Recently, my darling and I took a 10-day cruise with P&O from Brisbane to Papua New Guinea. It was a wonderful experience and one I would recommend. The length of the cruise was perfect with enough days at sea to relax and enjoy onboard activities and four days of visiting different ports.
Although we only visited one area of PNG I found this article from the PNG tourism website interesting 47 Reasons to Travel in Papua New Guinea | Papua New Guinea
We took the opportunity of a last-minute deal and upgraded to a junior suite which afforded more space. The cruising industry has been heavily affected by the pandemic and is struggling. Whilst the ship is a little worn and could do with some upgrades, our couch in our cabin certainly needed repair, we overlooked the lower standards and enjoyed ourselves. You make the best of things and on reflection, the cruise and the ship provided all our needs even if some were basic. The crew were friendly and helpful and our cabin stewards Edi and Fatimah made our stay very comfortable.
Many of the crew are from other countries such as India, Thailand and South Africa. In most cases, they are working on contracts for several months to provide for their families back home. They do get to see the world but work long hours and of course are away from their families for many months at a time.
About Papua New Guinea
- There are 839 known languages of Papua New Guinea, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world
- Independent State of Papua New Guinea , is a country in Oceania that comprises the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia (a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia). Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The country is the world’s third largest island country, with an area of 462,840 km2 (178,700 sq mi)
- During World War II, the New Guinea campaign (1942–1945) was one of the major military campaigns and conflicts between Japan and the Allies. Approximately 216,000 Japanese, Australian, and U.S. servicemen died. After World War II and the victory of the Allies, the two territories were combined into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This was later referred to as “Papua New Guinea.”
- The local currency of PNG is the Kina which is roughly 1Kina to 2AUD. Although Australian dollars are accepted, AUD are not encouraged, as the locals have to spend time travelling to the mainland to exchange the currency and they don’t receive a good exchange rate. If you have Kina left over you can perhaps give it to the locals as a donation or bring it home to exchange back into your local currency.
Days 1 to 3 – At Sea
Starting with at sea days is great as you can take your time to relax and unwind from a busy lifestyle. Each day there are many different activities and entertainment which you can take part in if you don’t want to take time out or several pools to swim and relax. There are bars and restaurants where you can easily drink and eat too much! The nightly entertainment is scattered around the ship and of course the Shows in the Marquee Theatre are wonderful productions – they are my favourites.
On the first day at sea I took a craft class to make some earrings and also tried some sketching. For the more adventurous you can abseil down the ship, or take the zip line or slide down the giant double waterslide.
Day 4 – Alotau
Our first port of call was Alotau located on the tip of PNG in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Situation on the beautiful Milne Bay the town lies in the foothills of the Owen Stanley Ranges. An interesting tour meeting the beautiful people of Alotau, PNG. Milne Bay such an historic area for WWII. It has been described as the first major battle of the war in the Pacific in which Allied troops decisively defeated Japanese land forces. . Our guide, Manu was very knowledgeable and explained that the people of Alotau either work the land or the sea or for those who can afford it continue their education in Australia. All children receive an education but for tertiary studies they need to leave the island. When Manu is not being a tour guide he works the sea. There is a plantation which produces coconut oil for export.
Day 5 – At Sea
We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary back in April so took the opportunity to have some professional photos taken whilst on the cruise. The entertainment was wonderful and we saw several shows including ‘The Dolly Parton Story’ and ‘Musicology’ which was a mix of 60s, 70s, 80, 90s music. If you can sing, you can take your chance in The Voice competition. We saw the finals and the 8 finalists were fantastic.
Day 6 – Rabaul
Visiting Rabaul PNG. The original site was destroyed by the active volcano in 1975 and another in 1994. We were treated to a Mask Dance Festival on the volcanic ash plain. Mike used to visit the original Rabaul early in his working life and missed the volcanic eruption by two weeks. He certainly noticed the difference comparing Rabaul in 2023 to Rabaul in 1975 and unfortunately, they haven’t progressed very much. Many of the islanders left after the city was destroyed and those left have struggled to rebuild on a new site. My Dad was stationed here and in Bougainville in WWII and there is still evidence of the war with bunkers and memorials which can be visited.
Day 7 – Kirriwina Islands
We caught the tender from the ship and visited the beautiful island of Kiriwina Island in the Milne Bay Province. The largest and most populous of the Trobriand Islands. In the matrilineal society, women enjoy higher status than men and if you own a pig you are rich.
Kirriwina is the best place to buy wooden carvings and we picked up some from one of the many market stalls which lined the beach. Biosecurity in Australia means that you really need to check what you are buying otherwise it might be confiscated. Checking wooden products don’t have any small holes that indicate borers, or making sure woven goods are fully dry and not green are important. We had no trouble bring back the wooden products we purchased.
Day 8 – The Conflict Islands
Our last port of call was The Conflict Islands in the Milne Bay Province, PNG. A gorgeous atoll of crystal clear waters. Privately owned by an Australian and with only 30 full time people living there, the islands were named after a survey ship The Conflict in 1886. It is now an area dedicated to conservation especially turtles and sea cumcumbers. Access was again via tender for a short 5 minutes to shore. The Conflict Islands are beautiful and provide an opportunity for snorkeling, taking a trip on a glass bottom boat or glass bottom canoe. Beware of the stingers though. There is a small bar that sells drinks and some souvenirs, although purchases can only be made by credit or debit card. There is no cash on the island. Basically the day is about enjoying the beautiful lagoon and beachside.
Day 9 & 10 – At Sea
As I mentioned, At Sea days are for taking time to relax or to enjoy the many onboard activities. For me, I like to get lost in a good book on the balcony but if you want to be entertained there is a daily program which tries to cater for different interests and passengers.
What you should know before you go
- School supplies and clothing are greatly appreciated by the islanders. Education is important to them all and it was wonderful to see the donations from many of the passengers. You do need to complete a form provided by the cruise line if you are taking any goods so make sure you do or you won’t be able to leave your gifts.
- A RAT or PCR test must be done within 24 or 48 hours of embarking. We had to take a photo showing the negative result with the date and time of the test.
- Take local currency – Kina which I purchased from Crown at my local shopping centre before we left. It is roughly 1AUD to 2Kina
- Sunscreen and Insect repellant although the mosquitos only come out at night apparently
- Remember your chargers for electronic devices. The cabins had outlets suitable for Australian 240V chargers and we took a powerboard for extras.
- The drinks package and internet package certainly saved money especially for bottled water and ‘mocktails’
- Not everything is free onboard. The shows and meals are included in the price although we paid to see a special production Blanc de Blanc (very risque) for $20 each and there are a couple of restaurants that you pay for if you want something extra special. For us, the restaurants included in the fare provided delicious meals.
- You will find it difficult to have ‘willpower’ when it comes to the food. We ate far more than we do at home but I made sure I went to the gym regularly and we also took the stairs rather than the elevators when we could.
- You can arrange to take your own luggage off at the end of the cruise which means you can leave as soon as it docks. Otherwise you put your main luggage out the night before and are allocated a disembarkation time. Ours took about 2 hours because some passengers can’t follow rules or complete forms correctly!
- You need patience when onboard with 2,500 passengers.
What not to take
- Your watch – it was great to just go with flow and although there are time restraints when you need to be on time for a tour etc., it really is possible to live without clock watching.
- A negative attitude – there were some passengers who complained about everything – you get people like that everywhere unfortunately but it can make it unpleasant for others.
Well, that’s what’s been on my calendar and I Iook forward hearing what you’ve been up to. I’m sharing my co-hosts’ links as well so remember to pop over and visit to see how their monthprogressed.
Enjoy your month!
What’s Been On Your Calendar? #WBOYC
What: 2023 Monthly Wrap-Up Link Party.
When: Last Thursday PM (Northern Hemisphere)/ Last Friday AM (Southern Hemisphere). The link will be open for 7 days
Why: A space to share highlights from your past month.
Where: Link Party, Blog, Blog Comments, Instagram or other social media.
Who: This linkup is open to everyone.
How: You can share in the comments, with a blog post, or on other social media of your choice. Include the hashtag so that we can find you and include your link in our posts.
The next #WBOYC will be Thursday July 27 /Friday July 28. I’m looking forward to seeing and reading What’s Been on your Calendar? during the month.