The search for happiness continues..
There’s only been a day or two where ideas for happiness have meant I’ve really had to think of something. Most days, if it makes me smile, then I add it to my ‘happy’ list
Things to be happy about…
There’s a lot in life to be thankful for. Many things to be happy about. But often I get stuck in a negative mindset that just leads to more negativity. I grumble at hubby and the kids, about work and finding time to do this and that.
So when the ‘100 happy days‘ challenge came across my Facebook newsfeed, I made a decision to sign up and start looking for positivity that I can document. Any small or large thing or person or event that made me happy for a day or an hour or even just for a moment gets the recognition it deserves.
So far, it’s been easy to find something to be happy about (getting the perfect composition of a photo that is Instagram worthy has been harder 😝) Being on long service leave means I have time to myself. Time to stare out the window and appreciate the sun shining through autumn leaves or quiet of an empty house. I hope once I’m back at work next week I’ll be in a good habit and I can still appreciate those little things and find the time to acknowledge and document them.
So what about you? Can you be happy for 100 days in a row? Give it a go…you might surprise yourself!
We didn’t have to get off at any of the islands; in fact lots of people stayed on board the ship for a bit of quiet time! But we knew we might never visit this part of the world again, so we booked some Shore Excursions. The shore excursions were by far the most expensive part of our ship spending. We tried not to think about the cost of this bus ride, or how much that tour is actually costing per hour and just enjoyed ourselves. The Carnival website gave us a chance to browse all of the shore excursion options well before we boarded the ship. We had already chosen what we thought we would like, and once onboard, we got a brochure detailing the activities the ship offered. We could have gone with private excursion operators, but if we booked with the Carnival affiliated ones, we were guaranteed the ship would wait for us if the tour was running late. Peace of mind wins out! Sadly we were too slow to book for one of the tours we really wanted to do, so we know for next time to book everything the minute we step onto the boat!
On our cruise, we stopped at 4 South Pacific Islands; Mare, New Caledonia; Vila, Vanuatu; Noumea, New Caledonia and Isle of Pines, New Caledonia. We were often greeted by local dancers in traditional costumes which was really nice to see, despite the ugly surroundings.
We tied up at container ship docks in Vila and Noumea, but had to dock off shore in Mare and Isle of Pines. To get ashore, we used the life boats from the ship to ‘tender’ across.
There is pretty much nothing to do on Mare, so we booked the only activity offered…a bus ride to the beach! Even though rain clouds kept passing over, the day was great. The water was that incredible turquoise colour you see in travel brochures and the kids got their first chance to try out snorkeling.
The only down side to this day was that we all got BADLY sunburnt, despite applying sunscreen. I thought we were used to the harsh Australian sun, but perhaps the sun in the South Pacific was much harsher. Or maybe we needed to reapply it much sooner. Either way, we were lobsters that night and are now still peeling despite copious amount of aloe vera cream applied!
The first thing that hit us as we walked off the gangway in Vanuatu was the humidity. Mike’s shirt was wet after 5 minutes! We had booked a ‘Round Island Safari’ but as the ship was leaving an hour earlier than normal, the tour was going to be cut short a bit. Sadly, we didn’t get told about or have a choice in what was cut out of the tour due to the time restraints.
We went to a cultural village where we learned about how the local tribes survived the recent cyclone and saw the traditional rite of passage; hot coal walking.
Next stop was a waterfall where we got to have a refreshing 5 minute dip. Being able to wash off the sweat was a godsend!
The next stop was a beautiful beach, which we assumed was the beach used in the Survivor Vanuatu series since we were supposed to visit that, but we were never told if this was the exact one.
We were also supposed to visit the site of the WWII affected areas, but that didn’t happen either. We did stop at a pretty spot for a packed lunch, but we were hustled off again pretty quickly. The rest of the time was spend driving around the island, which was nice to look at the how the locals lived, but we were over it after the first hour!
We did get 30mins in downtown Vila to shop for souveniers but I would have preferred to ditch this for a longer swim in the waterfall or at the Survivor beach.
We went on a short tour of Noumea before being left at a lovely beach for an hour and a half. The tour guide was from America, and despite getting an opinion-based commentary of the area, it was good to hear about local life and a westerner’s view of the French Province.
The beach and shops around it were like any seaside town, filled with tourists and souvenier and food shops. We walked along the shops for a little bit before heading to the beach. It wasn’t very good for snorkeling, so we just swam around. There was a pontoon anchored a fair way off the beach, so the kids and I challenged ourselves to swim out to it. Luckily the kids had their swim vests on because it got deep really quickly. We tried not to think about sharks or jellyfish and reassured ourselves that they would have told us if we needed to be careful!!
When we were back at the boat, we could have taken another free shuttle ride back into Noumea, since the ship was docking there for most of the day, but we decided we needed lunch and rest back on board.
Isle of Pines
We had intended to book a really cool turtle and island tour here, but we were too slow and apparently it is the most popular tour of the cruise. Even though we were disappointed, Isle of Pines itself made up for it! It had the same souvenier stalls set up like the other islands, but something about it seemed more laid back. Perhaps it was us knowing it was our last island before heading home.
We walked past a beautiful beach to a very popular snorkeling spot. Everyone had a go at snorkeling, though the coral looked like it had been stepped on by thousands of tourist feet and lots of it was lying dead and broken on the sea bed. Still, we saw lots of fish and Alex swears he saw a sea snake swimming around!
After that we headed back to the first beach, which looked better for just splashing around. We past more food stalls and tried out some of the local cuisine. Mike had battered and deep fried fruit (aiming for that 4kg challenge!) then a fresh fruit plate, I tried a local dish of sweet potato, pineapple, chicken and some other things that had been slow cooked in banana leaves, and the kids ate regular beach food…icecream and chips! Man was I craving those twisties! I even turned a blind eye to the $5 per bag price tag!!!
The kids splashed around and made new friends in the water, while I read and Mike wandered the market stalls. We saw a man hiring out paddle boards so we gave that a go too.
The beach, the clear water and the serenity made Isle of Pines my favourite pit spot on the cruise!
Will we cruise again? Absolutely! Just finding the right cruise at the right time is going to be mission over the next few months. We were thinking of touring New Zealand, but the open sea=seasickness is putting us off. Hopping up the east coast of Australia to Bali and Singapore is the front runner at them moment. We already have our awesome travel agent on the job!