The top 5 luxury cruises in the South Pacific
Words by Natasha Bazika
Channel your inner explorer and immerse yourself in luxury, cultures and unforgettable landscapes. How you may ask? With a cruise, of course. Not only is a cruise the best way to explore a region, but it’s also the most entertaining.
Ponant cruises offer travelers carefully planned routes, shore excursions and a world of luxury aboard their young fleet of cruise ships and various small ships.
We’ve highlighted five of their very best South Pacific expeditions cruises, perfect for your next vacation.
Australian East Coast Cruise
Fall under the spell of Australia’s East Coast with Ponant Cruises 10 night cruise from Cairns to Sydney. Discover the treasures of the Great Barrier Reef, snorkel your way through unspoiled islands and hidden white sand beaches and experience the diverse sea life of Australia’s East Coast.
You will set sail from Cairns, a picturesque port known for its colonial buildings before landing at Whitsunday Islands. The island boasts unique marine biodiversity as does the Percy Island, Lady Musgrave Island and the Great Barrier Reef. You will want to take a dip in the turquoise waters, and sink your feet into the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island. Between endless beaches, lush tropical rainforests and freshwater lakes, this cruise will have you discovering rare beauty and Australia’s treasured gems.
The Kimberley Expedition
Located in Australia’s North West, the Kimberley is one of the last unspoiled areas in the world, and it’s waiting for you. The landscape boasts waterfalls, steep gorges, remote mountain ranges, and crystal clear waters. Board Le Lapérouse, a luxurious and ultra-modern expedition ship with just 92 cabins allowing for an intimate experience.
Choose from various itinerary’s, including 10 and 13-night cruises, each complete with a full schedule of stories from the locals, Zodiac outing and rock art galleries visits. Also available are National Geographic and PONANT Kimberley Expeditions, enhanced by a National Geographic photographer and expert. You will see some magnificent reefs, such as Montgomery Reef, and expansive lagoons, as well as many of Australia’s flora and fauna, including saltwater crocodiles. You will also get the chance to explore the King George River and the majestic twin falls, the highest falls in Western Australia, and an overall majestic scene.
New Zealand Expedition
Explore the land of the sheep, also known as New Zealand. Other than sheep, New Zealand showcases some of the world’s most unique landscapes, shaped by successive glaciations. Separated by the north and south island, New Zealand offers travelers the chance to experience coastal regions, country, and mountainous ranges.
The Le Lapérouse will cruise from Dunedin to Auckland, with multiple expeditions in between. You will discover Wellington, the capital of New Zealand and ancient sites of the Maori people, learning about ancestral traditions and customs. From Tauranga, you can explore the volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, rivers, gorges, and lakes that range in colour from deep blue to orange-tinged. A cruise around New Zealand is a good way to experience both islands, including, there hidden secrets.
Papua New Guinea Expedition
Discover the ancient wonders of Papua New Guinea, including the Spice Islands in the heart of Indonesia. Depart from Honiara, and set your sights on an exceptional trip into the heart of remote regions of wild beauty.
Your first stop is to the Solomon Islands, an archipelago of over 900 volcanic islands in the South Pacific. Explore the mountainous and rugged landscaped, which is covered in lush, tropical vegetation and stunning white beaches with crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling. After exploring, you will set sail for Papua New Guinea, home to 700 ethnic groups in a rich ecosystem, before landing at Tufi. Dubbed the Scandinavia of the Tropics due to its fjords, Tufi is a unique and preserved setting inhabited by Papuan tribes who will share their culture and art with you during your expedition. After an adventurous 12 days, it’s time to dock at Australia’s colonial city, Cairns.
Sub Antarctic Expedition
Get the best of both worlds with the Sub Antarctic expedition, which takes travelers through the islands of New Zealand and Australia. On this cruise, you will discover the wild untouched beauty of several islands, described as the Galapagos of the Southern Ocean.
This is a rare opportunity to explore the best preserved and protected environments on the planet where you will experience scenery and wildlife like nowhere else on earth. As with other cruises, there will be numerous excursions, giving the opportunity to snorkel and get up and close to wildlife, including dolphins, Royal penguins, and Elephant seals. On the way to your last stop, Dunedin, you will explore the uninhabited Fiords— Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and the famous Milford Sound—which were carved 20,000 years ago by glaciers.
Main image at the very top of the article ©PONANT – Nick Rains