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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Noumea, Mare, Port Vila Vanuatu

First day on shore tomorrow . . . .

29/04/16 Noumea

Thank God for the Chou Chou train and the wine and cheese tasting, at the Hyatt - as I am unsure what else you would do, if you did not go on the Segway tour through the Botanical gardens. . . . which is what Cameron did. And he thoroughly enjoyed the Segway process. He saw emu, flamingo, monkies, birds etc, 120 minutes. 

For brunch, I enjoyed the French cheeses and three glasses of French wines which were very enjoyable. (needed the slow scenic train ride back to sober up!)

 There are some really cool, sassy little French restaurants  in the Latin Quartier, which are vibrant and right on the water-front. . . though to me, most looked as if they have seen far better days.
You need to do a tour to see anything worth while.

In the brousse (bush), the local cuisine, consists of deer, shrimp, coconut, crab or wild hog and fruit salad. It reminded me of the local food in PNG.

The Bougna is the traditional kanak dish (Melanesian) being mainly of assorted tubers, fish, prawn (shellfish) and I chose the impressive lobsters which have been marinaded in coconut milk, simmered for hours in banana leaves, on the hot stones of the Kanak oven. 
For the more daring there are candlenut worms, a fat white worm tasting like hazelnuts, eaten raw or roasted! I
 did say for the more daring . . . and I chose not to be daring.

Central Noumea revolves around Place des Cocotiers, a large, shady square with landscaped gardens, a couple of blocks in from the waterfront.

The main leisure area where locals and tourists hang out lies south of the city centre at Baie des Citrons, and Anse Vata, with beaches, restaurants, and bars.
I do like the colonial ambiance, with the old wooden houses, ironwork decorations and flowering gardens of hibiscus and bougainvillea.. . .but it does look worn and tired. 
Returned to ship in late afternoon . . .Played trivia, watched a modern comedy, modern musical performed by crew about being connected on face-book. 
Had meal on deck while watching people doing acrobatics. 
Late evening walk around the deck. 

So far what I like and dislike about the cruise . . . .

Being able to travel when mobility is limited due to surgery.
Big room, with our own veranda, with rails . . . not closed in.
Not having to cook.
Not having to clean, make beds. Level of cleanliness throughout is high.
Plenty of quiet places to sit. Book swap.
Varied and good quality activities/shows throughout day and night.
Various places to eat, with great water views
Lounges out under the stars. Movies on deck.
Great cocktails.
Amicable crew.

When we first walked onto the ship it felt overused and some of the carpets felt old, but once the air-conditioning was turned on it felt better.
The occasional child making noise. (I think I have counted a total of 16 children )
In places the windows are dirty/corroded from the sea salt, partly obscuring the view . .
Long distances to walk between activities . . .( though I guess not everyone is limited as I am ). . .  also, there is no rush and the walk will help work off all the food.
Some people . . know it all's, who have been on a dozen cruises and have advice for you, whether you want it or not.
Expensive internet . . .
Attitude of some passengers who seems to believe the cruise is a mobile bar and drinking continuously is mandatory. 

30/04/16 Mare
Gorgeous, mainly untouched. No shops. Yah!!! Took the shuttle around to the other side from the port to a pristine beach with the clearest water I have seen, since leaving PNG. Drank a freshly shucked coconut and then ate the soft green flesh. Beautiful clean breeze. Cam and I both noticed a distinct lack of bird life . . . or should I say that throughout the entire day, not one bird was sighted. Weird!!! Couldn't find anyone who could understand our English . . . they all spoke French of their own language . . .we guessed the reefs are fished out and the birds no longer have enough to eat???
Had afternoon siesta, swapped our books in the Dome, listened to a 5 piece jazz band in the Atrium, had meal of grilled Atlantic Salmon in water view restaurant, and then watched The November man on deck, under the stars, sipping cocktails, until after midnight . . . and Cameron did not fall asleep.

1/05/16 7am, Cruised into Port Villa, Vanuatu this morning. I instantly fell in love. Slight mist between layers of land, which is a gorgeous emerald green, and so thick it looks like the Island is made up of lush moss. The sailing boats in the harbour look expensive, the architecture of the houses perched on waters edge are varied and interesting, creating a first impression of plenitude . . .we go ashore at 10am for the Island tour, and the glass bottom boat reef viewing, and then the sea food lunch. . . .30 minutes to relax.

Cameron and I both turned off our phones when we left home. Have not emailed or read a news paper, watched T.V, listened to the news - since leaving Brisbane . . .
We have avoided socializing with the other passengers, and have only joined in the activities which are entertaining, or fun but require little effort or interaction. . 
(Boo'd and clapped for Liar Liar between crew members and passengers. Made cocktails, watched stage shows, musicals, musicians using various instruments. . 
Avoided the Art show, Art auctions, Bingo and the team sports . . . . all in all, we have enjoyed a very relaxing time.)
Had a cruise around this lagoon.
Next is Isle of Pines and Mystery Island and then two days sailing . . . before we reach home. Feels like we have been away for months. Even Cameron is on his third book . . .
Download more pics later . . . . xxx