It was our honeymoon cruise, also my husband's first cruise. I have been on Star cruise before, stayed in their inside stateroom, so I know how small and noisy inside rooms could be. So for our honeymoon, I picked the mini-suite to pamper ourselves. Room was big with balcony, deck chairs & table, bath tub, big soft bed with lots of pillows, sofas and lots wardrobe space. Occasionally we also get plates of treats delivered to our room - canape & chocolate & sweet bites etc. we also get welcome champagne on our first day.
Our ticket did say we have priority checkin at 12:30. When we arrived at 12:30, there was already a lot of people checking in. So apparently no one sticks to the check in time printed on their ticket.
After checking out our cabin, we went to plantation to have buffet lunch. The following day we went back to plantation for breakfast, lunch & dinner. As its buffet style, we tend to eat too much. By the third day we were so sick of the buffet, feel bad for stuffing ourselves, we started going to Waterfront for lunch & dinner. And we were hooked since then. You get great service, order what you want, come in small portion, so can have 3 - 4 course meal and not feel stuffed. If you make a booking, you can have same table same time every night. Food was generally great, but not the Asian food. My husband find their food quite blend.
Noumea: we went to Amedee Island, which has fantastic snorkelling, glass bottom boat, great view from top of lighthouse. But the lunch provided was not too great. Their roast beef was like brick. Overall a very beautiful island to spend a relaxing day.
Lifou: we did the Forest & secret grotto tour, because I like exploring caves. But I was disappointed! Their cave was so small, we basically went down a few steps to sit in the cave, sang a song coz there's echo, and came out after 5 mins. The rest of the tour we were walking through a forest, with the guide explaining a few traditional medicine the locals get from plants, show us how they hunt coconut crabs, pigs, birds. I wouldn't recommend this tour. Not far from the jetty some locals were offering $10 to take you to another cave. We should have gone with that. In e afternoon we went to Jinek bay to snorkel. They just started charging people for entering Jinek bay. $15 half a day pass. It was a nice spot for snorkelling, however there were way too many people in the water at the same time! I find its not worth it (especially the best snorkel is at mystery island)
Port vila: we went scuba diving in the morning, which was a great experience, a bit scary for me but I loved it. Fnished at 1130, went back to ship for lunch, walked along the pier where the locals are selling souvenirs, dress, shirts etc. went on 1:30 tour to Cascade waterfall. It was beautiful! Absolutely recommended. We were standing under the waterfall, water was refreshing. Beautiful spot for photos. Originally we booked abseil down the waterfall, but with only half hour between the 2 tours, we changed our mind last minute. Which worked out better as we had time for lunch & the best shopping in the whole trip.
Mystery island: the best snorkelling place so far, is on the other side of this island. Water so clear, corals big and colourful. More variety of fish. Gorgeous blue starfish! But taking tender boat back to ship was pain in the ass. Long queue, waited for half hr finally our turn and some rude Asian cut queue. There was no clear queue area, so beware if long q starts to form.
Money: reception told me I must have local franc for first 2 islands as they don't take Aussie $, but I found out on the islands they do take Aussie $! Well i guess the Ship make money from exchange rates, coz when I change back from franc to Aussie I feel so ripped off.
Shopping at vila was easy, Aussie $ all the stalls, and they don't really bargain. Set price means set price. It's not cheaper a few stalls down the road.
Entertainment: love the comedy & magic show. Circus was good, but after a few nights i find them repetitive. Not a big fan of musical show so we only attended first 2, and didn't bother going to last 2.
Photos: they were taking photos of us everyday & everywhere. Highly recommend their portrait photos. They take photos on deck 7 on formal nights & dress up nights. And if you don't like the photos you don't have to buy them. But doing the photo shoot itself is fun, and free. We ended up buying 4 really nice portrait photos, and got 1 free.
Casino & shops are small compared to other cruises I've been on. But that's no biggie. Just don't expect to buy much from the ship.
We hire snorkel gear from aqua hut. $50 for a set of snorkel for the whole cruise, which I find ok as we get new snorkel & get to keep it. Just have to return the fin & goggle. If u hire from the island, who knows if they have been cleaned and it was $15 per hire. Remember to put toothpaste on your goggle the night before, and clean with seawater just b4 you put them on. This stops fogging up and works well.
They were showing some quite new movies on tv & the big screen, like life of pi, ice age, twilight breaking dawn pt 2, 007 skyfall etc.
I had the best reflexology at the spa, quite costly but it's worth it. I spent $129 and get 1 hr treatment includes body scrub, leg & ankle massage, foot reflexology.
Overall we had a great time, will definitely go with p&o again.