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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Sea Princess “Casino” visits Royal Tonga

Nuku’alofa - They came in on a huge floating casino, much taller than any structural building on land.

The Sea Princess steamship (but no longer driven by steam engines) of the Princess Cruise Lines, docks at Vuna Wharf, at 8:00 AM this morning.

They were floating hotels in the past, like the infamous Titanic American-British cruise ship that sank in icy waters after hitting a floating iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. But the cruise lines have discovered another way to extract tourist money; onboard endless Las Vegas Casino-style gambling, and entertainment.    

But one of the highlights of a cruise vacation is the port-of-calls at different countries, with different cultures along the cruising route. It was our second cruise ship arrival of the week, and of the month of April.

Local dancers hired by the Ministry of Tourism greeted them on the docks. Buses loaded up with tour groups; taxi cabs sped away with visitors who despise being herded like cattle. A cruise day is a festive one in Nuku’alofa, bringing much needed currency to the local economy.

35 Days of Polynesian Cruising

Yet, one of the cab drivers refused to take his first fare. “I can’t make any money at these low rates,” he said. The tourists arrived with a rate sheet initially given to them by the Ministry of Tourism. And just in time his Base called for a local fare, so he dropped the tourist fare and off he went.

The Sea Princess and her casino-crazed passengers are gambling their way through “exotic” Polynesia for 35 days. From Australia’s east coast, they stopped in Tonga; on to Samoa; Hawaii (4 island-stops); Tahiti; Bora Bora; New Zealand, and back to Australia.

“You do get the urge to walk on dry land after a while onboard,” said the lady with the natural suntan, and the Norwegian accent. “After days and nights of dining on first-class casino food, we’d like to try some local cooking, as well.”

Some folks just wanted to come on land to stretch their muscles. The souvenir hunters flocked down Nuku’alofa, in different directions − maps in hand. Obviously, Aussie folks of the retired kind, beer belly gentlemen wearing Down Under safari hats, and a bossy wife are on this trip.

“Dear, you can’t go down that way,” says one lady to his man, obviously.

“And why not?” he stops, about-turned almost military style.

“Because the bloody Palace is that way,” she gestures to the right.

History Buffs Also Get Their Fill

A little group of friends, obviously, soon gathered and they paraded down Nuku’alofa main drag Taufa’ahau Road. The Royal Palace grounds is a fenced-in white Victorian structure from the 19th century − relics of British influence in the Pacific during the colonial years. Tour buses headed our to beach resorts, and historical sites such as “Ancient Tonga.”

Historically, the local administration of King Siaosi Tupou II managed to forge Tongan domestic independence (1900) with a well-written Constitution from 1875. Hence, Tonga is the remaining Royal Polynesian Kingdom.

Sāmoans were colonized by Germany, then New Zealand (Tutu’ila went to the U.S. as American Sāmoa), respectively. Hawaiians by the U.S.; Tahitians by France, and the Maoris’ Aotearoa were overrun by English settlers renaming it New Zealand.  

(Sione A. Mokofisi is a published bilingual writer in Tongan and in English. He’s Director of English-Journalism & Business Management at Tonga International Academy, Havelu, Tongatapu. E-mail address: s1mokofisi@yahoo.com). Pacific Loop

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 5:26 PM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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