P&O CRUISES TO NORFOLK ISLAND
There is little doubt that Friday 26th March was an important day for the people of Norfolk Island. It marked the climax of more than a year of negotiation, preparation and anticipation. We had been given the opportunity to become a port of call for P&O Carnival Cruises.
While some had concerns about the ability of Norfolk Island's infrastructure to cope with a doubling of its population for a day, most people were very positive about the opportunity to showcase Norfolk Island, and give a potential boost to our economy, which, like everywhere else, has felt the strain of the downturn in the last year or two.
Tne best thing about Norfolkers is that they are usually willing to get off their backsides and make things happen, overcoming difficulties and obstacles in their usual resourceful way. One such challenge was the fact that Norfolk Island has no harbour. A floating pontoon was organised to enable the passengers to land. This piece of equipment was manufactured overseas, and was rather costly - but it will be a great investment. When it arrived, the local fellows had to make several modifications to it, here they are testing it out a couple of days before C-day!
Meanwhile shopfronts and streetscapes and roadsides had undergone facelifts all over the island, so Norfolk Island could put on its best face for our visitors. The excitement was really building up.
I had decided to hold a craft stall in the area adjacent to the Supermarket, which was set aside for community markets. We made an early start, as the first passengers were due to come ashore around 8.30 a.m.
Here are my friends Connie and Arthur, who set up their stall beside mine.
I had a range of goodies to sell. In fact, I had been sewing up a storm for a couple of weeks.
There was an initial disappointment, when the ship's tenders were having difficulty coming alongside the landing pontoon. There were some more modifications to the equipment. And Norfolk's men, who know every nuance of the sea and the swell and the surf offered to go aboard the lighters to guide the ship's drivers to the wharf safely.
It was not until lunchtime that the passengers began to come ashore.
From then on we all had a great time!
Our visitors shopped, took tours, met the locals, sampled local foods, and generally soaked up the party atmoshere that filled the island that day. Their time had been cut short, but the time for re-boarding was put back to give them a few more hours to see what Norfolk Island has to offer. Many expressed the desire to return for a longer stay. That was what we wanted to hear!
There was so much activity, and we keep hearing stories of impromptu tours in buses and even private cars to enable our visitors to see and do as much as possible in their limited time.
After packing up my stall, Bernie and I headed own to Frederik's Edge, a clifftop and viewing point which overlooks the Cascade wharf, from which the boats were arriving and leaving. Several others were there, and there were many post-mortem discussions about how the day had gone, and how we could make it even better next time.
There was enthusiastic agreement that Norfolkers could be proud of themselves for the effort they had put into making the day a success. There had also been welcome positive feedback from our visitors, who had noted how clean and friendly the island was, and who were grateful for the fact that the welcome had been so warm and genuine.
The second Cruise ship visit will be only ten days after this one, on Easter Monday! We are all excited about making that day even better!
Wonderful Mary. I hope the cruise ships don't spoil the island but given the type of vacations my husband likes to go on the only way I'll get to visit your island is if it's on a cruise ship as he doesn't seem to be keen on other types of holidays.
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