So we are back on dry land after 7 nights abord the the Pacific Dawn - why are we still rocking? Sailing out of Brisbane about a week ago, all seemed fine... the sun was out, the Brisbane river was calm, as were the waters off the Queensland coast line. Time for the group to start relaxing with a few refreshing beverages (long island ice tea's became a favourite) up on the pool deck - what a life...
Later in the afternoon, as we started to slowly depart from the Queensland coast line, the water became a little more "choppy" should we say. Not overly rough, but noticeably rocking - especially to the uninitiated cruisers that we were.
With the weather remaining good, despite the slight rocking motion, the fun and drinks up on the pool deck continued - we were "relaxing" :)
Over the course of the next 2 days we headed towards New Caledonia. 2 Days at sea, with nothing else to do but enjoy the company, the drinks, and the fun... again very relaxing indeed... however the rocking of the boat was becoming more and more noticeable... something to do with the gail force winds, and the 4-5meter swell we encountered :(
It's at this point we discovered who was really made for the sea, and who were better off on the land - with a number of our group starting to turn green with sea sickness... and they were not alone - green was a common look shared by many of our fellow cruisers abord the ship.
Most nights we spent moving about the various bars on board the ship (there were at least 8 we found), before heading out to dinner in the formal dining room (at least those of us who could cope with the rocking motion and the indoors at the same time :) ). The formal dinning room provided a reasonably classy dining experience, with full table service and two waiters. The menu changed each night to ensure plenty of options, and overall the food was quite good.
We finally arrive into port at New Caledonia - stepping onto dry, unmoving land was a relief for some of us. The weather wasn't great - while it was comfortably warm, it was drizzling the whole time, which put a bit of a downer on our time on the island.
We jumped on a local tour bus to get a look around the island, before later heading out to Lemon Bay for dinner in a relatively nice French influenced restaurant, and then back on the boat and sailing for the Isle of Pines.
Luckily the captain decided to keep the ship within the sheltered waters of the nearby islands and reefs which gave us all a little rest bight from the constant rocking and rolling of the open water.
The Isle of Pines:
Having cruised overnight from New Caledonia, we awoke in the morning to the picturesque scenery that is the Isle of Pines.
The Pacific Dawn moored out in the bay off the Isle of Pines and we all boarded tenders to go ashore.
Once ashore we were free to explore, swim, snorkel and... eat and drink. The Isle of Pines was beautiful - squeaky white beaches, and beautifully warm clear water (would have been magic if we weren't there with 2,000 other tourists :) ).
After spending the day on-shore at the Isle of Pines, we headed for Vanuatu, again cursing overnight to arrive early the next morning.
Getting off the ship in Port Vila, we we confronted by no less than 5,000 taxi drivers (it had to be close to 5,000) - every taxi on the island was at the port... each ving for your money to take you on a tour for the day.
After a short attempt at ignoring the constant barrage of taxi drivers offering up their services, we realised attempting to walk through the markets at the port was useless and gave in - selecting a driver... apparently at random based on his value offer, $15 each for the whole day to go and see a village, the waterfalls, and hide-away island.
The deal was done... next we had to find his taxi and get it back to the rest of the group - an adventure in itself with the other 5,000 taxi drivers all trying to do the same thing in a space no bigger than a small shopping centre car park.
Eventually we go into the airconditioned comfort of a clapped out van, and joined the queue of taxis - impressing all those behind us by pulling up midway down the line to the exit of the port to collect the rest of our group... and then we were away.
First stop, a remote village. Travelling through the village was an experience, seeing how the vast majority of the locals live - grass huts is not an exaggeration. Dog, pigs, chickens and happy kids were running all through the village. Lots of smiles and waves from the friendly locals.
Next we were off to the waterfalls - something we had been told not to miss. Paying our $20 admission to the park, we had a short walk (about 20min) up to the base of the falls. Unloading out gear and wading through the water, you can follow a path up the river towards the falls. This involved a bit of climbing u wet slippery rocks, but wasn't overly challenging and was defiantly worth the effort to bath in the warm pools at the base of the falls. The waterfall was amazingly beautiful set into the tropical jungle scene.
Relaxing totally in the pools at the bottom of the falls - it was hard to leave. The water was like a tempered bath, absolutely refreshing from the humidity in the air. But the time came to move on, and we headed back to our van to get a lift to the next destination on our itinerary - Hideaway island.
Hideaway Island is a small privately owned island with a small resort. Only a few hundred meters from the main land, a small ferry service takes you over to the island (for a fee of $10). Again, the atmosphere on the island was that of pure relaxation. We rented some snorkelling gear and spent most of our time swimming over and around the beautiful reef area near the island. Topical fish, coral, giant clams - it the underwater life was amazing and extremely colourful.
Finally time had come to head back to the ship and commence the two day sea voyage home. The weather had improved significantly for our homeward voyage - with the seas being much calmer... still this wasn't enough for all of us, with the odd green face still surfacing from time to time.
The next two sea days were spent much like the first - relaxing up on the pool deck, or out the back of the ship in the adults only sun lounge. Again cocktails assisting with the relaxation process.
Laura and I treated ourselves out to dinner in the Luke Magan Salt restaurant on board the ship - the food was amazing and we had wished we had discovered it sooner.
So we are back on land now, heading home totally relaxed and having enjoyed our seven nights out on the open seas cruising.
Would we do it again... probably. It took a little while for us to warm to the concept once on board, but after unwinding, and getting into the everyday life on board it was pretty pleasant all told.
Anyway.. enough of cruising, we now need to focus on our trip to Turkey which is in late May..