Posted by: gardner310 | July 13, 2014

Yap? Maap? Can You Find Them on a Globe?


It’s not very big on the globe so you have to really search for Yap.  One of the first things I noticed is that the island next to Yap is named Maap.  Really?  Who names these places?

Yap, Micronesia is comprised of the main island atoll of Yap with Maap and Gagil connected by road and Rumung, commonly referred to as “The Forbidden Island”, is accessible by boat but still within the reef. Outside the reef, Yap extends towards Chuuk (FKA Truuk) and has many outer islands and atolls; some of which are accessible by plane.  We docked here but I had a life raft drill in the morning so I couldn’t rush off.  The biggest disappointment  for me was that I could not dive here since I couldn’t get off early.  It’s known for its manta rays and I heard the diving and even snorkeling was great.  Yap is also know for its stone money, traditionally traded for goods.

Cultural Center with the stone money in front

Cultural Center with the stone money in front

Always have a plan B.  Michael and I headed through town and up the hill looking for views and interesting spots to photograph.  Being a tropical island it is, of course, hot and humid and all

Stone walkway with a local

day it rained in short bursts.  Poked around down some back streets and found some views but no one to talk to, unlike New Guinea where the residents were walking, rather than driving.  We did find some interesting stone steps that I just had to climb and the stone path led us uphill through the jungle to a sparsely populated residential neighborhood.  

Next stop was the bar on the schooner at the Manta Bay Resort.  What a great spot at the bar

Watering Hole

Watering Hole

out of the sun for fish tacos and local beer appropriately named Manta.  The crew of any cruise ship is very adept in finding the good watering hole, especially if it has wifi so we found many friends there.  It’s well known that the crew usually spend more money ashore than the guests so we are usually extended a nice welcome.

We stopped by the open historical museum on the way bak to the ship and saw some local craftsmen building a boat and offering items made in Yap.  The museum provided a show of dancers prior to sail away and a good lot of the ship was at hand for the event.  We were told we were the largest ship ever to stop in Yap.  Hopefully we were good for the economy and both guests and residents enjoyed the day.


Posted by: gardner310 | July 7, 2014

Sailing, sailing…

On a world cruise there are lots of ports but on the flip side that means lots of sea days.  In our position that means working all day at the desk,like a “real” job. The days usually fly by with Some days flyby with a steady stream of guests stopping to ask questions or make a cruse booking but other days are dead boring.  This is when paperwork gets done as well as the marketing

We had a promotion going on with a special incentive for booking a Panama Canal cruise.  On the two sea days to Yap  I did a combination power point presentation on the history of the canal and a cooking demonstration on empanadas, a typical Panamanian (actually Latin American) dish. It was my first time doing a live cooking demo and I don’t see myself following in the footsteps of Julia Child but it was fun to do.  And it was on TV!  Other than running overtime, it went well.   We did sell a few extra Panama Canal cruises. 

One of the benefits of working on a ship is that you are sometimes pushed out of your comfort zone.  I’ve found that the more it happens the easier it becomes to try new things in other areas of your life.  After all, life is an adventure be it with empanadas or shark diving.

Since I don’t take many pictures on sea days, here’s one of the Canal.


Posted by: gardner310 | July 6, 2014

World Cruise, Madang, New Guinea

Near Madang

Near Madang

Michael and I  both visited different villages in Madang with our tours and were treated to traditional singing and dancing, called a singsing. Funny how I remembered that term from my anthropology classes in college xx number of years ago. Didn’t get to see the mudmen, unfortunately, since they live hundreds of miles up in the mountains.

The Band

The Band

Madang, as a city, was not as friendly as Alotau the previous day.  I think it’s the usual country/city attitudes that we find here in the US as well.

The Watcher

The Watcher

The villages we visited here are used regularly for the tourists so they were pretty open with us.  A couple I met were happy to answer questions and give me some history of the village.  The performers did their job but I didn’t get the sense they were thrilled about it.  Kids are kids, no matter where they live, curious and shy for the most part.  Do not chew beetle nut if you don’t like red teeth.  It’s a national pastime and not a healthy one but it does make them feel good.

The fact I was able to be in New Guinea at all still amazes me. I wish PNG all the best as progress arrives.





Posted by: gardner310 | July 2, 2014

World Cruise, Alotau, New Guinea


Copra Heading to Market

Copra Heading to Market

Papua New Guinea provided us with 2 ports this cruise, Alotau and Madang. I had great hopes of diving in Alotau since it is home to Milne Bay, one of the world’s top dive destinations. Hopes were dashed , however, when we found that there was no space with the dive operator. So plan B was to walk about 25 minutes into the town and take a look around.

New Guinea is a developing country with the world’s friendliest people. Almost everyone greeted us with a hello, good morning as we strolled along past the ferry stations, markets and parks. It is hot and very humid and you notice hundreds of people taking respite in the shade of any tree or building.


Market day


Like most developing countries, the people do whatever they can to survive. There are 700 languages spoken in New Guinea with English, spoken more in pigeon, being the common communication. Villages are self supporting with families growing what they need. Copra from the coconuts is a major export for the.

While we walked through one of the neighborhoods, I started chatting to a lady carrying an umbrella with a little one year old in her arms. She looked to be about mid forties but I know she was much younger. Life is hard here. On my way back to the ship in Alotau, I left Michael at the bus shuttle stop and kept walking. I picked up a couple of brothers, 12 and 9, named Willy and Sugi (spelling), cute kids that wanted to “talk English”. They left at their village about halfway to the ship when I was picked up by a kindergarten teacher, Mabel, who walked me all the way back to my ship. She was very interesting and caught me up on the disappearing tourists. Fewer ships call here and even land based tourists are not coming as frequently.

Posted by: gardner310 | June 27, 2014

World Cruise, Ile des Pins

_DSC0912 This is the stereotype of the South Pacific island.  The island is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. We dock right by the beach and the lagoon is just across the street. Under the shade trees the locals provide home cooked fish and braided palm hat and bag – all free. You need go nowhere else but if you want to see more, you can take a cab to a lagoon that is about an hour away even more secluded and more stunning. _DSC0850 Just for fun I took the speed boat over to a couple of smaller islands to look for sea turtles.   Good news, we found one!  The beach on the smaller island was as pristine as any I have seen since no one lives on the island.  30 minutes of just floating in the crystal clear turquoise water looking back at the beach is enough for anyone to de-stress. Without doubt this is a top pick with all the guests.


Posted by: gardner310 | June 15, 2014

World Cruise, Sydney Pylon Climb



Day 2 in Sydney had me going back to the bridge so I could climb the pylon and take my own photos. With your ticket to climb the bridge come a ticket to climb the pylon on the south side of the bridge. 200 stairs up and you are looking at mid-section of the bridge. It’s a good ways down to the street level and you can get some good shots of the steel works on the bridge. It’s fun to watch the little blue groups make their way up the right side of the bridge and down the left, knowing you were there the previous day.


We strolled through the “Rocks” which is a trendy area full of shops, restaurants, cafes, hotels and apartments. Just to the right is Circular Quay with all its ferries plying the harbor and of course, the famed Opera House. I took time to walk over to the opera house and take some photos and sit and do a bit of wifi. All in all Sydney provided a much needed city experience.

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Posted by: gardner310 | June 11, 2014

World Cruise, Sydney Bridge Climb!



It looked like rain and I was worried I would not be able to climb the Sydney Harbor bridge, something I’ve been looking forward to for 2 years. I booked my time for 1:55pm and fortunately the skies cleared for the climb. I can’t say I was nervous but I was concerned for my knees so I wrapped the worst one and headed to town.


Th Bridge Climb organization is nothing if not organized. After checking in while waiting for your time to climb you are in the retail store area where the souvenirs run from key chains to hand puppets to boomerangs and clothing items. When the time comes, you head into the dressing area where you strip down and put on a jumpsuit provided by Bridge Climb. Wrists and ankles are velcroed shut for safety. Headsets are provided so you can hear the guide no matter where you are in line (maximum of 10 per group). You are given a special belt with a tether line and lots of hooks for various accessories depending on the weather. Very cool- you get a free Bridge Climb hat to keep.

BridgeClimb Sydney Twilight Climb
After a practice climb up the straight ladder section, we head out through the specially built tunnel to start the climb. Most of the climb is gradual on steps that are short and closely spaced but there are 4 sets of ladders that straight up climbs. If you can managed them you are good to go. In total there are about 1439 steps so your knees can feel it by the time you are down, be warned. You are on the bridge for about 2 hours due to the photo stops and tethered the entire time so there is no danger. It is one solid construction so there is no swaying as some people think. You are not permitted to take your own camera so the guide does the photography which they sell you at the bottom. There were 4 of us from the ship so we bought one package for $99.00, got the flash drive with 23 shots and split the cost. That turned out to be a good deal.


The view is spectacular, out over the harbor, Circular Quay and the Opera House. The history of the construction of the bridge is quite interesting. I learned the fact that very few people were killed building the bridge, way less than any other bridge in the same era, just 16 died and some of those were at the quarry, not the ridge itself. One guy survived a fall by being a diver and realizing that if he could enter the water feet first or head first he could survive. He got himself into position and survived with just a few broken ribs. He was back at work 13 days later up on the girders with no safety equipment. The Sydney bridge was modeled on New York’s Hell’s Gate Bridge.


As Nike promotes, “Just Do It!” if you are in Sydney and you have half a day.


Posted by: gardner310 | June 10, 2014

Zennor Parrish, Cornwall


So… we are driving along and this beautiful church, Zennor Parish Church, pops up in front of us.  Of course, I want to stop and get a photo.  It turns out that it is the Zennor Parish church that also hosts a lovely outdoor cafe, the Tinners Arms and the Old Chapel, a backpackers’ hostel.


Zennor County is a huge draw for walkers providing a large network of foot paths.  There is one path called the Southwest Coast Path between St Just and St Ives.  There is an official  warning :

“Do not be led astray by paths made by cattle.  Look for the stiles and yellow arrows”.

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I have got to come back to Cornwall with a bigger backpack!_DSC0636 _DSC0638

Posted by: gardner310 | June 10, 2014

World Cruise, Pitcairn Island of “Bounty” Fame

Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn Island


I’ve watched 2 versions of Mutiny on the Bounty this past week-the one with Marlon Brandon and Alec Guiness and the one with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins.  Of course I had seen both of these in the past but really didn’t remember details.  Did you know that the one with Marlon Brando has Fletcher Christian die in the end?  I bet the Pitcairn islanders with the last name of Christian would be really surprised since many are descended from him.  Hollywood license, I know.


Island residents

Island residents


I met the 50or so descendants of Mr Christian today when they boarded our ship for the day from Pitcairn Island.  One of them gave a wonderful lecture on the history and current status of the island.  By the way, they are looking for people to come and settle there – younger people.  The population is aging and there are very few young people to carry on.  If you are looking for a retirement destination that is nice and quiet and you want to get away from it all, stop in for a visit.  Just plan it very well because you need to be sure to check the boat schedules or you may be there for 3 months waiting for the supply boat.

It was a fun experience to talk to them and pick up a few of their wares.





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Pitcairn shots

Pitcairn handicrafts


Posted by: gardner310 | June 1, 2014

World Cruise, I Made It to EASTER ISLAND!

I can't believe I'm on Easter Island!

I can’t believe I’m on Easter Island!


Today was what may be the highlight of this entire cruise, Easter Island.  The Chilean  island is famous for the moai statues we see in National Geographic magazine.   The island is much more mountainous than I expected and in fact there are 50 volcanoes on it.  The huge heads  abound across the islands along with the full size statues mounted on the ahus (altars).  The areas are considered sacred grounds and you may not walk on the areas or climb on the moais.  They are not gods but are built facing in toward the island as  protection.  Families on the island would get together and build one or more of the moais as a testament to their own standing in the community.  My moai is bigger than your moai, so to speak.


There is a sense of spirituality on the island and you can’t help but feel that the statues have something to do with it.  The population is only 6500 at this point  and although many are direct descendants of the original inhabitants, most are now mixed with Chileans and Europeans.

One of the local merchants

One of the local merchants

The residents are out in full force with their handicrafts at each and every stop.  I bought the keychains, a stuffed moai and 2 postcards.  I do regret not getting the T shirt.   I was able to visit 4 spots on the island where the most famous moais stand.  The first group you can see from the ship, since we were tendered in Hanga Bay.  The coast with its crashing waves makes for a dramatic backdrop for this group of 4 plus a single statue at Tahai.


Next we were able to go to one of the quarries, Rano Raraku, where the moais were carved.  It’s a bit of a moai graveyard now since many unfinished and broken ones are literally littered on the side of the volcano.  It is here where The Giant lay, over 21 meters in length, he lies on his back, unfinished, waiting to be pulled up from the rock and moved to a standing position.  There are still 397 statues in different states on tone slopes of the extinct volcano.


From here we headed to the largest group of 15 moais on a very long ahi (656 ft) or altar at Tongariki.  These are in all sizes and you can see the long fingers of the hands carved on their bodies.  Unfortunately, a storm blew in and we had a short deluge which cut the photo taking way short.

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The last stop was at Anakena Beach, an absolutely stunning pink sand beach set among the lava rocks with a group of moais that are purported to be the best detailed.  They have their red hats on and are clearly in the most beautiful park.  There were plenty of locals at the beach enjoying the sunny day.  Anakena Beach is the number 2 choice of landing areas when we can’t get into Hanga Piko and I can see why the people like it.

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This port is one that we generally have a 50/50 chance of being able to visit due to weather and sea conditions.  We must use the tenders to get everyone ashore because the little harbor is very narrow.  I consider that God was smiling on us this day and I will be forever grateful for this outstanding experience.


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