Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are continuing to share their journey with us from aboard the 2016 Holland America World Cruise. Previously they shared the experience of navigating the Panama Canal, sailing the Pacific in to French Polynesia and today they take us to Cook Islands.
On this journey Steve and Wendy give you a peek into the things that can happen on a long cruise…and how to roll with the punches, realizing it’s just part of the journey.
Leaving French Polynesia behind, we headed to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. There is a strong Maori heritage here and everyone has New Zealand citizenship, even though it is a separate country.
Once again, the vegetation is lush, the temperature hot, the volcanoes high, and the water sports plentiful. It’s a great getaway spot for New Zealanders (affectionately nicknamed “kiwis”) and a frequent cruise ship destination, if you can get there. In the last 4 years, our ship has only been able to get in once, due to weather and unfavorable currents and winds. This year was quite a challenge. We waited about three hours in the morning, while the crew tried to safely secure the tender platforms.
The Captain finally moved the ship to an alternate approach about 5 miles down the coast. Although more protected, the approach channel is very narrow and can be hazardous. We waited our turn for a tender ride until 11:30AM and finally made it to shore. We took the local island bus counter clockwise around the island and spent some time walking on one of the peaceful beaches.
We headed back to the tender pier at 3:30PM to finds hundreds of our fellow passengers sitting or just milling around. The only tender in sight was the one perched precariously atop the reef that guards the harbor entrance. It had apparently been blown aground by the heavy winds and had been stuck there for several hours.
Rescue operations were underway:
- Another tender had tried to pull it off without success.
- A tugboat had arrived but couldn’t do it without lightening the full passenger load.
- We saw the Captain, Hotel Director, and Guest Relations Manager in their shorts and sneakers in the water. This was a dangerous walk because the currents could knock you down where you’d get cut by the rough coral reef. We saw some bloody people return.
- All tender operations had been suspended, so no one could get on or off the ship during the three hours this was going on.
About 20 passengers remained on the damaged tender, which was eventually pulled off the reef and towed back to the ship. Other than being hot and tired, those who stayed on were unhurt. The tender however, suffered greatly from its encounter with the reef and will be repaired over the next few weeks.
For our patience and understanding during the incident, free wine was poured during dinner the next night and champagne was served during the show.
We are now at sea again for 4 days. We have crossed the International Dateline, so we lost 24 hours. We had no Thursday, January 28th. We went directly from Wednesday January 27th to Friday January 29th. Other than having to set all our clocks and date sensitive devices, it does not change much in our day to day lives.
We have a Maori enrichment team on board giving all kinds of lessons and demonstrations. We attended the Haka Dance class where we chanted, stomped, and waved in the traditional way to both greet and intimidate. We’ll have lots more Maori exposure in our next three ports in New Zealand. We’re looking forward to our first return visit to this part of the world.
WAITANGI, NEW ZELAND
This is truly the land of the kiwis – New Zealanders call themselves Kiwis, they grow massive quantities of the kiwi fruit that is exported all over the world, and the fluffy little kiwi bird with the long beak is native to this beautiful country. The nickname Kiwi is for the bird, not the fruit. Our itinerary this trip includes two new ports, starting with Waitangi, an important place in the Maori culture. It’s the scene of the controversial Treaty of Waitangi, where Marori chiefs signed away their rights to the land to the British in 1840.
A easy walk away is the village of Paihia, which has become a resort destination and jumping off point to explore the scenic islands or indulge in any imaginable water sport. We decided to take the short ferry ride over to the island of Russell, a beautiful historic village just across the bay.
We walked extensively around the hilly island, through residential neighborhoods, across forest trails, down to rocky beaches, and up to scenic lookouts. This is our favorite kind of place and we would have loved to spend an extra day. The people here are delightfully friendly and helpful. Returning from the island, we had just enough time to enjoy some Hokey Pokey ice cream, suggested by our onboard location expert. It’s a vanilla base with caramel and some crunchy bits – very tasty.