World Wonders Cruise Diary – Days 44,45 – New Caledonia, France
Cruise days 44,45 – Feb 17,18
Our visit here in Noumea, New Caledonia was not on our original itinerary and became a first time stop for Viking. The ship apparently re-routed here (two days of out-of-the-way sailing east from Brisbane) to allow Viking time to plan further revisions on the way to Bali, and the following segment to Mumbai. The Mumbai to London segment remains unchanged at this time. We learned after boarding in January that this Ultimate World Cruise actually includes several segments along the way for folks wanting shorter cruises.
Anyway, New Caledonia is a cool French island with a population of about 300,000. We were here for two days, enough time to get a feel for the place:
Continuing past Lemon Bay Beach, we arrived at a high point where we could look down on the medium-sized city and most of the island. After driving through the main part of the city, we returned to the harbor and boarded an “on and off” bus which took us back for more time at Lemon Bay Beach. We had a craft beer there, and then crossed the highway to the beach where we took a walk and then just sat in the shade for a while enjoying some “island time”.
This island is quite wealthy, with much of that wealth coming from its main export – nickel. About 20% of the world’s nickel is mined here; it’s the major source of income followed by tourism. We learned that about 50,000 American soldiers were stationed here during WWII, along with a smaller contingent of Australian troops, to ward off any attacks by the Japanese (there weren’t any).
We liked the small coastal city atmosphere here, and the fact that they were happy to accept our U.S. dollars for things we purchased. The main language is French of course, but we were able to communicate OK with the people that we came across. Maybe Viking should add this place to its regular itinerary!
The ship sailed around noon on the second day, and since it was raining in the morning our plans to go back to the beach didn’t happen. But we felt we’d covered the small town and beach pretty well, and it had a vibe that we really liked!
Back on the ship:
Next up: Back to Australia!