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John and Diane's Latest Adventures - 2020


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2 hours ago, tennisbeforewine said:

Thursday, February 13, 2020

At Sea en route to Easter Island - Day 2 of 4

 

We sail happily along, with seas that remind us that we’re on a ship and at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Last night at dinner we had even more rocking and rolling, and poor Leslie was popping seasick pills to handle the situation.  I told her that I think she’s the only President’s Club member who still gets seasick.

 

As we do every time we cross the South Pacific, we boarded a group of young people in San Antonio who are referred to as “Polynesian Cultural Ambassadors,”.  They really are a pleasure to have on board, since they teach classes, have demonstrations, and give lectures in the Mainstage.  

 

Yesterday’s cultural class/activity was called “Hei Pupu, and it involved Tahitian sea shell necklace making.  Tables were set up next to the Lido pool and chairs at those tables were highly sought.  The class was at 9:00, but by 8:45 every place was taken and some people were dragging chairs from the breakfast tables to join in.  Everyone seemed to have a good time, and the shell necklaces that resulted were really quite pretty - far more than just a puka shell necklace from the ABC Store in Honolulu.  

 

Kainoa, who seems to be the leader of the group, gave a lecture in the afternoon called “My Polynesia,” and the auditorium was just about full.  The main lesson I learned from the lecture was that all Polynesians consider themselves one people, and that when traveling from one place to another, like a Tahitian traveling to Samoa, the people on that island will greet them with “Welcome Home.”  Kainoa’s topic today is called “Easter Island:  The Navel of the World.” 

 

In the afternoon in the Crow’s Nest, the first class in learning to play the Polynesian ukulele began.  The group looked to be having a lot of fun, and our friend Bill was right in the mix.  This morning he told us he’s going back today, so I guess it was a success.

Day #2 of ukulele will continue at 1:00 today.

 

This morning’s class was “Polynesian Fitness and Exercise,” and while I had already had my daily dose of exercise in the gym, this class was fun to watch, and my friend Toya said it was absolutely exhausting.  She added that she really didn’t understand how they moved their hips like that!

 

We’ll continue with events like this on every sea day across the Pacific, and if I remember correctly, the group will disembark in Auckland.  I’m sure we’ll all be sad to see them go.  

 

Tonight is the Sel de Mer dinner and our friends Wells and Dee Wescott invited us to join their table.  We were first introduced to this restaurant on the Koningsdam, where it’s one of several restaurants.  On our ship, however, it’s just a “pop-up” and will show up a couple of times during the cruise.  The same will happen with Tamarind, a pan-Asian restaurant which is also found on the newer, larger ships.  We really enjoyed those two establishments when we sailed on the Koningsdam, so we usually try to enjoy them here, too.

 

My favorite things about our South Pacific sailing are, of course, the sea days, but the weather is usually just about perfect, with blue skies, warm weather, and light breezes.  Right now the sun is attempting to break out from behind the clouds, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing it soon.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Diane

 

Thank you again for sharing. Tour pics brought back amazing memories for me.

 

The gentleman giving the ukulele lesson is the same one who did so on my cruise to Hawaii. He also performed at happy hour every day. Wonderful voice and a mischievous personality. Not sure, but I believe his name is Alika. And those exercise classes the ambassadors conducted were fun and aerobic!

 

 

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day

At Sea en route to Easter Island - Day #3

 

Last evening was our first Sel de Mer (Salt of the Sea) dinner in the Pinnacle.  It’s a combination of a French restaurant and excellent seafood, and we really enjoy both.  Our friends Dee and Wells had invited us, and we found ourselves at a table for six with two new friends, Sue and Julie, both of whom live inland from Vancouver.  The dinner was delicious - all four courses of it!  The amuse bouche was a single scallop in an absolutely delicious sauce.  Dee, who is a scuba diver extraordinaire, spearfishes and brings home the result - but hates scallops, so she had one tomato with a tiny slice of mozzarella.

 

The first courses all sounded delicious, but I decided on a bit of foie gras, something I seldom eat outside of France.  John had a salade nicoise, another treat we usually save for France.  For a main course, I ordered the Dover sole, and the tableside presentation is a good part of the enjoyment.  The server first removes the skin and then removes the meat from the bone in four parts.  By the time it arrives on my plate, it’s been re-constructed into four delicious sole filets.  John’s main was steak frites, another French favorite.  It should be a fairly thin steak cooked somewhere between medium and rare with a lovely sauce and hot, crisp French fries.  They DID get the sauce and the fries right, but instead of the typical thin steak, it was a thick filet, but he said it was good anyway.

 

The dessert choices were tempting, but our all-time favorite French dessert is profiteroles, small cream puffs filled with either custard or ice cream and topped with marvelous warm, dark chocolate sauce.  They hit this one out of the park, and John and I shared one dessert.  Fortunately it had four beautiful little puffs, so we didn’t have to fight over an odd number.

 

We skipped coffee, because the show last night was an ABBA cover group, and we just love their music.  The satin outfits were something to see, and the songs brought back such memories.  Half the audience knew all the words and sang right along.  For the last song, dancing was encouraged, so we jumped up and danced right along.

 

* * *                                                                             

Today, the Polynesian Cultural Ambassadors are continuing their activities.  As we finished our breakfast on the Lido this morning, the Ori Tahiti class was beginning, with passengers learning the native drum dance of the Tahitian islands.  Once it was explained that it wasn’t the hips that were responsible for all that movement but the knees, everyone’s dancing improved remarkably.  

 

This afternoon the ukulele lessons continue, and Kainoa’s talk is the story of Captain Cook, the great navigator who died on the Big Island of Hawaii.  

 

Tonight is a Gala night, as is always the case on Valentine’s Day, and most people will be dressed in their fanciest red evening clothes.  I have an evening gown that I bought years ago that is worn only once a year, and only in those years during which we’re on a world cruise.  I’ll get it out, wear it, and then it won’t see the light of day until the next Valentine’s Day we’re on a WC.  The red sequin shoes that I used to wear with it bit the dust last year, so I’ll have to figure out which pair will replace them.  Such are the trials and tribulations at sea!

 

P. S.  Sorry about the dearth of photos.  The internet has been out half the day and really poor the second half.  I'll try for more tomorrow.  Since sunrise this morning was at 8:00, this is what it looked like at 7:10.  

 

 

 

 

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Kainoa was the port lecturer on our Incan Empire cruise and ambassador on our Hawaiian  cruise. He thought he was great speaker/presenter and we never missed his talks. I’ve never been compelled in writing one of the “tell us how we’re doing” cards or whatever they’re called, but I did turn in a card letting HAL know how much we enjoyed him and what an asset he is to their company.

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

At Sea en route to Easter Island - Day 4

 

Well, tomorrow morning “all hell will break loose,” as they say.  It’s Easter Island and it’s also the most coveted tender ticket and the “iffiest” port on our itinerary.  The sky and sea will be blue, the weather will be warm, but the often rough seas can make it a  challenge to get us all to shore.  We have been incredibly lucky to have been there three times out of three tries, but four would not be go amiss.  

 

What happens to begin the chaos is that tender tickets are handed out beginning at 7:00, which means that the queue begins at 5:00 or 5:30.  People argue about their line location, every chair is removed from the tables in the Lido so that passengers don’t have to sit for an hour and a half, and others resort to tricks.  Last year, an announcement was made that anyone with a mobility device would not be allowed to board the tender.  (It’s just too dangerous in this particular port)  The woman behind us in line had a walker, and when I asked her about it, she replied, “Oh, it’s only a chair for when I get tired.”  I guess that’s why she folded it and hid it when she was close to the front of the line.  When we boarded the tender, there she was with her walker, and she was insulted and angry when she was told she couldn’t take it aboard.  Oh, the fun of a world cruise.

 

Our friends Will and Nancy have never been to the island, but it’s very important to them that they do so.  Because of that, we gave them our best advice:  sign up for a ship tour, because they get the first tenders.  They’re rather overpriced, but if you really and truly want to get there, a morning tour is the best guarantee.  Last year some of the afternoon tours had to be cancelled, since the captain cancelled tenders at about 12:30 because of increasingly rough seas.  One year, two of the tenders (AKA lifeboats) were damaged by being knocked against the tender dock by the high waves.  

 

Last night was a Gala Night, as announced by the daily newsletter, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much red in my life.  John seriously dislikes having us look like we dressed alike but yesterday, even though I already had my red shirt on, he wore his red San Miguel Beer tee-shirt.  The Filipino members of the crew love it when he wears that shirt, since it’s the most popular beer in the Philippines.  My red evening gown, as promised, had yet another wearing and will now be re-packed, not to see the light of day until next year.  The female part of the crowd in the Crow’s Nest was attired primarily in red, and most of the men were wearing red bowties with their tuxedos.  It was a very festive crowd.  When we arrived in the dining room, all the waiters were attired in red sequined vests with red sequined bow ties.  They looked great.

 

After dinner, the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers performed, and then we headed up to the Crow’s Nest, where dance music was promised.  The place was jammed with both passengers and officers, and we found out later that the officers had been bribed with free wine if they’d show up.  In their elegant navy blue uniforms with brass buttons, they really look quite nice - and they lower the average age by several years.  We danced, visited with friends, and sat for awhile with our friends Bob and Judy Voorneveld before heading to “pillow island” at about 11:00.  It was a “turn your clocks back” night, though, so it was really only 10:00.  Love those nights!

 

The weather, as predicted, is turning into beautiful South Pacific weather, with blue skies and warm temperatures.  Because the seas are warming, John was able to see his first group of flying fish, which he loves watching for.  He’s now hoping for more.  

 

Our one leftover frustration, however, is the internet service, or our lack of service.  In his mid-day message yesterday, even the captain expressed frustration with it, since he wanted to announce some weather forecast information but was unable to because of the problems in that area.  Apparently even Seattle has become involved, since they really don’t want us floating around the ocean with little or no connection to the outside world.  It seems that my post yesterday went out in a small window of service, but a half hour later, it was gone, and that was what affected my inability to upload more photos.  Again, a First World problem and one I’ll gladly put up with to be on a world cruise.   

P. S.  I finally got to upload the additional 3 photos from yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2/14/2020 at 5:24 PM, tennisbeforewine said:

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day

At Sea en route to Easter Island - Day #3

 

Last evening was our first Sel de Mer (Salt of the Sea) dinner in the Pinnacle.  It’s a combination of a French restaurant and excellent seafood, and we really enjoy both.  Our friends Dee and Wells had invited us, and we found ourselves at a table for six with two new friends, Sue and Julie, both of whom live inland from Vancouver.  The dinner was delicious - all four courses of it!  The amuse bouche was a single scallop in an absolutely delicious sauce.  Dee, who is a scuba diver extraordinaire, spearfishes and brings home the result - but hates scallops, so she had one tomato with a tiny slice of mozzarella.

 

The first courses all sounded delicious, but I decided on a bit of foie gras, something I seldom eat outside of France.  John had a salade nicoise, another treat we usually save for France.  For a main course, I ordered the Dover sole, and the tableside presentation is a good part of the enjoyment.  The server first removes the skin and then removes the meat from the bone in four parts.  By the time it arrives on my plate, it’s been re-constructed into four delicious sole filets.  John’s main was steak frites, another French favorite.  It should be a fairly thin steak cooked somewhere between medium and rare with a lovely sauce and hot, crisp French fries.  They DID get the sauce and the fries right, but instead of the typical thin steak, it was a thick filet, but he said it was good anyway.

 

The dessert choices were tempting, but our all-time favorite French dessert is profiteroles, small cream puffs filled with either custard or ice cream and topped with marvelous warm, dark chocolate sauce.  They hit this one out of the park, and John and I shared one dessert.  Fortunately it had four beautiful little puffs, so we didn’t have to fight over an odd number.

 

We skipped coffee, because the show last night was an ABBA cover group, and we just love their music.  The satin outfits were something to see, and the songs brought back such memories.  Half the audience knew all the words and sang right along.  For the last song, dancing was encouraged, so we jumped up and danced right along.

 

* * *                                                                             

Today, the Polynesian Cultural Ambassadors are continuing their activities.  As we finished our breakfast on the Lido this morning, the Ori Tahiti class was beginning, with passengers learning the native drum dance of the Tahitian islands.  Once it was explained that it wasn’t the hips that were responsible for all that movement but the knees, everyone’s dancing improved remarkably.  

 

This afternoon the ukulele lessons continue, and Kainoa’s talk is the story of Captain Cook, the great navigator who died on the Big Island of Hawaii.  

 

Tonight is a Gala night, as is always the case on Valentine’s Day, and most people will be dressed in their fanciest red evening clothes.  I have an evening gown that I bought years ago that is worn only once a year, and only in those years during which we’re on a world cruise.  I’ll get it out, wear it, and then it won’t see the light of day until the next Valentine’s Day we’re on a WC.  The red sequin shoes that I used to wear with it bit the dust last year, so I’ll have to figure out which pair will replace them.  Such are the trials and tribulations at sea!

 

P. S.  Sorry about the dearth of photos.  The internet has been out half the day and really poor the second half.  I'll try for more tomorrow.  Since sunrise this morning was at 8:00, this is what it looked like at 7:10.  

 

 

 

 

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Your Sel de Mer sounds wonderful.

 

Wonderful report and I love the pictures.

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We cruised with the Polynesian ambassadors last spring and with Kainoa in 2016.  His lectures were standing room only.  My husband and I had a vow renewal performed by Kainoa, a Hawaiian ceremony. I had found out from him that he was licensed to perform weddings (he may even be an ordained minister).  

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Sunday, February 16, 2020 (written on 2/17)

Easter Island (AKA Isla de Pascua)

 

What could possibly be better than a visit to Easter Island?  Swimming in the warm ocean on a white and sandy beach below seven moai atop the nearby hill.  It was just magical.  Since we’d been to Easter Island three times before (we are SO lucky!) and enjoyed a tour each time, we decided that this time we’d just go to the beach - and we did.  

 

Getting there, however, was a bit of a challenge.  Captain Jonathan announced the evening before that according to the port agent, conditions were “marginal.”  Now we’ve always had trouble with this particular port.  One year two tenders were smashed up, one of them our lifeboat, and there has always been a question of whether we’d land or not.  In fact, although we were able to get ashore last year, the captain had to stop tendering (except for returns) at about 12:30, so HAL afternoon tours and anyone with a high tender number didn’t get to go ashore, to the great unhappiness of many.  It seems that for most people this is one of the “must do” ports along the way on the WC, and yesterday everyone was happy to be able to tender in and out - as difficult as it was.  Since the tenders were banging against the ship on departure and return, it took four crew members to assure the safety of each passenger boarding.  In addition, Henk, the Hotel Manager, was inside the tender grabbing hold of each arrival to make sure they didn’t go flying.  It was like an “E” ride at Disneyland (if you’re old enough to remember those).  

 

Usually, one would consider “just going to the beach” in a place like Easter Island a sacrilege, but Anakena Beach isn’t just any beach.  In the time of the Rapa Nui people before Europeans arrived, this was the area restricted to the royal family; anyone else would face penalties that none of us would appreciate.  There is a line of seven Moai at the top of the hill, and you may have seen a photo of them backed by the pristine beach and turquoise water.  

 

The beauty of the place cannot be exaggerated; the fine white sand below the expanse of grass leads to water that must be about 85 degrees - incredibly swimmable.  We wandered down to the beach, placed our (ship’s) towels on the sand, and headed into the water.  While it wasn’t “body temperature warm” like Bora Bora, it was really just perfect for walking right in.  Since our nearby beach in Central California is about sixty degrees during the summer, we really appreciate water like this.

 

After enough time in the surf, we headed up past the sand and the grass to one of the little food shacks at the top of the hill for shrimp and cheese empanadas and frosty iced tea (since they didn’t sell beer).  Then, unfortunately, it was time to meet our taxi driver for the trip back to the tender port and a return to the ship - with the same challenges disembarking the tender at the ship that we’d had embarking it several hours earlier.  One of the things I don’t understand is that when the officer in charge says, “Please remain seated until called to disembark,” people jump up and then complain when the tender bangs against the ship and they go flying.  There really is a reason for most rules.

 

After a short nap it was time to get ready for dinner.  We had invited two members of the 

“Amsterdam Singers and Dancers” to join us for dinner in Canaletto.  Stephanie is a dancer and Claire is a singer, and we got to know each other fairly well during last year’s WC.  Steph is from the English island of Jersey, and Claire is Irish, and we just talked and laughed and spoke over each other for more than two hours while catching up and just having a good time.  The food was excellent too; Steph and Claire both had lasagne, John had clams and pasta, and I had three huge ravioli - delicious.  They skipped dessert for the excellent reason that they have to fit into their costumes for the entire cruise, but even after dinner we just kept on chatting and laughing.  

 

Now we have two lovely sea days - but actually five, if you count like I do.  We have today and tomorrow, and then we have a morning visit from Pitcairn islanders who come aboard to set up stalls to sell their wares and get into some really interesting conversations about their lives and their island.  We don’t go ashore, so to me that’s another sea day.  Then we have two more days before a day in wonderful 

Papeete, and that’s how I count to five.  IMG_E1609.thumb.jpg.8a5553803c427e61b68bf26bc1d6ba11.jpgIMG_E1642.thumb.jpg.692c63a84f8b92b9e4b30cdd5525a90f.jpgIMG_E1632.thumb.jpg.70e0371853415c6f8d056ca45d3dc576.jpgIMG_E1622.thumb.jpg.4f3bb1641765c5298f1304a74c29b7d3.jpgIMG_E1622.thumb.jpg.4f3bb1641765c5298f1304a74c29b7d3.jpgIMG_E1622.thumb.jpg.4f3bb1641765c5298f1304a74c29b7d3.jpgIMG_E1609.thumb.jpg.8a5553803c427e61b68bf26bc1d6ba11.jpg

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

At Sea en route to Pitcairn Island

 

Last evening saw a return of a great group called “ABBAFab,” who sang and danced to the music of the famous Swedish group.  Of course none of them is actually Swedish, but at least one of the girl singers is English, while the other three are American.  It’s always fun to have entertainers who sing hits that everyone knows and sings along with, but it’s even more fun when they play songs that encourage the audience to get up and dance, and that’s what happened last night.  Toward the end, the group played and sang “Dancing Queen,” and a bunch of us just danced and danced, even though we didn’t join the conga line that Leon led around the Mainstage auditorium.  I danced with John as well as Hamish, our Cruise Director.  

 

It seemed that two evenings ago and then the next morning there was a bit of an “Easter Island hangover,” with passengers having spent nearly all day in the hot sun and hiked all over to see as many moai as possible and even to ascend the volcano above the quarry.  It was a late morning for many and I was even able to find an open treadmill in the gym. 

 

The other result of that particular port was that people just couldn’t stop talking about it.  We kept hearing, “Which moai did you see?” and “Did you get to the quarry?” and “How much mileage showed on your Fitbit?”  There were also virtually universal kudos for the captain and crew as to how well they handled the day’s challenges.  I mentioned yesterday that Henk, the Hotel Director (#2 on the ship) was on every departing tender, making sure that people were not knocked around when they boarded.  We found out later that he also had to turn some people away - those who pretended that they didn’t know not to bring walkers.  Every crew member did his or her part in making this port the highlight of the cruise so far for most passengers.

 

One part of the transpacific crossing that I had almost forgotten was the amazing number of time changes.  Now I love to turn the clock back and get an extra hour’s sleep as much as the next person, but when the clock turns back three times in three days, that’s when people start walking the decks at 3:00 in the morning because they just can’t sleep any longer.  For our friend Will, who normally gets up between 4:00 and 5:00 AM, I think he’s probably back to about 2:00 now.  For the most part, however, westbound cruises are quite wonderful, because turning the clock back approximately once every four days is really very nice.

 

Tomorrow is the day on which we welcome the Pitcairn Islanders, and most people are quite excited about it.  Those people who’ve done this before have been seen wearing the appropriate tee shirts.  I guess it’s always more fun to wear the tee shirt before the port to show that you’ve been there before -it’s just too cool.

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I hope if I ever take a WC I will have as much fun as you do!!!  The beach on Easter Island looked so inviting.  I think I would want to spend time around the island and also time at the beach.  I thought your time cruising Antarctica was so impressive that I would not take a WC if it was not included.  It's been fun keeping up with Captain Jonathan's blog for this cruise.  His description of keeping the ship in position and keeping passengers safe at Easter Island was amazing.  Do you think there will be any children on this WC as there have been previously?  Thank you so much for the photos, your wonderful reports, and for taking us along.  Cherie

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020 (written on 2/20/20)

Adamstown, Pitcairn Island

 

Here we are, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where Fletcher Christian and his band of followers (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) escaped Tahiti to begin a society that would end with bloodshed and only one remaining mutineer.  At 8:30 this morning, a longboat with about 35 residents of the island came to the ship to talk to the passengers and set up a market which one could only access with sharp elbows and flying dollar bills.  

 

Pitcairn Island is a beautiful green, rocky island which was chosen by Christian and company in 1789 because of its inaccessibility and the fact that it was not on any naval map.  In addition to Fletcher Christian and seven other mutineers, including Adams and Warren, as well as eight Tahitian men and twelve Tahitian women, they managed to find Pitcairn Island, but after they burned the Bounty, all did not go well.  Sixteen mutineers had stayed on Tahiti, two of whom were murdered.  The fourteen others were captured by the Royal Navy ship sent for that purpose and returned to England for a court martial.  Four died along the way, but the remaining ten were tried.  Four men were acquitted of mutiny, three were convicted and received a royal pardon, but the remaining three were found guilty and executed.  

 

In 1808 an American seal-hunting ship “re-discovered” Pitcairn, where they met a man named John Adams who identified himself as the last surviving member of the band of mutineers.  Apparently even though the mutineers thought they had found a paradise on earth, that was not the case.  Conflict between the Englishmen and the Tahitian men grew violent, claiming the lives of all the crew except four and including Christian, who died of a gunshot wound.  One of the remaining four, in a drunken stupor, fell off a cliff to his death.  Another was killed by two of his fellow mutineers, and one of the two remaining crew members died from natural causes.  This left only Adams, who lived into the 19th Century and, according to visitors, headed a calm and devout group of Tahitians and their children.  

 

The legacy of the Bounty mutineers is a current group of about fifty descendants of the original inhabitants.  They live on the only British colony in the Pacific, and the UK subsidizes much of their “cost of living,” including internet, telephone, and electricity.  The woman from their tourist office who spoke before they left indicated that half of the income of virtually everyone on the island is from an average of eighteen cruise ships who “call” during the year.  

 

After stalls were set up around the Lido, the Amsterdam “natives” were let loose and, for many people, good manners flew out the window.  There was hardly a sales table that did not have passengers three-deep in front of it, and one of our friends told us that even though he tried to get through to one of the tee-shirt tables, he was (sharply) elbowed by a lady who he said “had to be at least eighty.”  I wandered around the area for awhile, looking at the “loot” purchased by friends.  We had a choice of the aforementioned tee shirts as well as wooden carvings, jewelry, honey (purchases were limited to two jars), and postcards with Pitcairn Island stamps (which would be picked up by a supply ship in May).  Of the approximately 1200 passengers on board, I’d estimate that at least three-fourths of them joined the crowd around the Lido pool.  It was more crowded than the line for Easter Island tender tickets.  If you wanted a Pitcairn Island stamp in your passport, you just had to pay $10.00 for the privilege, and I believe many passengers did that.  (We didn’t).  

 

It’s always a good day when the Pitcairn Islanders come aboard, and the name tags on the tables are a virtual history lesson.  There were Steve and Olive Christian, along with several other members of the Christian family, many Warrens, Adams, and some others that I didn’t recognize.  What’s really interesting is to chat with some of them, because they know their genealogy and can tell you exactly who was in their family tree.  

 

We learned that very small ships can call and have a port day on the island, but the hills are so steep that access is difficult.  In addition, it’s possible to book a four-day, seven-day or fourteen-day stay on the island, during which you stay with a family.  I’d love to do that, but after I found out that the only access for such a stay is a $4,000 boat ride from Tahiti, I gave up on that idea.  

 

Our Port Lecturer, Glen, gave an interesting commentary as we approached the island in the morning, and when we asked him about it, he said that there are about 2,000 books about the mutiny, so I think when we get home I’ll make a trip to the library to find at least a couple.   

 

 

 

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Pitcairn Island always seems so mysterious.  For those who would like to see the island Captain Jonathan was given permission to tour the island because it will be his last time stopping there.  The photos and commentary are great and it's fun to see what it's like on land.  Cherie

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