Paradise Found: Cruising the South Pacific
The picturesque islands of the South Pacific are a tropical paradise inhabited by beautiful people and surrounded by unbelievably clear waters – and cruises have made it all more accessible than ever before. Depending on the cruise line, you can either fly directly to one of the islands (usually out of Los Angeles), or cruise from a number accessible departure ports, such as Sydney, Singapore, Seattle, Honolulu and more. Cruising through the South Pacific is usually much more cost-effective than land-based travel where hotels, meals and transportation quickly add up. Plus, the entire region is comprised of thousands of islands with many situated behind protective reefs, so it’s the perfect destination for calm island hopping by ship. There isn’t a bad time to cruise to French Polynesia, but the best weather is usually during the dry season between May and October.
Natural Paradise in the South Pacific
Many cruisers are familiar with the popular beaches of the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera – which are all amazing in their own right – but most travelers aren’t as familiar with the islands of the South Pacific. The benefit of this is that the beaches and resorts of the South Pacific are less crowded, so you’ll feel farther away from all the hustle and bustle of the real world.
When cruising to the South Pacific, you’ll also be immersed in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Around every corner you’ll find pristine beaches, lush vegetation and clear waters. It’s no wonder, then, that many of the tours and activities in the South Pacific center around the environment and natural beauty of the islands. For example, you can go snorkeling in the shallow lagoons of Taha’a which are full of colorful fish and stunning corals, or head farther underwater on a SCUBA diving excursion along the barrier reef of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.
For a different kind of thrill, take a catamaran, jetboat or waverunner tour around Moorea and enjoy the awe-inspiring vistas of the coast – you might even enjoy a pit stop to feed the graceful stingrays that gather in the shallow waters. Other excursions can bring you face-to-face with black-tipped reef sharks and dolphins, so you can experience even more of the South Seas’ wildlife in its natural habitat. If you need a break from the water, take a 4×4 jungle safari, explore the hills on ATVs, hike one of the many nature trails or embark on a birding adventure in Rarotonga.
French Polynesian Cultural Experience
Less than 10% of the islands in the South Pacific are inhabited, but the ones that are feature amazing people with incredibly proud and diverse cultures. Half the reason to take a French Polynesia or South Pacific cruise is to experience the Polynesian culture firsthand. On the Cook Islands, you can meet one of the local healers as he guides you on a journey through the history of his homeland up through the arrival of traders and missionaries. If you visit Huahine, take a day to visit the archaeological site in Maeva, which features well-preserved Polynesian temples. You’re sure to hear century-old legends from ancient Polynesia, where it’s sometimes up to you to decipher fact from fiction. Discover more about the Polynesian migration throughout the islands – which helped bring about the beautiful diversity in the South Pacific – and view ancient artifacts while visiting different museums.
While touring on land, you’ll learn more about the island way of life in the South Pacific while taking in the sacred sites, unique architecture, thriving crop fields and limestone churches. You can visit a vanilla plantation in the Society Islands to see how the demand for vanilla and other spices has shaped the South Pacific’s history, industry and culture. You’ll also explore small fishing villages, get an inside look at a trademark black pearl farm and observe the creation of local crafts. Many cruises to the South Pacific bring guests into the Polynesian and Tahitian culture with traditional beachside barbecue feasts, tribal fire walking shows and lively dancing. Regardless of how you spend your time, when you’re immersed in the culture on a cruise vacation, you’re sure to leave with a newfound understanding and appreciation for the people of the South Pacific.
Cruises to the South Pacific
It’s impossible to talk about cruises to the South Pacific without mentioning Paul Gauguin Cruises, whose two-ship fleet features the incomparable m/s Paul Gauguin, the longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific. The m/s Paul Gauguin’s year-round South Pacific itineraries range from 7-night Tahiti cruises to 14-night voyages through Marquesas, Tuamotus and the Society Islands.
While Paul Gauguin is the only cruise line offering year-round itineraries in the South Pacific, several other cruise lines send their ships to the South Seas for select sailings throughout the year. For example, Princess Cruises sails voyages of various lengths to Hawaii, Tahiti and the South Pacific aboard a few of their premium ships. Holland America Line has several itineraries of greater than 14 days, many of which transit the Pacific Ocean between Australia and the U.S. Pacific Coast.
For cruisers interested in a more contemporary, family-friendly Polynesian experience, Royal Caribbean now offers a handful of 8- to 11-night South Pacific itineraries aboard the Legend of the Seas. And then on the other end of the spectrum, those seeking a luxurious, more inclusive cruise to the South Pacific should look no further than Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas or Windstar Cruises.
To find the right ship and itinerary for your specific needs, it’s best to speak with one of our cruise specialists. Any trip to paradise is sure to be memorable, but finding the right fit means the difference between a great vacation and having the trip of a lifetime.
The next time you’re planning a tropical escape, consider the stunning islands of Polynesia and the South Pacific. To learn more about cruises to the South Pacific, contact our cruise experts at 1-800-377-9383.
To get the best deal on a cruise to Australia and New Zealand, contact our cruise experts at 1-800-377-9383 or complete our online request form and one of our agents will get back to you shortly.
Have you ever been to the South Pacific or French Polynesia? If so, what were the highlights of your trip?