Journalist Ruth Taber was on board Oosterdam and sent in blog posts during her cruise. Enjoy!
Friday – February 1, 2013 – onboard the Oosterdam – tendered off Mystery Island, Vanuatu.
Yesterday’s excursion to Ekasup Cultural Village (near Port Vila) was superb. 500 villagers here continuing a traditional lifestyle going back hundreds of years. Their tribal chief represents the law, weddings are arranged and wealth is signified by the number of pigs owned. Our guide (his name is Sifo – and if anyone had trouble spelling he suggested we remember him as C4) took us through village customs, cooking, hunting, fishing (women’s work!), medicine from local plants and leaves. And more! A ginger leaf pit served as a storage place for their dried bananas; grated with a shell, the banana juice was drained and the pulp dried – and stored up to a year or more in the ginger leaf pit.
Journalist Ruth Taber is on board Oosterdam and sending in blog posts during her cruise. Enjoy!
Monday morning – January 28, 2013 – on board the Oosterdam – more than half way on our voyage from Sydney to New Caledonia.
We’ve “enjoyed” a tropical storm that worked its way down Australia – spreading rain and wind into the South Pacific. Some unhappy campers using the ship’s complimentary seasick medications but we’re fine. Very high ocean swells have subsided; our captain’s soothing messages assuring us of fair weather ahead sounds good. Non-stop activities on board (if that’s your pleasure) fill the hours. We met some lovely bridge players yesterday and have scheduled a return game today. Big selection of movies for the cabin’s DVD player, covered pool (who cares about the weather) and an interesting lecture about the upcoming islands on our itinerary were more than enough for one day!
And the food? Superb – two outstanding dinners so far – and hats off to the pastry chefs. Last night’s swai (fish described as trout-like) was light and moist; the warm espresso-date pudding cake for dessert was a sure winner. We ate with a couple from Oregon and I was impressed with the attention given to her special dietary needs. On a gluten-free diet – she’s handed the next day’s menu after dinner and checks out her choices. Open dining is not a problem – the computer finds her table and her food arrives exactly as requested. Best of all – she said it’s been delicious – even the gluten-free bread baked for her.
We’ve been invited to a brunch today – hosted by the Captain and the Hotel Director – report to follow!
Tuesday – January 29, 2013 – onboard the Oosterdam – docked in Luganville, Vanuatu (pronounced Van-ah-wah-too).
Guest Sharon Johnson and her husband were on Volendam for the trans-Pacific voyage to Sydney and the circumnavigation of Australia for 55 days. Enjoy this post and photos from their call at Port Vila, Vanuatu.
We sailed into Port Vila very early in the morning. It was only an overnight sail from Fiji, but we lost a day due to the crossing of the International Dateline. We took a tour to “Ekasup Cultural Village” which has won several awards (Vanuatu’s “Best Tourist Attraction”) for their presentation of Melanesian customs. Melanesia means black islands. We drove out of Port Vila, crossed a river and rode along a very good paved road past houses before turning down a road to the Ekasup Village. We were greeted by our guide who lead us along a path to the village. Before we arrived at the village, warriors silently appeared out of the jungle to challenge us — we were in their territory. And until about the 1860′s it would have been cannibal territory. – Sharon and Al Johnson
If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that we had a bit of a diversion and a change in the order of our ports en route to our first port of call, Port Vila on the island of Efate which is one of Vanuatu’s 83 islands. Three days after sailing from Sydney, we disembarked on this special island.
We were greeted by the usual cacophony of eager taxi drivers, whose minivans and occasional sedans were lined up on the access road just above the port and on the road leading to the port, where the colours of the port market displayed their own cacophony. Without doubt you will find the aggressive taxi drivers to be intimidating and perhaps a bit difficult to understand and you may be a bit uncertain about their rundown vehicles, but hey, mate — go with the flow — this is part of leaving your cruise ship cocoon behind for a few hours and ‘going island,’ but do remember to stand your ground and negotiate (or wait til afternoon, when both the taxis and the market prices do get cheaper).
If I can compare our welcome with the last time we were here (about 18 months ago), our welcome yesterday was even more enthusiastic because earlier in the week, three cruise ships cancelled their port calls because of Cyclone Freda.
Volendam off-loaded donations in Port Vila, Vanuatu, during our last call there in January. Seven boxes of clothes donated by crew and books from the crew library went to a local school and a number of cambros used for storing food and drinks were donated to the local Red Cross with the hope that they may be able to use it in eventual times of need.