Cruise Port – Mystery Island

What to Do and See – Mystery Island (Vanuatu)

Mystery Island is a tiny, uninhabited island  – a secret little gem at the far southern end of the Vanuatu group of island.

Mystery Island (or ‘Inyeug’) is one of the more unusual South Pacific cruise destinations. Once a landing strip used by the allied forces in World War II, today its only visitors are cruise ship passengers and Ni-Vanuatu who travel to and from neighbouring islands to sell handicrafts and tours.

As Mystery Island is only reachable by cruise ship and because of its remoteness the island remains relatively untouched, with no electricity, roads or telephones. At just 1 kilometre long and approx. 200 metres wide, Mystery Island is too small to dock large vessels. Cruise ships anchor offshore and send small boats to tender passengers to the jetty.

Even with only one day to spend here, there is plenty to do.  Swaying palms, white sand beaches and warm, turquoise waters. Its surrounding coral reefs are home to reams of exotic fish.

General Information

  • Population – Zero. No one lives on the island as it is considered taboo to do so. The locals come across from nearby Aneityum on the days when our ships call into the island. The population of Aneityum is approximately 1,200
  • Currency – the local currency on Mystery Island is the Vanuatu Vatu (VUV). Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 vatu denominations. Notes are not in circulation.  Australian dollars are accepted.  Credit and Debit cards are not accepted anywhere on the island.
  • Weather – the climate of Mystery Island is subtropical – humid and sunny with occasional rain showers. Average temperatures range from 26° Celsius in January to 21° Celsius in July and August. The dry season is May to October.

Mel’s Highlights

1.  Local Attractions

Market stalls hosted by locals from neighbouring islands are set up on and around the beaches.  Wander through the beach village markets and meet the friendly happy locals their wares. Handicrafts, sarongs, woven hats, floral shirts and other locally made items are available for purchase from the stalls onshore. There is even a hair-braiding service.

BEWARE – Any souvenirs that are made of plant material or animal products must be declared to quarantine authorities on arrival in Australia or New Zealand. Plant material such as certain seeds and animal products including feathers may be restricted or need to be treated at the owners’ expense on arrival in Australia or New Zealand.

Bargaining is not customary in Vanuatu.

If you get a little peckish – You have to try the freshly broiled lobster!!

The gorgeous Vanuatu children regularly perform songs for visitors.

 

There are also a number of local tours available including turtle, reef shark and ray snorkelling. You will see this hut as you head to the village where there is plenty to choose from.

 

 

2. Snorkelling – Underwater Wonderland

Definitely do not come here without a snorkel and goggles as the island is as gorgeous under the water as it is on land.  Mystery Island is surrounded by coral reef and with a spectacular array of fish species including barracudas, clown fish and parrot fish and is an awesome spot for snorkelling. It’s warm, shallow waters are stunningly clear and offer plenty of opportunities to watch exotic marine life. The best snorkelling can be found at the end of the old airstrip, while the western side of the island is ideal for swimming.

If you aren’t game to venture out on your own – head to the tour office and book yourself a Snorkel Safari – this is a must do for anyone visiting this special island in the South Pacific. You’ll get to uncover and enjoy the underwater mysteries with your own guide. The crystal clear waters and spectacular coral formations make this a perfect way to enjoy the island

   

 

3. Walk or Paddle around the Island

Mystery Island is only 1 kilometre long and approx. 200 metres wide so you can walk or paddle around the whole island.

There are photo opportunities everywhere and only takes approx 30- 40 minutes to walk the entire island. There are some lovely walking tracks through the bush and around the airstrip which takes up the centre of the island. Alternatively, embrace the shipwrecked feel of the isle and make your way around the perimeter which consists of almost-continuous beach. This should take no longer than 45 minutes to an hour at most, and is a great way to get a feel for the place

  

If you are feeling a little bit more energetic then hire one of the paddle board and paddle around the island.  Its great to see the island from another perspective and enjoy the tropical surrounds.  Its approx $15 per hour.

  

4. Island Fun – Photo Opportunities

From little kids to big kids – once you have finished swimming and snorkeling, get you photo taken with the ‘island warriors’ in the “cannibal pot”.  It will cost you $5 to get your photo taken but they will have lots of fun getting you to pose in different positions.

Or relax with a beach massage.

and of course if you are totally having to go to toilet – no need to make your way back to ship – check out these cute restrooms.

Cruise Port – Isle of Pines.

What to Do and See – Isle of Pines

Isles of Pines does not have a port. Instead,  cruise ships anchor just offshore in Kuto Bay from where passengers are tendered to the pier on small boats. The bay is located on the southwest side of the island and often referred to as the “Jewel of the Pacific”

This tropical paradise made up of white sandy bays and aquamarine waters was named by Captain Cook in 1774 for its native columnar pines, which are prevalent around the coast and beaches.

Passengers are often greeted by local dance performers as they arrive at the mainland.  There is limited public transport on the island aside from a handful of taxis and locally run mini vans.

General Information

  • Currency – the local currency in Isles of Pines is the Central Pacific Franc (CFP). Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 francs. Notes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 francs.
    Australian Dollars are widely accepted, though smaller notes are preferred.
  • Weather – Isles of Pines has a temperate tropical climate. January is the hottest month with an average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. July is the coldest with an average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. Highest average rainfall is between February and April.

Highlights

1.  Kuto Bay (PLAGE DE KUTO)

As you take the short walk down the road from where you get off the tender boat, this beach is to your left.

This is a truly picturesque location with all the trappings of the South Pacific- translucent shallow waters, fine soft white sand and towering lush palms. There is a beach bar, a restaurant and food stalls selling local delights.

If you are looking to snorkel here – the bottom is just sand so snorkelers looking for coral and colorful fish will be disappointed – better to go around the corner to Kanumera Bay or Oro Bay.

There is not much in the way of shops, a few market stores.   The RESTAURANT KU BUGNEY – behind the sand has awesome views but food and drinks are expensive for the average person.  Approx. ($12 AUD) for a beer .  Heaps of local seafood being BBQ’d if you are game.  You can get a whole lobster fro around $20 – $30 depending on size.  Try fresh coconut water straight from the coconut – I love it – only approx. $3

Lots of trees at the back of the sand for shade and a great place to take an awesome panoramic photo looking back towards your ship.

2.  Kanumera Bay –  (ROCHER DE KAA NUE MERA)

Kanumera Bay – a stone’s throw away or to be more exact, just cross the road behind the palm trees of Kuto you will come across one of the island’s most popular beaches. Its white sands offer plenty of spots for relaxing, while its crystal clear waters are ideal for snorkelling.

Jutting out into the sparkly blue and green waters is a large limestone rock, La Rocher, which is deemed sacred by the local people. It is a beautiful spot to swim and snorkel and take in the natural wonders.

The coral around the rock is a little damaged due to ignorant people breaking it by standing on it with their flippers etc.  If you are a confident swimmer, head around the left side of the rock, and over a little to the right, a little further than majority you will discover some beautiful fish and the odd colourful coral.

Confident swimmers, go right around the rock, and see how coral changes on each side.

3. The Natural Aquarium – (PISCINE NATURELLE)

Oro Bay:  The ‘natural swimming pool’ in Oro Bay is would be close to one of my favourite places in the South Pacific.  If you are mobile and can walk through at least knee deep water then I highly recommend. Surrounded by 40-metre native pine trees, and crystal turquoise waters full of colorful tropical fish, this place will take your breath away.

You need to get a driver to come and take you here.  it will cost around $20AUS per person return for the drive which is 25 minutes away. Where the driver drops you off it is another $15 or 1000 pf entrance fee each to enter.  We had a little local boy showing us where to walk, but easy to find without.  Its about a 15 minute walk through the tidal river (yes it goes up and down) and part of the ‘jungle’ (bush land) to reach the snorkeling area.

   

You just follow the blue markers.

Take reef shoes as you will get wet and walking across the river as there is a little bit of coral in it and its painful when you stand on it.

   

 

Arrange a time for your driver to pick you up.  (Don’t pay until you return).  Take an underwater camera as there are heaps of fish everywhere in the crystal clear water .  Thousand of fish… huge  clams of various colours, puffa fish, angel fish,  hermit crabs, coral fish of all colours and size….and they just swim right up to you.  Highly, highly recommend!!!

 

4. Queen Hortense’s Cave – (GROTTE DE IS REINE HORTENSE)

Grotte de ls Reine Hortense – one of New Caledonia’s most impressive and popular sites, this HUGE cave is reached through a tropical garden. Inside, the cave has the most fascinating and beautiful natural formations, magnificent stalactites cling to the ceiling. Legend has it the cave was used by the wife of a local chief who took refuge here during a time of intertribal conflict in 1855.

There is a small fee of $4 per person at a little kiosk at the entrance to the pathway leading to the cave. The short walk into the caves is through a beautiful rain forest but has not no designated boardwalk, so you need to take care if you are unsteady on your feet as the earth floor of the Grotte can be quiet slippery.

There is no lighting in the Grotte, so the mobile phone inbuilt torch becomes a necessity.  Better still bring a small torch in case your drop your phone…

5.  Island Site Seeing Tour

For something a little more cultural – If you want a quick tour around the island – grab a driver.  For around 2 hours you can have about 7 stops where you will visit all the local sites.  For around about $25 or 2000 pf  you can vites all the sites including church, caves, memorial totems, prison etc…

You will visit the small town of Vao, with the pretty Mission Church at its centre and the Statue de St Maurice commemorating the arrival of the first missionaries. Make sure your driver stops for you to take some photos also of the houses decorated with floats and ships hawsers, found on the beaches.

Scrapbook Cruise – The Ultimate Retreat

The Ultimate Retreat

Sometimes you just need TIMEOUT and to get away. Retreats have always been that source of inspiration – the perfect place to have fun, create new friendships and to share your love of craft.

So why not take that break one step further and join me onboard a cruise for the Ultimate Retreat.  Not only is a cruise on many people’s bucket list, you get to sample some of those stunning destinations you have only been dreaming about.

If you are brave enough to say Bon Voyage, get your hands dirty, try new techniques, experience and have new adventures, have heaps of fun and like myself, make many lifelong new friends – then this is for YOU!   

I invite you to check out all the fun facts below, (hopefully answer some of the questions you may have) and seriously think about coming along on a fun adventure where myself and/or other instructors can share some of their creative knowledge with you through our classes AND at the same time, explore this wonderful world we live in…

 

Fun Fact 1.  Its just a NORMAL cruise.

 

IT IS A NORMAL cruise with a little more – The main difference is that we offer scrapbooking or cardmaking classes on the cruising days at sea – to ONLY those booked in our PRIVATE group.  These classes are not available to other passengers onboard who may randomly walk by and wish they could join in.

 

 

 

  • YES you can bring other members of your family or friends along with you.
  • NO they don’t all have to scrapbook either.  There are many onboard activities held on the ship, so whilst you are busy in classes they can participate in as much as they like or just find a nice spot onboard and relax with a book or do nothing at all.
  • PORT days are free from classes so you are able to enjoy and explore the port of calls with your family and friends and make as many memories and you can fit into one day.
  • The reason you have to book so far in advance is so we can purchase all the product that you will receive for the classes.  YES you will be spoilt.

FAQ: Can I book through my own travel agent?
Cruise portion MUST be booked through Geelong Travel to participate in classes. We have worked hard on getting group deals and price as low as it is?  IN AUSTRALIAN DOLLARS.  This in itself is a bonus as we don’t have to worry about the exchange rates. Though onboard purchases are in USD – so you need to be aware of that.
Deposit and final payment dates will be given to you by the travel agent and you can raise any queries in regards with this with them.  They have had over 20 years experience and I guarantee they will look after you.

FAQ: What are the Cabin prices?
The prices are per person based on a twin share.  There will be a surcharge if you want the room by yourself. Base prices differ for each cruise so you need to get quotes direct from Geelong Travel.  For more people in cabin you can discuss this with travel agent to get best possible rates.  The prices quoted on this website are subject to cabin availability at that price.  Once they are sold out the prices offered will be based on the current rate available. – Rates/costings can be withdrawn/changed at any stage from RCC.  Final rate charged is what will be documented on your booking.  Once deposit paid you have agreed on the price you have been given.

 

Fun Fact 2.  Scrapbooking 24/7 

 

One of the biggest differences to other crafting cruises you may have been on is that we have PRIVATE use of the conference centre.  We don’t use any of the public locations like libraries or dining rooms

 

 

 

 

  • REALLY!!!.  The conference room is booked for our PRIVATE USE for the whole duration of the cruise.
  • Come and Go outside of class times as much as you like.  (ok we even let you leave the class for Bingo if you must)
  • If you want to go to a show and then come back and craft afterwards – then the room is open to you.
  • Only rule last one in – turns out the lights..

FAQ: How many classes are there?
Depends on the number of sea days and how the host of the cruise runs it but usually between 3 – 6.  But you will have plenty of leftover bits and pieces from the classes to continue with during your spare time.

Classes are held usually in the morning giving you free time to enjoy the other activities onboard the ship or to either stay behind and finish off or come back at your leisure some other time during the day.  Again depending on the cruise and host this may differ from cruise to cruise.  Masterclass cruises will have classes in the morning and afternoon on offer.

 

Fun Fact 3.  Full Class Instructions 

 

 

We totally understand that there are so many other activities happening around the ship.  Therefore if you wish to leave the class to go and play bingo, attend a sushi making class or race down to the promenade at 10am for the daily shopping special we understand.

 

 

 

FAQ: How do I catch up.
The workshop room is open 24/7 for our private use.  Therefore you can use the detailed instructions you each will be given to catch up before the next class.  We suggest you tell your instructor in advance if you are not going to attend a class or leave early giving them the chance to show you any techniques that may be learnt during the class or make an alternative time to show you.

 

Fun Fact 4.  All Experience Levels are Welcome

 

 

We have had numerous ladies who have never before scrapbooked so this is the perfect chance to take advantage of some awesome educators and your new friends around you to help you out.

 

 

 

 

FAQ: I’m an advanced papercrafter – will the classes suit me.
Like all classes – you can add your unique style to your layouts.  So it you want to distress all edges,  add a background texture through a stencil etc or just ink everything, you are more than welcome as long as you understand the class will not stop to wait for you to catch up if you are adding all these other additions.  However if you are a fast and advanced papercrafter then you probably will catch up quite quickly anyways.  At the end of the day you want to take home an album of layouts that you are happy with.   The only thing we ask is that if you are going AWOL and doing your own thing you let the people around you know that as if they are falling behind they sometimes just look at the person next to them and copy.

 

Fun Fact 5. No Need to Pack up after Class

 

 

As the room is ours 24/7 you can leave your supplies on your table for the entire cruise. This way you can leave, go have lunch and come back to work on what you were previously if you don’t finish something in class.

 

 

 

FAQ: Do we have to pack up our stuff up after each class?
Absolutely not… but its probably easier to clean up  your space a little before each new class commences as you will be getting more products for each class.

We have a private conference room, which means you are allowed to leave your totes and tools etc there.  I can’t guarantee nothing will be taken as its NOT locked but we have had no issues in the past.  We have a sign saying it is a PRIVATE FUNCTION which keeps majority away.  There are always a few people who do get very intrigued at what we get up to and what to have a little look….  Majority have enjoyed showing others their projects.  You guys are great advertising for the following years cruise when they see what we are up to and we have had ladies join us the following year from coming in and seeing what we are doing.

FAQ: How much Product Can I take?
That is entirely up to you but you are going to be limited more by your flight baggage than your cabin allowance.  The cabins aren’t huge unless you are fortunate to have a suite.  Suitcases can be stored under your bed and then totes etc can be kept in the conference room.  Please check with your airline for their baggage limits.  I definitely advise you have space for an album and possibly an additional 5 – 7kg on return.

Class Requirements are updated on the website for each relevant cruise and teachers will let you know closer to the cruise if any particular products you need to bring with you.  Most classes have everything supplied and you just need to really worry about your own personal took kit.

Fun Fact 6 – Dream Holiday 

 

 

 

Its been on your bucket list for a long time – why not tick that box and book in.  As well as crafting as much as you like you don’t have to do any of the normal housework as the rest is done for you – including all your meals…

 

 

FAQ: Exactly what is included?

OUR PRICES INCLUDED

  • Gratuities, Port Fees and taxes
  • Accommodation with private ensuite
    • Complimentary toiletries
    • In cabin safe
    • TV for in-cabin entertainment
  • All meals (alcohol additional – drink packages available onboard)
    • Full breakfast
    • Buffet or a la carte lunch menu
    • Buffet or 4 course a la carte dinners
  • All onboard entertainment and shows
    • Musical stage shows
    • Special guest entertainers
    • Choice of Bars and Lounges
    • Latest release movies (in cabin and on big screen)
  • Inspiring Scrapbook Classes (number of classes dependant on sea days)
    • Use of PRIVATE room – Convention Centre 24/7
    • Welcome Gift
    • Prizes and giveaway
    • Classes on the mornings of cruising days (some cruises may offer additional classes in afternoons)
  • Spectacular ports of call

*Optional Shore Excursions are available  but not included in the price.

With all the above included the only thing left is for you to make a booking deposit and get your registration in before we book out.

Check out all upcoming cruises here

For answers to other Frequently asked questions such as Deposits, Refunds Cancellations etc.  please download the current FAQ’s here.