Our arrival into Papeete, Tahiti from Moorea, on the Silversea Silver Whisper was beautiful. The sun was setting, and the lights on shore made this lovely French Polynesian island all one would expect.
Over 200 years ago there was no city here, and Tahiti attracted little attention until 1818, when a member of the London Missionary Society settled here. It began to grow when Queen Pomare made it her capital in the 1820s. Then in 1842 the French made Tahiti a protectorate. Fire destroyed almost half of Papeete in 1884, and in 1906, huge waves resulting from a cyclone wiped out a considerable number of homes and businesses. For the most part, nature has been kinder since. It was fun to explore this island with its unique mix of exotic and French ambiance.
The next day we were off to Bora Bora, which is 160 miles northwest of Tahiti, and is the epitome of an idyllic South Pacific island. Emerald-green hills and blue lagoons highlight its beauty, making it a favorite destination for tourists, film producers and honeymooners. It is no surprise that James Michener, author of Tales of the South Pacific, called Bora Bora â€œthe most beautiful island on earth.â€
Our departure from Bora Bora began four â€œat seaâ€ days and the crossing of the International Date Line, before we get to our next stop which is Nukuâ€™alofa, Tonga. We have done it before, but it still seems weird to be five hours behind Louisville when we go to bed and get up nineteen hours ahead. Donâ€™t ask how, but it all evens out by the time we get to Ft. Lauderdale on May 1.
Even though we have had lots of sea days, there is plenty to keep us busy. Recent evening entertainment has been varied and quite good. A couple of days ago Lance Ringnald, a former member of two Olympic gymnastics teams for the united States presented his very own variety show mixing gymnastic skills, humor, and audience interaction that charmed the large audience. Not only is he an athlete, he is also an accomplished pianist, juggler and aerial silk performer.
On a completely different note, the next evening we were entertained by singer Peter Cousens who is the only Australian to play the title role in â€œPhantom of the Opera,â€ in Londonâ€™s West End, which he did for nearly a year, in 1997. He also starred alongside Russel Crowe in â€œBlood Brothers,â€ and the late Richard Harris in â€œCamelot.â€
You canâ€™t be on this ship very long without realizing that the food, and those who prepare it, are the real stars of the cruise every day of the week. They know that if they are going to have passengers on a 115 day world cruise they have to be on top of their game continually.
In charge of it all Anne-Mari Cornelius, a native South African, who is the shipâ€™s Executive Chef. On a tour of the galley with her earlier this week Brad, himself a foodie, learned a little bit about the enormity of her responsibility. To begin with she oversees three galleys for as many as 380 passengers and another for the 300 crew members! She is in charge of the provisioning of the entire ship, making sure they never run out of anything. Almost everything comes from established suppliers, but at times she has to source high volume perishables, like berries and local fish, as the ship moves.
Sanitation, proper garbage disposal, staff training and management are just a few more of her duties. The ship has recently implemented a new iPad operated meal order system that is a major time saver for the dining room serving staff. Every passenger is in the shipâ€™s security system and is also linked to the meal serverâ€™s iPads. Most of the servers know every passenger and they punch in your suite number as they approach the table. Each guestâ€™s picture pops up along with the menu for the day, and the server clicks on everything you would like to have, but is also able to put in if you want your steak rare, or your eggs soft or hard. It works beautifully 99% of the time.
Speaking of percentages, Anne-Mariâ€™s team recently received 100% on a surprise inspection by the organization that comes aboard to do this sort of thing. Big congratulations to her and her staff. VT