Thursday, August 04, 2011

Isle of Pines, Mystery Island and Port Vila

Our first stop of the cruise was much welcomed, after 2 full days at sea, and would be our first of 3 stops in New Caledonia. The Isle of Pines is a small island off the main arm of this French province, and was our first experience of being tendered out from our ship to shore.

Doing as instructed, we took a number to board a small tender boat that would take us to shore, and waited and waited and waited. 2 hours later, we got to get out feet on our new country. Fi and Dave joined Dillo, B and I on the beginning of the walk up the hill in the middle of the Isle to check out the view - but were discouraged from completing the climb by someone coming back down, telling us how long it took. There was beach time to be had! So we parked up on the white sand, and took a dip in the ocean instead.

Finding the only bar on this side of the island, we then had a cocktail and a bite to eat, while discovering the bogan population that belonged to our cruise.

Back on board, B and I adjourned to the Oasis desk, to watch us sail out of our first port of call, with cocktail in hand. Here we listened as the Italian captain told us of the area, our night of sailing ahead, and about the Isle of Pines. A piece of land discovered by Captain Cook, although he didn't actually land here. He spotted smoke from the pine covered hills, and assumed it was inhabited - that wouldn't count in our country count!

We watched the sun set, and then the full moon rise, before retreating inside, to Sports Trivia.

The evening marked Sarah's birthday, one of Fi's friends from school and co-birthday girl for the cruise, and thus a group dinner all dressed up was had at the Waterfront Restaurant.

The next morning was our next stop, being Mystery Island, Vanuatu. An uninhabited island, the locals from surrounding ports all come across to set up markets of their wares for the ship's visit. Another tender boat experience, but having learnt from the day before, we managed to get across without the lengthy waiting times. I took a walk around the island, a full lap, before joining B, Dillo and Dave for a nap on the sand. This holidaying stuff is hard work!

Back on board this time, to watch the footy that was being broadcast - the Collingwood and Carlton blockbuster. Aussies just can't be without their footy, love it! Another round of Sports Trivia, our group becoming a feature, we then had dinner, and managed to catch another game and a half of the footy happening back home. The evening, again, ended at The Attic, with the same tunes still stumps.

The capital of Vanuatu was the next day's port, where we could walk off the ship. Fi, Dave, B, Dillo and I had booked ourselves on our only shore tour for this stop, being a semi-sub boat to go snorkeling.

Taken out into the bay of Port Vila, we could see the fish and coral below through the perspex-bottomed boat, and gain a preview of what we would see when we were in the water. Having about an hour to swim, or float in my case with life-jacket on, we all milled around in the water within range of the boat, checking out the life below. The colours and life were pretty impressive!

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