Limited number of ports of call on this cruise…Long way yet to sail…9368 km, 5817 miles (5055 nautical miles)…

Isle of Pines coral reef is stunning.

The ship docked at the Port of Suva, Fiji, early this morning for an overnight stay. Why they chose this port for the extended stay baffled us until yesterday when the captain explained in a seminar held midday in the Palace Theatre.

Passengers seemed to enjoy the white sand beach and crystal clear sea.

The ship needed to refuel and gather provisions for the upcoming journey consisting of 9368 km, 5817 miles, 5055 nautical miles to sail to Seattle by May 15. We boarded the ship one week ago today, and the time is flying by more quickly than we’d expected.

These types of garments are not for me, but it’s fun to check them out.

The ease of life aboard a ship, along with a pleasant routine we tend to embrace within the first few days, days almost pass in a blur. We probably don’t spend more than nine hours a day in our cabin, sleeping, showering, dressing for the day, and then for the evening.

There were lots of trinkets for sale in New Caledonia.

Tom and I have managed the small space in the cabin of 164 square feet down to a science. We maneuver around one another with a flow comparable to a well-practiced dance where we seldom bump into one another.

After 18 cruises in similarly sized cabins (this is the smallest to date), we’ve managed to make the most of it in keeping the space tidy, organized, and free of clutter. In addition, we have a phenomenal cabin steward on this particular cruise whose efforts include consistency and organizational skills similar to our own. 

Green-themed sarongs.

Each morning as soon as we depart for breakfast, she cleans our cabin to perfection. Then, when we return to get our laptops to head to the Diamond Lounge to prepare the day’s post, every last item is completed with nary a wrinkle or item out of order.

Tourists typically purchase tee-shirts and beach towels.

Today, we arrived a little later than usual when we lingered at the breakfast table chatting with other passengers, all of whom were about to explore Suva for the day. We didn’t arrive in the Diamond Lounge until 10 am, when in most cases, we’ll be done preparing the post by 11. This accounts for today’s slightly later posting.

A tiny rowboat at the ready.

As we’ve recounted the details of our four-month stay in Fiji on two islands, from September 8, 2015, to January 4, 2016, we giggled over our varied experiences during that period.

Ship passengers peruse the many shops in Isle of Pines, New Caledonia.

Whether it was the ants that filled the mattress and pillows on the bed on our first night in Savusavu; buying Kava for the chief when we visited the Vuodomo waterfall; the nightly visits by our neighbor Sewak’s adorable dog Badal who happened to arrive while we were dining, hoping for morsels of meat which we always provided; or the trips to the outdoor markets for food and supplies, we continue to relish the experiences, good and not-so-good yet today.

Two sleeping dogs seemed unfazed about the stream of visitors.

Unfortunately, on the second island in Fiji, I contracted this lingering intestinal bacteria I’m continuing to purge from my system with carefully selected foods, supplements, and portion control. 

A rusted outboard motor fashioned into a work of art?

Regardless of the ups and downs, we continue to feel a powerful sense of joy wash over us every day.  From the couples with who we’ve become friends aboard this ship; to the many email messages we continue to receive from readers and friends we’ve made along the way; to the anticipation of the upcoming Alaskan cruise and, of course, seeing family and friends in less than a month.

Clouds above the pretty beach in the Isle of Pines.

Today, at 1:30 pm, the newer movie, Lion, filmed in Tasmania, is playing at the Palace Theatre. We’re certainly looking forward to this movie when our recent stay in Tasmania left us with an appreciation and gratefulness for the three months we spent on the exquisite island.

I haven’t owned a muumuu since I was pregnant in 1966.  (That certainly “dates” me!)

Every day as time marches on, we’re reminded of our growing past experiences in one way or another. And yet, there’s so much we’ve yet to see. The future looks bright and filled with wonder.  May good health keep us on track for that which is yet to come.

We offer the same wishes for all of you; good health and well-being.

Photo from one year ago today, April 29, 2016:

Sunset on the last night of our cruise to Singapore one year ago today. For more details, please click here.

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 it’s of interest to get off the ship. In many cases, since we don’t shop, visiting ports we’ve seen in the past holds little appeal.

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

We’d hadn’t visited these two ports of call on this ship’s itinerary in the past: 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 disembark in Lahaina, Maui, which we’d visited during our six weeks in Maui in 2014. It’s a fun little town, and we’ll surely enjoy seeing it again.

A roundhouse at the beach in the Isle of Pines.

However, we didn’t choose this cruise for its ports of call. Instead, we’re using this cruise as a pleasurable means of getting from Point A to Point B; Sydney, Australia to Seattle, Washington, bringing 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. Although enthusiastic over this cruise, it’s a normal part of our daily lives of world travel, another exciting 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 central area of the port of call.

The highlight of our lives indeed is in the “new.” New locations, new people, new cultures, new scenery, and new wildlife certainly 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 of visiting several other countries on the vast continent).

Helicopter at the local police facility.

As for the 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 New Caledonia Barrier Reef surrounds the Isle of Pines.
The island inhabitants 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 most giant gecko, Rhacodactylus leachianus.
The pic Nga is the island’s highest point, at 262 metres (860 ft) elevation. River Ouro is the longest river.


Melanesian people lived on the island for over 2000 years before Europeans first visited the island. 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 he assumed it was inhabited as he saw signs of inhabitance (smoke). 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.


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 pyramid-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 weren’t a lot of possible sightseeing venues in the small village. However, 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.

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 were growing along the path to the boutique area.

Cruise passengers generally gravitate to shopping areas to discover that perfect item to bring home to family and friends. But, instead, 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 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. 

The 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 when 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.

Thus far, all is going well 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 besides 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. Unfortunately, both of us dozed 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 know how many people may be able to come. 

The location will be near Highways 394 and 494, located close to 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 WiFi 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.

March 7th…Our 22nd wedding anniversary…History of New Caledonia…Two fun photos from one year ago…

Do you see the rainbow in the background in this shot of New Caledonia?
Today is a sea day.  The Wi-Fi signal is marginal due to the number of passengers on their phones, tablets, and laptops. I attempted to speak to my sister on Skype, but I could not hear anything on this end, although she could hear me. 

Having ended the antibiotics last night while increasing the dose of the PPI, which I’ll continue to take for two months, I’ve definitely had a good result. 
I’d been suffering from Helicobactor Pylori for the past 15 months. Still a little sluggish from the meds, I’m not missing a beat of the varied activities we enjoy aboard ship, often hanging out with our new friends.

We inquired as to the cost of renting one of these little vehicles in Noumea, New Caledonia, the capital city.  At AU 132, the US $100 per hour, we decided to walk, which certainly was more beneficial.

Speaking of not “missing a beat,” last night, we danced the night away. Tom was doing his usual “dancing to the music” for a solid two hours standing by me while occasionally I had to sit down to recover. 

The boat harbor in Noumea.

After lounging for many months to get well, my energy level wasn’t my usual 100%. On the other hand, Tom never ceases to amaze me with his relentless enthusiasm and high energy when it comes to any activity.  For a guy that likes to lounge, he sure can kick it up a beat when needed.

Tomorrow, we’ll share a video on the post, including photos and stories of an exceptional night we’ll always remember, spent with many of the new friends we’ve made during this cruise.

Freighter in the port in New Caledonia.

Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary. In actuality, we’ve been together almost 26 years. What a fabulous way to celebrate…on a ship with my renewed health as I continue to build back my strength more each day.   Happy anniversary to my lively, energetic hubby, who never fails to make me laugh, smile, and feel in awe of our great relationship.

Local catamaran.

With a one-hour time change last night (loss), little sleep from staying out late, we’re glad to have a sea day. We missed breakfast in the dining room but will soon head in for a light lunch. Now that I can eat a little more, having two meals a day is appealing, especially while on the ship with someone else preparing it.

Last night, the pastry chef made me a almond sponge cake made with eggs, almond flour, vanilla, cream, and chopped nuts. It was absolutely unbelievable.  It was the first time in over five years I had a “cake feel” in my mouth with ingredients acceptable to my way of eating. I wonder if I can get the recipe from him.

Our ship, Celebrity Solstice, after we returned from walking through the small town.

Tonight, I’ll bring the camera to dinner to take photos of our meals and my dessert. Alfredo, a restaurant manager, has gone over the top to ensure I’m happy with my meals, typically salmon or chicken, prawns, spinach, and mashed cauliflower. 

Views out to sea from Noumea.

I’ve avoided beef and salads while recovering to keep the volume of food and digestibility under control. Perhaps soon I’ll be able to add a small green salad with a steak.

Below, we’ve included some information about New Calendonia and photos we’d taken both on and off the ship for our history buffs in cyberspace. As always, thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you again tomorrow with our fun video and photo of us on anniversary night.

New Caledonia consists of several islands in the archipelago.

Happy day to all!
New Caledonia (French: Nouvelle-Calédonie) is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, 1,210 km (750 mi) east of Australia and 16,136 km (10,026 mi) east of Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets. The Chesterfield Islands are in the Coral Sea. Locals refer to Grande Terre as Le Caillou (“the pebble”).

New Caledonia has a land area of 18,576 km (7,172 sq mi). Its population of 268,767 (Aug. 2014 census) consists of a mix of Kanak people (the original inhabitants of New Caledonia), people of European descent (Caldoches and Metropolitan French), Polynesian people (mostly Wallisians), and Southeast Asian people, as well as a few people of Pied-Noir and Maghreban descent. The capital of the territory is Nouméa.


The earliest traces of human presence in New Caledonia date back to the Lapita period. The Lapita were highly skilled navigators and agriculturists with influence over a large area of the Pacific.

Two Kanak warriors posing with penis gourds and spears around 1880. Duh, not our photo.

British explorer Captain James Cook was the first European to sight New Caledonia, on 4 September 1774, during his second voyage. He named it “New Caledonia,” as the northeast of the island reminded him of Scotland. The west coast of Grande Terre was approached by Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de Lapérouse, in 1788, shortly before his disappearance, and the Loyalty Islands were first visited in 1796. However, from then until 1840, only a few sporadic contacts with the archipelago were recorded.[ Contacts became more frequent after 1840 because of the interest in sandalwood from New Caledonia.
As trade in sandalwood declined, it was replaced by a new form of trade, “blackbirding,” a euphemism for enslaving people from New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands, New Hebrides, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands to work in sugarcane plantations in Fiji and Queensland. The trade ceased at the start of the 20th century. The victims of this trade were called “Kanakas,” like all the Oceanian people, after the Hawaiian word for “man.”

The first missionaries from the London Missionary Society and the Marist Brothers arrived in the 1840s. In 1849, the crew of the American ship Cutter was killed and eaten by the Pouma clan. After that, cannibalism was widespread throughout New Caledonia.”

For more historical information, please click here.

Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2016:

Tom was holding a gold Oscar statue look-alike at Everybody’s Theatre in Opunake, New Zealand. Click here for the story and more photos of this quaint movie theatre.
Sitting in the “photo booth” on our first visit.  Shortly after our first visit, we returned for a second visit on a special movie night with photos we’ll share shortly as the one-year-ago post approaches.

Swoon worthy photo from friends…Yesterday’s stop at Lifou, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia….

Two newly born bush babies peering out at the world awaiting them In Marloth Park, South Africa. This photo was taken by friend Mick Dryden (wife, Lynne), both extraordinary photographers and birders. We hope to see them next February when we return to Marloth Park.

Yesterday on Facebook, Lynne and Mick, friends from South Africa, posted today’s main photo and the photo below, both of which sent us swooning.  I couldn’t take my eyes off these exceptional sightings and subsequent photos taken in the yard of their home in the bush in Marloth Park, where we’ll be living next February for my birthday and for months to come. 

As the time nears for the upcoming Antarctica cruise in a mere 10 months with the return to Africa thereafter, our enthusiasm is over the moon. However, we easily find ourselves living in the moment, embracing that which surrounds us at any given time.

Two more little bush babies were photographed by friend Mick in Marloth Park, South Africa. Thanks to wife Lynne for sharing these on Facebook and allowing us to post them.

As we continue to build our repertoire of worldwide experiences, we’ve learned to pick and choose what appeals to us the most. Since our site here is less of a “tourist travel log” and more of a “world travel journal,” we feel confident that our preferred experiences enrich us and hopefully for our readers.

Church on the Hill in Lifou.

The social aspect of cruising is the most appealing to us since we’re often isolated from many social interactions in some locations we’ve visited. For example, most recently in Tasmania, the little oceanfront town of Penguin met all of our needs for socialization.

Thanks to our landlord and new friend Terry, who diligently orchestrated many social events on our behalf, the experience proved to be rich in local culture and people, one we’ll never forget. 

Pier in Lifou where the ship’s tenders docked to unload passengers anxious to get to the beach.

During the second half of our three-month stint in Tasmania, in the lovely holiday home on the Huon River in the Huon Valley, we were a little more isolated during that period, especially since I wasn’t quite up to par during the six weeks in this gorgeous area of Tasmania. 

Aboard the Celebrity Solstice, and on other ships, we become entrenched in socialization well beyond our expectations. If it quiet for longer than we’d prefer, all we need to do is to head to a meal in the buffet, main dining, or one of several busy bars or lounges. 

Lifou is a popular island for snorkeling and swimming with its crystal blue waters and white sand beaches.

There, we discover other passengers anxious to interact, and lively and animated conversation ensues from the first moment we all introduce ourselves. There’s been few, if any, exceptions to this scenario as night after night, we’re thoroughly entertained and delighted by the people we meet.

Usually, when dinner ends, and we finally go our separate ways, Tom and I head to the Ensemble Lounge, where there’s live music, a long friendly bar, an easy spot to meet even more people. 

Beautiful scenery along the shoreline.

Often, we become equally engrossed in chatting with one another, possessing a degree of pleasure comparable to our early dating days when we couldn’t get enough of each other. 

That magical element has remained with us as we’ve traveled the world, although we’re together 24/7, year after year. There’s no pool table on this ship, but we’re easily able to experience exceptional evenings, dancing, chatting with one another and other passengers, and; wandering throughout the ship.

Native Church Lifou, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia.

Tonight, if we can manage a short nap today, we’ll head to the “silent disco,” an event we’ll share in our next post.  We stayed up late last night, and both of us had trouble falling asleep. As a result, we’re both a bit sluggish.

Currently, on the last day of two full weeks of antibiotics and PPIs, I’m feeling better with a few modifications; small meals and consuming liquids slowly over a period of time. However, in a month, I’ll have to be retested for the bacteria we’ll arrange while in Sydney.

Small boats owned by locals.

As for the remainder of today’s photos, they’re from yesterday’s port of call in Lifou, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia. Here’s a little information on Lifou, but more may be found online at this site and others;

“Ten thousand people live on Lifou, and the island is divided into three customary districts: Wetr, Lösi, and Gaïça. Traditions and customs are very much alive here. Celebrations and daily tasks (such as hut construction or agriculture) are permeated by tradition. Wé is the administrative center of the Loyalty Islands as it is the biggest tribal village. Located by gorgeous Chateaubriand Bay, Wé counts the island’s main commercial and administrative facilities. 
Lifou was officially discovered (and mapped out) by Dumont d’Urville in 1827. Rapidly, Catholic and Protestant missionaries flocked to the island. They fought to convert local populations, thereby echoing the more prosaic competition between the British Empire and France.”

The town is quiet and peaceful, with locals dedicated to providing positive tourist experiences.

As for the remainder of today, we’re content to “see what transpires” when each day, planned or not, proves to be filled with wonderful surprises.

May your day bring you many happy surprises! Thanks for “visiting” us!

Photo from one year ago today, March 6, 2016:

A few roses remained in Trish and Neil’s garden a year ago as summer comes to an end in New Zealand. For more photos with subjects we consider beautiful, please click here.