A little general information about some of the ports we have visited  while travelling style on board P&O Cruise Liners around the Pacific.


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NOUMEA

The arrival into New Caledonia and the Capital Noumea was on a warm and sunny day and we were greeted at the wharf by a performing group of drummers and dancers. We were in Noumea on a Sunday and the majority of shops were closed, but there was plenty to see at the Markets and the smaller shops in what was described as the “Chinatown” section. Shopping is not cheap here although there are some good buys in the smaller shops in the way of clothing and souvenirs’. The market s an interesting place to visit and is within easy walking distance from the wharf. There is a very good Tourist Office at the wharf and also some very good craft markets in this building. Tourist information is readily available and for those wanting to make their own way around there are several operators to choose from. The footpaths in parts of Noumea can be a hazard for anyone with walking difficulties and visitors have to remember that this is a ‘left-hand-drive’ country so the cars come towards you from the opposite direction you may be used to. There are some great short trips out of the city and thee are well worth consideration. Noumea uses French Pacific Francs and at the time we visited A$50 was around 3000fpc.


 


NUKU’ALOFA
An early morning arrival into Nuku’alofa with sunshine and no breeze. The ship was berthed at the container terminal which is a good distance from the town. The walk is long in the heat and follows the shore although there are several seating areas. I would suggest that it is better to take a taxi into town. The town is randomly laid out with several side branches off the main street. There is a good sized market in the town that affords a good selection of tourist items as well as being the main centre for local produce. There are some very good local tours available either from the ship or available on the wharf from local operators. Shopping is what you would expect in an island community but there are some interesting shops well worth browsing through. The walk into town will take you past the Royal Palace and through several shore-line parks. Both Australian and New Zealand currency was acceptable in the shops along with the local Pa’anga (worth approx 60c Au). This was an interesting and friendly port of call with plenty to see and experience.

 

 


VAVA’U
Another wonderful Tongan port in the cruise, this time the Pacific Dawn was too big to berth and so it was a trip ashore in the ship’s tenders. Waiting at the small jetty was a welcoming party of local performers and several well stocked market stalls. It is a small town and the walk from the jetty into town is up-hill and a little hap-hazard. From the main street there are some fantastic views out across the water to the ship that make the walk well worthwhile. The shopping is island style although there are some good clothing outlets and of course plenty of souvenirs available. Again there were organised tour trips from the ship or there were local taxis and bus operators providing trips. Again a worthwhile port in this Pacific cruise.

 

 

 

RARATONGA

Well it was then onto the ‘Cook Islands’ and the port of Rarotonga. This was again an early morning arrival and once more we had to go ashore by tender. In many ways gong ashore this way is a rather beautiful way to get to an island it gives you a different view than that from the high decks of the liner. A great place to start is at the National Museum and Cultural Centre, where you get an insight into the heritage of Rarotonga. The main shopping area of Rarotonga is Avarua a short walk from the wharf. Here you will find good shopping including unique black pearls, excellent handcrafts and colourful clothing. The Cook Islands currency is the New Zealand Dollar. Excellent shore tours are available that allow you to see the real Rarotonga. This is a place of relaxed uncomplicated life that is a wonderful place to visit either as part of a cruise or for an independent holiday.



 

RAIATEA
The first of the French Polynesian ports of call for this cruise, Raiatea was a delightful place to visit. The entry to the Island is quite spectacular as we cruised very close to the land and the majestic mountains of the island made an impressive back drop. The port is compact and it an easy spot to walk around. The ship berths right alongside the town and the markets. The streets are clean and there are good walking paths. The walk around the waterfront is beautiful and there are plenty of resting places. Shopping is good although a little on the expensive side. The well laid out permanent market is a great place to purchase black pearl jewellery and local handcrafts.  There are good shore tours available in Raiatea that allow you to explore this delightful island.


PAPEETE
Tahiti and the Capital Papeete was next on the destinations. Arrival was early in the morning and we were able to watch the mists rise and the city become revealed. We opted to rent a car and drive right around the island. This is not difficult as there are good tourist maps available that list all the important sights to see. Driving on the right hand side of the road presented no problem as long as you kept a look out for wandering pedestrians and livestock. There were many attractive spots around the coast and all in all it is a pleasant place to visit. We were not due to sail until the early morning and so we had the chance to see a little of the City after dark. Just alongside the wharf is a great open park that at night is transformed into a giant outdoor food area. The range of food available was vast even if some sounded and looked a little strange. It was a good port of call or though perhaps a little disappointing in some ways, really not too much like the tourist brochures.  Again there are excellent tours available for Papeete and it is worth considering these if you want to get a taste of the brochure style Tahiti.


MOOREA
Well this would have to have been one of the stand out high-lights of the cruise. From the spectacular entry in the shadow of ‘Bali Hai’ of “South Pacific” fame to the wonderful white sanded beaches and clear blue waters. The scenery is just incredible and the friendliness of the local people unmatched by any other port. Getting around was easy as there is plenty of low cost services available from the wharf area. We went ashore by ships tender and were greeted on arrival by a wonderful local group of entertainers. This place really is just like the tropical paradise you see in the brochures, and certainly a place not to be missed if you have the chance.


BORA BORA
Bora Bora is an inspiring place to approach from the sea with its high cloud shrouded mountains in the early dawn. The town is a little disappointing and there is a general air of it being a ‘work in progress’. Plenty of shopping, particularly in pearl jewellery and clothing but prices are again expensive. Some great beaches and scenery make this a worthwhile place to visit. We decided to buy fresh French bread etc: and picnic at one of the beaches....great time. Transport around the island is low cost and readily available.


PAGO PAGO
American Samoa was an interesting place, and not what we had expected. Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday so there were only a few shops open as everyone was at church or with their families as is the local custom. I expected Pago Pago to be better laid out and modern bearing in mind its’ American association but it is a little run down and laid-back. The newest building in town was the McDonalds. There were however great beaches and many new resorts and buildings out of the main part of the town.


APIA
Apia met us with a full contingent of medical staff in scrubs due to the ‘Swine Flu’ scare that was rife in the media. However we all made it ashore and again we decided to rent a car and head out of the town. The drive around the coast was interesting although we were surprised by the standard of many of the houses we saw. We visited waterfalls and blowholes, and then onto a delightful swimming cave full of fish, and yes you swim there. Back into town and around the markets and shops that were again interesting but there was nothing for sale that we could not get in Australia at comparable prices. A highlight of the day was to visit the famed ‘Aggie Grays” and the home of Robert Louis Stevenson. This is certainly a must visit place for anyone going to Apia.


NIUAFO'OU (Tin Can Island)
Well this was an unusual and uncommon part of any cruise. We came to a stop off shore and out came the small ‘mail-boat’. Once alongside the cans of mail were lowered from the ship by ropes into the boat and off it went ashore. We then were once again underway and headed for the next port.


SAVU SAVU
The first of the Fijian ports was a delightful stop. The road from the ship to the town was lined both sides with stalls selling a big range of local handcrafts at good prices. The town has several good sized stores selling a big range of product. We found a delightful little rest spot just ten m inutes walk from the town and had some lunch and cooling drinks right on the edge of the bay with the ship in the background. All too soon it was time to head back to the Dawn and sail from this great port.


SUVA
Onto the Fijian Capital and it was raining when we arrived, although it did clear by the time we had walked through the markets and into the City. There is a massive amount of re-development going on in Suva and the general traffic is possibly the busiest we struck at any port. There is still plenty of the old colonial charm around the City but it fast being swallowed up by new high rise projects. Shopping is expensive due to a recent devaluation of the local currency. There are some good value local tours that give the visitor a good taste of Fiji.


PORT DENARAU
Denarau is a new port and is a short drive from Nadi. The main centre of the port is dominated by the Hard Rock Cafe and other very modern buildings set around a large entertainment area. There is a world class golf course and several good resorts at Denarau. We took a taxi into Nadi and looked around the town. Again it was very much like Suva and the prices were pretty much the same.