They’ve sold my most favourite ship.
The Pacific Sky, the first cruise ship I ever went on, has been sold to the Spaniards and renamed Sky Wonder.
So why am I upset?
She was a wonderful ship. A wrap-around promenade deck, a large, three-tiered back deck with 2 pools, bars, sun and surf. Her interior was a bit shabby, but well-loved. Bars with comfortable seats and good staff. A pizzaria with excellent, inexpensive pizza. The rooms were bland but homely and had a shower so big you could have a party in it. (Watching the water slosh around in the shower cabinet floor as the ship rocked and I was a little, um, “happy” always was amusing.) Half the toilets on the ship would break down every time someone threw their bathroom door open and a washcloth would drop off into the toilet (who left the seat up anyway?) and instead of digging it out, some lazy bastard would flush it, incapacitating the entire port side’s toilet system.
But despite that, she was a ship with character. She was a ship to have fun on, a ship to fall in love with (and on), a ship to voyage to strange new places.
And a ship to discover things about life, about human nature and about who you were whilst aboard.
So many fond memories on that ship. I remember the first time Noel and I went on the Pacific Sky. One formal night, the sky was clear as, and two male crew members (Adrian and Ryan I think) were standing out on the deck. Noel and I joined them to see what they were looking at, and another couple joined us all as well. They pointed up at the sky. “Isn’t it amazing,” Adrian asked. Looking up, from the slight swells in the sea reflecting the moonlight, up past the twinkling lanterns billions of miles away in the sky, was the moon, a rainbow-coloured halo surrounding it. And the six of us stood there, admiring this crisp, clear, halo-clad moon for ages because… well, because it was breathtaking. It was a moment that will never come again.
Marg, Colin, Shirley, Noel and I went ashore to Champagne Bay in August 2004. On the tender, we were laughing and joking until we rounded the corner into the bay and we heard children singing in harmony. Beautiful cream-coloured sand arched across the beach and into the clear, turquoise blue water. The beach led up to a grassy area with large, shady, inviting trees dotting the beachfront. A forested area lie beyond that, cows grazing amongst the trees, and as we approached the dock, we could see these children singing, smiles beaming on their dark chocolate coloured faces. Beyond the stall they were singing in, a forest, like those you read about in fairy tales, with tall trees, branches too high to climb up into. Two children were sitting in the bough of another tree at the edge of the beach and smiled and said hello. Marg, Colin and Shirley walked over to talk to them.
The five of us turned to one another and said, “This is heaven.” And it is. If I had to pick any place on earth to be heaven (if I had a choice), it would be Champagne Bay in Vanuatu.
The cruise in April 2003, after the Pacific Sky unexpectedly was in drydock for a few weeks in Auckland, was one of the best. The crew were bright and fresh, the passengers were happy that their cruise hadn’t been cancelled (we were the first aboard after 3 previous cruises had been cancelled), and everyone was in a party mood. We met Colin and Shirley aboard that cruise. And we had fun! Of course, crew like Anja, Georg, Shona, Demo, James, Daniel, Carmelo, Mel, Rudi, Rachel, Joanna, Jason and Joel made it great as well!
So the Pacific Sky took us to these new worlds, these new experiences, and they will forever be engrained in my memory. Just writing about them brings a smile to my face.
And what did I discover whilst I was aboard?
So, when I heard P & O sold the first cruise ship I’d ever been on, the tears did come to my eyes because I’d never see my old friend the Sky again. That regal lady sailing into Auckland harbour. Waving good-bye to all those people staying at the Hilton or seeing off loved ones as a four-piece Dixie band plays “Now Is The Hour” and the ship drifted away from the wharf. All those good times, all those memories are just that… in the past. Engrained in that ship with a new coat of paint, new crew, new passengers, new oceans and new markets, all of which, I am sure, are just as taken with her as I was.
I’ll raise a glass to that fine lady on the next cruise we’re on and say… Bye, bye Miss Pacific Sky.