Hi Fans, back home again after nearly six weeks on the Rotterdam and on the the old Queen Mary in Long beach.
The ship, Rotterdam was a well appointed ship, but the service does not come up to Cunards standards.
I did enjoy the cruise round the islands of the the South Pacific, I set off to meet up with some of my Polynesian and Cook Islander ex crew men. An amazing chain of events and I missed everyone of them,
We diid four Hawaiian Islands, Hilo, then Lahaina on Maui, The Tsunami came that day. The Long Haired one and I were in the Hard Rock Cafe having a few beers etc, The Police cars came with sirens and loud speakers telling everyone to head for the hills and cruise boat passengers to get back to the ship. We got the tender back and we sailed. The Tsunami arrived around 11 pm, not too big, and swept along the sea front, washing out a few shops and wrecked the marinas and yachts, nothing serious. We sailed to Honolulu on Oahu and the port was closed, all the ships in Honolulu had sailed and the Fleet in Pearl Harbour had put to sea. The US Coastguard kept the port closed until after the Tsunami had been and and gone. So we were around ten hours late getting in. Moored alongside the Aloha Tower. Not much had happened in Honolulu, the Tsunami was around six to eight feet higher than the usual tide, Waikiki Beach had the wave over the sea front and across the road, I went to the beach that afternoon, which is usually very busy and found it empty, not much damage, just a bit of rubbish washed up. Some of the marinas on the Island had been wrecked with the yachts piled up on top of each other costing a few million dollars. If you can afford them then you can afford to lose them.
Nawilliwilli on Kauai was a lovely place, no signs of the the big wave there.
Later in the voyage the only other place to see the resuts of the Tsunami was in Nuka Hiva, there are two fjord type bays on the north coast, We went around them, the Tsunami had doubled the width of the bays and then went up the rivers well inland. The industry there, Copra, was badly hit. All the coconut palms had been ripped out and the Copra factory up the rivers had been destroyed and all the stock and production lost.
Nuka Hiva had been a victim of a Tsunami in 1946, when all the houses had been swept away and many lives lost, So they now had a Tsunami warning siren in town, but two months ago someone in the council said as they hadnt had one for so long they didnt need to replace the batteries in the Siren, so when it came three or four weeks ago, they could not sound the alarm. What a good idea that was.The town had a small wave running through it and hardly anyone knew until it hit. Fortunately only a little damage was done and no one was injured.
After the Hawaiian Islands we sailed down to Fanning Island in the State of Kiribati. Three days at sea across the International Date Line
It was an island like no other I have ever seen. a very low lying atoll with a central lagoon. Those people have NOTHING.
They live on a diet of coconuts and fish with an occaisional pig. They were dressed in rags, they have no water, only a couple of wells but the water plane is at sea level so the water is brackish, they drink coconut milk, they have no sanitation so there is not one toilet on the island, they all go into the lagoon for a crap, we were warned not to go in the lagoon as it is full of it. There is no electricity on the island, no electric lights, no radios, no TV, no computers, there are no shops, no one owns any land, there are no cars, just one old and battered truck, sometimes takes the odd tourist around the better side of the island. so no streets or roads,
All the children had depending on age, brown teeth, black teeth, no teeth due to a lack of calcium, there is no milk because there are no cows. The `houses` were just a platform with four stanchions of palm trees and a thatched roof, completely wide open, with a mat that rolled down at night for a wall.
There was a small mission school and one Nurse with obviously no facilites for anything serious.
I had a bag of blueberry muffins, I gave one each to three young lads around ten years old, they didnt know what to do with them, they had never seen one before, they didnt know whether to throw them, kick them or anything. I had to show them that they should eat them. They didnt seem to understand what the taste was. They dropped them on the ground in the end.
Her and I had two towels from the ship so I gave them to two other kids, again they didnt seem to know what a towel was and just looked with blank eyes.
Everything we take for granted today does not excist on that island, I felt so sad for them.
The capital of Kiribati is two thousand miles away on Tarawa. Once a year a boat arrives from Tarawa to see what is going on there. Not a lot.
As we left the Island the ship left six plastic barrels for them to collect rain water in and a bag of flip flops and some stores to help out. The Rotterdam is going back there again in September and January and March next year. and said they would take them some gear.
More of the trip next time