After two weeks of surprise travel in Portland, Oregon, and Maui, Hawaii, Elliott was once again guessing as to what we’d be doing next. He knew we were returning our rental car, but that was it. His best guess was that we were spending another week on a different island in Hawaii. But once we arrived at the airport and I ignored the Agricultural Inspection signs, he was darned sure we *weren’t* going back to the US Mainland.
We flew from Maui to Honolulu, which left the options wide open. Even Elliott knows HNL airport is a major gateway for destinations around the world! I made him sit with our luggage for a bit while I arranged for a shuttle. The shuttle had many stops – several different hotels, and the cruise port. Hmmmmm. We weren’t flying further after all.
It was indeed a cruise! Elliott was fully prepared for this portion of our trip, with his garment bag and tuxedo. Luckily, I had indulged him with his many hints of how much he’d like a cruise to be part of these last two months of travel. But he still didn’t know where we were going or for how long, and I made him wait an agonizingly long time to find out – we were inside our cruise cabin when I finally divulged all the information! Here’s the map of where we cruised:
This map shows all the correct countries, but it shows one additional stop, and one of our ports was different. So, to be accurate, we did the following:
Pago Pago, American Samoa
(we did *not* go to Mystery Island, as shown on the map)
Isle of Pines, New Caledonia (labeled as Noumea on the map)
There were many days at sea, as well as some truly amazing and far away ports for us Northeasterners! This was our first time exploring the South Pacific, and there were two major milestones during this cruise – the crossing of the equator, and the crossing of the International Date Line! I think we slept through both since they occurred in the wee hours of the morning, but there was an event worth writing about after the crossing of the equator.
In the grand tradition of the U.S. Navy, we had a ceremony where the pollywogs – those who have never sailed across the equator – are hazed by the shellbacks – those who have. Rather than take it out on some hapless cruise guests, Royal Caribbean selected some crew members to be properly initiated. The whole event was presided over by King Neptune and Queen Whatever-her-name-is. Our cruise director/Emcee never pronounced it clearly or correctly, so we never did find out. The first crew member was slapped with a fish and covered in green goo. The second was floured, egged, and doused in pasta sauce for good luck. The final crew member – an officer – was covered with a sheet, and worked on by the “doctor,” who sent blood, guts and bones flying. Well….pasta sauce, spaghetti and bones. The king and queen of the sea where gracious enough to pose for photos with us new shellbacks, and we were grateful that we were not in the US Navy for this ceremony.