Total Solar Eclipse 2012 Cruise aboard the Paul Gauguin
This eclipse trip was arranged by TravelQuest, who I have traveled with before, so I knew ahead of time that this solar eclipse cruise aboard the Paul Gauguin would be top-notch, and it was. They have seven staff aboard, so the on-board presentations ensure we will be well-prepared for the big day on the 14th, when we will be south of New Caledonia in the South Pacific to watch the Total Solar Eclipse.
Being aboard a ship dedicated to eclipse chasing means we will be in a prime location, and be able to avoid any weather which might hamper us in one location by simply sailing to a better one as required. I’ll leave it up to the staff to decide that one – they well know what we are all after!
My 3-week trip includes much more than the 10-day eclipse cruise. Before embarking the ship, I spend a few days at a nearby resort. Also, rather than returning home after disembarking the cruise, my arrangements include a stay in Fiji for a further week in the lovely Yasawa Group of islands. I had always wanted to experience these legendary islands, located just off the NW coast of Viti Levu, where we disembark the ship in Lautoka.
My full itinerary is listed below. Feel free to click on what interests you, however if you click on the top-most item, there are links at the bottom of each page (just above the Comments section) to take you to the next destination – from beginning to end. This is the best way to explore the whole trip as it happened.
- Canada to Fiji flights
- Lautoka – pre-cruise stay at First Landing Resort
- Eclipse cruise itinerary
- At sea – Fiji to New Caledonia
- New Caledonia – Ile des Pins
- Total Solar Eclipse 2012 – 200km south of New Caledonia in the Coral Sea
- New Caledonia
- La Grande Terre (Noumea & Amédée Island)
- Ile de Mare
- Ile de Lifou
- Port Vila, Vanuatu
- Disembark the Paul Gauguin & Fly to Blue Lagoon Resort
- Staying in the Yasawa Group of Islands – Blue Lagoon Resort, Nacula Island, Yasawa Group – a post-cruise stay on tropical islands
- Flights from Fiji to Canada – flying home turned into a bit of an endurance test!
My pre-cruise thoughts
This is a 10 day cruise aboard a ship which will only have about 320 passengers aboard, so I am looking forward to being pampered and spoiled by the service staff. Being able to share the solar eclipse experience with fellow dedicated eclipse chasers will only enhance the experience.
The last time I observed a total solar eclipse was from the Libyan Sahara Desert in 2006 under ideal conditions: Eclipse Day in the Sahara. I think the predicted chance of cloud cover was less than 10% at the Sahara location, whereas on this trip, the chance of cloud cover is closer to 50%, however the chance of thick cloud cover is about 20%. Totality will last 3 minutes at our location, which is pretty well the longest anyone will experience for this particular solar eclipse, given its track is mainly over the water of the South Pacific. Most eclipse chasers will be on the Australian coast north of Cairns to observe this event. They have considerably more weather decisions to make than us…I expect to hear some exciting stories from them of having to make runs inland to avoid the clouds, but I wish everyone all the best nonetheless.
The ship makes four ports of call in New Caledonia as well as visiting Port Vila in Vanuatu. I am very much looking forward to visiting these ports, since I sailed aboard Holland America’s Volendam in 2010 to some of these same ports. It is with considerable anticipation that I want to experience these magical places again, since the snorkelling and scenery is second to none, the people are very friendly and welcoming, and I will get to experience two new ports of call in New Caledonia.
After observing and photographing the eclipse from the ship’s deck on the 14th, we will settle into a more traditional South Pacific cruise, enjoying the above-mentioned ports of call before arriving back in Lautoka, Fiji six days later.