Trips to the Pacific Islands, June 2013, April 2016 and August 2017.

Including Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.


Cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia on the 'Pacific Pearl', June 2013.

5th June 2013. Departure from Auckland on the ‘Pacific Pearl’.

We took the early flight up to Auckland, then the shuttle down to the waterfront where the Pacific Pearl was waiting for our "Island Fiesta" cruise. It was a simple process to register and get on board, and we were pleased to find that we had been upgraded to a better cabin. After settling in we had lunch and went to a safety briefing before departing Auckland at 4pm. There are lots of young people on board and a festive atmosphere, especially during the 'Sail away party' around the pool. The sunset as we left the Hauraki Gulf was stunning. In the evening we had dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant (fine dining) and then went to the Welcome show, which was rather disappointing. Our cabin is spacious and comfortable and the sea wasn't too bumpy, so we had a pretty good night's sleep.

 

 

 Downtown Auckland

 

6th June. At sea.

After breakfast we went to a couple of seminars. One outlined the shore excursions at the various ports and the other tried to sell us some Goodfeet shoe implants. Before lunch we went to the well-equipped gym: very useful with all the good food on offer! In the afternoon we went to an art auction (and resisted the temptation to buy anything), then had a bit of a rest. There's so much to do on board it can get quite tiring! After dinner we took in a circus show (again underwhelming), listened to the band and watched a laser light show. A very pleasant day at sea!

     

 

7th  June. At sea.

We had a great night's sleep. After breakfast we watched a fashion parade; went to a fair showcasing the food and activities on the Pacific Pearl; lounged in the sun; read a book, and then went to the gym. Lunch was in the formal Waterfront Restaurant. In the afternoon we learnt about other P&O cruises and then relaxed in our cabin. After dinner at the buffet we went to the evening show: comedy with Ivor Richards, followed by some impressive high wire acts

 

8th  June. Mystery Island, Vanuatu.

We reached Mystery Island early in the morning and anchored a little out to sea.  Mystery Island is part of Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides), and is a tiny uninhabited island. After breakfast we travelled to the island by tender and walked right around the island in about 3/4 hour. There are lovely beaches, good swimming and snorkeling, a tiny market where locals sell clothes and trinkets, and an airstrip. (This is used to bring mail to the surrounding islands). Other than that there isn't much there. Mystery Island was a great place to begin our exploration of Vanuatu as it is so typical of an unspoiled tropical island - even though about 1700 tourists invaded it for a few hours!

    

In the afternoon, we did some reading and went to the gym, then after dinner went to a pirate show.

 

9th  June. Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu, and with a population of 30,000 is its largest city. After docking we wandered through an extensive market then were picked up by a van for the ‘City Highlights’ tour. First we stopped at Pango, an authentic Melanesian village. We were welcomed by the Chief in his nakamal (meeting house); watched some traditional dances and wandered around the village and market. The lifestyle is quite simple with a nice church, very basic houses, and few amenities. The people seem very happy and obviously appreciate tourists coming to their village. Back in the van we had a look around Port Vila and learnt some of its history. Vanuatu was originally named New Hebrides by Captain Cook and was under French and British colonial rule till 1980 when it became an independent republic. We wandered around Port Vila then caught a bus back to the ship.

 

      
 Port Vila , Vanuatu
 

After lunch and a rest we were ready for a session at the gym then dinner in the Waterfront Restaurant. The evening show was a great concert by singer Jackie Love.

 

10th  June. Lifou, New Caledonia.

Lifou is a tiny island with a population of only 2000. It is part of the Loyalty Islands, a province of French speaking New Caledonia. We were tendered to shore and taken by van on the ‘Melanesian Encounter’ tour. We stopped in a village and were welcomed into the thatched chief's hut. We were then shown how they prepare the traditional bougna, cooked over hot rocks as in a hangi or umu. The bougna included banana, papaya, taro and chicken and was delicious. We then looked around the village and discovered that a traditional wedding was taking place. It was lovely to see the way the whole community got together to celebrate with music, processions and lots of food.

 

      

 Lifou, New Caledonia

Back at the beach we wandered along the road and saw the simple lifestyle, basic houses, gardens and churches typical of the community.  We also saw the Notre Dame of Lourdes church that overlooks the bay. A wonderful Melanesian encounter!

   

Back on board the Pacific Pearl we had a rest before dinner and the musical game show 'Let me entertain you'.

 

11th  June. Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

The Isle of Pines was named by Captain Cook because of its many tall skinny pine trees. It is often called 'the jewel of the Pacific'. We were tendered in to the island and took the ‘Island Discovery’ tour. We saw Vao village, the Notre Dame de l'Assumption church, and the commemoration of the first catholic service in 1848 in St Maurice Bay. The first Protestant missionaries arrived in 1840 but this coincided with an outbreak of disease. The disease went away when the Catholics arrived so the whole country converted to Catholicism in 1848. Next we visited the grotto of Queen Hortense. She became Queen at 8 years old when her father died and had no sons. Many wouldn't accept the idea of a Queen and tried to kill her so Hortense was hidden in the cave for six months.  She was the only Queen in the island's history. Back at the main beach we saw the sacred island which can be swum around but not climbed on.  The beach is truly stunning with white sands, deep blue water and great swimming and snorkeling.  Truly a tropical island paradise!

 

 Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

  

 

Back on the ship we went to the gym, had dinner and then went to 'Centre Stage', a celebration of Broadway shows.

 

12th  June. Noumea, New Caledonia.

New Caledonia will become independent from France in 3 years’ time. The total population of the country is 250, 000 and the capital Noumea has about 180,000 of these so is vital for the whole country. We took a city and country tour of Noumea using a local tour company.  (One third the price of the ship's tour!). We were struck by the contrast between rich and poor throughout the city. The rich are very rich with many lovely houses and yachts. They reckon it is more expensive to live here than in London! The poorer people live in council houses and there is a lot of graffiti and young people hanging around. New Caledonia is the world's third largest producer of nickel and the countryside has much evidence of nickel mining. On our tour we visited a lookout, a natural supply of spring water, and a church commemorating the efforts of missionaries in stopping cannibalism. After dinner we went to the evening show - a magician.

 

  

Noumea, new Caledonia

                                                                  Farewell to the Pacific Islands

13th  June. At sea.

We really enjoyed our brief stops in Vanuatu and New Caledonia and now have a much better concept of life in the Pacific islands.  The weather certainly has been kind to us on this cruise with calm seas and sunny days. Now we have two days at sea as we head back to Auckland.After breakfast we went to a cooking demonstration followed by a tour of the galley where all the lovely food is prepared. After lunch we read, went to the gym and got in some time for writing. After a nice dinner at the Waterfront we went to 'Please don't stop the music', another high energy musical production.

 

 
 

14th June. At sea.

Another calm day at sea. The weather certainly has been great on this cruise: fine when we have been in port and pretty smooth when we have been at sea. We had a quiet day with some reading, some writing, a movie and a session at the gym. After dinner we went to 'Starry, starry night', a show, followed by 'Transformation', a circus high wire show, then, overnight, sailed through to Auckland.

15th June. Auckland.

We docked in Auckland as we woke up. After breakfast we disembarked efficiently and caught the shuttle to the airport.

Highlights of the cruise were:

  • The comfortable ship and cabin.
  • Great on-shore excursions which gave us lots of insight into life on small Pacific islands in Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
  • Great weather
  • Reasonable food and entertainment on board (but P&O is well below Holland America and Norwegian Cruise Lines in standard).

A wonderful 10 day cruise to the Pacific islands!  Next stop, Fiji!

 

Fiji. June 2013.

15th  June. Auckland to Fiji.

We finished our Pacific cruise and flew to Fiji on a Jumbo jet. We were picked up at Nadi airport and taken to the nearby Smugglers Cove resort. What an idyllic place! It is a young people's resort with a backpacker section and a hotel, right on the beach. We arrived in time for a beautiful sunset! After dinner we watched the All Blacks beat France then crashed in our lovely 'Ocean front' room.

      

     

  

16th  June. Smuggler's Cove.

We had a quiet day enjoying some of the facilities of the resort. We went for a walk along the beautiful beach, fed the fish, watched the changing moods of the bay, read and snoozed. We adapted very quickly to Pacific island lifestyle! After dinner we watched the evening entertainment, this time Polynesian dancing including an amazing fire dance. The Smuggler's Cove resort was really pumping!

         

 

17th  June. Seaspray adventure.

We took a day tour to the Mamanuca Islands. We were picked up and taken to Denarau Marina, the main hub for the many cruises available. There we boarded a big catamaran and were taken to Mana Island, passing by South Sea, Bounty, Treasure and Beachcomber Islands. We then boarded the Seaspray, an old 83ft schooner. It was used for a TV series, Seaspray. We stopped at deserted Mondriki Island where the movie Castaway was filmed (starring Tom Hanks). There we had some of the best snorkeling imaginable. So many colourful fish! We then had a sumptuous BBQ lunch.

      

  

        

Next we visited Yanuya Island where there is a village of 600. We were welcomed with a kava ceremony and then explored the village. The people have very simple homes and are dependent on the sea for their livelihood. We saw a man throw a net and catch sardines; just enough for what they needed. The simple village life contrasts greatly with how we live! We were then returned to the catamaran (with some lovely Fijian singing) and then back to Smuggler's Cove.  A truly wonderful day.

         

18th  June. Smuggler's Cove.

We had a quiet day at the resort: walking on the beach; checking email; going to a weaving class; reading; resting and eating. Isn't that what you do when you're in a tropical island paradise?

  

 

19th  June. Tour of Nadi.

After  breakfast we went for a walk on the beach and nearly got caught by a tropical storm. In the afternoon we took the 'Thermal mud pool tour'. First we went to Nadi and visited a big Hindu temple. (50% of Fijians are Indian and many of these are Hindus.  Fijian nationals tend to be Christians). We then walked through the massive farmer's and fish markets. So much food for sale - all sold by the bunch. After a stop at a craft market we went to 'The garden of the sleeping giant' founded by Raymond Burr (Perry Mason) in 1977. It has lots of lovely tropical plants and orchids and is set way out in the country (on a very rough road). The final stop was at some thermal pools where we got covered in mud then hopped into a mud pool. Good for the skin! Then it was into a lovely thermal pool to clean off.  The 'spa' was way out in the country and very rustic - just some holes in the ground. Back at Smuggler's Cove we had dinner and watched another Polynesian dance show including the fire dance.

    

 

 

20th  June. Nadi town.

In the morning it rained so we stayed at the hotel and checked the internet. In the afternoon we took the local bus into Nadi Town. It cost $1.15 and the bus was a cultural experience! Noisy, open sides, poor suspension, rough roads.... In  Nadi we wandered down the main shopping street, fending off the salespeople who would give us a 'good price'. For the return journey the bus was 20 minutes late - Fiji time! We travelled home with lots of schoolchildren. They are very cute with their colorful school uniforms.

   

 

21st  June. Nadi to Melbourne.

We checked out of the Smuggler's Cove but stayed at the resort because our flight didn't leave till the early evening. We filled out the time reading, resting in the shade, going on a 'medicine walk' to learn about medicinal plants, and walking on the beach. After lunch we freshened up then took a taxi to the airport and caught our AirPacific flight to Melbourne.  Highlights of our trip to Fiji were:

  • Staying at Smuggler's Cove in a beachfront room. This hotel is a brilliant place to stay as it is right on a gorgeous beach, has lots of free activities and excellent night shows, has good food, is convenient to Nadi and Denerau and has reasonable rates. Highly recommended.
  • Seeing the beautiful sunsets from our hotel room. We knew we were in a tropical island paradise.
  • Going on the Seaspray to the Manamuca islands for fabulous snorkeling and an authentic island village.
  • Seeing the simple lifestyle of the Fijian people and their friendly, happy disposition.  We were always greeted with a smile and a friendly 'bula'.
  • Having a mud bath in a remote spa. Not something we do very often.

 Overall, this was a truly wonderful holiday.  Bula vinaka Fiji.  We'd love to come back sometime.


Cruise to Fiji and Tonga aboard the ‘Pacific Pearl’.  April 2016.

                 

We were blessed to share this cruise with Tony and LaDonna Cheatham, friends from Kansas in the United States. Prior to the cruise we were able to show Tony and LaDonna around Kapiti and Wellington, then we all flew up to Auckland and spent a couple of days at Algies Bay.

Tuesday 5th April. We walked down to the ship from our central Auckland hotel and embarked on the ‘Pacific Pearl’. Embarkation happened smoothly and we were soon in our spacious cabin, number 4128. We left Auckland in fine warm weather and headed for our first stop – Suva, Fiji.  We have cruised on the Pacific Pearl once before so everything was somewhat familiar, but this was Tony and LaDonna’s first cruise.

We had lunch at the buffet and departed from Auckland at 4pm. After the sail away party we saw a beautiful sunset then had dinner in the Waterfront restaurant followed by a musical show about a circus. It certainly doesn’t take long to get into the rhythm of cruising!

     

Wednesday 6th April. At sea. We had a quiet day sunbathing and reading around the pool, interspersed with a Fijian language class and some exercise at the gym. In the evening we went to a concert by Grant Galea (like Bing Crosby) and then had a lovely formal dinner at the Waterfront restaurant.

Thursday 7th April. At sea. LaDonna and Tony went to the spa and LaDonna had a seaweed wrap and massage, and Tony had the detox that guaranteed to take 8” off. They emerged fit and healthy but Ross got a migraine and spent 18 hours in bed. Go figure! The rest of relaxed around the ship and watched the show “Don’t stop the music”.

Friday 8th April. Suva, Fiji. We docked in the middle of Suva and took a shore excursion to visit a typical Fijian country village. We travelled on a longboat canoe to Naililili Village where we had a look around the big church and the school. We then visited a nearby village where we were given traditional welcome, a kava ceremony, and a cultural display. The singing and dancing were wonderful! It was raining but the rain couldn’t stop the sense of fun and camaraderie that developed. The village has about 75 families and all ages live, work, sing and play together, and our tourism significantly helps them. After a (wet!) walk through the village we headed back to Suva and the warm ship. In the evening we watched some of the excellent musicians on board, then went to the music show “let me entertain you”.

   

                                

Saturday 9th April. Plantation Island, Fiji.  We stopped off Port Denerau, near Nadi and took a tender in to shore. There we picked up a catamaran and headed for Plantation Island Resort in the Manamuca Sea. What a beautiful place! Plantation is a large island with plenty to do and is very well set up for tourists.  We did some snorkelling and saw some nice coloured fish, but were a little disappointed compared to other places we have been. We then had a magnificent lunch and a sunbathe before heading back to Port Denerau and then back to the ship. We great day on the island – and all got a little sunburnt.  The day was a major contrast to yesterday where we had rain and visited a very poor area, but together both days have given us a good introduction to life in Fiji.

   

Sunday 10th April. At sea. We had a quiet day as the ship travelled between Fiji and Tonga. We tend to have a good breakfast then alternate a light lunch and dinner between the Waterfront restaurant and the Plantation buffet, but already we are starting to get sick of the food. We normally take the stairs and occasionally go to the gym so we get plenty of exercise or it’s easy to get bloated by all the food. In the evening we tend to watch the early show (tonight it was comedian Adam Dean), then listen to one of the great musical groups playing in the different lounges. We have been sleeping well, but have been interrupted a little by a big bang that occurs every now and then below our cabin.

Monday 11th April. Vava’u, Tonga. Vava’u is an island with a population of some 20,000 people. We stopped offshore and took a tender into the township. We were then taken in a rickety old bus to Ano Beach for a Tongan cultural display. We saw the locals putting down an umu, making tapa cloth and mats and holding a kava ceremony. After this there was some delightful singing and dancing. All in all a lovely, gentle cultural experience. We had a quiet afternoon and then went to the evening show with LaDonna and Tony and then had a lovely dinner at the Waterfront.

   

  

Tuesday 12th April. Nuku’alofa. We took the “Island encounter and Ancient Tonga” tour. From our dock in central Nuku’alofa we visited the King’s palace, the royal tombs, the Vaea blowholes, a flying fox bat colony and the wonderful ‘Ancient Tonga’ display. Here we saw another kava ceremony and a more detailed explanation of Tongan culture: tapa and cloth making, putting down an umu and their lovely singing and dancing. Fabulous! In the afternoon we wandered in to town and found some internet access – first for a week, then in the evening went to Follies Fantastique, a puppet show, then dinner at the Waterfront.

   

   

                                   

Wednesday 13th April. At sea. We had a quiet day as we headed back to Auckland. A special highlight was lunch at Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill – probably the finest dining experience we have ever had. In the afternoon we sunbathed by the pool then went to the show: The Velvet Rope – a musical.

           

Thursday 14th April. At sea. Another quiet day. In the morning we played sports on the deck and in the afternoon got everything packed ready for home. In the evening we went to “the very last night show” and then had dinner at the Waterfront.

   

Friday 15th April. Back to Auckland. We had breakfast at the Waterfront then disembarked from the ship smoothly. We caught the bus to the airport and sadly farewelled LaDonna and Tony. It has been such a lovely couple of weeks we have spent with them, and so great to have been able to go together with them on the cruise.

   

Then it was onto the plane and we were soon back home. We now have lots of lovely memories of another wonderful cruise on board the Pacific Pearl and plenty to remember of our times in Fiji and Tonga.


Cruise to New Caledonia and Vanuatu on the 'Sun Princess'. August 2017

9 August. We flew to Brisbane on Virgin and got a taxi to the Airolodge - not far from the airport, and close to the Brisbane Cruise Terminal.

10 August. The Sun Princess needed extra disinfection for norovirus so we couldn't embark till 4pm - 4 hours later than expected. We took the opportunity to have a look around Brisbane city by taking the CityCat down the Brisbane River. We got off in the city and at Southbank and were able to explore Brisbane every easily. It brought back memories of previous visits many years ago, but there has been much construction, especially of apartments alongside the beautiful river. .

    

In the afternoon we caught a free shuttle back to the ship and boarded smoothly. We then settled in to our stateroom B742: right at the back of the ship on Level 10 with a balcony. The room is quite a bit smaller then on other cruise ships but is very comfortable, and meticulously clean (as is every part of the ship after its special disinfection). The ship itself is a bit dated reflecting that it was built in 1995, but everything is nice and fresh as it was refurbished last year. It is the original “Love boat” from the TV series which helped significantly in making cruising more popular). We definitely fit the demographic of passengers on board - even being slightly younger and definitely fitter than most! In the evening we had a lovely meal in the Marquis dining room, before exploring the ship, having our safety briefing and then going to a show by Sam McCool, a comedian. 

11 August. It didn’t take us long to get oriented to the ship and all its facilities. After breakfast at the buffet (which was served by the staff as part of the enhanced hygiene procedures) we went in a golf putting competition. After lunch Kathy went to the first choir rehearsal then we went to the gym and sat in the sun on our balcony. Later in the afternoon we went to a Captain’s Circle reception which included a welcome and a mini concert. After dinner at the Marquis we went to an excellent show by Annie Frances and the Sun Princess Orchestra. A very pleasant day at sea.

                 

12 August. After breakfast we went to an excellent lecture on Vanuatu and the ports we will visit there: Port Vila, Luganville and Champagne Beach. After lunch Kathy went to choir practice and later in the afternoon we chatted with other guests and then walked around the deck to get our required exercise. The formal dinner was excellent and then we went to another great show - this time by singer Patrick McMahon, “the superman of entertainment”.


         

    

13 August. Noumea. Our first stop was at Nou mea, the capital of New Caledonia - a city of about 200,000 people. It was Sunday and all the shops were shut. We took the hop-on, hop-off bus tour ($12 each) which was a great way to see the main sights. We got off at the markets, Lemon Beach, Anse Vata Beach and Coconut Square (which had wifi). Noumea is a city of contrasts with some places very rich and luxurious, and others quite poor with a lot of street people. We had been there before, but it was nice to see it again. In the afternoon we watched the lovely movie “Brooklyn”, then had a read in the sun. After another lovely dinner in the Marquis we went to a rather average Motown musical. Overall, though, a really great day!
 
  
 
 
14 August. Lifou. Next stop was Lifou, an island of about 12,000 people in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia. We had been there before and enjoyed it very much. We took a tender in to the beach and then a tour to the cliffs of Jokin. On tyhe way we stopped at the Botabic Gardens and saw how vanilla is grown. (Vanilla is the third largest source of income on Lifou after agriculture and tourism). The cliffs of Jokin are quite spectacular and are the edge of a coral reef that has been thrust up out of the sea. The village of Jokin had been hit by a cyclone 4 months previously so there was a lot of rebuilding going on (but obviously being done on 'island time'). Back at the beach we walked to ther quaint chapel of Notre Dame of Lourdes, built around 1900.
In the afternoon we watched "Hunt for the wilderpeople", then after another nice dinner in the Marquis enjoyed the super-energetic music of Patrick McMahon. Another excellent day!

       

       

15 August. Port Vila. Next we stopped at Port Vila, a city of about 25,000 people and the capital of  Vanuatu. Vanuatu was originally named New Hebrides by Captain Cook (after a town in Scotland). It became an independent nation in 1980. In the morning we braved the melee of taxi drivers on the wharf and took a taxi into town and then on to the Cascades waterfalls. We were somewhat harangued by our driver but were finally dropped off back in the city. After a quick look around we caught a water taxi back to the ship. This was a pleasant way to travel especially as on the way we were able to see many ships that were wrecked in cyclones and then abandoned. In the afternoon we went on a tour to Ekasup Cultural village. This was great and we were able to see authentic Vanuatu approaches to hunting, fishing, cooking etc. plus some lovely singing and dancing. After dinner the show was presented by Pearson and Harvey from the Four Kinsmen. It was a mixture of crazy songs and comedy.

  

 

16 August. Luganville. Luganville is the second largest city in Vanuatu, with a population of about 15,000 people. It is on the largest of the 83 islands that make up Vanuatu, Esperito Santo (Holy Spirit). Luganville was used as an American army base in WW2 and there are still remnants of the roads, buildings and wharves they created. Luganville is a great place for diving as the SS President Coolidge sank just off shore in 1942 and the Americans dumped cars, trucks, tanks, cranes etc. in the sea at Million Dollar Point when they left at the end of the war. In the morning we took a tour to see the traditional Melanesian water music dancing; watched the war dances and had a tasting of their main drink kava. (No better taste than previous times!). We then walked down to the town and saw the very laid back lifestyle of the local people. Luganville is pretty rough and not touristed up in any way. The roads in Luganville are exceedingly bad, but still, we enjoyed our visit here very much.

 

                 

  

In the afternoon we watched the movie ‘The Dressmaker’, then sat on our balcony reading. In the evening we went to the specialty restaurant the Sterling Steakhouse for an excellent steak meal. This was included in our cruise package along with a coffee drinks package which was also excellent value. Later we went to a great concert by the vocal group Le Stelle and finished the day by walking three times around the deck.

17 August. Champagne Bay.  Our final port stop was at Champagne Bay, a gorgeous beach on Santo, a little north of Luganville. We took a tender to get to the pristine white coral beach and then had a great time snorkelling and swimming in the crystal clear waters. The snorkelling was good with lovely coral and lots of brightly coloured fish. Champagne Bay really is a tropical paradise! (It is named Champagne Bay because bubbles come up at low tide making the water look like champagne). After a look around the markets we took a local tour into a village to swim in a "Blue lagoon" - a lovely refreshing river hole. Fabulous!

   

   

Back on the ship we watched the interesting movie ‘The Founder’ (about the early days of McDonalds), and then had another lovely dinner in the Marquis. After this we went to an excellent show as musician Andy Joy played different instruments and then watched a game show “Liar, liar”. Overall, a really great day! Now it’s back to Brisbane - two full days at sea.

18 August. At sea. We enjoy the sea days as there is so much to do on board the Sun Princess. Some of the activities we enjoyed were going to a seminar on love songs, playing quoits, listening to jazz, watching an ice sculpture, having choir practice, going to the gym, having a swim, reading our books and watching the excellent movie ‘Hidden Figures.’ A full day! In the evening we had our second formal dinner at the Marquis (including lobster!) and then went to another great show by the musician Andy Joy.

19 August. At sea. The sea was quite rough with 4 metre swells so that was fun - like being in a permanent earthquake! After breakfast and choir practice we watched a cooking demonstration by the head chef and then had a brief tour of the galley. We watched another excellent movie ‘The Zookeeper’s wife’ and Kathy sang with the choir in the Atrium. (A great version of ‘I call Australia home’ by a Kiwi)! After dinner we went to another show by Pearson and Harvey and then packed up ready for our departure.

20 August. Brisbane to Melbourne. We disembarked from the ship very smoothly and caught a taxi to the airport, then flew to Melbourne.

     

This was another very good cruise, so much so that we put down  a deposit for another cruise with Princess!

Highlights were:


The Sun Princess proved to be a great middle-sized ship and our balcony cabin was comfortable although rather small. The ship had excellent electronic communications, and on-demand movies which we hadn’t experienced before. The food in the main restaurant was excellent and the buffet very good. The on-board entertainment was variable in quality with some excellent shows, and others forgettable. Most of the passengers on board were elderly and many were on a repeat cruise. The Sun Princess catered very well for this particular demographic - which included us!

It was great to visit the five ports in New Caledonia and Vanuatu, and not a problem to re-visit Noumea, Lifou and Port Vila as we did different excursions to our previous times in these places. Excursions were available on shore at each port which were about half the price of those sold by the ship. The cultural experiences in the islands were once again very special and the swimming in Champagne Beach fabulous.


Overall, another great cruise.


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