Saturday, May 30, 2015
Landing on Isle of Pines
I just love arriving at a place that I have never been before. Our cruise on "Radiance of the Seas" took us to the Isle of Pines and I was looking forward to seeing it because it is Unka Ray and Aunty Libby's favourite Pacific island. The pines which the island is named after are tall, thin and dark. I will put up some photos of them soon (actually, you can see two of them in the background of the beach picture). We were up on the top deck early in the morning to see the ship arrive and to watch the passengers unload. We usually wait for the "mad rush" of people who feel that they have to be on the first few tenders to get off before we disembark. The water is too shallow for the ship to dock at the pier, so we all had to go ashore on the ship's tenders. These small lifeboats carry 100 passengers, and it is pretty cramped when they have a full load. You get onto them from a gangway on deck 2, just above the waterline. The door is a bit low for tall people, but my cute height-challenged Mum can forget about the sign. One of the first things that I do on a new island is to check out the beaches, usually from a spot that is out of the reach of crabs. The beach in this picture is the closest one to the pier. You can see the pier and one of the tenders in the background. Later in the day when the clouds cleared this beach was packed with swimmers, but I was off exploring the rest of the island.
Labels: beach, boats, crabs, cruising, Noumea
Monday, May 25, 2015
Ashore in Noumea
Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, is a city of contrasts. The language and signs are French, but most of the people you see around the streets are Kanak. The "old town" near the port is definitely in need of some urban renewal. The newer suburbs around the resorts are fine. This small bear suggests that you do not try to get a taxi in the old town. It took the Oldies over an hour to literally fight their way into one; the crowds are pushy and the taxi drivers are rude. Forget it unless you have local currency, they will not take Aussie or American dollars. However, there are shops and markets. Mum has been there before and knows the game. With 1 Aussie dollar being 85 South Pacific Francs she always feels like a millionaire when she does the money exchange. One of the fun ways to get around Noumea is on the Chou-chou road trains. They go around all the main tourist stops. We spent the morning (what was left of it after the taxi fiasco) at Anse Vata bay. This is a good swimming spot and has the necessary shops for souvenir browsing and trying real French crepes and coffee. You probably think that the last photo is of a lighthouse, but in fact it is the OPT telecom tower. It had me confused for a while as it would be a great location for a lighthouse. Actually it is on a great lookout spot for views over the port and Noumea.
Labels: boats, cruising, Noumea
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The most spectacular part of "Radiance of the Seas" is the Centrum. As its name suggests, this is a large open area at the centre of the ship. It reaches all the way up from deck 4 to deck 12. The glass elevator lobbies are on each deck of Centrum. Shops, bars, lounges and passenger service areas all are located around the Centrum, or in corridors nearby. It is most impressive at night, when it is lit up by changing coloured lighting. The top photos show one of the glass stairs where people pose for portraits, and a view of the many balconies that overlook Centrum. The balconies mean that even if you can't get up close through the crowds on deck 4 to see and hear the activities that take place on the floor of Centrum, you can usually see and hear from a balcony on a higher deck. The bottom photos are: looking down from deck 12, past the hanging artwork, and looking up from deck 4 to the Crown and Anchor lounge, which is like a flying saucer suspended in the top of Centrum. All of the ships I have been on have a special "centrepiece", but I think that Radiance's Centrum is the best so far.
Labels: boats, cruising, Noumea
Thursday, May 14, 2015
You sometimes have a surprise waiting when you get back to your cabin after dinner. Strange creatures may be waiting. Here are three examples from our cruise on "Radiance of the Seas"; a bunny, some sort of funny monkey, and a turtle. These critters are all made by the stateroom steward. He folds the towels and face-washers for the next day into sometimes odd shapes. I wish that I could do this and, the next cruise that I am on, I will go along to the talk and demonstration on towel art that is usually given at least once during a cruise. The problem so far is that the demos have always clashed with the astronomy talks that Dad gives. Next time he can give them without my help and I will learn the arcane art of towel origami.
Labels: boats, craft, cruising
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Some people don't like the days at sea very much. They prefer days in port when they can explore new places. I like both. Sea days are really good when the weather is bright and sunny. Lots of passengers head for the pool and some get really sunburnt. Us small critters don't have that problem; Mum won't let us get wet and our fur won't let us sunburn. So we usually find a spot out of the wind where we can watch the ocean slide past and try to spot whales and flying fish. On "Radiance of the Seas" our favourite spot was on a table on deck 12, far enough back from the edge to keep Mum happy. We didn't see any whales, but we did see flying fish and an albatross. And of course Mum and I got our "Kate and Leo" photo at the very front of the ship. There is always a wind blowing across the deck of ships at sea. Usually the ship is clipping along around 20 to 25 knots and that means a wind-blown Mum hanging on tight to the precious small bear. Please note that not even I am silly enough to disobey a sign like the one near us in the photo; I have no desire to be run over by a cruise ship at full speed.
Labels: boats, cruising
Friday, May 08, 2015
Everybody gets a little lost during their first days on a new cruise ship. Mum takes a while to sort out which is the pointy end of the ship and Dad is hopeless at remembering what deck things are on. Well, "Radiance of the Seas" has that covered. In the lift foyers on every deck right in the centre, is a podium holding a deck plan with everything labelled and a cutaway section of the ship showing which deck it is that you are on. It is also lined up so that you can see at a glance which way the pointy end is, and even has lift call buttons, just in case you have got out on the wrong deck. Here are Scruffy, Milkshake and I using the plan on deck 11. Behind the podium on deck 11 is a bust of one of my heroes, Admiral Lord Nelson. If I was in charge I would wire it up so that you could ask him for directions and he would answer. One person that you wouldn't ask for directions is Dad. Here's a photo of him trying to put on a rain poncho and he can't even find the arm and head holes without help. This was on Isle of Pines; it was sprinkling and very windy and Dad was eventually "rescued" by some ladies. Mum was too helpless with laughter to help him. I really did want a model of the ship, but most of the ones on sale were too big for a small bear. I did find a way round that, and here's a hint I offer to other small critters; most ships sell key rings with a small ship dingle-dangle on them. Get one of them, toss the key ring away and get your dad to cut and smooth the attachment and touch up the paint and you have a great small critter size model.
Labels: boats, cruising, heroes, models