Part 4: Port of Calls
According to Wikipedia, the most reliable yet unreliable source on the internet, a Port of Call is "an intermediate stop for a ship on its sailing itinerary, which may include up to half a dozen ports. At these ports, a cargo ship may take on supplies or fuel, as well as unloading and loading cargo. But for a cruise ship, it is their premier stop where the cruise lines take on passengers to enjoy their vacation".
Hubby and I well and truly enjoyed our vacation over the Christmas break in Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Loyalty Islands. We stopped at four Port of Calls where we had about 8 hours in each stop to explore each island. In my final part of this cruise holiday series, I will run through each Port of Call and its main attractions. Enjoy!
21st December 2010 - Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
Being the first stop, this island truly took my breath away. It was a very warm day, and even from a distance we saw the tall pine trees clearly distinguishing its uniqueness and thus the name. The crystal clear blue waters were so inviting, we spent hours in the water just admiring the beauty of our surroundings.
When we first arrived, we were greeted by the locals. I love seeing the local kids run around and I loved absorbing the French influenced culture of the New Caledonians.
There were some shopping opportunities - although not much, it was enough for me to acquire my one and only desired souvenir whenever I travel - a FRIDGE MAGNET! Hehe.
Hubby and I went for a little walk before I gave up due to the heat. I just wanted to skip to the snorkeling part of our trip! So hubby went on with another guy we've made friends with while we were on the ship, and I went on to the beach to join his wife and kids.
A picture of hubby when he proudly completed the intensely hot 5km walk to the town centre.. :)
A picture of the Catholic Church at town.
When hubby finally came back, we spent hours snorkeling and admiring the beautiful coral reefs and the colorful fish and other sea creatures just within arms reach. It was one of the most incredible first experiences for me (yes - I've never been out snorkeling before this day) and I really looked forward to doing more snorkeling in the next few port of calls because that was basically all this trip was about!
Snorkeling especially around "The Rock" was incredible.
22nd December 2010 - Mystery Island, Vanuatu
Mystery Island is a really, really small island. Seriously you can walk all the way around the island in less than 30 minutes! That's how small it is. But the beauty of Mystery Island is the untouched corals and yes, another amazing location for snorkeling and diving. On the day we were here, the weather wasn't that friendly. It rained and then stopped, then rain and stopped again. But that didn't stop us from enjoying our day!
This is how we got on and off the tender boats. The busiest days in these islands are when cruise ship tourists come!
Despite its size, Mystery Island actually has quite a large marketplace compared to Isle of Pines. Souvenir galore! Of course, we were only interested in fridge magnets ;)
Hair braiding is a very popular activity here at these islands. However, I didn't get my hair braided - I didn't want to ruin my hair or have to deal with the massive poofy hair afterwards!
Also very popular, fresh lobsters!!
I didn't get to eat them though, just in case our stomachs couldn't handle it - wouldn't want to go through the rest of the cruise with food poisoning! I know that's silly, life is short and we should've just gone for it. Others did and they were fine!
A random photo opportunity. I would've been quite scared actually, haha.
As you can see the waters at Mystery Island is just as blue and clear and gorgeous!
Simply incredible. Writing this now, I can't believe we are back at work living our daily routines and no longer there in PARADISE! Arghh...
23rd December 2010 - Noumea, New Caledonia
Noumea was the only Port of Call where the ship actually docked at the port instead of just tendering. In the morning, we hopped on a bus to get to our pre-planned excursion aka kayaking expedition.
We were kayaking on the Dumbea River, about 25 minutes away from the port. We kayaked for about an hour and a half including swimming in the river. Then, the bus took us back to the ship. We freshened up and then took another bus to the town centre in Noumea.
To be perfectly honest, other than the pretty trees and the nice looking church we saw on our way - we didn't really like Noumea very much! Kayaking was okay, but when we got to town we were just too HOT to really enjoy walking - and the buildings were normal, and the streets were unclean, and the only time I really relaxed was when we stepped into a large souvenir shop with really strong air conditioning! I made sure I look at souvenirs very slowly in that shop, to make the most of the air con. We ended up buying a fridge magnet AND a wooden shark, lol. Overspent!
A photo of the streets in the middle of town.
This was where our bus dropped us off and picked us up. I suppose Noumea wasn't THAT bad, but because of the extreme heat it just wasn't that enjoyable without the beautiful water to look at, hehe.
Even in the shade where people sat to eat lunch, it was HOT!
24th December 2010 - Lifou, Loyalty Islands
Thankfully, Noumea wasn't our last stop or I would've been pretty annoyed! When we arrived at Lifou the next day, I was back in my happy place. Lifou is just as amazing if not more amazing than Isle of Pines!
We saw some cute village huts :)
Shopping was just as plenty :)
We saw a massive TURTLE in the water! Although the pics ended up bad, we saw the turtle very clearly it was so awesome :)
We went for a walk and there were butterflies everywhere!
We got up to the top of the hill where the church was, and the view from the top was spectacular! We saw our ship from a distance... with the tender boats at work!
View of Lifou from the top of the hill where we walked up to.. hmm... this photo makes it look like we walked very far to take this picture from the port, lol.
View of the other side of Lifou!
A random awesome shot :)
And finally when we were done exploring and needed to cool off, we jumped into one of the best locations IN THE WORLD for snorkeling, right here at Lifou island. I've overheard some people say it's even better than Australia's Great Barrier Reef! It was truly magnificent - the perfect end to our cruise holiday as we headed back to Sydney, Australia that night.
Well, boys and girls that concludes my series of blog posts dedicated to my recent cruise holiday. I hope you enjoyed the little stories and especially the photos I've shared. This holiday was a very memorable one, so I'm actually quite happy to share this here on my blog.
I will be back to blogging my day to day cooking adventures very soon! In fact, I already have a few posts up my sleeve while I took the time to write these cruise blog entries. Stay tuned