Easter Island – 09:00 to 19:00
Yes, we finally beat the odds, as the frequently inclement winter weather relented, permitting us to visit Easter Island. This is a common port on the World Cruise, but we are the first ship in about 5 years to succeed in getting passengers ashore. With the poor success rate you would think the government officials and local businesses would be welcoming us with open arms. Alas, local officialdom threw up roadblocks and made frequent changes, sometimes less than hourly. Being a Sunday, most businesses, other than a couple of restaurants were closed. Regardless, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and actually seeing the Moai statues was amazing.
Temperature: High 20C/68F, Low 16C/61F
Wind/Weather: Initially calm, increasing to N’ly at 15 kts. Initially cloudy with some rain showers, but clear by the afternoon.
Clox: Z-5 (no change)
During the early morning, Sea Princess maintained a WSW’ly course until making landfall on the northern tip of Easter Island, about 07:00. Various courses were then steered along the western side of the island to our anchorage at Hanga Roa. Sea Princess was brought up to the port anchor about 09:00.
At 17:00, with all passengers aboard, the Captain weighed anchor, altering the ship’s head to port before commencing our passage to Pitcairn Island.
Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island is a special administrative region and province of the Valparaiso Region of Chile. Located at the south-eastern tip of the Polynesian triangle, it is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The closest people being on Pitcairn Island (pop. 50) at a distance of about 1,200 miles. Famous for the 887 huge stone statues, or Moais, the Island was designated in 1995 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the island is now protected within Rapa Nui National Park.
The latest census indicates a population of only 5,800, of which 60% are descendants of the original Rapa Nui aboriginal people.
Being a tender port I figured the Promenade Deck would be blocked off for preparing and launching the tenders, so I skipped my early morning walk this morning, in favour of checking emails and most importantly the football results. Yet another great day, as the Rangers cruised to a easy away victory with a 5 – 1 score-line and over 70 % possession. Once Judi was awake we headed up to Horizon Court for a quick breakfast, which was unusually warm this morning.
On return to the cabin, we experienced the first vestiges of daylight, as we cruised slowly into the bay off the town of Hanga Roa. It appeared that we were on final approach to the anchorage when we peeled off to stbd and picked up speed. The sea was like a mill pond, so surely we weren’t cancelling the call. We continued to the southern end of the bay, where we made a tight turn to port towards the beach and retraced our inbound course. At this point Capt Kent came over the P/A system, advising when about 2 cables (1200’) from the assigned anchorage, the port agent advised him to proceed to the southern anchorage. When approaching the southern anchorage, he was advised that anchoring was prohibited in that location. Capt Kent then advised that he was proceeding, and will anchor in a position of his choosing. This was the first example of poor officialdom.
We headed down to Princess Theatre shortly after we heard the rumble, rumble and splash, as we dropped the anchor. The first tour had all reported to the theatre and our assigned spots were filling fast. As usual the tour department kept everyone updated on progress and reminded everyone that they must take their Chile customs declaration ashore with them. They also provided information regarding paying the US $60 entrance fee to access the Nation Park, depending on whether you were on a Princess Tour, or going ashore independently. This particular announcement was repeated many times, as the local authorities changed their mind repeatedly. The customs declaration was also repeated, as a number of people did not take a completed form ashore with them. Tender operations were rather slow this morning, as the loading and discharging were challenging in the seas, which continued to build throughout the day. The first tour was called about 09:30, but then nothing, with P/A announcements blaming the seas for the delays. Perfectly understandable, as safety must come first. Of course, we automatically assumed that the seas had built up and they were considering cancelling the port call. However, the first 25 were called from our tour shortly after 10:30, with us heading to the tenders shortly after that.
When loading alongside the ship, the pontoon is provided a lee from the swell by the ship, so minimal movement is experienced. This led a woman next to us to comment that the delays were ridiculous as there isn’t any movement. I advised her the ship was creating a lee, to which her eyes glazed over, as if I was speaking a foreign language. She seemed perturbed by the entire tender experience, as if they deliberately delayed her getting ashore.
On shore, we passed through a tent with Chile customs agent, who took the declaration and took a cursory look in every backpack. I opened the top of our backpack and he looked in, but with no light he had no idea what was in that compartment or any of the others. Once through officialdom we passed the gamut of locals selling tours and taxis to find the buses. No large 50 seat air-conditioned buses, only small 18-seaters, with 1 guide between 2 buses. I will do a separate post for the tour.
Returning to the harbour, Judi walked around the local vendors, picking up a few things, while I went for the hike into town and further afield. Returning to the harbour about 16:15, I missed the first tender, but got the 2nd one. Yet again, the conduct and complaints from fellow passengers never ceases to amaze me. The entrance to the harbour is very narrow, with rock piles on both sides and to assist navigating the un-buoyed approach, each tender carried a local pilot. Only 1 tender was permitted in the channel or harbour at any time, with the next tender waiting outside the channel until the departing tender cleared. This required about 10 minutes between a full tender letting go and the next tender docking. The chap behind me was complaining bitterly about the unnecessary delays and he saw no reason why the next tender should wait outside. On arrival at the ship, it was even better, with the lady behind me pent up with impatience. Standing up and waiting for the crowd ahead of me to disembark, I noted the lady behind me make a move to push between me and the chap next to me. She then asked, if we were going to move? Yes, I replied, when the crowd ahead clears. The chap next to me advised her they are emptying the top deck first. I just shake my head at the impatience, she must have been really desperate to return to the trough after a hard day of sitting in a bus ashore!!!
Back aboard, I dropped the backpack in the cabin and headed up to the Horizon Court, enjoying a couple of scones and some fresh fruit. Most refreshing after a reasonably long 2 hour walk. Pre-dinner we headed down to the Wheelhouse Bar, listening to the resident band Sun Down Duo. At dinner, we were the only ones at the table tonight, so service was really quick. I had the poached salmon, with a couple of scallops. Unfortunately the salmon was grossly over-cooked, being completely dry and as usual served almost cold. The scallops, while served hot were also slightly over-cooked.
As another day closes, we bid you farewell, till tomorrow and hope for fair skies and following seas.