• Newsletter
  • Write a Review
  • Boards
  • Deals
  • Find a Cruise
  • Reviews
  • News
  • Cruise Tips

Cruises to Port Vila

102 Reviews
2 Awards
Port Vila (Photo:lidian Neeleman/Shutterstock)

About Port Vila

The sun is beating down, the water is a thousand shades of clear, crystal blue, and the market stalls are gearing up for a big day. It's another day in paradise in Port Vila -- fairly sleepy for much of the time, but transformed into a hive of tourist activity when a cruise ship arrives. There is not much evidence, to the casual observer, of Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam's handiwork back in March 2015, when it caused one of the worst natural disasters ever experienced in Vanuatu's history. It's true that some resorts remain closed, such as Iririki Island Resort across the harbour from Port Vila Township, which is still under considerable construction. Some trees still sit at odd angles, or even remain where they ended up, on top of cars or boats, while other sea vessels remain upside down, strangely high up the embankment. Enough time has now passed, however, that you now have to really look for the items out of place; Port Vila has largely recovered and its tourism industry is humming along nicely. The beaches are clear and startlingly white, and the water visibility is prodigiously clear.

Cyclone Pam destroyed a reported 96 per cent of crops on the islands of Efate (home of Port Vila) and Tanna, further south, and the price of food, such as bananas, is possibly higher than it was before. Yet other reports say that pawpaw seeds flew so extensively in the winds that pawpaw plants are now growing like weeds. So, eat pawpaw rather than banana!

Port Vila is clean, friendly and easy in so many ways. Public buses take you anywhere you want to go in town, without the need for schedules or timetables. Quoted prices are generally firm -- and fair -- without the need for chicanery or negotiation. Families with children are not only tolerated, but rather welcomed with open arms; many resorts offer nannies at a very low rate, while anyone in the street is keen for a cuddle with a bub. Even the local language, Bislama, is based mostly on English and can be quite simply deciphered.

The main part of town is simple to navigate, centred on the Lini Highway that runs alongside the water. South of the town, the roads curve into the large finger of land that includes the Main Wharf on the town side and the further-flung resorts and beaches of the Pango area. Although less sheltered here and badly struck by 2015's cyclone, the recovery effort has been strong. North of town, the road heads off to the tourism hotspot of Mele Bay, home of waterfalls, adventure parks and Hideaway Island.

Those seeking adventure in Port Vila will find natural wonders, exciting sports and activities and never a dull moment in the water or even in the air (or both, if you want to try flyboarding). Culture vultures can soak up the local colour in the main markets or on a village tour, and shoppers will be gobsmacked by some of the tax-free prices. However, Port Vila is the kind of place where one can have a truly lovely time doing nothing at all -- hang out with locals over taro pancakes, putter along in a water taxi or ferry, catch a ride on a bus and slip the driver a bit extra to stay and natter as you circle the town. Do as much or as little as you like, and fall into the rhythm of 'island time'.

  • More about Port Vila

  • Why go to Port Vila?

  • Port Vila Cruise Port Facilities?

Loading...

We found you 55 cruises

Loading...
Loading...
Cruise Critic Favorite
Regatta
Regatta

40 Night
World CruiseDetails

387 Reviews
Leaving:Bali
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Jun 23, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips
Nautica
Nautica

18 Night
Australia CruiseDetails

364 Reviews
Leaving:Tahiti
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Mar 7, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips
Brilliance of the Seas
Brilliance of the Seas

10 Night
South Pacific CruiseDetails

1,526 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Oct 29, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips
Volendam
Volendam

58 Night
Grand Australia & New Zealand VoyageDetails

567 Reviews
Leaving:San Diego
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 3, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips
Sponsored

Azamara Cruises Best Offer Yet

  • Save 40% and receive a $300 Onboard Credit
  • Access to hard-to-reach ports larger ships can’t
  • Enriching cultural programs and local events
  • Relaxed itineraries with more late nights and overnights

Azamara Club Cruises

94 Night
Grand Australia & New Zealand VoyageDetails

567 Reviews
Leaving:San Diego
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 3, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

14 Night
South Pacific CruiseDetails

1,721 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
Mar 15, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips
Cruise Critic Favorite

25 Night
Australia CruiseDetails

387 Reviews
Leaving:Bali
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Jun 23, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

10 Night
South Pacific CruiseDetails

718 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Jan 2, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

9 Night
South Pacific CruiseDetails

718 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Mar 27, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

10 Night
South Pacific CruiseDetails

1,526 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Jan 9, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

34 Night
World CruiseDetails

364 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Dec 28, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

18 Night
Transpacific CruiseDetails

512 Reviews
Leaving:Honolulu
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Oct 10, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

8 Night
South Pacific CruiseDetails

512 Reviews
Leaving:Brisbane
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

24 Night
Australia CruiseDetails

364 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Dec 28, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

9 Night
South Pacific CruiseDetails

718 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Feb 22, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
  • Itinerary
  • Ship
  • Reviews
  • Price Tracker
  • Fare Insight
  • View All Prices
  • Cruise Tips

More about Port Vila

Why go to Port Vila?

Pros:

Find heavily discounted duty-free products, or head out of town to swim at Mele Cascades

Cons:

Some local taxis have been known to drive recklessly so perhaps consider an organized tour

Bottom Line:

A practical rather than pretty port, where local transport is needed to reach its natural beauty

Port Vila Cruise Port Facilities?

Passengers alight directly onto the wharf and are then directed through fenced and roped-off pathways onto Wharf Road. This is merely a thoroughfare when there is no ship in dock but, on cruise-ship days, long rows of souvenir markets magically appear, lining the road off to the left into town. Alongside them, a host of locals are eager to offer transport, private tours and a helping hand (and van) for a price. The good news is, most of these people are genuine and quite helpful -- it's a competitive market, after all. However, until the port area upgrade is completed, you'll find little official help in terms of currency or tours. Catch a bus, boat or taxi into town (see below) to the post office, where you will find ATMs (including a Westpac directly opposite), foreign exchange, tour offices and eateries. Stay on the post-office side of the main road and head north-west (away from the ship) and you'll come across the tourist information centre, filled with brochures and maps as well as friendly staff.

Good to Know?

Some swimming spots and beaches can have hard coral or active marine life underfoot -- reef shoes are a smart item to pack in your day bag. Sunscreen and mosquito repellent are also a must, like for most Pacific destinations. On a less practical but no less important note, try not to overfill your itinerary here. Vanuatu is known as the friendliest place on Earth, and taking a moment to sit in the shade in front of the markets and chat with the locals can yield as many happy holiday memories as the prettiest beach.

Getting Around?

By Taxi: The bad news is that taxis are relatively expensive in Port Vila and throughout Efate. The good news is, if you're staying within the town limits, you really don't need them.

By Bus: There is a wonderful local system of buses (really an odd assortment of vans) that charge a flat fee of 150VT (AU$1.90) to take you wherever you like within central Port Vila. If the bus driver already has quite a few passengers or isn't really going in your direction, he'll simply tell you to flag down another one. Look for the 'B' on the number plates of passing vans to find a bus, and there's no need to use bus stops -- wave them down wherever you like. There are generally plenty of buses hanging around the port when a ship is in town, too. Some travellers like to offer a higher amount (to be negotiated with the driver) to simply sit in the van awhile as other passengers come and go, and see the town that way. You never know whom you might end up chatting with! Keep in mind, though, that if you're in a hurry, these buses do operate somewhat on 'island time', depending on how many passengers are on board and where they're heading. Take a taxi if you're really pressed for time.

By Water Taxi: Another fun (and very local) way to get around is by water taxi; you'll find operators on the water side of the markets, along Wharf Road, holding signs to catch your attention. It's inexpensive and a little more adventurous, especially considering that the boats in question are sometimes on the small side.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Official currency is the Ni-Vanuatu Vatu (or simply, vatu) -- for current conversion rates, check xe.com. Australian banks such as Westpac and ANZ have a good presence here, and most ATMs around town are widely used and well stocked. Keep some coins or small notes on you for buses and small purchases at the markets. Aussie dollars are often happily accepted, while most stores and resorts charge a surcharge to use credit cards. Tipping and hardcore bargaining are not widespread.

Language?

Vanuatu is an incredibly diverse and multilingual place. More than 100 languages are used throughout its islands, but its main three languages are Bislama, French and English. It is very easy to get by in Port Vila just by speaking English, but a basic knowledge of French certainly helps -- for example, a restaurant might have a 'plat du jour' (dish of the day). Bislama is a lovely Creole language based mostly on English, with some extra French and island influences -- it may look quite foreign as a written language, but say the words and their meaning becomes very clear (the ocean is 'solwata'; the best is 'nambawan'). It is very possible to have a conversation with a local where you speak English, they speak Bislama, and you both understand just about everything.

Where You're Docked?

Cruise ships dock at Port Vila's no-nonsense Main Wharf, among shipping containers and sometimes next to fishing boats, about a third of the way up Wharf Road in the Laho area of town. The 30 to 45-minute walk into town is not recommended as it is a fair distance that is sometimes uphill and not often on a footpath. The wharf area is currently being worked on as part of an enormous beautification and upgrade project affecting both the cruise dock and the town's waterfront. However, the timeline for completion is somewhat unclear. Meanwhile, there are sometimes roadblocks to limit taxi and bus access to the ship, although they get very close to the wharf so there is little drama caused by the works at this point.


Port Vila Cruise Reviews
Lovely people however not a great deal to do.Read More
User Avatar
ndmb_mwel
Great place to visit as so much variety to do ashore ( especially cheap grog). We had to tender ashore as ship was too large for dock ( first time ever for us in over 10 visits) It's fun talking down the cost of taRead More
User Avatar
Astro Boy
We had been to Port Vila previously to see how it had changed - for the better. Grat place for Duty Free Shopping - look for the yellow building in town.Read More
User Avatar
ppoz
i will still rate this port as one of my favourite ( fabulous duty free ) and you can now get a water taxi ( $5.00 ) into the town if that is all you want to do. but venture outside and barter for a cab ( dont pay unRead More
User Avatar
buddyjj

Related Cruises

Cruises to Newport

Cruises to Newport

250 Reviews
Cruises to Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island)

Cruises to Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island)

223 Reviews
Cruises to Riga

Cruises to Riga

85 Reviews
Cruises to Santiago (Valparaiso)

Cruises to Santiago (Valparaiso)

123 Reviews
Cruises to Berlin

Cruises to Berlin

230 Reviews
Cruises to Punta Arenas

Cruises to Punta Arenas

184 Reviews
Cruises to Adelaide

Cruises to Adelaide

99 Reviews
Cruises to Falmouth

Cruises to Falmouth

1,552 Reviews
Cruises to Honfleur

Cruises to Honfleur

58 Reviews
Cruises to Koh Samui

Cruises to Koh Samui

126 Reviews
Cruises to Perth (Fremantle)

Cruises to Perth (Fremantle)

101 Reviews
Cruises to Saint-Malo

Cruises to Saint-Malo

14 Reviews
Cruises to Walvis Bay

Cruises to Walvis Bay

6 Reviews
Cruises to Bimini

Cruises to Bimini

205 Reviews
Cruises to Punta del Este

Cruises to Punta del Este

50 Reviews
Cruises to Salerno

Cruises to Salerno

57 Reviews
Cruises to Townsville

Cruises to Townsville

Cruises to Cinque Terre

Cruises to Cinque Terre

348 Reviews
Cruises to Skagen

Cruises to Skagen

95 Reviews
Cruises to Argostoli (Kefalonia)

Cruises to Argostoli (Kefalonia)

139 Reviews
Want to cruise smarter?
Get expert advice, insider tips and more.
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy and Cookies Statement and Terms of Use.
About UsCruise DestinationsFirst Time CruisersFind A Cruise

Share your feedback

International Sites

© 1995—2023, The Independent Traveler, Inc.

  • Privacy and Cookies Statement

  • Terms of Use

  • Site Map

  • Cookie Consent