A New Cruise Adventure Begins.....!!!
Sitting in the front of the luxurious Crows Nest lounge atop Holland America’s ms Oosterdam with a 360 degree panorama of the South Pacific Ocean as we steam toward Suva, Fiji, our port of call tomorrow, I contemplate our trip so far since we left Sydney Harbour 7 days ago. Our day today began early, rising at 5.15am to attend the ANZAC Dawn Service Poolside on Deck 9 – our special marking of remembrance on this solemn day 100 years on from the doomed landing of Allied forces on the treacherous Gallipoli shoreline in The Dardanelle Straits of Turkey now officially named ANZAC Cove. It was well attended – largely by the Australian and New Zealand complement on board and by many interested passengers of other origins. Our American and Canadian friends on board, having joined the ship in Auckland NZ several weeks ago and having already been drawn into the ANZAC conversation whilst in our two countries and visiting War Memorials in Melbourne and Sydney, were especially keen to be part of the service….and were without exception very singularly impressed. There were at least 200 gathered and it lost none of its impact or significance being mid ocean and well away from home. A very moving service indeed! But this is Day 7… so what of the days before…..
The ship departed Sydney last Sunday afternoon in rather overcast, windy conditions though luckily without rain, so we and our fellow travellers were able to go topside to fully absorb the grandeur of our beautiful harbour with all it has to offer on magnificent display. Going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge just metres above us was absolute theatre as was passing through the Heads – the massive sandstone cliffs that are gateway to our harbour city. As it happened our departure was both fortuitous and timely for just several hours afterwards and for 2 days following the Sydney coastline and the city itself was besieged by a cyclonic depression bringing huge 150kph+ winds and rain reaping havoc with local flooding, some fatalities and major disruption to shipping both in and out of the harbour.
Our ports so far have all offered a special glimpse of a more simplistic life on the islands of the South Pacific –
Our first stop was Noumea in New Caledonia and on recommendation, we took an excursion called “A Day
at Amadee Lighthouse”, a small island in the second largest Coral Reef in the World, second only to our own Great Barrier Reef of the tropical Queensland coast. We rode out from central Noumea on a luxury ferry and were treated to a fun-filled day of reef exploration in glass bottom boats – lots of turtles, fish and other marine life - endless snorkeling if we wanted to, a wonderful lunch of South Sea Island salads, fish and other delicacies, with wine if desired, native (hula style) dancing, coconut gathering and time to simply laze on golden sands at the water’s edge soaking up the tropical sun interrupted only by the occasional plunge in the crystal clear sea. Our idyllic day ended with a return ferry ride to Noumea and a short bus ride back to our “floating hotel” – the luxurious ms Oosterdam – time to get ready for another dinner and night of entertainment as we steamed away from Noumea towards the island of Lifou and another idyllic tropical setting.
No excursions on offer for this stop – also in New Caledonia – Easo is a small native settlement with strong missionary ties back dating 150 years. The ship anchored offshore and we tendered to a jetty bordered pristine sands on either side and more aqua blue crystal clear waters…we just love the opportunities to ride the tender boats but to greeted by such a pretty vista really was heavenly. The photography buffs, including ourselves, were presented with endless
subject matter here! A local market was in full swing with local wares including colourful sarongs for sale – She could not resist and the particular article she purchased looks spectacular! We trekked to the highest point on the island to a little Spanish style church – a pause for a reflective moment or two and certainly some spectacular panoramic photos including of our ship in the distance. Another very uplifting, though tiring day. And now a couple of days at sea as we steam toward Fiji, then Vanuatu and Pago Pago (American Samoa) ……… but there’s plenty to do – Digital Workshops to help us with our new DSLR camera, movies to see, books to read, and our favourite – a good old laze by the pool – and we have 2 fabulous pools to choose between.
So stay tuned for my next update.........