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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Ocean PrincessRecently I spent four weeks cruising in the South Pacific on Ocean Princess as a guest lecturer. The trip took me to several places I had not visited previously, and other ports I had not been to for many years, so I had a list of interesting ships I hoped to photograph.

I joined Ocean Princess in Honolulu, flying in from Sydney the same day the cruise began, and had a few hours to look around. An interesting excursion vessel was the unusual SWATH-design excursion vessel, Navatek I.

This 40m long vessel was built in 1987, but the accommodation for 400 passengers was not completed until 1989. Operated by Atlantis Navatek Cruises, it was doing daytime whale-watching trips and sunset dinner cruises. Navatek I has a most unusual catamaran hull, divided into four sections that extend beneath the waterline, and is reported to be extremely stable.

Berthed near the Aloha Tower was the small Japanese maritime training ship Shinyo Maru, which was built in 2005, and has the appearance of a fishing vessel. This vessel departed during the afternoon.

A large number of tugs are based in Honolulu, many of them quite large and used for towing barges laden with cargo to the various islands. One of these tugs, Niolo, built in 1982, departed towing a fuel barge, while others were seen moving barges around Honolulu Harbour.

MusashiBerthed away from the main harbour I found the superyacht Musashi, built in 2011 by Feadship in Holland, 88m long and measuring 2,463 gross tonnes. Musashi has quite an unusual appearance, with extensive large windows on three decks. It is registered under the ownership of Zeta Yachts in the Cayman Islands.

The early part of the trip presented few opportunities for ship photography. Our first port was Nawiliwili, on the island of Kauai, where we berthed near Sapphire Princess for the day, while the next day was spent at anchor off Lahaina, a lovely little town on the island of Maui. The third day was at Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii, sharing a berth with Golden Princess. We then had five days at sea heading south to French Polynesia, a part of the world I had not visited previously. There were several vessels based in this region that I particularly hoped to see. These included the small cruise ships Tu Moana and Tia Moana, and two passenger/cargo vessels that made regular circuits around the nearby islands, Aranui 3 and Tuhaa Pae IV. In addition, I was also hoping to get good shots of the ferries operating from Papeete to Moorea, which is a nine mile trip.

The first stop, at Bora Bora, yielded nothing of interest apart from a couple of catamaran ferries that are used to transport passengers to and from the airport, which is on an island. The next day was spent anchored in a bay at Moorea, away from the main town. That evening Ocean Princess made the short passage to Papeete, and at 8pm we glided into the harbour for a 32 hour stay.

Next morning I was up early and went out on deck to check out what I could see in the harbour. It was a glorious sunny day, promising to be hot and humid. The luxury private motor yacht, Golden Odyssey, was at the next berth, but most of the ships were berthed on the opposite side of the harbour, too far away for good photographs. There was one large cargo ship that particularly caught my eye, but as it was almost bow on I could not identify it. There were also two small cargo ships with bright red hulls, and a couple of old ferries that were obviously laid up. Also in view was the French naval base with one ship alongside, and the tug berth.

On our side of the harbour I could see a couple of large catamarans berthed at the Moorea ferry terminal, and one of them, Aremiti 4, very obligingly moved out into the harbour. I expected it to go right past me on its way to Moorea, but instead it headed towards the opposite side of the harbour, though I was able to snap a few shots of it. A few minutes the other ferry, Aremiti 5, was also moving, and this time it did come past me on its way to Moorea.

Sapphire and Ocean PrincessesI also noticed a rather smart looking ship a short distance away, and at first thought it was another private luxury yacht. When I went ashore I discovered it was the small cruise ship, Tu Moana. This vessel and its identical sister, Tia Moana, had been built at Fremantle in Australia in 2003, but their cruise operation had not been a success and they had both been offered for sale. Tu Moana was clearly laid up, with no sign of activity on board at all.

I walked on to the Moorea ferry terminal, known as the Gare Maritime, which is quite an imposing structure and appears to work very efficiently. There are four berths, all clearly signposted as to which ferry would be leaving there. All the vessels serving Moorea carry vehicles as well as passengers, and there were several lanes provided at each berth for waiting cars and trucks. For foot passengers there is a pleasant waiting area overlooking the ferry berths on the fi rst fl oor of the terminal, with food and drinks available.

When I asked why Aremiti 4 had not gone to Moorea I was told it was only used for longer trips a couple of times a week to islands further from Papeete as far as Bora Bora. It had only returned the previous night from one such trip, so I was lucky to see it at all.

As I was walking back to Ocean Princess a bright red catamaran ferry came into the harbour. This was the Terevau, which went to berth 4 at the terminal. Terevau and Aremiti 5, both built by Austal Ships in Fremantle, would become familiar sights in the harbour during the day as each made six trips, the crossing time being about half an hour. They carry about 700 passengers and 30 vehicles.

Soon after, the other vessel operating to Moorea, Aremiti Ferry, entered the harbour. Built in Singapore in 1996, it is also a catamaran, but at 5,985 gross tonnes is much bigger than the other two on the run. It is used to transport large vehicles as well as passengers, and makes three return trips daily.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - September 2013 Issue
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