Visiting Isle of Pines, New Caledonia…”New’ places to visit…The fun continues with flourish…




View of the shore as our tender pulled into the dock at Isle of Pines, New Caledonia.

This itinerary’s ports of call are a little repetitive for us. Having been to most of these ports, we tend to hesitate when considering if its of interest to get off the ship. In many cases, since we don’t shop, visiting ports we’ve visited in the past holds little appeal.

As soon as we disembarked the tender we walked toward the rows of shops.

These two ports of call on this ship’s itinerary we’d hadn’t visited in the past are:  Isle of Pines, New Caledonia and Mystery Island, Vanuatu both of which we visited over the past several days, each of which we thoroughly enjoyed seeing and now sharing.

Now on our way to Fiji, we have little interest in getting off the ship after spending a total of four months on two of its hundreds of islands and thus, we’ll be content to stay on board and enjoy the quiet while other passengers check it out.

An old structure at the beach.

We realized this 24 night cruise would consist of many repeated ports including the arrival in Hawaii in nine days (including crossing the International Dateline).  After spending eight months in Hawaii, we may only disembarked in Lahaina, Maui which we’d visited during our six weeks in Maui in 2014.  Its a fun little town and we’ll surely enjoy seeing it again.

A round house at the beach in Isle of Pines.

However, we didn’t choose this cruise for its ports of call.  We’re using this cruise as a pleasurable means of getting from Point A to Point B; Sydney, Australia to Seattle, Washington, getting us close to our upcoming Alaskan cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia, ending in Seattle, Washington and then on to family visits in both Minnesota and Nevada.

In our old lives, the prospect of an Alaskan cruise would have sent us to the moon with delight.  Now, although enthusiastic over this cruise, its a normal part of our daily lives of world travel, another interesting stop along the way.

An old structure on the narrow beach road.

Don’t get me wrong.  We don’t take any of these opportunities lightly. But after four and a half years of travel, we’ve settled into an easy acceptance of new spaces, new places and new adventures which seem to continue in our path as we navigate from one part of the world to another.

We walked this path with other passengers to arrive at the main area of the port of call.

The highlight of our lives surely is in the “new.”  New locations, new people, new cultures, new scenery and new wildlife surely seem to set our hearts and minds whirring with excitement. 

Of course, our upcoming return to Africa may be the exception.  Most likely, it will seem new to us after being away for almost four years, having left South Africa in February 2014 and Morocco in May, 2014.  (We won’t be returning to Morocco on this upcoming visit instead visiting several other countries on the vast continent).

Helicopter at the local police facility.

As for Isle of Pines, New Caledonia here’s a little information from this site:

“The Isle of Pines (French: Île des Pins; name in Kanak language Kwênyii: Kunyié) is an island located in the Pacific Ocean, in the archipelago of New Caledonia, an overseas collectivity of France. The island is part of the commune (municipality) of L’Île-des-Pins, in the South Province of New Caledonia. The Isle of Pines is nicknamed l’île la plus proche du paradis (“the closest island to Paradise”). It has snorkeling and scuba diving in and around its lagoon. Species of tropical fish and corals can be seen in the transparent water.
The island is around 22°37′S 167°29′E and measures 15 km (9.3 mi) by 13 km (8.1 mi). It lies southeast of Grande Terre, New Caledonia’s main island and is 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of the capital Nouméa. There is one airport (code ILP) with a 1,097 m (3,599 ft) runway. The Isle of Pines is surrounded by the New Caledonia Barrier Reef.
The inhabitants of the island are mainly native Melanesian Kanaks and the population is 2,000 (estimated 2006) (1989 population 1,465).
The island is rich with animal life and is home to unusual creatures such as the Crested Gecko Rhacodactylus ciliatus and the world’s largest gecko Rhacodactylus leachianus.
The pic Nga is the island’s highest point, at 262 metres (860 ft) elevation. River Ouro is the longest river.

History

Melanesian people lived of the island for over 2000 years before the island was first visited by Europeans. Captain James Cook in 1774 saw the island and renamed it on his second voyage to New Zealand. Cook gave the island its name after seeing the tall native pines (Araucaria columnaris). He never disembarked onto the island, but as he saw signs of inhabitance (smoke) assumed it was inhabited. In the 1840s Protestant and Catholic missionaries arrived, along with merchants seeking sandalwood.
The French took possession of the island in 1853 at which time the native Kunies opted for the Catholic religion. In 1872 the island became a French penal colony, home to 3,000 political deportees from the Paris Commune.

Sights

The ruins of a penal colony can be seen in the village of Ouro in the west of the island. The water tower of Ouro which was built by prisoners in 1874/75 and renovated in 2005 is still used today.
On the cemetery Cimetière des Déportés near Ouro a pyramide-shaped memorial and the graves of 300 deportees who died here between 1872 and 1880 can be seen.”

A church or public building?

As illustrated above, there wasn’t a lot of possible sightseeing venues in the small village.  The scenery, gorgeous beaches and the shopping certainly bring cruise ships to the area aiding in providing income for the locals as they present their various wares for sale.

Unlike our usual mission to check out the scenery and culture, we found ourselves wandering through the lean-to shops in the popular boutique area which required a bit of a walk on an uneven path.

Hibiscus type flowers growing along the path to the boutique area.

Cruise passengers generally gravitate to shopping areas hoping to discover that perfect item to bring home to family and friends.  We’re more interested in observing local crafts and craftspeople. 

In many ports of call, as was the case in both Isle of Pines and Mystery Island (photos coming soon on this island), many of the items offered for sale are trinkets made in China that we’ve seen in other ports of call throughout the world. 

Regardless, we enjoy ourselves, taking many photos, chatting with passengers on the tenders on the round trip back and forth to the ship and later discussing our varied opinions on what the area had to offer. 

Scene down a private road.


As is the case for most passengers on cruises, they’re optimistic and upbeat in describing various ports of call rather than expressing any disdain over any potential lack of appeal.

Last night we had a fabulous evening with two couples we met, one of which we’ve spent the past two nights.  All from Australia, the conversation was spiked with typical and appealing Aussie speak and good humor which we’ll miss as we make our way out of the South Pacific in weeks to come.

We are both doing well, enjoying ourselves while feeling settled and familiar with this cruising way of life while over this extended period.  Once again, it’s become “home” to us.

Be well.
______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, April 28, 2017:
The workaround for grabbing last year’s photo is not working around again due to the poor signal on the ship.  Today’s a sea day with everyone is online.  We’ll post the missing photos once we move to a new location.  Thanks for your patience.

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia…Planning a get-together with our readers while in Minnesota…Please RSVP by email…

The beginning of the miniature golf course on deck 12.

Our ship, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas has reached land after two and a half days at sea since leaving Sydney on April 22nd.  We plan to embark on a tender boat for a 20 minutes ride, to have an opportunity to browse the island and take some photos.

All is going well thus far as we thoroughly enjoy every moment aboard the ship, meeting more and more wonderful people, engaging in lively conversations while sharing endless stories of travel and life.



A small uninhabited island off the coast of New Caledonia.

Many passengers aboard the ship are from other parts of the world beside Australia and  are of varying ages.  We received the following information from the Diamond Club concierge where we’re seated at this time.  See this information below:

Passenger stats
Australia:  1889
US:            830
Canada:     147
UK:            103
NZ:             81
Germany:    44
Brazil:         10
Ireland:       10
Other:         92
Total passengers: 3186
Diamond Club & above: 880

Ages of Passengers
22 – 30:         75
31 – 40:         89
41-50:          151
51-65:        1162
66-75:        1311
75 and over: 305


The basketball play area on deck 12.

Last night we had another engaging evening in the Sapphire Dining room while half of our table of 12 became engrossed in a discussion about politics.  Not precipitated by either of us, Tom was excited and animated to participate in discussing world affairs with a few other politically minded individuals at our table.  He was in his element.

Based on the fact that we prefer to keep our views under wraps in our posts, he was thrilled to be able to spew his opinions with other like-minded individuals.    I listened intently occasionally interjected a short blurb into the conversation. 

Another island in New Caledonia.

When the dining room was about to close, we wandered to the Palace Theatre to see a comedian performing a late night “adult” show.  Both of us dosed off during the show.  I awoke with a stiff neck and rattled Tom’s shoulder stating, “Let’s go to the cabin and get some sleep.” 

Off we went to our cabin for what proved to be a good night’s sleep.  By 7:30 am we were seated in the Sapphire Dining Room with two couples at a shared table for breakfast.

Rock climbing wall.

As for the upcoming date for our get-together in Minnesota, we’re shooting for Friday, June 9, 2017 from 6 to 9 pm.  We’ll get back to our readers with a location once we have an idea of how many people may be able to come. 

The location will be near Highways 394 and 494 located close Minnetonka/Plymouth.  The exact location will be posted over several days as the time approaches. 

Please email me if you’d like to attend at the link on our web page on the right side of each day’s homepage or by clicking here.

Today is ANZAC day, a day of remembrance for lives lost in wars in Australia and New Zealand.  A presentation was conducted on the ship’s pool deck at 5:45 am.  We didn’t attend but later watched the event on TV. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos from our visit to Isle of Pines, New Caledonia.  Have a blissful day!

Based on the poor Wi-Fi signal aboard the ship, it appears we won’t be able to post any “one year ago” photos until after we arrive in Vancouver on May 15th.   Thank you for your patience.