MS Paul Gauguin off the coast of Bora Bora, French Polynesia

The Pacific Ocean is a big thing, but with only a few island nations within a commercially viable cruising distance from Australia, there can be little variation from voyage to voyage. Acutely aware of this, cruise lines are now actively planning voyages that offer something different to encourage customers who have cruised the region to see different parts of it.

Longer voyages, more exotic ports of call, combination voyages that visit two regions back-to-back – all of these means passengers are now spoilt for choice in the South Pacific. We’ve scoured the itineraries on offer to find some of the more unique which may tantalise you.

The Papua New Guinea and South Pacific Mix

Princess Cruises / Sun Princess & Sea Princess / 20 nights

Princess Cruises is among the lines which visits Papua New Guinea.
A Princess Cruises ship navigates one of the bays in Papua New Guinea.

Combining the highlights from both a PNG voyage and the South Pacific, guests on this regularly offered 20-night voyage can experience a mix of cultures amid natural beauty as they discover a selection of the South Pacific’s best ports in different directions.

Ports on the plan include Champagne Bay to enjoy the sparkling lagoon and Rabaul, for the famous war museum. Passengers can join this voyage in both Sydney and Brisbane, opening up the itinerary to passengers from both states without having to fly interstate. This sailing, offered throughout the year, is proving very popular for Princess, with more departures than ever before scheduled for 2017.

Hawaii to Sydney

Various Ships / 18-20 nights

Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Legend sets sail on its twice-annual journey between Hawaii and Sydney.
Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Legend sets sail on its twice-annual journey between Hawaii and Sydney.

The twice annual Trans-Pacific voyage is offered by a variety of lines which visit Sydney only for the peak summer, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line among others. This cruise, usually between 18 and 20-nights in duration, is one of the most popular one-way voyages to or from Australia.

Calling in ports across Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa and New Caledonia, these itineraries allow passengers to not just cross the International Date Line at sea, but to experience ports located further afield in the South Pacific without needing to fly both ways. The ability to ‘shop til you drop’ in Hawaii also carries some appeal as cruisers can take advantage of no luggage restrictions on the ship – so fly there, spend up and cruise home.

Book-ending both sides of the local cruise season, these repositioning voyages take place around September and April each year, with the occasional world cruise sector also being operated from Hawaii to Sydney in January and February. For more details, CLICK HERE.

The Mutiny on the Bounty

P&O Cruises / Pacific Explorer / 16 nights

Norfolk Island is one of those domestic destinations perfect to be explored from a cruise.
Norfolk Island is one of those domestic destinations perfect to be explored from a cruise.

Sailing each October, this 16-night itinerary has been the backbone of P&O Australia’s “Explorer” range, the voyage calling into ports in Samoa and Tonga among more off-the-beaten-track options. Additionally, this cruise is one of the few which calls in Norfolk Island, tracing a similar path to that of the original Bounty.

As one of the longer voyages in the P&O calendar, the average age of passengers onboard is generally higher than the typical voyage, great for those wanting the P&O experience without hundreds of kids normally associated with a school holiday departure. Be quick if this cruise is of interest as it’s only offered once per year and frequently sells out due to its popularity.

New Zealand and the Beaches

Royal Caribbean / Explorer of the Seas & Voyager of the Seas / 14 Nights

Cruise ships dock in Auckland Harbour, a normal stop on itineraries featuring both New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Cruise ships dock in Auckland Harbour, a normal stop on itineraries featuring both New Zealand and the South Pacific.

If the idea of a 14-night voyage to the beaches and islands lacks something, Royal Caribbean might have an answer. Sailing aboard the line’s larger vessels Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas, guests can indulge in the beaches of New Caledonia and Vanuatu before continuing on to New Zealand’s North Island.

These can be a great option for expat Kiwis looking to return home while having a tropical holiday along the way – especially during the peak summer school holidays when the family friendly megaliners are full of multi-generational groups.

Sydney to Auckland via the Islands

Royal Caribbean / Radiance of the Seas / 14 Nights

Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas is one ship allowing you to fly one-way and cruise the other.
Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas is one ship allowing you to fly one-way and cruise the other.

Sailing each December on Royal Caribbean’s mid-sized vessel Radiance of the Seas, this two-week itinerary covers some serious ground in a short period of time.

Calling at ports in countries as far flung as Tonga and the Cook Islands, the voyage includes many ports of call only visited on this single cruise, such as Vavau in Tonga. Finishing in Auckland, guests have the opportunity to explore New Zealand in greater depth once their cruise reaches its crescendo – either by staying aboard for a supplementary 14-night adventure back to Sydney or by disembarking and joining a land tour.

Best of the South Pacific

Various Ships / 35-37 Nights

Golden Princess will set off from Australia on a detailed lap of the Pacific mid next year.
Golden Princess will set off from Australia on a detailed lap of the Pacific mid next year.

If you have the time and are keen to lap the entire South Pacific without laying eyes on an airport, the best option on tap comes from Princess Cruises, the line providing a unique opportunity to discover nearly every major port of the South Pacific on a 35-night “Hawaii, Tahiti & The Islands” voyage.

Travellers on this itinerary reach the ports of the Hawaiian Islands before beginning the return leg back to Sydney and cover more nautical miles than any other all-encompassing navigation of the Pacific. Operated during the winter – this holiday can be a great way to escape the Australian chill at that time of year.

In 2017, Golden Princess will debut on the itinerary, giving guests who love big ships a shot at discovering the gems of the Pacific without sacrificing big ship amenities. We love the fact that the voyage is on sale from both Brisbane and Sydney, with passengers from Queensland enjoying a slightly longer itinerary which first visits Sydney before turning north.

The Society Islands & The Pacific

Paul Gauguin Cruises / MS Paul Gauguin / 13 Nights

One of the ships you'll find based year-round in the Tahitian islands is the MS Paul Gauguin.
One of the ships you’ll find based year-round in the Tahitian islands is the MS Paul Gauguin.

If luxury cruising is more your forte, this itinerary from Paul Gauguin Cruises – a small line named after the French artist – might just leave you salivating.

Sailing from the French Polynesian capital of Papeete, the 332-passenger MS Paul Gauguin calls upon some of the most remote and exotic locales in the South Pacific. Circumnavigating the Society Islands before continuing to Tonga and the Cook Islands, the ship heads on to Fiji where its diminutive size opens up many secluded bays and inlets to guests.

Calls to islands such as Savusavu and Beqa Island provides an opportunity to cross into the tribal world of traditional Fiji. Snorkelling fans will have a chance to see coral reefs well isolated from the paths of most cruise lines.

Disembarking in Lautoka then opens up the opportunity for travellers to extend their holiday at any of Fiji’s island or mainland resorts or to take a very short flight back to Australia.

What’s your favourite South Pacific voyage? Tell us below!

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