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The Adventure's of Vanesa and Nicole

Welcome to Vanesa and Nicole's Travel Page. Here is where we will be keeping a record of our travels for all of you to read. Please feel free to leave a comment for us. When we have time in between working, discovering new places and meeting new people we will reply to them!

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 04 May 2010

Location: New Caledonia

\"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn\'t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.\" -- Mark Twain

So here we are pursuing our dreams of travelling the world and living with no regrets later in life. With that thought in mind, you only live once, so why not! And as Nike states, “Just Do It!”

Life at sea has given us so many more adventures with twists and turns. So hold on to your buoys, err, we mean seats for this next chapter of “The Adventures on the High Seas with Nicole and Vanesa.” Argh!

“Wow, the swells are really high tonight. I am not feeling so well, I think I’m going to rest my head for a bit.” Vanesa replied as the boat was rocking back and forth. It didn’t help that this cruise our cabin was located in the very front of the ship where you feel the motion more. We are fortunate to have Arlene as our roommate again, and this not so talkative New Zealander named Anna. Later on the next day we discovered that Anna in fact did have a voice, and just so happened to be earning her sea legs the evening before as it was her first cruise experience. When we got chatting we discovered that we had a great deal in common with Anna, and we soon became the “3 Musketeers.”

The first week being Easter there was a lot of festivities going on around the ship. We came prepared with our cute pink and white bunny ears. Who knew that Nicole’s bunny ears would come in handy for more than one event? The night of April 3rd was our Cruise Director’s Birthday. In honour of her birthday the staff threw a “Night of the Living Dead” party down in the crew bar. It felt like Halloween all over again, but then again every day on the ship feels like Halloween as we change costumes at least once a day. Nicole dressed up as the Killer Easter Bunny. You can imagine what a challenge it was getting her down to the crew bar without scaring the living daylights out of some of the children. Vanesa was supposed to be a dead Marilyn Monroe, but ended up settling for a beheaded dead person with the help of our fellow Canadian Jenna. The night was a great start to the festivities that were yet to come in celebration of Nicole’s 25th Birthday.

The morning of Nicole’s Birthday started off early with her free excursion to a private island off the coast of Noumea, New Caledonia. The weather was very humid and sunny, a perfect day for snorkelling, so she thought. Little did she know that snorkelling that day was going to cause her to experience a new type of sting, this time she got stung by a jellyfish. In the words of Karen Makela “If you had any more luck it would be scary.” Clearly from our previous blogs we know that if anything bites or stings, it is bound to find Nicole.

After dressing up like bunnies, the day brought with it numerous Easter activities such as: an egg hunt, a surprise visit from the Easter Bunny, and egg decorating. After changing into our third costume in a 24 hour period, the work day concluded with the ships Country n’ Western night. This took place in the dome and consisted of a great deal of line dancing (which we suck at) and country games. Later on that evening we rounded up the crew and treated Nicole to a pizza party in the boats Pizzeria. In Nicole’s case it was more like a bread, sauce and veggie party as she is lactose intolerant.

We wonder what the big ‘mystery’ is about this Mystery Island we are visiting tomorrow. Could it be that they finally discovered who killed Michael Jackson or is it a mystery that Sherlock Holmes has yet to solve?

We arrived into the port of Mystery Island, Vanuatu early morning and soon discovered what all the fuss was about. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful with picturesque beaches. Some of the passengers who went on tours were filling us in on the history of the Island. It is hard to believe that the people of this beautiful Island were once exposed to the devastation of cannibalism. This was the way of life for hundreds of years, and was only demolished a mere 25 years ago back in 1985 (the year Nicole was born.) Let’s just say that it’s a good thing we arrived 25 years too late, or else we may have been dessert!

Next stop on the agenda was Port Vila, Vanuatu. We were particularly excited for this port as we had an entire day planned with all of the Youth Staff girls, to relax at a nearby Golf and Spa Resort known as Le Lagon. Upon arrival, the humidity hit us like a ton of bricks and we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a bunch of competitive cab drivers literally fighting over us.

“No, I am taking these eight beautiful ladies in my van,” yelled one cab driver.

“Well I already have four passengers in this cab, so I will take four ladies in mine and the other four can wait for the next one.”

The fights went back and forth for several minutes until we couldn’t take it anymore. Sarah walked up to a random cab and yelled out “we’re getting in this cab, who’s the driver?”And that was that, we were off to Le Lagon without a fret. It was a difficult feat to get a cab, and it is sad to think that’s what they have to do in order to compete for their business.

When pulling up to the Resort, we were amazed at how well kept and beautiful it was. We felt like celebrities getting to spend the day there. The cost of admission = one pina colada. We can handle that! The Resort had all the necessary amenities including: stunning white beaches, and water sports. The day consisted of swimming in the oversized pool, lounging in the sun, and taking pictures around the resort. It felt just like we were on vacation - any girl’s perfect getaway place. That illustrated Paradise! At one point we had totally forgot that we were not here on vacation, but just on a half day break from work to enjoy the port.

Pentecost Island, Vanuatu was the next port we were going to get to explore. We were particularly interested in getting off the boat and seeing this island. We had heard a great deal from some of the crew members about the cultural ceremonies that take place. After a short tender boat ride to the island, we had to continue walking towards the Village along a dirt road. We were caused to take a close look into the economic struggles that these people face on a day to day basis, and what drives them to beg for money by singing, showing off a talent, or just merely posting a sign asking for donations. Observing the village people really tugged at our heartstrings, and we felt like we wanted to do more. It shows how much these islands depend on the cruise ships coming in to port to help them out financially.

Further down the road, we stopped at a large field where crowds of people were standing. The main focus of this field was this man-made vine tower that resembled a tree. Men and boys were pacing back and forth chanting a ceremonial song that was to signify a boy’s transition into a man. This chanting was to enhance the ceremony. The boy would climb to the top of this tree tower where he would then have his ankles tied together by vines. When he was ready he would then proceed to the edge of the vine and jump off head first into the gravel. It is scary for the spectators to watch as it seems very unsafe. When the vine becomes fully extended it sounds like bones snapping. This ceremony was actually very disturbing to witness, but rather interesting at the same time.

That evening after returning to the ship the Food and Beverage Department had organized a crew event, the theme being Fashionista. We got all dolled up and made ourselves look like celebrities. We were really impressed when we walked downstairs into the crew bar to see how much effort had been put into their event. From an event planners perspective, it was well planned out with runways, photographers, videos and a fashion show to follow. That night, the three musketeers really felt like models as random people were coming up to us asking to take photos with them. A great night had by all, although the Youth Department had to match this event.

The Youth Department had the opportunity a few days later to execute an event, and it was decided we would host a Disney theme. We stayed up until 4am the night before making signs and Disney Characters. You could say that working for Disney paid off for Nicole as her drawings added to the event. We also stayed up making our costumes so that we stood out as we were going as the Fairy Godmothers from Sleeping Beauty. You would have thought we bought our costumes they were so good, but Anna being an Art Teacher back home, was able to easily assist with these amazing costumes!

We were impressed to see that all the crew had made a huge effort in dressing up. Disney characters ranged from movies such as: The Lion King, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, and 101 Dalmations. It was absolutely amazing that we were able to pull off this event, as we had such short notice. Our Cruise Director was especially impressed as she is head of the entertainment department. It was an event that was talked about for days after, so that is how we knew that we did a job well done. It definitely brought back memories for us from Humber, and it was nice to unleash our inner event planners for an evening.

Currently we are on land for our last week in Sydney. We will spend it catching up on sleep, hanging out with our mates, and completing what we missed out on the first time around. On the weekend we fully embraced ourselves in the Australian culture by seeing our first NRL football (rugby) game. The game was the Manly Sea Eagles vs. South Sydney Rabbitoh’s at the ANZ Olympic Stadium. It was neat to get a chance to visit the Olympic Park, where the 2000 summer Olympics were held. During the game we found out that the South Sydney team was owned by the actor Russell Crowe. This week we also hope to see some Australian wildlife at one of the many Sydney Zoo’s. Nicole has yet to see a kangaroo and koala up close and personal.

We will be embarking on a new boat, The Pacific Jewel, from May 10th to May 29th. It will be nice to experience a new ship for a bit, meet new people, and continue to explore new places. We are super excited for the first cruise as we will be visiting the rest of Northern Australia such as: The Whitsunday’s, Willis Island, Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef.

On May 29th we will be heading back to Brisbane to continue our contracts back on the Pacific Dawn, which will finish approximately the end of July.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Location: Vila, Vanuatu

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” (Gilbert K. Chesterton)

Being in Brisbane again for a week long layover we have a great deal of time on our hands to think. We were pondering today how we initially came into this journey of self discovery with little to no expectations. We thought like everyone else that we would only manage to stay away for a couple of months, before returning to Canada. As time went on we discovered that we were not just on this journey to be a tourist and stay for a couple of months, we are a true traveler by definition. We are not here to see the common attractions, but rather to learn and grow as individuals, get to know the locals, their lifestyles, and traditions.

If we could describe ourselves in one word right now, that word would be DETERMINED! Like any situations in life things don’t always go your way. Let us tell you, if there was a long route to be taken, you better believe we took it. However, as the saying goes “When life throws you lemons, make lemonade,” we have taken those words to heart and made lemonade out of every situation. We have used that quote as our motto this entire trip, and in our opinion it has worked out quite well.

We have managed to land an amazing job opportunity in our field of child/youth work for P & O Australia Cruise Lines after a long few months of job searching. We have just completed our first week, and absolutely love it. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t quite hold up and we managed to catch some tropical activity from two cyclones which were located to the north of us. This caused 7 – 10 meter high swells which shook the boat pretty good. We were not authorized to dock at our first location which was Noumea, New Caledonia as the swells were too high and it was unsafe to get that close to shore. We did however manage to dock in Lifou, Loyalty Islands and Vila, Vanuatu which were both cute little villages, and boy was it hot there. TRES CHAUD!

The boat that we are working on is called the Pacific Dawn, it holds approximately 2000 individuals in total, 1200 passengers and 800 crew members. There are 14 decks which include: 4 swimming pools, a dance club, show lounge, shops, restaurants, bars, spa, and fitness gym. We could not last a day without getting lost at least once. There are so many doorways and hallways that all look the same. Being entertainment staff we are entitled to use all of these facilities, with restrictions of course. We have met so many new friends from all over the world. Some countries include: The Philippines, England, Scotland, New Zealand and Canada (of course)!

The staff members have been wonderful and very welcoming in terms of showing us around and making us feel at home. Being in the entertainment department means that we are required to dance in a couple of the children’s shows (don’t worry we will bring home a DVD so you can laugh at us.) We have a great number of themed evenings such as: Country & Western, Island Night, Dancing through the Decades, Formal Night (where the children dress up in their cute little prom dresses and mini tuxes.) All these evenings involve dancing to at least two choreographed dances, so when we return we have some dance moves to learn.

We have been fortunate enough to have our contracts extended until the 10th of July. During that time we will also get the opportunity to try out another ship called the Pacific Jewel for two weeks during Pacific Dawn’s dry dock. We are looking forward to getting back to work and truly immersing ourselves in sea life, and getting involved as much as possible. We have noticed that departments don’t seem to be interacting with one another as much. So we are hoping to go back to the ship and work closely with the crew lounge staff to start planning some special events and theme nights for staff onboard. We look forward to introducing new programming into our department; as well as, showing off our new themed night outfits. Stay tuned for some crazy and fun pictures!

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