It's happening tonight!!!...We're crossing back over the International Date Line..We'll have two May 1sts!


Image result for international date line map
Map of the world illustrating how the International Date Line effects each side of the line.
Tonight at midnight we'll conceptually turn our clocks back 24 hours as we cross the International Date Line.  Here in this part of the world, it's May 1st today, May Day for many people all over the world who celebrate and tomorrow it will be May Day, May 1st, once again.  Also, we'll experience two Mondays in a row.

As for May Day, itself, it's described as follows for those who celebrate aboard the ship.  How unusual they'll celebrate two days in a row:

"May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on May 1. It is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival. It is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake is usually part of the celebrations that the day includes.
In the late 19th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers' Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago. International Workers' Day may also be referred to as "May Day", but it is a different celebration from the traditional May Day."
As we cross the International Date Line tonight, we're reminded of when we crossed into this part of the world so long ago.  On June 4, 2015, we went to bed on the ship one night, awakening the next morning having missed an entire day/date.  That was peculiar to us.  Now we'll do the opposite.
We officially arrived in the South Pacific on May 30, 2015, and are leaving as we enter the Pacific Ocean after crossing the equator on May 3, 2017, a few days from now.  We've spent considerable time in the South Pacific as indicated below from the app we use to calculate between two dates:
"From and including Monday, May 25, 2015
To, but not including Monday, May 1, 2017

Result: 707 days

It is 707 days from the start date to the end date, but not including the end date
Or 1 year, 11 months, 6 days excluding the end date"

Illustration image
The International Date Line on another map.

How intriguing that we'll finally be in the same date range and day of the week of our friends and family members in our home country, the USA.


Going forward as we "go back" we'll have to redo our thinking when we communicate with family and friends when mentioning the day or date.  Not only have we had to consider the date and day of the week but we'll experience many times changes as this cruise continues on to North America.

Wondering why and how the International Date Line came to be, after some research we found the following at this site:

"The International Date Line, established in 1884, passes through the mid-Pacific Ocean and roughly follows a 180 degrees longitude north-south line on the Earth. It is located halfway around the world from the prime meridian—the zero degrees longitude established in Greenwich, England, in 1852.
The International Date Line functions as a “line of demarcation” separating two consecutive calendar dates. When you cross the date line, you become a time traveler of sorts! Cross to the west and it’s one day later; cross back and you’ve “gone back in time."
Despite its name, the International Date Line has no legal international status and countries are free to choose the dates that they observe. While the date line generally runs north to south from pole to pole, it zigzags around political borders such as eastern Russia and Alaska’s Aleutian Islands."
By perusing the map as shown in today's main photo, one can gain a better understanding of how this line cuts the globe in half.  Thus, when we prepare tomorrow's post about cannibalism is the South Pacific over the ages, we'll be back again on May 1st. 
Funny, eh?
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Photo from one year ago today, May 1, 2016:

Had we not been traveling the highway in Bali at such a clip, we'd have been able to take dozens of photos such as this, of famous Balinese gods, king, and queens. For more details, please click here.

Sailing toward Hawaii...Four days until we reach Kona, ..The Big Island...


A fancy outhouse on a tropical island.
Today, at 12:45 pm is the Crossing the Equator Ceremony which we'll attend poolside, taking photos we'll post tomorrow.  In these past four and a half years we've crossed the Equator on four occasions; twice on a ship and twice while on in the air.

Crossing  the Equator on a cruise ship is particularly festive when there is usually a ceremony filled with hilarious activities centered around King Neptune. Tomorrow, we'll return with our photos from the event.
Pristine beach and sea views.
In May 2015, while on our way from Hawaii to Sydney we thoroughly enjoyed the activities surrounding "King Neptune" and hope this ship will provide an equally entertaining Equator crossing event.

Otherwise, today will be a relatively quiet day for us.   With four more sea days, until we reach Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, where we spent Christmas with 12 of our family members in 2014, we'll be reminded of how long it's been since we've seen everyone.
A school of fish swimming by the tender.
As we count down to 23 days until we reach Minnesota, the time apart becomes more apparent than ever. We haven't seen son Richard in Henderson, Nevada since January 3, 2013 (when he wasn't able to join us in Hawaii in 2014), a full four and a half years ago. Nor, have we seen some of Tom's siblings his retirement party in October 2012 and others during Christmas in Las Vegas since 2012.

My eldest sister (four years) also lives in Las Vegas, Nevada about a 30-minute drive from Richard's home.  I haven't seen her since December 2012.  My dear sister has been lying in bed with the same spinal condition as mine for the past 12 years. 
Care for a ride on a small boat?
Seeing my dear sweet sister is a sorrowful reminder that had I not changed my diet five and a half years ago, lying in bed, unable to walk and in constant pain could have easily been my fate.  My hearts breaks for her. 

But, a life without the pleasure of many foods isn't for everyone.  For me, it was a no-brainer...be in a wheelchair or give up the foods I loved.  I choose to give up the foods.
The sun reflecting on the sea at the end of the day.
The end result of that decision has enabled us to travel the world, an impossible thought six years ago, a reality today.  There's no doubt I'm eternally grateful as is Tom.  And although, I continue to struggle with this lingering and annoying gastrointestinal thing I remain hopeful for the future.

The next leg of our journey await us; our family, our friends and the memories of the hot summers and wintertime frozen tundra of Minnesota, which in itself I do not miss at all.  We adapt, we change and our priorities change along with us.

We sail on...

Be well.
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Photo from one year ago today, May 3, 2016:

"Pinch me," I gasped, "Is this real?"  We could hardly believe our eyes when we saw two buffalo walking on the beach with their owner.  He'd brought them for a swim in the river next to our house.  The black spot in the ocean is a small buoy.  This was our first photo in our upcoming series of photos of "Sightings on the Beach in Bali," one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.

Leaving Suva, Fiji today for the vast open sea... A peek at early cruise ship history...


Despite their increasing success, these early cruises, called “excursions”, were difficult to plan with existing ships. Constructed as ocean liners, they did not meet the requirements of the pleasure-seeking market. They offered few amenities aboard. 

Note:  Due to the poor signal, formatting has been difficult for today's post, especially when copying information from another site.  We apologize for the spacing and font differential throughout the post.

With the ship refueled and provisions in the final stages of the loading process, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas will be departing Fiji around 5 pm.  As mentioned in yesterday's post, we have thousands of sea miles ahead of us.

We can only imagine what it must have been like generations ago for travelers to make their way across the seas, on a much longer and more hazardous journey.

In perusing online I stumbled across this site with the fascinating story of the world's first cruise line.  For those who prefer not to click on links, here are a few morsels directly from that article with photos.

"SS Albert Ballin was an ocean liner of the Hamburg-America Line launched in 1923 and named after Albert Ballin, visionary director of the line who had killed himself in despair several years earlier after the Kaiser’s abdication and Germany’s defeat in WW 2.  In 1935 the new Nazi government ordered the ship renamed to Hansa (Ballin having been Jewish).

The German shipping magnate Albert Ballin was responsible for turning Germany into a world leader in ocean travel prior to World War I. It was Ballin who also invented the pleasure cruise in 1891.

Born in Hamburg on 15 August 1857, Albert Ballin was destined to become a pioneer in making ocean travel a more pleasant, even luxurious experience. 

As a Jew, for most of his life, he would walk a fine line between social acceptance and scorn. But the “Kaiser’s Jew” long enjoyed financial and political prominence before falling out of favor and being branded a traitor to Germany as the First World War and his own life drew to their bitter end in 1918. Born in a poor section of Hamburg, Ballin (pronounced BALL-EEN) had achieved greatness and strongly influenced the passenger ship industry by the time he took his own life at age 61.
A decade before Albert Ballin’s birth, the company he would later head, the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag) had been founded on 27 May 1847, with the goal of operating a faster, more reliable liner service between Hamburg and North America, using the finest sailing ships. At that time a “fast” east-to-west Atlantic crossing took about 40 sailing days. The return voyage, with favorable west winds, required “only” 28 days.
This German postage stamp was issued in 1957 for the 100th anniversary of Albert Ballin’s birth in Hamburg.)  A “packet ship” gets its name from the time when ships were employed to carry mail packets to and from British embassies, colonies, and outposts. The term “packet service” later came to mean any regular, scheduled service, carrying freight and passengers – such as the Hamburg-American Packet Company.

Nevertheless, there was stiff competition for passengers on the North Atlantic route. Internationally, shipping lines in Britain and Prussia (after 1871) fought to attract passengers, but there was also competition within Germany itself between the port cities of Bremen (Bremerhaven) and Hamburg. In 1856 Hapag, under its first director, Adolph Godeffroy, put its first steamship, the Borussia, into service, becoming the first German shipping firm to do so. As time went by, coal-powered steamships would cut the travel time between Hamburg and New York down to just six or seven days."

For our "history buff" readers and for the remainder of the story, please click here.  We found the story interesting causes us to further appreciate the quality of the experiences we've had during this period in our lives with advanced design, amenities, convenience and technology.

During many conversations with passengers on this cruise and others, a common topic of conversation has been how modern conveniences and technology have greatly enhanced travelers desire to see the world in part by cruise ship.
THE FIRST CRUISE SHIP WAS A “PRINCESS”: – The Prinzessin Victoria Luise was the world’s first cruise ship.

For us, it's added considerably to our ability to visit more countries in shorter periods of time.  Although ports of call stops are often for only one day, it gives the traveler the opportunity to get a sampling of the flavor and persona of the city and a country.

However, our opportunities to stay in many countries for longer periods has provided us with a perspective that often proves to be very different than one might experience in a single day or two (such as these two days in port in Fiji).  
If anything, our longer stays while immersing ourselves into the culture and lifestyle of the locals leaves us appreciating and feeling more inspired than when we may spend a mere day in any location while on a cruise. 

Over these past two days, we've had an opportunity to share some of our Fiji lifestyle stories after spending four months on two islands, Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, both very different while possessing the similar friendly Fijian nature of its fine people.

Photos of the ship and her public rooms – as seen in Scientific American.
Fiji consist of 332 islands (of which 106 are inhabited) and 522 smaller islets. The two most important islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, which account for about three-quarters of the total land area of the country."

So off we go, to the Pacific Ocean, finally after almost two years departing the South Pacific.  We've had quite an adventure and yet look forward to the next leg of our journey.

Tomorrow, when we return here to post, we'll be on our way hoping to share the excitement as we head toward Hawaii for three days visiting three ports of call.  In a funny way, it will feel like going home after spending eight months in the islands.

Back at you soon.
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Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2016:
No photos were posted one year ago when the Wi-Fi signal on the ship, Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas.

Limited number of ports of call on this cruise...Long way yet to sail...9368 km, 5817 miles (5055 nautical miles)...


Isle of Pines coral reef is stunning.
The ship docked at the Port of Suva, Fiji early this morning for an overnight stay.  Why they chose this port for the extended stay baffled us until yesterday when the captain explained in a seminar held midday in the Palace Theatre.

Passengers seemed to enjoy the white sand beach and crystal clear sea.
The ship needed to refuel and gather provisions for the upcoming journey consisting of 9368 km, 5817 miles, 5055 nautical miles in order to sail to Seattle by May 15.  We boarded the ship one week ago today and the time is flying by more quickly than we'd expected.

These types of garments are not for me but it's fun to check them out.
The ease of life aboard ship along with a pleasant routine we tend to embrace within the first few days, the days almost pass in a blur.  We probably don't spend more than nine hours a day in our cabin, sleeping, showering and dressing for the day and then for the evening.


There were lots of trinkets for sale in New Caledonia.
Tom and I have the managed the small space in the cabin of 164 square feet down to a science.  We maneuver around one another with a flow comparable to a well-practiced dance where we seldom bump into one another.

After 18 cruises in similarly sized cabins (this is the smallest to date) we've managed to make the most of it in keeping the space tidy, organized and free of clutter.  On this particular cruise, we have a phenomenal cabin steward who's efforts include consistency and organizational skills similar to our own. 

Green themed sarongs.
Each morning as soon as we depart for breakfast she cleans our cabin to perfection.  By the time we return to get our laptops to head to the Diamond Lounge to prepare the day's post, every last item is completed with nary a wrinkle or item out of order.
Tourists typically purchase tee shirts and beach towels.
Today, we arrived a little later than usual when we lingered at the breakfast table chatting with other passengers, all of whom were about to explore Suva for the day.  We didn't arrive in the Diamond Lounge until 10 am when in most cases, we'll be done preparing the post by 11.  This accounts for today's slightly later posting.

A tiny row boat at the ready.
As we've recounted the details of our four-month stay in Fiji on two islands, from September 8, 2015, to January 4, 2016, we giggled over our varied experiences during that period.
Ship passengers peruse the many shops in Isle of Pines New Caledonia.
Whether it was the ants that filled the mattress and pillows on the bed on our first night in Savusavu; buying Kava for the chief when we visited the Vuodomo waterfall; the nightly visits by our neighbor Sewak's adorable dog Badal who happened to arrive while we were dining, hoping for morsels of meat which we always provided; or the trips to the outdoor markets for food and supplies, we continue to relish the experiences, good and not-so-good yet today.
Two sleeping dogs seemed unfazed about the stream of visitors.
Unfortunately, it was on the second island in Fiji that I contracted this lingering intestinal bacteria I'm continuing to purge from my system with carefully selected foods, supplements, and portion control. 
A rusted outboard motor fashioned into a work of art?
Regardless of the ups and downs, we continue to feel a powerful sense of joy wash over us each and every day.  From the couples with who we've become friends aboard this ship; to the many email messages we continue to receive from readers and friends we've made along the way; to the anticipation of the upcoming Alaskan cruise and of course, seeing family and friends in less than a month.
Clouds above the pretty beach in the Isle of Pines.
Today, at 1:30 pm the newer movie, Lion, filmed in Tasmania is playing at the Palace Theatre.  We're certainly looking forward to this movie when our recent stay in Tasmania left us with an appreciation and gratefulness for the three months we spent on the exquisite island.
I haven't owned a muu muu since I was pregnant in 1966.  (That certainly "dates" me!)
Every day as time marches on, we're reminded of our growing past experiences in one way or another.  And yet, there's so much we've yet to see.  The future looks bright and filled with wonder.  May good health keep us on track for that which is yet to come.

We offer the same wishes for all of you; good health and well being.
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Photo from one year ago today, April 29, 2016:

Sunset on the last night of our cruise to Singapore one year ago today.  For more details, please click here.



Visiting Isle of Pines, New Caledonia..."New' places to visit...The fun continues with flourish...



View of the shore as our tender pulled into the dock at Isle of Pines, New Caledonia.
This itinerary's ports of call are a little repetitive for us. Having been to most of these ports, we tend to hesitate when considering if its of interest to get off the ship. In many cases, since we don't shop, visiting ports we've visited in the past holds little appeal.


As soon as we disembarked the tender we walked toward the rows of shops.
These two ports of call on this ship's itinerary we'd hadn't visited in the past are:  Isle of Pines, New Caledonia and Mystery Island, Vanuatu both of which we visited over the past several days, each of which we thoroughly enjoyed seeing and now sharing.

Now on our way to Fiji, we have little interest in getting off the ship after spending a total of four months on two of its hundreds of islands and thus, we'll be content to stay on board and enjoy the quiet while other passengers check it out.
An old structure at the beach.
We realized this 24 night cruise would consist of many repeated ports including the arrival in Hawaii in nine days (including crossing the International Dateline).  After spending eight months in Hawaii, we may only disembarked in Lahaina, Maui which we'd visited during our six weeks in Maui in 2014.  Its a fun little town and we'll surely enjoy seeing it again.


A round house at the beach in Isle of Pines.
However, we didn't choose this cruise for its ports of call.  We're using this cruise as a pleasurable means of getting from Point A to Point B; Sydney, Australia to Seattle, Washington, getting us close to our upcoming Alaskan cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia, ending in Seattle, Washington and then on to family visits in both Minnesota and Nevada.

In our old lives, the prospect of an Alaskan cruise would have sent us to the moon with delight.  Now, although enthusiastic over this cruise, its a normal part of our daily lives of world travel, another interesting stop along the way.


An old structure on the narrow beach road.
Don't get me wrong.  We don't take any of these opportunities lightly. But after four and a half years of travel, we've settled into an easy acceptance of new spaces, new places and new adventures which seem to continue in our path as we navigate from one part of the world to another.


We walked this path with other passengers to arrive at the main area of the port of call.
The highlight of our lives surely is in the "new."  New locations, new people, new cultures, new scenery and new wildlife surely seem to set our hearts and minds whirring with excitement. 

Of course, our upcoming return to Africa may be the exception.  Most likely, it will seem new to us after being away for almost four years, having left South Africa in February 2014 and Morocco in May, 2014.  (We won't be returning to Morocco on this upcoming visit instead visiting several other countries on the vast continent).


Helicopter at the local police facility.
As for Isle of Pines, New Caledonia here's a little information from this site:
"The Isle of Pines (French: Île des Pins; name in Kanak language Kwênyii: Kunyié) is an island located in the Pacific Ocean, in the archipelago of New Caledonia, an overseas collectivity of France. The island is part of the commune (municipality) of L'Île-des-Pins, in the South Province of New Caledonia. The Isle of Pines is nicknamed l'île la plus proche du paradis ("the closest island to Paradise"). It has snorkeling and scuba diving in and around its lagoon. Species of tropical fish and corals can be seen in the transparent water.
The island is around 22°37′S 167°29′E and measures 15 km (9.3 mi) by 13 km (8.1 mi). It lies southeast of Grande Terre, New Caledonia's main island and is 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of the capital Nouméa. There is one airport (code ILP) with a 1,097 m (3,599 ft) runway. The Isle of Pines is surrounded by the New Caledonia Barrier Reef.
The inhabitants of the island are mainly native Melanesian Kanaks and the population is 2,000 (estimated 2006) (1989 population 1,465).
The island is rich with animal life and is home to unusual creatures such as the Crested Gecko Rhacodactylus ciliatus and the world's largest gecko Rhacodactylus leachianus.
The pic Nga is the island's highest point, at 262 metres (860 ft) elevation. River Ouro is the longest river.

History

Melanesian people lived of the island for over 2000 years before the island was first visited by Europeans. Captain James Cook in 1774 saw the island and renamed it on his second voyage to New Zealand. Cook gave the island its name after seeing the tall native pines (Araucaria columnaris). He never disembarked onto the island, but as he saw signs of inhabitance (smoke) assumed it was inhabited. In the 1840s Protestant and Catholic missionaries arrived, along with merchants seeking sandalwood.
The French took possession of the island in 1853 at which time the native Kunies opted for the Catholic religion. In 1872 the island became a French penal colony, home to 3,000 political deportees from the Paris Commune.

Sights

The ruins of a penal colony can be seen in the village of Ouro in the west of the island. The water tower of Ouro which was built by prisoners in 1874/75 and renovated in 2005 is still used today.
On the cemetery Cimetière des Déportés near Ouro a pyramide-shaped memorial and the graves of 300 deportees who died here between 1872 and 1880 can be seen."

A church or public building?
As illustrated above, there wasn't a lot of possible sightseeing venues in the small village.  The scenery, gorgeous beaches and the shopping certainly bring cruise ships to the area aiding in providing income for the locals as they present their various wares for sale.

Unlike our usual mission to check out the scenery and culture, we found ourselves wandering through the lean-to shops in the popular boutique area which required a bit of a walk on an uneven path.

Hibiscus type flowers growing along the path to the boutique area.
Cruise passengers generally gravitate to shopping areas hoping to discover that perfect item to bring home to family and friends.  We're more interested in observing local crafts and craftspeople. 

In many ports of call, as was the case in both Isle of Pines and Mystery Island (photos coming soon on this island), many of the items offered for sale are trinkets made in China that we've seen in other ports of call throughout the world. 
Regardless, we enjoy ourselves, taking many photos, chatting with passengers on the tenders on the round trip back and forth to the ship and later discussing our varied opinions on what the area had to offer.  
Scene down a private road.
As is the case for most passengers on cruises, they're optimistic and upbeat in describing various ports of call rather than expressing any disdain over any potential lack of appeal.

Last night we had a fabulous evening with two couples we met, one of which we've spent the past two nights.  All from Australia, the conversation was spiked with typical and appealing Aussie speak and good humor which we'll miss as we make our way out of the South Pacific in weeks to come.

We are both doing well, enjoying ourselves while feeling settled and familiar with this cruising way of life while over this extended period.  Once again, it's become "home" to us.
Be well.
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Photo from one year ago today, April 28, 2017:
The workaround for grabbing last year's photo is not working around again due to the poor signal on the ship.  Today's a sea day with everyone is online.  We'll post the missing photos once we move to a new location.  Thanks for your patience.