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Brushtail

Cruising Hints and Tips for Newbies

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We have a few new cruisers on the boards and I thought I would start a thread with some hints and tips. This is a list I made up for a workmate for her first cruise. They are for the Pacific Sun.

 

We drove down to Darling Harbour on the morning of the cruise and went straight to Wharf 8, parked, and dropped off our large luggage. You don’t go into the main terminal for this, but to the right of the terminal where you will need your passports ready as you give them your suitcases. We then drove around to the other side of Darling Harbour to Harbourside and parked at Wilsons Parking. They have a deal with P&O where you can park your car for $14.00 per day. You have to find an attendant and fill out a special form. This is a good deal. A taxi to the ship is about $10.00.

 

Back at Wharf 8, you join a queue that snakes around barriers like an airport. Make sure you have filled in your paperwork and have your passports ready. Your bags go through x-rays etc and they will give you your cruise card and room keys

 

Then ‘smile’ they take a boarding photo for posterity and then you go on board. Very exciting.

 

There is lifeboat drill before you sail and announcements tell you what to do.

 

Then it is up on deck for sailaway. Choose a good spot and enjoy it. It can be a bit cool up on deck when you are underway so it is a good idea to take a jacket. No need to take your bag, that is one good thing on a cruise, just leave them in your cabin. All you need is your lanyard with door key and cruise card on it

 

Clothes for dinner. Just smart casual will do. No shorts are allowed in the dining rooms in the evening, but are ok for breakfast and lunch. Formal nights can be as formal as you want. Some go all out with cocktail dresses, long gowns, bridesmaid type dresses etc with some men in tuxedos, but most just wear a sparkly top and skirt /pants and the men in dress shirt, tie or a suit. You will fit in no matter what you wear. Some don’t do it at all, some go all out.

 

There is a set up for formal photos. They look great (there is a photo gallery and you can check them all out at your leisure) and there is no obligation to buy any of them. It may be a chance to have a fabulous family photo with you all looking your best.

 

Small pocket sized maps of the ship are available from the pursers desk. I carted mine around for the whole 10 days.

 

Tenders. You will need tickets to the tenders (free). Once anchored off the islands – I love to be up on deck watching the rigmarole of anchoring - they announce that tender tickets are now available. Don’t get the tickets until you are ready to go ashore. We got them straight away once, thinking we would get in early, and they announced our number and we hadn’t had breakfast or anything yet. J There is no rush, you are at the islands all day.

 

There is no food on the islands, and definitely none is to be taken off the ship, (quarantine laws) so have a good breakfast. Phil and I worked out that we would explore the islands and shop before lunch, go back to the ship and eat lunch and get changed into swimmers and go back to the islands for the afternoons swimming and snorkelling. That worked well for us because Phil is diabetic and needs to eat regular meals. You might be fine and just fill up on a huge breakfast. They do have a P&O stall selling packets of Smiths chips and cans of drink, but that is usually all.

 

You can have your passports stamped on some of the islands. They have a grass hut with a sign ‘passports stamped here $2.00 each’. Unless you want them stamped, you don’t need to take your passports ashore. Your cruise card is put through a machine as you go on and off the ship.

 

Be prepared for sudden showers – it is the tropics – and don’t make a rush back to the ship. You are a long time back home so enjoy those islands with palm trees, coral beaches and tropical fish while you can. Just take a spray jacket or $2.00 ponchos, rolled up in your bag or be philosophical and just get wet.

 

Take the blue and white striped beach towels provided by P&O. It is very strange to be on a beach and EVERYONE has the same towel. When you get back on board, there is a large bin for wet towels. Just put them in there and clean ones will be provided by your cabin steward.

 

Take gold coins to the islands for the islanders. They never ask but they stand and sing in groups with a donation box in front of them, just chuck in a coin or two before taking their photos. You definitely don’t have to, but it is a great earner for them and they don’t have much.

 

No need to change your money into Vatu in Vanuatu. Australian money is used even in Vila in shops, taxis, duty free etc. So take small notes for the markets. It seems tacky to give them a $50.00 and expect change.

 

There is a great shop in Vila across the road from the post office, great for rip-off clothes and stuff like Billabong, Quiksilver, DVDs etc. Buy your duty free from Feng Kuei ?? it is the best one. It is the last one on the left hand side of the main shopping street.

 

Hair braiding. There are quite a few places in the markets on the wharf at Vila or on the islands that do it. Choose one with care. Watch them doing others to make sure they do a good job.

 

You can buy stuff for island night on the islands. Vila wharf markets are best. Don’t buy from the first stall, look all around, some further on may be better or cheaper.

 

Some stuff cannot be brought back into Australia. Check that wood products are fully lacquered. Look for borers or small bugs. Customs will keep anything that is dodgy. Some stalls will tell you that things are OK to take back home. Don’t believe them. Shake baskets etc. to see if bugs fall out. If they do, customs will take them.

 

Reef shoes for swimming and walking on the beach are essential. I never bothered with flippers, but Phil took his reef shoes when he was buying his flippers to make sure they fit over the top of them. Worked a treat.

 

Sun block and Aloe Vera gel for sun- skin care.

 

The cabin stewards always hang around in the hallway all day. Just find them; they will be close by their cart which has things like towels, ice, toilet paper etc in it. If you want anything at all, (extra coathangers, another blanket, more towels, clean beach towels, more soap etc) just ask them, they are lovely.

 

If you take water bottles, buy some with a wide mouth and you can fill them up with ice from the ice machine on the lido deck in the buffet area.

 

We took 6 – 8 wire coathangers with us and washed out our light clothes and hung them up in the window to dry. It worked well. The hangers on board are better quality and do not fit over the little rail. We just hand washed some stuff, put it between two towels and stood on them to get as much water out as possible and hung them up. There is a laundry provided and we only used it once. Take stuff that does not need ironing and is lightweight. Towards the middle/end of the cruise they have a special offer of 25 pieces of clothing washed and dried for $25.00, something like that. We never used it but plenty of others do.

 

Take a highlighter to mark out things you want to do in the Pacific Daily. It is put under your door each evening. It would be a shame to miss something.

 

Some families take post-its to write messages to each other and stick them on the mirror in the cabin. ‘gone to bingo’ etc.

 

There are phones scattered over the ship in the public areas and you can call your cabin from them. All free, of course. Can be useful.

 

Take a powerboard for all your electrics. There is only one power point. You may need to plug in your battery chargers and stuff.

 

A hairdryer, soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided. But they are hotel type sachets, I took my own hair products.

 

The cabin stewards come in twice a day. Once in the morning when they make the beds, clean the bathroom etc. And again when you are at dinner where they tidy up again and turn down your beds.

 

There is an automatic tip added each day to your cruise cards. I think it is $5.50 per person per day. If you don’t want to pay this, you can go to the purser’s desk and ask it to be removed. You can do this at any time, even the night before going home. If you get the guilts, you can leave it on one card and have it removed from the other. It is a personal thing.

 

You can go to the purser’s desk at any time and ask for printouts of your cruise cards. This can be really handy to keep a track on your spending and to make sure it is all correct.

 

If you feel seasick – don’t wait, take Kwells or other travel medication and go up on deck into the fresh air. If you still feel sick after a day or two, go to the doctor and get a needle and you will be right as rain. It might cost, but you have paid a lot for your cruise and you don’t want it ruined. I never felt sick at all, but Phil got a bit queasy in the show lounge. Just go up on deck and stand in the fresh air. You will feel much better.

 

Enjoy the roll and movement of the ship, it is part of being ‘at sea’. I love it.

 

Overall, enjoy yourselves. It is the best holiday for doing nothing, total relaxation. No driving, cooking, cleaning etc. You are fully looked after and the biggest decision is where to have lunch, at the buffet or in the dining rooms. If you choose the dining room, it is much like the evening meals, with baskets of yummy rolls and three courses. You are seated at tables with strangers, they fill up one table at a time….. This can be good as you meet others and ask where they are from etc.

 

I have hints about the islands too. I'll try and find them and post them as well. This could be a really useful thread.

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useful indeed, well done a great list i dont think i could add one thing.

 

You can use the phone to leave voice messages without having to go back to the cabin to leave a message eg for the kids if you are going to a different spot

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Thanks for all of that Jenny.:)

Some of those tips will come in handy for me this week.;) Though I still think I'll take my Sydney Swans towel with me.:D

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Great stuff Jenny.

 

Would like to add, there are two types of rookies on Cruise Critic. While there is a wealth of local knowledge on this forum, one of the great things about Cruise Critic is the available knowledge of 1000s of experts from ports all over the globe. These links that are provided by CC make for great additional reading -

New to cruising:

First time cruisers page - http://www.cruisecritic.com/ftc/

Cruise Discussion topics - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=11

New to Cruise Critic:

Community Guidelines - http://www.cruisecritic.com/community/guide.cfm

 

Cheers

Geoff

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Another tip for anyone in an inside cabin that wants to wake wiith the morning light is to leave your TV on cruisecam station with sound turned down and as the sun rises your TV screen and cabin will light up. Handy for those who don't realise how dark inside cabins can be - often easy for some to sleep in.:)

Also I wouldn't wait until I was feeling sick to start to take pills - prevention is better than cure. Hard to take tablets when you start vomiting or so I've heard. And NEVER NEVER take your vomiting child to lunch with a plastic bag, I have seen this happen a couple of times and was thoroughly turned off my lunch by the sight. I sympathise but the restaurants are not the place for vomiting youngsters. :mad: Sorry just realised more a gripe than a tip - Oh well!!:o

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And NEVER NEVER take your vomiting child to lunch with a plastic bag, I have seen this happen a couple of times and was thoroughly turned off my lunch by the sight. I sympathise but the restaurants are not the place for vomiting youngsters. :mad: Sorry just realised more a gripe than a tip - Oh well!!:o

 

triple eeeeewwww!!!

 

I agree....but if it just happens- well that can't be helped I guess

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Another tip for anyone in an inside cabin that wants to wake wiith the morning light is to leave your TV on cruisecam station with sound turned down and as the sun rises your TV screen and cabin will light up. Handy for those who don't realise how dark inside cabins can be - often easy for some to sleep in.:)

Also I wouldn't wait until I was feeling sick to start to take pills - prevention is better than cure. Hard to take tablets when you start vomiting or so I've heard. And NEVER NEVER take your vomiting child to lunch with a plastic bag, I have seen this happen a couple of times and was thoroughly turned off my lunch by the sight. I sympathise but the restaurants are not the place for vomiting youngsters. :mad: Sorry just realised more a gripe than a tip - Oh well!!:o

 

Sensational Suey,

To date the "diapers in the pool" threads on the Princess board were the most cringeworthy ones I had read. You have made my day with this one.

 

Cheers

Geoff

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NEVER NEVER take your vomiting child to lunch with a plastic bag, I have seen this happen a couple of times and was thoroughly turned off my lunch by the sight. I sympathise but the restaurants are not the place for vomiting youngsters. :mad: Sorry just realised more a gripe than a tip - Oh well!!:o

 

triple eeeeewwww!!!

 

Errrrrggghhh! I second that!! Insert sickly green face here LOL!

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And NEVER NEVER take your vomiting child to lunch with a plastic bag, I have seen this happen a couple of times and was thoroughly turned off my lunch by the sight. I sympathise but the restaurants are not the place for vomiting youngsters. :mad: Sorry just realised more a gripe than a tip - Oh well!!:o

 

Not really a gripe Suey, in fact a very important public heath tip. A vomitting child around a buffet is the ideal start of a foodborne illness out break (eg norovirus) on a ship.

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Hi Jen,

 

That is an excellent list. The only additions I can think of are lanyards (unless you want to buy souvenir ones), pegs to hand undies on the line in the bathroom and a clock with lighted time display if you have an inside cabin. I find that is better than leaving the TV on.:):)

Maybe the only other thing I would mention is not to take a hairdryer or a travel iron.

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I agree that is an excellent list for new cruisers. Really useful information. Maybe it should become a sticky thread, so new people don't have to search through heaps of threads.

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i agree! It is a great idea also it saves answering the same question 50 times ... grog... duty free... how much money to take.... etc..... by the way is the search thingo working now. Im guessing its not :confused:

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Hi Jen,

 

That is an excellent list. The only additions I can think of are lanyards (unless you want to buy souvenir ones), pegs to hand undies on the line in the bathroom and a clock with lighted time display if you have an inside cabin. I find that is better than leaving the TV on.:):)

Maybe the only other thing I would mention is not to take a hairdryer or a travel iron.

 

 

Have read that irons are not permitted but didn't realise hairdryers weren't either :eek: Not too sure about the little hotel style dryers, I always take my own. Have enough trouble with that, let alone a new one:o

 

Ella

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Have read that irons are not permitted but didn't realise hairdryers weren't either :eek: Not too sure about the little hotel style dryers, I always take my own. Have enough trouble with that, let alone a new one:o

 

Ella

Hi Ella (one Ela to another Ella!!),

In the list of 'Questions? you'll find the answers here' section in the cruise brochure it says:

"For safety reasons we ask passengers not to use their own electrical appliances (except electric shavers) on board. A hairdryer is available in your cabin or by request from your cabin steward."

:):):)

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Have read that irons are not permitted but didn't realise hairdryers weren't either :eek: Not too sure about the little hotel style dryers, I always take my own. Have enough trouble with that, let alone a new one:o

 

Ella

 

 

 

I always take my own and havnt had anything said :D

Icy

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Wonder if walty could make this a sticky? would save a heap of repitition:D
Walt could, But walty?

 

Good idea.

 

By the way, check out this Cruise Critic Feature:

 

Cruise Planning

 

And also the message board:

 

First Time Cruisers

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Thanks mr. Tuthill

That will certainly help a lot of new cruisers although we may never tire of answering questions on here and sharing our stories.

 

Thanks also for all the good work you do.

I am glad also we do not see your posts very much in this forum.(mean that in the nicest way)

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so i'm guessing hair straighteners aren't allowed on....???? will have to learn how to blow dry my hair straight!

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so i'm guessing hair straighteners aren't allowed on....???? will have to learn how to blow dry my hair straight!

Use straight curlers! :p

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Hi I took my hair straighteners and noone said anyhting. I was also pleasantly suprised about how powerful the the hairdriers were. My other handy tip was to only use the toilet in your own room. A great way to stop bugs! We also only used the stairs and kept away any weight gain as the food is really great.

Have fun.

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are reef shoes a must in all ports?

We are going to noumea, ouvea and Isle of Pines

 

Also, is hair braiding available in Noumea?

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sorry one more question, what type of lanyard, one with a plastic pouch at the end or one with a clip meaning the card would have a hole in it? I've got heaps of each

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sorry one more question, what type of lanyard, one with a plastic pouch at the end or one with a clip meaning the card would have a hole in it? I've got heaps of each

 

the ones they sell are the clip on type.

They usually do not have a hole in but if you take it to the pursers desk they will punch it for you.

Not sure why they dont punch holes in all of them

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Hints for Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

 

 

This is a tender port. The locals speak French but will accept Australian currency here and there is a small boutique shop. There are no markets like you see at the other islands.

 

The snorkelling here is the best. Around the Rock the fish are really amazing.

 

We packed some small packets of Premium crackers to use when snorkelling. (the individually wrapped packs of about 4 crackers) These are ok to take ashore as they are factory packaged and are NOT fresh food taken off the ship. Taking food off the ship is a real no-no.

 

Crush the packets and tear a small hole in the corner and when snorkelling, you fill the pack with water and puff out tiny bits of cracker. You will soon be surrounded by fish. And then fairly soon by other snorkellers all watching. :p

 

2058441469_777fc0495b.jpg?v=0

 

We have been here twice and the water has been a lot cooler than the other islands and it has been windy. Take something with you to put on after snorkelling.

 

If you walk around the beach towards the resort, you are out of the wind and it is just lovely.

 

2681331690_1449c77be8.jpg?v=0

 

Passengers are discouraged from buying from the resort, but they will take your money. $6.00 AU for a can of coke.

 

There is a tour of the island in mini-buses which is nice. It gives you a good idea of the layout of the island. You will soon see that everything is a good distance away, too far to walk. We paid $18.00 each in June 2007.

 

There are also mopeds to hire but I don't know how much there were.

 

2681338792_01a5f7f7bc.jpg?v=0

 

Isle of Pines is beautiful. My favourite thing about it is the snorkelling.

 

Can anyone else add more?

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Hints for Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

Can anyone else add more?

 

Walk along the road a short distance to the old convict prison ruins, about a 20 minute walk from the main beach area.

 

1502500455078909071S500x500Q85.jpg

 

2412460880078909071S500x500Q85.jpg

 

Make sure you take plenty of water with you, as it can be a quite warm away from the beach.

 

About half way along this road there's a small shop selling ice creams, drinks, chips etc.

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are reef shoes a must in all ports?

We are going to noumea, ouvea and Isle of Pines

 

Never been to ouvea, so I can’t comment about there, but reef shoes will be very useful in Isle of Pines.

 

And I don’t think you will need them in noumea, but it could be worth tacking them just in case.

 

Also, is hair braiding available in Noumea?

 

Not too sure, sorry :o

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sorry one more question, what type of lanyard, one with a plastic pouch at the end or one with a clip meaning the card would have a hole in it? I've got heaps of each

 

The plastic pouch one would quickly become a pain as you would have to keep taking it in and out to use it to pay for things, ding on and off the ship, etc. I'd recommend the other type. Sometimes the cards come with a hole already punched, but if not, the stand that sells the lanyards on the first day, or the boutiques, will have a hole punch that you can use to put a hole in the card.

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thanks for the all the great hints...i have printed the original post out so that i dont forget anything...looking forward to my first cruise and doubt that it will be my last

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one thing you did forget for first time cruises is that you get addicted you no sooner get your land legs and you are back in the travel agencies booking your next cruise

 

There are no patches, pills or cures for this addiction it just gets bigger

:) :) :)

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Hi can anyone actually tell me what the hairdryers are like on Pacific Sun. Was going to take mine as the small hotel type ones are so powerless they seem to take forever to dry long or thick hair.

 

Also hadnt come across the no "travel iron" yet, but are they strict on that one?

 

Thanks:rolleyes:

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Hi can anyone actually tell me what the hairdryers are like on Pacific Sun. Was going to take mine as the small hotel type ones are so powerless they seem to take forever to dry long or thick hair.

 

Also hadnt come across the no "travel iron" yet, but are they strict on that one?

 

Thanks:rolleyes:

 

I have found the dryers great, although you are limited to using them where they are attached. The shape of them is more like the old fashoined style from the 70's and they are not like a small hotel one at all.

 

They are strict on the no iron policy as it is a fire risk. Fires on ships are not good :eek: Many take their straigteners, which I think P&O have a preference for people not to.

 

However there are irons in the laundry for you to use and I usually get the cabin steward to have my formal things pressed that may need it, it's usually $3 a piece, although last time was a pant's suit and I think it was also $3 total.

 

Personally I wouldn't take an iron.

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Hi can anyone actually tell me what the hairdryers are like on Pacific Sun. Was going to take mine as the small hotel type ones are so powerless they seem to take forever to dry long or thick hair.

 

Also hadnt come across the no "travel iron" yet, but are they strict on that one?

 

Thanks:rolleyes:

 

 

About the travel iron here is a two page thread from 28/8 it will give u all the info u need. Some times it is worth looking at page 2 of the forum or doing a quick search..:)

 

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=834814

 

 

Have fun

Icy

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Hi Brushtail, I found your hints for new cruisers right up my alley, as my husband and I are heading off on our first cruise on 23 September on Pacific Dawn, with 6 of our friends.

 

I'm still struggling with what clothes to take. When you say smart casual for dinner, does that include jeans, or are nice slacks/skirts/pants the better option? Also, I don't know if you've sailed the South Pacific in September, but we're also not sure of how warm it's going to be and therefore the balance of warm/cool clothing to pack. Any suggestions?

 

I haven't come across your hints about the islands. Have you posted them yet? We're going to Noumea, Mystery Island, Wala and Poum.

 

Thanks again for your really helpful hints!

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I haven't come across your hints about the islands. Have you posted them yet? We're going to Noumea, Mystery Island, Wala and Poum.

 

Thanks again for your really helpful hints!

There is a thread of info here in response to another passenger on the same cruise - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=836133

 

Apart from that, there is a wealth of info on most of these ports, as most here have been to at least some of those ports.

 

For clothing, temps will be similar to North Qld at that time of year. Jeans are OK in the dining room on the non-formal nights. Just be tidy & comfortable.

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Hi Mactan, I forgot to post the Islands part. :o Here it is.

 

The Islands

Vila

The ship ties up at the wharf in Vila and when all formalities are cleared with the authorities, everyone is free to go ashore.

You just go down to the appropriate deck (they announce which one) and walk down the gangplank onto the wharf. You need your cruise cards with you every time you leave the ship as they beep you on and off.

They also have a roped off area around the ship for security and you need to show your cruise card when you approach the ship on your way back.

There are markets at the wharf and you are made very welcome by the people of Vila.

Australian money is used throughout.

There are two ways to get into town. It is too far to walk. A minibus is $2.00 each and a taxi is $10.00. Doesn’t matter how many are in the taxi, it is $10.00.

These vehicles would never pass the pink slip in NSW. Be prepared for rustic.

The problem with the minibus is that they will wait until it is full before leaving, whereas a taxi will go immediately.

The weather will be warm and muggy – at any time of year. Take bottled water with you and comfy shoes.

Ask to be dropped off at the Post Office.

There is no problem in getting back to the ship, when you are walking along the footpath in Vila (there is only one main street) taxis will call out to you ‘back to ship?’

Mystery Island

Tenders are used at Mystery Island. This is one of my favourites. It is a small island with a nice market.

They sell lobsters, cooked in front of you, from $10.00. You have to get in first for these as they are popular.

They also sell coconuts with a straw so you can drink the milk, then go back and they will cut them in half so you can eat the coconut meat. This meat is soft and bendy and really nice. One coconut is enough to share.

The snorkelling is better on the other side of the island from the ship. Look for dark spots in the water (the rocks) this is where the fish live. This seems obvious, but we didn’t know that at first. J

Isle of Pines

The water always seems to be a bit rough around the Isle of Pines which makes the tender trip heaps of fun.

The people do not make you as welcome as the other islands, they are very aloof and French.

There are no markets, bands, singing children or anything. Just one upmarket souvenir shop with expensive trinkets to the right of the wharf. You can walk the 1k to the resort and buy a drink which will cost an arm and a leg. Or do a minivan tour of a small part of the island for $18.00 each.

There is really not much to see there and there are signs pointing to a village but it is so far away 5klm+ and only a small shop when you get there. DEFINITELY not worth walking to.

Your best bet is just to swim and snorkel on the lovely fine white sandy beaches.

The snorkelling around the rock is stunningly fantastic and I really recommend you try it here. You just swim out a couple of metres (hardly out of your depth) and there it all is. Tropical fish paradise. Make sure you have a go. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The rock is sacred and you are asked not to climb it.

The water is cooler here and I recommend you take a jumper/jacket/cardigan to warm up after swimming. I took a spray jacket as a normal part of my island backpack, and I was very glad of it. I huddled in it until I warmed up. J I am taking a cardigan next time.

It is warmer further around the bay out of the wind.

Don’t forget that you can always go back to the ship as often as you want if you forget something or want lunch.

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I also found this on my computer. It is list of hints and tips about the islands from another CCer. I remember copying it from a thread about 3 years ago. It is very good and worth a read. :)

 

HINTS AND TIPS ON WHAT TO DO ON THE ISLANDS

There are no tours on Isle of Pines or Mystery Island. You can walk around the whole of Mystery Island in about 2 hours maybe. Isle of Pines has beautiful snorkelling or beach areas.

In Vila there are heaps of taxis and vans. It is cheaper to do your own thing in Vila if you can. It only cost $2 per person to get into town by taxi. When we did Cascade a few years ago. We did our own thing hired a van that took us out to the waterfalls, a guide then took us up to the waterfall and the taxi driver waited a few hours till we returned and then he drove us back into town - DONT PAY UNTIL your journey is over. This trip worked out half what the ship was charging and when there is 4 of you it all adds up.

There are tours run on Isle of Pines by the locals. I think the one that looked the most fun was on bikes in a convoy. They were quad style bikes and accommodated both adults & kids. We normally just go for a walk up to the old convict prison ruins when on Isle of Pines. It's a nice walk to stretch your legs and it is interesting to see how it changes each time.

The tours do get a little expensive however and on most islands the locals also run tours at a fraction of the cost of P&O's. But remember the P&O tour guides have been checked out and the tours are reviewed. They also seem to have guides who speak very good English and know what to point out! Who knows what you will get with the locals.

 

Saying that however every time we have gone on a "local" tour (did one in Lifou one time, one if Vila and another in Luganville) we have never had a problem (other than the adventure with the flat tyre and almost running out of petrol in the bomb of a bus on Vila but that's another story!). Each time they have been significantly cheaper than the tours offered on the ship.

My opinion for Vila would be the Ekasup Village tour. Sort of a re-enactment type village of how they lived. The "Chief" speaks very good English. Very good for children as there is a lot of island children there too. It’s only a few hours so there is plenty of time left to shop. Its only one main street. Not sure whether the waterfall would be interesting enough for young children. There is the small ferry that takes you to an island resort where you can swim, snorkel. That’s good too.

Mystery is quite small, though I have been about 4 times and never walked round it yet! Once I get in that water and see all the fish, I never want to get out They are getting quite civilised last year they had stalls. Careful here as Myself and others were duped into buying stuff which were made out of coated seeds, even had a clearance certificate from customs saying they had been inspected and were ok. They were all taken of us.

An interesting thing to do at Isle of Pines is to walk out along the road to the convict prison ruins.

I wouldn’t bother with the Cascade water falls tour. We hired a van and a man!! Two families shared. Had to pay $15 each to get in and there is not much water there so not much water fall. (Easter 06)

 

Isle of Pines, I think I spent most of the time taking photos, what stunning scenery.

Yes they had small coach tours and little three wheel cars tours run by the locals, but this is just a great place to just sit and chill.

My favourite is Isle of Pines. I love the beautiful blue water and white sand. We always have a great time when we snorkel, even though the water is cold when you get in. It's also a great sized island for a walk and you still get sea breezes for most of our walk so it is not as hot as some of the others! My second favourite would have to be Vila for the shopping of course, best place to buy souvenirs and not break the bank.

Hideaway Is off Vila is beautiful also. You can walk right around the island in about 1- 11/2 hours. When you stand in the water (I don't snorkel, but the others do) the fish come up to your toes and legs. A wonderful sight.

To get back to the topic.... my favourite is Isle of Pines-the beautiful clear water and fine white Talc sand really take some beating, and the snorkelling out near "the Rock" is really great, I saw so many different fish, giant clams, octopus. I also liked Mystery Island, although it does get a bit crowded.

Pentecost Island wins hands down. It is an absolutely magical place, beautiful beaches, lovely coral shoals in close to the beach, friendly locals, and if you're there at the right time - the Land Diving is something that has to be seen to be believed. Even in the midst of a Tropical deluge it was wonderful.

You don't need to book for the land diving, and there's no cost (but take some gold coins to donate). All you need to do is get the tender ashore from the ship (it's a quick trip) and walk the 10-15 mins to the land diving site - there'll be plenty of locals to direct you. It normally starts about 10.30 - and the ships crew does their best to get everyone ashore in time for it. Try and get over early to get a good spot - although there's plenty of room, so don't be concerned if you don't get across straight away.

Take hats, sunscreen and water. It is hot sitting in the sun for hours.

 

 

Hopefully it won't be as muddy for you as it was for us. It rained just as we arrived at the Island, and the track leading to the jump site, and the jump site itself turned into a bit of a mud pit, churned up by 1500 passengers traipsing in. It's just as well there was a lovely beach to swim in and clean off the mud before going back to the ship. The ships laundry was working overtime that night to clean muddy blue and white beach towels!

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