The sum of us

Thir­teen nights, two chil­dren, one ship and 3897 other pas­sen­gers — a South Pa­cific cruise by idle num­bers

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION AFLOAT - CATHY OS­MOND

ONE

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.

TWO

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

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