South Pacific Bliss With P&O Cruises

7 October 2016
Read Time: 2.3 mins

Tropical vibes, endless blue seas, spectacular diving and the laid-back welcome of locals on island time draw thousands of Aussie visitors each year to the South Pacific. Many arrive on cruise ships, swayed by the convenience, affordability and creature comforts of cruise travel.

P&O has the largest fleet in Australia, with five ships permanently home-ported Down Under. Weekly departures to more Pacific Island destinations than any other cruise liner makes the cruise line a leader in the region.

Ports Of Call

In addition to the most popular ports of Vanuatu and New Caledonia (including Port Vila and Noumea), P&O's fleet stops in lesser-known Loyalty Islands and the emerging cruise destination of Papua New Guinea.

We soaked up the Melanesian way of life in Vanuatu's vibrant Vila, where shore excursions focus on activity and adventure (ziplining, canoeing, abseiling, quad biking and more), as well as cultural tours that explain the history and culture of the islands.

A group of tourists explore Noumea.  Follow your nose in Noumea. Picture: P&O

In New Caledonian capital Noumea, the waft of freshly baked baguettes led us to French boulangeries, while the lure of shopping for French cosmetics and fashion was difficult to resist. Those who spent the day on Amedee Island raved about the translucent aqua waters and superb snorkelling conditions.

Vanuatu's Mystery Island is a tourism success story and an example of the positive impact that cruise passengers can have on remote destinations. Hit by natural disasters in recent years, the communities that service Mystery Island have been rebuilt with the tourism income brought to the region by cruise ships.

Working in partnership with local business development advocates, cruise companies have encouraged locals to set up shop where cruise passengers disembark. They've heeded the call and visitors can now buy sarongs, shell necklaces, a lobster lunch or a sightseeing tour as soon as they arrive on the island.

More cruising inspiration:

Groove on a cruise: Music Festival Cruises Around The World

Smart sailing: Enrichment Programs On The High Seas

What's Not To Love?

Aussies love P&O cruises for many reasons: all prices onboard are in Aussie dollars (a saving compared with other cruise operators who list all prices in US dollars), there's a no-tipping policy, and an elegant party atmosphere prevails.

Dining is varied and consistently delicious. P&O has done away with the buffet, and in its place introduced a wide range of a la carte restaurants, casual dining cafes and The Pantry, where food prep stations serve the best of fresh international cuisine.

Smiling staff at P&O's The Pantry. Pick your favourite cuisine in The Pantry. Picture: P&O

Onboard nightclubs and pubs provide a relaxing environment in which to kick back, while the entertainment throughout the ship is top-notch. Don't miss the Broadway-style, all-singing, all-dancing production shows each night, nor the live music and adults-only comedy club.

Today's cruisers demand activity options galore and here P&O also delivers. From the healthy pursuits of the fitness centre and jogging track, to the enrichment of cooking classes and dance instruction, or the indulgence of spa treatments at Elemis at Sea, the main challenge is finding enough hours in the day.

Family Affairs

For families travelling with kids, P&O offers four supervised Kids Clubs, open late. Catering to littlies (two to six years) right through to 15 to 17-year-olds, the caring staff keep busy organising discos, theme parties, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts, and more.

A balcony suite on board a P&O cruise ship. Relax in a balcony suite. Picture: P&O

To provide accommodation options for all kinds of cruisers, P&O offers a wide range of cabin configurations. Multi-generation travelling parties – grandparents, mum and dad, and the kids, for example – can book connecting cabins, while those cruisers who want to splurge on a milestone birthday trip have luxurious suites to choose from. More affordable interior cabins are available for those on a tighter budget.

With so much experience cruising in the South Pacific, P&O has had time to learn exactly what Aussie cruisers want from their holiday and the result is fun, memorable and guaranteed to encourage repeat visits.

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals.

Kristie Kellahan

Kristie Kellahan is a travel writer and photographer, editor and volunteer. In more than 20 years of professional travel, she has reported on destinations from the Cook Islands to KL and Antarctica to the Outback. There’s always another destination to be explored and she keeps her passport at the ready.