Ile De Pins, Nouvelle Caledonie

No prizes for guessing that “Ile de pins” is French for “Isle of Pines”. Also no prizes for guessing that this small island within the archipelago of New Caledonia has lots of pines on it. New Caledonia is of course, a French territory.

This spectacular jewell was one of our favorite stops on this journey. The nickname for this island is “The closest island to paradise”. It’s beautiful beaches were a real surprise, and they were totally uncrowded – until we got there that is. When the Volendam pulled in and dropped anchor, I noticed several yachts rapidly head off into the distance and I wouldn’t blame them. All the people you see in the photos here came from our ship.

From the ship looking to shore. You can just make out a couple of tender boats ferrying people to shore.

People gather in the theater, tickets in hand for their tender boat, waiting for their number to be called so that can be transferred to shore. Mostly this process went relatively smoothly.

Map – click to zoom.

A tender boat heads for shore. A number of tender boats shuttle passengers back and forth to and from shore all day.

A tender boat arrives at the shore.

Blue waters and white beaches welcome us

Snack time at the beach. Riley opted to stay on board today, he loves the kids club there.

Milo on a short walk through the forest to a different beach

Moments away another spectacular beach

An obligatory hibiscus photograph, since I did not include one yet. At this stage we are about to leave the tropics so this will be the last one we’ll see.

While exploring on shore I passed this traditional-style house with thatch roof.

Next stop Noumea, capital of New Caledonia.

Apia, Samoa

Samoa is a different country from American Samoa and this group of islands is just a short sail away. We found it to be quite a lot more developed than American Samoa, at leased based on our limited experience. We docked in a town called Apia, Samoa.

We took a walk from the ship to a nearby “beach” but it was a beach of dead coral, not sand, and therefore not suitable for swimming with kids. So we settled for a swing on their rope swing and later walked into town.

In town we tried to find a cafe to eat lunch in, but with tired and hungry children, couldn’t find anything remotely suitable so cabbed back to the ship for lunch and a peaceful afternoon on board the ship.

Riley on the rope swing, Apia, Samoa.

Milo takes a turn

Our ship, the Volendam

Talia and Riley walking into town.

Getting back on board.

View of Apia from the ship.

Back on board, the following day, the kids club were the only passengers to get a tour of the bridge. I sent Riley along with my iPhone so he could snap some photos. Here he is at the controls.

American Samoa

We are actually now in Sydney, but the blog is way behind. This is because the satellite connection on the boat was very slow, and we chewed up a lot of minutes trying to do things like updating the blog. So there’s a bit of catch up coming your way.

After leaving Kona, it was another 5 day stretch at sea. These sea days were great, because you just go into this timeless mode where every day is much the same. Time becomes of little importance. One day we woke up and instead of endless horizons, we were in the beautiful port of Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Pago Pago, American Samoa

Looking off the back deck

A beach 10 minutes walk from the boat, where we swam in the warm waters.

Harbor views

It’s a pretty undeveloped town. This is one of the local busses, each one has a character of it’s own.

Sea Days

About half of the 23 days were spent at sea. Here’s a few ideas of what we kept ourselves busy with.

Milo relaxes in a deck chair during one of our morning walks. He and I would walk about six times around the ship on this deck most days.

Talia perfects her hula dance.

Milo at the Crow’s Nest, one of his favorite hangouts with a view.

There was entertainment galore to get us through the many days at sea.

A special show/celebration/mock ceremony when we crossed the equator.

Every day there was a lot of creative towel folding by our cabin stewards. This one was a monkey but every day there was a different animal.

One of the organized activities for the kids was making their own pancake breakfast. Here the staff assist Talia.