Reader Essential Experience of the Week

A Life-Long Dream Discovered
Pitcairn Island
Posted by Margie Vance
August 16, 2011

Almost 30 years ago, Pitcairn Island captured my imagination while reading “Mutiny on the Bounty”—is there really such a place?—do people still live there?—what are they like?—how do they survive on a tiny island in the Pacific, a world away from civilization?  

Approaching Pitcairn Island.

Thus began my journey, which culminated this April when Royal Princess (on its final voyage) anchored offshore and welcomed aboard my Pitcairn friends for a morning visit.

Pictairn is a paradise, a well-kept secret since Fletcher Christian and his crew landed in 1789.  Even today, the entire population—47 men, women and children—are direct descendants of the Bounty.  Pitcairn appeared in the distance in the early morning hours—a tiny speck of land, less than two square miles, displaying gloriously green landscape and rock formations standing untouched since creation.

Captain Ivan Jerman anchored strategically to provide us with a picture perfect view of Bounty Bay (the Bounty still lies on the ocean floor just beneath our ship).  Adamstown was before us, a delightful  settlement of lovely homes,  town center, medical office,  beautiful church and one small dirt road which circles the island.

Bounty Bay - in foreground, Adamstown.

Having established web-friendships with several of the islanders over the last six years since internet reached their remoteness, they were thrilled to hear of our plans to stop by.  There were lots of requests from the islanders for special items and I was asked to bring “luxury” items such as Baby Ruth candy bars, writing paper, swimsuits, etc.  Supply ships come by only a few times each year, and they deliver only basic life necessities.  It was great fun shopping for all the little luxuries they so seldom see.  We ended up with four extra suitcases full of goodies!  Air Tahiti Nui was also most generous in allowing us extra baggage for our cause.

Because we had three days at sea before arriving at Pitcairn, we took every opportunity to excite other passengers about the port.  Many were not even aware of the true story of the  Bounty,which we were happy to summarize for them.

Brenda Christian, 9th generation descendant of the Bounty.

At breakfast, lunch, pool time, waiting for shows, even in the restrooms—if anyone mentioned Pitcairn, we flamed their interest with personal stories from our correspondence with the islanders.  By the time the longboat pulled alongside, we had the entire starboard side of the ship calling out greetings to those coming aboard!

The Princess staff also graciously helped me prepare gifts bags for each of the 11 island children. The culture difference between us was immediately evident—Princess passengers busily purchasing original handicrafts and postmarking cards, while the Pitcairners gently and quietly sold their wares, graciously entertained questions and shared stories of their homeland.

Our visit ended much too soon as we bid a fond farewell to one the most remote and amazing places on earth–our Princess ship being one of the privileged few to visit  each year.  Thanks, Princess, for this opportunity of a lifetime!

Our many gift bags!

A poignant farewell as the islanders return in their longboat to Pitcairn.

Rare edition of "Mutiny on the Bounty," purchased at Pitcairn from Steve Young, a bounty descendant.

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