A Travellerspoint blog

The Kingdom of Tonga

Saturday, 7 September 2013


View 2013 Polynesian Cruise on greynomadm's travel map.

After four days and five nights we reach our first port. As the sun rose we saw the low lying island of Tongatapu which is the largest of the many islands in the Kingdom of Tonga and the home of the national capital of Nuku'alofa. Shortly after 0730 we were made fast and troupes of local dancers performed traditional dances of welcome.

After breakfast we joined the queue in the Atrium to exchange some Australian currency to the Tongan equivalent. AU$20 bought us TOP$31, we were not intending to spend a lot. In less than 10 minutes we were in the heart of town and had found the local pharmacy where we made a small purchase for an item that hadn't been packed. We wandered through the market and admired the many handicraft items. There is some doubt as to what can be brought back into Australia.

As the early clouds were dissipated, the temperature increased and we wandered back to the ship. The massive new concrete wharf was only recently completed and was another sign of the Chinese influence in the region. It was financed by the Chinese government and constructed by a Chinese company. Sadly, apart from the wharf the remainder of the 'town' has little eye appeal with most of the listed 'tourist' attractions being a good distance from the port.

Back aboard, almost time for lunch so we made our way to The Horizon Court where we filled in some time reading. After lunch we made our way back to the cabin and caught up with some Australian News on the TV. Read and dozed until it was time for dinner. Great meal as always.

After dinner we made our way to the Vista Lounge for the performance of a 'Who Done It' skit by the assistant cruise director and members of the entertainment staff. Very funny and a great way to spent 45 minutes.

More tomorrow.
My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 02:48 Archived in Tonga Comments (0)

Sea Day Four

Friday, 6 September 2013

The ocean is almost calm this morning and many of the open decks are now open again. The sunrise was more spectacular too and I spent a good while watching it develop from the unobstructed vantage point of Deck 15.

Caught up with Jenny for breakfast and then parted company as I headed for the film and lecture while she met up with her fellow craft ladies. The film which preceded the lecture was a documentary made by the 'Bent Prop Organisation' and deals with the continuing efforts to locate aircraft and the remains of those who flew them, now listed as MIA. The number of men listed as MIA in and around the Pacific Islands from WWII is over 35,000.

Bruce Petty's lecture continued that theme, relating individual stories of descendants undertaking the emotional journey to where the remains have been located. The search for MIA remains is largely undertaken by individuals and dedicated groups of civilians. There is a US Government agency that assists with exhumation and identification when irrefutable evidence has been found.

Found Jenny in the crowded Horizon Court and marvelled at the impressive display for the Golden Dragon themed buffet lunch. Returned to the cabin to kick back and relax (and doze a little).

Took a turn around Deck 7 and dropped in for 'Afternoon Tea'. Pretty little pastries served by white gloved waiters. All very posh and certainly more food than we really needed.

Read our books and readied for dinner. James, the 90 YO widower from Port Macquarie, provided us with a marvellous description of his 75 minute massage in the Spa. He liked it so much he's booked another two sessions. Our waiter is now trained to my desert preferences and hardly asks me anymore. Two scoops each of the two featured ice-creams.

Made our way to the Princess Theatre to watch a feature movie. "Before Midnight" is a recent film and was "R" rated. We survived almost 40 minutes before we joined the growing exodus and headed out. As someone remarked 'the best part of that was that we didn't pay to see it'.

More tomorrow.

My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 06:19 Archived in Tonga Comments (0)

Sea Day Three

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A rough night got worse with loud banging noises coming from the bow of the ship. About 0600 the noise stopped, no idea what it was or where it came from.

Made my way up to deck 14 for a sunrise snapshot, only partly successful as it was blotted out by huge black clouds hugging the horizon. Joined Jenny for breakfast and met a retired GP from North West Sydney who managed to talk almost non-stop for about half an hour. He said he was known locally as 'Dr Have-a-chat', easy to see why.

Attended the Destination Presentation by Hutch on our next Port of Call Nuku'Alofa the capital of Tonga. Sounds like the local markets will be worth a visit. Some years ago there were some serious anti-Chinese riots here and many of the shops were torched. Some of them still carry the scars.

The 'War in the Pacific' lecture by Bruce Petty focused on the impact the American Servicemen made on the people of New Zealand. The War Brides and the results of unplanned pregnancies. Many relationships lasting over the years and the heartache of some who have never found out who their father was. The title of his lecture was "Oversexed, Overpaid and Over Here"

The theme of today's lunch was a 'Meat and Barbecue Buffet' served outside the Riviera Grill on Deck 14. The sea has abated and there are signs of sunshine which has brought out some optimistic sun worshippers.

Spent a low-stress afternoon in a mainly horizontal position. Woke up in time for dinner and after a delicious meal we finished off the evening with The Adalgo Strings. Four gorgeous Romanian girls playing string instruments enthralled us with tunes varied from the classical to Irish Jigs and the CanCan. Fabulous !!

Clocks forward another hour tonight bringing us in line with the Tonga time zone. Another sea day tomorrow.
More tomorrow.
My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 02:34 Archived in Tonga Comments (1)

Sea Day Two

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A continuation of the rough weather prevented any activity on the open deck. I managed a quick snapshot of the sunrise. Joined Jenny for breakfast and then she attended her craft session while I listened to another presentation by Bruce Petty who focused on the contribution by Australians and New Zealanders to the War in the Pacific, often overlooked by the mainly American authors of histories.

The lunch theme today was Italian and had an ice-carving of the leaning tower as the centrepiece. In addition to a range of antipasto ingredients that was an overwhelming array of cakes.

Back to the stateroom for a short nap and before we knew it we were preparing for the first formal night. Dinner was great and the room looked lovely with the staff in their formal attire and most of the passengers also decked out in their finest.

We didn't hang about for the Captain's champagne cascade but headed for the theatre where we were entertained by a young lady from Woolongong by the name of Jennifer Gray. She tackled a marvellous range of songs from the movies and did all of them proud.

No time change tonight and it is 2130 'Ship's Time' as I file this away.

More tomorrow.
My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 09:22 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

First Sea Day

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Despite being very tired I didn't sleep very well and got up at about 0345 to post yesterday's blog and Project 365 photo. I was up again in time to catch the dawn just before 0700. After that there was breakfast and a visit with the Future Cruises Manager. I bought an open-ended deposit for the two of us. I also discussed the late 2014 repositioning cruise of the Royal Princess from Copenhagen to New York. I had hoped to be able to cancel a recent booking and re-book with the Future Cruise benefits. No way !! All categories of accommodation are wait-listed for that cruise.

Jenny went off to her craft group meeting while I attended a lecture on the 'Beginning of Pacific War' by author and historian Bruce Petty. It is a topic that was covered on the 2012 cruise to Japan but his talk presented a number of new and different facets on the subject.

Lunch in the Horizon Court with a theme of 'Down Under' desserts. Some magnificent cakes to celebrate the skills of the pastry cooks. Back to the stateroom for a snooze as the ship gently rocks along at 19 Knots. The winds are strong and quite chilly. The pools and some decks are closed for passenger safety.

We entered a patch of roughish seas and the 'sick bags' have been deployed !! Dinner was interesting again, the very old widower replaced by one not quite as old. George from Newcastle has had his seating changed from late to early. He has travelled widely and has many interesting tales to tell.

After dinner to the Princess Theatre to be enthralled by Patric Roberts an internationally renowned violinist. With the backing of the band and some great sound and lighting effects he presented many tunes from classical to movie themes.

Back 'home' by 2100 and time to adjust the clocks forward another hour as we head for the International Date Line.
More tomorrow.

My photos are posted each day to http://365project.org/tonydebont/365
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 03:05 Comments (0)

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