Cruise A Lesser-Known Pacific To Papua New Guinea With P&O

a woman in black tank top snorkelling in Papua New Guinea

2.51min read

Published 25 July 2019


Move over Noumea and Vanuatu, there's a different cruise destination in the Pacific that is wowing Aussie cruisers. Papua New Guinea delivers with pristine beaches, colourful local culture, a warm welcome and strong historic ties to our country. With P&O regularly sailing to PNG's islands from Australian ports (such as from Brisbane on Pacific Aria), there's never been a better time to read our top tips for the ultimate PNG cruise.


Pacific Aria ship
Pacific Aria sails to PNG. (Image: P&O Australia)


1. Experience the local culture

Take the opportunity to try shore excursions that explore the unique local culture and take home more than a great tan. P&O has worked together with traditional communities to come up with shore excursions that include village festivals, cooking classes, war history trails and adventure sports. The Instagrammable moments are endless.

Woven palm huts on Kiriwina Island in Papua New Guinea.
Woven palm huts on Kiriwina Island in Papua New Guinea.


2. Slip, slop, slap

The sun's rays are especially harsh in this part of the world, and sunburn should be protected against, even on overcast days. While you're packing the sunscreen, throw in some seasickness remedies.

The sand and water in PNG's Conflict Islands
The sand and water is stunning in PNG's Conflict Islands.


3. Brush up on your history before you go

Read up on the fascinating World War II history that forever links Australia and PNG. Onboard lectures will get you up to speed on the importance of the Pacific War and the massive part Anzacs played in PNG to ensure Japanese troops did not advance south to Australia. During the Battle of Milne Bay in 1942, an Australian Digger was awarded a Victoria Cross for bravery. Local PNG people are generally proud of the part their citizens played during this strategically important military operation and of the bravery and kindness shown by 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels'.

Alotau Port in the Milne Bay region of PNG
Alotau Port in the Milne Bay region of PNG.


4. What to buy

War-themed memorabilia is popular with souvenir-hunters, as are wooden carvings and woven baskets. In general, hard bartering is discouraged, though it is acceptable to ask for a small discount. Everything you buy will be inspected for creepy crawlies by Australian Customs on the way back into Australia. Most items pass muster.

The view from the ship of Kirawina Island, PNG
The view from the ship of Kirawina Island, PNG.


5. Currency matters

Here's a simple way you can make a huge difference in the lives of local Papuan people: change your dollars into the local currency, kina, before you visit remote islands where access to banks and currency exchange is not available. The local people will accept your Aussie dollars when you buy souvenirs, but it's much better for them if they can be paid in kina. An inter-island trip to the bank to change over dollars might take them half a day and cost them much-needed funds. P&O offers a currency exchange service on board its ships. Better rates may be found at Australian banks.

Tarvurvur Volcano on Rabaul as seen from Little Pigeon Island, PNG.
Tarvurvur Volcano on Rabaul as seen from Little Pigeon Island, PNG.


6. Love rugby?

Choose your side: most Papuans are passionate rugby fans who wouldn't miss watching State of Origin matches. Expect to be asked this question many times: "Blues or Maroons?".

Angelo's restaurant on Pacific Aria ship
Angelo's, an upscale Italian restaurant, is one of the many dining options aboard Pacific Aria. (Image: P&O)


7. Popular port stops

The remote Conflict Islands are often named the best port stop on a PNG cruise for the clean white sands, pristine lagoon water and sense of serenity: in short, it's the idyllic coral island we all dream of being marooned on for a few days. Be aware though, this scheduled port stop is sometimes cancelled due to unfavourable ocean conditions and high winds. You'll still have a great cruise to the islands of Alotau, Kitava and Kiriwina.

Aussie celeb chef Luke Mangan at Salt grill by Luke Mangan
Aussie celeb chef Luke Mangan at Salt grill by Luke Mangan. (Image: P&O)


8. Onboard dining to savour

If you're sailing to PNG with P&O, do yourself a favour and book a table at celebrity chef Luke Mangan's Salt Grill onboard restaurant. There is a nominal charge, which is well worth the delicious fresh cuisine you'll be served. Perfectly cooked steaks and barramundi, tasty shared plates and Luke's famous crab omelette and licorice parfait are just some of the choices. Bon appetit!

Family fun at sea aboard P&O.
Family fun at sea aboard P&O. (Image: P&O)


9. Activities at sea

Expect plenty of adventure and thrills on-board as well as ashore. P&O Edge Adventure Park takes cruisey entertainment to a new level with zip-lining, laser tag, Segways and abseiling at sea.

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