Our first port of call on our 18 day Transpacific Cruise was supposed to be Isle of Pines, New Caledonia. Isle of Pines is a beach destination, and it was something we had been looking forward to since we’d left the beaches of Southern Thailand over a month earlier. Sadly, it was windy and the seas were too rough to tender us in to Isle of Pines (since a large enough dock wasn’t available), and we therefore arrived a day early in our second port, Noumeau, where we stayed 2 days on this small French-owned island. Our cruise ship docked on the commercial barge dock (very common for the South Pacific Islands), and the cruise ship had free shuttles to take us into town. Free shuttles meant long waiting lines…but the kids entertained themselves.
I think they entertained the 100+ grandparents also waiting in line!
We decided to set our sights on the local aquarium, Aquarium des Lagons, after seeing that it had good reviews on Trip Advisor. Instead of booking the Ship’s City Sights Excursion that would have included a tour of the city as well as the aquarium for $55/adult and $39/child, we simply walked into the aquarium and paid $11 per adult, and half that for children (our 2 year old was free).
As a side note, I don’t believe Royal Caribbean’s free shuttle will take you to this part of the island, but since they were apologetic about us missing our scheduled port they took us directly to a touristy peninsula/shopping area where the aquarium was located. Score for us!
(I have no apologies for Ethan. He’s just a goofy kid!) After purchasing our tickets from the French-speaking lady at the counter, we entered a beautifully done (albeit small) aquarium that had the kids fully entertained for about an hour!
Most of the displays were in French and English, and we certainly saw some things we’ve never seen before. For example, we were astonished to see a zebra shark egg displayed in one window, and in the window next to it they had cut open a viable zebra shark egg, and had protected the egg with a plastic sheath. Therefore, you could see the little embryo swimming/moving around inside of the egg—alive! It was awesome! It was tiny, and my photos didn’t do it justice…so I have no embryo-window photos…just the egg!
Of course, a seashell hunt ensued…
After killing time on the beach, we hopped back on our shuttle and went back to the ship for an early dinner. The next morning we woke up to torrential rain, and were grateful we had gotten out the day before to visit the aquarium and beach! Nevertheless, we took that day’s free shuttle to the visitor’s center in the city, in search of a taxi cab ride to our local church service. The visitor’s center staff was extremely helpful in trying to locate someone who could drive us there (surprisingly a hard task—since most drivers there simply wanted to give tours), but after learning that it would be $50 USD to drive us there (and we weren’t even positive about the meeting time), we decided to go back to the ship and give the kids a Sunday School in our own stateroom. Sometimes you win ‘em…sometimes you lose ‘em!