Cruising the South Pacific Image

Cruising the South Pacific

Thomas Fodor is our valued, long serving COTA Insurance team co-ordinator. Thomas loves travel, and in the past has shared with us tales of his favourite overseas holiday destinations.  Here, Thomas tells us about his most recent adventure – a 10 day South Pacific cruise!


Cruising can offer great value. The fare includes most things you need to have a fantastic holiday. The adventure starts on embarkation day as the cruise ship itself becomes the travel destination. Easy access to destination ports is the bonus.

The base fare usually includes the accommodation, entertainment, selected onboard activities and dining options. To get more out of the experience and to assist with budgeting, travellers can pre-purchase beverage packages and excursions to suit a range of interests and fitness levels.

The South Pacific can be a great destination any time of the year. May to October is the peak season for the region. November through to April is cyclone season. During these months travellers should be prepared for the possibility of any changes to plans and itineraries.

Packing for cruise holidays can involve some selective and clever choices. South Pacific cruisers generally get good use out of any summer casual and beachwear. Most cruises involve one or more formal evenings, where passengers can take the opportunity to dress up. in general though, smart-casual and semi-formalwear is recommended, particularly for when eating in the main dining room, premium restaurants or attending evenings in bars. We also had some themed nights which involved pre-planning.


We also opted to pack the following items:

  • Toiletries and medications including options for seasickness
  • Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Reef shoes (beaches have sharp coral)
  • Cruise ship approved power adaptor to charge devices
  • Waterproof backpack
  • Lanyard with card holder
  • Laundry bag/pop up hamper
  • Magnetic hooks for additional storage
  • Snorkel gear/waterproof phone case
  • Luggage tags
  • No-iron wrinkle remover spray
  • Over the door shoe organiser
  • Travel Insurance information.


These were some of our experiences at selected South Pacific ports:

Lifou – New Caledonia

A laid-back tropical island accessible by tender boat to the shore. We were greeted by rows of market stalls selling local trinkets. On a half-day tour option, we were whisked off in a bus to a local village where we walked around in a group learning about local customs and industry. Later we walked up a hill on our own to spectacular ocean views and visited Notre-Dame-De-Lourdes, a 19th century church constructed to commemorate the arrival of Catholic missionaries. We sampled some local kava and spent the rest of the afternoon snorkelling near our ship.

Port Vila – Vanuatu

Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu, a large and bustling town. An ideal option for duty free shopping. In the morning we were driven into the hills to explore the rainforest on an adrenaline-pumping zip-line tour to fly high above jungle tree lines and over deep valleys. Once safely back on the ground, we returned to town and shopped up to our duty-free allowances at dedicated duty-free shops. We had an ocean view lunch at Nambawan Café followed by some souvenir and market browsing before returning to the ship aboard a water taxi.

Mystery Island – Vanuatu

My personal favourite stop on this cruise. A tender boat transfer landed us on a picture-perfect uninhabited island. We walked around the entire island in 40 minutes while drinking from fresh coconuts. We rented sunloungers with shade included and found this to be our perfect beach day. After a massage, from locals of a neighboring island, we spent the afternoon snorkelling with colourful fish and corals near the shore. A glass-bottom boat tour provided an opportunity to see more of the spectacular biodiversity below the ocean surface.

Nouméa – New Caledonia

This French territory is the capital of New Caledonia and a melting pot of different cultures. We opted to explore the island in an open-air, train-like tourist bus aptly named the Tchou-Tchou Train. This was an informative guided tour. The highlight was arriving at the Quen Toro lookout point with stunning 360-degree views and excellent photo opportunities. The tour showed us colonial architecture and provided us with interesting insights into life in New Caledonia. We had some delicious pastries at a well-known French patisserie and walked around more markets before taking advantage of the free bus-transfers back to the cruise ship.

Back on board, we used the cruise ships’ own smartphone app (no internet-package needed) to explore upcoming events and activities of interest to us. We had a great time planning out our day and made the most of our sea days with activities like themed trivia, bingo, theatre shows, dancing and friendly competitions while also leaving plenty of time for relaxation. We were provided with a more than satisfactory variety of dining options and did not pay extra for premium dining. Thankfully our pre-booked and pre-purchased excursions and beverage package minimised the total balance of the account we settled at the end of the cruise.


My experience is just one perspective from visiting a few select ports and from just one set of interests. The great part of most holidays is the option to be able to construct a tailored experience. I like to do plenty of research by talking to a travel agent and going online. Useful government advice is available on Smartraveller as well as reviews from other travellers on YouTube and TripAdvisor.

Thank you for reading.

Safe and happy travels!