My review will be judging this cruise compared to the 20+ other cruises I’ve taken on nearly every other cruise line around the World. The cruise itinerary took us to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. I found it difficult finding cruise reviews for this itinerary, so I hope this helps those looking to do a future cruise to these ports on P&O. I believe the only other large cruise line to visit these ports is Princess.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Very good. P&O uses an e-ticket and allows you to select a preferred time range to check-in. It took me less than 15 minutes to complete the check-in process and there were no lines. Disembarkation is similar to other cruise lines. It was organized and totally completed in about 2 hours. Once my category was called, it took about 20 minutes to go through immigration/customs. The only negative was the long wait for taxis. This is not a cruise line issue, but a port location issue. Cairns does not have enough taxis to satisfy a large number of people disembarking the ship within two hours.
The Ship: The Eden is a refurbished Holland- America ship. It has a very similar layout and configuration as a Holland-America ship, but a more modern style and interior. It offers basically the same options as other ships in the 1500 passenger ship range. It does not have the on-board options as the mega-ships like water shows, ice rinks, etc. It simply does not have enough space. It does have plenty to offer including an adventure park with zip-line, climbing wall, obstacle course, pools, sports, games, etc. There are several bars with different themes, Movie Theater and large auditorium for shows.
Typical inside cabin. Cabin attendants were excellent. Plenty of space for a standard cabin. Small sofa, desk and small table along with the bed. Small TV with DVD player. Decent size bathroom for cruise ship.
Amazing. Just a beautiful beach and excellent snorkeling and lots of locals selling food, souvenirs, arts and crafts. The whole island comes down to the beach when a ship is in port. There are a few sights like a skull cave you can hire a local to show you and a few local villages. But the real attraction is the beach and clear, warm, calm water teaming with tropical fish and colorful coral. Local boys will take you on an outrigger canoe rides.
This was the only real city we visited on this cruise. I heard they have a McDonald's. I didn’t see it or a Starbucks (thank God). There are several historic WWII sights, a few museums and a large local market that are a short walking distance from the dock. Guadalcanal was the location of one of the most gruesome WWII battles. 7000 American soldiers and 24,000 Japanese soldiers died during a six month period on Guadalcanal. There are numerous memorials and historic sites near Honiara and on Guadalcanal. The WWII war tour was one of the more popular P&O shore excursions.
P&O offered several excursions, I took a culture tour to a local Polynesian village. The tour was excellent. We drove 45 minutes get to it and all the villagers came out to greet us in their native dress. We toured the village and they explain their way of life and traditional Polynesian ways, which included local food and dancing. The village is on “Red Beach,” where the Americans first landed on Guadalcanal during WWII. There are also several nice beaches less than 30 minute drive west of town. Some have WWII wrecks and most have an entrance fee. The most popular is Mbonge beach.