Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

John and Diane's Lucky Number 7

Recommended Posts

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Easter Island!


How appropriate that we should call at Easter Island (Rapa Nui) on a Sunday, since its name derives from the fact that it was “discovered” on Easter Sunday a very long time ago.

Since it’s a territory of Spanish-speaking Chile, the correct name is Isla de Pascua, and not “Island of those huge stone men that we don’t know much about.”


This is our third visit to Easter Island, and it doesn’t get any less magical for the repetition.  I know that many people on the cruise signed up primarily for this visit, but unfortunately, many were sorely disappointed.  It was announced that tender tickets would be available at 7:00 in the morning next to the Lido pool, so I decided to be there at 6:30 - in the pitch dark (sunrise was at 7:55).  On previous cruises, 4 and 5-star Mariners did not need tender tickets, but since more than half of the WC passengers fit into that category, now everyone but President’s Club members and suite passengers need them.  I was amazed at how long the line was at 6:30, and found out later that at least one passenger was there at 4:30 AM(!) to be sure he was at the front of the line.  


At 7:00 sharp, the line began to move - very quickly!  Our friends Bill and Jane were #5, and we ended up #8.  It was expected that tendering would begin at 9:00, so we decided to meet at 8:00 or 8:30 to have something to eat before they began calling numbers.  Well . . . that was an incredibly naive idea.  The seas around Easter Island can be very rough, making tendering difficult - or even impossible - and the Captain let us know that he was having a difficult time getting a calm area in which to anchor.  He tried one spot, then moved to a different angle in that spot, and then finally gave up entirely on that area and moved to possibility #2.  There are actually three possible areas, and on one of our visits it wasn’t until #3 that we were able to anchor and begin the tender operations.


For us, area #2 seemed to work, so tender operations were to begin.  Unfortunately, it still wasn’t going to be “smooth sailing,” so trials had to be run.  What resulted was a very, very rough boarding onto the tenders, with two crew members holding onto passengers on the boarding platform and two more inside the tender grasping onto arms and then giving the command “Come” to get us into the vessel.  This took, by actual count however, 30 minutes to board 60 people, so progress was v . e . r . y . slow.  The bottom line is that our group, numbers 8, 9 and 10, was called to board at 2:00 PM.  Getting aboard was not much fun, but finally we were all aboard and got to bounce and rock for ten minutes, and the disembarkation was much easier.


We hadn’t booked a tour, so we weren’t quite sure what we’d be doing.  We didn’t really want to pay upwards of $300 per person for an HAL tour, and even Bill and Jane’s private tour was $240 pp.  One of the reasons for the high prices is that most of the island is a national park, and the entry fee is $80 pp.  When we went ashore, there were locals looking for business, and we were approached by a very pleasant older lady (that means about our ages) who offered her services for $80 each.  When asked about the national park fee, she told us that we’d see everything from just outside the borders of the main sites.    We agreed and set off for the wonders of Easter Island.  Ana, our guide, is Rapa Nui for many generations, the people who inhabit the island.  It is also the indiginous name of the island. 


The island itself is just beautiful, with cattle, wild horses, and gorgeous turquoise to blue water crashing on the shore.  Since it was Sunday, we saw family groups having picnics

and playing games.  Ana told us that Easter Islanders seldom go swimming; they love being at the shore for family gatherings and for fishing, but that was it.  


Our first stop was at the Rano Kau volcano, where one can look down into the depths of a crater first formed millions of years ago.  It contains a number of small lakes and the soil is so fertile that it is used to farm dozens of plants.  Next we headed to what we always call “The Quarry,” because it is the side of another volcano where the moai were carved before being transported to different parts of the island.  There are 397 statues, some lying partly finished in rock pits.  The beautiful green hillside is littered with these stone mysteries, and in the past we have hiked along the trail and up the hill to see most of them. 


Next it was time to see Tongariki, with 15 moai along the ocean, facing inward, as all of them do.  Apparently at one time they were knocked down by a tsunami, but late in the last century Japan paid to have them set upright again, and they make a magnificent sight. All by himself (they are all male, by the way), is a single moai who looks toward the mountains, as he has for hundreds and hundreds of years.  I love his profile, especially against the incoming storm clouds.  


Then it was time for my favorite part of the island:  Anakena Beach.  It consists of a beautiful pink sand beach, seven moai on a platform, palm trees, and a couple of “snack shacks.” Again, because it was Sunday, the place was crowded with families, and picnics were spread over the lawn areas under the shade of the palm trees.  Ginni and I headed over for photos of the moai while Rich and John found us a table at a snack shack and ordered two large empanadas and four beers.  We managed to get through the beers, but the empanadas (which were delicious) took awhile to prepare, so we took them with us to eat in the car.


Unfortunately, our tour was now over, except for the thirty-minute drive back to the tender port.  On the way, we passed a tall grass-covered mountain used for sliding down on palm leaves.  It was obviously very popular, as cars were parked on both sides of the road for about a quarter of a mile.  Unfortunately there was also an ambulance there, so we guessed that perhaps that steep slide had caused someone a serious accident.


It was time to call our kids, so we let our friends take the tender that was ready to sail, and afterwards, the next tender was much less crowded, with no more than a dozen passengers.  It was when we got back to the ship that we found out that Tender Ticket #18 was called at 4:00, and then the captain said that tendering to the island would have to stop, both because of the late time and the worsening seas.  We were really sad to know that some people who had never been to Easter Island were not able to do so, especially since some booked this cruise particularly because it’s one of the few (about 12 a year) cruises that call here.  When we went up to the Crow’s Nest at 6:30 for sailaway, we heard that there were still about 400 people on the island, and I think the last ones didn’t reboard the ship until about 7:30.


It was a memorable day, and we loved every moment of it.  The Amsterdam calls here next year on the WC, so if Easter Island is on your bucket list, you might want to consider it.  Remember, however, a couple of things:


 1.  Passengers may not be able to go ashore at all if the seas are too rough.

 2.  If tender tickets are being given out, GET THERE EARLY - really early.  

 3.  If you’re willing to pay about $300 for an HAL excursion, you will probably get ashore  (if anyone goes)

 4.  There are a couple of flights a day from Santiago, Chile; they’re the surest way to get   here.


Easter Island is truly a unique place, and I think everyone should experience it at least once.  


P. S.  In answer to your question, there are four passengers' children on board who are active in Club HAL with Geoffrey, the great young man in charge.  In addition, there are a few officers' children, including Chef Petr's two boys and a few more.  They're all really lovely, well-behaved kids.  













Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the wonderful description of your adventures of getting to the island and what you saw there.  Your photos are excellent!  We went a few years ago on a Cunard ship and had good luck with the seas.  It's an amazing place.  I'd love to go back.


Thank you, too, for mentioning your book club book, Something in the Water.  I just finished it.  It's a real page turner but the lead character's constant bad decisions were unreal.  

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I too finished the book in record time!  And agree with Oahu, I couldn't believe her "fly by the seat of her pants" mentality. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

At Sea en route to Pitcairn Island (cruising only)


Yesterday I wrote (at great length) about the adventures of Easter Island and the difficult decisions that had to be made about tendering and anchoring and so on.  What I didn’t write about sufficiently was the incredible effort put forth by the officers and crew to actually get us there and back safely.  


Tendering began about 9:30 AM with HAL tour groups and ended at about 7:30 PM with the return of the last passengers from the island.  During that time, Captain Jonathan stayed on the bridge, making sure that the ship stayed in one place and receiving information so as to make the best decisions for the passengers and crew.  In fact, he bagan his duties at about 4:00 AM, so his time on the bridge was in excess of 14 hours.  He wasn’t the only one, either.  Henk, the Hotel Manager, was seeing passengers onto the tenders - all day.  I suspect that one of his duties was to be sure that no one who shouldn’t be on a tender tried to board.  Because of his rank on the ship (second only to the Captain), he would have no problem saying “no” to anyone whose safety would endanger him/herself or others because of a disability.  It’s really too bad that some folks are kept from going ashore, but tendering is a tricky business, and the Captain, the Cruise Director, and the Hotel Manager had all made it quite clear, both orally and in the program, that there were limitations for those wanting to go ashore.  Because of the rough seas, one woman was injured early in the day while boarding a tender. 


Actually, Captain Jonathan told a few people that he almost cancelled the port call, but because it was such a “bucket list” place for so many passengers, he made a decision to get as many passengers as possible onto the island as safely as possible.  All day, safety was the byword of the whole operation.


The crew members worked long and hard for us, too.  There were four crew assisting each passenger boarding the tender, two on the boarding platform (one for each arm) and two on the tender using an overarm grip to get us onboard safely.  It was quite a job and I’ll bet some of those crew members went to bed with bruised forearms.  


Now, after all of that and all of the efforts made by the ship’s officers and crew, I understand that there were dozens of complaints which made their way to the captain.  Some complained about not being able to get ashore, some complained about not being allowed onto the tenders because of handicaps, and some complained about seeing a crew excursion on the island, saying that “if paying passengers can’t go ashore, then crew members shouldn’t be able to.”  John and I disagree with that philosophy, but everyone is entitled to an opinion.  Fortunately, on the high seas the person who makes the final decisions - and is held responsible for them - is the captain.  If it were a vote, we’d never get anywhere!  I know that many people have nightmares of the same situations over and over again, and I’d be willing to bet that when Captain Jonathan has a nightmare, Easter Island is involved.


                *    *    *    *    *


The entertainment so far has been darned good.  A couple of knights ago (spelling intended), a group called The Knights performed and we thought it was the best show of the cruise so far.  Their name is derived from the fact that they sing music of knighted performs, like Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Tom Jones (I didn’t even know he’d been knighted) and so on.  They just rocked the showroom and received a well-deserved standing “O”.  Happily, they’re on again tonight.


Last night, though, we skipped the show because it was Disco Night in the Crow’s Nest.  It was a lot of fun and we just danced and danced and danced.  We weren’t teenagers in the disco era, but the music is quite danceable.  


We’re now really looking forward to the Pitcairn Island “drive by” tomorrow.  We can’t go ashore because of a lack of docking facilities, but we do circumnavigate the island and a large boatload of Islanders come aboard to give talks and to set up shop with hats and tee shirts, and other collectables.  On our last visit here in 2015, I found a tee shirt that I liked and found out that I was buying it from a lady whose last name was Christian - a many generation great granddaughter of Fletcher Christian, who led the mutiny which settled the island.  Our tablemates are all going to celebrate the day by having a mimosa brunch on Rich and Ginni’s verandah, with those lovely morning beverages as well as pastries and fruit gathered from the Lido.  It should be fun.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wonderful report.


Sadly you can't make everyone happy.  Decisions about the tendering are rough ones and the captain certainly doesn't want to see anyone hurt.  The captain will have nightmares are Easter Island.


Love the pictures.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow...what an adventure for the children.  I smile just thinking of it.  After seeing so many reports on Easter Island I think I would opt for the flight from Santiago.  If it is a bucket list destination...why take the chance?  Loving "our" 2019 WC so far.  Cherie

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thursday, February 14, 2019


At Sea en route to Papeete, Tahiti

The Day after Pitcairn Island


What an exciting day we had yesterday.  Actually, Pitcairn Island day is almost as good as Easter Island, both because of the people we meet and talk with and the historical importance of the island.  We’ve had a group of Polynesians on board since Chile who are teaching arts such as hula, ukulele playing, jewelry making and so forth.  However, the Pitcairn islanders who come on board represent a very different culture. 


For a bit of history, most of you will have learned about the HMS Bounty, a ship which called at Tahiti to collect breadfruit trees.  These were to be then taken to the Caribbean islands, where they would provide food for the slaves working on the sugar plantations.  The two protagonists in the story were Bligh and Christian.  Although he’s always called “Captain Bligh” in the movies, he was actually only a lieutenant who, as the son of a vicar, had worked his way up in the navy to this command.  Fletcher Christian was an “acting lieutenant” who served as first officer on the ship.  Bligh was indeed a strict commander, but because he came from a modest background in England, he was looked down upon by Christian, who was probably what we’d call today “a spoiled rich boy.”  


The stay in Tahiti was lengthy to enable the sailors to collect the breadfruit plants, and the crew members thought they were in heaven.  Several married local women and, when it was time to go, they balked at the idea.  Fletcher Christian and his followers decided they’d take over the ship shortly after sailing, and Bligh was put into a longboat with about a dozen of his other officers.  The story of how they survived and reached East Timor, a Dutch possession, is legendary.  When he was returned to England in a Dutch vessel, he was tried for losing his ship and was found not guilty.  To many in England he was a hero for his exploits after being abandoned by Christian and company.


The mutineers returned their ship to Papeete, but were afraid of being chased down and arrested by the English navy.  As a solution, most of the mutineers and their “significant others” boarded the Bounty and sailed until they found the unhabited Pitcairn Island.  To make it impossible for any of them to leave, the ship was set afire and is even today visible underwater in Bounty Bay.  A great deal of infighting took place, and within the first couple of years, all but one of the mutineers died violently, including Fletcher Christian.  The mutineers who stayed in Tahiti were, indeed, captured and returned to England for trial.  Of the ten, seven were eventually released and three were hanged.


Today, only about 50 people live on the island, down from 233 in 1937.  Many have emigrated to New Zealand, resulting in the decline.  There are only three children under 13 on the island, and a teacher and a doctor are sent out for one-year contracts by the New Zealand government.  


We can’t go onto the island because of the extremely rough water and high rocks.  The inhabitants have two longboats, which they haul up out of the water when not being used.  So . . . at about 10:00 yesterday morning (while we were enjoying mimosas and pastries on Rich and Ginni’s verandah), one of the longboats approached, carrying nearly the entire population of the island.  They don’t come empty handed, though; there are many, many things to sell.  A market was set up around the Lido pool, and the

shopping mob moved in.  I swear, I had to fight to just get a look at what was being sold at each table.  There were wood carvings, tee shirts, hats, post cards, stamps, models of the Bounty, and lots and lots of jewelry.  If you wanted your passport stamped by a New Zealand official showing that you had been to Pitcairn Island, it cost $10.00.  By the time the islanders reboarded the longboat, they were happy, smiling, and according to one officer, about $10,000 richer.  We helped that a bit by purchasing three postcards and two tee shirts.  


What a day!  Of course all the excitement (and the mimosas) led to a lovely nap, and the rest of the day was quite low-key.  I do love Pitcairn Island day, and although it would be fun to go ashore, it’s almost as rewarding to have “ashore” come to us.









Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The water has been spectacular in its color lately, and John is having a great time looking for flying fish.


If you still wonder why it's so wonderful doing this cruise, I've included a photo and a video of what happened at lunch today.  I've mentioned the Polynesian group on board; you can see why we love them.  I'm posting one photo and one video; I hope the video comes through.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Getting caught up on reading your posts, love the pictures. Easter Island & Pitcairn have been on our bucket list and hopefully some day we can get those checked off. I'm really enjoying your posts with all the pictures.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎2‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 6:53 PM, Oahucruiser said:


Thank you, too, for mentioning your book club book, Something in the Water.  I just finished it.  It's a real page turner but the lead character's constant bad decisions were unreal.  

Agree 100% about the book, anyone out there who reads need to read this one.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Friday, February 15, 2019

At Sea en route to Papeete, Tahiti


When it’s Valentine’s Day, the m/s Amsterdam celebrates in a big way.  Even at breakfast, it seemed red was everywhere, from the hanging decorations to the clothes worn by both men and women to the red hearts in the beautiful flower arrangements all over the ship.  Later in the day, a knock at our door brought Wayan, our cabin steward, with a long-stemmed red rose as well as two boxes of chocolate bars from Seattle, gifts from HAL.   We’ve been given those before, and they really are delicious.  Funny aside:  I was going through my “cruise shoes” box while packing and I found a three-pack of those same type of chocolate bars, apparently from the 2017 WC.  A strong believer in “waste not, want not,” I threw them into the suitcase and we ate them over a week’s period after boarding.  I don’t think that these two packages will last that long!


John went to play pickleball at 4:00, and when he came back at 5:00, which is a bit early, I wondered at the time, but when I saw him limping in, I began worrying.  Just yesterday at breakfast we’d spoken about a pickleball friend who had injured his leg.  The new surface is pebbly, which prevents players from slipping and sliding, but it makes it much easier to catch oneself and pull a muscle.  Well, that’s what John had done.  He apparently had pulled a muscle in his calf and it was really hurting him.  I went out and found some ice to put in a zip-lock bag, so he sat on the verandah with the ice underneath his calf.  It seemed to help, but then wrapping it tightly with an Ace bandage helped even more.  


In the Crow’s Nest during cocktail hour, there was so much red and sparkly jewelry that it almost hurt my eyes.  Part of the Crow’s Nest was closed off because a couple was having a “renewal of vows” with friends.  We never did find out who it was, since that part of the CN can be walled off completely for privacy.  The most common attire for men - since it was a formal night - was a white dinner jacket with a red bow tie.  John, feeling somewhat contrary, wore his newest formal shirt which has blue buttons.  To match them, he wore a blue and pink striped bow tie.  Oh well.


At dinner, the dining room was beautifully decorated with groups of hanging sparkly hearts, red and white covered chairs, and hundreds of people dressed in variations of red.  Our officer was Renee, the spa manager, who has been a friend for several years.  John and I had brought a bag of large conversation hearts to decorate the table, while Leslie brought bags of four different kinds of chocolates as well as little heart-shaped toys which she had purchased at the dollar store in Ft. Lauderdale.  All in all, it was great fun, while we played with the toys and read the conversation hearts aloud.  Considering our ages, however, reading glasses were occasionally necessary!


After dinner, there was a Valentine’s Ball in the Queen’s Lounge, with music provided by the Ocean Bar band.  I had thought that group a little dull, but the group’s singer, complete with silver sparkly top, just belted out great dance music.  John had been concerned that he wouldn’t be able to dance with his injury, but he did manage two dances, after which I danced with Henk, our Hotel Manager and friend.  John didn’t seem any the worse for wear, so when the ball ended at 10:30, he suggested we head up to the Crow’s Nest for more dancing.  It was packed up there!  I think all the cadet officers,  tall and good looking Dutchmen, were in attendance, and there were tons of absolutely lovely young ladies to keep them company.  John was in fine form, and we danced three or four more times there, until he figured he’d better give his leg a rest.  We then used the time to catch up with our WC friends Bob and Judy, and saw several of Bob’s wonderful new photos.  He is a great photographer, and we always enjoy seeing his collected photos on Facebook after the cruise.


Then the clock said midnight, so we agreed that it was bedtime.  We set the clocks back an hour - again!  We have done that five nights in a row, and it’s really playing havoc with some passengers’ sleep schedules.  I’ve heard that there are people walking the decks at 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning, just because their sleep schedules are off.  Personally, I sleep quite well, and I’m always glad for that extra hour.  


Tomorrow is Papeete, one of our favorite ports.  It’s been raining most of today, and we’re just hoping that we get some beautiful weather tomorrow in Papeete and the next day in Moorea. 

P. S.  Just picked up our newest book club selection, Force of Nature, written by Jane Harper, who also wrote The Dry, which we read in 2017.IMG_4530.thumb.jpg.303d77a563becaf157bf657b88ab4376.jpgIMG_5308.thumb.jpg.1aeffd8319ec7e465f2a93f93b3b6d3f.jpgIMG_7392.thumb.jpg.5c71f8ac3c9f979830b54e713eff1b7d.jpgIMG_2070.thumb.jpg.07f0b28131403f100322cee04af7d6ab.jpg


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Papeete, Tahiti


Even with the buildings and the cars rushing down the streets, it’s easy to see why Captain Bligh’s crew considered Tahiti a paradise.  The temperature is a wonderful 80 degrees, the air is full of the fragrance of flowers, and the people are friendly and relaxed in dealing with all of these invading tourists.


We sailed into the harbor at about 8:30 this morning, and even with a cloudy sky, we were anxious to enjoy the city.  For reference, Papeete is the city, Tahiti is the island (joined by Moorea, Bora Bora, and several others), and the entire area is French Polynesia.  The official language is French, although Tahitian is also spoken by most of the inhabitants.  The currency is the French Polynesian franc, with 100 francs worth about a dollar.  It makes it easy to convert, as all you have to do is move the decimal point over two places and you’ve got the dollar equivalent.


We headed out at about 10:00 and wandered the town looking for an ATM (there were several) and a post office.  We’d been collecting post cards from Easter Island and Pitcairn Island to send to our granddaughter, and today it was time to actually buy some stamps and get them on their way.  It was only a 15-minute wait in the post office and our task was taken care of.


Then it was time to head to the Marche, or Central Market.  This is a large, two-story building that looks rather like a huge warehouse, with food and flowers sold downstairs and clothing, souvenirs, and jewelry sold upstairs, overlooking the large area below.  We wandered around downstairs before heading up for an iced mocha, an opportunity to chat with some fellow passengers, and finding out that those black pearls cost more than I was willing to pay.


We had made an agreement with some of our tablemates to meet at Les 3 Brasseurs for lunch.  It’s a great brewery and restaurant on the main street, and we’ve made a point of having lunch there each time we call at Papeete.  Although the weather forecast had called for some rain, we didn’t expect the absolute downpour that we experienced while sitting there enjoying our meal.  We were outside under a canvas awning, but the high winds caused the rain to head our way, and by the time we were done eating, we were all pretty damp.  


At that point we hadn’t finished yet, because we headed back to the market to buy a flower arrangement.  One of the wonderful things about Papeete is the beautiful tropical flowers to be had, and our lovely arrangement was only $15.00.  Rich and Ginni hosted a surprise birthday celebration for John last evening after dinner, and he wanted to give them a thank you, and there’s nothing quite as beautiful as a Tahitian flower arrangement.  His actual birthday is February 23, but because we won’t be here, they just “jumped the gun” a bit.  


OK, so why won’t we be here?  Some time ago, John and our daughter had a heart to heart discussion when she said that she just hated for us to be gone for four months a year.  Because of that, John promised that we’d not be gone for that long, so for the last two world cruises (and this one), we take about a week in the middle and fly home to spend time with our daughter, son-in-law, and our granddaughter.  So . . . tomorrow we’ll take the ferry back from Moorea to Papeete, take the 10:40 flight to San Francisco, pick up our rental car and head to Auburn to spend the week with the kids, flying from SFO to Auckland on February 24 (the day after John’s birthday), and arriving on February 26 (because of the International Dateline).  I know, I know, it sounds silly, but it keeps the family happy and all it takes is some miles, some flying, and it seems to work.


So . . . while I’ll post tomorrow, the next week will be fairly intermittant.  We’ll miss some of the South Pacific, which is a shame, but you have to keep the family happy.







Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Supposedly Moorea (but not really)


You know how sometimes you think you have a great idea, only to have it turn out to be anything but?  Well, that’s what happened with us.  Yesterday we had a long discussion about getting a hotel and staying over in Papeete, but we decided that it would be better to spend part of the day in Moorea and then take the ferry back.  Oh my, do I wish we had stuck with our original plan.


We were to sail at 5:00 this morning for the short passage to Moorea, but according to the Captain, we sailed later than that because the seas looked a bit too rough.  That was an understatement!  By about 8:00, the seas were high, the wind was about 40-50 miles per hour, and rain was pouring onto the windows of the Lido as we ate our breakfast.  Then came the announcement:  because of weather conditions, there was no way we were going to be able to run tenders into Moorea, so we would just continue on to Bora Bora, with an expected arrival of about 7:00 PM.


Now had we planned to arrive at 4:00 PM, our plans would have been safe, but oh no, it was 7:00, and the last flight out of Bora Bora is at 7:50.  In most places that wouldn’t have been a problem, but flying out of this particular island requires a boat ride to the atoll on which the airport is located, adding at least a half hour or forty minutes to the “commute.”  Adding to that, our United flight does not operate on Mondays, so the next time we can fly will be Tuesday.  It just gets better and better.  


So, here’s the current plan.  We’ll be arriving in Bora Bora in about two hours, at which time I’ll be able to access my Verizon international plan to call for a hotel reservation as well as a flight reservation to Papeete.  We’ve already changed our Papeete to San Francisco flight to Tuesday, but now we’ll need to get back to Papeete to actually use those reservations.  We’ve found a lovely little ocean front “lodge” called the Oa Oa, and I’ll call them as soon as we get in.  At least we’ll get to spend about 24 hours in Bora Bora, even if it is going to be grey and rainy.  We feel really sorry for passengers who’ve never been to the South Pacific.  It should be blue skies and warm blue water, but this IS the rainy season, so one must be prepared for anything.  As I write, the ship is rocking pretty actively (which we love), but it does tell us that the weather isn’t going to get much better.  I’ll bet the flight to Papeete will be like an E-Ride at Disneyland (if you’re old enough to remember what that means.)


So . . . the adventure continues.  We’ve learned a lesson, but we should get back to California in time to spend five days (and John’s birthday) with our kids.  I’ll try to get some photos of the Oa Oa, and give an update on our current roller coaster ride.


P. S.  John says “thank you” for the birthday wishes.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Monday, February 18, 2019

Bora Bora, French Polynesia


I’ll start with a bit of “here we go again.”  After we had everything set up to fly home on Tuesday instead of Sunday, we phoned our daughter to tell her the arrangements, at which time she told us that our granddaughter had been diagnosed with RSV, a serious respiratory illness which is highly contagious and can be quite dangerous for the very young and older people.  I tried telling her that we weren’t “older,” but she refused to believe it and told us that as sad as it made her, she wouldn’t feel comfortable having us come to visit with a chance of contracting it and endangering our health.


So . . . here we are again at Square 1.  We cancelled the flights, the Bora Bora hotel, and the AirBNB in California, told our cabin stewards and our friends that we were going absolutely nowhere, and then it was time for beautiful Bora Bora.


After two days of really awful weather and feeling like a cork bouncing around in a tub, we entered the reef last evening and almost immediately the water was calm and the skies were clear.  Today we awoke to a scene from a “Visit the South Pacific” brochure.  It was about 80 degrees, the water was 87 degrees, the sky was blue and the water varied from light blue to dark blue to turquoise.  It was a perfect day in paradise.  I really believe that there is no place on earth that matches Bora Bora for pure natural beauty.


Last evening Rich and Ginni told us that they had signed up for a tour which included snorkeling the coral gardens inside the reef and then swimming with black-tipped sharks and sting rays.  Of course we had to join up too, so I went downstairs to the ShoreEx office, filled out the form, and put it in the drop box, just hoping they’d get it before the 8:15 assembly time.  They were on top of it, though, since when we came back from dinner, our tickets were in our “mailbox.”  


Today could not have been more wonderful.  We took the tender into Vaitape where we were greeted by four local young men who were to be our guides for today.  We set off across the bay and around the nearest island, out to the beautiful turquoise waters inside the reef.  After receiving instruction on the flotation jacket, the mask/snorkel, and the flippers, we were in the wonderfully warm water to swim over one of the most beautiful coral reefs you’d ever want to see.  There was a variety of colors from pink to cream to purple, as well as a variety of types of coral, from brain to mushroom to one that looked like little strips of paper.  We had been strictly instructed not to step on or otherwise touch the coral, as the locals are very protective of their natural habitat, both above and below the water.


After about forty minutes of that underwater beauty, it was time to continue on, stopping on a shallow sand bank, home to (harmless) black-tipped sharks and sting rays.  We didn’t need our flotation jackets or our flippers, but the masks and snorkels came in handy as we floated on the water watching sharks swim around us, followed by pilot fish who keep them company to eat the parasites on their skin.  The sting rays were large, beautiful creatures who swam along the bottom of the sand bank until they decided it was time to swim between your legs and scare the heck out of you.  The rays are velvety to the touch, and we were free to touch them on their backs but not on their stomachs.  Forty-five minutes of sharks and sting rays convinced us that there could be no more fun in the world than enjoying these magnificant creatures in their natural habitat.  


Then, sadly, it was time to return to the dock and tender back to the ship for quick showers, a change of clothes and a chance to do something with my hair before our next adventure: Bloody Mary’s for lunch.  I imagine most people remember the character (or at least the song) of Bloody Mary in the movie South Pacific - if you’re too young to remember, I apologize.  Nevertheless, this bar/restaurant has been a tourist magnet since 1979, celebrating 40 years this year.  The building is wood, the roof is thatch, and the floor (if you call it that) is just sand.  


We hadn’t been here in 15 years, so we expected the prices to be sky high.  However, that wasn’t the case.  Rich and I guessed that beer would be between ten and fifteen dollars, but it turned out to be $4.00 for a large glass of Hinano, the local Tahitian beer.  After a hot day in the 78-degree water, a cold beer sounded great.  The various types of hamburgers were between $13 and $15, not too bad for a really large burger with a side of quite delicious fries.  John had the mahi mahi burger, and it was just wonderful (he gave me a bite).  The fish was fresh and cooked to perfection - but I loved my plain old cheeseburger too.


The “Bloody Mary Bus” ($5.00 per person) took us back into Vaitape so we could have a look around this tiny little town with enough black pearl shops to satisfy every jewelry lover’s wishes.  There were small (1-table) stands along the road with fruit, vegetables, fresh fish and even more jewelry.  We stopped at the grocery store, which was like taking a walk into a marche in Paris (except that the prices were at least double).  We bought some chips for our room stewards, some fruit juice for our refrigerator, and some of our favorite French cookies.   I loved the freezer section, since it was soooo hot both inside and outside of the store.



A nap was in order and then time to wash the salt out of my hair before the Crow’s Nest and dinner.  Instead of a show, there was a movie about rugby players from the South Pacific, so we adjourned to our cabin to read and wait for the 11:00 sailaway.


What a wonderful day!  If you’ve never been to  Bora Bora, add it to your “bucket list,” but be sure to stay for more than one day.  








Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • SPECIAL EVENT: Q&A with the Quark Expeditions Team!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...