Over 50s Lifestyle What's Been On your Calendar? #WBOYC

Cruising the Milne Bay Province, PNG – WBOYC?

June 30, 2023

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.

The Itinerary

All Aboard PNG Cruise

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.

Homeward Bound

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.

Debbie Harris
Donna Connolly
Jo Tracey

Enjoy your month!

Sue Loncaric

What’s Been On Your Calendar? #WBOYC

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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.

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  • Reply Retirement Reflections June 30, 2023 at 08:30

    Hi, Sue – Your trip looks absolutely amazing. Thatnk you for sharing it with us here. Happy belated 25th anniversary to you and Mike. The professional photograph of the two of you is gorgeous. (I also love the earring you made – so creative!)
    I greatly enjoyed following your full adenture — and especially liked your suggestions of ‘what not to take on this trip, Excellent advice!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:46

      Hi Donna, the earrings were a challenge as I’m not very good with craft. It was fun though and I had the ladies laughing with my attempts. x

  • Reply marsha57 June 30, 2023 at 09:45

    Your photos are amazing! What a fantastic way to experience a different culture. Thanks so much for sharing these. I’ll be linking up tomorrow after my post is published. I invite you to link up on Friday for Final Fridays.


    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:47

      Hi Marsha, sorry for the late reply, I’ve not been well so only getting to replies now. The cruise was so much better than I expected and I would certainly like to revisit PNG. x

  • Reply leannelc June 30, 2023 at 09:58

    Hi Sue – I really enjoyed keeping up with your trip on FB (what would we do without FB?) It looked like the perfect mix of relaxing and seeing interesting sights. I love your tips at the end of the post – and I’m always surprised at people who find things to complain about – when there’s so much being done for them and they’ve spent so much to get there. You’d think they’d be too busy relaxing to whinge!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:48

      FB is great for sharing isn’t it, Leanne? I always enjoy ‘travelling’ with my FB friends when they post their travel photos. I get so annoyed at the complainers especially those who expect 5 star everything in a third world environment. x

  • Reply Erica/Erika June 30, 2023 at 10:05

    Hi Sue, I greatly enjoyed seeing the amazing photos of this wonderful trip on social media. I was not aware of the number of languages spoken there. It sounds like your ship had good vibes, especially with the friendly crew. You and your darling always look wonderful and may not have required the professional photos. Interesting about the negative attitude at times from the passengers. Many moons ago we took a Rick Steves Tour through 7 countries in Europe. The concept of ‘bring along only a good attitude’ was written down specifically in their itinerary and guide books. Thank you for sharing a wonderful, comprehensive post, Sue.xx Erica

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:49

      HI Erica, apologies for the late reply as I’ve not been well. The cruise was wonderful and PNG was certainly a surprise package. I would love to revisit one day. x

      • Reply Erica/Erika July 7, 2023 at 23:10

        Happy to hear you are better, Sue! xx

  • Reply Jennifer Jones June 30, 2023 at 11:50

    I’m loved reading about your holiday Sue. Your photos are really great. Thanks for including the historical information. Looks like you had a fabulous holiday.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:49

      Hi Jen, I really enjoyed our trip and also the historical side of things, especially as my Dad served there in WWII. x

  • Reply Toni Pike June 30, 2023 at 12:58

    Fascinating, Sue – I’m so glad you had an amazing time xx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:50

      Thanks, Toni. PNG is a surprise and so beautiful x

  • Reply Denyse Whelan Hosts A Weekly Blog Link Up on Wednesdays. June 30, 2023 at 15:28

    Such an interesting cruise and life encountered in the country so close to us. I have memories of being told about relatives who were stationed in PNG. I also remember that a long time ago, my teachers’ college had an annexe which trained teachers specifically for PNG. I am glad you both relaxed into the experience and also had some photos taken professionally to add to your memories. Thanks for the WBOYC link up. Denyse.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:50

      We had a wonderful cruise, thanks Denyse. I really enjoyed PNG and yes, quality time away for both of us was a wonderful bonus. xx

  • Reply Gail Is This Mutton July 1, 2023 at 00:05

    I was looking forward to reading about your cruise to PNG, it’s a place I know very little about. It looks wonderful. The pictures of you and your husband are charming. I’ve never been able to persuade my husband to try a cruise (yet).

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:53

      Hello Gail, the cruise was relaxing and PNG was certainly a surprise to me. The islands are stunning and it was interesting to visit where my Dad served in WWII. x

  • Reply Jo July 1, 2023 at 07:14

    I have to say I’ve been looking forward to this post and it certainly didn’t disappoint! What a great way to see PNG and to learn a bit about it…and I love your pics.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:53

      Hi Jo, I’m glad you enjoyed my thoughts on PNG and it was really a wonderful way to visit. The islands are stunning and I would love to revisit one day. x

  • Reply Joanne July 2, 2023 at 00:35

    Oh wow that sounds like a wonderful trip. I loved all your photos; especially those of the islanders and that beautiful turquoise water.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:54

      It was certainly a wonderful experience, Joanne. PNG was a surprise for me and the islands are stunning. I hope to revisit one day. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee July 2, 2023 at 09:50

    Congratulations on 25 years – we have that wedding anniversary next year. Can’t believe it really. And I love the bit opn negative attitdue. It is strange what people expect sometimes. Your pics look amazing and I have to say, I’ve never thought about PNG other than a few stories from friends that lived there for a bit or go there for work. You make it seem more of a ‘holiday’ place, which I’d not thought about. Funny what misconceptions we can have about entire countries….#WBOYC

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:55

      Hi Lydia, thanks for the best wishes. 30 years we’ve been together and it has flown. PNG was wonderful and really a pleasant surprise. The islands are stunning and the people are lovely. I’d never thought of it as a holiday place but I would recommend a cruise as the islands are very basic and some only have villages. x

  • Reply Natalie July 2, 2023 at 23:50

    Hi Sue, Your trip looks fantastic. Thank you for the virtual tour. I enjoyed seeing your photos and reading the relevant information about each port. Happy belated 25th anniversary to you and Mike! #WBOYC

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:56

      Hi Natalie, PNG was a very pleasant surprise and we had a wonderful experience visiting the stunning islands and also relaxing on the ship. Thank you for your good wishes for our anniversary. Time has flown!

  • Reply Debbie July 4, 2023 at 04:28

    Hi Sue, I thought I’d left a comment on your post but maybe it’s gone awol! I loved reading about your cruise and what a great way to celebrate your wedding anniversary. Your honest thoughts on the cruise are appreciated. Love having you as a co-host for WBOYC. xx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:57

      Hi Deb, we had a fantastic time and would love to revisit one day. x

  • Reply Janet Alcorn July 4, 2023 at 14:01

    Wow–thanks for sharing your trip and photos! I knew next to nothing about Papua New Guinea, so your post was fascinating.

    It amazes me that people would complain while on a cruise. *sigh*

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 7, 2023 at 09:58

      Hi Janet, the trip was amazing and I really didn’t know much about PNG until I visited. I hope to revisit one day. x

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