MMP-03 Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia
Date of travel: Sep 9 – Oct 29, 2003 (48 day trip)
Early on Sep 11 in a rented car from Vista to Los Angeles Airport, flight via Honolulu to GUAM , where in the afternoon Sep 12 (due to the Date Line). Next day sightseeing the island by bus and later boarding the ship “World Discoverer” for an expedition sailing through Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Days on the ocean covered by interesting scientific lectures.
Between Sep 14 and Sep 22 our ship was wandering among islands of the FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA visiting their inhabitants and allowed frequent snorkeling of its passengers. In the State Yap the ship stopped at: Gaferut Island, Ifaluk Atoll and Satawal Island; in the State Chuuk: Pulap Island and the famous Truk Lagoon where the Americans in WWII destroyed 60 Japanese ships in two days; in the State Pohnpei: Ororuk Atoll, Pohnpei Island, Nukuoro Island and the Island Kapingamarangi.
Sailing south and crossing Equator we encountered islands of PAPUA NEW GUINEA (PNG) between Sep 23 and Oct 4. The first was the Tatau Island in the Tabar Islands Group, then Tingwon Island. On the larger New Britain Island with volcanoes Tavurvur (still smoking and erupting) and Vulcan (quiet at the moment) we visited the town of Rabaul partly devastated after 1994 eruption of both volcanoes and with number of traces of the Japanese occupation during WWII. Japanese had an important military base here. Next was Kitava Island in the Trobriand Group and Watts Island in the Engineer Group. Then our “World Discoverer” anchored in the capital of PNG Port Moresby on the Iarge New Guinea Island. There was a sightseeing tour of the city and part of the passengers left the ship while new passengers came on board.
During the second leg of our expedition trip we visited the following PNG islands: Kwato, Wagifa, Nabwageta (this one part of the Amphlett Group) and Punawan (from the Calvados Chain). At the last island we spent more time in order to fish out from the ocean our lost anchor (its cost is about $60 thousands) and we were successful.
After two full days sailing east we reached the island country VANUATU (it was called New Hebridies in the colonial era and the chain was shared by Britain and France). Between Oct 7 and Oct 10 we visited Loh Island in the Torres Islands, Ambryn and Malekula Islands followed by Makiro and Aniwa Islands.
A day on the ocean brought us to FIJI . On Oct 12 our ship made stop at Sawa-I-Lau Island in the Yasawa Group (here I drowned my digital and video cameras). The following day we anchored in Lautoka on the Fiji biggest island Viti Levu (I bought a new digital camera here. Also some passengers left and new came on board).
Between Oct 14 and Oct 16 we visited the following Fiji islands: the Kadavu Group, the Fulanga Atoll and the Ono-I-Lau Atoll. There was great birding on these islands.
From Oct 17 to Oct 19 we were on islands of the KINGDOM OF TONGA . On the island of Tongatapu we visited Tonga capital Nuku’alofa. The next day we landed on two islands Lifuka a Uoleva a the last day on islands Neiafu and Nuku.
Due to a large storm with more than 10 feet waves we could not land on island of Niue (belonging to New Zealand) and Palmerston Island, which is part of Cook Islands (belonging also to New Zealand).
However we were able to land on the COOK ISLANDS (administered by New Zealand) on Oct 22 and Oct 23. The first day on Aitutaki Island, where a sightseeing tour in an open bus around the island. The second day on Atiu Island, where also a tour but on a truck.
Between Oct 24 and Oct 28 we were in FRENCH POLYNESIA specifically in its part called Society Islands. The first island which was accounted was Mopelia with an excellent birding trip. The following day the famous island Bora Bora, where a bus tour.
On Oct 26 many passengers left the ship in Tahiti and I was among them. (The last leg of the ship continued to the Easter Island without me). Those who left the ship in Tahiti had 3 full days on this island with accommodation in a hotel. First day bus tour around the island as part of the expedition. The second day I visited the capital Papeete by myself. The third day I took a ferry to the Moorea Island and a tour of that island in a van with a small group of English speaking travelers.
On Oct 29 we left our hotel very early and flew from Tahiti to Los Angeles where at noon local time. After renting a car I drove home to Vista.
Travel office: Society Expeditions from Seattle, Washington State
Who took part: From about 70 passengers during the first leg of the trip to about twice as many in the third leg of the trip. Good 2/3 from Germany and some other European countries and only 1/3 from North America.
WP-08 West Pacific 2008 – a cruise NEW ZEALAND, New Caledonia, SOLOMON ISLANDS, PNG, FSM, Guam, Mariana Islands, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, JAPAN
Date of travel: Feb 25 – Mar 29, 2008
On Feb 25 in the afternoon I drive in rented car from Vista to Los Angeles airport. In the evening I board a Qantas plane for Auckland, NEW ZEALAND. I land there in the early hours Feb 27. I am taken to my hotel. Today there is a sightseeing trip of the city arranged by Vantage Company for all who take the cruise. The following 2 days I see Auckland by myself visiting the 328 m high Sky Tower, take a tourist bus and a boat ride through the harbor. On Mar 1 we visit the Museum and in the afternoon we board the Holland America ship Statendam. The ship leaves Auckland in the evening.
During next 2 days the ship stops in Tauranga and Bay of Islands still in New Zealand. That is followed by 2 full days on the Pacific Ocean before we dock at the town of Noumea on the island of NEW CALEDONIA which is a French possession. In the morning I walk the city on foot and in the afternoon there is a bus tour of the island.
Next 2 days the ship sails on the Coral Sea and on Mar 9 we dock in Honiera on the Guadalcanal Island in SOLOMON ISLANDS. During the trip through the island we visit Bloody Ridge and the airport Henderson Field both famous from the battles between Americans and Japanese in WWII.
After another day on the sea Statendam moors at Rabaul on the Island of New Britten of PAPUA NEW GUINEA (PNG) on Mar 11. This is my second visit of this place. During the trip through the island we visit a WWII cemetery where some 1000 Allied soldiers are interred. We also see Japanese fortifications, WWII museum and the town Rabaul. One of the local volcanoes is spilling smoke and volcanic dust. Soon our ship is covered by few inches of this stuff.
Three days on the Pacific Ocean and then landing on the Yap Island which is part of a country called FEDERATED STATES of MICRONESIA (FSM) . I explore its town Colonia on foot. A specialty of this island are so call “stone money.” They look like large mill stones. They are leaning against the walls of a hotel. Each has certain value and belongs to various people on the island.
Another day on the ocean and the next stop is island of GUAM on Mar 17. I have visited Guam before so I do the sightseeing by myself. The following day we dock at the Saipan Island in the NORTHERN MARIANA ISLAND group. There I take a bus tour which shows us among other where the American soldiers stormed the beaches in WWII.
After another day on the ocean Statendam anchors at Iwo Jima on Mar 20. Since Solomon Islands we have been visiting the battlegrounds of WWII. There is a number of participants of those battles on board. At Iwo Jima is a ceremony of remembrance.
Two days later on Mar 22 we are at city of Naha on Okinawa, JAPAN. Here I take part in a bus tour. The following day we sail past many Japanese islands and on Mar 24 we reach Nagasaki on island of Kyushu. There is also a bus tour. Another day among the Japanese islands and on Mar 26 our ship docks in Osaka. From there by bus past Kobe to Kyoto. Next 2 days I am sightseeing the historical city by bus and also on foot.
On Mar 29 I leave Japan from Kansai Airport in Osaka for San Francisco. From there by another plane to Los Angeles. Here I take a car from AVIS and drive home to Vista.
Travel office: Vantage and Holland America
Who took part: a ship full travelers