Lastminute.com offered a good fare on Singapore Airlines' new A380, and the long outbound flight was surprisingly enjoyable, with an amazing choice of entertainment, very acceptable food and good service. Sitting on the upper deck on the Singapore to Sydney sector, albeit in economy class, was a further bonus. We had booked a hotel in (frighteningly expensive but enjoyable) Sydney for 2 nights prior to boarding and were blessed with gorgeous weather. We then had one night on board before sailing (in rather worse weather) for Noumea in New Caledonia; this first port was the least interesting of our stops, perhaps partly as we were there on a Sunday, when things were rather dead.
It is several months now since we took the cruise and a bit late to go into lots of detail. I'd rather just give our overall impression, which is highly favourable. Our cabin was in the lower-priced range but quite spacious, well-equipped and beautifully serviced. The quality and variety of food were very acceptable, service in all departments was excellent, entertainment fairly low-key but enjoyable. Guest lecturers were, on the whole, interesting -- some truly inspiring -- and the entertainment staff, in fairness, did, at least, make efforts to gear their offerings somewhat more towards the non-British or anglophone passengers, who made up almost 20% of the total -- after complaints from 'foreigners' like us...
The other ports of call were fascinating and the last nine days at sea, when all we saw were flying fish and some dolphins (no other ship, not even a plane), passed all too quickly; we were never bored and would gladly have stayed on to the end! As it happened, the charter flight back from Lima to Gatwick on a Pullmantur B747 was a bit of a letdown after the standards we had become accustomed to onboard. We had cruised with Fred.Olsen before and have become avid fans!
Somewhat scruffy and boring (but we called on a Sunday). Nouvelle Caledonie is a very large island and I am sure we would have liked it had we seen more.