Before heading out on our big year of travel, which involved leaving our friends and family members behind, we decided to have one last family holiday to celebrate. Our last family cruise was 3 years ago in the Eastern Caribbean, so you could say that we were itchin’ to get back out on the open sea.
Our destination this time would be the South Pacific including 12 days of cruising, eating and exploring beautiful islands from Fiji to New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
Luckily the destinations we visited saved our trip.
We boarded the Celebrity Century on its 10th year of operation, which unfortunately showed as it lacked some of the modern day activities that we had seen on most newer ships. I really don’t enjoy starting reviews on a sour note, but we were happy to hear that this would be its second last voyage before retiring out of the South Pacific.
What the ship lacked in features was more than made up in its staff. Our waiters, cruise director and general staff were friendly, helpful and most of all relatable. We however, still find it hard to recommend this cruise ship due to having 5 days out of our 12 day cruise being at sea with really not much to do.
Luckily the destinations we visited saved our trip.
Noumea, New Caledonia
It was day 3 of our cruise which meant it was Christmas day and Santa had provided us with our very first destination, Noumea. This beautiful french island was busy celebrating the holiday as well so we saw locals on the beach relaxing and eating baguettes. This was the first time we would taste France and it was in the form of palm trees, beaches and cocktails.
Luckily for us the day was scheduled to have rain, but instead we got pure sunshine, a mini Christmas miracle you could say. This third world European-esque country was so full of friendly people that you couldn’t help but feel safe and enjoy the day whilst taking way too many photos of the island.
What we did: Had French Christmas brunch with croissants, juices and crepes (duh!).
With most of the island on holiday we found it hard to undertake some activities, but we did manage to jump on a $15 hop-on-hop-off bus which took us to a spot that took 30 minutes to go around the right hand side of the island and 3 hours to walk back. After taking in all the beautiful views (and being quite exhausted I might add) we jumped on a the Tchou Tchou Train which was $35 and included a calming 1.5 hour ride around the left hand side of the island.
How we felt at the end of the day: Dead from all the sun, full from all the baguettes, but still hungry enough to pile down Christmas dinner, seconds and desert and boy did we sleep well.
Mystery Island, Vanuatu
Yep, the name speaks for itself as we had no idea where we were and what to get up to. This small uninhabited island off the coast of Vanuatu was home to day 4 of our cruise. The locals travel to this island to set up shop and offer services such as charging $2 to get your passport stamped and $2 to pose in a faux cannibal pot. The island reminded us very much of LOST and Jurassic Park (think Hawaii if you have been), or just think – beautiful views.
What we did: To be honest there isn’t much to do on this island besides relax on the beach, get your hair braided, pose with the locals or continue drinking off your Christmas hangover. We bought some fresh coconuts, sat on the beach and photographed the views for the rest of the afternoon.
How we felt at the end of the day: Very relaxed and pondering if there were leftovers from Christmas dinner hanging around in a mysterious leftovers fridge on the boat.
Day 6 of our cruise was a bit of a downer to be honest. The rain that was meant to hit us on Christmas had finally caught up to us and drenched the entire island for the entire day. It wasn’t a great feeling arriving at one of our most sought out destinations to visit and being stuck inside a tour bus.
What we did: Being quite a large group we managed to get a $25 island tour which included a scenic bus ride showcasing just about everything including the beaches, parliament house, their university and the housing projects.
The last stop on our tour was a local village and we had arrived just in time for Sunday church. We spoke to the village elder and managed to catch 10 minutes of their church service which was fascinating to watch as we tried to work out what hymns they were singing about in their local dialect. This visit was very eye opening and certainly an activity that is hard to sell unless you experience it yourself. I feel like writing here “trust us guys, you had to be there”.
How we felt at the end of the day: Quite down because of the rain which resulted in missing out on photographing the beautiful island, I like to keep photographic memories.
Latouka was already off to a better start due to the sun shining which meant I could have my camera out and ready to snap. Luckily for us we won a free island tour at Bingo the night before which certainly put a smile on our faces.
What we did: Too much to put here so we have placed them into solo articles to really do the experiences any sort of justice. We headed out to a local village to undertake a traditional kava ceremony as well as finally being able to experience the Fiji mud pools, but not before having a very laughable experience involving a taxi driver attempting to scam us.
How we felt at the end of the day: We were back on track ready to enjoy the remainder of our holiday, we were so happy that we stopped in Fiji twice.
Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
This was it, day 10 rolled in and the boat had turned around and headed back to Australia, but not before stopping at New Caledonia for our final destination. This island was the cherry on the top in terms of natural beauty. We arrived to locals dressed in traditional attire singing, dancing and welcoming us to their island.
What we did: Just whilst we are on the page of writing our honest review, we kinda slept in, had a late breakfast and got to the island around lunch time. This meant most of the tours had already ended and everyone else was swimming in the crystal clear waters. We weren’t too phased as we managed to see some very beautiful sights including a mystical forest and pine trees all along the beach.
How we felt at the end of the day: Happy and eager to get some internet to finally upload some of our amazing photographs to Instagram (c’mon guys – we will admit it is hard going without internet for 10 days!!).
Our overall experience
So this is it, this is where we tell you about our overall experience? Well we have thought long and hard about this and the first word that keeps coming back is, well, disappointment. More than half our trip was either on a boring ship with nothing to do, on a tour bus in a rainy island or on a small location with nothing to do.
We are travellers who enjoy seeing and doing, rather than sitting and sleeping. Yes we did see beautiful islands on our trip, but overall we wanted to be doing things on these islands. Would we stop cruising? No! We love it and think that if you are in your 20s you should definitely give it a try. We will just have to return to Fiji to fully experience the island before crossing it off our list.
Cruise: Celebrity Century 12 Day South Pacific Cruise
Price: $1849 per person for an interior statement double share.
Have you been cruising before? What was your experience? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.
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