Fanning Island is also known as Tabuaeran. Based on archaeological evidence, early settlements may have been created by peoples of the Cook Islands or Tonga. This destination was selected as a substitute port for nearby Christmas Island, or Kiritimati, part of the Republic of Kiribati. The area where the Statendam would need to anchor had silted in so heavily that the water depth and conditions made this island unapproachable by tender.
With the wind blowing at 30 knots as we watched the tender operations trying to start down below us, it was obvious that this port might not happen today. And it didn't. The Captain tried! An exploratory tender was even sent out, but from our veranda view we could see water lapping over the feet of the crew standing on the tender loading platform and the tender boat, not loaded as it would be with passengers, bobbing deeply under the waves. There was time for quite a few photos during this experimental time, but it's judicious cropping of the high-res photos that enables the viewer to see as much of this island as is visible from the photo slide show.
It's reasonable to wonder if perhaps the donated items could have just been sent in with a crew member of if someone from the island might have come out. They are not equipped to do that, and had the ship sent even a crew-only tender in, the government would have charged the full port tax per person. Since no passengers could actually go ashore, all will be refunded their port tax fees (paid in the base fare of the cruise) so the effect would be that the ship would pay twice for no visit. Thus, we couldn't do what we'd hoped, and of course the islanders were disappointed—not only at the lost donation, but the lack of any revenue from sales, tours, etc.
The Cruise Critic group, working with a local medical relief team at Kirimati, had planned to bring requested items for the local school. To our delight, once aboard, we found that the Statendam officers and crew were happy to participate and were willing to transport all donations to shore. A 10 am presentation was planned and a large space in the Human Resources Office was filled with items to go to the island. However, we were unable to complete these plans because weather conditions made the island inaccessible. Donating the items elsewhere proved to be challenging; eventually the items will be donated when a suitable venue is found.
Blog Content & Website Design: Marney Wilde • Photographs by George Wilde