Cruising The Pacific

February 13, 2017

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Interchange Outer East is continuing to expand the travel horizons of people with disabilities though its provision of exciting holidays and trips to many different parts of the world. A report follows of the most recent – a trip of a lifetime in late January on board the Pacific Jewel as part of the Summer Holidays Adults Respite Program (SHARP).

‘Jenna, Pete, Jack, Ashley, Robbie, Kathleen and the two Rebeccas waved goodbye to family and friends (and dry land) on lucky Friday 13th January with no idea what to expect on their first ever cruise experience.

Well… they were in their element!

Twelve days and nights jam packed with sun, swimming, bingo, karaoke, exploring, dancing, eating, drinking, making friends and making memories. The first three days of the trip were spent at sea, heading out to the South Pacific, destination: Noumea. The group had the opportunity to find their way around the ship, find the best places to eat, the best activities to schedule in and make lots of new friends. Karaoke was a huge hit, with Ash proving to be an absolute natural on the stage (see video), as was bingo. There was never a dull moment with theme nights to prepare for and watching Jack compete in the Popstars competition where he made it to the final and performed on the main stage in front of the whole ship!

Day four and the Pacific Jewel arrived in Noumea where the IOE group took a hop-on-hop-off bus to the highly recommended Lemon Bay for a swim, a nice lunch and a look around before heading back to the ship.

The next day the group took a tender over to Lifou, a tiny island of New Caledonia. This was a highlight of the trip as it was a day spent swimming with some gorgeous and very friendly local children who entertained for hours with their very cheeky behaviour!

In Port Vila the next day, the group split up to tick some things of their bucket lists. Pete took Robbie and Jack fishing, Kathleen went horse riding and Jenna and the rest of the gang explored the markets and shops of the Vanuatu capital. Another truly deserted island the following day – Mystery Island off Vanuatu. Traders come over by boat from neighbouring islands to sell to the cruise ship tourists and the IOE gang enjoyed a glass bottomed boat tour. The last stop was Isle of Pines where the group enjoyed their last swim in the ocean, capped off by handstand competitions and a lot of fun!

Jenna and Pete said the cruise was a great choice for the group as it offered a huge amount of independence, especially while on board the ship. The guys were able to safely and independently move about the ship, choose their own activities (or choose to do no activities at all!), socialise and do their own thing before getting back together for a meal or a dance at Ash’s new favourite place – Dome Nightclub. Ash was in his absolute element for the whole trip, and according to Jenna and Pete, ‘… was best friends with pretty much everyone on the ship by the end!’ On the last day, came the farewells and some of Ash’s friends had brought him parting gifts and took photos together as a memento of their time together at sea. No doubt the experience will stay with Ash forever!

Pete and Jenna would like to thank Jack, Robbie, Rebecca, Kathleen, Ashley and Rebecca for sharing this amazing adventure with them – friendships and memories to last a lifetime!’

by Faye Lougheed

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