Day 13 – Aranui Cruise At Sea 2010

Day 13: April 19 – At Sea

You may think that a day at sea may be a bit boring but it was a well-needed break from being on the go every day. While the shore excursions were interesting and educational, after 9 straight days of being on the go, I was ready for a bit of a break. Even with the small “break” from being on shore, there was plenty to do. The children as always wanted to make sure to spend some time in the swimming pool. As we were at sea, the pool was back to sloshing around like a bowl of jello. It was exciting for the kids to get in the freshwater and be jostled around in the pool to cool off.

The kids’ activity co-ordinator Mila, had plenty planned for our children as well. As we were to leave the ship a day early, this was going to be our last full day on the ship. Traditionally on the Aranui, passengers can invite the crew to eat with them in the dining room during the last two days. We decided to invite the four people that served our children in the dining room as well as Mila, to the early kid’s lunch. Our children all wanted to say goodbye to their newly made friends on the ship along with the other four little French girls they had met on the ship. Upon hearing about this, the other two sets of parents asked to join in. Due to the number of extra people however the cook refused to make that many extra meals one hour earlier than normal. He was not as impressed with the idea as the rest of us. We were all a bit disappointed but when pushing a little further, Mila, after a request from our family, was able to convince the Staff chef, to make the meal for us.

At this point the meal was just for our family and the staff because the food was all traditional Marquesian or Tahitian food. It included the standard foods such as raw fish cooked in lime juice, cooked bananas, breadfruit and fried fish. Upon my request we also ate the meal in the traditional way… with our fingers. This however took a bit of reminding amongst the staff as some of them too, are much in the habit of using utensils. It was the first Tahitian meal where we were able to eat with our hands and I wasn’t going to turn that opportunity down. Too many times a Tahitian meal includes at least one non-Tahitian component which is excuse enough to use utensils when eating.

As we all got together to eat, the staff members had all placed a wrapped package on the plate of each member of our family. The children were as excited as always to open it up. Inside they each discovered some little treasure to remember our vacation on the Aranui. Each child along with my wife and I, were each presented with an Aranui t-shirt except for Eli who received a pair of shoes that had red and green lights in them that lit up when he walked. Eli was especially excited to try out his new shoes and seemed to zip around non-stop during the rest of the meal. We were a bit surprised at all of this hoopla for our family and asked if it was normal procedure on the ship and we were informed that it only happens “rarely”, perhaps as rare as a family of 7 getting onto the Aranui (in the staff’s memory we were the first family on the ship with more than three children).

After enjoying our meal I spent much of the afternoon lazing around the outside deck in the sun for the first time (I had no energy to do the packing that needed to be done) while our children finished putting together the Marquesas journals. From the first day on the boat, Mila had each of the children adding things to their journals almost on a daily basis. Inside were the words to the songs they had danced to at the Polynesian night, simple translated words in Tahitian, Marquesian, French and English as well as their own personal thoughts on the trip so far.

At 4 PM in the evening the man responsible for all of the cargo on the ship held a question and answer session in the lobby. It was interesting to hear about this man’s 25 years of experience on the Aranui 1, 2 and 3. He talked about while there was over 2000 tons of cargo that we brought over to the Marquesas islands, less than 300 tons were being brought back in the form of copra and other fruits. This was quite evident as we ploughed the open waters to the Marquesas Islands. Where water had once constantly sloshed up against the porthole window at the beginning of our voyage, our porthole was now a couple of feet above the waterline. We also learned that the ship had transported 22 vehicles on this trip and the most unique piece of cargo so far had been a helicopter. Finally about 8 cows and a horse were transported during the voyage from one of the Marquesian islands to another.

Our evening dinner was elaborate as ever. A delicious salad appetizer, followed by a beautiful fish dinner and a diet defying chocolate mousse desert. With two amazing deserts per day I was ready for a different diet (with both one regular chef and a pastry chef on board it illustrates the Aranui’s focus not only on the meals but also on the deserts). We said goodbye to new friends at this last dinner with a promise that we would say our last farewells at our beachside picnic on Rangiroa the following day.

Written by Norm Schafer, Victoria BC

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