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.
Cruising on Majestic Princess was marvelous. I was so relaxed after two weeks on board. But cruising is also its ports of calls. For me at least, it is the reason I cruise. I cruise to destinations which are very hard to get to. During an ‘Our next cruise’ presentation, we where inspired by cruises reaching Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the Shetland Islands. Even Greenland is an option.
Originally, the idea was to cruise around New Zealand. But I was there in 2015. It will be for later. So after browsing many brochures we settled on New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji.
- Noumea, New Caledonia;
- Lifou, New Caledonia;
- Port Vila, Vanuatu;
- Dravuni Island, Fiji;
- Suva, Fiji;
- Savusavu, Fiji;
- Lautoka and Nadi, Fiji.
For us Belgian boys, these names are so exotic. Who gets from Belgium to New Caledonia, Vanuatu or Fiji? According to our Nouméa guide, the sweet Tony, only 120,000 tourists visit NC each year. Corona will not boost that number.
What I am about to say will sound very wrong, because it’s very eurocentric. But New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji are not cultural destinations. You don’t go there for architecture, culture and history. You go for the beaches, for snorkeling and scuba diving, for water sports (the all ages kind).
And we’re not into that. We’re culture queens and museum mice. We are city people.
But I did enjoy the exoticism of the destination. Just soaking in where I was, was already amazing.
The tours we did were not always as interesting, although we must give kudos to ATS Pacific, the ground handlers in Fiji. They were very professional and made the best of what they have.
Tony of Noumea Discovery was a very good guide as well because he gave us the perspective of a young local with ambitions.
I’m happy to have been there. Onwards to other terrae incognitae.