Quels sont les meilleurs bateaux de croisière pour explorer les îles du Pacifique Sud?

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The islands of the South Pacific make for beautiful travel destinations, and the ability to cruise to them makes it so much easier to see them, or parts of them at least.

Islands like Vanuatu’s Mystery Island and New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands can be very expensive and difficult to get to via any other mode of travel.

The most popular destinations are Vanuatu and New Caledonia since they are the closest to Australie’s cruise terminals and therefore the most accessible. Fiji and Tonga are also close enough for slightly longer cruises. Some cruise lines also visit the beautiful Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

So, the question is, what are the best cruise ships for exploring the South Pacific Islands?

Golden Princess docked in Auckland

Well, it depends!

It really depends on what kind of experience you are looking for combined with how many sea days the itinerary gives you.

I’ve been to the South Pacific islands on Radiance des mers, Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Dawn Princess (now Pacific Explorer), Golden Princess, and Pacific Explorer. Every one of these ships is a different experience – although there certainly are similarities between the two Voyager-class ships, Voyager and Explorer of the Seas.

Explorer of the Seas anchored in Mare, New Caledonia

Do you have lots of sea days or want lots of shipboard facilities?

If so, a bigger ship might be for you!

If your itinerary has a lot of sea days, you might prefer a larger ship that has more facilities, like Explorer of the Seas, but of course you have the trade-off of more passengers, more people in port, more wait for transfer buses or boats (eg water taxi’s to the city in Port Vila) and so on.

Voyager of the Seas anchored at Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Many of the island ports are tender ports with the exception of the major centres like Suva, Lautoka, Nouméa, Port Vila, and now also Luganville (which has only just recently completed a dock capable of handling cruise ships). If you’ve never taken a tender before, what this means is that the ship anchors somewhere off the shore, usually in a protected bay, and you are ferried to shore on small tender boats.

The bigger ships manage tenders very well, but it can still take longer to get ashore from a big ship than a small ship in a tender port. That said, it’s usually not much time. The bigger issue is that more people means some of the smaller ports of call can feel very overrun, particularly Mystery Island and the Sacred Rock snorkelling site on the Isle of Pines.

Of the docked ports, Nouméa actually has two cruise dock locations, one is a working port that requires buses to bring passengers into town to the actual cruise terminal, and the other is, of course, the actual cruise terminal.

This is where the other downside of big ships comes into play. Ships even the size of Radiance des mers or Golden Princess cannot dock at the cruise terminal in Nouméa – they are too big. This means bus transfers from the working port into town. So smaller ships that are able to dock at the actual cruise terminal in Nouméa will get you in port for longer and with the ability to easily walk off the ship into town.

Many of the island ports that you can dock at are also working ports and some of them, like Port Vila, require transfers arranged (you can do so there) and will not allow you to simply walk out of the terminal. Again, more people means there can be bigger delays to get you into town.

So, that’s the negatives of a big ship. The positives!

Bigger ships simply have more to do. Explorer of the Seas will give you access to an ice skating rink, the flow rider, more performance spaces, more activities, and typically more dining choices. If you have a lot of days at sea – which you might if you are headed to Fiji or Tonga – then all these extra activities, entertainment and dining options can help to make the sea days more interesting.

Ice Skating show on Explorer of the Seas

A big positive of bigger ships is that they handle rougher seas better, and given the South Pacific Islands are regularly subjected to cyclones during cruise season, this may be an important factor to consider.

Mini Golf on Explorer of the Seas

Travel on a bigger ship and you are less likely to get seasick. Travel on a smaller ship, and you will get rocked around more. Even ships the size of Pacific Explorer can really suffer from relatively small swells in comparison to just a little bit bigger like Radiance des mers.

I will say, my experience has been that all the Royal Caribbean ships have handled the seas better than the Princess or P&O ships I’ve been on, but it’s always a trade-off.

Pacific Explorer docked at Circular Quay in Sydney Port

Would you prefer to visit more islands in one trip?

If you are looking for an itinerary to visit lots of islands, you will be better served by a ship that sails out of Brisbane rather than Sydney or any other port in Australie. Brisbane is closer to many of the islands meaning you can fit in more ports and see more of these beautiful places.

Most of the cruises that visit the islands of Papua New Guinea only depart from Brisbane as well. What this means is that your choice of ship is also more limited. Until the new terminal in Brisbane is completed, you are limited to the smaller ships that can fit under the Gateway Bridges. At the moment, these are almost exclusively ships operated by P&O Australia.

This, at least for now, brings you back to the trade-off between small and large ships.

So which ships are the best for exploring the South Pacific Islands?

You have to decide which things are the most important to you in order to determine which ships are going to be the best. I would submit though that if truly ‘exploring’ the South Pacific islands is what you want to do, that the P&O fleet of ships will give you the best platform for exploring more islands.

If you are concerned about motion sickness though, then go with a larger ship and sail from Sydney instead. You probably won’t visit as many islands unless you pick a longer itinerary, but the bigger ship will give you more stability and better handle any rough weather you might encounter. Since almost every sailing from Sydney to the South Pacific islands has at least 4 sea days, a bigger ship will also ensure you have more to do while you are at sea.

Cruising Tips and Tricks

Don’t know what to budget for a cruise?
Cruise costs can vary wildly depending on your travel style, length of the cruise, number of ports, and more. Learn more about what costs to expect and how much to budget.

Save money on your foreign currency purchases
Foreign currency transactions can cost you a lot in exchange fees. On a cruise, you can visit multiple countries using multiple currencies in a single trip and foreign cash purchases can be expensive.

I use and recommend TransferWise Borderless accounts with an attached multi-currency debit card. These accounts can save you loads on foreign exchange.

Read more about how to save money on foreign currency purchases using TransferWise.

Book Your Before & After Accommodation
Pour les terminaux de croisière plus petits, comme Sydney's White Bay, votre meilleur pari est de réserver un Airbnb. Pour la plupart des grands terminaux de croisière internationaux, vous pouvez généralement trouver des hôtels à proximité. j'utilise Agoda pour la plupart des destinations autres que les États-Unis, car je trouve qu'elles renvoient généralement les prix les moins chers. Pour les USA, j'utilise Booking.com.

N'oubliez pas l'assurance voyage
L'assurance voyage vous aidera à vous protéger contre les maladies, les blessures, le vol et les annulations. En croisière, cela peut être très important. Les ponts aériens en mer ne sont pas bon marché. Je ne pars jamais en voyage sans.

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Économisez de l'argent sur vos vacances

Argent de voyage et conversion de devises : Nous utilisons les deux Up Bank et Sage pour les meilleurs taux de conversion de devises avec la prise en charge d'Apple Pay et d'Android Pay, ainsi qu'un excellent support client intégré à l'application pendant que vous voyagez.

Vols: Nous vérifions quelques sites pour des prix différents. En provenance d'Australie, je vérifie toujours Qantas directement pour les vols de récompense, mais sinon, je vérifie et compare le coût des vols avec SkyScanner. Cela vaut toujours la peine de vérifier les itinéraires et les jours alternatifs, en particulier lorsqu'il existe plusieurs options d'escale ou des aéroports alternatifs à proximité.

Hébergement: Nous réservons généralement par Agoda car nous trouvons que leurs prix sont les plus bas et que les politiques d'annulation + les avantages de fidélité fonctionnent le mieux. Nous utilisons également Airbnb de temps en temps.

Location de voiture: Nous utilisons AutoEurope pour comparer les prix des voitures de location avec toutes les grandes marques internationales comme Europcar, Budget, Hertz et Avis. Nous finissons généralement par utiliser Avis ou alors Europcar car ils offrent les meilleures offres (assurez-vous de vérifier leurs offres actuelles pour les remises bonus) et les deux entretiennent bien leurs véhicules avec des flottes relativement nouvelles.

Visites & Activités: Nous essayons généralement de réserver des activités via l'un de ces sites tiers ViateurObtenez votre guide & Klook en raison de leurs politiques d'annulation flexibles (nous ont fait économiser beaucoup d'argent en essayant de voyager après COVID) et de leurs garanties de prix (souvent de meilleurs prix que la réservation directe). Nous réservons également via Ballon rouge à l'occasion pour des activités australiennes et néo-zélandaises plus uniques.

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Qui suis je?

Matt in Noumea

Matt travaille à plein temps à la gestion de son entreprise de marketing numérique, TerraMedia. Dans ses temps libres, il adore voyager avec sa femme, alors ils finissent généralement par en faire beaucoup.
La maison est l'Australie, et bien qu'ils ne passent pas tout leur temps à parcourir le monde, Matt et sa femme aiment prendre le temps de vraiment explorer et de connaître un endroit, même si cela signifie y passer beaucoup plus longtemps que les touristes normaux. .

Vous pouvez en savoir plus sur Matt et son histoire ICI.

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