Cruise: New Caledonia & Vanuatu

Posted by on Jul 20, 2011 in New Caledonia & Vanuatu, Oceania, Travel | 0 comments

Cruise: New Caledonia & Vanuatu

During our winter uni break my friend and I decided to getaway to the Pacific islands on a P&O Cruise.  We spent 9 nights on the Pacific Jewel travelling around New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

Cruising has many advantages, it’s easy to plan as you need to do is book your cruise and voila, your accommodation, travel itinerary and meals are all sorted!  It’s family friendly with plenty of kids activities, and the ships have their own world of restaurants, bars, pools and entertainment.

My favourite thing about the Pacific Jewel was the thermal suites located under the gym and day spa.  A child free zone (probably also why I loved it!) there was a sauna, steam room and another room in between.  There was also a silent relaxation area attached with day beds where you could lay and read a book or take a nap, with tea and fresh fruit available.

I indulged in a massage and treatment at the day spa which included being cocooned and dropped into warm water, with the swaying of the ship I couldn’t help but feel this must be what it’s like to be in the womb!  We also enjoyed (and won) playing bingo, trivia, cocktail making and watching the Pacific Cirque perform aerial tricks.

However there are downsides to cruising too, you’ll spend whole days at sea without seeing any new places, you are essentially “stuck” on the ship, and when you do arrive somewhere you’re seeing places that are ready to take advantage of the massive group of tourists they have been waiting for.  You also don’t get to settle in and get to really know a place, which to me is one of the most joyful things about travel.  Although I enjoyed the cruise I think it will be my first, and last.

 

Noumea, New Caledonia 

Our first stop was at Noumea, where we went for a swim at picturesque Anse Vata beach and kayaked along the Dumbea River.

 

Kayaking the Dumbea river

Kayaking the Dumbea river

 

Mystery Island, Vanuatu 

Mystery Island was cute with lots of market stalls set up and a performance of traditional dancing.  The island is tiny and you can walk around the whole thing in about half an hour.  The beaches are beautiful with turquoise clear water and some coral to see (I just hired gear from the locals, the stuff on the ship was really expensive to hire – best to BYO if you have it).  The downside is that you are sharing a small beach with all the other people from the ship, so it’s quite crowded.

 

Snorkelling at Mystery Island

Snorkelling at Mystery Island

 

Lifou, New Caledonia

Lifou was strikingly beautiful, we walked to the top off the cliffs which had spectacular views, and then down the 200 odd stairs to the water.  We also learned about (and tasted) the vanilla bean plant which grows on Lifou.

 

Lifou

Cliffs of Jokin, Lifou

 

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia 

Isles of Pines is home to Kanumera Bay which has good snorkelling, particularly near the sacred rock.  There were more stalls selling handicrafts and local cuisine, and horses and dogs wander the island.

 

Kanumera Bay

Kanumera Bay

 

Local vendors

Local vendors

 

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