When we woke this morning (6.45am) we were already docked in Noumea, New Caledonia. It is a large Pacific island (1000km by 240km) and a French colony. We felt the ship dock but she did so very quietly and must have crept into port.
After showering we went for breakfast then returning to our cabin sorted out the paper work and kit for an adventure on shore.
We had booked a countryside local tour on the internet rather through the ship itself and we had to make our way to the Cruise Terminal to catch the bus at 10am. We were off the ship by 8am and after a short complimentary shuttle bus from the boat to the terminal we soon found the local ticket office and where to catch the bus.
We spent some time walking into the city (a large town really). I found some free wifi and skyped Charlotte for a while and then we browsed in some of the shops. It was difficult to gauge prices as they were in New Caledonian Francs and we hadn’t any of them. They would accept dollars (which we had), but here was nothing we saw that took our fancy.
After a brief wait at our bus stop we boarded the bus with a lot of other cruising passengers. Thankfully it was air conditioned as the temperature was well into the 30’s and it was still early!
After a drive through the town we travelled a long the coast coming across several lovely beaches. The most famous one on the island being in Lemon Bay. Next we wound our way into the hills to the top of the local hill overlooking the town and bay to take photos.
Next stop was at the cultural village, again to take photos but this time we walked through the grounds and complex of buildings listening to our guide who explained the history and development of the people and the island itself. Cannibalism played a large part and continued up until only a few decades ago. The structures and buildings themselves were particularly impressive as was the dress of the natives before French missionaries garbed them in European clothing.
I detected an under-current of bitterness towards the French as they promised independence in the 1980’s, and of course the French being the way they are, nothing has happened since. Never trust a Frenchman’s word is my motto.
The bus next took us for a brief stop to have a look around the oldest christian church on the island, of course it was Catholic. It was quite pretty with some lovely wall paintings, the priest was there dressed in white, sat in the first pew concentrating on reading. Many of our fellow passengers had had enough of the heat and stayed on the bus and I think the priest had had enough of tourists and hid in his book.
Returning to the Terminal Sue caught the shuttle bus back to the ship and I walked into town to have a further look around. I didn’t last long as the heat was too much and my foot was beginning to hurt so I too returned to the ship. We met again in the Windjammer restaurant and had lunch.
Later Sue had a nap in the cabin and I went to the ‘Pig and Whistle’ and started my book. When Sue woke up she and I watched the ship leave port and then we changed for the informal evening meal. The highlight of which was the waiters singing to the passengers in Italian. Of the 32 nationalities, not one was Italian, but the sounded enthusiastic.
The entertainment in the theatre was titled, ‘Mr and Mrs’. A popular game show in the 80’s, and it followed the same format, but the questions were considerably more lewd. Great fun and a barrel of laughs, quite squirmy at times!
As it had been a long day we were in bed by 11.45pm.