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Old June 22nd, 2008, 08:47 PM
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Default South Pacific Cruising

New Caledonia aboard Rhapsody of the Seas - what is a MUST-SEE or DO on this trip? I'm looking forward to suggestions.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 03:29 PM
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What ports?

I have travwelled the South Pacific often
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Old July 27th, 2008, 04:20 PM
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We are heading for New Caledonia (Noumea, Isle of Pines and Poum) and Port Vila, Vanuatu in mid December/08.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 04:39 PM
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If it's the 01 Dec cruise Poum has been removed and Luganville has replaced it.

Depending on your age group and activity choices I can offer you advice as I have been to all these ports a few times.

Each is very different.

Hubby & I are cruisig on Dec 01. I will give you my review for Luganville , Villa & Noumea from June last year .

I have to get ready for work ( 6.30 am here) so I will give you more info tomorrow . Enjoy the read. Any prices are in $AUD

Thursday 21 Luganville - HappyBirthday Me!!

I had thought of shouting myself to a couple of treatments in the Lotus Spa – The Aroma stone massage was on special for $145 for 50 minutes but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that when in Bali I paid for the same hot stone massage for 60 minutes, $15 to $25 depending on the spa. The hand & feet massage & treatment was also on special for $95 and again I paid $10 and had one every second day in Bali so I decided to pass and save my money – the casino might get it but I didn’t care I was willing to take the risk.

There was a laundry promotion today 20 items for $25. I had washed the day before so passed on this promotion.

I grinned at the expressions of all the new people arriving in Luganville. I am not sure what they were expecting but my guess was it was mainly disappointment. I think first time cruisers were expecting white sand, palm trees, hula dancers – more like that Fantasy Island type atmosphere. Instead they saw a few rusty buildings, shipping containers and a few local stalls.


We walked into town and. noticed that they were a little more organised with their stalls since our last visit in 2004 but again still so much repetition and poor quality goods. I would love to see some of them doing nail painting – if we all took over nail polish, remover and cotton pads, I am sure they could commence another small enterprise. I am thinking on my next trip to Bali that I will take some photos of the little flowers that the Balinese paint and perhaps the girls on some of these less visited islands could make a few extra dollars.

We stoped at a local building/temp pub on the waters edge and had a local beer. We were also hoping to have a bit of a chat with some locals but they were rather shy and stayed in the background. Hubby went back for the second beer and offered to buy the four locals a drink and he asked them to join us. This did the trick and we engaged in some chit chat for over an hour with them. This is the best way to find out things about customs and such. They were also very proud to point us to their “swa”- sewer toilet. It was clean and had the usual ¼ of a roll of toot paper

There wasn’t too much to do – we had been to Million Dollar Point and the Blue Hole so we stopped a local driving a taxi and asked him to take us for a bit of a drive out of town for $40. We went to a couple of villages and had green lizards waved in front of us – we went to the coconut shredding plant- we also went to a little church that was very bare with just a few plastic flowers in it. I think our driver would have kept driving for hours longer but we politely explained that we were tired and would like to go back to town. We stopped back at the local temp pub and had a final farewell beer with the locals. We hailed a taxi and again my Bali skills took over as I stuck my head in the cab and asked “How much back to the ship” – the reply “$1”- so we jumped in. I couldn’t just hand over a dollar so I gave $2. most fellow passengers said they were charged $5 to $10. This bloke must not have been legal as he could only drop us at the boom gate.

Back on board we grabbed a couple of salad rolls for lunch. It was a bit humid in town and did suppress the appetite a little. Cocktail of the day was an Illusion (vodka, midori,cointreau & pineapple juice) and it was followed by the Mocktail of the day – Sunken Treasure ( coconut cream, pineapple juice & maraschino cherries)
Sometimes I found the mocktails more enjoyable. I think all the mocktails were $4.50
As I am a dreadful photographer, hubby purchased an underwater camera for $29.95 for me to use. Doesn’t trust me with the good gear.


After an enjoyable dinner I donated a few of my winning dollars back to the casino.
It was a quite end to my birthday as I had asked my hubby to keep it very low key.
I was missing my very extended family on this day as I am so use to hearing from all 7 of them & their partners & kids. I was delighted to receive a note under the cabin door from the Pursers desk saying that they received a ship to shore call – message read “Happy Birthday- miss you”.

Saturday 23 Vila

The red marching band was there on the wharf as usual to greet the ship. They are a wonderful welcoming site and very entertaining. It’s a shame so many passengers miss their performance and it’s a shame it only goes for about 30 minutes. It was a lot harder to see them on the wharf this time and that was because of the Suns Lido deck rails being further back.

I gathered the donations and found Chrissy sitting just alongside the barrier opposite the girls handing out plane & helicopter pamphlets. We had a chat for a few minutes and I congratulated her on such good work. I took a photo of her holding a couple of baby outfits that a workmate had sent over. I only took a few quick glances at the stalls along the wharf. I was not intending to purchase any souvenirs or sarongs as I buy most of my beads and clothes in Bali. What I did notice was the large amount of Bali produce for sale on the wharf. I decided for curiosity sake I would check it out on the way back when my hubby had boarded the ship. I didn’t want to press my luck – he is very considerate in Vila and just wanders along the street carrying my many bags.

W e caught a $2 per person bus into town with a dozen or so other passengers. We asked to be dropped at the bottom end of town so everyone else on the bus thought that was a good idea. When we pulled up outside the Fung Kuei shop the driver announced this was the cheapest grog shop in town. Made me feel better as that was half the reason I told my fellow bus passengers why I wanted to go there – the other reason was that there are few people up that end of town and you can get a bit of shopping done before most of the ship catches up. I will do a list of my purchases later if anyone wants to read it. I wandered in and out of a few regular haunts and ventured into the covered markets to see Maree who hand paints bags & shirts. We stopped for a cup of tea at a local café on the water near all the banana boats but oh what fun we had trying to pay. I didn’t bother getting any Vatu as I usually use my credit card in Vila and for small or market purchases I use AU Dollars. I asked at the counter if they would take Australian Dollars as the menu was only in Vatu and I received a very positive yes. That’s where the simplicity ended and it took 10 minutes to decide how much to charge me. I finally paid $10 and received 650 Vatu change. So I calculated the cups of tea cost us a little over $2.30 for the 2. We were the only non locals in the place and received a few odd looks. Another shipmate stumbled into the café and he began the lengthy task of trying to purchase a can of drink in Aussie dollars. After watching him make no headway after 5 minutes I wandered to the counter and handed him 100 Vatu and said it would be a privilege to buy a shipmate a drink.

I purchased a local paper for $2 – then noticed it was a week old Sunday 17 June– but who cares – it would help keep the paperboy in work. There was an interesting story in it about Roimata , a warrior chief who died about 400 years ago . The story explained about his main advisors & chiefs who were chosen to die with him and did so in a trance-like state induced by drinking kava. They were not aware of being buried around him alive but their wives also died an agonising death as tons of earth and coral were piled into the grave over them. There was also a photo of the unearth graves with skeletons of eleven couples locked in agonised embraces. I was interested in the government jobs also advertised. I was curious to compare wages as I too am a public servant. A senior audit officer would receive an annual salary of Vt 1,764,00 which equates to around $21,000 AUD. I think I’ll stick to what Johnny Howard is paying me.

I couldn’t help notice the large amount of Bali/Java products in many of the shops.
We caught a taxi back to the ship – I was impressed as it was a shiny BMW- the dash was well polished and shiny and the front seats & covers were in excellent condition. But I was sitting in the back seat and it looked like his dog slept in it during the off hours. I grinned and thought of that very large dog in Keeping Up Appearances that slept in the old car and always confronted Mrs Bucket. I was glad I was wearing dark shorts – never wear white or light clothes when using local transport in Vila. I always ask how much before getting in any transport- I do not barter – I have really never seen anyone barter – you swap something if you barter – so I have never seen anyone offer a chook for a ride but perhaps the locals do barter – as for us tourists – we perhaps are tempted to bargain for a price. I don’t bargain - if I think its too expensive I politely decline and usually the negotiations end there.

Hubby did as predicted and carried all of my parcels on board. I roamed from stall to stall and couldn’t help noticing all the Bali merchandise especially the jewellery. I found some that I had purchased just this year and some from last year. One of my favourite pieces is a frangipani on a black cord. I paid $3 for it in 2006 and it was selling on the wharf for $12. I also purchased a few strings of beads the trip in March for $1.30 – they were selling the same beads on the stalls for $12. There were quite a few designer copy bags in the shops and also on the stalls. I paid $12 for some of these bags this year and they were asking $35 to $55 dollars for them. I couldn’t find anything to spend my few hundred Vatu change on so I dropped it in Chrissy’s bag on the way in. She stopped me and showed me a bottle of perfume that someone had given her. It had a card with it that congratulated & thanked her for being such a good volunteer. She was so pleased with the gift. We had a quick lunch the headed back to the wharf.
We took the Vanuata Seaplanes tour over Vila. A young Kiwi & his wife run the show. She hands out the sheets on the wharf. He told us P & O stopped air type tours when someone crashed in South America (I think that’s where it was).

We took the 20-minute flight for $125 per person. It was great putting places in perspective. I did the same in Noumea a few years ago so I had decided before the cruise that we would do the same in Villa. It’s only a small plane that seats 4 persons including the pilot. It’s located behind the ship and only a 10-minute walk

After the ride we went back to the ship and gathered our towels & costumes and walked back behind the boat to the little sandy beaches with all the shady trees.
I noticed a lot of old cans and bottles in the water and a bit along the foreshore. I wished I had one of my large garbage bags to do a quick pick-up.

Island night was again another opportunity to dress casual. I took our clothes on board for this occasion. We dressed comfortably- a sarong on the bottom – white top & lei and hubby fitted in with his genuine Hawaiian shirt advertising many beers from Hawaii . The cocktail of the day was an enjoyable Fruit Tingle (vodka, blue curacao, lemonade & grenadine). There was a lot of noise in the corridors during the early hours of the morning. The staff tell me that first night – island night and last night are the wildest noise & behaviour wise.

Monday 25 - Isle of Pines turned into an 11am arrival at Noumea. It was too dangerous to anchor off the Isle of Pines and the captain announced that this was a first in four years for him. Again many grumbled and I felt like shouting, “Get in the tender and we’ll see if you get injured”. Many of the first time cruises were a little bewildered by it all and were so impressed as we sailed past the high rise buildings and resorts before entering the harbour of Noumea. This was indeed a change from the four previous stops. The tour staff worked exceptionally hard to obtain tours at such short notice. And still people grumbled but the folks that had never been to Noumea seemed excited to be visiting this very upmarket destination. I didn’t check out the tours available as we had decided to venture up to the Latin Quarter, have a light lunch and check out a few shops. Prices for food in the Latin Quarter is much more reasonable than in the touristy area of the town centre I thought the Tjibaou centre would be closed and once ashore this proved correct. By the time we went ashore many of the businesses were closed for their customary 2 hour lunch break. I didn’t bring a calculator with me, as I didn’t think I would need it so I quickly made myself a conversion chart. The Pursers desk was exchanging at 72XPF to the dollar so I figured I would get at least 74 to 75 in town at the Post Office. I based my conversion at 75XPF to the dollar. I possibly could have given out hundreds of copies of my chart as everywhere we went people who saw me using it asked me to convert for them. One lady stopped and copied it out. We were disappointed to miss the morning markets, by the time we got there all trading was over only the fish smell still lingered. We took a local bus trip that cost us 200XPF each and after an hour or so ended up back at Pl de la Cocotiers - the central park.

Hope it gives you some idea - I will answer more when i find out what you are seeking

Di
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Old July 27th, 2008, 05:55 PM
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Thanks for that information. I was just wondering - I am set to cruise December 2nd aboard Rhapsody - you mention Dec. 1 - are you on a different ship?
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Old July 28th, 2008, 04:21 AM
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Sorry meant Nov 1
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