Today the weather abated significantly, but we are still at the edge of a Cat 3 Tropical Revolving Storm (Cyclone), so the ship is still rolling & pitching somewhat. We arrived in Nuku’alofa Tonga just after Noon, for an overnight stay.
With only a couple of days to organise, the ship did an excellent job arranging a fleet of shuttle buses to a local resort and an onboard performance from a local troupe.
Read on for photos of the performance, walk around Nuku’alofa and afternoon tea.
Wind/Weather: Light W’ly winds and low, short swell
Clox: No change (Z+13)
We maintained WSW’ly courses at about 15 kts, until entering the Tongan reef about 11:30. Docked alongside by 12:30, it was shortly before 13:00 when the ship received clearance from the shore authorities.
With light W’ly winds of 10 to 12 kts, it was the first head wind since departing L/A. Therefore, with the ship making 15 kts, we had a fresh breeze over the decks of almost 30 kts. The short, low beam swell dictated the rolling & pitching continued, but with a huge improvement over the past few days. Skies were partly cloudy.
Today’s special meals:
- Aquavit Terrace (18:00-21:00) – Fijian Lairo Crab Coconut Curry
At 16:00 we decided to enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Wintergarden. Being in port, it was deserted, with only 3 couples.
We enjoyed a couple pots of English Breakfast and a couple of scones.
With 2 shows this evening, we elected dinner at the World Cafe. I enjoyed the special Fijian crab curry and also a prawn and scallop curry from the World Cafe. Judi enjoyed a perfectly cooked steak.
Since I was planning to walk around town for a couple of hours, I only completed 12 laps of Deck 8/9. Previous days, with the following winds, it was easy walking, but today, walking into the 30 kts breeze was a workout, especially in the heat & humidity.
Presented by the ship’s resident historian Wing Commander William Simpson (Retd), it was another well presented and informative lecture. In addition to discussing Charles Upham in detail, he also included the other 2 recipients of 2 Victoria Crosses.
For those unaware of British Medals, the Victoria Cross was introduced in 1856 and is the highest medal awarded for valour, in an enemy action. VC and Bar means the recipient received the medal twice, for separate actions. After the lecture, we returned to the cabin to watch the arrival from our balcony, chatting with neighbours Jim & Penny.
After lunch, the ship was alongside and cleared by the local authorities. Judi wandered along the wharf checking out the multitude of stalls, while I wandered around town for a couple of hours.
The wharf is about 1/4 mile walk to the shore and as seen above, is lined with a variety of local vendors, peddling the usual local touristy junk.
I walked along the beach road for about 1/2 mile, passing the welcome to Tonga Arch and the banknote one. On the tour the following day, we learned that Tonga is predominantly as “Cash” society, as except in tourist areas, few vendors accept plastic.
Returning back along Beach Road, I headed into town.
First place I passed was the market, which covers most of a city block. With zero interest in shopping, I gave it a miss. Continuing into the town centre, I found an ATM, as we couldn’t purchase Tongan $ from the Royal Bank.
I went out as far as the Royal Tombs.
Access is not permitted, as they have a large grass lawn between the road and tombs. The entire area is fenced. On our tour, the guide advised the Police recently found a local sitting atop the lion. He is now living courtesy of the Kings pleasure in the local prison.
The church was destroyed in last February’s Tropical Revolving Storm (Cyclone). No renovations have commenced, as they probably await China to foot the bill. Wandered back toward the ocean, down the road at the side of the church. It ends at the Royal Palace.
The flag above the building is the Royal Standard, which means the King was in residence.
During the previous Cyclone, the Parliament Building and other Govt Offices were damaged. The above building was recently built by China, but doesn’t have a room large enough for the Parliament.
After Afternoon Tea, we headed to the Pool Dk for the Tongan Destination Show, which Viking managed to arrange at very short notice. Poor Bevan (Cruise Director) was pulling his hair out, as they were due at 16:30, for a 17:30 show. They finally arrived at the gangway at 17:30 – welcome to island life. Due to the delay, Bevan was most apologetic, breaking out the bubbly, then he asked if he could do anything else. Since we were all sitting in direct sun, Judi suggested some cold towels. Off he ran and within 10-minutes, crew members were distributing them. Yet again, brilliant service from Viking. All you have to do is ask and they endeavour to supply. The show started about 18:00 and was excellent.
Tongan Destination Performance
Great performance, which we thought was closer to the entertainment during Hawaiian Luauas, than the performance we received in Tahiti. After the show, I walked around Deck 8.
The show this evening was a repeat performance from Louie Shelton, an amazing guitarist that plays a wide variety of music. As a session player, he is way better than many of the big names.
The band was missing a guitar player, who got hurt and has been repatriated home to recuperate. A replacement will arrive in a few days.
The very talented Bevan up on stage as a vocalist for Louie. This is another major difference between Viking & Princess, as I don’t recall Princess cruise directors actually performing on stage. This really was an exceptional performance, with a great selection of music.
Tomorrow, we spend an entire day with a local guide, driving over almost every road on the island. We arrive Fiji in a couple of hours, so it will be tomorrow before I get the Tonga post crafted.
As another day closes, we bid you farewell, till tomorrow and hope for fair skies and following seas.