VANUATU: Port Vila on the island of Vila
Favorite thing: Vila is the capital of the state of Vanuatu and this island was inhabited already 1200 BC, because some sceletons of that time were found in Vila in 2004.
On the total Vanuatu consists of 83 islands and only 67 of them are inhabited. The total population of Vanuatu is 243.000.
In my main picture you will see the flag of Vanuatu.
Fondest memory: The currency of Vanuatu is called Vatu (VUV)
In Nov. 2011 the exchange-rate was 1 EUR = 117,15 VUV, equivalent to 100 VUV = 0,85363 EUR.
US$ & AUS-Dollars were also accepted by most of the souvenirstands that we found next to our cruiseship
The climate was warm, but in a mild way, sunny with a tiny breeze of wind I did not swet at all while walking around. The heat was more of the dry heat and of course it made sense to wear a hat !.
Nice people, schoolchildren who say hello to you with a smile... and otherwise, no begging in the streets !Related to:
- Family Travel
travelling with young children
Favorite thing: travelling with a 2 year old: we travelled for 3 months in Australia camping with a 2 year old, then another time for 5 weeks in tasmania staying in cabins witha 10 month old and a 3 year old. we went where we wanted to go , kids enjoy playing in different playgrounds , beaches walks etc, so you don't have to do extra special things, experiencing differing styles of life is good for them. If driving stop regularly at a park for morning tea and lunch etc so they can get out and run around. Caravan parks are good if you stay in cabins as these usually have a good playground and room to run around. Take some lttle cars and a small ball and some books /puzzles for at night.Take a parka and beanie and mittens, have fun.
Forum answer-dream honeymoon options
Favorite thing: From your side of the world I think New Zealand and Australia would be a pretty ideal dream honeymoon. You will be able to see so many different things between the two countries. I would suggest 2 weeks in NZ (I like picking about 4 places to have 3 or so nights each at), a week in one of the big cities (Sydney or Melbourne) and then finish with a week at the beach (Sunshine Coast is nice, or Cairns/Northern Queensland or even around Perth on the West Coast.)
Back to NZ probably the most 'dreamy' places in my opinion to just relax and enjoy the scenery (or get active and do some tramping) were the Glaciers on the West Coast or Lake Tekapo. We loved the place we stayed at there.
Feel free to ask for more help if necessary.
¸THE THREE SISTERS
Favorite thing: The legend
Three sisters, the members of Katoomba tribe, had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe. Tribal law forbade them to marry, and the broders decided to use force to capture the three sisters, causing a tribal battle. As the lives of the three sisters were in danger, a witchdoctor from Katoomba tribe turned them into the stone. After the battle a witchdoctor inteded to reverse the spell to return the ladies to life again. Unfortunately, a witchdoctor was killed and the three sisters remain in their rock formation.
Favorite thing: We made a day trip from Sydney to Blue Mountains. It was guided tour and a bus driver was a guide as well. All the way he explained us about the places we were passing. He also told us a legend about three sisters - the three peaks you can see on the photo.
Favorite thing: The landscape around Blue Montains is realy breathtaking. In our one day trip to this place - it was a guided tour,. We stopped at the points from where the view was the best. Everybody wanted to took some photos, the place worth it for sure.
%DCBNew South Wales
Favorite thing: This photo was taken from the sea side. There is this settlement of the luxury houses, approachable from a sea side only. We took a short cruise along the gulf in Sydney.
I recomand such a tour to everyone who visit Sydney. It's so amazing to admire the sigst from "water-side".
Favorite thing: I thik, this photo was taken in Ballarat, but I'm not sure. You can see, how the small cities look like. My first impresson was, so many space. Therfore, the buildings aren't tall, at all except in the big cities of course.
Cruise Passenger Manual
Favorite thing: -
Some more tips for cruise passengers. If you have questions please send me an email, and I will add my answers and the information to this manual - as long as it is of general interest.
Things you should or might want to know – or not…
The Rush to the Top Decks:
Whenever getting close to a port of call, the passengers hurry to the bow of the ship to get the best views of the islands/ports/cities to be visited.
However, this is not the only place from where you get great photos. Sometimes the sun rises towards one side of the ship, so you get great shots from there. Or you want to photograph how the tenders are lowered to the water. In general, however, the bow often really is the best place to take arrival photos. It clearly was the best place before the arrival in Moorea, as dolphins accompanied the ship, and they were in front of the bow. It is also interesting – but just once – to photograph how the anchor is being lowered. If you only want to hear it apply for a shaky bow cabin ;-)))
But really, you also get good shots from the sides, especially if you bother to climb the stairs to the top level. Most times the ship turns (around) before anchoring in a lagoon or landing at a dock.
On such shore days you also have to be prepared to go to breakfast earlier, as the queues start building up early. Plus, you want to have finished breakfast one hour before the tender or disembarkation tickets are handed out – if you travel on the Pacific Sun and/or with this captain and his crew… ;-)
Just test it on the first occasion to get an idea how it is organised, and if and how it works.
The Photographers' Hush-hush Photo Rush:
At every port of call the ship’s photographers race out of the ship, and then assault you with their cameras. Then they sell those photos for AU$ 30. If the photos were really good or unique, we would have bought one or two, but apart from the ones taken in Fiji with a near-naked dancer they could have been taken anywhere. Often there was no specific background at all, sometimes just half a coconut palm, or part of a ship, or just sky. The only thing that identified the photos as having been taken here or there was the frame which said where it was.
After some shore days we declined to be photographed all together, so they could save their energy and the paper. They do not like to be photographed in return either, so if they annoy you just photograph them back ;-)
Some of the photos taken on formal nights were nice. We even bought the last ones, as they were embedded in a print of the itinerary of the cruise, so this was a nice memory.
Take a Copy of your Passport with you.
We had to drop off our passports before landing at the first of four French Polynesian islands, and they could only be picked up again after we had visited the last one of those islands. (BTW No queue there… ;-)
So in case a car rental company requests your passport there, have a copy ready and explain. We had been told to bring a passport and driver’s licence to our rental place in Raiatea, but in the end they only wanted to see a driver’s licence and credit card. So no explanations nor a copy needed. But better be prepared.Related to:
Immigration back into New Zealand
Favorite thing: -
Getting off the ship at the end of the cruise was the easiest thing you could ever imagine. We just left, dropped our Cruise Cards in a box (although we had been told earlier that we could keep the cards for our scrap books, and staff said they did not know why they suddenly wanted to keep the cards – another act of fabulous organisation), walked past an immigration officer, let one of those cute MAF beagles sniff at our hand luggage, grabbed our suitcases, hopped on the airport bus, and were gone.
Immigration officers had boarded the ship in Suva, the last port of call. Every passenger got a note in his cabin when to show up in one of the restaurants which had been transformed into a huge NZ immigration office, and bring passport, immigration forms and all questionable things bought on the various islands. You also had to fill out a complete list with all purchases that were made of plant material, or were a kind of food (a lot is allowed into NZ despite the strict rules), and they wanted to know about visits to farms and forests, and see hiking boots, sneakers, and snorkel gear.
The queues were enormous, and it took about one hour to get through this procedure.
They confiscated most of the fans made of woven flax, as it obviously was still green and could host insects or mites, and other nasties they do not want to eat their way through NZ nature. But all those woven baskets, trays and bowls were allowed, as most wood carvings, tea, coffee, cheap shells, etc. Just do NEVER forget to list them in your customs declaration, as in first place all kind of food, plant material, and animal products (which includes shells) are forbidden items, and it can easily cost you NZ$ 200 if you are forgetful. The MAF beagles will at the end of the last queue find everything you think you could smuggle into the country.Related to:
Favorite thing: -
On the first day of the cruise there was an emergency rehearsal. All passengers had to go to their respective muster stations with their life jacket and learn how to use them correctly.
For a start, nobody really knew when we would have to be at our muster station which was the Atlantis Lounge. So when we saw the first people walk up the stairs with the life jackets in their hands, we asked when the rehearsal would start, and were told a time different to the one we had got in writing.
When we arrived at the new time, it still was the wrong time. But well, at some point the show started ;-)
What we learnt is that obviously you have a lot of time until a ship sinks… When the alarm sounds, you should walk to your cabin in a quiet manner, grab your life jacket, and walk – again in a non-hectic way – to your muster station where you will get further instructions.Related to:
The Raiatea Crisis or: Disembarkation and Health
Favorite thing: -
The worst hours on board were not the two rough nights which made us fear of racing straight into hell. The worst time were the hours when we were not allowed to leave the ship in Raiatea because of the swine flu scare.
Although there were more than 200 people on board affected by the norovirus, the only reason for not letting us off the ship were the very few cases of people ill with flu – not even swine flu – symptoms.
There were negotiations in Papeete (Tahiti) – and it was clear: If they would not let us off here, the other three French Polynesian islands (Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea) would be off the itinerary, too. And they were the reason why we had booked this cruise at all.
We could see Bora Bora at the horizon, and this beautiful Gare Maritime at the foot of the ship, Raiatea’s sparkling harbour buildings and beautifully paved harbour promenade, the waiting tour operators, car rental companies’ agents, souvenir shop owners, this beautiful turquoise blue lagoon, the volcanic mountains… Everything so appealing and at arm’s reach – but somehow out of reach.
It was like being freed from prison when we were allowed off the ship after a four hours’ wait, at 1pm. Our holiday dream was kept alive – and we could still tour the island, as the captain had delayed the departure by two hours.
The only health check taken was to measure each passenger’s temperature by infrared cameras, and off we went.
The toughest measures were taken in Apia (Samoa). They had set up a health centre under a big marquee at the port, with nurses wearing masks, tables, chairs, and a kind of waiting room. Each passenger’s temperature was measured by thermometers in the ear. This took ages, and some people who had not queued early for disembarkation tickets waited longer than four hours. My husband and I – thanks such a lot, my dearest John, for queuing at every port of call – were the first two passengers to get off the ship, and so could enjoy a full day on the island of Upolu.
In Fiji they did not control us at all although the Ministery of Health issued a notice, published in the Fiji Times the next day, that they had checked all passengers getting off the Pacific Sun. They wrote that five passengers were “not allowed ashore on the orders of health officials”. Those officials were “part of the quanrtine team at Savusavu port”, and they requested that those people remained in their cabins.
Of course, they only knew about those five people because the ship’s officials – doctor and/or captain – had told them. And in another sentence they admitted this: “It is understood that the cruise liner sent a report to the Savusavu Hospital last week informing it of the situation on board.”
They wrote: “Health inspectors from The Savusavu Hospital awaited the arrival of the cruise liner to check passengers.” And: “Ministery of Health spokesman Iliesa Tora said a team was at the port in the morning to carry out necessary inspection on the 1600 passengers that disembarked.” I can assure you, we were not checked at all. They did not even check our temperatures by infrared cameras, as they had done in all other ports of call.Related to:
Health on Board
Favorite thing: -
It is irresponsible and unacceptable that sick people board a cruise ship, as there is nearly no chance of escaping them.
This is how the norovirus that made life on board so difficult got onto the ship.
The bad manners of many people made it spread so quickly and struck down more than 200 people.
Some people touch everything on buffets and put it back, so other people get in contact with it. And so it goes on.
The shaky nature of travelling on a ship forces people to hold on to handrails, and they touch buttons in elevators, in the casino, on coffee machines, serving spoons at buffets, etc. etc.
And some people do not understand anything. Even after the introduction of the strict health procedures, there were people who handed their cups and mugs to staff, and they took and touched it, only to touch other cups they handed to other passengers. They pressed the nozzles of the hand sanitizers when staff turned their backs for a second only, so the next people touched the same nozzles. They touched containers when pointing at what they wanted from the buffet.
You can get paranoid about all this, and watching people does not make it any better. On the opposite. In the gym, for example, there was a guy who first showed off his absolutely not perfect body wearing shorts only and then did not wipe any machine or handle with sanitizer wipes. Others still sneezed without putting a hand, arm, or handkerchief in front of their nose and mouth.
The most important thing is to keep a distance to people who do not seem to be healthy, to try not to touch your face outside the cabin, and wash your hands with warm water and soap as soon as you get back into the cabin, and outside just touch surfaces and buttons as rarely as possible, push doors open with your elbow or press buttons with the knuckles, etc.
When doing grocery shopping after the cruise I got aware how dangerous a supermarket is LOL Everybody touches everything and puts things back on the shelves. And thinking of the norovirus at the Bin Inn where you fill everything into plastic bags or containers is the pure horror! The food is open, the little shovels lie inside the food like cereals, nuts, grains, etc. You touch the lids, the shovels. Grrrrrrrrrr – horrible! Not to talk of public toilets in shopping malls, or using the bus…Related to:
Seasons in the Sun
Favorite thing: -
There were never enough deckchairs to lie in the sun – apart from one day between Vava’u and Rarotonga when we had rain, and in the pouring rain of Suva, as well on the last day in the cool air, getting closer to New Zealand ;-)
No, really, not even when the rain had stopped in the late afternoon did the people want to relax on the deckchairs, as it was not warm enough to roast and grill your skin. We could choose from about 200 deckchairs or more. (I did not bother to count…)
On piping hot days you could not get a deckchair in the shade, and I for my part needed a shower after an hour in the sun, and it was good that I sweated that much and had enough, because any minute longer, and I would have been sunburnt despite having applied sunscreen lotion.
The solution of the deckchair crisis was to pay AU$ 10 for a half or AU$ 15 for a full day at the Oasis Lounge. This did not only guarantee a deckchair but also permanent water supply as well as unlimited tea and coffee. (There were two one hour gaps in the supply of the latter between lunch and afternoon coffee, and dinner.
Those deckchairs were much nicer than the deck chairs in cost-free areas. They were padded, there were sunshades, so you did not get sunburnt, and there was a lot of space to other people. In fact, it was soooooooo quiet! Sometimes you heard only the gurgling of the spa pool – which I did not use due to the health crisis on board, although they took test samples from the water every hour…Related to:
Onboard Entertainment, Shops and Spa
Favorite thing: -
There is more on offer than you can ever do. It started with a welcome party that began long before the ship left port in Auckland. Live music, raffles, and making a conga-line for warming up the people. (We fled to a safe watching distance LOL) If you want to make the monkey, this is the right place for you. I was most impressed with a guy who took about one second to jump into the pool with all his clothes and shoes on after the showmaster promised a bottle of best champagne to the first person to jump into the pool…
The two evening shows with vocalists, dancers, comedians and cirque performers were always a big hit with the crowds.
We quite enjoyed the presentations of the destinations the day before going ashore, with the focus on history but also some glimpses into geology and local encounters.
There were people who went to the bingo every day, or to bridge courses, table tennis and chess tournaments, dance classes, fitness classes like the Bootcamp at Sea, arts and crafts workshops, quiz shows, speed sudoku, shuffleboard and quoits fun. There were films shown on the big screen and a huge selection of movies you could view via the TV in your cabin. One day, I remember, there was an ice-carving demonstration – quite an exotic idea on a cruise to the Tropics.
We went to the sports quiz in the last week but after we had won ten P&O bags (combined) my husband did not want us to carry on playing, so others had the chance to win one of those rather useless bags LOL
There were separate entertainment areas for children and teens well tucked away from the general amenities, so nobody had to endure permanent screaming or crying. Of course, it was helpful that the cruise took place outside the holiday season, so only a few parents dared to take their kids out of school, and very few people travelled with babies. But during the last week crying kids suddenly appeared everywhere. I wonder where they had hidden them before. (And you wonder why they have to bring crying babies into quiz shows and to bars at night.) Perhaps they had been quarantined?
In the evenings there was more music and dance, karaoke and disco. Really too much to list it all. But you get the idea that you would not have run out of ideas if you did not have your own plans of how to spend the time on board. I always took some time off to work on our photos, so this was all done when we arrived back home, so I did not have to spend several days just going over the pictures, doing levels, crop, select, name them. I also wrote a lot on my laptop. And we took time to chat with nice people we met.
You could also spend a lot of money on entertainment. For example, if you gambled in the Casino on a regular base, like our cabin neighbours Dick and Jane. You could get beauty treatments at the Lotus Spa for excessive amouts, about twice as much as you would pay in an average beauty parlour. You could even get your teeth whitened. You could buy jewellery, watches and perfumes in the duty free shop which BTW was not very big and did not have a great selection of goods, just the old boring stuff you get anywhere. There was a tiny souvenir shop with P&O memorabilia, and another mini shop where you got chocolate and creams – just no adaptor plugs… ;-)
There were art auctions where you could auction paintings valued from AU$ 1000 to 15,000 and more.Related to:
- Casino and Gambling
- Spa and Resort
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