We are a party of 6, 4 from Brisbane and 2 from the Gold Coast and all over 65.
We have sailed on this ship before and have found it very comfortable and easy to find your way around. There are numerous activities available however, we did not take advantage of any.
We had a balcony cabin which seemed a little after having a mini-suite on P&O the previous year. However, it was very comfortable although the bathroom needs a bit of timing with both trying to get ready. It is always nice to be able to sit on the balcony on sea days and just relax.
The cabin was a reasonable size and always kept clean by the steward. Although the bathroom is very small, one person only at a time, we managed very well. The only issue I have with the cabin is that the cupboard and bathroom doors open onto each other and impede the front door when both are open.
Kiriwina is a primitive island with coral beaches. You need good walking shoes but we did see some people brave walking into the water and swimming. Reef shoes would be the way to go here. The toilet facility was a thatched hut with a plastic container in the middle. One person attached himself to us as guide and at the end wanted $5 per person from the 6 of us when it was really only 2 of us who were guided. I found this island a little intimidating as there must have been about 200m of people sitting each side of the path selling wares. Everyone has the same thing, The wares were nearly 100% wood but you can’t imagine these people making these well tooled items. Our guide was taking us (two females) to a village but when he couldn’t tell us how far it was we turned back. The most disturbing thing about this island was the number of people trying to change AUD to Kina. Apparently they accept AUD and then need to convert it. I was terribly sorry I did not have any Kina to help them out. We heard that there is a money changer who turns up periodically but charges them 20%. I took some colouring books and pencils and left them with our guide who said he would make sure they got to the school.
Kitiva was next. This was quite a nice island as well with good tree coverage. The wares here were simple native dresses, pieces of colourful material (not really sarongs), baskets, jewellery. There is a small island close and many people took a ride over in the local boats for $5. We did not swim here but it looked like people on the small island were. Once again, you need Kina. They do accept AUD but not sure what they do with it afterwards. We walked up to a lookout where there is a grave of Campbell, the first white person to start a plantation on the island. From here you can look down on the ship. There is also a 5Kina charge to enter. We went to see the skull cave, also at a cost of 5Kina. We were lucky a fellow passenger had some Kina to lend us. The wares were displayed amongst the trees and were woven baskets, dresses, brightly coloured material. The men had a beer at a stall on the beach. We quite enjoyed our time on this island.
It was a Sunday so everything was closed. On shore they had moneychangers and we were able to get SID (Solomon Island dollars). They also accepted Kina for exchange. We walked outside the port gates and had to get two taxis for 6 of us as they nothing big enough. We managed to get a taxi for SID100 (AUD20) per taxi for one hour. It ended up being 2 hours but in that time we saw Henderson Field airbase where they have a memorial, a museum for WW11 relics, no charge, and then up to the US Guadalcanal War Memorial which is on top of a high lookout and well kept. We managed to change our SID back into AUD at the port. The roads here are pretty terrible so it took a long time to see things, apart from the driver on a go-slow drive. It was still cheap at $40 per taxi. Close to the ship they had paintings, wooden items handcrafts etc.