New Zealand – Sea Princess 2019

Due to the Cyclone that had caused issues on my previous cruise with P&O, it still continued to cause problems for my second cruise. I was due to embark Sea Princess on 24th February, but due to the port being closed, I didn’t embark until 27th. Embarkation was plagued with problems due to the computer system not working correctly. The ship was supposed to leave at midday, but we ended up leaving at around 4.30pm. This is the route we were due to take (when leaving on the 24th).

Because of the three day delay, Princess cruises changed the itinerary to leave out the South Island completely so we headed straight to Wellington for our first stop. Although we can’t control the weather, I can’t help thinking that it would have been nicer to have done the South Island and Wellington. I feel I missed out on a lot of the nice unspoilt part of New Zealand. Also, its a long way to go to do the cruise again (and as a solo, I have to pay double! Anyway, I found it a bit difficult to ‘enjoy’ this cruise as much as the other one and it also seemed that the rest of the passengers also felt the same.

Wellington

Wellington was our first port of call after 3 days at sea. The sea was kind to us and the sea days were pleasant. Sea Princesses entertainment team were top notch, but extra thanks has to go to ‘Bingo Matt’ who was a super entertainer and always had a smile (and a joke) with you.

We arrived in the port of Wellington at 8am and I had a tour booked which was to see some of the sights of Wellington and a visit to the Te Papa Museum and a cable car ride. As it was very early in the morning, nothing was open so we made the most of it and visited some of the older buildings.

We then headed off to the Te Papa museum and saw some exhibits. We weren’t allowed to photograph some (mainly from the mauri tribes). It was a bit of a flying visit and we had our own tour guide.

The model of the soldier is 8-9 feet tall and the photo doesn’t do it justice. I wish I’d had longer to have a really good look around (there are a couple more photos of this particular exhibit in the photos on my Facebook page).

On leaving the museum, we then headed to ride up in the cable car. Once at the top, we had a little bit of time to look around, take photos and look at the museum. It was all really interesting and the view spectacular.

We were then taken by minibus back down to the city. We had the opportunity to be dropped off in the town and then get the courtesy bus back to the ship. I did this and had a brief look around the shop before returning back to the ship. This was a tour organised by Princess cruises and was a small group one (so around 12 of us on a minibus). This was nicer as we weren’t waiting around for lots of people to get back/on/off the bus. It was an enjoyable visit to wellington, but if I went back, I think I would opt to look around on my own next time and enjoy what Wellington has to offer.

Tauranga

We left port around 6pm and headed to our next port – Tauranga. Again, I had booked a tour. I was going to Hobbiton!

It was a very hot day. I managed to walk some of it, but not all. Hobbiton was a very interesting place and it was a bit surreal to be there. I am not sure my photos do it justice. I think it was the most relaxing and most beautiful place I think I have ever been to. When you arrive at Hobbiton, you are not allowed to go around on your own – you are put into group tours.

When we arrived, we were treated to drinks and cakes (except me – they didn’t have much that I could eat!)

My group sitting in the shade enjoying their snack.

We all then headed off on the tour. As I said above, I didn’t make it all the way around so headed back as it looked quite a long hike – and I was right!

Once the group had got back, we headed into The Green Dragon Inn for a drink.

After a short break, we then headed back on the coach to the ship. I loved Hobbiton and will go back next time and try and take in the whole tour, but just being there was a lovely experience.

Napier

Napier is a popular tourist city, with a unique concentration of 1930s Art Deco architecture, built after much of the city was razed in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. It was a very interesting city.

Again, I opted for a tour and this one took me to a fruit farm, Te Mata Peak and a chocolate factory. The first stop was the fruit farm and we were shown the process that the apples undertake before being sent to supermarkets.

After having a small snack of apples and apple juice (there’s a surprise!) we headed back to the coach to our next stop which was the Silky Chocolate Factory. I bought chocolate (of course). There wasn’t really much to photograph and I took the photo below before realising that we weren’t allowed to take any.

Our next stop was majestic Te Mata Peak at the western boundary of Heretaunga Plains. This was around an hours drive, but it was worth it. As a word of advice; get your driver to stop at the bottom by the toilets as there is none at the top. Once we were up there, I needed to go and was desperate. One of the guys who was directing the vehicles told me I would have to wait, but said if I was really desperate, I could go to the ‘pee tree’, which I did!!

After heading back, I got off in Napier and had a look around the shops.

I then got the courtesy bus back to the ship, and there was some 1920’s vehicle and the owners were all dressed in costume, which was a lovely sight.

Auckland

When the ship arrived, I was feeling a little tired so took the morning to have a rest and recuperate (after all, the last three days were quite busy. When I was feeling a little better, I walked across the small port to the ferry terminal and got the ferry across to Devonport. It was only a 12 minute ferry ride. The cruise ship docks right near the city – and you walk off the ship and its a short walk away.

I had some lunch and a little walk around, took some photos and then took the ferry back to Auckland. That evening, I went to the casino in Auckland and then back to the ship ready for a late evening sail away.

On leaving Auckland, we had three sea days before reaching Brisbane but I was staying on the ship for another 2 days after that where I would disembark in Sydney for a 4 night stay and the start of my road trip. Please join me on my next blog which will be Sydney Part 2!

As always, I will post all my photos on my Facebook page, so please visit if you wish to see more photos. Thank you for reading my blog. If you would like to book a holiday, please don’t hesitate to contact me janinec@travel-pa.com or through my Facebook page.

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Brisbane – Australia Zoo

Due to the unexpected delay to the embarkation onto Sea Princess due to Cyclone Oma, I decided to visited Australia Zoo. I had meant to go when I came to Australia in 2017, but it was too hot and my friend Nicki had told me it was quite big to walk around and there was very little cover. Being a bit apprehensive about the amount of walking and the temperature, I decided not to go. On this trip, my solo friend, Sue, had decided to fly out to join me for the NZ cruise and the rest of the trip in Australia. With this in mind, Sue and I decided that if we were going to go to Australia Zoo, we were going to do it in style so we hired a chauffeur driven caddie which came with our very own tour guide. We decided that this would give us a good chance of seeing a lot of the zoo and we wouldn’t have to walk a lot!!

a map of the zoo

We arrived at 10am in time for our Caddie tour and we had 5 hours to explore the zoo. As we drove around, our first stop was with some lovely ladies who were holding some of the animals for visitors to have a photo taken with (they had a professional photographer on hand as well). I took a few snaps.

After taking some lovely selfies with the animals, we continued our tour and went past the tortoises where there was a talk about them. We stopped briefly for photos. They were massive. They are native to the Galapagos Islands.

We were given some kangaroo food and then went to the kangaroo enclosure to feed them. They were all just lazing around and looking cute.

Walking through the kangaroo enclosure, we then came to the Koala area. I much preferred seeing the Koalas in their natural habitat which you will see in later blogs.

We then headed off to Africa. Africa was Steve Irwin’s dream and his family have bought it to life. It really is a big ‘enclosure’ and has the animals together as they would be in Africa.

We then continued on to see the crocodile show. I have put a video of this on my facebook page. We were given VIP seats and also got to meet some of the other animals.

After seeing the show and having some lunch we headed out to the Animal Hospital. Australia’s largest and busiest wildlife hospital. While in there, I saw a kangaroo in a man made pouch who had just arrived. It’s mother had been killed and they managed to save the joey.

We were also shown the operating area and there was lots of Koala’s in there in who were injured or they had gonorrhea (which is quite common among the Koalas).

We then took a look around the rest of the zoo, which included birds, meerkats, lizards and the tigers.

Our next stop was at ‘Bindi’s Island which is where the Lemurs were. The Lemurs were roaming around and you are requested to remain at least two feet away from them. If they come to you, that is different, but you shouldn’t approach them. They looked like they had a lot of character and the keepers certainly knew them. The island was also home to the tortoises.

Before leaving, we visited the Steve Irwin museum. I have lots of photos and it was nice to see him so well remembered.

My Facebook post of the Crocodile show caused a bit of a controversy, as my Facebook friends accused the keepers were of tormenting the crocodiles for the performance as shown in the video. Although I don’t tend to agree with zoos, I found Australia Zoo very nice and pleasant and the animals looked well cared for and had plenty of space.

There is currently a big problem for the crocs in Queensland. There is new legislation that allows for the harvesting of crocodile eggs for commercial and scientific use. Australia Zoo has put up a petition here to try and stop it. Also, here is a link to a Facebook video by the Irwin family explaining it in more detail.

As always, I have a lot more photos, so will upload them all to my Facebook page. Thank you for reading, and don’t forget, that, if you are looking for a holiday, I am now an Independent Travel Consultant and can take your bookings. My Facebook Page is linked here. I look forward to hearing from you!

Life on Arcadia

I spent six and a half weeks on the Arcadia during my half world cruise – Southampton to Brisbane (disembarking in Sydney due to Cyclone Oma).

The days just go by. During the day, there is a schedule of activities going on around the ship in various bars, rooms and the theater. From Port lectures to guest speakers, there is so much to do!

I decided to go for a walk around the ship and photograph the spaces where the activities take place, along with what goes on where. I am still learning where everything is on the ship, so bear with me!

At the very top of the ship (Deck 11) towards the back (aft) there is a sports court where lots of activities take part like tennis, walking football and basketball. There is also a space to practice your swing for golf.

In the middle of the ship on deck 11 is the Sindhu and the East Bar. When I went there to take my photo there was a cribbage get together happening.
In the East Bar, there was people just relaxing having a drink.

I then proceeded to deck 10 which is the Sun Deck. Staying mid ship, there is the retreat is used for some classes.

In the retreat on the day of the photograph was dance lessons. It is quite a popular class.

If you then head towards the back of the ship, there is an area where deck quoits and shuffleboard are played.

If you head back towards the front of the ship, you pass the retractable roof for the Neptune Bar and pool area.

Heading back inside, you then come to the crows nest (which is right at the front (fwd) of the ship) and the viceroy room (a meeting room) which is usually used for get-togethers or classes. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the crows nest.

Heading down (at the front of the ship) to deck 9 is the Lido deck. The first place you come across is the Oasis spa and gym. In the spa, you can have lots of treatments (which you have to pay for). There is also the thermal and hydro pool which is an area that you pay extra for access to on a day or whole cruise basis. I’ve not been yet, so no photos of that, but I did manage to get some photos of the spa receptions, hair dressers and the gym (which is free).

There is a little know secret (probably more well known that I think!) that if you walk down the side of the gym, there is a door that leads to a small deck area that is right at the front of the ship and has no restriction on the views. Its a great place to go and take some photos of the sunset or when you are sailing in or out of a port. There is also a seat. I thought this would be a brilliant place to see the Panama Canal transit, but unfortunately P&O decided to make it an exclusive area and charge £75pp when transiting the canal.

After coming out of the spa, you head through a door that takes you to the Neptune pool and bar area. On hot sunny days the roof is open – it is a popular area and has always been busy when I have gone there. As well as the pool and bar, they also server lunch there (Neptune Grill).

After exiting the Neptune pool and bar (and heading towards the back of the ship, you come into the Belvedere restaurant. This is where you come for lunch when you embark and during the cruise you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks here. I’ve only eaten the odd lunch here (mainly salad) as there is very little to cater for my dietary needs.

Heading out of the back of The Belvedere, is the Aquarius pool and bar. This is where the sail away parties are held and late night stargazing. They also hold a party from 9.30pm til midnight where you can dance away under the stars. This area was also used for events such as ‘build a boat on a ship’ which is an activity where you use items only found on the ship to make you own boat which then has to be tested to see if it floats and can survive a big wave (the guy jumping into the pool!). They also held the crossing of the equator ceremony.

Decks 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4 are cabins and mid forward of deck 4,5 and 6 are laundrettes and there is also one on deck 4 forward (this is an additional one).

Staying at the front of the ship and heading down to deck 3, this is where you will find the top tier of the palladium theatre.

Then start heading towards the back, you come to the screening room which is where they show films. Space is limited so you have to get tickets from either the library or reception. They hold three or four screenings a day.

Continuing towards the back, there is some more meeting rooms where they hold classes. Bridge class was happening when I took my photos.

Next is the ‘essentials’ shop. Unless you class sweets and chocolates as essentials, there is not a very good stock of essentials.

There is then a little cafe where you can buy costa coffee and get free cake. I’m not sure if the free cake is restricted to certain times of the day or if it is just around 4pm for afternoon tea. On further investigation, it turned out that the drinks were complimentary to have with your costa coffee!! I still managed to get one though even though I didn’t buy a coffee or hot chocolate!!

The library is next door to the cafe. You can come here to access the internet (chargeable) on their computers, borrow a book, do a jigsaw or find a game, dvd or just sit quietly and read.

On leaving the library (continuing to the back of the ship), there is a shopping area with clothing, jewellery, bags, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen (to name a few). All the staff are lovely there. Always up for a chat!

After leaving the shops, you are then on the third floor of the atrium and head into the piano bar. Mostly a quiet place to come during the day where you can have a drink, read or play a board game.

On walking through the piano bar on the starboard side, you pass a small area where you can put in flower requests, then a gin tasting bar.

After the Gin tasting area, you enter the Photo Gallery. This is where all the photos taken by the ships photographers can be viewed and purchased.

The last place at the back on this ship is the top floor of the Meridian Restaurant. This is where the ‘freedom’ diners eat.

As this is the promenade deck, it would be wrong not to show you photos. I always found that there was a shady side to the ship (which was always the quieter side).

And, of course, a Sunny side (well, for the majority of our cruise!!).

Going down to Deck 2, (starting forward and heading towards the back). So, you have the second level of the theater. Coming out of the theater, leads you to the casino. They have tables where you can play roulette, blackjack and three card prime. They also sell the bingo tickets here.

Opposite the casino is the Rising Sun Pub. In here, they often held quizzes, football and rugby on the TV, karaoke, themed evening and lots more. It was a nice place to have a drink and watch the world go by!!

As you headed to the back of the ship after the casino and pub, you come to the Gallery. Here you can purchase prints and pictures that can be delivered to your home.

On leaving the Whitewall Gallery, you come into the Intermezzo Bar/Cafe which is also located in the middle floor of the Atrium. It is another area to just sit, play board games or read or meet up for a coffee. Opposite is the Ocean Grill restaurant which is a specialty restaurant. I had afternoon tea in there one afternoon with my friends Allan and John and they even managed to cater for my dietary needs.

Onwards then to The Spinnaker Bar. Another place to sit, relax or have a drink. Some of the quizzes are also held here. On this cruise in particular is the 9.45pm brain teaser quiz. There was also a pre dinner quiz at 5.45pm that was held here.

After the Spinnaker bar is the lower floor of the Meridian Restaurant. This is where the Club (or 6.30pm and 8.30pm) diners eat.

Deck 5 (mid ship) is where the main reception area is along with Future Cruise Sales and the excursions desk.

I really loved my time on Arcadia. The food was brilliant and I was well taken care of (Gluten/Lacose free vegetarian). I will post all of the photos I have from Arcadia on my Facebook page.

Sydney Part 1

After visiting Newcastle, we travelled slowly overnight to our scheduled stop in Sydney. We were due to be there in the early hours on the 20th February staying overnight until 11pm on 21st. The first day, we were due to be anchored in the harbour and would get to Sydney by tender. The tender would take us to the Man of War steps right by the Sydney Opera House. The Man of War steps is also right near the Botanical Gardens, so a good opportunity to take a stroll though them too, if its what you like doing.

I was going to take the train to Katoomba, but the weather was very low cloud and intermittent showers, so I opted to do a hop on hop off bus. I decided I would get off and change to the Bondi Beach tour.

The photos below are of the ‘living’ building which I loved when I came to Sydney in 2017.

I got off at the stop for the Australian National Maritime Museum. This was included as part of my city ticket and also included entrance on to the HMAS Vampire (ship) and HMAS Onslow (submarine). I found the submarine to be very small considering the amount of crew it would have to hold and the beds were tiny!

After completing (there is still a small section of the tour I haven’t done so will find a time to do the whole tour) as much as I could and getting back to Circular Quay, I decided to go back to the ship, have dinner. After Dinner, I got the tender back to shore, and by then it was dark.

As I was waiting the Arcadia was scheduled to dock at the Overseas Passenger Terminal which is located in Circular Quay.

I had planned to do some more touring on the second day (21st Feb), but due to Cyclone Oma, Brisbane Port had been shut, so I spent the morning trying to sort our my onward journey. In the end, I got off the ship and went on a small cruise around the harbour. The weather was, again, raining and very grey.

So overnight in the early hours of the 22nd February, a letter was slipped under the door from reception informing us (all the people who were due to get off in Brisbane) that due to Cyclone Oma, we would not be getting to Brisbane until the 26th. As my second cruise was delayed, I thought that it would be handy to stay on the ship until Brisbane. Unfortunately, it was not possible to stay on the ship till Brisbane as it transpired that it was very possible that they wouldn’t be stopping there at all. Because of this a flight was booked and P&O had booked us all into various hotels. Of course, this delay also meant that I had three days in Brisbane. What I did in Brisbane will be shared on the next blog!

10 reasons to do a World Cruise with P &O Cruises

I wanted to do a different kind of top 10 and rather than being my own opinions, I thought I would ask my P&O World Cruise Facebook group why they chose to do the World Cruise with P&O. After all, its important to listen to our customers, and if they like a certain cruise line, we should share the reasons why.

1 – Great for Solos! P&O are very good for solo cruisers. They have adult only ships, solo cabins and often have meet ups for solo passengers.

My reason for choosing P&O was the itinerary and the fact the cruise went it Brisbane. I’ve also cruised with P&O before and loved the experience. Janine Chrispin, Bristol, UK

I am a solo cruiser and did my first World Cruise 2 years ago with P&O Arcadia. I had such a wonderful time I am hoping I will have the same experience 2nd time around. Jennifer Mitchell, Milton Keynes, UK

2 – Itineraries. P&O offer a range of itineraries and with the World Cruise it is split into sectors giving customers the option to do parts of the cruise to places they want to visit.

It was the places the trip was going and the time of year. We try to holiday in the winter rather than the summer. We had done Southampton to Australia with Princess through the Suez so to go the other way through Panama was great. The fact that it’s with P & O was not a major factor, as we like all cruise lines. We are doing Southampton to Hong Kong. Val Rose, Devon, UK.

We have chosen this P and O cruise because of the dates, the itinerary and because it sailed from the UK. We went on Arcadia last Christmas, we liked the ship but the cruise director was poor. Hoping for a better one for this trip, it would make all the difference. Linda Birchmore, Middle Wallop, Hampshire, UK

3 – Value for Money. P&O offer good value for money with their cruises and there is a lot included in the fare. 24/7 food, gym, swimming, entertainment and of course the opportunity to meet new people.

I happened to come across a sale online with P&O UK, the price was very good as was the onboard credit. It had always been a dream for me to do this cruise. Everything just seemed to fall into place at the right time. We usually cruise with Celebrity and have enjoyed all the cruises on Solstice and Millennium. Of course for me a big plus is no cooking, no cleaning, JOY! First time with P&O UK. Allan Jenkins, Cairns, Australia

4. A brand you can trust. P&O have a good reputation and have built a solid brand. They have a good following and a lot of people trust them.

Only cruised with P&O and at the moment I can find no fault with them so not worth risking another company. Marion Ridsdill Birmingham UK

We have always cruised with P & O and only know what we’ve been told about other cruise lines some good some bad. We’ve always enjoyed our previous cruises so decided on P & O for our first world cruise. Better the devil you know. Joan Grace, Coventry, UK.

5. Departures from Southampton. The choice of cruises from Southampton is possibly the best of any departure port in the world. Southampton is easy to reach by aeroplane, train and car.

We are from the Netherlands and did several (10) cruises with HAL. We wanted to do a worldcruise with HAL but realised we would visit many ports already visited. So we came across P&O. They visit some different ports and, also important they leave and arrive in “nearby” Southampton, language spoken is English and -not least important- the price was very right. Willem Gelens, Netherlands

We wanted to visit Australia again and some of the South Pacific Island nations without the long flights involved. Cruising is therefore the only option. Only a few cruise lines offer this possibility and, of them, we are most familiar with P&O. Ron Fairbairn, Hampshire, UK

6. Friendly staff and crew. Many people cruise with P&O because they find that the staff are friendly, familiar and happy to help and feel that they are visiting family when cruising with P&O.

I had sailed with P&O lots and my daughter worked on Arcadia for a year her first ship and our first P&O. During that year we became part of the family x Love the ship and the people. Dawn Budd, UK

We have always cruised with P & O and only know what we’ve been told about other cruise lines some good some bad. We’ve always enjoyed our previous cruises so decided on P & O for our first world cruise. Better the devil you know. Joan Grace, Coventry, UK.

7. World Cruise Sector Embarkation locations. With the world cruise, there are sectors, so if you are not doing the whole world cruise, you can visit locations that may not be available all year around.

We are sailing Southampton to SAN Francisco. My friend has travelled with P&O on nearly 40 cruises over many years and thinks they are the best company to book with. I am relatively new to cruising in comparison having done four previous trips with P&O plus one with Cunard and one with TUI. My friend wanted me to experience sailing the Panama Canal as well as visit SAN Francisco. Both new trips for me but ones she has enjoyed previously. Wendy Castling, Marske by the Sea near Redcar, UK

We are doing Sydney to Singapore. I have always wanted to visit Australia and the Far East so this way we get to see it in one holiday. The dates worked well for us too. Sandra Harvey, UK

Our reason was basically due to the dates fitting in. We wanted to do a cruise around NZ but didn’t want to fly home from Sydney as one way will be bad enough! Having done a few cruises on P&O we were quite happy to do the long trip home with them. Stephen Skitt, Woolwich, UK

All the words above are genuinely from member of the P&O World Cruise Arcadia 2019 Facebook group.

8. The onboard Language is English. If English is the only language, then you’re in luck with P&O as all announcements are made in English.

9. British themed ships. All P&O ships are English themed and even have an English pub and a traditional British Sail away party. And I mean with flag waving and everything. Its a bit like the last night of the proms!

10. It’s a cashless system. When you check in in the cruise terminal, they take your credit card details and a photo and issue you with a card. This card is important and it is used to open the door of your cabin, check in and off the ship in ports and to pay for drinks, spa treatment and anything that you haven’t pre paid. There is no need to carry any cash on board and you can check your account anytime either at reception or on the cabin TV if it is offered.

If you can think of any more reasons to travel with P&O, please comment below. I would love to hear why you think you should do a World Cruise with P&O.

Noumea, New Caledonia

As we were preparing to leave Lautoka, the captain made an announcement regarding a cyclone weather system (named Oma) was heading to Port Vila, so we were now not going there. I was disappointed in this as it was the port we were going to on my Birthday (February 15th) and I had planned and booked a helicopter ride. The new plan was that we would arrive in Noumea at around 3pm on the 15th and stay overnight and that the crew were trying to get us an additional port in Newcastle, New South Wales for the 19th February. Port Vila was the second port we were going to miss because of the cyclone, and as much as it was a disappointment, its good to see that P&O consider the safety of the passengers over trying to get to a port where a cyclone is forming. Lots of passengers were not happy, though and still continue to moan.

We had a lovely sail in to Noumea and arrived as predicted at about 3pm. We were in a container port, so the only way out was by courtesy bus.

I decided that I needed to get off and thought I would get the bus to the terminal port so that I can access some free WiFi. That was not happening! There was so many passengers with the same idea, that I had no chance of connecting to the internet. I then went across to the supermarket to buy some chocolates for the staff on the ship. I discovered the next time I had internet that I has spent a lot of money and also heard a lot of people feeling like they had been conned with the amount they were charged. I returned to the ship and had dinner in the restaurant and was surprised with a birthday cake from my husband and the waiters sang happy birthday to me.. It was a really nice birthday.

There was a shuttle bus running to Lemon Bay in the evening, so I decided to go along and take a look. Lots of people on the returning coach said that it was very expensive. I wonder if the shop owners up the prices when they know there is a cruise ship in port!

After a brief outing, I returned to the ship and went to bed in preparation for my morning tour.

When I woke up, I was greeted with rain and wind (I am guessing that this was down to Cyclone Oma – it was also very humid so my camera lens kept steaming up so some photos are a bit hazy). For my tour, I chose highlights of Noumea and the Aquarium. The highlight tour included driving around through the old town. The guide was very informative and said the old town was his favourite area of Noumea.

We then drove to the aquarium where we had an hour to look around. The animals looked a bit happier than in the one in San Francisco.

We then headed through town and back to the ship (you can see how windy it is from some of the trees in the photos).

I found Noumea OK. Probably not the best visit due to the weather, but I also found it very expensive and hard to convert from French francs to GBP. I don’t think it is a place that I would go out of my way to visit on its own but it would be nice to return for a day trip on another cruise one day. Next stop is now Newcastle, NSW on 19th february due to the itinerary change because of Oma!

Lautoka, Fiji

We arrived in Lautoka on 13th February. We were due into Pago Pago on 11th (this was a change to our original port of Apia which was changed at the end of December), but due to Cyclone Oma, it was going to be missed. We had been at sea for 7 days since leaving Hawaii on the 5th, having lost a day due to crossing the international dateline (we didn’t have the 11th in the end). We had about 48 hours of really bad seas (force 9/10) and large sea swells of around 6m. We finally docked in Lautoka and it was a lovely sunny day.

Originally, I was going to do an island escape tour to Tivua Island, but due to developing Bronchitis (again!!), I was now on an antibiotic that made your more sensitive to UV, so changed it to ‘Fijian Homestead and History’ tour which was more coach based. It was four hours long.

We left the port and headed out and stopped for a photo opportunity near the ‘sleeping giant’ mountain. Called so because, if you look closely, you can see the outline of a face and its looks like it is sleeping!

We passed several sugar cane fields, which all had railway tracks along the front to take the sugar cane to the refinery, which was near where we docked. It was really nice to see a side of Fiji that you don’t normally see.

After about 20 minutes, we arrived at South Sea Orchid Garden. We were shown a beautiful home which was steeped in history and had a lot of furniture that went back four generations and were either made or brought to the island from family members. We also met the guides grandparents.

We were then shown to a tea room where we were given tea, cake and sandwiches (nothing for me as they didn’t cater for me so I just had water – they offered me juice, but I was fine with the water) and we were then invited to take a look around the gardens at the beautiful lily pond and orchids. We spent about an hour here.

We then headed to Nadi and had an opportunity to shop for some souvenirs, but I found the shop rather crowded as several other coaches turned up at the same time.

carved sculpture outside shops

After Nadi, we then headed to a traditional Fiji Village called ‘Sabeto’.

It was quite strange in the village. The homes seem very basic, yet all the villagers had mobile phones. It was quite weird that mobile phones would be put above the basics in every day life!

In the village, we went to the village hall and had a cava welcome by the heads of the village. I will post a couple of videos on my facebook page of the performances from the villagers.

After the village we headed back to the ship.

I enjoyed seeing a different side to Fiji that you would normally see. The next stop was due to be Port Vila on 15th February which was also my Birthday. Due to Cyclone Oma, it was cancelled and we headed to Noumea instead and would arrive at 3pm 15/2/2019 for an overnight stay.