Date of Trip: July 2007
We sailed out of Auckland on a wet and windy Winters day. The weather report had predicted winds of 150 kph so I was a bit nervous on my debut cruise, but the crew assured me the captain wouldn’t sail if it wasn’t safe!!! No one could have predicted the chaos that would follow.
Two hours after we set sail as we were just finishing our dinner, the ship did an almighty lurch, tipping all the dishes off the tables and toppling people off their chairs. We were told to go back to our cabins and the 2nd sitting for dinner was cancelled and delivered to passengers in their cabins..people were sitting and lying everywhere with their sick bags, some not making it into those so a horrible sight and a huge cleanup job for the crew.
We just made it back to the cabin in time to see the glasses on our cabinet go flying and so after cleaning that I decided to try and get some sleep, deciding to stay in my clothes (apparently everyone else did the same). The ship was lurching in all directions by this time. Our troubled sleep was interrupted by the sound of smashing glass, the crashing of the waves against the bow and just trying to stay in bed was a mission. I looked out the window at some early hour of the morning and wish I hadn’t – there was a 14mtr wave coming straight towards us – how do we get out of this I thought to myself but we somehow managed to.
The next day, the damage was obvious. The ship had been temporarily crippled by the 90 knot winds and 14mtr swells. Our captain announced that the conditions were the worst he had endured in 35 years at sea. We had sailed right into a hurricane!!!!
The storm had delayed our progress so the first port of call was cancelled,which meant another day of sailing instead of relaxing on a tropical island.
We eventually sailed into Vanuatu where the ship was inspected by divers and the damage was more severe than first thought,although we were still expecting to sail that night. However,after going up on deck to see them pull the gangway and sail off into the sunset, the captain announced that the cruise was cancelled and we would not be going anywhere. We would be getting a full refund and a discount for the next cruise…will anyone want to go????
We had a lovely weekend looking around Vanuatu and on the Sunday night we were just finishing dinner when we were told to pack and we would be picked up at 1am to be flown to Noumea – Vanuatu airport was not equipped to cope with such a large influx of stranded passengers.
After being booked into a lovely hotel with breakfast and lunch provided,we had a look around the beautiful island (somewhere I definitely want to return to) we were again taken to the airport for the final leg of our journey back to NZ.
We will remember conversations with new friends, coupled by the unknown,that no travel brochure could have ever promised. All in all, it was the experience of a lifetime…one which I will never forget and I won’t need to tell my grandchildren about it cos they were there!!
PS It won’t put me off cruising.