The beach of Pulau Padar is unique. Our tour group has been dropped off on the pink sand by the True North dinghies and is now enjoying the Pacific sunset with a sundowner to match. Coconut Mojito is the cocktail of the day.
Snacks to go with the drink come from the galley, where everything on True North is made fresh: Goat cheese tartlets with caramelized onions. This dreamlike atmosphere rounds off the first day of the voyage. We’re excited about the adventures ahead on the 10-day tour of the Pacific.
In addition to the German FrontRowSociety reporter and three U.S. Americans, the 36 participants of the luxury cruise to the Indonesian Sunda Islands include exclusively Australian guests. As Glomads the travel-loving Australians describe themselves. Global nomads who have enjoyed traveling all their lives and remain infected by the adventure gene even after retirement. A family of 11 is also on board and the youngest child is just two years old.
The daily routine on the True North is characterized by variety. From sunrise to dinner, activities are offered on land and in the water, but also excursions with the helicopter, which is always ready for takeoff on the True North. Guests only ever get a glimpse of the crew’s activities. While the kitchen is serving up the lamb carree for dinner, the anchor is already being lifted again outside and on the bridge the captain is ready for the trip to the next island with fearsome Komodo dragons.
In the reportage Dragons, Volcanoes and a Wedding on the Indonesian Sunda Islands, three typical land excursions of the trip are described in detail.
Luxury without airs and graces but with a sense of humor
Some of the guests already know each other from previous adventures. All True North Adventure cruises depart from Australia, which is also home to the most loyal customers. And the choice of cruise destinations is wide. 31 different tours present the highly professional crew with a constant stream of new challenges, especially as the weather at sea can upset the planned daily schedule.
Guests and crew address each other by their first names. Name tags make it easy to make contact. The entire ship is barefoot and everyone enjoys being able to do without ostentatious luxury. By the end of the voyage, everyone has benefited greatly from the experiences of fellow passengers.
At the beginning of the voyage, the captain introduces his crew and invites guests to familiarize themselves with the ship and its equipment. Of course, everyone is welcome to join him on the bridge at any time.
The Australian English spoken on board is not very formal, but approachable, witty and direct. The safety briefing by Jayson, the first officer, is summed up by one guest thus. “With Australian instructions, someone talks for five minutes, no one listens, and after that everyone does what they want.” Or as another sums it up, “Don’t be too careful.” Which here means as much as, everyone feels responsible for each other and helps to keep the good mood going.
On every True North cruise, a two-person kitchen team takes care of guests’ physical well-being. Chef Martina Page with sous chef Gavin Maitland conjure up handsomely decorated portions on the plates, even in heavy seas. The challenge of the menu plan is to meet the majority taste of the guests while also being able to react to individual intolerances.
The fresh food on board is of organic quality, and depending on which fish are caught by guests during the cruise, the galley is prepared with suitable side dishes and preparation methods.
You can’t get fresher – deep-sea fish on the hook
Deep-sea fishing, even the veterans say, is unpredictable every time. Shortly before sunset, Ian, Steward, Matt and I get into the dinghy, with which we drag three flasher baits on rods behind us at breakneck speed in search of a promising spot. Soon we find an area where thousands of anchovies are jumping out of the water around us. A sure sign of the presence of large predatory fish.
Soon Steward feels a strong tug on his line and yells for us to reel in our lines so they can’t tangle with his. He is still fighting a strong fish that almost pulled him overboard. Minutes later, a wahoo lies on the bottom of our boat. With his sharp teeth he can still be dangerous to our toes.
Also on the second fishing trip Steward is the lucky one. And this time a long cherished wish comes true for him. He catches a dogtooth tuna.
24 hours later in the galley, sous chef Gavin decorates the fennel-marinated tuna as sashimi on a board.
For the wahoo caught first, the chefs are waiting for a special occasion. After a night sail through rather choppy seas, the time has come. In addition to breakfast, fish congee is ready for self-service on the aft deck. This rice dish is considered the most digestible in Asia. And its healing effect unfolds just on this morning, on which one or the other is not so sure whether the light nausea comes straight or goes already again.
Activity program on the True North
The True North includes a helicopter and six dinghies that can be used to reach the best spots for diving and snorkeling. Dive Master Jeremy and Natalie, the naturalist, assist in assembling the appropriate equipment.
Also on board as a scientific advisor is Angela Beer, who knows the Indonesian waters inside out. She has suggested the route and planned the upcoming dives in such a way that spectacular discoveries are likely. The Indonesian environmental education project she initiated, Kalabia, was recognized by UNESCO in 2018 as a model for sustainable development.
Wellness for devil rays
The moment when the seabed appears to move while snorkeling is unforgettable. You have to look closer to see the giant devil rays hovering over the seabed like flying carpets in this phenomenon.
In the afternoon, Angela Beer gives a talk about the rays in True North’s bar lounge. She explains the large numbers of devil rays by saying that we have found a cleaning station. There are certain places in the ocean where cleaner fish wait for big fish to come and get their skin cleaned of parasites. And we witnessed such a spa with our diving goggles!
30 years True North Adventure Cruises
The company True North Adventure Cruises owes its foundation to probably the most famous sailing regatta in the world. In 1987 the Americas Cup took place in Fremantle. The founder of True North was involved in the construction of the Canadian challenger boat there and offered the first ocean tours with this boat after the competition.
The cost of the cruise was not calculated