Friday, September 17, 2010

Pacific Dawn - Heading Home

Next stop, Brisbane! Where did the week go - it just FLEW by! Needless to say we are hooked! We can't believe that it took us so long to do a cruise (well maybe not Miss 10), the Avomine worked a treat so we know that's something we don't have to worry about. The food was fabulous and plentiful, the cabin was just perfect as were all of the staff (except for the dude at Vila!). Anthony our cabin steward so so sweet and friendly and our room was always so tidy after he'd been (sorry for the mess Anthony!).
Spot the flying fish!

Relaxing on the Lido Deck
(grrrr, sideways again!)

Kids club had a Formal which the lovely Captain attended - Captain David Box. He had his photo taken with all the kids.
Captain Box and Miss 10
On the final sea day they had a tour of the galley (kitchen) - impressive! Who knew that behind the revolving doors where escalators! Well worth doing this tour when they have it. There was a HUGE lineup for it and it did take awhile to get into the kitchen but definitely worth it!
Just a small section of the galley

One of the many, very clever, fruit carvings
We docked back in Brisbane at around 6am. You still have time to go and have breakfast before disembarking. The night before we had to put our suitcases outside our cabin, before heading off to dinner, and we then collected them was we had left the ship. You are given a debark time and a ticket, which you hand in when they scan your cruise card for the last time (boo), the night before so you know what time you'll be leaving. We did notice some people take their own luggage off but we found it much easier not having to worry about lugging a big suitcase off the ship. All you need is a small carry bag to put your pj's etc in and not to forget to leave out some clothes for the final day!

After we got off the Dawn (we all cried - well, we felt like it!) we grabbed out suitcases, went through customs (no dramas there at all) and then headed outside the terminal to find out shuttle bus back to our car. Everything was well signed and there were plenty of people on hand to direct you.

And before too long we were back home. We still had our sea legs - this lasted for a couple of days actually! Very strange feeling to be sitting at home and feel like you've just hit a big wave!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pacific Dawn - Day 5 - Port Vila

Another day and another new port! Super excited - we'd seen this port on the cruise cam so many times, showing the markets, and now we were here - in person!! The Dawn docks at Port Vila so it's an easy walk off walk on port - no tender needed.

First off though, we had breakfast - in our cabin! Room service, on a ship - this is our kinda holiday ;-) After breakfast, well pre-breakfast, we headed up to the buffet for....breakfast. It was going to be a BIG day so we needed energy (this is what we told ourselves anyway!).
Breakfast in our cabin!

Glorious Port Vila Habour

Great parking Captain!
We docked around 8am and it was already hot! From what the locals say, it is ALWAYS hot in Vila (and humid). In the above photo you can see a line of cars and vans - these are all of the taxi's waiting for us. It can get a bit overwhelming once you're in amongst it all as EVERYONE wants you to go in their taxi! Just be firm but nice and say where or what you wish to do, get a price (always haggle) and off you go. We were told not to pay until you were back just to ensure they picked you up again. If you are just going into Vila itself you don't need to worry about getting the same taxi as there are plenty of them zooming up and down the main road waiting to take you back to the ship. We paid about $5pp each way (into town and back).
The Dawn checking out the markets!

Vila markets - watch out for the taxi's!

In our taxi and on our way into Vila
It's only about a 10min drive into town, depending on how many pot holes and other cars there are! There doesn't appear to be any road rules or speed limits - a very eye opening trip :-) Another thing, all the drivers will say they have airconditioning, most of them only have Vila airconditioning - wind down your window!

We didn't have any major plans for our visit to Port Vila so just decided to go into town and wander around a bit. It was very hot and humid but there was a nice breeze coming off the water was it wasn't too bad.
In town looking across the harbour at the Dawn

The markets in town

Fruit & Veg markets in town
The markets in town sold the same things as the ones near the ship - somethings were cheaper, some dearer. We walked across the road from the markets and looked in the shops there. The prices are pretty good but you do have to remember that everything is a knockoff - they have just about every brand you can think off!! We bought a few Billabong shorts and some Gucci sunnies!
In the taxi waiting for the driver
Once we'd finished our shopping we grad a taxi (like I mentioned before, they are everywhere so it didn't take long) and headed back to the ship. This taxi was a little bit scarier than the first as it didn't have much of a floor - we did make it back in one piece though!

Back onto the ship and after dropping our bargain buys in our cabin off we head to the.........buffet!! Lunchtime people :-)

We asked at the Aquahut (this is where you can buy/hire your snorkeling gear) if there was anywhere close by we could snorkel. The girl there said behind the ship is a great place to snorkel - just walk up a little bit to the beach area and away you go. ok - fabbo! We finished our lunch and then headed back off the ship. This time instead of turning left (where the markets are) we went right but when we got to the gate the (not very friendly) P&O guy wanted to know what we were doing. We explained that the girl on the ship had recommended swimming over behind the ship. He wasn't very happy or helpful but grudgingly let us through. He told us that this is where people who have booked tours through P&O go not people like us! He also mentioned that where we were headed was private property so they may not let us swim there anyway. oh dear!

Snorkeling at Vila
No-one had a problem with us being there but the snorkeling wasn't very good. There were a lot of old tires but not too many fish! No wonder there weren't many people there! We haven't worked out why the girl on the ship would have suggested going there though! Nevermind, the water was lovely and refreshing and it wasn't far to walk back to the ship.
Our messy cabin!
Back on board we all had a quick shower and then headed up to the Lido ready for sailaway. We were leaving around 5pm so would have wonderful views sailing out. This is definitely a place we want to come back to - again and again!
Rainbow over Vila

Beautiful Port Vila Harbour

The sun setting on our wonderful day in Vila
It was pirate night tonight - the only one to dress for the occasion (out of our group - lots of other cruisers got into the spirit!) was Miss 10 as she'd made some pirate gear in her kids club.

The Bengal Bar
 After we'd sailed out of Port Vila and the sun went down we head down to the Bengal Bar for a glass of wine. There is often one of the bands or singers on this time of the evening so it's a great place to relax, chill out and talk about the day.
Only way to get us all in the photo - in the lift!
(again, sideways!)

After the Bengal bar and our bottle of wine was finished we head up to the buffet for dinner! We only went to the main restaurant once during our cruise but found it very rushed. I think we were in and out in about 45 minutes! We didn't have time to enjoy ourselves or even take any photos! We have a feeling because we didn't have a regular booking they just fitted us in and needed the table for the 'regulars' - there seemed to be plenty of vacant tables though!
Don't worry the buffets not closing yet!
This photo makes us all laugh! We can't work out why mum and I have such weird expressions on our faces. My sister says it's because we thought they were closing the buffet early!! cheeky.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pacific Dawn - Day 4 - Lifou

Another gorgeous day and another gorgeous island to visit! Lifou - stunning.

Lifou is a tender port which means you have to catch a lifeboat from The Dawn to their little wharf. This was well organised and was explained in the Pacific Daily what to do. You needed to collect a Tender ticket from Deck 5 in the Promenade Bar and then wait until you ticket number was called. I think the main problem they had was people would get their tender tickets and then head off to breakfast or back to the cabin. This did cause some delays as they held the tenders until they were full so if people weren't turning up or took forever it slowed things down - lucky for us we were at the right place at the right time and they told us to go through earlier than we expected! Woohoo! It's easy enough to get on and off the tender. There are plenty of staff on hand to help you. When you leave the ship they scan your cruise card and then when you return they scan it again - this enables them to know who's onboard and who's not!
Onboard the tender

Arriving at the wharf in Lifou

The Dawn and her tenders

Lifou's wharf and beautiful water

It was a very short trip in the tender, maybe 5 minutes, and the water was just so clear! Lots of little fish swimming around. You could swim on this side of the island, a bit away from the tenders, plus there was meant to be a lovely place to snorkel a short walk away. All the details we in the Pacific Daily.
There were some markets for a bit of retail therapy and there were some ladies doing hair braiding which was very popular! Miss 10 had her hair done - it look fab! After a bi of browsing we headed in the direction of the snorkeling. It wasn't too far just up hill and it was warm.
Lifou Markets


Snorkeling area at Lifou
We made it! It wasn't that bad really - a pleasant stroll passed some of the villagers huts and taking in the beautiful views. What's not to smile about!

The snorkeling was amazing if not a little tricky getting in and out - the steps/ladder down were a bit wobbly. The water at first was a tad cold but the further out we went the warmer it go. We hired our snorkel gear from onboard the ship. It was quick expensive and unfortunately Miss 10's goggles leaked! There was only the two of us that snorkel (the other two woosed out!) so we just shared the working goggles.

We all LOVED this little island and really, really hope we get to come back here again! We didn't walk up to the church but heard from others who did that the views were amazing - not hard to believe!

After we had finished our snorkeling (you could hire snorkeling gear on the island, cheaper than from the ship) we slowly walked back to the wharf and waited for a tender to arrive. The tenders don't stop during your visit so it wasn't a long wait. The queues can get long at lunch time though! Back towards The Dawn and to the buffet for lunch! It was Mexican today - yum! If you didn't like Mexican there was plenty of other things to try - like I said before, you will never starve on a cruise!
Waiting for the tender

Almost back to our lovely Dawn

Mexican Fiesta in the Buffet
(I don't know why some of my photo's are sideways!)

The main restaurant isn't open for lunch on Port days but to make up for this they have a BBQ set up out on the Lido Deck - this is open later so no one misses out on lunch!

Bass carved out of ice in about 15 minutes!

Some very cool fruit and veg carvings

Island night!
Tonight was Island night - perfect night to have it after being on such a glorious pacific island!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pacific Dawn - Day 3 - Noumea

Our very first destination on a cruise ship was Noumea, ooooolala! We arrived around 2pm and didn't know what to expect, needless to say - we were EXCITED!!

It was just glorious sailing in - what a lovely harbour Noumea has. We'd heard that you may see some dolphins but no such luck for us. We leave Noumea at around 11pm so made the most of the sail in, in the lovely sunshine. Up on the Lido deck the band Atomic were entertaining us all - it was just magic.

We were greeted by a welcoming committee of dancers on the dock where the Dawn parks herself. It's really handy too as it is right in town.
Noumean welcoming committee

Casino Supermarket - right opposite where the Dawn docks

You can prebook tours onboard the ship - there were quite a lot to choose from but we decided to wing it and book something when we arrived. We had heard it is cheaper doing it this way but you also may miss out on certain tours and you also need to be aware that the ship will not wait for you if your tour runs late - they will only wait if it is a P&O booked tour!

The tour we chose was an hour/hour and a half bus trip around the main sites of Noumea town. Busy. Very busy when a ship load of cruises are all doing the same thing! At one stage the was a major traffic jam at the top of their most popular lookout - no one was going anywhere! There were mini buses, touc touc trains, coaches and cabs all stuck. It certainly took some manouvering to get things moving again!
Traffic jam!

The beautiful Dawn towering over Noumea
We all thought the bus tour we did was worthwhile and long enough - the guide was lovely. She chatted about the area and people and answered any questions we may of had. Their main language is French and we did learn that a lot of them do not speak english or very little so it is helpful to make an effort to learn a few French words. Onboard the Dawn the day before they had a Learn to Speak French class - we didn't go but we did get the handout sheet they had.

After our bus tour (ours was in a smaller bus) we decided to wander around the town for a little bit and then do a bit of retail therapy! We didn't do much of this as Noumea is very expensive! There is a market upstairs at the cruise terminal plus there are also markets a bit further along the harbour.

Miss 10 at one of the stops on our bus tour
We decided we were all shopped and walked out so headed back to the Dawn - it was starting to get dark also so we didn't really want to be walking around a strange city in the dark, especially when it was just us girls.
A towel elephant greeted us on our return to our cabin
After a quick freshen up in our cabin we headed back upstairs and ordered ourselves a bottle of wine and sat on the Lido Deck thinking how lucky we were!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pacific Dawn - 2nd Sea Day

There was a lot of:

Beautiful weather


Every night there is entertainment all over the ship - from quizzes to bands and bingo to karaoke plus a main show in the Showlounge. This is on twice each evening to fit in with the 2 dinner sittings in the restaurant.