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Live, Terry/Ohio, “New” Regatta: South Pacific/NZ, Pix’s


TLCOhio
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22 minutes ago, TLCOhio said:

Yes, we did our air through Oceania as a part of the O-Life package.

Just for clarification for those that may not be familiar with Oceania.

O Life and Oceania air have nothing to do with each other - they are entirely separate entities.

One can get O Life without the air and vice versa. Perhaps you are referring to getting a deviation on your air package?

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Below is the final group of visuals from the market this morning in Noumea.  Just did our sail-away.  Fun and interesting!! Great breeze and much sun mixed in with beautiful blue skies.  Now, we are in the open seas and the Captain has warned that it might get a little rockier.  Will share later how it all works out as we sail to Port Vila, Vanuatu.  

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise from Copenhagen, July 2010, to the top of Europe. Wonderful scenic visuals with key tips. Live/blog at 238,754

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

 

These visuals give a better sampling from the market's varied produce items.:

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Here are some of the flowers offered in this Noumea market this morning.  Second is an example of the large papaya fruit.  Plus, the third visuals reflects that several stands there had a nice selection of pastry and baked goods.  These taste treats brought memories of France.:

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Finally, here is a wonderful lady being kind in posing for my camera to reflect the nice flowered items she offered, including for wearing on your head.  Second are two of the musicians performing for those visiting the morning market.:

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1 hour ago, Paulchili said:

Just for clarification for those that may not be familiar with Oceania.  O Life and Oceania air have nothing to do with each other - they are entirely separate entities.  One can get O Life without the air and vice versa. Perhaps you are referring to getting a deviation on your air package?

 

Paulchili is correct that you can book your cruise with or without O-Life.  If you do O-Life, it does cost more and they give you some added benefit options, including "free airfare", maybe, as we did, eight shore excursions, etc.  Maybe, if and if??!!  Worth it?  Your choice!  Of course the airfare is not totally free as you are pay for it as a part of that "packaging".  There might be extra air deviations fees if you are not flying out of certain major airports.  Plus, added costs, if you want a "custom air" plan with timings and schedules to better fit your personal needs, interests and desires, etc.  Lots of options!!  Much is "marketing" to entice customers to their cruise line with these supposedly good, added benefits.  Kind of like doubling the sticker price and than having a "half off sale"!

 

Vanuatu, formerly New Hebrides, Part One:   Docking at its capital and largest city, Port Vila (population 50,000), this island nation has 115 distinctly-different cultures and languages, making it one of the most culturally-diverse countries in the world. The Vanuatu Islands first had contact with Europeans in 1606 with the arrival of a Portuguese explorer sailing for the Spainish crown. Whaling vessels were among the first regular visitors to this large group of islands. Europeans did not significantly return until 1768, when French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands, naming them the Great Cyclades. In 1774, Captain Cook called the islands the “New Hebrides”, a name that would last until their independence in 1980. Since the 1600’s Vanuatu has been occupied by Spanish, English and French.  An interesting mix and combination??!!  By the start of the 20th century, the French outnumbered the British, and the two nations agreed to govern the islands jointly. During World War II, Port Vila was an American-Australian airbase.  Bislama is the local language, but English and French are also official.

 

Its main industries are agriculture, cattle, tax haven, fishing and tourism. Port Vila suffered huge damage from a category-five Cyclone Pam in March 2015. Clinging to the hillsides with nice views of the harbor, Port Vila has a thriving cafe, souvenir, handicraft and duty-free shopping. To support locally-made products visit the “World of Wonders” store, and the outdoor markets. An option is to hire a taxi for the day. Bargain vigorously and pay at the end of the day.

 

We are planning to be taking a harbor dash in a jet boat, through a ship excursion choice.  Per Wikipedia, the Vanuatu archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is 1,090 miles east of northern Australia.  From Lonely Planet:  “Vanuatu is a Pacific island adventure far beyond any notions of cruise-ship ports and flashy resorts. Deserted beaches, ancient culture, remote and rugged islands and world-class diving are just a small part of the magnetism of this scattered 80-plus island archipelago.”  From Frommers: “The islands offer all the allures of a tropical getaway and a depth of ancient and unspoilt scenery to navigate.  Swim with dugongs, turtles or sharks at Lemen Bay on Epi Island, and post a letter from the top of a volcano or the bottom of the sea.”

 

Port Vila is one of the last “free ports” in the Pacific, where 'duty free' really means 'free of duty'. Handcrafts include sinister ceremonial masks, grim-looking weapons for your man-cave wall or intriguing jewelry and ornaments.  One advantage cited for being a former French colony is Vanuatu's fine cuisine. Many culinary options here.

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Sydney to NZ/Auckland Adventure, live/blog 2014 sampling/details with many exciting visuals and key highlights.  On page 23, post #571, see a complete index for all of the pictures, postings.  Now at 229,133 views.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139

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16 minutes ago, TLCOhio said:

 If you do O-Life, it does cost more and they give you some added benefit options, including "free airfare",

Sorry Terry.

Yes - O Life is extra and one can get it or not. If one gets it, you get a choice of ONE of three options - OBC or some excursions or basic drinks package.

Air is ALWAYS included in Oceania price (regardless of O Life). One can take it (and deviate at extra cost) OR not take the air in which case you get credit for the value of air (this is when you are doing your own air for money or miles).

This is for the benefit of "newbies" that may be reading here.

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Ditto!  People really should not assume that just because they have oLife they are the only ones who get "free" airfare.

 

ANY passenger can get the "free" airfare if they opt for it. OR they can get a credit against the basic fare.  In early days it was very advantageous to do your own in that the credits for doing your own air were far better then they are today.  Back then, it was often true that the air credit was of a greater value than what we paid for our own booking.  That's no longer true!  But it doesn't mean that taking the credit is valueless. especially if you want to book a higher class air fare.

 

Many of us opt out, but that has nothing to do with oLife.  We have done oLife (usually taking the tours)  but almost always have bought our own air -- mainly because we prefer biz air and doing so through Oceania is far more expensive than doing it on your own.  Flying from an east coast gateway to Europe, as we do, can make O's biz (or at least PE) air worthwhile because it's business class over the ocean.  But if you are going further on to another airport -- say LHR to Rome -- then you are in economy over land.

 

We did use O's PE air a few years ago (JFK-CPH/LRH-JFK) because we weren't flying overland and the price was right.  And the seats on SAS/LRH were fine.

 

Mura

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Appreciate from Paulchili and Mura, these added details and clarifications.  Since we have used several different cruise lines in recent years, plus their offerings and "fine print" keeps changing, back and forth depending the cruise line, it is challenging to keep straight those various and most current marketing aspects.  Clearly, Oceania offers a number of ways to put together your total "package".   For us, the good news is that Oceania seeks to offer some excellent itinerary options with many unique and special ports, plus doing overnights in certain important areas.

 

Vanuatu, Part Two:   In 1825, sandalwood was discovered on the island of Erromango, prompting a rush of immigrants that included Catholic and Protestant missionaries.  Many settlers came looking for land to farm cotton, coffee, cocoa, bananas, and coconuts. British subjects from Australia made up the majority of settlers, but many French settlers came starting in 1882.  The economies of Port Vila and Vanuatu are supported by the agriculture, offshore financial services and cattle industries. The region has geographic diversity including volcanoes, mountains and valleys, along with jungles, rainforests, botanical gardens, mineral springs and waterfalls.

 

Officially called the Republic of Vanuatu, these islands were first inhabited by Melanesian people.  Their total population is a little over a quarter-million.  This archipelago consisting of about 82 relatively small, geologically newer islands of volcanic origin, with about 810 miles between the most northern and southern islands covering a large, sprawling area.  Fourteen of Vanuatu's islands have surface areas of more than 39 square miles from the largest to smallest.  Christianity is the predominant religion in Vanuatu.  

Lonely Planet headlines: “Pacific Bliss with a French Twist” plus these details: “In Vanuatu and New Caledonia you’ll find a touch of the exotic in the everyday. Life here is always entertaining, whether you’re being surprised by turtles peeking out of the sea, sidestepping crabs at the market, or eyeing up unruly mounds of kava.  Noumea is decidedly French. Its food, language and architecture may make you wonder exactly which hemisphere you’re in.”

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Venice: Loving It & Why??!!  Is one of your future desires or past favorites? See these many visual samples for its great history and architecture.  This posting is now at 86,792 views.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1278226

 

From our afternoon Noumea sail-away, here are a few visual highlights.  The second picture shows the three angled roofs of the market areas we had visited in the morning.  The fourth picture shown Duck Island in the foreground with the main resort section of Noumea in the background.  In that picture on the left side is one part of the Hilton Hotel.  That location is where the U.S. Army Headquarters were based during the World War II Pacific operations.:

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Finally, here is a view of the metal fish designs seen on the pool deck of the Regatta.:

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2 hours ago, Paulchili said:

 

Air is ALWAYS included in Oceania price (regardless of O Life). 

Sorry, this is so blantantly wrong I have to call you out on this. Air has never been included in our price.. I think you may be showing a USA bias...

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8 minutes ago, drkitkat123 said:

Sorry, this is so blantantly wrong I have to call you out on this. Air has never been included in our price.. I think you may be showing a USA bias...

OK - I stand corrected. Airfare is always included in Oceania’s pricing in US/CANADA.

This has nothing to do with a USA bias - it’s more that this is what I am familiar with and should have maybe specified it as such. Australia, EU and UK do have some other special offers/inclusions  that we do not get here in US.

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7 hours ago, TLCOhio said:

 

In 1774, Captain Cook called the islands the “New Hebrides”, a name that would last until their independence in 1980. Since the 1600’s Vanuatu has been occupied by Spanish, English and French.  An interesting mix and combination??!!  By the start of the 20th century, the French outnumbered the British, and the two nations agreed to govern the islands jointly.

 

The arrangement between the British and French to govern the New Hebrides was officially called the Condominium.  Locals called it the Pandemonium.  Always loved that little colonial nugget.

 

A pity, Terry, you ship didn't visit the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia - my candidate for most beautiful beaches in the world.  

 

A pleasure, as always, to cruise with you vicariously.

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12 hours ago, Fletcher said:

The arrangement between the British and French to govern the New Hebrides was officially called the Condominium.  Locals called it the Pandemonium.  Always loved that little colonial nugget.  A pity, Terry, you ship didn't visit the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia - my candidate for most beautiful beaches in the world.  A pleasure, as always, to cruise with you vicariously.

 

Appreciate Fletcher's excellent follow-up and helpful added info.  Fletcher is a real "pro" with his travel background and historic insights from his work/travel around the world.  Happy to have you sailing "vicariously" with us.  Keep sharing your excellent knowledge and experiences.  Sorry we will not be able to see Isle of Pines.  Sounds nice!!

 

Just arrived at Vanuatu on a Sunday morning.  A little rain in the air.  BUT, early this morning we did a fantastic "Jetboard Adventure".  Lots of speed, 180 degree turns, etc., etc.  Super fun.  See just picture below.  More to come later.  Plus, most details from last night as magic artist Leo Ward made my wife, Penny, a "STAR" last night with his tricks.  No, she was not sawed in half and/or made to disappear.  Just helping him with some amazing card tricks. More fun!!  Plus, the food continues as excellent.  Off this afternoon to do an rainforest/ecco walk.  

 

Plus, there was the big news last night that our day and a half port stop for Western Samoa has been scrubbed by their local officials over virus fears.  We are hoping that they substitute Tonga as an alternative cruise stop as we sail eastward towards Tahiti.  

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

 

Amazon River-Caribbean 2015 adventure live/blog starting in Barbados. Many visuals from this amazing river and Caribbean Islands (Dutch ABC's, St. Barts, Dominica, Grenada, San Juan, etc.).  Now at 65,770 views:

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2157696

 

 

Here is just one quick sample from our exciting Jetboard Adventure this morning in Vanuatu.  More to come later.:

(Open your screen/viewer wider to see this visual larger/better!)

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22 hours ago, TLCOhio said:

 

Paulchili is correct that you can book your cruise with or without O-Life.  If you do O-Life, it does cost more and they give you some added benefit options, including "free airfare", maybe, as we did, eight shore excursions, etc.  Maybe, if and if??!!  Worth it?  Your choice!  Of course the airfare is not totally free as you are pay for it as a part of that "packaging".  There might be extra air deviations fees if you are not flying out of certain major airports.  Plus, added costs, if you want a "custom air" plan with timings and schedules to better fit your personal needs, interests and desires, etc.  Lots of options!!  Much is "marketing" to entice customers to their cruise line with these supposedly good, added benefits.  Kind of like doubling the sticker price and than having a "half off sale"!

 

Vanuatu, formerly New Hebrides, Part One:   Docking at its capital and largest city, Port Vila (population 50,000), this island nation has 115 distinctly-different cultures and languages, making it one of the most culturally-diverse countries in the world. The Vanuatu Islands first had contact with Europeans in 1606 with the arrival of a Portuguese explorer sailing for the Spainish crown. Whaling vessels were among the first regular visitors to this large group of islands. Europeans did not significantly return until 1768, when French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands, naming them the Great Cyclades. In 1774, Captain Cook called the islands the “New Hebrides”, a name that would last until their independence in 1980. Since the 1600’s Vanuatu has been occupied by Spanish, English and French.  An interesting mix and combination??!!  By the start of the 20th century, the French outnumbered the British, and the two nations agreed to govern the islands jointly. During World War II, Port Vila was an American-Australian airbase.  Bislama is the local language, but English and French are also official.

 

Its main industries are agriculture, cattle, tax haven, fishing and tourism. Port Vila suffered huge damage from a category-five Cyclone Pam in March 2015. Clinging to the hillsides with nice views of the harbor, Port Vila has a thriving cafe, souvenir, handicraft and duty-free shopping. To support locally-made products visit the “World of Wonders” store, and the outdoor markets. An option is to hire a taxi for the day. Bargain vigorously and pay at the end of the day.

 

We are planning to be taking a harbor dash in a jet boat, through a ship excursion choice.  Per Wikipedia, the Vanuatu archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is 1,090 miles east of northern Australia.  From Lonely Planet:  “Vanuatu is a Pacific island adventure far beyond any notions of cruise-ship ports and flashy resorts. Deserted beaches, ancient culture, remote and rugged islands and world-class diving are just a small part of the magnetism of this scattered 80-plus island archipelago.”  From Frommers: “The islands offer all the allures of a tropical getaway and a depth of ancient and unspoilt scenery to navigate.  Swim with dugongs, turtles or sharks at Lemen Bay on Epi Island, and post a letter from the top of a volcano or the bottom of the sea.”

 

Port Vila is one of the last “free ports” in the Pacific, where 'duty free' really means 'free of duty'. Handcrafts include sinister ceremonial masks, grim-looking weapons for your man-cave wall or intriguing jewelry and ornaments.  One advantage cited for being a former French colony is Vanuatu's fine cuisine. Many culinary options here.

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Sydney to NZ/Auckland Adventure, live/blog 2014 sampling/details with many exciting visuals and key highlights.  On page 23, post #571, see a complete index for all of the pictures, postings.  Now at 229,133 views.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139

Terry....Amigo...if you take O life  that is for one of 3 things...drinks OR  tours  OR,  OBC.    That is it.

It does not include free air..... for that you pay extra    To change the schedule  you pay extra.     Air and O life are 2 different and  different things and charges

 

When you book  you can book 3 ways  

1. take the highest price and get O life and  all economy air rt.

2  Take  O life  plus the basic fare and take one of the legs of the Air and get credit for the non used leg.

3  Take the basic fare  Do your own Air and other charges , NO  Olife

For most doing your own air is a better deal...you do not have to pay extra to change schedules, . You get to pick what airline  and schedule.  You get to pay for it with miles or points.

This applies for all North American origin fares

 

Also  there is  really no such thing as DUTY FREE... While you avoid the local VAT or Tax.....  When you get home  you will owe $$$$ on your purchases, due and payable  on entry. whether in the US or Canada.   It is just a ploy to make you think your getting something free.   Try buying an expensive item  and see what happens... If you don't declare it its can be confiscated AND you pay a fine equal to the  Duty you would have paid...    Customs agents are pretty good at finding things.

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Getting ready for a sea-day as we sail eastward toward Fiji.  Tomorrow, we will have Day 9, at Lautoka, Fiji, tendered, Tues., Feb. 25, 10 am?? till 7 pm.  Arrival timing is still a little iffy as the Fiji officials are doing tighter health screenings/checking.  We will be having tender docking near their sugar mill.   One other ship will be in port this day, the Silver Muse, that has been with us for the past two ports.  In Lautoka, it will be sunrise 6:07 am; sunset 6:38 pm.  Getting ready for two different lectures this am, first more on sharks and second about upcoming port stops.

 

At lunch, as shown below, I had a chance to talk with the ship's two top officers.  From the Captain, I was asking about what the port options/substitutes might be provide with both of our stops closed for Western Samoa and American Samoa.  The Captain told me that the Oceania main office has approved three different potential replacements for as we sail from Fiji to the Tahiti area.  My speculation is a stop in Tonga??  The Captain did not confirm or deny.  But he gave this added info/reaction: "It is now the weekend and it is not like dealing with local officials in Germany, the United States or Canada where you can gain confirmations and approvals more quickly."  The good news is that the ship officials are working to line up some alternatives for those two days of skipped port.  Hope to hear more later today or tomorrow.

 

Many more pictures from yesterday and earlier to be shared later today.  Both JetBoat excitement, plus doing an interesting ecco/rainforest exploring in Vanuatu.

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

AFRICA?!!?: Fun, interesting visuals, plus travel details from this early 2016 live/blog. At 48,774 views. Featuring Cape Town, South Africa’s coast, Mozambique, Victoria Falls/Zambia and Botswana's famed Okavango Delta.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2310337

 

 

At lunch yesterday in the Terrace Cafe was BOTH the Captain (right) and the Staff Captain.  The top two officers in charge!!  We were docked in Vanuatu, so there was no risk as if we had been out sailing in the open seas of the Pacific.  Both are very friendly and approachable.  Second is the Captain checking out the buffet food options, just like us passengers do.:

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From dinner last night in the Grand Dining Room, here are three different visuals.  First is the initial reception area with the new design feature on the left.  Second was my lobster Pad Thai that was very, very good.  Finally, a little dessert with a uniquely-designed apple tart.:

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Below are two different visuals last night's excellent singer/performer from New Zealand.  It was his second show and his voice/style were excellent!!:

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Yesterday afternoon, our ship's tour was for an eco, waterfall and rainforest walk to sample some of Vanuatu's natural area in the thick of their jungle.  Our local guide, who lives there, was excellent and gave many insights as to the positive and forward-looking attitudes of those who's families have lived here for hundreds of years.  

 

For our replacement port stop or stops, my best guess is now for Tonga vs. Niue  vs. Cook Islands??!!  Any insights as to which of these three might work best, be most interesting?  Tonga is officially named the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 169 islands with a population of 100,651 people.  Will keep you posted as to what works out for being an upcoming port stop on our way to Bora Bora. 

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Kotor/Montenegro:  Exciting visual samples, tips, details, etc., for this scenic, historic location. Over 47,393 views.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1439193

 

First, our guide gave us samples for how the native residents here often have drawn visual diagrams to communicate as there are so many different languages in Vanuatu.  Next as we walked along these woodland trails, he would take various plants and/or their leafs to make items that could be used to play music, become a smiley face on my wife's shirt, create shade hats, become toy "missiles," etc. Finally is an example for one of the small waterfalls and a scenic pond along the route upward.:

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Then there was the dramatic "prize" of the big, 65-feet high waterfall at the top of the long, twisting trail.  The water flow was not large, but things looked great, especially with the water pool at its base allowing for soaking up the dramatic setting and cooling refreshment.:

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During our yesterday afternoon Vanuatu eco exploring, we observed many towering palms and other indigenous species that were forming the tree canopy.  We were in a hilly area surrounded by abundant vegetation and a real slice of "nature".  But, the best part of the excursion was our guide sharing his human/personal side for the approach to life enjoyed by the people here.  Being "happy" is the goal and secret to their "success". 

 

FIJI ISLANDS BACKGROUND, Part One:  Officially called the Republic of Fiji and located about 1,300 miles northeast of New Zealand's North Island, this nation is an archipelago of 332 islands. Fiji sprawls over an area of more a half million square miles, but only 1.5% of this total is land. Permanently inhabited are only 110 of these islands.  It lies just north of the Tropic of Capricorn.  According to Fijian legend, the great chief Lutunasobasoba led his people across the seas from Africa.  Or, maybe from Southeast Asia via the Malay Peninsula?   The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, have 87% of their current total population of 918,000. The capital, Suva, serves as the country's principal cruise-ship port.  Lautoka is where the sugar-cane industry has been located.  The majority of Fiji's islands formed through volcanic activity starting around 150 million years ago. Europeans visited Fiji from the 17th century onwards, and, after a brief period as an independent kingdom, the British established the Colony of Fiji in 1874. Fiji operated as a Crown colony until 1970, when it gained its independence.

 

Per Wikipedia, Fiji has one of the most developed economies in the Pacific with abundant forest, mineral and fish resources. Tourism is its main source of foreign exchange.  Being in the central Pacific Ocean, Fiji's geography has made it a destination and crossroads for migrations over the many centuries.  Some described those in Fiji as formidable warriors and ferocious cannibals, builders of the finest vessels in the Pacific, BUT, not great sailors.  Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first known European visitor to Fiji.  Captain James Cook, the British navigator, visited one of the southern Lau islands in 1774. It was not until 1789, however, that the islands were charted and plotted, when William Bligh, the castaway captain of HMS Bounty, passed Ovalau and sailed between the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu en route to Batavia, in what is now Indonesia.

 

Between 1879 and 1916, tens of thousands of Asian Indians moved to Fiji to work as indentured laborers, especially on sugarcane plantations.  By the time of World War II, with of its central location, Fiji was selected as a training base for the Allies.  Viti Levu hosts the capital city of Suva and is home to nearly three-quarters of the population.  According to the 2007 census, 64.4% of the population at the time was Christian, while 27.9% was Hindu, 6.3% Muslim.  Religious festivals of the Christian, Hindu and Muslim populations are celebrated each year with public holidays. The point is made that Fiji is the only Pacific country where the religions of East and West meet face-to-face.

 

In 2018, 65% of their 870,000 international visitors came from Australia and New Zealand.  From the USA, there were 86,000 visitors that year, the third largest total.  Although only 10-15 cyclones hit Fiji in a decade, February is the month most likely for this, if and if??!!

 

From the Sydney Morning Herald, here are a few things they love about Fiji:  THE PEOPLE: A Gallup survey showed Fijians were the happiest people on Earth in 2018 … expect a lot of smiles.   FOOD: Fiji has one of the best cuisines in the Pacific because it blends Indian, southeast Asian and Chinese influences with its Melanesian staples. Plus, their seafood!  CLIMATE:  Temperatures vary between 79–88F (26-31C) degrees in a typical year.

 

The Moon Handbook describes Fiji as the “colorful crossroads of the Pacific” and mentions that it was “once notorious as the ‘Cannibal Isles’ “.  This book also shares that there are 170 species of orchids found in Fiji. They say the old colonial capital of Levuka has a main street recalling the whaling days of a bygone century.

 

From Lonely Planet, they offer these item of advice: “Set your internal clock to ‘Fiji time’: exploring the archipelago’s exquisite beaches, undersea marvels, lush interiors and fascinating culture shouldn’t be rushed.  Dazzling sands, perfect palm trees and waters so blue they glow – Fiji’s beaches look airbrushed. The appeal of the islands stretches beyond holiday snaps; the reefs, bays and sublime sands have provided cinematic eye candy to films including the 1980 teen-dream classic The Blue Lagoon.  Fiji’s calm seas belie the riot of life going on within. With seemingly endless stretches of intensely coloured reefs and more than 1500 species of fish and colossal creatures Fiji’s underwater world is worth the plunge.  Fijian life revolves around the church, the village, the rugby field and the garden. While this may sound insular, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more open and welcoming population.”

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

 

Dubrovnik!  Nice visual samples, tips, details, etc., for this super scenic location. Over 47,070 views.    

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1439227

 

 

Here are more samples of the visuals from our Vanuatu eco-rain forest-waterfall exploring.  First are some of our group of eight in front of a large bamboo tree.  Fourth is one of the water creature seen that looks like a super skinny lobster.  Many interesting plants and flowers.:

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From the ship's monitor, here is a our current South Pacific sailing position as we are now about half-way between Vanuatu's Port Vila and the main island of Fiji.:

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This is the flag of Vanuatu.  Interesting look and design??!!  It's an independent country, not part of the UK, France, etc.  This design reflects that fact/separation.:

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Below are more visuals to reflect our morning in Vanuatu.  It was the JetBoat excitement.  Fun!!  Six years ago, we did a JetBoard on New Zealand's South Island in going through a narrow and scenic stone canyon.  We both loved it!!  This setting was not quite as good as our first  NZ experience, but it was still a great way to wake up in the morning and have the scenic views all around us.  As we started it was raining, but we got out and away from that challenge.  All worked super well.  Hopefully the visual below give a sense of this excitement.

 

FIJI’S LAUTOKA:  Our first of two days exploring Fiji will be at Lautoka, 8 am-7 pm, docked near their sugar mill at Fiji’s second-largest city.  With  50,000 residents, it is on the western side of Viti Levu, the largest Fiji island. One other ship will be in port this day, the Silversea Silver Muse that last summer we enjoyed in going from Vancouver to Alaska.  Lautoka is in the heart of the soft coral capital of the world. We are going to do a small, private charter group from our ship through the exotic Mamanuca group of islands, be ready there is plenty of stops along the way for a quick swim or snorkel!  Our goal is Monuriki Island where we will be able to explore, swim and snorkel around this famous island where the 2001 movie “Cast Away” starring Tom Hanks was filmed.  It is based on a fictional account of his four years on this tiny, uninhabited island.. There should be many opportunties for us to explore the beautiful beaches, lagoons, snorkel, etc.  Tom Hanks depicted the sole survivor of a FedEx plane crash, trying to survive like a modern-day Robinson Crusoe.  Moon Handbook says of this island: “The high white beaches, emerald lagoon and high glossy hills are the very image of paradise.”

 

From Lonely Planet, they cite the legend that Lautoka derives its name from a battle cry that means “spear-hit”. The story goes that when an argument happened between two local chiefs, one cried out the words “lau toka” as he killed the other by spearing him through the chest.  He was thus stating both the obvious and naming the location where it happened.

 

Lautoka’s recent history has revolved around the fortunes of sugar, which gives rise to its other name, “Sugar City”. It is home to the largest sugar mill in the southern hemisphere and these island’s largest employer.   The city has a wide range of shops, including duty-free outlets. There is the vast Municipal Market, with handicraft stores, handmade pottery, etc.

 

Due to its location close to the equator, sunsets in Fiji are often awe-inspiring. For the Fijians, the game of rugby is something of a national obsession, espectially when the country won its first ever Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016. 

 

THANKS! Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Athens & Greece: Many visuals, details from two visits in a city with great history, culture and architecture.  Now at 34,806 views.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1101008

 

 

As we departed our ship in Vanuatu, here was the local musical group greeting and entertaining us.  Fun way to start the day!!.:

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From the top of our ship, first, here is a view of this speedy craft in action. After our opening series of JetBoat moves, twists and turns, our pilot then took a brief break to answer questions and give us added background for the area, the people who live here, etc.:

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Now, in a James Bond-like move, we were going to go through the narrow space between these two major rock formations.  Would we make it?  Safely?  These three action shots summarise our approach and speed.  Yes!!  We made it.  Fun and thrilling!!:

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Success is being back at the dock.  My wife is shown with our skilled pilot from Tropic Thunder Jet.:

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4 hours ago, TLCOhio said:

For our replacement port stop or stops, my best guess is now for Tonga vs. Niue  vs. Cook Islands??!!  Any insights as to which of these three might work best, be most interesting?  Tonga is officially named the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 169 islands with a population of 100,651 people.  Will keep you posted as to what works out for being an upcoming port stop on our way to Bora Bora. 

 

 

Terry -

 

I’m sorry to hear both Samoas have declined the pleasure of your company.  This ghastly virus is working its way around the globe with appalling consequences and, in our own little world, with a terrible influence on the cruise industry.  These tiny Pacific islands will be terrified of anyone coming ashore with the disease, much like the European explorers and settlers of the 18th and 19th centuries who brought their diseases with them and wiped out entire populations.

 

But here’s hoping -

 

Tonga.  The main island of Tongatapu is a pleasant enough place with some nice beaches on the western edge.  The main town of Nukualofa is typical of the region with the added attraction of the royal palace.  We did a hotel stay here and rented a car.  The best parts of Tonga are the outer island chains - the Haap’pai group and Vavau.  Both have stunning beaches, snorkelling and a few small resort hotels.  It’s a big area for yachties and whale-watching.  The volcano of Tofua in the Haa’pai group is where the mutiny on the Bounty took place in 1789.

 

Niue - This tiny island isn’t a sovereign state but depends on NZ for support.  We went ashore by zodiac and I doubt very much if a big ship like your could land passengers.  Many people who do land head straight for the Post Office to buy stamps, just like they do on Pitcairn.  Because Niue lacks any beaches it lacks hotels and tourists so it’s quite run down.  The population is declining dramatically.

 

Cook Islands - like Niue, not a sovereign state but unlike Niue it’s prosperous because of its stunning beaches, surpassing beauty and excellent air links.  If you go there it’s likely you will land on Rarotonga which is a typical Polynesian island with a small town, churches and majestic beaches.  The interior is mountainous and green.  The best part of the Cook Islands in Aitutaki, an outer island that looks like a mini Bora Bora.  We stayed there for two weeks once - a fabulous place.  Lots of NZ holiday-makers.

 

Here’s hoping things go well for you . . .

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Fletcher
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15 hours ago, clo said:

I'm curious, with respect, how much time do you spend every day doing this? We travel a lot - not much cruising - and I can't even imagine doing this. TIA.

 

Super appreciate these great and various comments and follow-ups, especially from the travel savvy Fletcher.  Based on your summary points for these three options, I will hope for Tongo. Great history cited by Fletcher about "These tiny Pacific islands will be terrified of anyone coming ashore with the disease, much like the European explorers and settlers of the 18th and 19th centuries who brought their diseases with them and wiped out entire populations."   The world health challenge are getting much more serious, including about the potential for Japan maybe skipping its Olympics scheduled to start in July.  Clearly the travel situation for many part of Asia has gone for serious to worse. 

 

Hopefully later today or tomorrow, we will find out where we head after our two stops in Fiji.  Keep it coming with the questions, suggestions, comments, etc.  

 

Regarding the above question from clo, doing this "live/blog" takes some time, but it is mostly in the early mornings and/or during sea-days.  Not as much time as it might seem or appear.  To be honest, I did "cheat" just a little.  How?  On certain of the long summaries for each of the ports and the initial background outline for our past sailing experiences, I wrote those up in advance.  That saved time during this cruise.  Reviewing and editing the photos takes some time and effort.  BUT, that is part of the "fun" for getting better visuals and keeping the travel memories alive for the future years.  Will share later, if of interest, for some of photography tips and secrets.  

 

Now getting ready to dock in Lautoka next to their famed sugar plant.  Lots of "industrial look" with this harbor.   

 

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Lisbon, NWSpain, Bordeaux/Brittany: Live/blog, June 2017 from Portugal to France along scenic Atlantic Coast.  Now at 30,257 views.  Many interesting pictures, details for history, food, culture, etc.:

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2511358

 

 

From last night's second full production cast program, here are some of my visual highlights.  The program was all about the "American Songbook" and classics from that era, including by Frank Sinatra, etc.  Very good voices and program!!  At a couple of points, the singer involved a couple of audience members as seen in picture four below.  It is a cast of four singers and two dancers.  Plus, the five-piece Regatta band and the three string players.  This sailing is their first time to be performing this show live.  Their energy and spirit shows through to make the programs even more enjoyable.  Nice costumes, too!:

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Enjoying your continued commentary and photos Terry.

You look to be experiencing good weather as well during the trip so far.

I'm sure all your efforts in taking the time to post all this information is being well appreciated by All.

Thanks,

Globe

 

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On 2/25/2020 at 6:53 AM, Globe said:

Enjoying your continued commentary and photos Terry.   You look to be experiencing good weather as well during the trip so far.  I'm sure all your efforts in taking the time to post all this information is being well appreciated by All.  Thanks,   Globe

 

Appreciate these nice above comments and follow-up from Globe.  YES, we have been experiencing very good weather.  In Fiji, it was very hot and humid for our two days and two different stops there.  Yesterday, while in Suva, we dodged a couple of rain incidents, but we were traveling by bus and/or under cover, at those times.  So, there was no disruption of our schedules or enjoyment.  The bus, however, was not air conditioned, but we survived.  

 

So much more to share and many, many pictures to be posted.  You will be amazed at the locations, sights and fun!!  Below are a couple "teasers" as a preview of what is to come.

 

BUT, the biggest mystery and "NEWS!" relates to . . . where in the world are we headed now???  Since our stops in BOTH American Samoa and Western Samoa had to be skipped due to local fears and concerns (legitimate) about the protection of local populations from virus potentials and dangers, it was unclear where we would go and what we would do to fill those gaps in our schedule.

 

Now we know!!  It will not be Tonga, Niue or the Cook Islands.  Those were my good but incorrect guesses.  We will be heading to Huahine!!  Where??  It is an island located in French Polynesia, just east of Bora Bora and Raiatea/Taha'a.  See the map below.   Per Wikipedia, the 2017 census shared that Huahine had a population of 6,075.  So our ship with around 650 passengers, plus crew, will arrive and boost their population by about 18%.   Huahine measures ten miles in length, with a maximum width of eight miles. It is made up of two main islands surrounded by a fringing coral reef with several islets, or motu. Huahine Nui (Big Huahine) lies to the north and Huahine Iti (Little Huahine) to the south.   Its highest point is Turi, at 2200 feet in elevation.  Captain James Cook arrived in Fare Harbour on July 16, 1769, with Tupaia navigating HMS Endeavour. Tey met with the leading chief and Cook returned on  September 3, 1773.  One of the famous attractions on Huahine is a bridge that crosses over a stream with freshwater eels. These eels are deemed sacred by locals. While viewing these slithering creatures, tourists can buy a can of mackerel and feed the eels.  We are awaiting to see what tour options the ship will offer and the best independent tour options we can find on such short notice.  Anyone have an experiences and/or tips for Huahine?

 

SEA-DAYS??!!:  We will now have four days at sea in a row.  More than we expected!!  Another challenge for the ship will be in keeping the passengers happy and occupied during a trip when we expected only a maximum of two sea-days in a row at any one time.  Apparently the ship officials believed that Huahine would be a better stop with more interesting options than could be offered at Tonga, etc.  The challenge?  For us, it is seeking potential excursions that might be different and unique compared to what we will be doing on the following three days for Bora Bora and Raiatea.  We already have some very good private tour options set on these two highly-rated stops where we had months to research, plan and reserve.  It is all part of the "ADVENTURE" to see what works out and to be exploring a location that is not as often visited.  

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Panama Canal? Early 2017, Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco adventure through Panama Canal.  Our first stops in Colombia, Central America and Mexico, plus added time in the great Golden Gate City. Now at 29,755 views.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2465580

 

 

Below are a couple of "preview" visuals for which I will be posting much more during the next couple of days.  Any guesses as to what is connected with both to these pictures?  Full details later!!:

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With the red dot/pointer on the right, it shows the location of Huahine in French Polynesia.  It is just east of Bora Bora (left) and Raiatea/Taha'a in the middle of this map from Google.  It is a distance of about twenty miles from Huahine to Raiatea.  All fairly close and handy.:

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As an added "bonus" to top off our two-day visit to Fiji, the ship arranged for a top musical dance group to board our ship and perform an amazing live performance as we were getting ready to do our 4 pm sail-away yesterday.  They are known as the Vou Dance Group.  Amazing!! is one way to share how blown away we were by this eleven-member group.  Need proof and evidence?  See below.  Just a few of my visuals from our front-row seats.  Their dancing skills, facial expression, costume, music, etc., etc., ALL were first-class and highly-skilled.  Very professional, so impressive!!  I also captured a couple of videos, plus many other pictures to reflected their skills.  Need more pictures or have I have proven the point as to how we loved this group.

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

From late 2018, see “Holy Lands, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Dubai, Greece, etc.”, with many visuals, details and ideas for the historic and scenic Middle East on the Oceania Nautica. Now at 17,999 views.  Connect at:

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2607054-livenautica-greece-holy-lands-egypt-dubai-terrypix’s/

 

These six visuals reflect a small portion of what we enjoyed live in the Regatta Lounge late yesterday afternoon as we were getting ready to depart Suva, Fiji.:

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At the end of their performance yesterday, this dance group involved the audience by inviting them on the staging area to dance and finish the show with a great flourish.  FUN!!:

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Yesterday morning, we traveled about an hour from Suva, Fiji, for a ship's tour titled "Pacific Harbor Cultural Extravaganza".  This included a  performance by Fijian Firewalkers, plus garden and shopping areas, etc.  This gave us a sampling for the evolution of Fiji's cultural history and arts.  We were greeted by the reverberating sound of a hollow drum beaten by a Fijian warrior, the blowing of a conch shell and the welcoming song of the villagers.  One highlight was the Fijian Firewalkers demonstrating their power over the hot stones to commence this ancient ceremony. Below is the initial group of visuals from this visit.  Much more to come from Fiji!!

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

 

Completed last summer Calgary, Jasper/Banff National Parks, Western Canada Rocky Mountaineer rail adventure, Vancouver, sailing up to Alaska, post-cruise excursion to Denali, etc.  Lots of visuals and details from our first visits to these scenic areas!!  That live/blog is at: 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2682584-live-terryohio-silver-muse-alaska-canadarockies-pix’s/

 

Upon arrival at Fiji's Pacific Harbour, my wife and others received a neckless as a welcoming gift.  Second is one of their warriors pounding the large drum.:

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There were a number shops, dining locations and bars in this initial visiting area.  Many of the signs and items on the walls were very cute with their saying and encouragement to drink, have fun, etc.:

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Yes, there was live music being played as we walked around in what they called an "Arts Village".  Second was this kind staff member there posing for my picture-taking. As we are facing people in Fiji, if the flower is on our right side, that means they are available.  A later picture will show the man with the flower on the left side.  That means he or she is "taken."  As our noted by our guide on the bus ride back, if the flower is worn in the middle of the hair, it means she or he is both "available and desperate".  Did not see anyone with flowers worn in that manner. :

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Here is my winner for the "cutest" and most fun sign seen yesterday at Pacific Harbour in Fiji.:

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Before completing the picture posting from our two exciting and busy days in Fiji, I need to do a "Weather Update".  Yes, things are sunny, warm and nice here in the South Pacific as we are in the first day of the four-day sailing between Fiji and French Polynesia.  BUT, in checking back home in Central Ohio and the Midwest, things look challenged.  In Kansas, they have been getting bad winter storms.  Below are some weather maps.  Glad we are here in the South Pacific escaping that snow and cold. 

 

Also, just talked with the ship's very responsive and personable General Manager, I picked up some interesting, added info and insights.  First, he indicated that the port of Tonga is now closed for cruise ship visits.  That apparently is one of the key reasons as to why our ship is not headed there.  Second, GM Claudio Melli from Bologna, Italy, hinted that some type of evening "special event" might be set-up for all on the ship for that evening when we are overnight in the famed location of Bora Bora.  Plus, they are still working on excursion options for our tendered stop in Huahine, French Polynesia.  Clearly, these are very, very challenged times for the cruise industry.  The Regatta GM indicated that getting staff to the ship, plus entertainers, etc., has become much more difficult with the need to avoid certain airports for connections in Asia, etc.

 

I reported to the GM how super happy we have been with the quality of the food at all locations on the Regatta.  I did "complain" that the pastry items and ice creams, both made fresh each day on the ship, are "almost too good".  These tasty treats challenge my "trim body shape" and make it difficult to avoid taking on too many calories.  The cookies, however, are not quite as excellent.  Good, but not great.  The GM agreed with this analysis by my wife and me.   Let me know any questions or information needed from ship personnel or about the "new" Regatta.  

 

By the way, today is Jan. 27 for those of us on this ship/sailing.  Tomorrow will also be Jan. 27!!  Two days.  Same dates!!??  No typo or mistake.  That happens because of having just crossed the International Dateline.  Then, we will have Jan. 28 and 29 also doing sea-days, before arriving in French Polynesia on Sunday, March 1, 2020. 

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Barcelona/Med: June 2011, with stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Great visuals with key highlights, tips, etc. Live/blog now at 250,671 views.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1426474

 

First from AccuWeather is the upcoming forecast for Central Ohio.  Glad we are avoiding that nasty cold and snow.  Second is a mapping forecast from Weather.com with a details for the wider areas of the Midwest and NE.  Not good!!??:

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