We arrive off Rarotonga with great expectations for wonderful port visit. The weather was beautiful, with pleasant temperatures, no humidity and seas that were calm enough to put the tenders in the water.
The Cook Island officials arrive to clear the ship and the crew starts to rig the tender platform in preparation for commencing tender operations. Gene announces that tendering will commence soon.
After about 20 minutes the Captain announces that tendering in our current position on the north side of the island is impossible and they will move the ship to the west side of the island where they expect the swells to be less. Since this will delay anyone going ashore by 2 hours, they are going to extend the all aboard by two hours from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.
Since the tenders were already in the water, the Captain elected to have the tenders follow the ship to the new location rather than haul them back aboard. The orange tenders bobbed behind the mother ship as we traveled the 5 miles to our new spot. It reminded me of young ducklings following their mother.
While we were moving to our new location, I spoke with the Cook Island Officials who had already arrived onboard to clear the ship. They indicated that their clearance process consisted of reviewing the paperwork about the passengers, crew, cargo and reviewing any passengers who may be ill and if they have communicable diseases. The process was largely a formality for cruise lines like Holland America who have established good relationships over the years. They mentioned that our Captain was out of the norm in that most cruise ship captains in their experience would not bother with moving the ship to the alternate arrival location but would have cancelled the port and moved on.
I also noticed some of the Maori Entertainers rehearsing on the basketball court
We don’t anchor here at Cooks Island because the water is far too deep – over 4000 feet – so the ship hovers in place by using her thrusters and propulsion pods to stay in place as guided by the onboard computer. The change in water depth is easily seen as the deep water is a very dark blue, but the shallow water near shore – no more than chest deep is a light green, very clear, with the rocks and reefs along the bottom easily visible.
Tendering starts again around 10:30 and our ticket number, Blue 22 was called about 11:30 and we proceeded to deck A to board the tenders. It took till noon for us to load the tender and leave the ship. We were travelling with our dinner mates, Rick and Margaret, and planned to play miniature golf at a place called Coco Putt.
Coco Putt was about 1 mile down the road and we asked a taxi driver for a price for the trip. $50 NZD was the answer which was pretty steep for a one mile cab ride. I counter with $20 and he comes back with $40 but he doesn’t seem that interested in making a deal, so we decide to walk since the weather is perfect. The walk was quite pleasant but we noticed that the city busses that circle the island were never seen till we almost arrived at Coco Putt. We learned that they come by about once an hour, so while inexpensive, knowing the schedule was important to minimize your waiting time.
Coco Putt is a 18 hole miniature golf course, similar to the old Putt Putt courses in the USA years ago as opposed to some of the more modern mini golf course that have elaborate hazards and course layouts.
The course was challenging enough and fun to play – it took about 1 hour. It started to get hot toward the end of the round and we were glad to be wrapping up and ready to move on to our next activity.
We had about a 15 minute wait for the next bus that would take us downtown and it arrived few minutes late. However, once onboard the driver informed us that but the time we arrived downtown – 4pm, all of the shops would be closed and there would be nothing to see. We elected to get off by the tender landing, visit the vendors and head back to the ship.
There were only a handful of vendors, selling some jewelry, pearls, sarongs and some flower head leis. Judy picked up a head lei and we got in line for the tender.
This is where we heard about TENDER 9. After we were safely ashore, Tender 9 strayed from the channel and ran aground on the reef in shallow water. The tender was full – 120 people – and was stuck for over 3 hours until it could be freed with the assistance of some tugs that arrived from the city. While waiting for the rescue, many passengers elected to don a life vest and wade ashore in the waist deep water. The Captain waded out to the tender carrying a case of water to the passengers that remained onboard. While we didn’t witness any of these events, we heard many favorable comments about how the situation was handled by the ship’s officers.
The tender grounding caused massive delays in follow on tenders resulting in the cancellation of all afternoon shore excursions. Once everyone was onboard that Captain announced that everyone would receive complimentary wine with dinner tomorrow evening. We did notice that on our return tender there was a ships officer closely supervising the coxswain who normally works alone guiding the tender. I spoke briefly with someone who was stuck on TENDER 9 and they were in remarkably good spirits.
We were joined for dinner this evening by Adam and Lisa Press, who will be singing and playing the piano in a few days. We enjoyed their company very much and are looking forward to their performance.
I knew that the Lido serves the same food as the MDR, but I didn’t realize that they display the food plated for serving in the LIDO. See the picture on the blog. This reminds me of restaurants in Japan that always had full size replicas of their meals in the windows along the street.
Bobby Brooks Wilson, son of Jackie Wilson of Motown fame, presented a very entertaining, high energy show, singing the hits of the 50’s and 60’s. He was very good and this performance also showcased the house band and made you appreciate how talented they were as well.
We are heading south to New Zealand, 4 days away, and will cross the international date line along the way…
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