January 23, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 18

Day 18 – We arrive in Rangiora about 2 hours early. This is a circular atoll with one channel into the center. About 3,000 people live here, 2000 in one village and 1,000 in the other. Skies are sunny, high 80's with a gentle cooling breeze. Humidity is relatively low, less than 70%. We anchor about a 10 minutes tender ride to each village. One of my tours leaves from one village, the second from the other village. The only way to get from one to the other is by boat even though they are probably only a quarter mile apart.

The other ship in the port is the Mariner, a ship larger than the Amsterdam. She is here about every two weeks for much of the year, so it is no surprise that she earned the prime anchorage. In 2016 a total of 29 cruise ships are scheduled here.

My first tour is a glass bottom boat tour. The most encouraging part is that the coral reef is much more healthy than any I have seen in the Caribbean, but the discouraging part is that the guide tells us some parts are dying. The fish are very plentiful, including a number of sharks. The glass bottom boats are crammed together with the scuba dive boats and the swimmers snorkeling. No dive flags or safety rules here, it's each man/boat for himself.

The second tour is to a black pearl farm. The guide does an excellent job of explaining how pearls are farmed. Interestingly the seeds for the pearls come from the Mississippi delta in the US. I learn that black pearls are not really black, they are gray in color. Sorry kids, I don't purchase any, but I did see one passenger purchase thousands of dollars worth. Probably to resell somewhere in the world.

There are a number of pearl farms on the island. This one currently employs 16 workers, several years ago the number was 150. Tourism is the largest source of income for the island.

On the way to the pearl farm we pass the airport. A single runway with a small building that serves as the terminal. We see a Tahiti Airlines plane land, so there must be some scheduled service.

The teacher from the local village school brings a handful of her students to meet the passengers on the pier. They are learning to speak English and are very excited to meet and talk with English speaking visitors.

The tenders are very hot and crowded, and loading and unloading is very slow due to the waves and mobility issues of many passengers. Our tour fills the last tender to the ship.

Tonight's shows are new performances by three of the entertainers. They are all leaving the ship tomorrow, and according to Gene Young, our cruise director, thirty new entertainers are boarding for the next stretch of our cruise.

Overnight we cruise to Papeete, for our scheduled arrival at 8 AM.

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