Published: April 12th 2010April 8th 2010
We are on board the Pacific Princess, for the 3rd segment of their “round the world” cruise. We departed Sydney at nite, and were treated to a wonderful view of the city skyline all lit up. Our first 3 days aboard were sea days enroute to Cairns. On the last day, the sea conditions were exactly right for the ship to steer a course thru the Whitsundy Islands. We had a local reef pilot on board, who also gave us passengers a commentary of the area as we went through. It was wonderful to see!
Luckily, we had done our diving on the Great Barrier Reef before we went to Cairns, because all of the diving trips from the ship were cancelled due to an appoaching cyclone. Instead, we took our own tour of the area, taking a train ride up the Karunda mountain range , to the town of Karunda. For our return trip, we took a gondola ride back down the mountain, It's an 8 kilometer journey- and we loved every scenic minute of it!
After we departed Cairns the ship headed out to sea, hoping the cyclone would take different direction. It did, but the leftover seas
were more than we bargained for and gave us a bit of a rough time. Our room is on the 4th floor, which is low, but at the bow of the ship. We are serenaded by the waves slapping at the hull all night long, which can be both soothing, and VERY loud! When the seas are big- the slaps are sharp and loud! In the middle of the night, we found ourselves having to “anchor” ourselves in bed so as not to roll around too much, and listening to the cracks of the waves on the hull! Pleasant dreams! That day, the outside decks of the ship were closed off to passengers, and many of the activities were cancelled due to the rocking ship. We spent most of the day watching movies, with me lying down in order to avoid being sea sick! The following night continued with the same conditions but luckily, the rough seas calmed down in the morning.
After two days at sea, we arrived in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. Rabaul was the capital city until it was destoyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. Ash was sent thousands of feet into
the air and covered everything in the town with 2 metres of ash. To this day, the town still shovels ash off the roads after rain falls and everything is grey and dirty. It is not a very big place, but the people are all very friendly and loved to see the visitors. We arranged to go on a snorkelling trip, as the reefs here are known to be beautiful. A young native who spoke wonderful english picked 11 of us up in his boston whaler, and took us out to the reef. ON the return trip, he stopped at the foot of the active volcano. We were able to get out of the boat, and walk on the black sand. He warned us that it would be hot, and it was! Incredibly hot! We had to run quickly across the beach to the cooler sand further up. It was enough to burn your feet- even while standing in the water! Ouch!
After one more day at sea, the ship arrived in Chuuk, Micronesia. Chuuk is the worlds best diving destination, as there are 60 shipwrecks from WWII. Inside the lagoon. The Pacific Princess is the only cruise ship
to visit there once each year.
The next stop was Guam, still in Micronesia, but is an incorporated territory of the United States. This is where the war in the Pacific occurred, with 180000 Japanese, and 8000 US soldiers killed in battle here. Guam was a major staging area for the Japanese, until the Americans took it over. When the Japanese surrendered to the US, one Japanese soldier-Sergeant -Yokoi- hid himself in a cave in order to avoid capture. He remained there until 1972, when he was finally discovered!
Guam is still a big US naval port, and as the ship was leaving the harbour, we were treated to sightings of the F18s flying overhead, and the helicopters practicing water rescues from the air.
Guam was also notable to us for the incredible colour and clarity of the sea. This was really noticed at a place called Lovers Leap, a high cliff from where two ill fated lovers chose to stay together forever by jumping to their deaths from the cliffs above.
Following Guam, we had two sea days, one of which boasted 35 knot winds and15 foot seas. Another rocky day, with the outside decks closed off.
This time, with our sea legs a little more established, we were able to find a comfy chair in the lounge to curl up in with a good book! Guam was also to be our last “hot” port of call for awhile!
In the two days at sea between Guam and Japan, the temperature dropped from 28 C. to 14C. What a shock to our thin blooded systems!
Our next port of call was Nagasaki, Japan. Famous of course, for the devastation that took place after the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city. What we didn't know, was that the bomb was originally intended for another location, but due to a heavy cloud cover, the pilot had to move to the second choice for the bomb drop. We visited the Atomic War Museum, which was very informative, well laid out. The major theme here was a plea to end nuclear war. We thought it was well done.
Nagasaki itself was immaculately clean, with charming friendly people. WE had no trouble getting around the city on the public transit- many people are willing to help you out, even if it is only with sign language.
Next stop- Pusan, Korea.-temperature now down to 8 C. Wow! Talk about a cool experience! Pun intended! This city is hugely populated-there were high rises upon high rises! It is the second largest city in Korea, and seemed very grubby in comparison to the pristine cleanliness of Nagasaki!
Our favourite thing was the fish market. You have never seen SO MUCH fish for sale- and so many kinds of fish! Things we had never seen before! We were told they sell it all each day, but it sure looks like there is more than ever could be used! Not sure how much they leave in the sea???
From here, we are off to Beijing, China for a two day trip. Hopefully, you will be receiving this blog from there, and we will tell you about our visit here on the next blog.
There are more photos below