We figured we'd probably never fly to Vanuatu or Fiji so why not try cruising. This South Pacific 14 day cruise offer popped into our inbox and we signed up - no consideration for the ship or the time of year - but it turned out to be a great decision. We had such a good time!
The Majestic Princess is a very big ship but we never felt crowded. It did take us a while to find our way around but all that walking helped work off the extra food we ate.
It was a largely older group of people on board, but there were families and quite a few children too - a nice mix.
Embarkation in Sydney took quite a long time but was well organized. Once on board we found our balcony stateroom and met our steward (the lovely Sherill, a real gem). One of our suitcases was damaged in transit to our room but I spoke to the Guest Services desk and the suitcase was fixed (totally new handle) by the following day.
My only gripe would be that there is a lot to do on board but much of it is aimed at getting you to buy something. I'm sure this is only news to newbies like us.
We thoroughly enjoyed the shows (get there about 30 minutes early to get a seat) and made the most of the Movies under the Stars - whoever selects the movies does a great job (new releases - some not yet released in cinemas in Australia). Trivia was fun, we also tried Bingo once. The virtual tours of the bridge and engine room, and the cooking demonstration and galley tour were highlights for us. The fitness centre was great, though a bit warm at times. The weather was perfect so we made good use of the pools too. The Hollywood Pool Club (adults only) was, obviously, a little quieter than the fountain pools and you could find a nice spot to relax and read without getting too much sun.
We had Anytime dining but also ate at the World Fresh Marketplace, Alfredos, the International Cafe and Crown Grill. We found the food to be of a consistently good standard across all venues. I really liked the Noodle Bar and regularly had the wonton noodle soup for lunch on sea days.
The port visits were amazing. We did a couple of tours through the ship and two independent tours. The tenders were always very well organized.
Noumea - we did the Amedee Lighthouse Island tour. Would thoroughly recommend. A great day snorkelling with the turtles. Saw sea snakes. Delicious lunch. Great dancing and demonstrations. Walked to the top of the lighthouse for a magnificent view.
Lifou - no tour. Another gripe - the ship didn't tell anyone about having to buy passes to Jinek Bay on board, so there were a lot of people turned away when they couldn't get access. Beautiful island with lots of photo ops. Good swimming. Nice walk to the church on top of the hill. Would have been better if we could snorkel at Jinek Bay.
Port Vila - probably our favourite day. Did a tour through Vila Hope Tours - visited Rarru Falls, the Blue Lagoon, Hideaway Island, the Tanna Coffee Factory and duty free shopping in town. Our tour guide William was charming - informative and funny.
Dravuni Island - stunningly beautiful but tiny island. Walked and swam and relaxed.
Suva - Jewel of Fiji tour through Viator tours. Amazing day - long boat ride up the Navua river through the rapids, swam in a waterfall, bamboo raft down the rapids and lunch, dancing, kava ceremony, local arts and coconut demonstrations in a beautiful village. Wonderful guide - Malachai.
Savusavu - so hot and humid. Pretty place. Walked around town and had a beer in the pub.
Latouka - we did the Oolala cruise to Savala Island tour through the ship. What a day! Fun boat trip to and from the tiny island - served homemade pineapple and banana cake and a singalong with the Oolala team. Perfect weather - we swam with the baby reef sharks, snorkelled on the reef, kayaked, took a glass bottom boat tour to feed the fish and ate a BBQ lunch. Everyone was in high spirits - singing along on the way back to the ship. Great end to a wonderful last port day.
We had nothing to compare it to but we loved this cruise. We felt very well looked after - it was relaxing but exciting too. If you've never cruised but are curious, just give it a try. You won't regret it.
The cabin had a large (very comfortable) bed and pillows (we asked for extra pillows which was not a problem), ample storage and hanging space (and coat hangers). The bathroom is tiny but well designed. The shower worked well - getting the right temperature is easy. The balcony is small but there is room to sit and relax with drinks. We were just above the life rafts (Deck 9) with an unobstructed view. Felt very little ship movement - midship towards the aft - though the seas were slight the entire trip - except for the last night. I was worried about being seasick but never had a problem.
I live here so of course love it. So much to do
Would thoroughly recommend this tour. We spent a great day snorkeling with the green turtles. What a treat. We saw quite a few sea snakes - they are very shy but best to stay away from them (not difficult). The walk to the top of the lighthouse was worth it. Great views of the island and down the staircase of the lighthouse. We had a fabulous lunch. You could have wine, beer or a delicious punch and the food selection was ridiculous. Seafood and BBQ meats, local salads, fruit and deserts. They went all out. After lunch there was dancing and variety of demonstrations - sarong tying, coconut picking and uses. We also had a glass bottom boat ride on the reef. The island has rustic toilets and a small shop with souvenirs.View All 27 Amedee Island Reviews
Lifou is a beautiful island accessed by tender boats. It's very hot so take water with you and money for drink (coconut or soft drinks available). They take AUS$ and NC Franc. Try to travel light or with a backpack. You may do a bit of walking if you choose to visit the church on the hill (worth it for the view and the butterflies) or Jinek Bay.
We really wanted to go snorkeling at Jinek Bay but there were no tours on offer pre-cruise. The ship did not advertise that we would could only purchase permits to Jinek Bay on the ship so many of us were turned away when we rocked up expecting to buy them there. Really disappointed because it looked stunning. Had to make do with swimming on the main beach near the wharf which was still nice. Good idea to take reef shoes with you as the beach is covered in broken coral.
We loved this tour. William, our guide, met us off the ship with an air-conditioned van. We visited Rarru Falls (beautiful walk through jungle with great photo ops), the Blue Lagoon (great swimming hole - cold blue water, swings) and the sweetest fresh fruit for morning tea, the Tanna Coffee Factory (for a great cuppa and bite to eat), then Hideaway Island - a quick ferry ride to get there - fun snorkeling, lots of fish and an underwater post office. You can relax and take in the sun with a cold drink or swim and snorkel for hours. William was fun and so informative...and seemed to know everyone. Beautiful locals - a really great day.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Another tender accessed island. Dravuni is truly picturesque. The softest grass - I thought it was fake. It's a tiny island - c.2km long and 300 metres wide I believe. The beach is great but, again, you'll need reef shoes. I walked across the island (through lush jungle) and along a few tracks but didn't trek up to the top of the hill because I'd only worn reef shoes across to the island. If you want to walk to the top, wear sneakers or something supportive. You can visit the local school. The locals are lovely. There are lots of stalls offering hair braiding, massages, drinks and souvenirs. Also a few selling BBQ fish and these roti with a potato curry inside (they were delicious). Spent the rest of the day swimming.
Amazing day we won't forget - bus to a village where we took a long boat ride up the Navua river through the rapids and past stunning scenery to a glorious waterfall where we swam in the ice-cold water. We then took a bamboo raft down a portion of the rapids before hopping back in the long boats and back to the village for a wonderful lunch followed by dancing and a kava ceremony, then local arts and coconut demonstrations. Our guide Malachai was very knowledgable and a lot of fun.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Best day and a great tour for our last port! Fun boat trip to and from the tiny island - served homemade pineapple and banana cake and a singalong with the Oolala team. Perfect weather - we swam with the baby reef sharks, snorkeled on the reef, kayaked, took a glass bottom boat tour to feed the fish and ate a BBQ lunch. Everyone was in high spirits - singing along on the way back to the ship. Great end to a wonderful last port day.View All undefined undefined Reviews