The first few months of my contract, most ports were South Pacific islands. Due to rehearsals installing production shows and mystery dinner theater, I didn’t often get off and explore. I did, however, have a few standout days in Lautoka, Isle of Pines, Mystery Island, and Suva.
A friend from the ice cast found an excursion through Trip Advisor advertising a guided tour to a waterfall and a home cooked meal. A group of around 14 people, primarily skaters and dancers, opted in for the adventure! We were picked up at the port in Lautoka, Fiji by a large van and driven to a house about 45 minutes away. At the house, we were able to change if necessary and use the toilet (though there was no running water). We then piled into the back of a truck and were driven in two loads to the base of a trail. Our trek involved some hills that required holding onto a rope on the side of the trail, hopping over a creek atop stones, and climbing up some slippery rocks. The guides and their children were scattered through our group, and graciously offered a hand or push when needed!
The waterfall was smaller than I expected, but I had a great time swimming, jump, and playing in and around the falls. We were able to get a few photos before our guides told us to hurry out. The overcast skies were becoming more threatening, and they were worried that rain would complicate our hike back. They were correct! We slipped and slid much of the way, and the stones we had used to cross the creek were no longer visible. My clothes, shoes, hair, everything, were soaked by the time we got out of the forested trail. The unfortunate weather only added to the experience for me! I laughed most of the walk, enjoyed getting muddy, and reveled in the joy felt by not caring at all about my appearance.
The truck was waiting for us when we reached the road. The girls were told to pile into the back, and the boys were instructed to start jogging back to the house. We were greeted with towels. After we dried off, we sat down on a tarp on the covered porch on which the host family had laid a spread of sausage, fish, creamed spinach, eggplant, pineapple, and watermelon. I don’t know how they cooked the eggplant, but it was delicious. The pineapple was the sweetest, juiciest pineapple I have ever tasted! It was a wonderful meal, and an extraordinary ending to the day.
Isle of Pines, New Caledonia is a small island with beautiful beaches. The port was too small for my ship to dock, so tender boats took us from the ship to the island. On multiple occasions, I went to the Isle of Pines to enjoy a quiet beach day. Most guests stopped near the restaurant just past the port, so by walking farther, I was able to find more private areas to enjoy with friends. My skin is not made for sunbathing, so I usually enjoyed swimming and strolling for a couple hours, and then headed back to the ship to go to the gym! Although my days at the Isle of Pines weren’t very eventful, they were always enjoyable! The water was crystal blue, the sand powdery and white, and, as indicated by the name of the island, pine trees added texture to the landscape.
More stunning beaches were found at Mystery Island, Vanuatu. I only had the time and energy to go to Mystery Island once, and I am so glad I did! My friend and I took the tender boat to the island together with hopes of snorkeling. There were multiple companies offering different deals just off the boat. We opted for a Sea Turtle adventure with Walking Sun Tours. My friend and I were driven out towards a sand bar in a small motorboat with just the boat driver and a guide. We followed the guide around, coming up to hear him speak every now and then, and staying close when he pointed to fish and coral. We were lucky enough to see a sea turtle while we were out there! Had I been on my own, I would’ve assumed it was a rock. Only upon closer examination could I tell it was in fact a living creature. Although I didn’t get to explore much else on the island, I was very pleased with my experience!
The last port worth mentioning is Suva, Fiji. On the trans-pacific crossing, my ship stopped overnight in Suva. I joined a group of friends in renting a house. We had 5 bedrooms, a pool table, ping-pong table, full kitchen, water views, grill, and an on-site housekeeper in case we had any issues. We made a big dinner, grilled some meat, mixed drinks, played games, and just hung out for the night. It was so nice to just be “normal” for a night! I fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning, but one of my friends caught the photos above at sunrise. I could get used to waking up to that view every day!
My time in the South Pacific went by quickly, but I had a great time. I was able to find a good balance of work and play, and spiced up some relaxing times with memorable adventures!