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Pacific Islands TTG Features Pace of the Pacific

Cruising is a great way to take in the South Pacific islands at a relaxed pace. Katherine Lawrey suggests some itineraries

Royal Caribbean There are still cabins available on a nine-night South Pacific itinerary this October with Radiance of the Seas, one of four Royal Caribbean ships that sail in the South Pacific. The others are Explorer of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas. The cruise departs from

Sydney and calls at Noumea (New Caledonia), Lifo (Loyalty Island) and Vila (Vanuatu) before returning to Sydney. Royal Caribbean Bouldin describes Vanuatu as one of the best cruising locations in the world: “You see long stretches of golden beaches, clear blue seas and picturesque waterfalls. However, Vanuatu can also surprise. With shopping ports and World War Two history, there is something for everyone.” In Vanuatu, Bouldin recommends

Paul Gauguin is based in the South Pacific E

xploring by cruise ship is a logical way to tackle the remote South Pacific islands. It gives clients the

opportunity to island-hop around and experience the diversity of the various archipelagos without having to re-pack and take additional flights over swathes of ocean. It’s top of many a bucket list but

Princess Cruises’ field sales and training manager Shane Riley highlights couples as a key audience. “The slower pace of life and pure relaxation is tempting for guests celebrating a special occasion – particularly honeymooners,” he says. Given the 20-hour flight, it’s worth

packaging the cruise into a longer trip. Ben Bouldin, director of sales, UK and Ireland, Royal Caribbean International, says: “To make the most out of your client's holiday, look to repackage with longer stays in Sydney or stopovers in other countries such as Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore to make one long, memorable trip.”

However, Riley advises against assuming that a South Pacific cruise has to be a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. “Competitive flight prices to Australia and excellent value cruise options mean that more and more guests are returning to the region for a second or even third time,” he says. “A cruise provides a cost-effective way to island-hop these incredible islands – Fiji alone has 333 islands, so arguably this could be a holiday destination for life.”

Paul Gauguin Cruises Paul Gauguin Cruises has been based in the South Pacific year-round since its maiden voyage in 1998 – its Paul Gauguin ship is the longest continually operating luxury ship in the region and has just had a refit. There’s nothing to pay onboard as fine wines and premium spirits are included. Guests are also given snorkelling equipment to use. They can also recreate the Robinson Crusoe experience, with Paul Gauguin’s private island at their disposal for a day.

With its South Pacific focus, there

are various itineraries on offer, ranging from seven to 14 nights. Elaine Gillard, UK sales and marketing manager, points history buffs in the direction of Raiatea. “The island was once the cultural, religious, royal and political heart of Polynesia and was, according to legend, one of Tahiti's most significant archaeological sites.” The island of Moorea is another

popular stop. “It’s covered in an abundance of fresh fruits and flowers, spectacular mountain peaks, peaceful multi-hued lagoons and palm-fringed beaches. Here, guests can shop for local crafts, trek on the ‘Trails of the Ancients’, snorkel one of the world's most beautiful lagoons or embark on a dolphin- watching expedition with a marine biologist,” says Gillard. Book it: A seven-night Society Islands cruise round-trip from Papeete departing November 15, 2014 costs from £3,860pp fly/cruise. ■

clients pursue more active pursuits, such as exploring underwater wrecks on a diving excursion or a flight over Port Vila. Lifou on Loyalty Island is the place to try deep-sea fishing and the Isle of Pines is where they can flop and relax. “While you are there, you can forget your worries and let the island take over. The Isle of Pines is known for its unhurried way of life, giving you the opportunity to take relaxing walks, snorkel in the sea and recline on white sandy beaches.” Book it: Radiance of the Seas’ nine-night South Pacific fly-cruise departing October 11, 2014 from Sydney starts from £2,265pp, based on two sharing an inside stateroom and includes return flights from Heathrow, transfers and pre-cruise one-night hotel stay. ■

Princess Cruises Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess is offering a 14-night Fiji and South Pacific round-trip from Sydney in late November. On the itinerary are Lifou and Noumea in New Caledonia; Vila in Vanuatu; plus Port Denarau, Suva, Savusavu Turn to 42

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