is a medical clinic provided by the UK government staffed by a doctor and a nurse who are there on a one-year contract as is the school teacher who teaches the five children up until the end of grade 7. After that children have to go all the way to New Zealand to attend high school. There is also one law enforcement official sent from the UK who also doubles to perform a number of municipal style legal activities on the island. Things such as property registration although all land on the island is crown land. The land is leased back to home owners for the lifetime of any home built on a building lot for a minimal registration fee. Water is collected from the ample rain fall and stored in large tanks on each property.

However, not all is well in paradise as the population is gradually dwindling as fewer and fewer adults of child bearing age find the lifestyle attractive. Despite a number of incentives from the UK government they have not been able to sustain the population and it has dropped significantly over the past 25 years. If you want to get away from everything here is your answer.
After all the excitement we then headed back to sea for two days aboard our beautiful ship, the Oceania Marina.

Next stop Easter Island

Conceptual Map of the South Pacific showing the relative distances we are covering

Posted by DavidandHazel 14:00 Archived in Pitcairn Islands Comments (1)

Moving Eastward

Islands of Bora Bora, Rangiroa & Fakarava

sunny 32 °C

Thursday, April 14th – Bora Bora
When island hopping it is always interesting to wake up to a new port. This morning we woke up just as we sailed into the picturesque harbour at Bora Bora. Surrounded by sand-fringed motus (islets) and a deep turquoise lagoon protected by a major coral reef just off shore. Bora Bora is well known for its scuba diving. It's also a popular luxury resort destination where some of the guest bungalows are perched out over the water on stilts. Bora Bora is very expensive and some of these remote luxury resorts charge over $10,000 a day just so you can get away from it all yet have every convenience known to man – go figure. At the island's center is the long dormant volcano Mt. Otemanu that rises 2200 ft. high.

Bora Bora Harbour

Bora Bora is a common destination for honeymooners and celebrities, some of which have reportedly stayed at those out over-the-water villas. The island is a high-end playground dependent on tourism.

After tendering ashore several of our group decided to board one of the local truck/bus conversions that is the local form of tourist transit, and head several km out of the main town square over to a local beach at one of the local resorts.

The Bus/Truck - local Bora Bora Transportation

Like most of the beaches in Polynesia the sand is actually finely crushed coral but still comfortable to walk on. Here we enjoyed a couple of hours of lounging in the bath tub warm ocean water just inside the lagoon. David brought his snorkeling gear and did an exploration of the rocky coast line at one end of the beach. There were a few fish but nothing terribly exciting. Even with the bath tub warm ocean it was a welcome relief from the 30+C local temperature with the usual high humidity.

Hut on stilts out over the water at the beach

At the beach just inside the coral barrier reef

Afternoon at the beach

Beautiful Bora Bora

After our beach trip most of us migrated back to the ship by mid-afternoon. There is a fair amount to do on board the ship and many nooks and crannies to just curl up in and read a book. As you can see from some of the pictures the ship is far from crowded.

Deck 14 of the Marina

Pool deck of our ship - notice the crowds

Marina deck with Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the distance

As the afternoon wore on we caught sight of the quite regular afternoon rain squall off in the distance. By the time we were getting ready to pull up anchor around 5:00 pm we were inundated with a heavy rain squall for about 30 minutes. As usual it cleared up just as we headed off towards our next destination, the island of Rangiroa.

Summer showers approaching

Rain squalls passing behind us

As the summer squall passes we depart Bora Bora

This evening our group had reservations for another of the specialty restaurants, The Polo Grill. Once again we were all delighted with the quality of the food and the service – 5 star all the way. After dinner most of us headed off to the Marina lounge and theatre at the front of the ship. This evening’s presentation was a lively rendition of the hits from a number of the more popular shows of the past 25 years. Although not as slick as some of the shows on the larger ships it was a good evening of entertainment. None of our group are night owls so most of us were tucked in bed by 11:00 pm or so.

Friday, April 15th – Rangiroa
As I peeked out our balcony door around 7:15 am I was alarmed to see us approaching a rather narrow channel at a fairly rapid speed. The shore was close on either side of our ship and there was a very significant current running as we approached a narrow pass and channel in the coral reef that surrounds this massive lagoon. I could almost throw a stone to the shore. Usually ships of this size proceed VERY slowly when they are this close to land. Once I realized where we were I knew that they were travelling at this speed in order to be able to maintain steering control of the ship as she passed through the narrow gap in the coral reef with the fast running current. It was truly an idyllic sight as we entered the massive lagoon. It is almost like a massive inland lake in the middle of the ocean.

The endless horizon on the South Pacific

Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the Tuamotu Islands, and one of the largest in the world. Rangiroa’s lagoon is roughly 80 km long and 30 km wide. It is so large that the entire island of Tahiti could fit inside it. The atoll consists of about 415 motus (tiny coral islands) and sandbars comprising a total land area of about 170 km². There are approximately one hundred narrow passes in the coral reef that surrounds the lagoon. Most of these passes are only large enough to allow recreational craft trough and those passes exposed to the ocean swells can be very tricky to navigate. Very few are large enough to allow a ship of our size to pass through into the massive lagoon. The width of the strip of land that surrounds the atoll is generally only 300 to 500 meters wide and its circumference totals roughly 200 km. The lagoon has a maximum depth of about 100 feet. The lagoon is so large that it has its own horizon. On account of its shallow depth, the currents that come in and out through the passes and with the winds can sometimes create interior storms.

If you look at the map we have included, you can see the little fringe of land around the massive atoll. Note the scale in the bottom left of the map.

Map of Rangiroa

Only two islands, located on the northern end of the atoll, are permanently inhabited with a total population of roughly 2500 residents. Pearl farming is done in more than 30 atolls of French Polynesia and is the main activity for numerous families in the Tuamotu archipelago. In Rangiroa, there only few farms but they are large and take up about 1,000 acres of water surface in the massive lagoon.

The atoll of Rangiroa is also known for its vineyards, which are unique in the world. The vines grow on the edge of a lagoon beside coconuts, and produce two harvests per year. The winery is located in the heart of the village of Avatoru. The grapes are brought to the winery by boat.

Our ship the Marina at anchor on the beautiful South Pacific

One other notable site in the atoll is the famous Blue Lagoon of movie fame. The Blue Lagoon is a smaller lagoon within the larger Rangiroa lagoon. It is located on the southwestern edge of Rangiroa and its shallow waters accentuate the bright blue color of the water.

Once again it was a clear sunny hot and very humid day with temperatures around 32C. Most of us took the tender boat onto the shore and explored the local area and cruised the little craft stands put up around the dock area. A few of us walked across this part of the land to the exposed ocean side of the lagoon where the shore was piled six feet high with bits and pieces of coral tossed up on the shore by the heavy wave action from the open Pacific. Perhaps in a hundred years this will all be crushed into sand by the wave action and they’ll have a beach here.

Ocean side of coral reef that surrounds Rangiroa

The atoll at Rangiroa

Local village vendors

Local wild flowers

Rest stop as we walk across the island

As the sun slowly slid towards the horizon we were all back on the ship and ready for the anchor to be raised. Once again we slid out of this idyllic tropical paradise just as the sun was setting. Our ship made a few sharp maneuvers and then once again powered up and made her way out through the narrow pass and the currents to the open Pacific as we headed off eastward for our next destination, the Island of Fakarava.

Making our way out through the channel

Making our way out through the channel

Normally our group of eight has dinner together, however this evening we have decided to each go our own way i selecting a dining venue. Hazel and I have decided to try out the cuisine in the Main Dining room. Seems strange that this will be our fifth dinner on board and this is the first time we will have eaten in the main dining room. The food is so spectacular in every venue it is hard to make a choice.

This evening the entertainment in the main theater is a multi-instrument Chilean musician. We are all looking forward to that event although I doubt we will all make it. Personally I think I’ll go back to our cabin and sit out on the balcony and enjoy the hissing sound of the sea as our ship glides through the ocean. With temperatures generally around 28C in the evenings sitting out on the balcony in the evenings is very enjoyable. The skies present a very different look as the constellations in the southern oceans are quite different from ours. Hopefully I’ll also get some ambition and upload the first section of this blog as the internet connection is faster in the evening when most people are roaming the ship visiting the various entertainment venues. Uploading the pictures in particular is fairly time consuming and then editing them into the text requires a bit of concentration, probably more than I will have after several glasses of wine with dinner.

Saturday, April 16th – Fakarava
We both enjoy the motion of ships for sleeping and this voyage is no exception. Although Marina is a smaller ship than we usually travel on the seas have been very calm throughout our journey so far.

Once again this morning we woke up around 7:30 am and as usual we immediately drew back the drapes to our balcony to check out our surroundings. This morning we are already at anchor when we looked out as the crew were just getting the ship settled in the lagoon at Fakarava. Fakarava is an atoll southeast of Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Islands. It is the second largest of the Tuamotu atolls. It is roughly rectangular with a length of 60 km and a width of 21 km. Its lagoon is wide and deep with passes at the north west and the south. It has been classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve with a number of unique plant and bird species.

Map of Fakarava

By 8:30 am we stroll up for breakfast in the Terrace Café. The Terrace serves up the very best omelets, eggs benedict, croissants and sticky buns that I have ever tasted on land or sea and that is just the start of their amazing offerings. The fruit tastes like it was picked yesterday and the variety of offerings is amazing. The organization of the food stations is extremely well done and there is very little in the way of line-ups. The staff are superb and always nearby should you need anything. The last couple of days we have eaten on the outside deck as the temperature is still reasonable at this time of the morning. When we have lunch at The Terrace we generally stay inside as the outside temperatures will be up to 30C by then. If there is a sea breeze, we’ll eat out on the deck.

By mid-morning we are ready for more adventure. We meet Roy and Sue, go down to Deck 4 and board the tender boat for the 5-minute boat ride into the town dock. Like most of these atolls there is not a lot to see ashore aside from the natural beauty. But we did not come here to find cheap watches or bargain shop for jewelry like you might on a Caribbean cruise. The attraction here is the beautiful pristine landscape and idyllic life of these tropical atolls. It is hard to believe that there are still places like this on earth.

Once ashore we find a peasant little village with a few nice local craft shops. Like all villages we have seen in French Polynesia it is very clean and free of garbage. This is what the Caribbean should look like.

Local vendor market

Flowering tree

Coconut Palm

Local wild flowers

More local flowers

Local church

Outrigger canoes

Classic Telephone booth just sitting by the beach

Sue & Hazel

Local island house

Local kids at play

We checked out the craft stalls and then walked along the main street for a km or so and back to the port area to catch the tender boat back to the ship for lunch. This afternoon we again explored some of the areas of the ship. The library area is one of our favourite haunts, particularly the adjacent cappuccino bar that we visit several times a day.

This will be our last port for several days as we continue to make our way east. Our next port of call will be the Pitcairn Islands. Pitcairn Island is where several of the mutineers from the Mutiny on the Bounty eventually settled in an effort to elude capture by the British Navy. Most of the 50+ residents are decedents of the mutineers. We now have three sea days to catch up on our reading and to explore the ship.

Our ship anchored in the distance

Posted by DavidandHazel 01:50 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (2)

The Adventure Begins April 11-13

The Islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Raiatea

sunny 30 °C

Many months ago a group of 8 of us who travelled together to Vietnam in 2012 decided that a cruise in the South Pacific would be a good idea. The eight intrepid adventurers were Sherry & Kent from California; Michael & Mercedes from Toronto; perennial travel friends and in-laws Roy & Sue from Oshawa and David & Hazel. The cruise of choice was operated by Oceania Cruise Lines, one of the smaller cruise lines plying the oceans today. The ship for this trip was the Marina, a relatively new ship built in 2011. With a capacity of 1250 passengers Marina is on the smaller side of modern cruise ships. Why the South Pacific? Why not?

Members of our intrepid travel group

French Polynesia is a vast geographic area in the South Pacific Ocean. The area covered by the 118 islands and atolls is about the size of Europe. As the name implies this vast area is an overseas territory of France. The entire area is divided into 5 archipelagos: Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu. The general area is roughly located halfway between California and Australia. Although it stretches over about 4 million square kilometers of ocean, the land above sea level accounts for only about 7,000 square kilometers. Four of the five archipelagos are volcanic and one is coral. Much of the area is quite fascinating when viewed from a cruise ship as you often have to pick your way through a cut in the coral reefs surrounding many of the islands to anchor inside the calmer, protected waters.

The Trip Begins
4:00 am comes early but we managed to get ourselves ready, put our house to bed, and set off to the Toronto airport Monday morning. With a couple of centimeters of fresh snow on the ground and a light rain falling it was a great incentive to get out of town.

Our flight to Los Angeles was uneventful and navigating the chaos of the LAX airport was relatively straightforward. We took the opportunity to walk outside in the warm sunny weather to get to Terminal B where we were scheduled to catch our next flight on Air Tahiti Nui. After a short delay we all boarded the plane for the final leg of our trip to Tahiti, a tiny dot in the Society Islands. For our sailor friends this part of the Society Islands is known as the Windward Islands. For the next 17 days our itinerary will take us 4500 km east across the Pacific all the way to Lima, Peru.

Although the flight was with Air Tahiti this particular flight was a Charter exclusively for passengers on our cruise so there was lots of chatting among all of the passengers about our upcoming adventure. No matter how lovely the destination, an eight-hour flight immediately following a five-hour flight is never fun. However, we did catch up on our movie viewing while on the two flights. My favourites were Revenant and Carol, although the nine-inch screen is hardly a great cinematic experience.

Finally we have landed in Tahiti

Tahiti Welcome
Around 6:30 pm local time we landed in the small city of Papeete on the island of Tahiti. Being at the equator the days are fairly short and it was completely dark when we landed so we didn’t see too much of Papeete as we drove in our van from the airport to the ship which was docked in the downtown area. By the time we cleared immigration, drove to the ship, got checked in, fed and given the mandatory life boat drill it was closing in on 10:00 pm. Given the six-hour time difference we had now been up a full 24 hours. However, we managed to unpack our luggage and get things put away in the closet and the many drawers before falling into the beautiful beds on Marina.

Our ship - Oceania Cruise Lines Marina

Our fairly typical 180 sq ft cabin with outside veranda

One interesting feature of this ship that we have rarely seen in other cruise ships was a full sized bath tub in the bathroom. It is an interesting idea but it does end out making the dedicated shower space even smaller than other cruise ships.

2-P1060710__1024x768_.jpg Most unusual to have a full sized bath tub

Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia and is the primary center of Tahitian and French Polynesian public and private governmental, commercial, industrial and financial services, the hub of French Polynesian tourism and a commonly used port of call. The population of Papeete is approx. 134,000. The average day time high temperature is 30C, average low 23C. The primary languages are French and Tahitian with some English in the tourist areas.

No sooner were we in bed than our ship, the Marina, slipped away from the jetty and our cruise was officially underway as we headed out under the cover of darkness. Given the time difference our sleep was not perfect but we all got a fairly decent night’s sleep and woke up Tuesday morning as the Marina was dropping anchor just inside the coral barrier reef near the Island of Moorea.

Tuesday, April 12th
Moorea is a small mountainous island located just 20 kilometres northwest of Tahiti.

Island of Moorea

Due to the shallow waters around the island and the complete lack of shore facilities the only way ashore was to take one of the ship’s tender boats. These are also used as the ship’s life boats.

Tenders being lowered from the Marina
Tenders being lowered from the Marina

Tender Ready for Boarding from Deck 4

Tender along side the town dock

These boats are fairly large with a capacity of between 50-60 people. They are powered by twin diesel engines and while quite utilitarian they are reasonably comfortable for transiting between the ship and the shore. Due to very limited shore facilities and the shallow waters in this part of the world most of our trips ashore will be made using the boat’s own tenders.

Around mid morning several of us descended down to deck 4 and boarded one of the tenders for the trip ashore.

Hazel & Sue sitting in the tender

We walked around the little shore facility selling local crafts but did not bother walking into the nearby village.
Local port area
Local port area
Local port area

All beaches are public on this island but not as close or as accessible from the ship as one might like. There are a number of ship organized shore excursions but none of them really appealed to any of us and we also found them quite expensive by most cruise ship standards. There is no city to speak of on Moorea although there are small towns and villages along the secondary road that encircles the heart shaped island. There are a few areas along the road with clusters of shops selling miscellaneous goods, local crafts and colorful hand printed fabrics (pareos which are pieces of cloth wrapped around the body) and that is about it for this island.

Our view from the ship showed a topography of spiky mountain peaks, turquoise lagoons and lush tropical foliage. Just to add to the tropical ambiance we had a heavy rain shower for about 30 minutes just as we were dropping anchor at around 8:00 am. But shortly after the cloud burst the sun was out and it returned to a steamy 29C with very high humidity. It's said that the fictional island Bali Hai, from the musical "South Pacific," was based on Moorea - and the island looks the way you probably imagine a tropical paradise to look, even the usual power and telephone lines are buried underground to further the effect. The island, like many in this part of the world is surrounded by a coral reef which creates a wide shallow lagoon. Our ship has to navigate a small channel to get just inside the lagoon where we anchor for the day. Interestingly many of the residents from Tahiti will make the 20 kilometer 30-minute ferry ride over here for a weekend getaway.

Mountainous topography of the island

By 5:30 pm everyone was back on board and shortly after 6:00 pm we weighed anchor and headed off to the island of Raiatea where we would drop anchor on Wednesday morning.

After a lazy day of casually wandering around the port area as well as getting to know our ship our group of eight all gathered at 6:30 pm at one of the specialty restaurants, Chez Jacques for an amazing meal. So far we all agree on one thing, the food on Oceania is the best any of us have experienced on any ship and this is a pretty cruise savvy crowd.

With nine dining venues on the Marina no one is going hungry. The Grand Dining Room is the main dining facility. It is large and very elegant.

The Grand Dining Room

The Terrace Cafe is more casual and a bit of a combination table service and buffet. Most days we have breakfast there. Out near the pool is Waves Grill which is very casual and tends towards fast food style. There are also four specialty dining restaurants which require reservations but unlike so many cruise lines today there is no extra charge for these restaurants. These are: the cruise line's signature Polo Grill; Toscana, an Italian restaurant; the French Bistro Chez Jacques and the Pan Asian restaurant, Red Ginger. Two additional venues are available at an added charge: Privee private dining and La Reserve.

For the more technically inclined Marina was built in Italy and launched in 2011. She weighs in at 66,000 gross tons and is roughly 800 feet long. Her beam is 105 feet and she draws 24 feet of water. She carries 1250 passengers and a crew of 780. Marina has a diesel-electric power plant with a pair of variable pitch propellers and two bow thrusters. The ship's interior is a bit more formal looking than we have been used to and is decorated with rich woods, Italian marble, lots of granite surfaces, wool carpets and lots of leather. The ship has 626 staterooms and suites, with 90% featuring private verandas.

Around 9:00 pm most of us headed off to the main theatre at the other end of the ship to check out the evening’s entertainment. Tonight’s show was to be a short one which essentially introduced us to a number of the entertainers that we would see throughout the cruise. While Oceania has a reputation for amazing food it also has a reputation for rather down scale entertainment on board – no Chorus Line show here. The smaller size of the ship limits their ability to mount major shows. Tonight was no exception as several seemingly talented performers did a number of show tunes from the 50’s. Sad to say that so far the advance billing was accurate. Hopefully the entertainment will improve as the trip progresses.

Wednesday, April 13 – Raiatea
We awoke Wednesday morning to the sound of our ship being tied up to the jetty in the middle of a small village on the island of Raiatea, the only port where we will tie up alongside at a dock. All other ports are too small for our ship to tie up at even though we are roughly half the size of many of today’s mid-sized cruise ships.

View from starboard side of our ship as we enter harbour of the Island of Raiatea

Our ship the Marina tied up at the island of Raiatea

Looking back at our previous days port in the distance

Raiatea is the second largest of the Society Islands after Tahiti. It has a small road that runs around the entire island and even has a small airport. The economy is mainly agricultural with some pearl farming. There is less tourism than other islands. The Mt. Temehani Plateau is written up in the guide books but none of the ship’s tours excited any of our group so we just walked off the ship and wandered around the very small town next to the dock. The temperature of 30C with very high humidity was not very conducive to vigorous exploring up the nearby mountain sides. After a couple of hours of shore side exploring and window shopping most of our group ended up back on board the ship exploring the various venues on the ship. Several of us even snuck in a mid-day nap to help extinguish some of that lingering jet lag.

After last night’s amazing meal at Chez Jacques we decided to head off to Deck 5 and spoil ourselves again at Chez Jacques.. Once again the dinner experience rivaled the best 5 star restaurants. After nearly two hours of comradrarie our group pushed away from our table around 9:00 pm.

Most of us skipped the evening stage show in favour of catching up on our sleep and putting that 6 hours of jet lag behind us for good. Most of us were sound asleep by the time Marina weighed anchor at 11:00 pm and headed off for Bora Bora which is 300 km to the east of us.

Getting ready to depart the port of Raiatea

Posted by DavidandHazel 01:26 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (4)

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