Cruises in the South Pacific Islands
Destination Review - Ranked by Preference
Cruising the South Pacific islands is one of the best ways to see the remote South Seas and to visit some of the tiny uninhabited coral islands that are found scattered throughout the region. Whilst there are several large ship cruises that depart from Australia and / or Los Angeles on large ship cruise holidays visiting Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and French Polynesia, these usually spend days in the open seas without sight of land and only call in to the larger port towns which offer only a glimpse of the South Seas. The best way to see the islands is to take a local destination small ship cruise in Fiji or Tahiti, or to take day cruises or a charter boat to explore the stunning lagoons and tiny uninhabited islets in the Cook Islands, Tonga or New Caledonia.
# 1 - Fiji
In cruising terms, Fiji has it all. Large overseas cruise ships call in to Port Denarau and sometimes Savusavu from Australia. There are three excellent small ship cruises that depart from Port Denarau and visit the chain of islands in the Yasawas on 3-, 4- and 7-night itineraries. Or simply take a fast catamaran passenger ferry and island hop for a day or a fortnight.
# 2 - French Polynesia
Large and small ship cruises depart from Papeete for the deep bays of Moorea (Cooks and Opunohu) as well as entering the stunning lagoon of Bora Bora. Some cruise ships also visit the remote and wild islands of the marquesas. Bora Bora has a variety of options for cruising the lagoon from motorised outrigger canoe cruises to chartering a private speed boat or taking a passenger ferry to the various islands from Vaitape Town.
# 3 - Cook Islands
Although cruises are limited to Aitutaki Lagoon, this outlying atoll rivals Bora Bora as being the most beautiful island in the South Pacific to visit. There are several small boat cruise operators departing from Aitutaki Island and visiting the uninhabited coral motu along the fringing reef and stopping over at sand cayes and snorkelling reefs along the way.
# 4 - Tonga
Tonga has great potential for being a great destination for cruising on the water but there are no organised day cruises other than those offered in small boats by some of the resorts. Fafa Island organise a fantastic island hopping cruise to the uninhabited coral islands of Tongatapu Lagoon as well as visiting a sand bar; on Ha'apai you should take a cruise to Tofus Island, a cindering volcanic cone, but seas can be choppy. Vavau has several larger vessels used for whale watching that double up as cruise vessels in the quieter months to explore the bays and inlets of this maze of islands..
# 5 - Vanuatu
Vanuatu, due to its proximity to Australia, is a popular large ship cruise destination with several 2,000 + passenger ocean liners departing from Brisbane and visiting Port Vila for several days before docking at Champagne Beach on Espiritu Santo and other locations to visit a traditional kastom village.
# 6 - New Caledonia
Take a passenger ferry from Noumea to the Isle of Pines and cruise through inner lagoon past tiny offshore islands and into the deeper ocean along the southern coast of Grand Terre. The journey takes around two hours and is a great and very affordable way to see the islands from the sea. Once on Isle of Pines, you can take traditional outrigger canoe cruises in the lagoon to visit uninhabited coral cayes.
# 7 - Samoa
There are no cruises in Samoa. A passenger ferry crosses the channel between Upolu and Savaii islands passing Manono and Apolima along the way and with nice views of the volcanic mountains of Savaii as you near the island.