by Nina Sabin - Travel Blog
Each time we pull into a new port it is very exciting. We love exploring new places.
Today started our first of eleven ports we will be visiting in the French Polynesian Islands.
Apia is the capital city of the South Pacific island nation of Samoa. It is located on the central north coast of Upolu, Samoa's second-largest island.
The Samoans greeted our ship as it was coming into port with cultural dances from the shore. All the passengers were watching from the ship as we docked.
We are only the second cruise ship the has come to Somoa since Covid began in 2019. The first one was only two days ago.
Once the ship was cleared we could disembark. The first place we went to was Palolo Deep Marine Reserve to snorkel. It is a family owned business and people live at the reserve.
It costs $5 US for foreigners to snorkel. We found it better to have our own snorkeling equipment; especially for sanitary reasons. They do have snorkels, fins, and masks to rent. Each piece runs $2 - $8 US.
The coral and fish were beautiful and we enjoyed the morning viewing the sea life of the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, I got too close to the coral as I was drifting and cut myself.
My leg just healed from the fall in Honolulu at Diamond Head, which seemed like a whole vacation ago.
After going back to the ship and rinsing off, we were off again to explore the town of Apia.
Most places on the islands is known for the four ‘S's' - Swimming, Snorkeling, Sightseeing and Shopping. We did Swimming and Snorkeling, then we went onto the Sightseeing and Shopping.
The two main places we visited on the island were the Cultural Center and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, just across from the Cultural Center.
The Cultural Center performed a free program for the cruise guests. Unfortunately, we did not get to view the show because we were snorkeling at the time it performed, but we heard it was fantastic and even included a flame thrower.
Behind the Cultural Center they had a little village set up where we observed someone being tattooed. It is called the House of Pain. We could see why as it appeared they were chiseling the tattoo on the man’s leg.
The Pe’a is the name of the traditional Samoan male tattoo, covering the whole body from the waist to the knees, and its origins are rooted in Samoan mythology. This Samoan “tatau” is more than just an aesthetic complement to the body — it signifies courage and serves as a symbol of manhood, a rite of passage both beautiful and painful.
It is an extensive process that includes flying to a Samoan community, enlisting the aid of an experienced tufuga (tattoo master), and enduring up to two weeks of “tapping.” Braden Ta’ala, a US citizen currently living in Utah, experienced the daunting yet rewarding process first-hand.
There was a hut near the tattoo hut to buy coconuts to drink the milk. I really enjoy coconut milk directly from a coconut.
Then we went exploring the shops of Samoa. The first place John wanted to stop at was McDonald’s. He was so excited about having a Quarter Pounder with fries.
We have found through our travels, every McDonald’s has special meal for their country. Samoa has BBQ Chicken with rice, but we did not see that as on option on the menu. However, the locals knew about the meal choice.
After McDonald’s we did a little shopping. We mainly looked for flags and magnets. We have collected them from each of the countries we have visited. We have over 100 flags and magnets.
We found an ATM that worked with our card to get some Tele - Samoan Currency. The we picked up a flag. John wanted to get change because he loves getting coins from each country. We will use one of them as a magnet.
After shopping, we stopped at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It is a beautiful church with lots of stained glass windows.
We walked along the sea wall on the way back to the shop. We had a great day exploring Samoa. On the way back we found some neat graffiti, that I don’t think you would find in the US.
Once back on the ship we had some drinks, dinner, and retired early from the long day of the four ‘S's'
We are at sea again for the next two days. Our next port is Fiji.