My parents recently went on a cruise to Vanuatu with P&O. They had such a great time that they allowed me to share some of their adventure here – mostly paraphrased from mum.

Setting Sail from Sydney

We departed out of Sydney at Sunset which was gorgeous.

I had reflections of childhood summers in Sydney as we sailed out of the harbor. We used to travel to Sydney every Boxing Day from our home in Benalla to spend the Summer with family.

Leaving Sydney at sunset on the Pacific Explorer
Leaving Sydney at sunset on the Pacific Explorer

As you go out the heads there is a little white church on the top of the South head that belongs to the Navy where my cousin, Carol was married.

The sea was beautiful and calm the entire trip compared with a trip we did previously across the Tasman Sea to NZ.

We had an incredible room on the port (left) side of the ship. Our room was on the 11th floor with a balcony. The ship was about 14 stories high. We were slightly towards the rear of the ship which made it easy to get to the decks at the aft of the ship.

Onboard Activities

The first three days from Sydney to Vanuatu were all sea days. This gave us a great opportunity to explore the ship and get involved in the many activities available. Some of the activities I took part in included:

  • Swimming in one of the many pools onboard. 
  • Line dancing, so I could keep in rhythm with my line dancing group back home in Mount Beauty.
  • Movies – they often had a movie playing in the main theatre.
  • Listen to bands – there were musicians playing every day.
  • Trivia
  • We walked the promenade 3-4 times per day to keep the blood moving and walk off all the food we had eaten.
  • Entertainment – Every ship has a dance troop that does 3-4 shows while other entertainers come onboard through the journey. We went to a show every night. 

The main theatre is a tiered auditorium with beautiful velvet seats.  


  • Dragon Lady Chinese Restaurant – fine dining 
  • Sabotini’s Italian Restaurant – fine dining
  • Buffet area on the 14th floor

Our favorite was Sabotinis because we love Italian food.

Going Ashore in Noumea

We arrived at Noumea on the fourth day. As we were arriving into port, the Captain let us know over the ships intercom.

Depending on the shore activity you choose, they let you know a different meeting place on the ship. To begin with we explored the town then went on a guided bus tour which took us to lookouts. On the way back to the ship we walked along the beach then we found a french patisserie and enjoyed a cake, this is after all a French territory!

Our Ports of Call

Our on shore stops for the cruise included Noumea, Vanuatu, Lifou, Mystery Island, and Isle of Pines. Mystery Island was my favourite, then Lifou.

The beach on Mystery Island
The beach on Mystery Island

I liked Mystery Island because it’s just a tropical island with no inhabitants. The islanders canoe over to entertain us and set up a market.

Islanders in Vanuatu
Islanders in Vanuatu

There is great snorkelling, beautiful beaches and pale blue sea. Apparently the Isle of Pines is a favourite too but it was windy and cloudy so we did not see it at its best. Lifou has really good snorkelling . Over the other side of the island, you could pay for snorkelling and it was apparently excellent, some people did scuba diving tours on some of the islands.

The Isle of Pines
The Isle of Pines

Compared to our previous voyage to New Zealand on the Golden Princess the Pacific Explorer was more of a party ship. We preferred the Golden Princess because it was a better ship and everything was extravagant. It really catered for the over 50s. That said the Pacific Explorer was more laid back and they got you involved in the activities. I think younger people would enjoy this cruise.

So there you have it! That was my mum’s take on Vanuatu. What cruise is on your bucket list?