The sum of us
Thirteen nights, two children, one ship and 3897 other passengers — a South Pacific cruise by idle numbers
cyclone is all it takes to put something of a dampener on a cruise, so of course Captain Rick Sullivan has a Plan B. Tropical Cyclone Cook, we learn while standing in loose, ebullient lines during a departure-day safety drill on deck, appears to be heading for Noumea. So is Explorer of the Seas, which at 1020ft long and 157.5ft wide is likely to prove unwieldy in an emergency three-pointturn situation.
Plan B, I will discover days later, is to divert to another first port on our 13-night Royal Caribbean round trip from Sydney to New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu. But that would be the easy part. Changing course would also involve rejigging the huge entertainment program, with some performers due to embark at ports along the way. Shore tours would need to be cancelled, refunded or rethought. The carefully calculated dispersal of a mountain of perishable provisions would be upset. The crew of this enormous white swan, gliding across the seas with its cargo of 3900 carefree cruisers, would be paddling like crazy under the surface — or more crazily than usual. The priority, as always: to ensure the passengers, prone on poolside loungers, going nuts in the kids’ clubs, gobbling gyoza in the Japanese fine diner or doing the foxtrot in the Palace Theatre, feel nothing but the serenity. And so it is. A cruise ship is another country, where nothing bad ever happens. The 1200 crew will see to that.
sea-days later, I remember I’ve forgotten about the cyclone. Category 3 Cook has skirted Noumea, causing some damage in outlying communities but not so much as a spilled mango daiquiri at the poolside bars of our ship — cocktail hour and prepaid drinks packages notwithstanding. Sadly, organised water-based activities around
Mystery Island, Vanuatu, top; inviting cuisine, above left; activity deck, above, on Explorer of the Seas, below