We arrived at Noumea with trepidation, we were thoroughly surprised by the welcome changes since our last visit over 30 years ago and count this as a really lovely highlight of our travels.
Day 14 New Caledonia Noumea 22 October
Up early to sit on the balcony and watch the islands go by, a majestic group of Islands with dense foliage to the shores, the odd pretty little beaches, no sign of housing. The ship soon left those islands behind, when we did go through an inlet entrance to Noumea, the city was clearly a big one and densely inhabited.
We went up to do our laps but soon gave up as there was too many people waiting for the ship to dock. Once the tug boat had done his job and the Captain announced the ship was secured, we went into Plantations for breakfast. The crowd had thinned when we came out so we did 5 laps before going back down get ready for going ashore. Soon we were wondering around the city, the traffic still mad but we could cross the road safely at the lights, it seemed different to our last visit.
Back at the pier side tourist mall, we went to see if the turtle was still there, it was just sold. Clive asked if he had another and the guy said he could get another within half an hour. We said we’d be back. We returned to the boat for lunch.
Our tour left a little late the 1.45 pm was about 1.50pm, still the little yellow road train with four carriages was mostly full. Lid a was our tour guide, a Dutch born former Sunshine Coast resident who compared prices in Aust to New Caledonia, she also gave a good run down of the history of the area, the penal colony men and women’s separate housing, the old colonial style buildings and the beaches and monuments. It was a well worthwhile tour with lovely French pastries and soft drink or ginger ale provided at the half way point lookout. Once the tour ended we got a photo of us with Lida and the driver.
Went back into the tourist mall and bought the turtle for the coffee table, using our last 1000 francs and the balance Aussie dollars, it was $23 Aussie dollars and the remaining francs. There will be some interesting time packing in the next few days, the shopping may just need to be hand luggage so we can declare it.
Then back in we went for a cuppa in Plantations, saw Fiona swimming and stopped for a chat, saw Wayne and Liz and the Mildura crowd, had a laugh about them holding up the bar. We watched as the ship pulled out on deck 14, met Mick and Kim who live near where the fires are, Mick is in transport and they are clearly worried, if the fires join and become a mega fire they could return to ashes.
Back on the pool deck we got a cuppa and took it out by the kids pool, listening to the DJ who screamed out that Clive was wearing a ‘fantastic shirt’, his England shirt, he reminded us of Dave in England. Then we settled on deck chairs as the games began, 2 teams challenging Gemma the cruise director and her two cohorts naturally Will the dancer and her boyfriend and another guy who was staff. The team NZ put up a great show throwing the water bombs, doing an impromptu gymnastics, and the audience agreed they were better. Then team Aussie three lads got up and were asked to do a Synchronised swimming act in the kids pool, they did pretty good, and truly, so did Gemma’s team. They all got out when a kid who was trying to stay in the pool did a whoopsie on the side of the pool. Now health and safety shut off the pool for cleaning.
We saw Mike and Fiona again and chatted for a bit before heading back inside. Went back to our cabin to change for dinner and the acrobats show in the Atrium at 6.15pm. The ship was already rocking and we can only marvel at the way this troupe of five athletes twist themselves into elegant poses, such beautiful performances. The title of the show was Transformations.
Dashing back to our cabin for a necessary pit stop, although the health scare is over we are still happier to toilet in our cabin.
Then we headed off to see the Staff show in the Marquee. Literally standing room only and we were right at the back on level eight by the entrance from the library, some of the staff had gathered there to see the show. It was really very good and great to see waiters, housekeepers and other staff dancing, singing and playing music. For us the security for the staff was a little extreme when he shouted ‘get out of there’, he felt they were stopping passengers getting in. Frankly no harm was done and we soon got used to leaning against the wall. We could still see because of the big screens.
Then time to call it a day after 10.30 pm and we were bushed. Now we are on our way back to Sydney (and normal life, next 2 days at sea.)
Day 15 at sea Wednesday 23rd October
Up about 7am and did 12 laps before heading to Plantations for breakfast, said a brief hello to April and Chris who reminded us of going to the 10am Disembarkation talk in the Marquee. We had a soak up the sun time having a cuppa then I went to put on my bathers while Clive held a deck chair. Mick and Kim were on the seats beside us, they think things at home will be OK. Fiona joined us on the other side and Michael not long after. I had a brief swim then got out to dry off so we could go to The Salt at 12 noon.
Arrived at Salt just before 12 and sat down by the window with the ocean as a view. Fiona and Mike arrived just after and we had a very pleasant meal. The extensive menu was one to work out, for $35 per head we had entree, main with our choice of sauce, side dish, and desert. The bread was included. The wine and rum and coke wasn’t. At the end we only paid $9 for the wine and rum and coke so it was a very posh meal in a beautiful setting at reasonable rate. To top it off we had great company.
Then we got changed into our bathers and went out to the deck chairs to sun ourselves. Then we had a swim, very refreshing. Out to get dry before going down to our cabin and finding the disembarkation details, we were worried about the time so went down to the reception desk to ask about it. We decided to have cuppa at Charlie’s too. Sitting nearby was Wayne and Liz, Fish and Liz’s mum. We had a nice chat with them waiting for tea to arrive, lovely. The football conversation dragged on and I managed to be a Foxtel advocate telling Liz about Foxtel Go. At 5 pm we went our separate ways. Us to have a relax before getting ready for dinner.
Plantations for a light meal, caught up with Sharon and Allan, chatted happily while having our cuppa, shared their last bit of a bottle of Rose. Then we all headed off to the tonight’s show, titled Circus, this was the acrobats and new dance troupe. This was a brilliant part of the show was a huge Elephant puppet then a dancing baby puppet. We thought this was a terrific sow.
We followed Gemma, the cruise director, out into the Atrium to see the Champagne Waterfall Party at 10.15pm, we were at the top and the crowd had already gathered so we did have trouble getting a view. Clive became quite angry because a female security person stood at the top of the stars blocking our view. I was able to see a bit through a gap between legs, that was until the security woman had a friend join her, then I couldn’t see at all. I did manage to see people pouring the champers into the glasses. Then Sharon said she would get a seat for us in the Marquee to see the comedian starting at 11pm. Alan had bought 2 rounds of drinks even though I tried to pay.
Mick Meredith was very funny and we laughed out loud a lot. Just before midnight so back to our cabin and bed after saying our farewells.