What more appropriate port of call for a Christmas cruise than Christmas Island? Well Bethlehem, I suppose, but very few cruise lines or passengers risk excursions to the Church of the Nativity these days, so the tiny territory 1,600 miles from Western Australia makes the most appropriate alternative.
This week 1,700 passengers from P&O Australia’s Pacific Sun stepped ashore, easily outnumbering the island’s 1,400 permanent residents, and receiving a warmer welcome than the refugees and asylum-seekers held in a detention centre there.
Apart from its name, the Indian Ocean island is possibly most famous for its population of red crabs, whose regular migrations are listed by David Attenborough as one of his 10 most memorable wildlife experiences.
Many locals became tour guides for the day, escorting the visitors on jungle treks and historical walks. Some tourists were also able to spot the red crabs on their return migration, enjoy Malay and Chinese food and buy “Christmas on Christmas Island” souvenirs.