We’re back home and planning the next trip

Well, it looks like Sydney was our last stop. The last 7-10 days were filled with changes and questions. We went from changing a few ports to plans to change the cruise and head to Cape Town South Africa then up the west side of Africa to a race to get to Sydney before the port was completely shut down. Luckily we didn’t run out of food or alcohol!

Although we’re disappointed at having to end the trip, what we were able to do was absolutely incredible. So much so that we’ve prebooked the 2022 World Cruise that goes from the Arctic to the Antarctic Circles and then many of the areas we missed on this cruise plus a lot of new ones.

I’m now going to start working on a photo book and hope to have that ready to share in the near future.

We hope everyone is staying safe and look forward to talking with all of you soon.

Sailing under the harbor bridge
View of the bridge from our dock in White Bay
People doing the “bridge climb” waving to us as we go under the bridge

Well, it looks like a change of direction

As you may have noticed, or not, we haven’t posted anything for a week which was mainly because everything has been day to day. So I’ll catch up on the text version for now and add photos later. We had three great days in Fiji doing snorkeling, pearl farm tours and walking around towns. Then we headed to Vanuatu for several stops. We arrived at the main city today, Port Vila, to get clearance but in just a day our trips to Champagne Beach for a major beach party and then Pentacost Island for land diving, think bungee with vines and only dirt below you, and that was all cancelled today. In addition, many of our stops heading to Singapore, Thailand, India, Italy, etc. have been closed. So, the cruise line delivered some options a few hours ago. We can proceed to Australia and get off in Perth or we can take the new route to Cape Town, South Africa and up the west coast of Africa. We’re now waiting on the information on compensation from the cruise line for all these changes and should have that soon. Based on some of our fellow travelers, the Africa option is looking pretty good right now versus getting off in Perth and having a 24 hour airplane trip home with nothing assured. Oh, and one last thing, even if they hadn’t cancelled our other ports in Vanuatu, there is a major cyclone headed our way so we’re now headed at full speed trying to get ahead of the cyclone and will stop in Brisbane in two days. Other than that, everything is pretty much on schedule.

I’ll provide more updates over the next couple of days, but that is it for now.

Where will we wind up next?

Well, the Coronavirus is finally starting to be a major impact to us. Today is Wednesday, March 5th. On Monday we were headed to the Cook islands but were informed we would have to stop at a different island for screening. Silversea had even arranged to have excursions at the new island to minimize impact. However by noon Tuesday, the Cook Islands became closed to all cruise ships so that changed. The next stops were at several islands in Tonga and Tonga closed all their islands to cruise ships as well. Next on our list was Fiji with one stop but now it looks like we’ll stop at 3 islands there. The problem is it’s half way to Australia, so we went from island hopping with no more than 1 sea day between islands to 6 days at sea to get to Fiji. We cross the International Date Line on Saturday so we’ll lose a day and we are currently scheduled to dock there on Monday, January 9th. We also had our stop in New Caledonia cancelled and will arrive in Sydney a day early or we may try New Zealand. There are worse places to be stuck than on a Silversea ship but at some point, you really want to get off!

Bora Bora

Next day after Moorea was a stop at Bora Bora. Weather was perfect, a little warm but no rain. We went ashore and walked around a little doing some souvenir shopping and Jane found some black pearl ear rings that she now has. We then boarded a boat to take us out for our aquabike excursion. This is a unique little vehicle and one of only two sites in the world that has them. We had a fantastic time there and the divers who escorted us took GoPro videos and pictures. I’ll post some of the video clips when we get better internet if possible.

Island of Bora Bora. This was a major navy base during WW2. There really isn’t much here now and I imagine a lot less 75 years ago.
This is what the aquabike looks like. The hood comes down and they pump air in to it so you don’t wear a mask but the water comes up to your shoulders
The platform is now dropping down and the water is coming up. You sure hope it stops at some point.
Holding a sea cucumber that one of the divers handed me.
on our tour
The fish surrounding us
Sticking my arm outside and feeding the fish
Feeding fish, outside the bike view

Moorea

After Papeete, the next stop was Moorea a volcanic island surrounded by a coral reef. We were scheduled to go snorkeling with stingrays and sharks then have a beach picnic on a small island. As we were all getting ready to leave for the excursion, the rain started and they gave us the option of going or cancelling. As we were planning to be in the water, we went ahead and went which turned out to be a great plan. By the time the tender took us from the ship to the dive boat, the sky was starting to clear and it just got better as the day went on. It was about a 30 minute ride to the first dive site with the stingrays and sharks. Once there they threw a little food in the water to attract the sharks and we went in the water. The sharks were black tipped reef sharks and we were assured they almost certainly wouldn’t bite, at least that’s what I was hearing. If you’ve ever been around stingrays, they are like a bunch of cats and swarm you if you have food, so they were in abundance and very friendly. The sharks were also plentiful and spent their time circling around us and swimming between us. They’re still a little creepy when you’re looking at their beady eyes through your mask but they ended up being pretty harmless. There were plenty of other fish as well and it was a great time.

After the dive we went to a private motu or tiny little island. The dive company had a wonderful hot lunch buffet for us along with local musicians playing island music and it was a lot of fun. There was also a place to dive/swim at the motu along with the local stingrays who have names and are like pets. After that it was back to the ship and we departed for Bora Bora.

Moorea the morning we arrived. As you can see a little overcast and dreary but the weather improved as the day went on.
Stingray coming up for food
View from underwater
As you can see, they just hang out with you
These are some of the sharks we’re swimming with. They’re about 6-7 feet long.
Shark between Jane and me, those are her feet.
Beach party and our musicians.
Canoes going by the ship in the afternoon. As you can see the weather was much better.
Looking out of the harbor. The only way in and out is to follow those markers down the middle. You can see where the coral begins on both sides of the channel.
The sun is setting as we sail out of the harbor.

Papeete, Tahiti

The Coronavirus is really starting to impact our ports of call. We were supposed to stop at an atoll named Fakarava and then go to Papeete. The French Polynesian government mandated that all ships coming to French Polynesia have to stop at Papeete to be screened first before proceeding to any of the smaller islands. Unfortunately, to do that, we had to sail past Fakarava and there wasn’t time to go back. So we arrived in Papeete on a Saturday afternoon and stayed through Sunday. The problem is on Sunday pretty much nothing is open and it poured rain on Saturday and Sunday, so going out was a challenge. We were able to go to the local market on Sunday morning before they closed at 9:00am but then that was about it. I just realized I haven’t downloaded the few photos we have of Papeete so I’ll do that later.

Pitcairn Island- we made it!

The morning of February 26th was absolutely perfect. We began pulling in to Bounty Bay around 7:30 and the views were incredible. As this is an open bay with little protection, we are still subject to the swells of the sea but from the upper decks it didn’t look too bad. Jane and I were having coffee in the Panorama Lounge on deck 8 waiting for them to unload Zodiacs and give us clearance from the New Zealand government to go ashore. She was a little excited to go ashore as it had been about 8 days at sea plus a chance to land here. We gave up on coffee and went down to get ready to board the Zodiacs. We ended up being on the second one to go ashore and although the sea looked pretty calm from deck 8, it was a different view from the boarding area. The waves were only 3-4 feet but that still meant you had to time when you stepped on to the boats. The crew was on our ship and on the Zodiacs to help, but it was still a slow process. Once we were loaded up, it was off to the pier. I forgot to mention while we were waiting to board the Zodiac, we met Steve Christian a 6th generation descendant. Wonderful guy as all the people we met on the island. They are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet but keep in mind, except for a few small cruise ships that can go ashore like ours, it’s 45 people who live there, so not much outside entertainment.

Once we landed, they had a few vans that would take us up the hill to the village. It’s a almost a half mile up a very steep road to get there. Everything on the island has names such as Bitey-Bitey Point or the Hill of Difficulty which is the road we took up to the village. Once there the town square is a few buildings including the post office and they had tables setup there with some of their local crafts and of course t-shirts and hats. The anchor from HMS Bounty is on display there in the square and we have a picture of that along with a cannon from the Bounty. The actual ship was set a fire and sunk in Bounty Bay after they took everything of value from it. It’s now a dive site, for what’s left of it, in Bounty Bay. As I mentioned Steve Christian earlier, on the way back down the Hill of Difficulty, Steve was our driver.

We were supposed to land in Fakarava tomorrow in a protected bay with incredible marine life. The main industry there is pearl harvesting and they are most well known for their black pearls. I say supposed to land because yesterday morning we were informed that the government of French Polynesia has stopped all landing there until you clear in Papeete and then you can proceed. The problem is we won’t have time to land there, go to Fakarava and then get back to Papeete by Sunday, so we’ll have to miss it. There are still a lot of great islands ahead which are the ones known for things like South Pacific.

We’ve landed!
The eastern part of the island from our veranda
The middle part of the island. The landing point is towards the left side and the town is in the middle of the hill.
Closer look at the town
The traditional “you are here” map. There are no street names and all the little tags you see around the island are the names of the locations and some are very descriptive/colorful.
So many tropical flowers and plants, this is just a sample
The cemetery where John Adams was buried. Fletcher Christian is buried in the hills somewhere and is an island secret. However, you can’t go 3 feet without seeing a “Christian” descendant in this cemetery.
The trail heading down to their local gallery. The earlier flower picture was taken just past here on the left.
This is the town square and the lady you see is one of the local police officers. There is a male and female police officer supplied by New Zealand.
The local post office. Jane met the post master, Dennis Christian, and had a nice chat. Also, Ava, something is headed your way from this post office and stamped by Dennis. You should see it in April sometime as the next supply ship doesn’t get here until March.
The last cannon from the Bounty
And with that, good bye from Pitcairn. It’s hard to describe this much history around you.

Easter Island

After leaving Robinson Crusoe Island, it’s a 4 day sail to get to Easter Island. The challenge with Easter Island is there is no protected harbor. You anchor off the town of Ranga Roa and then tender in IF the waves aren’t too high. Unfortunately for us, that was the case. Silver Sea had even allowed a second day in case it was needed and it almost worked. There were 12 people from the ship who took a side trip to Machu Picchu from Valparaiso and they were to rejoin the ship at Easter Island which was also an issue. On the second day the weather was better so the expedition team launched a zodiac to get them back. The area you board the tender or zodiac is only 3 feet above the water and the waves were over 6 feet. So as the waves hit the ship, it flooded the boarding area with water which then went back out on the next roll of the ship. Even the expedition team said it was really rough but they got everyone back on board safely. The captain then announced we would pull up anchor and do a slow cruise around the island since most of the Moai are positioned along the shore and we were able to get some photos. Last night Jane arranged a wonderful birthday party for me and another of our friends from Australia who shares the same birthday. We had a reception for 20 people in the Observation Lounge which is above the bridge, followed by a great dinner with special menu offerings and dessert. Our room was also decorated with balloons, banners, champagne and a personal cake. One of our friends who was on the Machu Picchu trip purchased some things on Easter Island and gave me and Roland, the other birthday boy, Moai necklaces. So we did come something from the island.

Tomorrow we’ll try to land at Pitcairn Island which is where the mutineers from the Bounty landed. It’s also an unprotected harbor but the weather forecast is looking good right now. We hope so because we’re all anxious to get on land for a while. Since we left Robinson Crusoe, we been sailing/sitting on the ship for 8 days. If we can’t land tomorrow, it’s 2 more days to the next stop!!

I’ve been trying to upload some photos but considering were 3,000 miles from South America or Australia, we’re REALLY in the in the middle of nowhere.

Stay tuned and I’ll load pictures as soon as possible.

The first Moai we see in Ranga Roa from the ship
A little closer view. Notice the waves breaking
This is a view towards the back of the ship at Ranga Roa. The waves are very pretty but too big for us to land
The town of Ranga Roa
As we circled the island, this is the quarry where the Moai’s were carved. Our tour was to go there and get an up close look.
These are the 15 most famous Moai’s just north of the quarry. The third one from the right has connections to one of our expedition leaders, Alexandra. Her father was an archaeologist that helped start restoring the Moai’s back in the 60’s. Alexandra has lived on Easter Island the last 25 years and told the stories of the island first hand. We’re having dinner with her on Monday, March 2nd, so hope to have more stories.

Robinson Crusoe Island

The trip from Valparaiso to Robinson Crusoe was a little on the rough side. We had lost 12 hours fueling so to make up time, we held on to the speed which tends to make a rougher ride.

We were on the first Zodiac cruise of the day and then went on to the island to walk around. There are only about 700 people living here, so not much in the way of shopping or restaurants but they do have a lot of history and are very nice people.

It’s February 17th and we arrived at Robinson Crusoe Island, yes the same one the book is supposedly about, at 7:00 am this morning. We didn’t need to set an alarm because when we anchor out, it will wake you up without an alarm.

On our Zodiac cruise we started off just watching the rocks and landscape along the shorelines and then found a small colony of sea lions and stayed there for a while and then we continued our cruise and on the way back the water started “boiling” in front of us with 1,000’s of fish on the surface. This is normally from a predator forcing them up in to a bunch to make a nice breakfast. An interesting thing was there were also a number of flying fish in the group. They would shoot up out of the water and fly for up to 50 feet.

After the cruise, we tendered ashore and walked around the island. There are some caves here where the Spanish held Chilean prisoners a couple of hundred years ago. There are also a number of remnants of old forts and cannons dating hundreds of years.

Jane’s really hating this trip
Great way to start your morning
This was a volcanic island and there were several old lava tubes
You can really see here the lava was flowing out on these rocks.
We didn’t seem to bother them much
Better than a zoo !
This is what the feeding frenzy looked like from a distance
A closer look at the fish
A number of these came shooting out of the water this one went a long way
Our home for the next few months
You can see the caves in the middle of this picture
Inside one of the caves looking out and no, Jane was not with me.
The statue to Andrew Selkirk who is supposed to be the person the story of Robinson Crusoe was modeled after. He spent 4 1/2 years here alone before being rescued.

Okay, I’m finally caught up and hope to keep this a lot more current as we’re getting back to more populated areas, at least than Antarctica. We’ll be at sea for the next 4 days headed to one of my favorites, Easter Island. If anything of substance happens, I’ll be sure to update, but you can plan on more pictures and information after Easter Island !

General Update

All, if you caught on to my recurring theme of bad internet connections, it’s seems to be much better today.We are at Robinson Crusoe Island and getting back in to the tropics, so things have improved dramatically. I was able to do text updates at times but pictures were almost impossible. I’ve gone back and added pictures now starting with us getting to Antarctica so if you select “view all posts” from the home page, it should open all the posts and then you can scroll down to the pictures.

I’ve been informed by Jane, that this may not be apparent to all users so here are the updated instructions.

Go to home page, scroll down towards the bottom of the page and you should see a red button that says “view all posts” that should get you there.