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Fiji or Papua New Guinea?


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I'm researching 2023 holiday cruises and found two to the South Pacific that look interesting:


Option 1: 10-Day Papua New Guinea

Roundtrip from Brisbane, Australia

On board Coral Princess

Departing Mon, Dec 18, 2023


Option 2: 11-Night South Pacific & Fiji Holiday

Leaving from Sydney, Australia

onboard RC's Brilliance of the Seas

Dec 19, 2023 to Dec 30, 2023


I am traveling with my DH and two kids who will be 8 and 12 next holiday season. We have not visited either of these places.


The cruise to Fiji sounds more relaxing and very beautiful. And I think it would be easier to fly in and out of Sydney. However, I'm a huge NatGeo fan and PNG has always intrigued me and I thought a cruise would be an ideal way to see that country with kids in a manageable way. I've been on one 4-night RC cruise and one 8-night Princess cruise. I didn't care for the main dining room on the RC ship (Navigator OTS) although the specialty dining was quite good. I liked the food in the main dining room on our Ruby Princess cruise much more. I'm torn because I'm slightly leaning towards the Fiji cruise but I don't like the RC food in the main dining room.


Which cruise would you choose and why?

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On 12/12/2022 at 11:07 PM, woostergirl said:


Which cruise would you choose and why?

The short answer is neither.  Both ships you are considering carry c2000pax and that is way too big for these islands.  Look for a ship with less than 500pax and that way you will have a far more enjoyable and immersive experience.  I've made three trips around PNG, Solomons, Vanuatu etc and always on small ships with about 100pax and equipped for zodiac landings. (btw, hardly anyone on this Forum knows about Melanesia.  Tahiti is the main topic here.)

Edited by Fletcher
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  • 2 weeks later...

I would suggest you post your query on the Australia & New Zealand Cruisers board - Australia and New Zealand Cruisers


Many of the regular posters on the board will have been to both PNG and Fiji and will be able to offer advice. I have been to Fiji which I really enjoyed but haven't been to PNG.

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  • 1 month later...

@woostergirl Did you end up making a decision?


My husband and I did an 11-day round trip from Brisbane to PNG in late January and early February.


We visited Alotau, Rabaul (overnight) and Conflict Islands. We were scheduled to stop at Kiriwina Island but weather prevented us from docking there.


We loved the entire experience, but we are a mature couple travelling on our own. In my opinion, the South Pacific and Fiji itinerary would probably be more interesting for kids that age.


There really wasn't anything to do in Alotau other than walk into the main street and visit a local supermarket and a tiny handicraft market.


On our first day in Rabaul we took a tour with a local guide which was lovely, but again not overly exciting for kids. We spent a lot of time in a small fibreglass boat crossing the harbour, walked around the ash fields at the base of a volcano (not as exciting as it sounds) and spent an hour on a small island which was lovely for swimming but had no other facilities.


On our second day in Rabaul we walked into the main street and visited a local produce market. There were a few stalls selling locally made jewellery and handicrafts but not a lot, and nothing particularly aimed at kids.


The Conflict Islands were lovely. It was a tender port so there was quite a wait to get onshore, but once we did we spent a couple of hours snorkelling. There's a lovely lagoon with plenty of coral and lots of different coloured fish to be spotted. Facilities were limited but there was a food and drink hut, canoes and kayaks for hire and glass-bottomed boat tours. This would be a great port stop for kids who love the beach.


Anyway, you may already have made a decision but I thought I'd post my experience in case it helps you or anyone else. 😊





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  • 4 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
On 12/13/2022 at 9:07 AM, woostergirl said:

Which cruise would you choose and why?


With two young kids in tow, definitely the Fiji cruise. PNG is a fascinating place, but I don't think it's going to be of much interest to the young ones. PNG is just not oriented towards tourism like the South Pacific islands are.


They are both Christmas cruises in the middle of the summer school holidays. So there should be plenty of other kids on board, especially to Fiji.


The Fiji cruise goes to Mystery Island (no mystery there, it's just that most people can't pronounce the actual name), Suva, Lautoka and Lifou.


Mystery Island is a small undeveloped island in the very south of Vanuatu. Nobody lives on it, but locals will cross over to it from the main island to sell stuff to cruising tourists. It's a very good spot for snorkeling, but not much else.


Suva and Lautoka are large towns in Fiji. Basically they are not worth visiting, except to get day trips to the fabulous islands offshore. From Lautoka you can get a half hour taxi ride to Port Denarau, where there are several tourist boats to take you out to various islands on regular schedules.


Lifou is a large island in New Caledonia. It used to be popular for the snorkeling in Jinek Bay, but I hear that is now closed. There are usually excursions available for purchase on shore, but you can also just snorkel around the tender jetty or walk up the hill to the church for a very scenic view.


If you do choose PNG remember to bring along some Kina, the local currency, for any purchases. Preferably in small notes. The locals away from the large towns have great difficulty in exchanging currency.

Edited by SinbadThePorter
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  • 3 weeks later...

"f you do choose PNG remember to bring along some Kina, the local currency, for any purchases. Preferably in small notes. The locals away from the large towns have great difficulty in exchanging currency."


Oh- very good thought. Thanks for it- will now have to look into where you get them but I have lots of time. 


I do rather agree that a large ship in PNG would rather overwhelm the place. Some of the stops we made,  that number of passengers would be many times the number of locals. 

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  • 4 months later...



If you haven't yet made a decision, let me share our experience.  I was also on the fence between PNG and Fiji; DD is 14. After reading this thread we decided to take the Tonga Encounter cruise on P&O Australia's Pacific Explorer.  Got home two weeks ago.  Loved it.  Two ports in Fiji, two in Tonga.  Had a fantastic time snorkeling, river tubing and learning about the local cultures.  We liked it so much that we booked a PNG cruise for next summer (winter in the Southern Hemisphere). PNG will be a different experience, not as accessible to tourists.


For a thread on cruising with kids to PNG, you can check out:


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