Friday, April 26, 2013

Hawaii / Tahiti 30 Day Cruise - Day 17 Sea Day

Monday Day 17 – Sea Day

We slept late today and after a light breakfast, went to see Travel Guide Julia’s latest talk on our upcoming ports.  Today she talked about Tahiti, the second to last of our stops, time continues to fly by.  I have managed to catch the cold that seems to be circulating around the ship so I decided I would mostly stay in our room and rest up today.  My cold isn’t very bad, but I don’t want it to get any worse before we get to our upcoming stops.

We did go to lunch in the Lido before Val went to her team trivia while I just laid around and read.  We did go up to the Crow’s Nest for Happy Hour and stayed for about an hour reading and listening to music.  Tomorrow we will be at Raiatea Island and have booked a ship excursion and it leaves pretty early so instead of going to dinner, we opted for room service and an early bedtime tonight.  No matter what, I am not going to miss any of our island visits so hopefully my cold will continue to be mild and leave me at full strength.

Hawaii / Tahiti 30 Day Cruise - Day 16 Rarotonga

Sunday Day 16 – Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Val and I were up bright and early this morning to watch our arrival at Rarotonga.  It was a beautiful sunny morning except for the large cloud hanging over the island, there was even a rainbow hanging over one end.  We were soon anchored outside the harbor and the tenders were being unloaded as today would be another tender day as the harbor was much too small for a ship of our size.  The island looked wonderful and we couldn’t wait to get ashore.  Today we were going on Captain Tama’s Muri Lagoon trip arranged by Barb of our Cruise Critic roll call.

Arriving in Roratonga

Tendering gets underway.

Before I go on with our day, here is a little background on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.  It is the largest and most well-known of the thirteen Cook Islands.  A quote from the guide book says. “It is doubtful a more idyllic island paradise exists – all the alluring scenes described in the ‘Tales of the South Pacific’ can be found in this round Garden of Eden.  The town retains the nostalgic atmosphere of an old South Sea trading port and has been fairly unaffected – even with a rise in tourism during the past few decades.  There are no high-rise hotels, no beach buggies and no traffic jams.”  From our viewpoint from the balcony as the island came into view, it looked like this might be true.  The island has mountains in the interior which slope down to the beaches and lagoons.  The language is English and the currency is the New Zealand dollar.

After a quick breakfast, we met our Cruise Critic “roll call” group and were shortly on our way to the tender for the short trip ashore.  Once on the pier, the open-air buses from Captain Tama’s were waiting for us and we were soon on our way to Muri Lagoon.  It was about a half hour’s drive to Muri Lagoon where we checked-in and climbed aboard one of the two glass bottom boats that were waiting for us.  After a scenic cruise across the lagoon we reached a spot where we would be able to snorkel.  This would be our first try at snorkeling so we were pretty excited.  It turned out to be a wonderful experience, swimming in the warm, clear water of the  lagoon and seeing all the beautiful fish and coral was amazing.  The guides on the boat were great, giving out information on the lagoon, the local area and culture, as well as entertaining us by singing and playing the ukulele.

After snorkeling we climbed back on the boats and made our way back across the lagoon to a motu (small island) where lunch was set up for us.  It was an excellent lunch of fresh fruit, salads and barbecued fish.  After lunch we were free to wander around, swim and enjoy the beautiful setting.  The entertainment consisted of local music, a demonstration on the process of getting the milk and meat out of coconuts, and a few other things.  Val and I spent most of the time exploring the island, wading in the lagoon, and of course taking many, many pictures.  There were others in the lagoon snorkeling, kayaking, swimming and enjoying the beautiful day. There were also several local dogs really having a great time wading in the water and trying to catch fish. The weather was absolutely perfect with mild temperatures and humidity.  Being near the equator it was pretty warm in the sun, but it was very pleasant in the shade provide by the many trees and a stiff breeze also cooled things down.

Lunch is being prepared for us.
We're not sure what these slug like things were, but they were everywhere in the shallow water and we had to be careful not to step on them

All too soon it was time to catch our boat back to shore and make our way back to the ship.  Back on the dock we walked around and looked at the booths set up by locals selling their wares.  By that time it was getting late and we didn’t want to miss the last tender back to the ship.  Being Sunday, most of the restaurants and shops were closed as even the allure of tourist dollars didn’t make them break with tradition.
The Westerdam anchored in the harbor.

Back on the ship we washed the salt off ourselves and our gear and then rested until dinner.  As I say every day – after a good dinner and time in the casino, it was off to our room ending another great day.  I will say that Val had a good night in the casino, I was jealous.  Tomorrow is our last sea day before our string of ports.

We say goodbye to Rarotonga as the sun sets.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hawaii / Tahiti 30 Day Cruise - Day 15 Sea Day

Saturday Day 15 – Sea Day

We woke up this morning to gray skies and rain, but being in the tropics the temperature was still warm.  We skipped breakfast and made our way to Tour Guide Julia’s presentation on Moorea.  As with all the others she shown us during her presentations, Moorea looked wonderful, we are really looking forward to visiting all of these islands.  Her presentation was again followed by Dr. Ken Longenecker who this time was lecturing on “What’s Under the Ship”.  He talked about the layers of sea life that lived below us as we traveled along.  It’s amazing that there are some fish that live three or four miles under the surface in total darkness and near freezing water.  One of the more interesting things he talked about was what the sea life on the ocean floor at these depths eat.  It turns out that when the bigger fish such as whales die in the ocean they sink to the bottom and don’t decay due to the near freezing temperatures of the water.  A single whale can feed many fish for up to ten years.  Surprisingly enough, studies have shown that these dead whales (called “whale falls”) are spaced an average of three miles apart on the ocean floor so the fish don’t have to travel far to find food.

After the talk it was off to lunch and then Val went to the Team Trivia. Val’s trivia team is still going strong, living up to its name, which is “Smarty Pants”.  We didn’t do much this afternoon until four when we had another meet up with the Cruise Critic group for a cocktail party.  We touched base with Nancy who has set up several private tours we are on, and then after chatting with a few people, we left.  We had a few questions we wanted to ask Julia the Travel Guide about Moorea, so we headed down to her desk on Deck 1.   We spent the rest of the day in the cabin reading and watching the sea go by until dinner time and then it was our usual routine of dinner and the casino.  Tomorrow is Rarotanga, which we are of course looking forward to.  I’ll finish the day with a few more beautiful sunset pictures Val took.


Note:  Due to the Internet speed being so slow lately and the number of ports coming up, there may be delays in updating the blog.