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New Caledonia
December 20, 2023

Today was a port day. Traci and I ate breakfast at the Windows dining room at 8 AM. I was happy that my scratchy throat no longer existed.

We had arrived in Noumea which is the capital of the island nation of New Caledonia. The island is located in the Pacific about 900 miles east of Australia. The language is French. As was the case with most of the islands we visited, this was an industrial port. This one seemed more active than the others. In fact, passengers were not allowed to walk in the area of this port. Passengers were required to board one of the shuttle buses that were shuttling passengers from the port to the Office of Tourism building located about 5 minutes away.

I had booked the Yellow Tchou Tchou Train shore excursion for Traci and me. We needed to be at the Stardust Theater at 9:30 AM so that our tour group could exit the ship at together. Traci and I were a bit surprised when we arrived at the theater at 9:30 AM on the dot only to be told that our group had already been dismissed to exit the ship. In fact, a lady in a different tour group had the nerve to tell Traci and me, "You're late!" Irritated, Traci told the lady that we arrived at the meeting time printed on our tour ticket.

As I suspected, Traci and I were not late. We exited the ship and were directed to the shuttle bus for people doing the shore excursion. There were others who boarded after us. We were driven to the Office of Tourism building where we boarded a yellow tram whose first car was in the shape of a train locomotive. This Tchou Tchou train is driven on the street.

Our narrated tour lasted an hour and a half. As we were being driven through the city streets, our guide pointed out sights such as the hospital, Lemon Bay (popular beach and tourist district), a military facility, expensive neighborhoods, and parks. We stopped at two overlooks to see the ocean and distant islands. We really felt like celebrites as our driver navigated the streets. People would wave at our tram and shout "Bonjour!". Some would take pictures of us.

There was nothing on this tour that I consider a must-see. It was just a fun way to hear some commentary while taking in the busy city that is surrounded by beautiful tropical scenery. Near the end of the tour, both Traci and I were struggling to stay awake in the warm breeze as our Tchou Tchou train rode along.

Yellow Tchou Tchou Train Shore Excursion




The tour ended where it began at the Office of Tourism building. The first floor of the building has an information booth, restroom, and a sitting area. There was a lady singing to recorded tracks to entertain us tourists. She had a very nice voice. Even though the language of New Caledonia is French, the lady sang pop music in English. She occasionally sang some Christmas music as well. Most important to us cruisers was that this building had free, fast Wi-Fi. Ship passengers and crew alike all seemed to be focused on their mobile phone screen.

Office of Tourism


The second floor of the Office of Tourism building contained vendor stalls selling souvenirs. Traci continued her search for a red and white tropical dress. There was one that caught her eye. It was not as expensive as the ones she saw on the other islands we visited. She did not make a purchase yet because she wanted to see what the stores in Noumea were offering. With that, we set off on foot to explore downtown Noumea which was just across the street from the tourism office. The weather was mostly sunny but we occasionally got hit with a spritz of rain. One thing that was noticeable while we strolled the city was the hair style of the young black men. They tended to sport a wild afro.

There were all types of businesses, restaurants, boutiques, grocery stores, and even a few souvenir shops in downtown Noumea. There were a lot of dress shops. Traci seemed to be on a mission to visit all of them. I do not enjoy shopping but I actually enjoyed this outing. It gave me a chance to speak French. We did not encounter many people who spoke English. Therefore, I acted as a translator between Traci and the merchants. Other times, I just enjoyed chatting with merchants while Traci was in the dressing room. They were curious about our cruise itinerary and where I was from.

Our shopping eventually led us to Noumea's Quartier Asiatique (Asian quarter/neighborhood). There were more shops full of dresses and materials for making dresses. Traci saw several dresses she liked but they were all more expensive than the one that caught her eye at the tourism office. In the end, we made our way back to the tourism office where Traci finally purchased that tropical dress. We spent the rest of the time, taking advantage of the free internet in the building until we heard an announcement that the final shuttle bus back to the ship was boarding. This was surprising because it was earlier than the departure time we were told on the ship.

The Streets of Noumea





Traci and I had a delicious dinner in the Windows dining room. I left the dining room to retrieve something from our cabin for Traci. I was shocked to see that there was already a line of passengers outside the Stardust Theater at 7:15 PM for the special 8 PM Christmas show. I rushed back to let Traci know. Fortunately, there was no problem finding a seat in the theater. The show was a variety Christmas show that had kind of a Lawrence Welk feel. There were carollers, tap dancers, and a storyteller. Some of the acts we saw earlier on the cruise such as the Duo Delight acrobats and the magician also perform. It was an entertaining show but both Traci and I were starting to get sleeping after a day of walking around the city in the heat.

ready for the Christmas show


I had felt good all day but now that it was nighttime, a new set of symptoms of whatever had been trying to infect me over the last day and a half were flaring up. I had a mild headache and a stuffy nose. I took a Tylenol and a squirt of nose spray before going to bed. Continue...

Magnet Purchased At This Destination: (click to enlarge)

Entire fridge magnet collection...


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