There’s something truly magical about a cruise that you just don’t get from your typical land-based two-week holiday. The ability to visit multiple exotic island paradises, while only unpacking once, makes a transpacific cruise the ultimate bucket list travel experience.
Taking a voyage across the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, from Sydney to Hawaii – or vice versa - island-hopping to exotic destinations like Tahiti and French Polynesia along the way is an unparalleled holiday experience, and it’s far more accessible than you might think.
From palm-fringed, white sand beaches, to majestic waterfalls, volcanoes and prehistoric lush green valleys, these destinations are true ‘world wonders’. Plus, there’s the diverse cultures and cuisine, coupled with an extraordinary cruising experience that lets you do it all, or nothing all. This is the experience of a lifetime, unparalleled to any other holiday.
There’s no wonder cruises have gained in popularity. Once deemed ‘the holiday of a lifetime’, cruising has become the holiday de rigueur for many couples and families who ‘want it all’.
That’s because some stand-out cruise ships actually do offer it all, while taking travellers to some of the world’s most exotic and off-the-beaten-track destinations that in some cases, are particularly tough to reach by land or air.
Today’s cruise ships are quite the impressive ‘world on water’, appealing to families with young children as well as thrill-seeking teens, with award winning youth programs that keep kids entertained from dusk ‘til dawn. Then there are mothers and daughters spending quality time together on a ‘memory making vacation’, best friends exploring the world after illness, having children or just needing a ‘Best Friends Break (BFB)’, and even singles living large. There really is a cruise for everyone – it’s choosing the right ship and itinerary that’s the key.
So, what is a transpacific cruise, and why would you take one? Transpacific cruises are usually repositioning between Australia and the USA, which means they cross the Pacific Ocean and stop at an incredible variety of destinations along the way for an enriching cultural experience that allows you to sample different countries – and decide if you’d like to revisit them for a longer stay later. Like a degustation menu of countries, if you will!
Now, here’s an insider tip: A Transpacific Repositioning Cruise is where the start and end points are different. So, you may embark in Sydney, Australia, for example, and disembark at a different port, like Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. There tends to only be two of these cruises per ship, per season, as they move between hemispheres at the beginning and end of the summer cruise season. Along the way, you’ll go back in time over the international dateline, plus visit ports such as Papeete, Moorea and Bora Bora in Tahiti, before arriving in Honolulu. Or you can do it all in the reverse order, when the international ships reposition down under in October.
The beauty of repositioning cruises is threefold – you get to explore destinations that are typically less travelled, because they don’t need to be located close to the cruise’s departure point; you can hang out at your embarkation and disembarkation destination for as long as you like (visiting Hawaii’s Big Island volcanoes and coffee plantations; Kauai’s foodie trail and phenomenal island cliff ledges are a must!) and third, you get to cross the Pacific Ocean in a magnificent ship that offers just as much adventure on board as the destinations do. Bucket list, done!
Then there are those stunning island locales in the Pacific Ocean that you just have to see. So what are they? Here’s six of the best:
1. Sydney, Australia
OK we’re biased, but Sydney is an internationally acclaimed city for good reason. (Let’s not mention the house prices, ok?!). How about that beautiful shimmering blue harbour? And what are those incredible architectural masterpieces on the harbour? The Opera House? The Sydney Harbour Bridge? The Rocks heritage-listed first colony settlements? Yes, those! Then there’s the world-famous restaurants (and celebrity chefs, a la Fast Ed Halmagyi), shopping Pitt Street Mall or the designer boutiques of Surry Hills and neighbouring inner city suburbs, and of course, if you are not from Australia (or you are wildlife deprived), the koalas and kangaroos! (Hop along to Taronga Zoo or Wild Life World).
Hello Sydney! Royal Caribbean is offering the ultimate ocean crossing of a lifetime, from Honolulu to Sydney via the Pacific over 20 nights. The transpacific voyage on-board Aussie’s biggest ship, Ovation of the Seas, sets sail on 30 September 2019.
2. The Pacific Ocean
Perhaps the simplest view - the great ocean expanse - and yet, also the most magical. Crossing the Pacific Ocean is a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you’re star gazing or watching the sunrise from your balcony suite, dolphin spotting between Pina Coladas and a book, catching the view from the thrill-seeking iFly skydiving wind tunnel or spotting the expansive shimmering waters over your partner’s shoulder, as you dance on the deck at sunset and await for the stars to come out and play, there is simply nothing like the feeling of being out to sea. Hot tip: Order room-service breakfast on your balcony to really savour the view.
The North Star on Ovation of the Seas is a glass viewing pod which raises up 90 metres, boasting 360 degree views of the ocean and included in your cruise fare. A transpacific cruise allows for plenty of sea days to rejuvenate onboard, by chilling out with a good book beside the pool, dining out in the restaurants and relaxing in the spa, all interspersed with invigorating days on shore.
3. Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Tahiti tops just about every ‘honeymoon wish list’ and bucket list alike, but the idyllic French Polynesian islands and those dreamy overwater bungalows can be cost prohibitive to many– particularly those who’ve spent a pretty penny on their Big Day. But hurrah, my fair maiden (or sir), you can sample three French Polynesian islands on a transpacific cruise! Papeete is Tahiti’s capital and main port. Here you’ll find a bustling market filled with decadent French cheeses, fresh local fruits, vegetables and sea catches and more leis, grass skirts, Tahitian pearls and other traditional fare than you can poke a fisherman’s spear at. On the main street, trendy cafés and tourist shops line the oceanfront boulevard.
Then there are the natural wonders. Movie-worthy brilliant blue lagoons, jaw dropping waterfalls, active volcanic mountains, black-sand beaches, thermal hot surf spots and the very friendly local people. Papeete is also home to calm and warm Polynesian waters, reef breaks that are idea for youngsters learning to surf and fantastic reefs for snorkelling.
4. Moorea, French Polynesia
Not quite as famous as Tahiti’s romance capital, Bora Bora, but no less incredible, Moorea is aptly the shape of a heart, surrounded by coral reefs and inland, filled with picturesque turquoise lagoons and rugged mountain peaks. The trademark overwater bungalows feature prominently at the water’s edge, with lovers and families blissfully enjoying their catch of the day. You can swim with Mantas, snorkel or explore the tropical island. Don’t miss the Tahitian pearl collections, traditional weaving, intricate tattooing and French inspired island food.
5. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
The romance capital of the world! Bora Bora is the jewel in Tahiti’s crown - not only postcard perfect with the turquoise lagoon waters and silky white sand beaches, but the thriving sea life and coral reefs make it an underwater wonderland. Inland, lush green tropical landscapes salute a towering Mt Otemanu, making it a dreamy getaway for any single, couple, family or best friends! The blue lagoons are a dream for families with young children to experience an ocean paradise while keen surfers can catch gnarly waves. Or, take a bike ride around Bora Bora, check out the overwater bungalows along the shoreline, then eat crepes on the beach, Mahi Mahi (local fish marinated in lime and coconut milk) and soak up the island breeze and sun!
S'il vous plaît! Bora Bora is one of the Pacific’s most dream-worthy destinations. Bora Bora, Tahiti, Mt Otemanu.
6. Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
It’s Hawaii 5-0 time! The home of surfing, Waikoloa beach is the perfect playground for kids and kids at heart to learn to surf, relax on the beach with a cocktail in one hand and book in the other, experience a traditional luau or hit the shops and factory outlets! OK shopping isn’t technically a destination, but the designer outlets are a must-see for many Aussie tourists.
If you’re after something a bit more life-changing, a trip to the landmark Diamond Head crater or the moving memorials and museum at Pearl Harbor are a must-see. Or, get yourselves to the north of the island, Turtle Bay, where you might just find yourselves swimming with the local turtles.
Want to go? While the current Aussie cruise season is drawing to a close, don’t despair! Ovation of the Seas will return to our waters in October, crossing the Pacific from Hawaii to Sydney. Departing Honolulu on 30 September 2019, the epic 20-night voyage includes all accommodation on board, main meals, entertainment and activities, including iFly, North Star, FlowRider, rock climbing, dodgem cars, circus school, roller skating and more. For more information and prices visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au