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Compare: 12 Cruise Ships in the South Pacific

With a year-round tropical climate, fabulous beaches and picture-postcard views, the South Pacific is one of the world's most popular cruising destinations, especially for Australians. This diverse region also offers visitors much more than a spot to simply soak up the sun. Cruisers can enjoy a taste of France without the jetlag in New Caledonia, snorkel pristine tropical reefs in the Solomon Islands, go to church at a traditional Fijian village or shop for pearls in Tahiti. With more than a dozen ships plying the South Pacific's picturesque waters, many of them throughout the year, passengers have plenty of options.

This chart features a ship from each of the major South Pacific cruise lines such as Princess, Carnival, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, as well as lesser-known lines such as Captain Cook, Windstar and Paul Gauguin. Each of the 12 ships suits a different type of traveller. Families on a budget might find the most value onboard P&O Cruises' Pacific Eden, while couples can pamper themselves with a romantic sailing on Windstar's Wind Spirit.

Learn more about each line's itineraries and exclusive offerings to decide which one is best for you.

Note: Click on a ship name to get more info and read hundreds of cruise reviews.

Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Solstice has a sleek, spacious and modern interior design, with a relaxed atmosphere. A unique feature of this ship is the open-air Lawn Club, a half-acre of grass on the top deck with ocean views and games such as bocce and mini-golf. Known for its great dining and bars, Celebrity appeals to sophisticated couples, though you'll notice more families during school holidays.

Itineraries
  • Home Port: Sydney.
  • Ports: Mare, Lifou, Oahu, Maui, Papeete, Bora Bora, Moorea, Lautoka, Suva, Apia, Vavau, Pago Pago, Nuku, Vila, Isle of Pines, Noumea, Lahaina.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Destination lecturers give talks in the main theatre.
  • Some itineraries include visits to several ports in Tonga.
  • Take a helicopter flight around Haleakala, the world's largest dormant volcano.
Ship Wows
  • A Taste of Film' which pairs a foodie-themed movie with delicious culinary bites.
  • Watch artists at work at the Hot Glass Show on the top deck.
  • The Alcove's private cabanas are ideal for taking in the view.

Photo Tour of Celebrity Solstice


Sea Princess

Sea Princess (Photo: Princess)

A recent refurbishment added features such as the Princess Luxury Bed Collection and the Voice of the Ocean gameshow (a spinoff of The Voice TV program). The 1,998-passenger Sea Princess also has an adults-only sun deck, Movies Under the Stars and Discovery Channel activities for adults and kids alike.

Itineraries
  • Home Ports: Brisbane, Sydney, Auckland.
  • Ports: Mare, Mystery Island, Vila, Champagne Bay, Luganville, Alotau, Kitava, Rabaul, Kiriwina Island, Conflict Islands, Suva, Pago Pago, Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, Kona, Hilo, Papeete, Moorea, Bora Bora.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Onboard menus feature Pacific Rim cuisine.
  • Watch locals fire walk in Vila.
  • One of the few lines to visit Papua New Guinea's Conflict Islands.
Ship Wows
  • New show Encore blends pop music and opera.
  • Educational kids program in newly refurbished spaces.
  • Offers a more intimate mainstream cruise experience.


Noordam

Noordam

HAL prides itself on a traditional cruising experience. Expect a high quality of service and food quality in the main dining room, and plan a date night in specialty restaurants like Pinnacle Grill steakhouse or Canaletto. Noordam attracts a more mature cruiser, but some families and multigenerational groups may be found on New Zealand cruises, especially during school holidays.

Itineraries
  • Home Port: Sydney.
  • Ports: Mare, Lifou, Lautoka, Suva, Apia, Dravuni Island, Kona, Honolulu, Lahaina, Kauai, Pago Pago, Kitava, Kiriwina Island, Conflict Islands, Alotau, Luganville, Mystery Island, Isle of Pines, Noumea.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Explore the Devil's Grotto on the Isle of Pines.
  • Learn about the local cuisine at the onboard Culinary Arts Centre.
  • Take a traditional Fijian longboat ride to a waterfall.
Ship Wows
  • Dance the night away at B.B. King's Blues Club.
  • Join a singalong at the late-night piano bar.
  • Main pool has a retractable roof for poor weather.

Photo Tour of Noordam


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Explorer of the Seas

Explorer of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

Go ice-skating in the South Pacific on Explorer of the Seas, a 3,284-passenger ship with enough restaurants, activities and entertainment to appeal to every age group. Featuring a FlowRider surf simulator, rock climbing wall and an ice-skating rink for professional shows and passenger skate sessions, there is little danger of getting bored on this action-packed ship. Passengers range from young couples to singles, active retirees and plenty of families, especially during school holidays.

Itineraries
  • Home Port: Sydney.
  • Ports: Mare, Lifou, Lautoka, Mystery Island, Vila, Isle of Pines, Noumea.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Family Connections excursions designed for adults and kids to enjoy together.
  • Taste locally made beer on a Vila pub crawl in Vanuatu.
  • Watch a traditional hunting demonstration in Lifou.
Ship Wows
  • Ice skating rink is the ideal spot to cool down.
  • Rock-climbing wall and mini-golf course.
  • Johnny Rockets diner and its singing, dancing waiters.

Photo Tour of Explorer of the Seas


Carnival Spirit

Carnival Spirit (Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)

Refurbished in 2018, Carnival Spirit has a new video arcade and family-friendly craft centre, plus the popular Green Thunder waterslide, kids clubs and free food from celebrity chef Guy Fieri's burger joint. Parents can grab a beer while enjoying live music at RedFrog Pub or escape the crowds in the 18+ Serenity pool area. This 2,124-passenger "fun ship" is great value for families on a budget and those who love interacting with the friendly, attentive crew.

Itineraries
  • Home Port: Sydney.
  • Ports: Mare, Lifou, Mystery Island, Vila, Isle of Pines, Noumea, Suva.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Vanilla farm and processing plant visit in Lifou.
  • Big game fishing in Vanuatu.
  • Active shore excursions aimed at younger travellers.
Ship Wows
  • Adults-only Serenity deck.
  • Play giant Connect 4 at Hasbro, The Game Show.
  • Six free dining options, a large number for a ship this size.


Reef Endeavour

Reef Endeavour

Captain Cook offers small ship cruises in Fiji throughout the year on the 130-passenger Reef Endeavour. Itineraries range from weekly three, four and seven-night cruises to the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands to an 11-night twice-yearly cruise to the largely undiscovered Kadavu and Lau Islands. With a focus on swimming, snorkelling, mingling with other passengers and visiting with Fijians at their local villages, this intimate ship offers plenty of bonhomie and cultural immersion.

Itineraries
  • Home Port: Denarau, Fiji.
  • Ports: Tivua Island, Naviti Island, Yasawa Island, Yaqeta, Drawaqa, Monuriki, Sacred Islands, Waya Islands, Makogai Island, Oneata, Fulaga Island, Kabara Island, Totoya Island, Kadavu Island.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Meeting Fijians at church services and in small towns.
  • Marine biologist gives informative talks.
  • Traditional village feast on cruises of seven nights or more.
Ship Wows
  • Glass-bottom boat.
  • Onboard fleet of kayaks.
  • All cruises include a stop at Tivua, the line's private island.


Wind Spirit

Wind Spirit

With its white sails billowing, the romance of Wind Spirit is hard to resist. This 148-passenger ship sails French Polynesia year-round and offers a convivial onboard atmosphere and water sports off the back deck. Dinner at the main restaurant combines casual attire with fine food and service in a single open seating. This intimate cruise experience appeals to well-travelled couples who appreciate the finer things and relaxing on holiday in equal measure.

Itineraries
  • Home Port: Papeete.
  • Ports: Fakarava, Tiputa, Motu Mahaea, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Moorea.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Local fish features on the menu.
  • Fire show and sunset BBQ dinner in Bora Bora.
  • Itineraries feature lesser- known ports such as Tiputu.
Ship Wows
  • When conditions permit, the ship is powered by the wind.
  • Open bridge policy.
  • Relaxed yet chic ambiance.

Photo Tour of Wind Spirit


Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin (Photo: Paul Gauguin Cruises)

Purpose-built for cruising in French Polynesia, the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin provides a comfortable, all-inclusive cruise experience that showcases the region's stunning scenery. Many of the crew have been with the line for years and are experts on the ship's destinations. The casual vibe onboard lends itself to open seating at mealtimes, which feature imaginative food and well-crafted menus. Most passengers hail from America and France and are aged over 55, except for a few honeymooners.

Itineraries
  • Home Port: Papeete.
  • Ports: Vairao, Taha'a, Bora Bora, Huahine, Moorea, Hiva Oa, Hapatoni, Fatu Hiva, Taiohae, Lautoka, Savu Savu, Beqa Island, Vava'u, Suva, Aitutaki, Rarotonga, Fakarava, Rangiroa.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Spend the day at Motu Mahana, the line's private islet.
  • Viva Polynesia show featuring the ship's Tahitian hostesses.
  • See Fakarava's rare birds, plants, and crustaceans.
Ship Wows
  • Stewards of Nature, a joint program with the Wildlife Conservation Society.
  • Onboard lectures from renowned archaeologists and marine biologists.
  • All-inclusive cruise experience.


Crystal Symphony

Crystal Symphony (Photo: Crystal River Cruises)

Carrying 848 passengers, Crystal Symphony's refined ambiance, exclusive-access excursions, and included perks such as wine, spirits and gratuities, attract a discerning crowd, mostly empty nesters and retirees. Crystal also stands out with its Creating Learning Institute, including classes ranging from language to filmmaking. When it's time to eat, passengers can choose from a variety of dining options, from molecular gastronomy creations in the main dining room to top-notch Japanese cuisine at Umi Uma, led by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa.

Itineraries
  • Homeports: Papeete and Auckland.
  • Ports: Lautoka, Yasawa-I-Rara, Nuku'Alofa, Alofi, Raratonga, Aitutaki, Bora Bora, Moorea.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Visits lesser-known ports such as Nuku'Alofa in Tonga.
  • Specialist local destination lecturer onboard.
  • Overnight stay in Papeete, and Bora Bora on some voyages.
Ship Wows
  • Over 60 per cent more suites after 2017 refurbishment.
  • One of the most delicious afternoon teas at sea.
  • Ambassador Hosts available for dancing on every cruise.

Photo Tour of Crystal Symphony


Pacific Aria

Pacific Aria (Photo: P&O Cruises)

With a maximum of 1,503 passengers, this ship offers a more intimate South Pacific cruise experience than most other mainstream lines. Plenty of fun can be found at the P&O Edge Adventure Park and at the ship's lively bars, especially after the sun goes down. Free dining options abound but specialty restaurant, Salt Grill by Luke Mangan, is worth the splurge. Pacific Aria is a hit with cruisers of all ages who appreciate this ship's smaller size and low-key, casual vibe combined with modern Australian style.

Itineraries
  • Homeports: Brisbane.
  • Ports: Alotau, Madang, Wewak, Rabaul, Kiriwina Island, Kitava, Conflict Islands, Noumea, Mare, Port Vila, Nuku'alofa, Vava'u, Suva, Port Denarau, Santo, Pentecost, Mystery Island, Isle Of Pines.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Mainstream cruise line offering destinations such as Papua New Guinea and Tonga.
  • Active shore excursions aimed at younger travellers.
  • Expert Mutiny on the Bounty guest lecturer on Bounty Adventure cruise.
Ship Wows
  • Complimentary Asian and Italian restaurants.
  • P&O Edge Adventure Park offers fun for young and old.
  • Gatsby and Bianco theme parties on the top deck.


Silver Explorer

Silver Explorer

The 132-passenger Silver Explorer combines adventure with a luxury cruise experience. As an intimate, all-suite, all-inclusive vessel, it is lavish for an expedition ship. The onboard team includes biologists, historians, geologists and ornithologists. The ship also features high-quality dining, large suites, butler and included extras like wine, beer and spirits.

Itineraries
  • Home Ports: Papeete and Lautoka.
  • Ports: Honolulu, Fanning Island, Malden Island, Christmas Island, Starbuck Island, Manihiki, Rakahanga, Suwarrow, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Austral Islands, Marotiri Island, Oeno Island, Pitcairn Island, Henderson Island, Ducie Island, Easter Island, Palmerston Island, Alofi, Neiafu, Nuku Island, Uoleva Island, Lau Islands, Cobia, Ringold Isles, Yasawa, Lautoka, Ambrym Island, Paradise Lagoon, Santa Ana, Roderick Bay, Njari Island, Tingwon, Yap, Apra.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • See the famous Moai statues on Easter Island.
  • Includes lesser-known destinations such as Oeno Island, Manihiki and Suwarrow.
Ship Wows
  • Fleet of Zodiacs for onshore exploring.
  • An all-suite ship with a butler assigned to staterooms.
  • All-inclusive, luxury expedition cruise experience.


Seven Seas Navigator

Seven Seas Navigator (Photo: Regent)

This intimate 490-passenger ship makes an ideal home base for destination-intensive exploration. All passenger accommodations are spacious suites and nearly all of these have balconies, with the exception of the window suites on the lowest decks. This all-inclusive luxury ship attracts mature couples and wealthy families. Passengers shell out up front, but enjoy included amenities such as shore excursions, specialty restaurants, drinks and gratuities.

Itineraries
  • Home Port: Papeete and Sydney.
  • Ports: Rangiroa, Pago Pago, Apia, Lautoka, Suva, Noumea, Honolulu, Hilo, Nawiliwili, Kuhului, Bora Bora, Pago Pago, Fakarava, Raiatea, Hilo, Noumea.
South Pacific Exclusives
  • Overnight stay in Bora Bora.
  • Expert lecturers from the Smithsonian Institute.
  • Unlimited free shore excursions allow for in-depth exploring.
Ship Wows
  • Swimming pool and sun deck.
  • 90 per cent of ocean view suites have balconies.
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi.

Photo Tour of Seven Seas Navigator


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