Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cruise dairy

Saturday 18th Dec Mon 20th: After Dave dropped us off at the port it didn’t take too long to embark and unpack our carry on luggage. Our suitcase arrived mid afternoon. We left port pretty much on time about 2.00. Since we were on the ship only a couple of weeks ago we’ve been able to help a lot of the passengers wandering around looking lost and point them in the right direction. However it took us a little while to re-orient ourselves as we are on the opposite side of the ship to the previous cruise and tended to head in the wrong direction.
The weather has been particularly kind with flat seas. There seems to be a little bit of a swell this afternoon. We’ve been adopted at dinner by a young couple with a couple of nice young children a little girl of 7 and her brother 9 years of age.
The ship is decorated beautifully with Christmas decorations everywhere and all the staff wearing santa hats. We’re doing pretty well at trivia – we’ve heard them all on the last cruise – but not well enough to win yet. A lot of the staff have recognised us and welcomed us back like old friends.
Tomorrow we sail into Lifou and have booked a tour called “Melanesian encounter”.
We are sitting in our cabin (nicely arranged with access to the window) having sundowners.
Cheers to our followers.

Tuesday 21st Dec. We arrived at Lifou this morning around 8 pm. After a leisurely breakfast we boarded the tender to go ashore for the tour we had booked. It has been a hot clear day. The tour took us across the island to a church built in the 1800’s. It is a protestant church as is most of the churches as they were the first missionaries here. The chiefs dwelling is close by and we were invited in to his round house. (Like a free sauna!!!!) It’s actually just where he ‘smokes’ his people. It’s made from big poles and palm thatch. Then on to a green coconut drink, straight from the tree. After that a traditional cooking demonstration after which we got to try a dish they had prepared earlier. It was chicken cooked with taro, sweet potato, po po (paw paw), green banana and coconut milk wrapped in banana leaves. It was then back on the air conditioned bus (open window) and back to the little beach we arrived at. They had their markets set up selling food and their wares. We tried a slice of quiche which contained their local spinach and a lemon meringue pie – both very nice.
I then went for a swim in the pristine waters while the Great Dane cooled off under a palm tree before catching the tender back to the ship for a rest. Now about to go off to trivia before dinner.

Wed 22nd Dec. Port of call today is Vila, Vanuatu. We have been here a few times before so not taking any tours. It’s hot and a few showers fall. Firstly we had a look around the stalls set up near the port. All much the same merchandise, most of what you would expect. The prices are also quite inflated. There are taxis lined up for a couple of hundred yards. Of course with the strength of the Australian dollar, they preferred that to their own vatus. It was possible to barter though. After freshening up we then did our bartering to take a taxi into town. It started at $15.00 au but we got it for 500 vatu which is about $4.00 – it is only a short drive but too hot to walk. All I wanted to buy was some white slacks but since women here don’t wear slacks I didn’t have any success. I had left my white ones home and wanted to wear them with the rest of the outfit I brought with me for Christmas eve. The high highlight of our visit was lunch. We had intended to have it at an old haunt but found out it has been closed for a couple of years. We were directed to another restaurant who served a good coconut crab dish and I have to admit it was just as good as we would have expected at the now closed Ma Barkers. It took us a good hour to eat our way through the dish. We then took a taxi (for the same price) back for a long afternoon nap before dinner.