"Cruising on a Queues Ship" Top 5 Page for this destination Australia and Oceania by Kakapo2
Australia and Oceania Travel Guide: 70,168 reviews and 182,444 photos
I use this page for telling you stories and giving you detailed information about our South Pacific Cruise and the ship. This page is a mixture of General Info and some entertaining storytelling. I post extra pages about the listed destinations.
The cruise: "Tahitian Treasures" on the Pacific Sun (Cruise company: P&O)
Date: 4 to 25 June 2009, start and end in Auckland (New Zealand)
Ports of call were:
Rarotonga (Cook Islands)
Tahiti - Papeete
Niuafo’ou (Tonga) – scenic cruising only…
Savusavu (Vanua Levu)
Suva (Viti Levu)
Nuku’alofa (Tonga) was on the itinerary as the first port of call but we did not get there because it would have been on a Sunday, and they are not allowed to work on Sundays in Tonga, so the docks are closed, as is the airport. I wonder why they have put Nuku’alofa on the itinerary at all. You can expect of such an experienced cruise company like P&O that they know such things.
This cruise was our first cruise at all, and we have enjoyed it despite many things we did not like. We have the biggest grudge about the bad organisation of getting off the ship (tenders and disembarkation) in the ports of call, and the non-information about the health scares on board.
There were some few cases of suspected swine flu, but the biggest problem was the rapid spread of the norovirus. More than 200 people were ill with this highly infectious tummy bug (gastro-enteritis), and were forced to stay in their cabins. Their cabin mates were allowed to walk freely on the ship. I do not know if you can call this quarantine or isolation… I know of friends who had cruised on other ships before the swine flu, and there were hygiene measures and hand-sanitizing in the restaurants from the first day. On our ship measures were only taken when all those people were suffering from the norovirus, and the epidemic could not be concealed any longer.
Anyway, the bad organisation and the health problems both lead to queueing, queueing and more queueing – which lead me to giving this intro the title: “Cruising on a Queues Ship”.
Imagine the chaotic end: Back in Auckland, only some few groups (including lucky us) could disembark in an orderly and organised manner. Already then, as we were had arrived a little later than intended, we noticed that they were already getting new passengers on board for the next cruise. According to other passengers, what followed, was mayhem. All remaining passengers were called to leave the ship, grab their luggage which had been stored in the cruise terminal, buses to all destinations were lined up at the same time, and at the same time they boarded new passengers. People queued on the stairs from the top deck to the bottom of the ship. We were back home in Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand, although we did not get on our originally booked early flight, earlier than people who only had to travel two hours by bus in the North Island!
Right now we do not feel the urge to go on a cruise again… At least not in the near future.
In first place we had not booked the cruise for the sake of cruising but because it was the cheapest way to get to all those nice islands. You might know that accommodation, food and transport are extremely expensive in French Polynesia, and staying on the ship was a great way to avoid huge hotel bills.
We have also learnt that the longer a cruise is, the older the passengers are. Although we are not really young anymore ourselves, we felt like in a resthome. A lady in her seventies told me the cruise experience made her realize that she will never move into a retirement village, no-one but old people around would depress her.
Still, we met lovely people and have made friends with whom we have stayed in touch after the cruise, and will remain in close contact.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our shore tours I had mostly organised from home. In first place this meant that I had booked transport, be it cars, scooters or bicycles well beforehand. This proved to be a perfect way of not wasting a lot of time before exploring the islands, and not spending a fortune on organised shore tours, and really getting in touch with the locals.
Cruising was also a great way to get an idea and insight into holidaying on all those islands, and to find out which of them would be great destinations for longer holidays – and which would be somehow affordable… ;-)
The Pacific Sun surely is not a luxury cruise liner, even with a captain with greater organising talent and a better trained crew. The food, however, was of excellent quality, be it in the restaurants with service, be it in the buffet restaurant. The cabins are two star, as we were told by an experienced cruising lady who is used to five star life. I would say it is three star, although the cabins are rather basic. She is surely right in claiming that the Pacific Sun is more of a fun cruise ship. I must admit, although it was a swimming resthome, I would not want to cruise on a ship where I have to dress up in each and every minute. We had three formal nights during those three weeks, and that was enough for me – although I did not dress in rags on the other nights.
As said, despite the lot of flaws we have enjoyed the cruise. We could relax perfectly although we never got enough sleep due to the noise of the engine, anchor, waves, and cabin neighbours. We stayed fit, working out in the gym on all sea days, running up and down the stairs many times each day, eating heaps of healthy food. We did not put on a gram, I even slimmed down a little despite eating four meals a day. I had time to work on the photos, so did not get overwhelmed by the task back home, had time for some write ups and working out our shore tours in detail.
We had sunshine and nice weather on all but one shore day. But I think rain in Suva is the best match for the military regime that rules Fiji at the moment.
P & O offer the Tahitian Treasures cruise – perhaps with a different captain and less queues – again in 2010 but unfortunately one month earlier, so still during the rain season. Raiatea is not on the itinerary – what a pity! But Nuku’alofa is…
- Pros:A cheap way to travel to expensive destinations
- Cons:The resthome feeling and easily spreading diseases
- In a nutshell:Very relaxing if you have the right mindset
Internet connections on board are via satellite and come at a price. You can buy a card for the use at the three or four... more travel advice
- Getting off the ship at the end of the cruise was the easiest thing you could ever imagine. We just left, dropped our... more travel advice
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