Early 2020 AD. Danny and I embark on a 21st century Odyssey. On the Majestic Princess from Sydney to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji. Back to Sydney, then to Melbourne and flying back home.
We did this cruise before the coronavirus epidemic became a pandemic. We are very aware the travel industry and in particular the cruising industry is hit hard by the consequences of the pandemic. Travelling and cruising may never be the same again. But this is how we experienced cruising on the Majestic Princess in January and February 2020.
On day 3 we arrived in Noumea (or Nouméa), the capital of New Caledonia. We had booked or two-hour ‘Discover Noumea By Foot’ walking tour of the city.
On the quay of the container terminal – the ship is too big to ‘park’ at the Gare maritime or cruise terminal – we were greeted by our our guide, the 24-year-old very attractive Tony.
He took us from the cruise terminal to the Place des Cocotiers, the protestant temple, a look-out onto Noumea, the Saint Joseph Cathedral and the Marché municipal.
Some men hunt for sport, other hunt for food
Along the way he told us how New Caledonians live, pay more for everything as everything is important, go – legally! – hunting and fishing. Not for sport but for food. Thus we learned that thanks to this hunting poor people can live a more okay life than just survive.
Living in an outpost as New Caledonia is much more different than living in a centre of activities. Goods are more expensive, people are polite and friendly with each other, but there are also challenges such as alcohol abuse and domestic violence.
The streetwise attitude and his young age made his story relatable.
Tony was a fun, enthusiast and pleasant person and we were very happy to have him as guide.
Now let’s be honest. Noumea is far from an A-list destination. New Caledonians focus on the nickel industry and tourism is only a side note. As a matter of fact, Tony told us only 120.000 tourists visit NC yearly.
But thanks to Tony we had a backstory and information we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Should you rush to Noumea? No, but we were glad to have seen it.