Sunday, March 1, 2009

Look At All Those White People!

That was our reaction when my family and I left our house this morning and when traveling south down CMG past the port, we saw the dozens, if not hundred-plus mostly senior-citizen cruise passengers trekking down the road to Garapan, maps and cameras in hand.

This morning my son and I had watched a giant ocean liner with my new Bushnells for an hour or more, while it was still far outside the reef, to entry into the lagoon and docking at the port. This ship is a physical monster and a significant visitor to our island, not only for the number of tourists that it brought for one day but because it is one of the world's newest, leading cruise ships operated by the longest running and "most famous" company in the ocean-liner business.

The MS Queen Victoria, operated by The Cunard Line is a brand new ship christened just over a year ago in December 2007. It's the second largest ship that Cunard has ever built and the QV's facilities include seven restaurants, thirteen bars, three swimming pools, a ballroom, casino, library and a theatre. It's 965 feet long or roughly the length of three football fields. It has sixteen decks total, twelve of which are guest decks, can accomodate 2014 passengers with 990 staterooms and has 900 officers and crew.

The Cunard Line is legendary, a British company whose first ships set sail over 160 years ago in 1840 as a year-round, trans-Atlantic steamship service. Per the "Cunard Firsts" page on its website, Cunard was the first company to take passengers on regularly scheduled trans-Atlantic departures (1840), introduced the first passenger ship to be lit by electricity (1881) and introduced the first steam turbine engines in a passenger liner (1905). Cunard operated one of the most famous cruise ships known to Americans, The Queen Mary, which sailed from 1936 to 1967 and has been docked as a hotel and museum in Long Beach, CA since. In 1998, Cunard was sold to the cruise line conglomerate, the Carnival Corporation.

Right now this ship is in the middle of a 105-day cruise around the world that began in New York City on January 10 and ends there on April 26. Check out the itinerary here. Round-trip fares started at $22,000 and change though of course guests can book travel for portions of the trip, as did a couple from New Zealand that I chatted with at Micro Beach. They jumped on in Australia on February 23 and disembark in Shanghai next Sunday, March 8 after a two-week cruise. They said they love it, that the ship is amazing. I'll bet.

So back to all those poor folks lumbering down the main highway to Garapan. Though full tour buses were shuttling passengers back-and-forth, I was concerned that there just weren't enough tour buses to go around for a ship of this size and that those walking perhaps didn't want to wait for the next round of buses to come back. The couple from New Zealand that I chatted with however said that there were plenty of buses, transportation was very organized and that those walking had chosen to do so. It's unfortunate that the pathway running from the north of American Memorial Park doesn't connect all the way to the port though, forcing tourists up to CMG to trek an unsightly and longer distance into town.

But what a ship though. Someday....


Marianas Cup 2009

13th place and lucky to get that. This photo and our entry on to main court immediately after was probably the highlight of our tournament.




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bigsoxfan said...

Funny, my first visit to Saipan I had to slog it into town. Ever notice, none of the stores on that end are open after ten pm. Anyway, not a bad walk the first time. Of course, I didn't have to pay for the privilege of my late arrival time and my free passage. Seems that the ship's operators should arrange something through the MVA. Thanks to the Navy for clearing the coral heads, a quick glimpse shows some serious draft on that monster. Not too sure, if they would have made it a few months ago.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks for noticing, Randy. That arrival was one of the most important in many a moon. The passengers on that vessel have both the time and the resources to revisit here if they like hat they see and in my discussions with several of them...they did like it.

Yeah, that pathway thru the exhaust fumes fiasco was, is and will continue to be a silly waste of taxpayer money. It could have been so much better than it is.

There are many other destination enhancements this place could use. Hopefully we will begin to take them more seriously...as in actually funding a few completely.

Hope the car store is doing okay.
BB

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

There was a big ship out there last week. All the old people made me feel like I was in South Florida.