Day 17 – 21st January 2020, Arr Nuku’alofa Tonga

Afternoon tea and scone

Afternoon Tea with Fruit Scone, jam and cream

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.

Temperature: 26C/79F

Wind/Weather: Light W’ly winds and low, short swell

Sunrise/Sunset:  06:15/19:27

Clox:  No change (Z+13)

Navigation

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.

Weather

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.

Meals

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.

Afternoon tea sandwiches and cakes

Triple Tier Tray with Sandwiches & Cakes

We enjoyed a couple pots of English Breakfast and a couple of scones.

Judi at afternoon tea

Judi at Afternoon Tea

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.

Activities

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.

VC and Bar Lecture

Resident Historian’s daily lecture

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.

VC and Bar Lecture2

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.

Balcony view alongside Nukualofa

View from balcony when alongside

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.

Nukualofa wharf vendors

Vuna Wharf with local vendors

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.

Welcome to Tonga sign

Welcome to Tonga Arch

One of the arches over the road

Tongan Banknote Arch

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.

Viking Sun alongside Nukualofa

Viking Sun from Beach Road

Returning back along Beach Road, I headed into town.

Talamahu market

Talamahu Market

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.

Hotel and govt building

Combination hotel and Govt Building ??

I went out as far as the Royal Tombs.

Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua

Catholic Church across street from Royal Tombs

Royal Tombs sign

Royal Tombs Sign

Royal tomb close-up

One of 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.

Free church of Tonga looking towards ocean

Free Church of Tonga

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.

Royal Palace from side

Royal Palace

The flag above the building is the Royal Standard, which means the King was in residence.

Viking Sun alongside Nukualofa 2

Magnificent Viking Sun

Isabella House and Frieds Cafe

Isabella House & Friends Cafe

Tonga Govt building

Tonga Govt Building

New St Georges govt building

St George’s Palace

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.

Vuna Wharf from Dk 8

Luna Wharf from Deck 8

St George Palace from Dk 8

St George’s Palace from Dk 8

Looking astern from Dk 8

Looking astern towards the Northern tip of Tonga

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.

Bevan introducing Louis

Bevan introducing Louie Shelton

Louis Shelton

Louie Shelton

Louis Shelton and band

Louie Shelton and band

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.

Louis Shelton and Bevan

Bevan & Louie performing together

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.

1 thought on “Day 17 – 21st January 2020, Arr Nuku’alofa Tonga

  1. Looks like they found a source for “proper” clotted cream. On our Eastern Discovery cruise last October, Orion had a very limited supply so you were served whipped cream unless you were in the know and asked for some clottted from the stash!

    I’m hoping that we won’t face the same issue on Sky in March!

    Like

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