Wednesday, February 29, 2012


After sailing 1000 miles to reach Tabuaeran Island, we had even farther to go, 1500 miles, to reach our next island: Rarotonga. Rarotonga is in the Cook Islands and is one of a 15-island archipelago tightly linked to New Zealand (though it is an independent country). The village you see in the photo is Avarua, the capital of Rarotonga.

We did not anchor off Rarotonga; we drifted, as did another cruise ship nearby, the Seabourn Odyssey. At the point where I took the picture, the sea was 6000 feet deep, so anchors were impractical. The sea was more turbulent that it looks, so passengers were advised to tender ashore only if they were ready for a rough ride. Still lame from my experience at Tabuaeran, I decided to forego the pleasures of Rarotonga – a decision that I now regret.

Just off the right-hand edge of the photo is the small Rarotonga airport. While perched on the Promenade Deck, I noted a couple of propjets taking off and figured they were ferrying people to nearby islands. That conclusion was probably correct, but I greatly underestimated the distances within reach of the island. Twice a week an Air New Zealand 777 checks in to Rarotonga en route from Los Angeles to Aukland. Why? The population of the island is only 14,000, much greater than most of the other islands we would visit, but still, fewer people than live in Biddeford. The answer probably lies in the posh resort hotels that New Zealanders and Australians patronize.

At some point, I may catch up to Rarotonga. It looks like a fine place to spend some time when the snow sweeps down on Maine.