Magic Carpet Journals


Cruising Through Paradise on the 'Dawn Princess'

Join Heather and Barry Minton on this Princess Cruise Line tour of the South Pacific Islands

Story and Pictures by Heather and Barry Minton




We flew to Sydney to join the Princess Cruise Line’s ‘Dawn Princess’ to commence our 35 night trip across the Pacific Ocean, visiting 13 ports and 11 tropical islands along the way. Berthed in Darling Harbour, our ship is seen here towering over the replica of Captain Cook’s ‘HMS Endeavour’ – a fitting place to start our journey, as Captain Cook and his little ship visited many of the islands that we were to visit.

Ship at Darling Harbour

With our captain, Captain Todd McBain, and escorted by local small craft, we sailed in the dusk under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, past the Sydney Opera House, through the “Sydney Heads” and out into the ocean.


Sydney Harbour Bridge

The first few days were spent settling into our balcony stateroom in our beautiful floating five-star hotel, exploring the ship and the many amenities on offer and making lots of new friends.  The ship carries 1,998 passengers and 900 crew.

The Grand Atrium

Fountain Feature

 Outdoor area


The islands of the Pacific Rim were formed over thousands of years by volcanic eruptions which were then gradually surrounded by coral reefs and covered with lush tropical vegetation.

When the Egyptians were building their pyramids this region was being populated by the Polynesians and Micronesians, travelling in large wooden canoes, steering by the stars and following the flight of migratory birds.  We found an example of the canoes they used in the Fiji Museum, Suva where there is a replica built to one third the size of the originals.




The islands of the Pacific were discovered in the 1700’s by such explorers as Captain James Cook.  Later the whalers arrived followed by Christian missionaries of many denominations. The islanders (some of them extremely warlike) quickly embraced Christianity which is still very strong throughout the islands. Later various European powers settled in the region and they also exerted an influence. We enjoyed visiting the various churches, both great and small throughout the islands, many with unusual architecture.


Sacred Heart Church, Falefa, Independent Samoa


The church “Eglise de la Sainte Famille”, Moorea

We attended information lectures on the islands we were to visit, the people and their customs, and the available tours. We were also given many hints on how to independently explore the islands if preferred.

The local markets are always a way to gain a sense of the people and their lifestyle. Some were very small as the one in Tonga…

Market Vava’u

…and others, much larger as in Papeete.

Market Papeete

 There was always an abundance of souvenirs of beautifully handcrafted items made locally.

Carvings in Tonga

However, this little chap definitely was not for sale!


Throughout the islands the people perform a special ceremony to welcome guests, and this varied only slightly between islands.  A drink is ceremoniously made from the kava root and is handed around for all to drink.  A mild stimulant, not particularly palatable to westerners, it is however deemed a great honour and is to be taken very seriously. The root is readily available in markets throughout the islands.



Kava root for sale

Another similar theme throughout the islands was the lack of formal cemeteries. It is the tradition to bury their dead on their own property and, depending on the affluence of the family some of these burial plots were quite ornate. This one at the home of  Tauese (meaning ‘Chief’)  P.F. Sunia, the much loved President of American Samoa from 1997 till his death in 2003.


President’s grave

…some imposing as this one on the cliff tops also in American Samoa…

Graves on cliffs, Samoa

…or very basic as this one in Tonga.

Tonga grave  

This link is the Magic Carpet to waft you away to Tonga and Tahiti via words and pictures.      


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Last Updated on November 04, 2011 by M. Maxine George editor.

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