Day 40: Reunion Island with Holland America

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ms Rotterdam in Le Port, Reunion

Day 40: Reunion Island with Holland America

Holland America Africa Explorer Cruise – 49 Days from Rotterdam to Cape Town

Date: Wednesday November 5, 2014

Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy; 26 C/80 F

In Port: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

All Aboard: 5:30 PM

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Location Information:

Reunion Island is a tropical, volcanic French island situated in the Indian Ocean. La Possession is the port town where Holland America Line ms Rotterdam docked, and the small town of Le Port has a local market that is open most of the day. Saint-Denis, which dates back to the 2730s, is located approximately 20 km north of La Possession, and was originally the island’s main port. In Saint-Denis the architecture showcases many impressive neo-classical wooden colonial mansions.

Language: French

Local Currency: Euros only

Shops Closed: Daily for lunch the shops close at noon for a few hours

Port Shuttle Service:

A complimentary shuttle service was provided by the Port of La Possession, Reunion to Le Port Town. The service began at 8:00 AM and continued running throughout the day. There were two shuttles to take – 1 from the ship to the port entrance and 1 from the port entrance to the town of Le Port. The last shuttle back from Le Port was at 4:30 PM. Travel time was approximately 15 minutes to the Central Market and 20 minutes to the Bus Station. The morning shuttles into Le Port were very busy with passengers all wanting to get to the public buses and created a few arguments between pushy passengers not willing to wait their turn.

WJs Day:

We had had quite the night of rocking and rolling as we slept – with big swells that were amplified by the slow speed we were sailing at due to the very short distance between Mauritius and Reunion (about 36 nautical miles).

Buying bus tickets in Le Port, Reunion

We were off the ship and onto the port shuttle bus by 9:00 AM. Then we went to get on the next shuttle bus to take us into Le Port Town bus station, but that was full (no standing on public buses) so we waited for the next one – almost 50 minutes. Fights were close to breaking out between passengers as some that had come later were pushing to the front and bumping out some of the less mobile in the group. By the time the shuttle came there were at least a hundred people waiting to get on a bus that could only seat 40, so it was tense.

Le Port Bus Station

Due to how long we waited for shuttles, many passengers decided just to go to the Le Port Central Market and then take the shuttle back to the ship, but we continued on to the bus station and got in line to buy bus tickets. The local currency is the euro and only euro cash was accepted. A book of 6 tickets cost euro 6, or individual tickets cost euro 1.40 each. A bus ticket was good for each segment of a trip and we used one ticket each to travel to the town of Saint-Denis – a 30-minute bus ride about 20 km north of Le Port and Le Possession.

Saint-Denis, Reunion Island

Saint Denis on Reunion Island

Hotel de Ville in Saint-Denis

Maison Timol

We wandered the streets of Saint-Denis for a few hours, visited the Jardin de l’Etat, saw the Natural History Museum, the mosque, Deliverance Church, craft market, colonial mansions and many shops and boutiques in the main part of town.

Jardin de l'Etat on Reunion Island

Colonial Mansion in Saint-Denis, Reunion

Colonial Mansion

Deliverance Church in Saint-Denis, Reunion

Not wanting to get caught missing the shuttle back to the ship, we didn’t spend as much time in Saint-Denis as we would have liked, and made our way back to Le Port by 3:00 PM, but before doing so we did stop at the Craft Market and try the local beer – Bourbon – which was very good and perfectly refreshing on a hot and humid day.

Saint-Denis Craft Market

Bourbon Beer from Reunion Island

The Reunion Tourism office had set up a tent for cruise passengers at the tiny cruise terminal, where an hour of free WiFi was available for each passenger. It was quite slow and only 20 people could log on at the same time without it completely stopping. But, it was the only WiFi access we’d had time for so we were grateful for it.

Pilot boat escorts ms Rotterdam in Reunion Island

Sail Away from La Possession, Reunion

Sail away from Reunion Island was just after 6:00 PM and another glorious sunset illuminated the high volcanic mountains that formed this island.

Tonight’s entertainment in the Showroom at Sea brought back the vocal harmony group Viva Voce.

Next – Sea Day 1 towards Durban, South Africa

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