Monday, October 21, 2013

Onboard the Aranui 3 - Part 2

I left off on Onboard the Aranui 3 Part 1 promising more about getting to and from shore. It turned out to be a lot more difficult than we anticipated. We were given specific instructions over and over to follow the crew's direction. We were also entertained with horror stories about pax who did their own thing and got either very wet, or even worse, hurt.

Here's a video of boarding the small boat with a ladder. Note the number of people who almost lose their balance ...

Concrete steps when embarking and disembarking barge.
Remember that the pax barge is moving up and down with the waves.

Expect wet feet.
All that being said, we had a great trip. We did lot, we learned a lot and we experienced a lot. And isn't that what travel is all about?  :)

So..... back to life on board.

Initial boarding onto the freighter was quick and easy. As we made our way out of the harbor and started to rock, it was then that Jerry reminded me that freighters don't have stabilizers like big cruise ships. Uh oh! (Seriously though, that was never a problem. Basically the seas were calm. We did have some hours where you did want to hold on while walking around but it really wasn't a problem. To the best of our knowledge, nobody missed any meals.)

Which brings me to our fellow passengers. Not surprisingly, most were French. I think the number of English and German speaking pax were about the same. We met a lovely couple from Switzerland, another from New Zealand, and a gentleman from Germany who is traveling around the world. We had very little interaction with the French pax and what we did have was mostly unpleasant (although one very nice couple loaned me their water shoes so I could go into the water on a rocky beach).

I felt that early communication of information to passengers could be better. For instance, we had two bottles of water in our cabin and I went to the Reception to find out if there was a charge. They were free and I was told to refill them at the water fountains around the ship. Do not to drink the water from the tap or the shower. Would have been nice if there had been a sign to that effect in the bathroom!  :(  Also, I didn't find out until latter that I could make a special meal request.

Actually, the brochure does specify letting the company know if you have any dietary restrictions. I don't have any "restrictions" so didn't think to say anything. However, I don't like fish and when the lunch or dinner choice is take it or leave it (and the take-it is fish), I'm not a happy camper. Yes, there is absolutely no choice once you sit down at lunch and dinner. So after speaking to Reception and then again to the woman in charge of the dining room, I got chicken or beef whenever fish was served. It didn't turn out to be a big issue but I wish I had known for that first night on board when the main course was fish.

As long as I'm writing about food, breakfast was a buffet -- with plenty of options -- and lunch and dinner were three courses, such as:
tuna tartar, duck with broccoli, a hash brown potato patty and a cream puff for dessert
slice of brie on toast on top of a green salad, roasted lamb chops with veggies, ice cream
quiche, turkey with vegetables and chocolate mousse

Tables in the dining room were set up for 4, 6 or 8. Tables for 4 had one pitcher of water and one bottle of wine. Larger tables had at least two of each, the wine one white and one red. We sat at a table for 4 and only had the luck of the draw whether we had a bottle of white or red. We soon became friends with whoever sat at the 4-person table next to us (who had the other color wine) and we shared back and forth.

Dining room service was excellent, friendly and efficient. The food ranged from stuff I couldn't eat (tuna tartar - pass an extra piece of bread, please), to very good to excellent. To the best of my knowledge, nobody went hungry.

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