We always find the South Pacific to be a beautiful and very relaxing place to visit and the people are so friendly. Always glad to return to the South Pacific... wish it was closer as the flight is long.
We stayed 2 nights precruise at Ovolo Woolloomooloo hotel, very clean and quiet (on the HOHO bus line and walking distance to Circular quay and parks. We hit a heat wave in January. We did not realize that this is summer break for the Australians so there was a lot of children onboard so keep in mind if this is a concern to you.
Hope the following youtubes are of help to you in your planning of the ports we visited https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVmQFwCb0y4quUfQWyoCQsieQQ6hF6szd
1. NOUMEA, New Caledonia --took the HopOn/Off bus around -$10.pp/USD at cruiseport. Enjoyed the Market and all the different produce. Also shops by market took USD and AUD$...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eus4rvE8AJE&t=2s
2. LIFOU, New Caledonia -Melanesian experience tour... see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2doAVL7j4K0
3. PORT VILA, Vanuatu -Around the Island Safari /interesting tour -enjoyed the Iarofa Cultural village...see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGUvRreGTsQ
4. DRAVUNI ISLAND,Fiji -only 150 people on island; took boat ride around the small island/$10 USD/pp. Went for a swim in the warm waters. Enjoyed the people...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR1fNjp-e68
5. LAUTOKA, Fiji -Took Oolala Savala island day cruise - fun -however, there was not enough seating for everyone. Water is very very shallow-hard to swim without touching coral. Be sure to use lots of sunscreen here
** We took South Seas Island tour on next cruise and there were better swimming conditions and enough seating for everyone on tour ...see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDoUOCRe93k
6. ILE DES PINS, New Caledonia - Pretty island. We just walked around and went for a swim...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMcFUGECrUk
Feel entertainment was poor in quality except for the Explorers Lounge. Food quality has really gone down on HAL in last few years. We got off Noordam and got on RC Voyager of Seas the same day for our back to back cruise and we really saw the difference in quality of foods. Service was good on HAL. Found we could use USD$ and AUD$ at all ports. Definitely recommend a South Pacific cruise.
Sydney is a great city to visit.
We took the HoHo bus for $10pp/USD. Buy tickets locally (50% more onboard) Enjoyed the locals market.
We enjoyed the visit to Iarofa Cultural village, the stop at the river and the short beach stop for a swim. Price included an odd box lunch of tuna fish and beet sandwich.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We really enjoyed Dravuni Island. We took the boat ride around the island, visited the local school where we took supplies for the children, walked around and then took a swim in the warm, clear waters. Only 150 people live here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR1fNjp-e68View All undefined undefined Reviews
A very relaxing and fun day. Not enough chairs for everyone (unlike South Sea Islands day cruise that we did on the following cruise). Water was very very shallow and several people got cut by coral. Nice warm waters. Very friendly staff.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Interesting short tour of 2 hr to see how the locals live. They demonstrated how they cook food over the hot stones and there were samples to try.
We then went for a swim.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Very pretty island ...it rained early morning so we just walked around and went for a swim.
Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly.
HAL no longer seems to provide speakers which is really missed especially at days at sea.
The entertainment onboard was poor. We enjoyed the classical music in the Explorers Lounge as the other entertainment was so poor. We left several shows as did many others due to the lack of quality.
We ate several times at the Italian restaurant and found the food there very good...much better than the Main Dining room. We have taken many many cruises thru the years and it seems that the quality of HAL's food and entertainment has definitely taken a downturn in the last few years. The staff are always friendly and attentive and HAL offers great itineraries. Hopefully, they will improve their quality of food and entertainment back to their old standards.