After waking up and packing we went for breakfast at a quaint little spot called Faith’s Café. Then we caught a cab over to the International Passenger Terminal at the Circular Quay. We then checked our bags with the cruise line porters and walked over to the “Rocks” of Sydney that consists of an area of the oldest buildings in Sydney that have been converted into a nice shopping area. Here we visited the NSW Art gallery which is a great place to see unique Aboriginal art .
We then found a nice little pub in the Rocks at the Mercantile Hotel where we decided to have a couple of cold adult beverages since it was still too early to board the ship. Once we boarded the ship we grabbed lunch at the Windjammer on the 9 deck and checked out the ship. It was a bit cool this day and a bit cloudy so we just checked out the ship until dinner time. We left Sydney Harbor at 6:30 PM and the views leaving were stunning.
Every day at sea is packed with activities...from deck games, to casino action, to live music and entertainment. This is the time we indulged ourselves in exercise or laid out in the sun or took a dip in the pools, hot tubs or “spas” as the Aussies call them. Just a totally relaxing time…
Saturday 10/30/2010 Depart at 6:00:00 PM
We arrived at Isle of Pines (part of New Caledonia) at 8:00 am and our plan for the day was to snorkel all day. The Ile des Pins (as the French call it) is often referred to as the jewel of the Pacific and the currency is the Pacific Franc. Isle of Pines is known for its pristine beauty, prolific Norfolk pine tree skyline (up to 200 feet tall), aquamarine lagoons and powdery white sand beaches.
When the ship anchored we caught a tender over to the island. The Isle of Pines is said to have some of the best snorkeling in the area. The spot we were looking for was called sacred rock in Kanuméra Bay. The left hand side of sacred rock is the place to go and the water is very clear with lots of varied corals and abundant fish within meters of the beach. The beach here had the whitest sand and it's almost as fine as talcum powder. Once we were off the tender we took a short 5 minute walk over to a beach near sacred rock… the rock was stunning, surrounded by crystal clear blue waters. It was a bit cloudy and the water was a bit cooler than we expected but that didn’t stop us from snorkeling completely around sacred rock. The most interesting thing we saw was a deadly sea snake called a banded sea krait. Their venom is ten times stronger than that of a cobra, making them extremely dangerous. Fortunately, this snake won’t bite humans unless they feel threatened and they are incapable of dispensing enough venom for a deadly bite. We saw two of them but always made sure there was plenty of distance between us :)
As we were about to go ashore the skies erupted and produced a torrential down pour of cold rain. We could feel it hitting our backs as we were snorkeling and would dip under the water to warm up and to prevent the stinging rain from hitting our legs. When it let up we went to the beach for a small walk down the coast line and then returned to circumnavigate the sacred rock a few more times. After getting our fill of the wonderful corals and diverse and colorful fishes, we found a small café where we were able to sample the local beverages… a “number one” beer that cost eight bucks US but we still had to have a couple and spent most of our francs on beer.. oh well…