Back to the old beach
We have been fortunate enough to spend four nights in the tropical South Pacific on board the marvelous vessel, the Celebrity Solstice. More specifically, we visited New Caledonia and Vanuatu – Noumea, Loyalty Island, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines.
New Caledonia was discovered by Captain Cook on his voyage to find the new lands of the southern ocean. He named the archipelago in honour of Scotland – also known as Caledonia. New Caledonia is a French colony where the franc is local currency along with the French language – we brushed up on merci, Bon jour and sil vous plait. We admired bejeweled lobsters and sipped on fresh coconut juice.
By far, our favourite islands were Mystery Island – the Melanesians believe it to be haunted – it was used by the US as a landing field; and the Isle of Pines – crystal clear waters and unspoiled nature. We swam and even saw Nemo!
No wonder sailors and and artists came and never left. We immersed ourselves in the beauty that is
the South Pacific.
American cruise ships are renowned for their abundance and excess. I don’t mean this in a disparaging way, but merely as a generalised perception of the ingenuity of the American way, However, as we embarked on our first even cruise – all cliches aside, we really did not expect the luxury, the cleanliness and yes of course, the abundance which we encountered. We really felt like “fish out of water”, sorry – bad nautical pun.
Our main aim for this eight night escape was to see the ocean, relax, read and enjoy the tropical South Pacific. Embarking from Sydney, where we were lucky to spend time with Daughter Number Two and her husband, before we set sail, our departure lounge was the magnificence that is Sydney Harbour.
The view of the Harbour, the Bridge and Opera House never tires and never disappoints, it is truly one of the great harbours of the world. It was then, as the ship slowly manoeuvred away from the dock that it hit me.
You see both our families, just a generation before us, came to this great land by ship. My parents and grandparents as refugees from Europe in 1949 and Colin’s mother and grandparents from Malta just three years later. In fact this ship was registered in Valetta, a beautiful port, which I have been fortunate to visit.
With these thoughts, I couldn’t help feeling how difficult it must have been for them to leave their respective countries and experience a voyage of uncertainty. Indeed, their thirty days at sea would not have been as enticing or our indulgent as our short cruise. Despite this, I knew that my experience on this ship would have me reflecting on those remarkable journeys of our collective history.
No doubt this sea crossing will give us time to reflect and put into perspective, our blessings and opportunities.
Please check out my other blog “finding stanley vodak” which is written in conjunction with Sydney daughter and our hope to delve further into our past, on the other side of the ocean.
I guess I never expected to feel so overwhelmed and emotional visiting the Albany Whaling Station. It is the last remaining fully in tact whaling station and a sober reminder of our cruelty to these wonderful sea centuries. Over 14,000 whales were processed here until 1978. I was devastated.
Despite the mentality of the time that whale oil and baleen bone corsets were necessary, the sheer level of mechanical application which went into hunting the whale, harpooning it, dragging it to shore, dissecting it on the flensing decks, the blood, the bone, the barbarism was too much to bear today.
We all stood in silent contemplation of how this beautiful place could have witnessed such senseless degradation. Confronted, we were, indeed.